View Full Version : WHAT, WHERE and HOW

12th Dec 2008, 19:34
The photograph below shows an item that is or was directly involved with aviation.

It has a central core of solid brass rod; this can move reasonably freely inside a brass tube, this first tube can move inside a further brass tube. Therefore the whole system of rod and tubes can be extended, rather like a car radio aerial. There is a screw tapped into the outer tube that when tightened locks the tubes and rod in either the shortened or extended position. In the closed position the item is approximately 20 inches (50cm) long and when extended approximately 40 inches (100cm).

A ‘Bulldog’ clip is soldered onto the end of the brass rod, and, at the other end of the item, a turned wooden handle is fixed to the outer tube.

My questions are what is it, where was it used, and how?

I realise there will be some Prooners who know the answer, but I would ask them to hold off for a few days in order that those that do not have a chance to have some fun having educated guesses!


12th Dec 2008, 19:49
My guess is that it was used for passing messages/paperwork up to the cockpit window/dv panel when the engines were running and the doors had been closed.

Likewise, completed paperwork like tech log pages and load sheets could be attached and passed back down to the ground crew.

The other possibility is that it was used for passing messages to crew members situated behind the mainspar.

One of my old squadrons was equipped with the first Blenheim IVs. There was no intercom so they came up with a pulley system with twine and a bulldog clip so that the captain could communicate with the air gunner who sat in glorious isolation behind the spar.

12th Dec 2008, 19:53

12th Dec 2008, 20:11
Crew room toasting fork Mk2 ? :rolleyes:

12th Dec 2008, 20:29
Hi ,

I would say as JW411 , for Pilots and FE to communicate when the cockpit was to lound back in the days and they had to write down what they wanted to say to the other crew .

12th Dec 2008, 23:20
An 'earthing' device perhaps? Designed to dissipate static from an underslung hook?

Albert Driver
13th Dec 2008, 08:25
Device used by a certain BOAC Captain for communication with his crew?

old,not bold
13th Dec 2008, 14:19
Many people are pretty much there with these guesses. It's a GAPCI, designed and built in Bahrain in 1971 to satisfy the CAA's requirement that Gulf Aviation's new Skyvans should have some way to communicate information and instructions from the single pilot to the passengers, there being no cabin staff or PA system. The system worked well; the pilot used a pad (GA Form GAPCI 1046.A.Eng) to write down the message, and would then rap on the door behind him. A passenger would then open the door, the pilot would poke the GAPCI at him, he would take the message and pass it round.

All sorts of useful messages were sent; "We are halfway, landing in 30 minutes", "I know 1 engine has stopped, but the other one should hold out", "Both engines have stopped. Don your lifejackets", "Please stop making curry on the primus, the smell is bad", and so on. Many pilots learned Arabic to ensure full comprehension among their passengers.

Its use was discontinued in 1974, either because a steward began to be carried on most flights, or a PA was fitted. My records don't show which.


Parabellum: It could never have been a hook earthing device...it hasn't got the long piece of wire that you gave the newest recruit (or any officer) to hold while you stood on the load and touched the hook with the other end; it was a kind of rite of passage really, usually not fatal.

I'm wondering if you remember the GAPCI, though. (GA Pilot - Cabin Interface, in case you had forgotten.)

13th Dec 2008, 19:01
I've heard of a similar device.........a long stick but instead of the bulldog clip, it was fitted with a 3 inch length of circular rod about half-inch in diameter at 90 degrees to the long stick. Function ?

The Isopropyl-Nitrate starter motor of the Bristol Belvedere engine had a tendency to explode from time-to-time. This was rather disconcerting for the pilot who sat above the remotely located starter motor. A local modification was submitted consisting of a sheet of armour plating being fitted between the pilot's seat and the starter motor but this was rejected as further reducing the limited payload the aircraft could carry - particularly in Aden.

The Technical Department of the Ministry Of Supply (as it then was) introduced a much lighter and safer "Engine Starting Procedure".
The pilot would complete all his cockpit pre-starting checks and then get out of his seat and stand in the gang-way in the centre of the aircraft. He would then use his stick to press the starter button which was outboard of his seat.
If the start was successful he would resume his seated position ........if the starter exploded he would be in a far less vulnerable position - or at least some very important bits of his anatomy would be less liable to be damaged.

There was some discussion on how a starter-assisted airborne start would be made but since the Belvedere hardly ever flew high enough to make it an option, it was never resolved.

I must emphasise this is the story as related to me by a colleague who was there at the time - I was on the other side of the airfield flying AEROPLANES !

Can anyone confirm the facts ?

13th Dec 2008, 21:29
Old, Not Bold - I didn't join until 1974 so just missed being checked out on the GAPCI;)

old,not bold
13th Dec 2008, 22:07

A bit off-thread, don't you think? And, if I may say so, rather implausible.


Yes, of course, silly of me.

Cornish Jack
14th Dec 2008, 11:38
Yes, sort of. One of my old helo mates did some time on the Khormaksar Belvederes and his version was that they were started with the driver standing on the step - half in and half out of the cockpit. Bristol's rotary wing beasts were nothing if not unusual. The Sycamore's 'fondness' for self-destructing ground resonance (among other things) made for concentration during the start!
Avpin starts on the Wessi were good for some adrenaline pumping also.
All this electric starter motor stuff is for wimps, really. ( should be an appropriate smiley here but they don't seem to be working)
PS how's life after Sir Dick's Classics?

14th Dec 2008, 16:37
Well, we're sort of getting there. Perhaps it is time for a clue.

I did say it was mostly made of brass, didn't I?

old,not bold
14th Dec 2008, 17:14
Ahah! Could it be a GAPCI adapted for use to hold an emergency trailing wire antenna out of the DV window and away from the fuselage?

14th Dec 2008, 18:34
old not bold.........

1. I thought the subject matter was about adapted bits of kit for unusual tasks ?
2. See Cornish Jack's comments above.

old,not bold
14th Dec 2008, 20:30

There's no reason it couldn't be a GAPCI adapted for another use. The Belvedere starting aid would be a plausible answer, except for

instead of the bulldog clip, it was fitted with a 3 inch length of circular rod about half-inch in diameter at 90 degrees to the long stick. Function ?

It's the words "instead of the bulldog clip" that count; surely you can't press a starter button with a bulldog clip?

15th Dec 2008, 14:50
Can I just point out that is not a bit of 'adapted kit'. It was specifically manufactured for its intended use. In fact (another clue coming up) twenty three, or possibly even twenty four, were made.

15th Dec 2008, 18:06
Anything to do with helicopter rotor blade tracking checks?

15th Dec 2008, 18:57
The hint about it being made of Brass makes me wonder if magnetism is involved.

15th Dec 2008, 19:06
If Innuendo had said "lack of magnetism", he might have a 'point'.

15th Dec 2008, 19:21
Well the point being that if the item is used where ferrous materials could interfere with anything that involves magnetism for its function, (compass systems eg.) then being brass makes sense. Just wonder about the material and mass of the bulldog clip.
Sorry if that did not follow from my comment.

15th Dec 2008, 19:38
Innuendo, your 'point' was taken!

15th Dec 2008, 19:49
When I was first on squadron the sprogs were the ones that got lumbered with doing adjustments on the standby compasses when it was needed. We had to take an instrument tech in the back seat, (CF-100), and taxi out, both engines running and radar and other electrical systems operating, align the aircraft on a compass rose painted on the ground then adjust the standby compass over cardinal points with a brass screwdriver. We had another tech on the ground giving us hand signals for adjustments based on data that he got from a hand compass.
Come to think of it that device would have worked to pass adjustment values to the cockpit rather than the hand signals we used.
Although I may be off the mark, I guess this was what came to mind when you gave the brass hint.

15th Dec 2008, 19:58

You are in a way absolutely correct. The item is designed NOT to affect standby compasses. But that is as much as it is to do with compasses.

Another clue, it is not a shillelagh (sp?)

15th Dec 2008, 22:23
So the bulldog clip held a compass correction card or similar, or instructions possibly at some stage in a compass swing?
Or was it for the Nav on a bomber to pass instructions to the bomb aimer lying in his forward position and brass so as not to upset the bomb sight?

How did the back seater in, say, a Swordfish communicate with the front seater?

Watch this space for more wild guesses!:)

15th Dec 2008, 23:28
The fact that only 23 or 24 were made suggests one per aircraft, which is rather a low number in (S)service,civil or mil.Which might suggest,Bevelgear,Britannia,Basset;however,since there was no direct access to the cockpit from the cabin in a Bevelgear,due to the engine/transmission,only a very narrow gap behind the co-pilot,it was probably designed as the `BLOCCTIMS`(Belvedere loss of cabin communication telescopic information management system ) which usually had chinagraph messages on a piece of perspex ,information such as` `SIDDOWN``SHUDDUP`,STANDBY`GETTOUT-NOW !`HOW MANY ?? TOO MANY-DROP2/3/4!!all accompanied by a blaring `klaxon,,and flashing of the para lights!!

Cornish Jack-My namesake,a marvellous machine,real engine,wooden blades,manual controls,big trim wheels,C of G compensator, 2-stage amber and blue goggles,and ground resonance- helo pilots these days don`t know they`re born !!! SYC

17th Dec 2008, 10:36

I think we've run out of ideas........

Come on now, it's time to spill the beans before we disappear into P2!

17th Dec 2008, 13:00
Just a couple of clues, then if we still cannot decide, I will reveal.

This was in use until the late 80s, and if there had not been 'major' modifications made where it was used, it would have been in use until mid 2006, perhaps even up to today.

17th Dec 2008, 15:22
Canberra PR.9 ? Nav/pilot emergency comms ?

17th Dec 2008, 16:23
Redsetter, absolutely correct.

The photograph shows the emergency intercom device as fitted to the CANBERRA PR9.

Should the PR9 aircraft Type A1961 electric intercom fail, communication between to two crew members was still possible through the normal UHF/VHF radio, or by the two frequency (243/243.8)emergency radio. However, in the situation of complete failure of electronic communication, the stick shown in the photograph could be used to pass messages between crew members. Cockpit noise precluded normal conversation, even by shouting.

The emergency communication stick was located in the navigator’s compartment, held in a spring clip, mounted on the floor, under the navigator’s ejection seat.

Uniquely, in the PR9, the navigator sits in front of the pilot, at his own station, access to which is by a swinging nose ‘door’. Although there is not a bulkhead, access from the navigators compartment to the pilots station is not possible. Racking behind the navigators ejection seat holds various pieces of electronic equipment, controls and kit. However, at approximately navigator head height, which was at about the height of pilot’s feet, there was a small open area just in front of the pilot’s feet, through which the end of the ‘stick’ could be pushed.

In the case of electronic intercommunication failure, the navigator was to write down (on a suitable piece of paper) whatever information that he wished to pass to the pilot. Using the ‘Bulldog’ clip, he would attach this to the ‘stick’. He would then unstrap from his seat, turn around and kneel upon it. He would then poke the ‘stick’ through the gap behind the seat, and get the pilot’s attention by banging the ‘Bulldog’ clip against the pilot’s flying boot.

At this point, the pilot was supposed to engage the autopilot, and after unstrapping, lean forward and down and remove the note, being careful not to lean too firmly against the control column, as this would disengage the autopilot and put the aircraft into a dive.

This emergency communication device was removed from PR9 aircraft in the late 1980’s, when a second UHF radio was fitted during ‘Major’ servicing.

17th Dec 2008, 17:33
How wonderfully 'British'! And no doubt very effective. The thought of a long metal rod, complete with large bulldog clip, poked up between the pilot's legs would certainly grab their attention! :ooh:

old,not bold
17th Dec 2008, 23:04

Well, no wonder it looked so similar to a GAPCI that I thought it was one.

Same purpose, pretty much, just a slightly different environment.

But why did the RAF one have to be brass? You indicated that this was of importance.

18th Dec 2008, 08:24

Really for the same reason that brass screwdrivers were used to adjust compasses during compass swings. The theory was that anything metal that could be moved in the cockpit during flight should be made of brass in order that it did not interfere with the emergency compass (E2b in this case).

19th Dec 2008, 16:24
It would probably have worked in the Blenheim IV also although I am given to believe that the continuous string pulley system with a bulldog clip worked just as well and would probably have been cheaper!

Just think, someone at an MU somewhere in England probably still has about 100 Devices/Communication/Brass/Canberra PR 9 (for the use of) on his inventory.

31st May 2011, 15:21
Continuing my theme of What/Where/How. I submit the following.

The enclosed picture is of an item closely associated with aviation. It is about 5in x 4in, and made of aluminium. When new, is is painted matte black, but in this photograph the paintwork is rather flaked off in places. At the top of the picture, where the 'L' shaped two slots are, the aluminium is bent at an angle of about 30 degrees.

It is not any sort of inspection panel.

As before, some members will instantly know what it is, but if they could hold off for a day or two, we might get some interesting offers!


31st May 2011, 18:56
I'm thinking it might be part of a multi-crew cockpit window 'view shield' assembly for instrument flying practice. Probably completely wrong.

31st May 2011, 19:41
Just think, someone at an MU somewhere in England probably still has about 100 Devices/Communication/Brass/Canberra PR 9 (for the use of) on his inventory.

Yes, and they will be brand new as the previous stock was life-expired after four years on the shelf.

31st May 2011, 20:03
Screen for artificial horizon for limited panel practice - JP?

1st Jun 2011, 14:38
You are, of course, absolutely correct.

It is a HGU/Artificial Horizon cover for the Canberra T4 aircraft. If you rotate the photograph 90 degrees anti clockwise, you will see how. The two 'L' shaped cutouts fit at two points on the instrument. The top 'L' fits over a specially extended instrument mounting bolt. The bottom 'L' fits over the Fast Erect button.

When fitted, the HGU/AH cannot be seen by the student, only by the instructor.

1st Jun 2011, 15:36
No wonder I recognised it, just remembered the wrong aeroplane! (Now what did I have for lunch?). Very odd going from JP to Gnat (OR946), and then to Canberra T4/B2, whose instruments pre-dated those in the JP!

27th Mar 2014, 20:12
At first, this in the photographs looks like any aviation themed scale ruler. It has markings at 1:50,000 & 1:250,000. It has distances run at various speeds i.e. 420kt, 450kt & 480kts. There is also a conversion Metres to Feet scale, and a grid for accurate plotting on a 50k map.

However, one end is not at 90° to the main part of the ruler. It looks as if something has happened to the end, perhaps it was broken at some time, and was filed straight? But actually, this scale was manufactured as this shape.

So, what is it, and what is, or was, it for?

I realise there will be some Ppruners who will be familiar with it, so if they could hold of for a little while?

http://i238.photobucket.com/albums/ff188/essjaypr9/Ruler1.jpg (http://s238.photobucket.com/user/essjaypr9/media/Ruler1.jpg.html)
http://i238.photobucket.com/albums/ff188/essjaypr9/Ruler2.jpg (http://s238.photobucket.com/user/essjaypr9/media/Ruler2.jpg.html)

Allan Lupton
28th Mar 2014, 08:31
I realise there will be some Ppruners who will be familiar with it, so if they could hold of for a little while?

So are you saying we should only tell you what it is, if we know that we don't know?

India Four Two
28th Mar 2014, 09:08
Ruler for fast-jet flight-planning or for in-flight use by a Buccaneer or F4 Nav?

Edit: the PUP annotation at zero seconds and the TGT annotation make me wonder if it is a toss-bombing aid.

28th Mar 2014, 09:13

Obviously some people will know instantly what the object is, and I ask them to hold off answering for a little while.

Those that do not know sometimes find it interesting to try and guess what the object is, and for what it is or was used.


28th Mar 2014, 19:32
It reminds me of my FAC course at RAF Chivenor in the '60s.

Lovely course; best part was in the 2-seat Hunter being shown the pilot's POV during an attack; cab-rank to pull-up point about 20 miles at very low level ie contour flying, 420Kt, pull=up to 3000Ft AGL, 90 degree turn and dive to target, away at low level.

Then it was "what would you like to do on the way home?", or on one occasion "let's go to 40,000 feet and do a simulated flame-out and PFL from overhead, you just watch".

Yes, that little ruler had a purpose......

12th Apr 2014, 16:22
The piece of aluminium

http://i238.photobucket.com/albums/ff188/essjaypr9/ThingforPprune.jpg (http://s238.photobucket.com/user/essjaypr9/media/ThingforPprune.jpg.html)

21st Apr 2014, 16:14
When Christine Finn's in-flight entertainment was accidentally tuned to cockpit radio on a transatlantic flight, the voice of air traffic control as they reached Irish airspace seemed to be welcoming her as well as the pilot.
As a creative archaeologist, she wanted to unravel the connections between those who fly the Atlantic and those who guide them safely over, especially when she discovered that datalink - effectively text messaging - is increasingly being used, so that voice communication is on the wane.
Listening to archive of transatlantic flights from the first by Alcock and Brown in 1919, Christine discovered that the west coast of Ireland looms large in the history. She visited Shannon airport in County Clare, scene of many departures and reunions and, in the 1950s and 60s - before the jet engine - a stop-over for most of the popular icons of the day as their planes re-fuelled after the 3000 mile flight; every US President since JFK has visited Shannon, and most stars from Marilyn Monroe to Fred Astaire.
And at the North Atlantic Communications Centre in nearby Ballygirreen, Christine met the faces behind the voices she heard coming out of the dark on her own Atlantic Crossing.

BBC Radio 4 - Archive on 4, Atlantic Crossing (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0414b1m)