Ham and Jam is an association whose objective is the maintenance in flight of vintage airplanes and the dissemination of knowledge about WWII liaison aircraft, designated L-Birds (L for link), and aircraft of the immediate post-war period.
These aircraft, yet unarmed, had an important role during the second world war.
Able to take-off from fields, roads or tracks they were the first to arrive.
The first American planes to land in Normandy on D-day was an L-5 and four Piper L-4.
An L-5 of the Marines was the first aircraft to land at Iwo Jima, and L-5 crossed the Himalayas in support of the forces of General Chennault, the Flying Tigers.
Their flight characteristics and solid construction allowed them a great versatility: adjustment of artillery fire, observation, logistics support, medical evacuation, transport of Generals to their HQ, such as General Patton and General Eisenhower.
"We cursed those little green High wing aircraft. We knew that having one would be followed by a barrage of artillery and we were doing everything possible to break down. We feared these small aircraft. For us they were the angels of death."
- German officer taken prisoner, 10th SS Panzer after Falaise.
The "L-Birds" are Liaison airplanes Lused by the USAAF, mainly during the second world war.
The first use of these aircraft was to help troops on the ground to adjust fire on enemy positions, by providing information in real time.
Their qualities quickly led them to being used for a number of other missions: they were used as transport aircraft in unprepared terrain, messengers for the Generals, Medevac to evacuate the wounded or drop medical supplies.
They have also served in Liaison squadrons, Special Forces groups such as the 1st Air Commando Group, and tactical reconnaissance squadrons.
They were present from the beaches of the Normandy landings to the Burmese jungle.
Their pilots were carrying out dangerous missions into enemy territory without any ammunition.
They were nicknamed "Maytag Messerschmitt" or "jungle jeep".
The best known of L-Birds, the Piper L-4 "Grasshopper" and Vultee Stinson L-5 "Sentinel" took part in the conflict on all fronts.
The Taylorcraft L-2 was reserved for training. The Aeronca L-3 participated to some operations in North Africa, Italy, and the Pacific. The career of the L-Birds continued after 1945 in the conflicts of Korea and Vietnam with the Piper L-4, Aeronca L-16, Vultee Stinson L-5, L-17 North American Navion, and Cessna L-19 / O-1 Bird Dog.
The "L” was later replaced by the "O", for Observation, with the arrival of the Cessna O-2 Skymaster and OV-10 Bronco.
Why the name 'Ham and Jam'?
Why callling the association Ham and Jam?
On D-Day in Normandy, Operation Deadstick was designed to seize the Bénouville bridge (Pegasus Bridge) and Ranville bridge, two bridges on the Orne River and the Caen canal.
Only points of crossing of waterways linking Caen to the sea, the two bridges were to remain intact to permit the passage of troops landed on the beach at Ouistreham
Radio codes were defined to announce the result of the assault:
"Ham" to announce that the bridge over the canal was between the British hands and that was not destroyed and "Jam" to indicate the same to the one on the Orne.