|Born||29 July 1913
|Died||15 February 1942 (aged 28)
|Service/branch||Royal Air Force|
|Commands held||112 Squadron
274 Squadron No 94 Squadron RAF
|Awards||Distinguished Flying Cross & Bar|
Ernest "Imshi" Mason DFC and Bar (29 July 1913 – 15 February 1942) was a British World War II flying ace, credited with one Luftwaffe and 14 Regia Aeronautica aircraft destroyed, two shared destroyed, three damaged and another three shared damaged in the air. Mason claimed one and 13 shared destroyed on the ground.
Ernest “Imshi” Mason was born in Darlington, and was educated at Blackpool Grammar School. A gifted musician ( he played the saxophone) he was also interested in engineering and mechanics, riding motorcycles in dirt track racing at the age of 14.
Mason joined the RAF in March 1938, undergoing training at 4 FTS in Egypt. He was initially posted to No. 48 squadron flying Vickers Wellesley bombers, but managed to switch to fighters with No. 80 Sqn. flying the Gloster Gladiator by the time the war had started. At the end of 1940 he transferred as part of a flight of 80 Squadron forming into No. 274 Squadron with the Hawker Hurricane.
Mediterranean, Middle East and African theatres of World War II
Mason and Lt. Robert Talbot of the SAAF were detached to Sidi Barrani in order to "freelance" over the Libyan Desert attacking targets of opportunity. It was during this period that Mason developed his preferred style of attack, embarking on long range missions to attack enemy air bases well behind the lines.
By the end of January 1941, Mason’s score was 14 kills and he was awarded the DFC in February 1941. By this time, he was also the leading Allied ace in the Middle East theatre.
In March 1941, Mason led a flight to Malta to reinforce the defensive fighter force. On 13 April, Mason attacked four Bf 109s. He was attacked in turn by Oblt. Klaus Mietusch of JG 26 and shot down for the German's eighth victory. Mason ditched his aircraft in the sea, suffering wounds to his hand in the combat and a broken nose in the ditching.
By now Mason has assumed a notoriety within the aircrews of the Commonwealth Air Forces, having grown a thick black beard (against RAF regulations) and acquiring the nickname "Imshi" ; colloquial Arabic for 'scram', which he reportedly tended to shout at the local pedlars.
Among Mason's notable victims were Tenente Oscar Abello and Sergente Pardino Pardini of 70a Squadriglia, Regia Aeronautica, victims number six and seven, both shot down on the same mission over Greece on 5 January 1941.
During a patrol on 26 January, Mason encountered three Fiat G.50bis of 2o Gruppo CT near Derna and seven Fiat CR.42s of 368a Squadriglia strafing Australian ground positions. Mason shot down two victims, Sottotenente Alfonso Nuti and Maresciallo Guido Papparato from 368a Squadriglia, who were both killed.
In July 1941 Mason assumed command of No. 261 Squadron, reforming in Palestine. In August he led the unit in the occupation of Iran, and in January was posted back to the Western Desert to command No 94 Squadron flying P-40 Kittyhawks.
On 15 February 1942, Mason led a ground attack mission against a known Luftwaffe base at Martuba, Egypt. His flight was bounced by Jagdgeschwader 27 Messerschmitt Bf 109s led by the German ace Obfw. Otto Schulz. Four Kittyhawks were shot down, including Mason's. He was killed, becoming Schulz's 40th victim.
- Otto Schulz
- Holmes, Tony. Hurricane Aces 1939 - 1940. Osprey Publishing. London. 1998. ISBN 978-1-85532-597-5
- C. Shores & C. Williams. Aces High. Grub street. London. 1994. ISBN 978-1-898697-00-8
- Thomas, Andrew. 2005, Tomahawk and Kittyhawk Aces of the RAF and Commonwealth. Oxford, England: Osprey Publications, ISBN 978-1-84176-083-4