JOY LOFTHOUSE. It was with the deepest regret that we report that Joy passed away peacefully at home in Cirencester. Joy was married to 7 Squadron Pathfinder Pilot S/L Charles Lofthouse OBE, DFC who was for many years Secretary of 7 Squadron Association, during which time Joy established herself as an Honorary member of the Association which continued after Charles' death. After the end of the war Joy became a teacher and it was at teacher training colledge where she met Charles. This followied her wartime service as a Pilot with the ATA and it was this latter role which brought Joy to National attention when she featured in many documentaries about the ATA and Spitfires. Joy was 95 when she passed away, a full Obituary will appear shortly.
On 1st May 1970 No 7 Squadron reformed at RAF St Mawgan after nearly 8 long years of laying dormant under the command of Sqn Ldr RH Crumpton. For the first time in it's history it was to become a second-line unit in the Target Facilities role. Allocated to No 18 Maritime Group it was the only unit not to operate in a Maritime role, the Squadron were allocated Canberra TT Mk 18 aircraft which were, in fact, modified Canberra B Mk2 bombers that had come into service in 1952.
Despite the age of the design many of the airframes were completly refurbished giving the following specification:
2 x Rolls Royce Avon Mk1 Turbo-Jets of 6,500 lbs thrust
Top speed 450 kts or mach 0.84 (limited to 365 kts with tip-tanks)
Ceiling of 50,000 feet
Endurance up to 3 hours
2 x Rushton Target winches containing up to 5 miles of wire towing "sleeve" or Rushton Targets.
The Squadron rapidly expanded acquiring 6 Canberra B2's as "silent" targets and 2 Canberra T4's for training/standardisation bringing the Squadron strength to 18 making it one of the largest Squadrons in the RAF. The Squadron regularly deployed aircraft far and wide with regular detachments to Gibraltar, Malta and Cyprus, in addition to providing towed airbourne targets for fighter aircraft shooting cannon and missiles the Squadron also provided target facilities to ground based anti-aircraft guns and missiles. The Squadron, once again, disbanded at St Mawgan in January 1982 to reform at RAF Odiham as a Chinook unit under the command of Wg Cdr Martin Mayer AFC.