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Handley Page Hastings

Old 19th Jan 2015, 08:29
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I have just restarted re-reading Sandy Cavangh's book "Airborne to Suez". He mentions that they (3 Para) embarked on HMS "Theseus" to go to Cyprus (Famagusta) and then moved on to their base near Nicosia. He mentions that their Austin Champs went with them as deck cargo so the Champs obviously made it as far as Cyprus but it would seem that the RAF did not have the proper gear to attach them to a Hastings (at the time).

There is a photograph in his book showing a Jeep freshly delivered to El Gamil airfield still sitting on its platform. I'm sure you will agree that this is definitely a product of Mr Willys and not Mr Austin.
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Old 19th Jan 2015, 08:45
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The Jordan and Lebanon crisis of 1958

Doug, I think we have been over this before.
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Old 19th Jan 2015, 08:54
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I know! I'm revisiting! It's something I keep coming back to, but I thought it might just ring a bell, specifically with Hastings aircrew as they were involved. Perhaps I'm trying to find a story where there is none. Operations at this time could have been so routine so as not to have registered much of a memory.
I have so much material about the US involvement in the crisis, I'd like to redress the balance a bit.
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Old 19th Jan 2015, 09:15
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The Jordan Operation was routine - a routine cock up
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Old 19th Jan 2015, 11:05
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The Jordan Operation was routine - a routine cock up
Amen to that! ... yet another political input that 'seemed like a good idea at the time' Some snippets remain in memory - the U.S. 124's ops boss was a Master Sergeant, ours somewhat higher echelon! Mental picture of our S Eng O on a Triumph motor bike, sans helmet, sans shirt and oil stained getting down close and technical - impressive, even if not good practice. Calling downwind in the Bev and being given 'Number 12 to Finals'
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Old 20th Jan 2015, 04:29
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Hasty bird

This thread brought back memories of a trip to Changi. Twas late 1966/early 1967 was lucky enough to score a place in the gan cricket team for the FEAF cricket championships. Not for us a jet or whispering giant, but the Hastings. Seem to recall it was around 13 hrs each way, we bounced our way to changi and back just below the clouds. Smokers were allowed a smoke in the loadys cubby hole. Consternation in the card school when someone dropped a card and it disappeared through a crack in the floor. Entry door was not the best fit, bit windy. Don't remember a lot about the cricket but a good time had by all and it saved me using leave for my mid tour break. Ah happy days.😃
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Old 24th Jan 2015, 13:07
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Don't have any personal experience of the 1958 Middle East but in April 1957 acted as 2nd Pilot on a Hastings expedition to Habbaniya - ready to evacuate Mafraq as Hussein's tanks were approaching.

We eventually landed there on a brand new massive runway. New RAF stations were often late in organising married quarters but this had been sorted in Mafraq.
In fact the only buildings were married quarters.
Station HQ was in a MQ; the officers mess was in a MQ; etc!

Eventually we flew back to Lyneham with 12 tons of u/s wireless equipment so that it could be properly written off in the UK.

Really made us feel the expedition had been worthwhile.

(2nd pilot was the lowest form of animal life on the aeroplane)
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Old 28th Jan 2015, 16:15
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Old Film of Hastings

Hastings Dispersal

Stream Take-Off
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Old 28th Jan 2015, 16:21
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Happened to switch TV on, showing The Red Beret, with paras jumping out of TG602, a C1. The film was released in 1953 and ASN shows it crashed in January that year following in flight breakage due to "failure to follow AD and SBs"
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Old 28th Jan 2015, 17:43
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Good find DGAC but I cannot imagine less suitable music to accompany the footage!
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Old 28th Jan 2015, 18:29
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I know what you mean but I didn't know how to get rid of it. Just have to turn the speakers off!!
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Old 28th Jan 2015, 21:53
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My father was, I think, a loadmaster on Hastings in the early 50s - National Service. Never talked about his time in the RAF, so I'm enjoying reading this thread. I'm not that interested in techie things, more into the personal stories, what life was like.

Please, former Hastings crews, write more! There'll be people like me who want to read it.

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Old 29th Jan 2015, 07:25
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They were not Loadmasters in those days, the job title was Air Quartermaster, their aircrew badge was QM

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Old 29th Jan 2015, 07:30
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Nice evocative videos (despite the light music!), thanks!
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Old 29th Jan 2015, 08:03
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My father was Bill Ward and I know he was on Hastings as a W/O on at least 1066 Sqn. Am looking for his logbooks to check dates and Sqns
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Old 29th Jan 2015, 09:01
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When I was with BIA at Gatwick (73-78) we had a delightful skipper 'Frank' Francis who had flown Hastings and possibly C130s based at Colerne.
When I knew him he supplemented his salary by buying cars at auction and selling them on. Does anybody remember him from their Hastings days?
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Old 29th Jan 2015, 10:24
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Well what was it like to fly?

It has been over 40 years but here are a few thoughts. The first is that the flight deck had 4 (local flights) or 5 of us. Captain, Co-pilot, Nav, Eng and the Sig. You entered usually by the main door on the port side and completed the ‘cardiac climb’ to the flight deck. The flight deck by modern standards was huge, with 2 enormous pilots seats in green leather

The pre start checks completed, the engineer primed the fuel, pressed the starter button and booster coil, and turned over an engine ((8 blades) to ensure no hydraulic locking caused by oil in the bottom cylinders). The engine started and was turned over (at I think 1500rpm) to warm the oil and cylinder head.

Taxing was by asymmetric brake and power, and was like most Hastings operating, an acquired art. The brake was pneumatic and inflated a rubber sack inside the hub to push brake linings against a drum. This sack was prone to burst if allowed to get hot. You lined up on a runway and locked the tail wheel. The throttles were advanced by the Captain using differing amounts of power in each engine to try and keep the thing straight until the tail came up, and you got some rudder control. Take off power was max RPM (was it 2800?) and 56 inches of boost.

There was no V1, there was an ‘unstick’ speed. Once it was in a shallow climb, the gear was retracted by the Co, and at safety speed rated power was ordered, and was set by the eng. (2400 / 46 inches). When safe to do so (300 feet?) the take off flap was retracted

It was not pressurised so we tended to fly around the 8 to 10 thousand feet level, changing super charger gear on the way up (once again memory – when the boost started to fall off at about 8000 feet?). I seem to remember cruise descending. Cruise boost was 36 inches, and the fuel used at this setting was much reduced from the fuel used at 44 inches. There was a restriction on boost between 36 and 44 (?) inches. The heavier you were the more power you needed to cruise. Since cruise boost was 36 inches then the extra power was delivered by more RPM. This had the effect that the heavier you were the higher you cruised, and this resulted in lower cruise levels as the weight reduced.

Straight and level was fine, but the ailerons and elevators were very heavy. Auto pilot was very basic straight and level – no height or heading lock. It was very noisy. If it was raining outside, it leaked like a sieve and you got soaked. I well remember flying with a raincoat over my flying suit. All our pilots carried some device to scrape the frost off the inside of the windscreen. Conversation without intercom was all but non existent.

Anti ice was a porous leading edge and fluid was pumped to the relevant surfaces, (including?) the props. Ice would fly off the props hitting the side of the aeroplane with a great bang! Engine carb de-ice was one switch for all 4 engines. You waited until at least 2 engines started to ‘cough’ and then you switched on the hot air. The throttles would also freeze. I remember at the end of one long descent asking for 30 inches and getting nothing, resulting in another 500 feet of unplanned descent towards a very cold looking Irish sea before they unfroze.

It was also, by modern standards slow (172kts indicated – about 210 true) and inefficient. UK to Cyprus non stop would be 10 to 11 hours and the best part of 3000 gallons, leaving very little in the way of payload. It was also interesting to see the reserves at destination distributed around the 14 tanks. 30 gallons a tank looks very like empty to a new Co.

And as for landing. The physical strength required to round out came as a great shock. As a result the eng worked the throttles, and you called for him to close the power (‘slow cut eng’) when you thought you were there. You could 3 point it, but the tail and rudder was then ‘sheltered’ by the fuselage. You could do a wheelie, landing just on the main wheels, and let the tail come down gently when you thought you had control of the thing. Thought you had control, because you were never really sure it would not be off to the grass. I remember one co pilot leaving the runway, getting back on to the runway again, and then taxing round to the dispersal where the ground crew were waiting with a fire hose, to hose off the mud.

It was all very entertaining and a long time ago, but it made at lot more sense when I read ‘Fate is the Hunter’!
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Old 29th Jan 2015, 10:56
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Circuit and Landing

I seem to remember that once in the circuit, the Handling Pilot (HP) called out to the Flight Engineer (FE) the power setting that he required i.e the "Boost" in inches. In an ideal situation, the sequence of calls from the end of the downwing leg should have been "two-six inches" followed by the same response from the FE who was making the power changes. Then "two-two inches", then "one-eight inches" and finally "slow-cut", at which point the HP rounded out as the FE slowly closed the throttles. The aircraft would then nicely settle down or commence a series of ever increasing bounces referred to as an "undamped phugoid". On one occasion during a copilot training detail, the training captain was heard to exclaim, "Copilot, the call is slow-cut not , oh ****!!"
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Old 29th Jan 2015, 11:05
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Thanks for that staircase.
I was only a lowly second pilot who managed to escape from the dead end job after fourteen months, so I never got a chance to handle the damned thing! I do remember flight engineers looking out of their side window and adjusting the rate of the "slow cut" as they judged the height of the starboard main wheel above the runway. If the landing was a greaser they claimed the credit, if it was a bad one they blamed the captain!
I also remember the top of descent "get rid of the dog ends" ritual. In flight catering used to supply aluminium tins (red & white) of OXO cubes in the rations, which we used as ashtrays. My job was to dispose of the evidence by throwing it out of my DV window as we descended through five thousand feet. It usually resulted in a loud clang and a red mark when it hit part of the airframe or number three prop!
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Old 29th Jan 2015, 11:11
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The last three stories are superb. Can't help chuckling. Makes my 2 x 6 hours Lyneham-Gibraltar, return, (courtesy of ATC) pale into total insignificance.
Lovely stuff!

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