Maxwell Findlay

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Maxwell Hutcheon Findlay
Born (1898-02-17)17 February 1898
Aberdeen, Scotland
Died 1 October 1936(1936-10-01) (aged 38)
Abercorn, Northern Rhodesia
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Royal Navy
Royal Air Force
Years of service 1914–1920
Rank Captain
Unit Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment)
No. 6 Squadron RNAS
No. 1 Squadron RNAS/No. 201 Squadron RAF
Battles/wars World War I
Third Anglo-Afghan War
Waziristan campaign
Awards Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Flying Cross
Other work Aviation sales manager and instructor; air racer

Captain Maxwell Hutcheon Findlay DSC, DFC (17 February 1898 – 1 October 1936) was a World War I flying ace credited with 14 aerial victories.[1] He remained in the RAF postwar for several years before going on to a civilian aviation career that ended with his death in the Johannesburg Air Race of 1936.[2]

World War I[edit]

Findlay was a Scotsman living in Canada when World War I began. He returned to the British Isles to enlist in the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment). He later transferred to the Royal Naval Air Service, being promoted from probationary temporary flight officer to temporary flight sub-lieutenant on 16 April 1917.[3] His first duty assignment, to No. 6 Naval Squadron, brought him two "out of control" victories over Albatros D.Vs in July and August 1917. He transferred to No. 1 Naval Squadron, and used a Sopwith Camel to score three more "out of control" wins on 15 November and 4 December 1917, as well as on 8 March 1918, to become an ace. On 10 March, he destroyed an Albatros D.V. On the 16th, his second win was shared with Hazel LeRoy Wallace. By 30 May, his score was 14, including a shared win with Wallace, Charles Dawson Booker, Samuel Kinkead, James Henry Forman, Robert McLaughlin, Reginald Brading, R. Hemmens, and R. S. S. Orr.[1][2] On 25 April 1918 he was appointed a temporary captain in the Royal Air Force.[4]

Post war career[edit]

On 1 August 1919 Findley was granted a permanent commission as a lieutenant in the RAF,[5] and served in the Third Anglo-Afghan War and the Waziristan campaign. On 1 October 1920, Flying Officer Findlay resigned his commission and was permitted to retain the rank of flight lieutenant.[6]

He then turned to farming in Scotland, gaining a first-class diploma in agriculture from Aberdeen University.[7]

He also kept in touch with aviation; on 13 January 1925 Findlay was granted a commission in the RAF's Class "A" Reserves as a probationary flying officer,[8] being confirmed in his rank on 13 July 1925.[9] He relinquished his commission on completion of service on 13 January 1928,[10] but was recommissioned as a flying officer in the Reserves on 11 May 1929.[11]

In 1930 Findlay joined National Flying Services Ltd., serving as chief instructor until 1933. From there he went to Brooklands as an instructor and sales manager.[7]

Findlay was killed on 1 October 1936, while taking part in The Schlesinger African Air Race, when his Airspeed Envoy crashed into trees on take off in Abercorn, Northern Rhodesia (now Mbala, Zambia).[2][12]

Honours and awards[edit]

Distinguished Service Cross
Flight Sub-Lieutenant Maxwell Hutcheon Findlay, RNAS.
For the courage and daring displayed by him as a pilot. On 8 March 1918, whilst on patrol, he engaged an Albatross scout, firing effectively from very close range. The enemy aircraft went down completely out of control. He has also destroyed or driven down out of control many other enemy machines.[13]
Distinguished Flying Cross
Lieutenant (Temporary Captain) Maxwell Hutcheon Findlay, DSC.
A skilful and courageous patrol leader. During the past few months this officer has destroyed seven enemy machines and brought down seven more out of control. On one occasion he fought an enemy machine from 18,000 feet down to an altitude of 10,000 feet, at which point he gained an advantage and destroyed his antagonist.[14]


  1. ^ a b "Maxwell Hutcheon Findlay". The Aerodrome. 2014. Retrieved 7 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Shores, Christopher F.; Franks, Norman & Guest, Russell F. (1990). Above the Trenches: a Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Air Forces 1915-1920. London, UK: Grub Street. p. 155. ISBN 978-0-948817-19-9. 
  3. ^ "No. 30156". The London Gazette. 29 June 1917. p. 6411. 
  4. ^ "No. 30673". The London Gazette. 7 May 1918. pp. 5483–5484. 
  5. ^ "No. 31486". The London Gazette. 1 August 1919. p. 9869. 
  6. ^ "No. 32071". The London Gazette. 1 October 1920. p. 9623. 
  7. ^ a b "Maxwell Hutcheon Findlay". Flight. XXX (1450): 358. 8 October 1936. Retrieved 7 December 2014. 
  8. ^ "No. 33011". The London Gazette. 13 January 1925. p. 302. 
  9. ^ "No. 33066". The London Gazette. 14 July 1925. p. 4704. 
  10. ^ "No. 33368". The London Gazette. 20 March 1928. p. 2023. 
  11. ^ "No. 33503". The London Gazette. 4 June 1929. p. 3694. 
  12. ^ "One Out of Nine". Flight. XXX (1450): 354. 8 October 1933. Retrieved 7 December 2014. 
  13. ^ "No. 30635". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 April 1918. p. 4647. 
  14. ^ "No. 30827". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 August 1918. p. 9199.