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Canberra hours

Old 16th Aug 2009, 09:07
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XV208 , ref your post #56
You stated that Snoopy joined 48 sqn at Changi in 1966, but at that time 48 sqn flew Hastings ( i was in FEAF at the time ).
Are you referring to a Canberra or a Hastings ?
Happy memories of FEAF, in my opinion THE posting of that era.
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Old 20th Aug 2009, 18:45
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360 Squadron aircrew

Dear All, many thanks for this interesting trip down memory lane. I had the great pleasure of flying with 360 squadron late 60's / early 70's, and was interested to see Alex Wedderburn's name mentioned earlier in this thread. Does anyone have contact information for him that could be shared?

Also, I was lucky enough to fly regularly with Dinty Moore and Alex Ford, though haven't heard them mentioned for many years.

I loved the Canberra, and really enjoyed my 15 hour conversion at Bassingbourn. Having just returned from seven months at sea in Ark Royal, I was very out of touch with what was going on in the UK at that time (summer '68). So, imagine my surprise, when on a GCA into Bassingbourn, a Spitfire and Me 109 flew over the top of me. No, I had not entered a time-warp (though I thought I had), merely just seen two of the aircraft used in the filming of the 'Battle of Britain' flying overhead.

Those were the days!

Lots of 'navigation training' trips to Cyprus and Malta, and 'good relations' with the customs chaps on our return.

What a great time to be in the Services.

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Old 20th Aug 2009, 21:41
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We must have overlapped at least on 360 - I was there Oct 66- Summer 89, and having been grounded by the medics I was station (Watton) Project Officer for the move of the squadrons to Cottesmore
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Old 21st Aug 2009, 20:36
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Wander00, that is more than likely. Watton was a blast but I recall Cottesmore being lots of fun, too, especially having breakfast in transport cafes in Mess Kit, after Mess Dinners!

Not sure one is allowed to do that sort of thing these days!!

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Old 25th Aug 2009, 22:58
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I flew Canberras from 1975-79 and one of the pilots I had the pleasure of flying with was Sqn Ldr ("gentleman") Jim Cox - certainly one of the best pilots I ever flew with (and there were a lot). I am sure he celebrated 4000hrs in Canberras (he was an ex leader of the 4 ship Canberra aerobatic team). The Boss was on the tarmac with a celebratory bottle bubbly with the Staish at the time, when Jim broke into the circuit and proceeded to do an immaculate Canadian Break - Boss went red but no words were said!!

He once demonstrated that to me coming back from the Orkneys at 2000ft after a JMC mission, when I was stood next to him (I was only 5' 5"). I'll show you my Canadian Break he said. Right ho I said, I'll strap in. No need he said, just watch the G-meter, it'll go from 1g to 1.3g, back to 1g, then down to .75g, and then back to 1g. And it did exactly that! You could have put a cup of coffee on the coaming, it was that smooth.

I did Bruce Bull's last IR (and flight in the RAF) in a Canberra with Jim. After demonstrating the standard asymmetric approach procedure, he asked Jim if he had passed, which of course he had (Bruce was an outstanding pilot), and then demonstrated what he would really do if faced with an engine out. This was essentially to come in fast (150kt - faster than the safety speed, to which you normally reduced below, at 600 feet - which meant you were committed to land) and at 300ft, dump the throttle, put down the flaps at the appropriate time and land - thereby never having the degree of asymmetric thrust problem using the other method.

I always remember sitting in the back of a practice asymmetric to land one night when the pilot announced - "ball in the middle, on the glidepath , 600ft - my decision is to land" and at 300ft, "I don't think we are going to make it". My right hand was descending fast when the QFI/IRE said "don't eject I think we can get the other one in time"!! For those not acquainted with the Canberra, I think its probably true to say more people were killed practising asymmetics than those for real.

Just for the record, my first flight at St Mawgan was in WK 127 -Jul 1 1976. The T19 could carry four people, and often did for ferries and rangers. It was so slippery it could make Gibraltar with 3000lbs of fuel less than the heavier TT18.

Happy days.

Last edited by BSweeper; 26th Aug 2009 at 21:30.
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Old 26th Aug 2009, 09:07
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rej - I'm still here! I know who you are, seem to remember a pool cue fight in Elgin on a JMC?

From my 100 Sqn mid to late 80s days main contenders would've been W+9, D Tut the SBO, Soapy Watson or Nick Petts. All of them then had tales from the 50s that made your eyes water so would've been flying the Canberra for donkey's. Soapy, a fine gent, gets my bet. Any one know whether he or the SBO are still around?

Many great memories, mainly based around JMCs, rangers to Europe and Cyprus APCs:

Coming back from Cyp with Bill Viv AKA 'Primrose' (RIP) in one of the oldest B2s bottling out at around FL530 with still a decent ROC on - no pressure jerkins see?

Getting intercepted by Greek F5s on a FIR route without Gr dip clear and swapping international 'you are to follow me and land' hand signals.

SBO starting the escape/tunnelling committee at Macrahanish!

Happy days

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Old 28th Aug 2009, 22:05
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The RNZAF B.12s & T.13s are all scrapped.

Here is what one of my sources had to say
"The B-12 and the T-13 were operated only by 35 squadron till Dec 1977. When
the squadron converted to EW role, the B-12 and T-13 were moved around and
saw service in 16 Squadron and finally in 6 Squadron. The T-13 got phased
out in 1989, along with a host of other Canberra following the fatal
accident of F-1020 at Pune. The reason was that the C of Inquiry wrongly
deduced Canberra structural failure of the fin, when in fact the fin was
found intact in the debris."

One T.13 was used by the Test Pilot School in Bangalore and it was scrapped as well.

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Old 29th Aug 2009, 22:22
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360 and watton

Greywings, Wander00 and others have mentioned names and events from 360 Sqdn at Watton. Happy days!
13 of us Dark Blues arrived to form 360 only to find the T17s had not been hatched. The light blue cranberry squadron (98?) and Dark Blue 831 were disestablished to form 360. Those T4s did have bang seats to answer a question posed some time back.
So time on our hands filled by lots of rides in the T4s, lots of cards and uckers and even a ride to Nice in a Varsity with K.S. (crab who did an exchange with 849 A flt )
Victorious, Ark Royal and the other grey funnel flat tops were an amazing experience but the Officers mess Club on a weekend was hard to beat!
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Old 30th Aug 2009, 00:02
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B8 Wt364

What happened to B8 WT364 when it left Boscombe Down?

Here is extract from memoirs.

The RAF carried out its hot weather trials from Idris airfield south of Tripoli, in Libya. Fighter aircraft ferried to Idris from Boscombe Down were always accompanied by another aircraft, usually a Canberra. I set off with Jock Cowan as my navigator in B8 Canberra WT364 on 13 October, my 30th birthday. We escorted a Swift, via Malta, for an overnight and then on to Idris the next day. We left the Swift at Idris and next day set off on a direct flight back to Boscombe Down via Tangmere.

I climbed out of Idris to about 42,000 ft and pushed the aircraft along just under buffet at 0.84 Indicated Mach Number (IMN). We were over flat cirro-stratus cloud. The sun seemed very bright and filled the cockpit with brilliant light. My eyes were squinting, even under the dark visor of the helmet. I began to lose focus with my eyes, particularly around the centre of my vision. Slowly a blank spot of vision grew in size and it became intriguing to look directly at an instrument and not be able to see it. Peripheral vision also grew a little fuzzy and I became concerned with the extent of the deterioration of vision. The Navigator was quick to share my concern.

We both knew that I would have to do an instrument descent into Tangmere. How could I do this if I couldn't read the instruments? I was forced to slow the aircraft away from compressibility buffet and tried the effects of 100 per cent oxygen. We called for actual weather conditions over France, in case I would need to make a visual let-down and landing. Our point of no return became important as we did not want to get into a position where we would have to eject, being unable to see adequately to do an instrument descent.

Thinking the glare from the sun, reflecting from the cloud beneath, may be affecting my eyes, I closed my eyes for periods and then only opened my right eye to quickly check aircraft attitude. Twenty minutes of this treatment resulted in some improvement to both eyes, but particularly the left. Soon after we crossed the coast of France near Marseille and the cirro-stratus gave way to a darker layer of alto-stratus. Slowly my vision recovered enough for me to have confidence in doing the let down into Tangmere.

I didn't really want to go via Tangmere. This was for purposes of customs clearance and I knew that, for special purposes, there was a resident customs officer in Salisbury. Consequently, I declared a Pan emergency, describing deteriorated vision from high altitude glare. This information was quickly advised to the Institute of Aviation Medicine at Farnborough. By the time I had landed at Boscombe, there were three Aviation medicine doctors en route. The subsequent eye examination and debreif was very thorough.

There had been previous reports/complaints by pilots subjected to glare but none quite as serious as mine. A darker visor was already under consideration and my experience caused its production and issue to be fast tracked. My eyes took about two weeks to return to normal.
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Old 30th Aug 2009, 07:55
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All early T4's had an ejection seat for the nav. and two "normal" and uncomfortable saets for student pilot and QFI. Can't remember when they were modded. to "bang" seats in the front - early 60's I think. PR3 and 7 aircraft only had two ejection seats - pilot and nav. Third crew if reqd. sat on the dreaded "rumble" seat next to pilot or, after T/O, went to sleep on the more comfortable "couch" in the nose! Great aircraft and great days!!
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Old 30th Aug 2009, 11:07
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I wonder if Flownit remembers the time our oldest B2 on 360, WD935 went to Germany for a weekend land-away with an all Navy crew. The aircraft was still painted in the old Bomber Command black and grey. So this aircraft looking 10 years out of date lands with an all Navy crew - so the Plods thnk they have nicked the aircraft and arrest the three of them. All got sorted in the end. I flew WD935 on, I think, its last flight when we delivered it to Wroughton
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Old 6th Nov 2022, 20:03
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Any more information please?

If you have any further information about this accident please could you contact me? The pilot was my step-dad. He crashed the week before my sister turned two. We would love any information you might have! John was apparently too low for a successful ejection.

I was a member of the crash and smash team from 71 MU, RAF Bicester that recovered the remains of Canberra WJ674 (231 OCU) in early Aug 73. It came to rest in a field just East of the A1 on the approach to RAF Cottesmore. We had to dig up the engines as they were completely buried. IIRC the crew ejected safely.

My how time passes.

'We knew how to whinge but we kept it in the NAAFI bar.'

Last edited by Senior Pilot; 7th Nov 2022 at 00:09. Reason: Edit
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Old 6th Nov 2022, 20:05
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please see above, if you have any further information please do let me know! You are quite right, John died but his navigator ejected safely.

Originally Posted by Peter Carter
I'm pretty sure WJ 674 crashed at night during a practice asymmetric approach and killed the pilot (John Dennis?); the nav ejected safely. However, I stand ready to be corrected!

Last edited by Senior Pilot; 7th Nov 2022 at 00:08. Reason: Fix quote
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Old 6th Nov 2022, 20:09
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Any further information on this tragedy would be soo amazing! The pilot, John Dennis, was my step father. He died the week before my sister turned two. Our mum (Johnís wife) MichŤle died in 2012 and we have very little information about the accident or people who knew John. Any link would be amazing!
Originally Posted by longer ron
Yes you are correct Peter...I was a rigger on 231ocu at that time,from memory it was a Staff Nav (Max M ?) whom istr felt the a/c roll and buffet - called eject to the student.
He thought the pilot had ejected safely and I think landed near the 'The Fox' on the A1 and 'popped in' for a drink (who could blame him)
Unfortunately the a/c had either rolled too far or was too low for a safe ejection for the pilot,comparatively slow ejection sequence on a canberra.We were all absolutely gutted by it.
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Old 7th Nov 2022, 08:36
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Hi Luce
Sorry I cannot really add much more info,I was a rigger (Airframe Fitter) on 231 OCU at the time but I was not 'on shift' at the time of the accident.
AFAIK the training sortie went as planned until the turn onto final approach to Cottesmore,the RAF at that time still had OCU students doing 'Solo' Assymetric sorties (practice assymetric meant that one of the 2 engines would have been throttled back to idle),after some accidents in the 1970's - this was later changed to only doing practice assymetric sorties with a QFI (qualified flying instructor) on board.
The ejection sequence on Canberras was fairly 'slow' in that upon initiating ejection both the navigators hatch and the pilots canopy were jettisoned (using explosive bolts) and only then could the seat 'fire' out of the aircraft,the canberra (being a first generation jet) had older type ejection seats which did not have rocket packs,therefore any ejections had to be inside the seat limits (ie above a certain height/speed and less than a certain descent rate).
Max Murray was a very experienced 'Staff' Navigator on 231 OCU and one of his roles was to accompany OCU students on their 'solo' trips (the canberra needed 2 crew members on board) ,at some stage on the final approach he realised that the aircraft was getting into an irrecoverable situation (probably buffeting and rolling towards the idling engine) and called 'eject' to the pilot,max ejected safely and thought that John had also got out ok as he saw his parachute start to deploy, unfortunately the aircraft had either rolled too far and/or got too low and slow for a succesful parachute deployment.
The importance of my 'rolled too far' comment is related to the fact that the seat needed an upward trajectory to maintain enough height for the parachute to deploy successfully,if the aircraft had rolled onto its side at low altitude then the seat would not have had the all important upward trajectory.
Please not - that is all from memory - it was a long time ago.

regards LR
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Old 7th Nov 2022, 10:58
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Hi Luce.
I am sorry to hear of your family's loss. This is from Page 26, 'Winged Warriors - The Cold War from the Cockpit':
"In 1973 the Officers' Mess was crammed and my course lived in tiny rooms in a wooden hut about two hundred yards from the Mess. My Flight Commander was my former flight commander, Dickie Lees. During groundschool the reality of our chosen careers struck home. A lecture from one of the staff navigators was interupted and he was told that he was required to fly that night replacing a navigator who had reported sick. That evening the news spread that a Canberra had crashed and the crew had ejected. Our lecturer had been taken to hospital but his pilot, John Dennis, had been killed. During a night simulated asymetric overshoot, control had been lost and although the crew ejected, by the time the pilot's ejection seat operated, the aircrfat was already rolling fast and was almost inverted; there was insufficient height for John's parachute to deploy. The navigator thankfully only suffered compression fractures of the spine which were typical injuries caused by the older type of ejection seat fitted to the Canberra."
I was on the course immediately after John. I had seen him around, but we hadn't met. As I recall, he was a former Vulcan co-pilot converting onto the Canberra (perhaps after a ground tour as an Ops Officer?). He was crewed, I think, with a first-tour navigator who had reported sick on the day in question, hence the need for a replacement navigator. Max Murray was the only one available. He understood the situation but was midly irritated as he had planned to go out that evening with his wife. Later that evening, as I went into the Mess, I heard about the accident. It was very sobering. I was a first-tourist pilot and had yet to fly my first sortie in a Canberra. Night practice asymetric by students was removed from the syllabus after John's accident.
My first asymetric for real came six months later - and it was at night.
It's nearly fifty years since John's tragic loss. Since then, I've driven up and down the A1 hundreds of times. Whenever I pass The Fox, I remember that night. I always will.
Best wishes,
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Old 7th Nov 2022, 12:03
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Originally Posted by Wander00
I flew WD935 on, I think, its last flight when we delivered it to Wroughton
Possibly some crossed wires here - WD935 ended its days at the St Athan scrappie, though the nose section was spared and survives to this day at the South Yorkshire Air Museum, Doncaster (happily under cover).

It may have been roaded to St A from Wroughton, but that seems a tad unlikely.
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Old 7th Nov 2022, 15:41
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Hi, John Dennis, the pilot of WH973 was my step-dad. He does the well before my sister turned two. Do you remember anything else about him or the accident? Is there any chance that there are any other pieces of Johnís Canberra?
Originally Posted by wrymouth1
I remember WH973 crashing at Cottesmore. I was instructing on 231 OCU at the time and was SFSO as well. I have a piece of the control column on my desk !!
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Old 7th Nov 2022, 17:58
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May I offer up the name of Mike Brook as an hours contender he frequently mutters on about the Canberra following around like a faithful dog, he did the whole lot from squadron pilot through to trapper and then flew many marks as a test pilot etc
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Old 7th Nov 2022, 20:33
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Canberra WJ674 (231 OCU) i

Peter , longer Ron and Paul, thank you so much for remembering my father John Dennisís tragic accident nearly 50 years ago . I am so pleased The navigator ejected successfully . It sounds like it was hard to get out of an ejection (from older type of ejection seats ) without some sort of injury if you did manage to get out of the Canberra- which sounds very tricky
It also sounds terrifying to have gone on the course after such an incident and to make those sort of manoeuvres afterwards . I am really pleased that Night practice asymetric by students was removed from the syllabus after John's accident.

What brave souls you all are .
Incidentally John was the same age my son is now, really just a boy .

if anyone knew him personally I would really welcome a contact
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