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Gannet AEW3's

Old 1st Sep 2015, 10:18
  #21 (permalink)  
 
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There was also a night bale-out from an AEW, over land. One of the observers was the (late?) Lofty Nash, later my flt cdr on 360. ISTR the observers left the aircraft at about 800' but the pilot force landed in a field


Hrrmph. Must be getting old -just managed to load the article, to find that it is Lofty's "incident" but always recalled it from Lofty telling the story in the crew rom as the pilot landing in a field with the nose hanging over a large drop into the next field - must have been another incident!- and an AEW3. Still a brilliant escape. Lofty's predecessor as RN flt cdr on 360 was a pilot, David... ? Anyon remember his name (Was it Mather?)

Last edited by Wander00; 1st Sep 2015 at 10:34. Reason: Advancing years!
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Old 1st Sep 2015, 13:42
  #22 (permalink)  
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Great to see this thread revived after >8 years!

If you do have any pics or interesting stories to share then please do post away 'Gannet Driver' - welcome aboard!

Many thanks
Nick
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Old 1st Sep 2015, 15:05
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https://www.flickr.com/photos/735711...7631952002449/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/735711...7631952002449/

Seen at Leuchars decades ago.
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Old 1st Sep 2015, 16:23
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Many thanks guys, will make tentative sortie into Photobucket route.

Re Ark accidents, cannot recall Gannet crew names but knew the Vixen pilot well, we were on the same flying course. Not an AEW3 story, but it was heroic and deserves a brief mention here.

As I recall, monster fuel leak resulted in not enough even to reach the ship (and they were no-diversion flying anyway on the Beira patrol). Allan ordered John, the Observer, to eject - no luck.

I forget the exact sequence of events, but Allan was flying a Sea Vixen with no engines and controls only powered by the RAT (Ram Air Turbine) with his left hand while leaning across to try to help John get out manually with his right hand.

Allan finally ejected so late his parachute didn't even deploy properly before he hit the water and injured his back. I think the Sea Vixen was inverted at this point anyway. John was not able to leave the aircraft.

The Vixen had a reputation as a Widow-maker, Allan's GM was well-deserved.

Mike
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Old 1st Sep 2015, 17:37
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Gruntpuddock, that will have been 849 "B" Flight, probably very early 1970's.

Will post photos in due course but many conflicting projects. However, have been writing memories of carrier flying in a Gannet AEW3 for another Forum, this one seems appropriate here.

Hope you enjoy a totally true story, let me know if anyone would like more:-

The smell


It was Autumn 1966, Hermes was working up in the Moray Firth and waters beyond. Our Gannet was launched on a sunny October morning, all set to control Sea Vixens . And, as always, because the radar of those days took a good while to warm up, we were launched 15 minutes ahead of everyone else.

Even for a big bloke like me, the Gannet's cockpit was comfortably spacious and the bubble canopy gave a great view of the world. Warm sun, blue sea and sky, what a nice morning. And then.........

There was no physical connection between the cockpit and the rear cabin where the two Observers worked their radar etc., but you could smell if they were pouring coffee or smoking. Two or three minutes into the sortie it was quite clear this wasn't either, I put my mask back on and switched the supply to 100% oxygen.

A strained voice on the intercom said "Was that YOU?" "No! I thought it was YOU!" "Well, it wasn't ME!" And so we came to the conclusion that nobody was guilty, or prepared to admit it, but we had an unusual and unpleasant smell in the aircraft.

More seriously, smells usually have an electrical source, so we started turning things off. By about 10 minutes into the trip we realised the source was the radar - and our radar was essential to the launch about to take place.

Hermes would have to know, and very soon. But how on earth to tell the ship, and which of us would do it? Of the three Lieutenants on board, Rick was the senior. Tony and I instantly delegated it to him. The exchange went something like this.......

"Charlie, this is 330"

"330, go ahead"

"Roger Charlie, 330 requests return U/S"

Audible sigh - "Roger 330, report nature of unserviceability"

"330 has a strange smell in the aircraft"

"Roger 330, report nature of smell"

Rick, in a strangled voice "We really don't think it would help you to know!"

"330, your Air Engineer Officer present, says essential report nature of smell"

"OK Dave, it's a strong FARMYARD sort of smell!"

Long pause "Roger 330, return to overhead Charlie and wait"

We did and, orbiting overhead, we watched the chaos we had caused on the flight deck and imagined the similar activities in the hangar. Hermes had to delay this launch and get another Gannet airborne asap, so......

Push back the Vixens that were ready to launch, some already had engines running.....

Get another Gannet out of the hangar and up the side lift, crew manning it at the rush.....

Start and launch the Gannet........

Move all the Vixens etc. back to catapult readiness positions, wait 15 minutes for the new Gannet's radar to be OK, start and launch the Vixens..........

Clear any remaining aircraft forr'ard to beyond the Safety Line, and.......

Finally, let us land on, an hour and forty minutes after we had launched.

There was total silence from everyone - the NAM who helped me unstrap - the Squadron flight deck crew - all the flight deck party - the FDO's - the entire population of the ACR - they none of them said anything, they just looked at us.

Lunch was a strangely quiet meal, we three lepers ate more or less alone.

Our AEO, a gentle and placid bloke, was overheard to say "OTHER Squadrons bring them back U/S, only MY crowd bring them back smelling of S**T!".

At end of the day's flying, our Gannet was set up on the Flight Deck, engines were started and the radar warmed up to run under dummy load.........and the smell was there.

It was finally traced to a transformer burning out, but the three of us had a hard time living it down!

Mike
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Old 1st Sep 2015, 17:59
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Originally Posted by Gannet Driver View Post
.......Re Ark accidents, cannot recall Gannet crew names but knew the Vixen pilot well, we were on the same flying course.
Their names were Mike Jermy(P) and the (O's) were Martin Rotherham and Miles Cullen.
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Old 1st Sep 2015, 18:34
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Thank you Charlie, knew all three well.

If you're ex-RN and flew choppers, do have any info on David Waghorn (HSP Student 1964) or Alan Weetman (Ditto, 1969)? Would like to make contact with either once more.

Mike
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Old 1st Sep 2015, 21:48
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Was there ever any truth in the rumour that the MOD tried to resurrect a couple of AEW3's at the time of the Falklands conflict?
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Old 1st Sep 2015, 22:01
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Doubt it very much. Could not operate from either carrier, no cats, no wires.

However, EMI ran a rush project to get AEW radar into a Sea King. My brother-in-law was directly involved, can post his account if y're interested.

Mike
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Old 1st Sep 2015, 22:26
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That would be interesting.
Incidentally remember seeing an AEW3 going over the port bow of Centaur during night flying having missed the wires. I'm guessing that was about 1964 and probably B flight - the tail was visible out of the water going down the port side. Fortunately the complete crew were safely rescued by the planeguard frigate.
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Old 1st Sep 2015, 22:59
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Originally Posted by Gannet Driver View Post
Thank you Charlie, knew all three well.

If you're ex-RN and flew choppers, do have any info on David Waghorn (HSP Student 1964) or Alan Weetman (Ditto, 1969)? Would like to make contact with either once more.

Mike
David Waghorn (below) and I were on the same HSP course. I tried to find him a few years back but none of the survivors of our course know where he is. The name Alan Weetman is not familiar to me - I checked the FAAOA members' list and he doesn't feature there.


Last edited by CharlieOneSix; 1st Sep 2015 at 23:09. Reason: Added photo
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Old 1st Sep 2015, 23:22
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Charlie, thanks for trying. If you ever come across Waggers, please let me know. Good memories of him at BRNC.

Arriva, my bro-in-law's story below, written just over 12 months ago. He prefers to remain un-named.

Mike


In the years before the Falklands war, following the demise of the fixed-wing carriers and the introduction of the “through-deck cruisers” (as I think they were called), the RN had assumed that they would always be working in NATO sea areas, where long range air cover would be provided by land-based Nimrod MR2, Shackletons or AWACS (or Hawkeye E-2C AEW aircraft on the US carriers).

Organic AEW for the RN was not seen as a priority and they had no capability to fly fixed-wing AEW, such as Gannets or Hawkeye. At that time EMI had proposed a plan for an airborne surveillance radar on a Sea King helicopter, but the necessary funding (£0.5M to £1M) for a prototype demonstration could not be found by the MoD.

The RN went to the South Atlantic with no organic AEW. On 4th May 1982, HMS Sheffield was sunk. On 10th May EMI had an outline agreement with MOD (PE) to proceed with the development of a surveillance radar on the Sea King, based on the Searchwater radar.

On 25 May EMI received a contract for the radars, modified to provide true AEW capability. On 2 August, two completed systems took off from Yeovil to join HMS Illustrious, only 11 weeks after initial instructions to undertake a feasibility study!

The radar was based on prototypes held by EMI, previously developed for the Searchwater radar in the RAF Nimrod MR2, which had done into service in 1980. The Mk2 Sea King AEW (LAST) involved a new radar scanner, new transmitter waveforms and a new two-operator console in the Sea King.

The deployable arm with the scanner was completely new and the radome, still used today, must be the world’s only inflatable airborne radome! The radar was non-coherent, as was the AN/APS 20, but greatly more sophisticated, with a travelling wave tube transmitter, pulse compression, frequency agility, digital signal processing and computer data processing (target tracking etc.).

It detected aircraft beyond the clutter horizon, with maximum range against low flying aircraft limited by the Sea King’s maximum operating height, which was typically about 5,500 ft, giving a clutter horizon of about 90 nmi.

Higher flying aircraft could be detected at longer ranges. Sea skimming missiles at, say, 20 nmi would probably not have been detected by the radar, but it was not designed for that role.

AEW would not have been much help then to protect against a sea-skimming missile once launched. However, the radar had a range of up to 200 miles and the purpose of the AEW as a command and control platform would have been to direct the Harriers on Combat Air Patrol to intercept incoming hostile aircraft at long range.

Exocets were not the only threat and much of the damage to RN ships was done by iron bombs – the Argentinians had a limited supply of Exocets.

The Mk 2 Sea King AEW never saw hostile action, arriving in theatre just as the war ended. However, in 1984 the RN subsequently reformed 849 Naval Air Squadron with two flights of Sea King Mk2 AEW and in the year 2000, the system was updated to a fully coherent look-down AEW and ground surveillance system (the Searchwater 2000 radar) for the Sea King Mk7 ASaC, which has seen considerable active service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2006, 849 NAS A Flight was re-badged as 854 NAS, and B flight as 857 NAS, both flying the Sea King ASaCS Mk7. There are lots of excellent pictures on the RN NAS websites, such as http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/The-Flee.../Sea-King-ASaC .

The RN certainly believed they needed organic AEW in the Falklands and the system has subsequently been very successful. The Mk2 system was also exported. The replacement system for the new RN carriers is the subject of a procurement competition at present.
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Old 2nd Sep 2015, 08:47
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Great account of the "smelly incident" Gannet Driver!
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Old 2nd Sep 2015, 11:14
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I agree - great 'smelly' story Gannet Driver.
It really must have been chaos on the flight desk prior to your recovery!

I know two Gannet 3s crashed back in April 62 sadly with the loss of all the crews - my Dad remembers hearing them go off from CU in misty conditions. He says to the best of his knowledge they were never located although a canopy washed up on the IOS some time later - is that true and do you have any more more on this very sad event?

Please keep the stories coming!
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Old 2nd Sep 2015, 11:33
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I was only told this story third hand and many years later so maybe Gannet Driver will know more about it. It stems from the time after 849 left Culdrose for Brawdy.

Apparently during night flying someone decided to do some barrel rolls in a Gannet - a non aerobatic machine. Unfortunately it was a very still night and Commander Air was out for a stroll and heard the unmistakable sound of the Double Mambas being exercised rather enthusiastically. My informant said it might have been the late Pete Frame who subsequently had a no tea and biscuits interview with Wings. Knowing Pete it could well have been him!
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Old 2nd Sep 2015, 13:31
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The two Gannet loss, I was at Linton-on-Ouse at the time. We heard about it and sobered up (temperamentally, that is, being young and convinced we were immortal) for a while. I'd always understood it was during night formation, I don't have any other info.

The night barrel roll! I can certainly believe it could have been Pete Frame, knew him well back in those days and very sorry to hear he's no longer with us. Certainly, Chris Brockway had a reputation for barrel-rolling Gannets by day.

Heavily involved in non-aviation projects for most of the autumn but will certainly continue to post fragments of a mis-spent youth as the opportunities arise.

Mike
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Old 2nd Sep 2015, 13:56
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The two Gannet loss, I was at Linton-on-Ouse at the time. We heard about it and sobered up (temperamentally, that is, being young and convinced we were immortal) for a while. I'd always understood it was during night formation, I don't have any other info.
Kew has a copy of the BoE report, sadly not dowloadable:

Board of Enquiry into aircraft accident involving Gannet AEW Mk 3s XL 499 and XP 197 on... | The National Archives
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Old 2nd Sep 2015, 14:13
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Thanks all - yes I also believe the 2 Gannet 3s were lost at night.

Rolling a Gannet 3 (or any Gannet for that matter) would be a sight to see - but NOT an an airshow...
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Old 2nd Sep 2015, 15:27
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Mike - I first met Pete Frame on a DO's course in Portsmouth in '64 when this photo was taken

and then he was the COD pilot on Ark when I was there in 65/66.

You may be interested in this PPRuNe thread which mentions Pete (posts 6 and 17) the latter being a post by one of his children: http://www.pprune.org/where-they-now...3-onwards.html

That thread is how I found out he had crossed the bar but I don't know the circumstances. Maybe a PM to his offspring if you wanted to know more?
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Old 2nd Sep 2015, 15:31
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There must be a photo .....

.....somewhere, of the AEW3 grinding the bottom off his radome and slowly coming to a halt during a rather low flyby down the runway during the Lossie airshow in - a long time ago.

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