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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Old 10th May 2012, 14:07
  #2561 (permalink)  
 
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Danny, your detailed data amazes as always! Everything you say is endorsed by Wikki (unless of course you wrote their entry ;-)
Vultee A-31 Vengeance - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Perhaps more interesting though is this YouTube offering
Some apparently operational footage as well as formation air to air shots showing clearly the typically nose high level flight attitude due to the zero incidence wing (needed for accurate dive bombing). A pity that it is little known now, though at least one still exists in Australia.
Nice of you to celebrate the Douglas Dauntless (a rival to the Vengeance) and a good point that it was what turned the war in the Pacific.
BTW didn't I read somewhere that the Stuka itself was the result of the Luftwaffe buying and evaluating a US Dive Bomber and being so impressed with it that it adopted the Ju87?
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Old 10th May 2012, 18:31
  #2562 (permalink)  
 
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Vultee Vengeance.

Chugalug,

Thank you so much - your Youtube video clip is absolutely marvellous ! I'd no idea that footage like this even existed. Over the years all I've managed to gather were a couple of very short shots from one of the BBC war documentaries. These showed one Vengeance being taxied in a downpour, and another, close-up, being pushed back by a few lads. And that's all.

I've watched your clip about three times (and I'll watch it many, many more - for it takes me straight back to the days of my youth!) Where has this footage been all these years ? So far I think:

It was probably taken at the Vengeance OTU at Peshawar; this was set up much later in the war than the time I am writing about. I do not think any of the shots are operational - certainly not those with the full RAF roundels. None of them seem to show 250lb bombs on the wing stations, although many have the racks fitted (one of the shots shows a practice rack (for 4x11 1/2lb smoke bombs - or a bike under a Swordfish !). But it's on the right wing, whereas we always had them on the left ! Matter of taste, I suppose.

I don't know Peshawar; the airfield shot is foreign to me, but it does look like N.W.Frontier country; could be Pesh.

The flying shots are wonderful. I think that they are all Indian Air Force crews. The box-of-six was our standard tactical formation. The shots of the massive dive brakes are a perfect illustration to the description I shall later give of them. FE numbers (on some aircraft) must have been very late - we never got past FD series, and 8 Squadron had a FB989 in July '44 when the game was about up for all Vengeance ops. I could go on for hours !

All who have the slightest interest in my tale must watch this clip - again and again !

You may well be right about the origin of the Stuka design. The pre-war RAF was intended solely for the defence of the UK, a dive bomber is an offensive weapon, we didn't need them. Nor did the US Army, only the US navy did. So that would really be the only place for Hitler to look for ideas, I suppose (I don't know what the Russians had).

Chugalug, you've made an old man very happy !

Much more to come soon,

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 10th May 2012 at 18:34. Reason: Add Title.
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Old 10th May 2012, 20:03
  #2563 (permalink)  
 
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Danny, I'm delighted that you are pleased! Unfortunately that seems to be the lot as far as YouTube are concerned (Vultee Vengeance titled anyway) but a Google search for "vultee vengeance" at:
https://www.google.co.uk
will produce (as always) many many pages of possible links.
You might, if you so wished, link onto some of the more promising ones. There is for instance one dedicated to the IAF aircraft:
Vengeance Tales - The Vultee A-31 Vengeance in Indian Air Force (Mukund Murty]
and here for the RAF:
Vultee Vengeance (RAF)
and some of the ladies building your steeds at Nashville:
Category:Vultee A-31 Vengeance - Wikimedia Commons
Oh, by the way, the German General was Udet and the aircraft was the Curtis Hawk:
Ernst Udet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 10th May 2012, 23:53
  #2564 (permalink)  
 
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Chugalug,

What a feast of links you've laid out for me ! I'm even more in your debt now -even though my next Post is never going to get written at this rate.

I'm rather surprised that Ernst Udet chose the Curtis Hawk. We knew it in Burma as the Mohawk, I think 5 Sqdn had some in the North of the area. As far as I can remember, it would be far too flimsy to serve as a basis for a dive bomber development. Fighter/Ground attack would be more in its line. Out there it suffered from a close resemblence to the Nakajima "Oscar": it collected a bit of friendly fire on that account, I believe ( the Oscar would have it for breakfast if they ever met).

With renewed thanks, then,

Goodnight, Danny.
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Old 11th May 2012, 00:41
  #2565 (permalink)  
 
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Chugalug,

That Vengeance in Australia would be this one I'm presuming? CAMDEN MUSEUM OF AVIATION WEBSITE Click on the small colour photo to the right for an enlarged version.
I spent a couple of days a few years ago at that museum dusting and cleaning some of the aircraft - I clearly remember climbing up onto this one with a vacuum cleaner!!
I believe up until the mid 1980s or so they used to drag this machine out of the hangar and fire up the engine occasionally. It wasn't airworthy by then but apparently the noise was quite something. Museum is currently closed (it's a family-run thing and the owner passed away a few years ago) but they do want to get it open again.

Adam
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Old 11th May 2012, 01:43
  #2566 (permalink)  
 
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Harold Thomas and his son Allan, who have both passed away saved many aircraft that would have been extinct.

His example went straight from RAAF disposal and to a technical college, from which Harold saved it and the aircraft is in good condition and complete though some photos show it missing its mainplanes which are taken off to save space. Aircraft until Harold died was run at least once a year and the aircraft would present asirworthy rebuild.

There are several examples which are far less complete dowsn here which may make it to static display, but not for a long time.

Some talk that most of Harolds aircraft could end up with HARS which would be good.

Regards

Col
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Old 11th May 2012, 16:49
  #2567 (permalink)  
 
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Vengeance Museum Specimens

To: Chugalug, Kookabat and Herkman,

Thanks a lot for your researches into Vengeances perdu.

There was a tale I read some years ago about a complete specimen somewhere in Pakistan. It's not all that improbable. The OTU was in Peshawar, that would be a very likely place for one to be kept if (as I venture to surmise) it is still a military establishment in that highly militarised land. Does anyone have a contact in their High Commission ? - the Air Attache would know.

But why are we overlooking the bleedin' obvious ? This was an American aircraft. How about the Smithsonian ? It was an A-31 (or A-35) of the Army Air Corps after all. And how about Vultee ? Haven't they one tucked away somewhere ? (And my thanks to them for making that wonderful video clip, and to Chugalug who found it, and to the unknown IAF member who filmed it all those years ago.)

We have PPruners in the States. Go to it, chaps !
 
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Old 11th May 2012, 20:57
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Vultee Vengeance Part 2.

Vultee rolled up its sleeves and got on with the job. Airframes were no problem, alloy sheet and tubing were still in reasonable supply; one aircraft of that era was much like another to build. Engines were another matter. Vultee, like most aircraft makers, bought them in, and with US rearmament in full swing, they were scarce as hen's teeth. Vultee's scouts scoured the land, and struck oil in Galveston (Texas). Several hundred Wright "Double Cyclone" radials sitting on the dockside, quietly rusting away and looking for a good home.

These engines had a chequered history. They had been ordered by the French to power one of their new fighter designs, but by the time they had been delivered, France had collaped. This batch would have fallen into Nazi hands had someone not had the sense to load them back on one of the last freighters to leave Bordeaux for the States.

There they were dumped until Vultee found them. Possession would be nine-tenths of the law and the question of ownership could wait. My guess is that Wright (the makers) had been paid in advance, so they weren't interested, and the French were in no position to ask for their money back. Whatever, Vultee paid the storage charges, carried off their finds in triumph and the production line started to roll.

In due course our man in Washington had a knock on his door. "Your aircraft are ready for delivery". He took a hard look at what he (or his predecessor) had ordered, and turned pale. It looked a proper turkey.

The glory days of the Stuka were two years past. The "cons" of the dive bomber were now as clear as the "pros" had been before. It has to be "built like a battleship", immensely strong, to resist the stresses of the dive and pull-out. Strong means heavy, and you end up with a machine too clumsy to fight and too slow to run away. It can survive only under cover of complete air superiority, which the Germans had (over Poland and France) in 1939-40. In the Battle of Britain they lost it, and the Stuka then became easy meat for the Hurricane and Spitfire.

This thing we'd got was clearly going to be of no use in the European theatre. The great Sir Basil Embry, later C-in-C of Fighter Command, wrote in one of his books that he airtested one and found it inferior to our Fairey "Battle", which had been massacred in France in 1940. I believe Boscombe Down got one and reached the same conclusion.

We suggested to the U.S.A.A.C. that they might like to take it off our hands: the offer was politely declined. A use had to be found for it somehow. A handful were kept in Britain as target tugs ("Skid Row" for a military aircraft).

There was in those days a recognised pecking order for the allocation of military equipment. Anything we didn't want in Britain was passed on to the Middle East. What they didn't need or couldn't use was left on the ship and went on, through the Canal or round the Cape, to the end of the line - India.

You will not be surprised to learn that our white elephants turned up in Karachi, and then passed on to the big RAF Maintenance Unit at Mauripur. They had travelled "CKD" ("completely knocked down"), like flat-pack kits, and (guess what) - the paperwork and assembly manuals had been lost in transit.

The Chief Technical Officer at Mauripur rose to the occasion. He had a hangar cleared, a set of crates opened and the contents spread out on the floor. A giant three-dimensional jigsaw then began: it was a case of "here, Fred, this bit looks as if it should go on there". Gradually an aircraft took shape and at last they only had a few pieces left over. They got the engine running and pencilled in a date for the first flight of their ugly duckling.

They then looked round for a test pilot, but curiously all their regular people seemed to be on leave or had suddenly succumbed to some local ailment. At last a newcomer was found skulking in his tent. His pleas fell on deaf ears. "Pilot, aincher ?" they said, " Aircraft, innit ?" "Fly !" Consigning his soul to his Maker, our reluctant hero strapped himself in and managed to get up and down in one piece. The disappointed crowd drifted away.

What's well begun is half done !

Goodnight, all.

Danny42C.


There's a thing !

Postscript
I have been looking hard at the Video Clip, and have just seen how to "pause" it ! Consequently:

(Question 1.) At 1.56, No.3 looks like sideswiping his leader before long. Leader has averted his gaze (wouldn't you ?) No.2 is all right. BUT, what is that thing poking up near No. 3's (right) wingtip ? It's casting a shadow, it's real. I've never seen anything like it and have absolutely no idea what it might be. And at 2.52, a chap is rolling over into a dive. The same thing appears near his left wingtip.

A possible answer might be "attachments for radio aerials running back to fin". But all VVs had a short mast over the cockpits and a line back to fin. That's all they needed for the MF R/T, which was all the radio they ever had. There was never an aerial from the wingtip. What is it, can anybody help ?

(Question 2.) Back to 2.52 - he's hopelessly low for a proper dive, can't be more than 2-3,000 ft., must be a shallow dive. The target might be the bridge (could it be the Narigan bridge ? - ought to know, had a go at that myself, but it was long ago, can't be sure). Are some of the little white puffs cloudlets or bombs ? - seem to be all over the shop.

In my #2550 p.128, I say: "I do not think any of these shots are operational". Watch 3.10 to 3.12. ---- Bomb flash ?

My "FE"s were really "FB"s, (after a good look) The aircraft are in the operational time frame.

Chastened,

Danny42C
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Old 11th May 2012, 21:32
  #2569 (permalink)  
 
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I've looked at the near wing tip objects that you point to at 1.56 and 2.52 and again at 2.23, Danny. In the latter shot the light catches a line extending from it towards the fin. I would have thought that to be a radio aerial, though I take your point that there is obviously one from the radio mast to the fin. Could the wing ones (if they indeed exist) be for HF rather that MF radios? Could these IAF aircraft have been differently equipped to RAF ones?
As to the "attack" on the hilltop at 3.10, it seems very shallow for a divebomber doesn't it?. I must admit that it was this shot that made me think this could be operational, as well as the bridge scene, but you would have a better idea than I. I think that there is typical stratus in the valley, and perhaps a bit of orographic off the hill or is that cloud from a bomb explosion? As to the "flash" could it be gun flash? Could this be a strafing attack? Is it from a bomb, or simply a bit of film "noise" seen on a lot of WWII footage?
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Old 12th May 2012, 13:38
  #2570 (permalink)  
 
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Gun Flash ?

Chugalug,

Radio aerial - yes, it does look like that at 2.23, doesn't it ? But a few frames later it all goes haywire - flopping about like the weird stuff that seems to be stuck on top of the front cockpit frame. Could it be on the camera lens ? But I must admit a radio aerial attachment is the most likely explanation. It's just that I've never seen one; I put in some 400 hours on all marks except IV, and this thing's certainly not a IV. One of the unsolved mysteries, I'm afraid.

Now the flash. Whatever it was, it wasn't gun flash. The front guns were a long way back in the wings and fired down blast tubes. The propellant gases would have burnt out long before they got to the leading edge. And of course the gunner couldn't get his guns forward of the beam; in any case there would be flash eliminators on his guns provided the original US .300 Brownings had been replaced by British .303s, as they were on all our VVs. A film snag as you suggest ? Quite likely! Strafing ? - you'd be lucky to get twenty rounds away before the guns jammed. We left all that to the Hurricanes !

You're almost certainly right about the puffs of cloud, bomb dust was browner (blacker if you'd hit something worthwhile !)

I'm sure this clip will turn up queries galore.

Goodnight, Chugalug, (EDIT: Good afternoon - broadband's been down !)

Danny. 

Last edited by Danny42C; 12th May 2012 at 13:44.
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Old 14th May 2012, 22:16
  #2571 (permalink)  
 
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Vultee Vengeance Part 3.

(The Customer gets the goods).

Aller anfang ist schwer. Number two was easier and they soon got the hang of it. In the end they assembled enough to equip four RAF Squadrons (45,82,84 and 110), two IAF (briefly RIAF) Squadrons (7 and 8), and a number of Calibration and Special Duty Flights. There must have been several hundred in all.

It went through Marks I - III (with no external differences). I never got to fly a Mk IV, but was told it was much better (I believe they restored the Angle of Incidence at the behest of the USAAC, which would make it a better aircraft, but (IMHO) a worse dive bomber).

All wore the blue and white roundels and fin stripes of South East Asia Air Command ( a red centre might be mistaken for the Japanese "Rising Sun" marking).

The Squadrons which got the things were old Blenheim units in West Bengal, which had been flown out from the UK via the Middle East in '42 when an invasion of India seemed imminent. The Japs had come up from Singapore through Malaya and Burma without slowing, and there wasn't much to stop them now. I think they only halted on the Indian borders having outrun their supply lines. Perhaps they decided to consolidate what they had already won, (which was pretty well all South-East Asia plus a big chunk of China), before taking on any more. It was anybody's guess.

For whatever reason, they called a halt on the India/Burma frontiers (and were never to come much further West). Front lines of a sort stabilised, panic subsided and the Blenheims were flown back to the Middle East, where they would be more use. But only their junior pilots (and an odd navigator) ferried them, leaving their Squadron and Flight Commanders, and the remaining crews, stranded in India with nothing to fly.

The next step was obvious. It would be nice to think that AHQ Delhi planned it all, but booze-ups and breweries spring to mind ! It was a "no-brainer" to put these windfall aircraft and unemployed crews together. Even so, they still needed replacements for the pilots who had gone back to the Middle East. Another happy accident (as we first thought) supplied them. The story went like this:

In the summer of 1942, it had been decided to form a Spitfire Wing in India. The Spitfire and Hurricane OTUs in the UK were trawled for 36 new pilots to fill most of the junior posts, a W/Cdr Ritchey was to command the Wing; he would travel out with them. The Squadron and Flight Commanders and a nucleus of experienced pilots would travel out separately with the ground crews. All would come together with the Spitfires sent by sea at the same time. We would then fight a Battle of India against the Jap invader. It was a nice idea.

How much of this tale we were actually told, who was doing the telling, and how much was rumour and wishful thinking, I cannot say now. The Wing Commander was a fact. The 36 pilots were facts. The rest seems to have been a fairy tale. Crucially, there were no Spitfires at all !

So the pilots were shared out between the four ex-Blenheim squadrons. As I've said, I ended up in 110 (Hyderabad) Squadron. It seems that in WWI, the Nizam of that State (by repute then the world's richest man) had dipped into petty cash to buy a whole squadron of DH9s for the R.F.C. In return, his name was included with the Squadron number; his crest (a tiger's head) was painted on their plywood sides.

One such crest had been cut out of a crash and was carried round everywhere by the Squadron as a sort of talisman. The artist had given the animal a mournful expression, the troops called it "The Constipated Tiger". (I believe a later Nizam was equally generous to the RAF in WWII, but they did not, AFAIK, collect another "trophy"). As to the "Tiger" panel, it must be stored somewhere still if the white ants didn't get at it.

All this took place in a bit of a rush, we'd landed in India a week before Christmas, done our duty as "waiters" at Worli, spent a few days on the train, and by New Year '43 I'd met my fate for the next three years, It looked like a double-decker bus with wings.

More in a day or two,

Goodnight, all,

Danny42C


There's a thing ! 

Last edited by Danny42C; 14th May 2012 at 22:21.
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Old 15th May 2012, 08:17
  #2572 (permalink)  
 
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Danny, it seems to me that you and your oppos made more sense of the "Fog of War" than most are able to. "Why are we here, what are we going to do, what are we going to do it with?", all seem to have been answered persuasively and logically, which is more than most could boast then I suspect. Your entire story to date hints at the massive logistical challenge that WWII was, for all sides and in all theatres.
Even in the relatively certain times of the 60s, the anomaly of flying a WWIIish aircraft around the world (The HP Hastings) was only too apparent, even to those who loved and flew her. Just as in your case it was explained by those in the know; that we would go on doing so until the AW681 VTOL transport came into service, which in turn would support what eventually became the Harrier force. It never did of course, and we struggled on until Harold Wilson bought 60ish Hercs for 60M. Sweet!
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Old 15th May 2012, 18:22
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Chugalug,

Welcome ! - things have been very quiet.

I don't think that we were any better than your generation in making sense of what the Powers that Be might be going to do with us next, or why or where or what with or what for ! They themselves were at the mercy of "Events, dear boy, Events", (pace Harold McMillan). It is a truism that: "No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy". Perhaps we were just more philosophical.

I can feel for you in your Hastings. The sight of one of these on finals in a strong, gusting crosswind, wallowing about like a galleon in a gale, was enough to strike terror in the stoutest heart (did you ever wonder why the Runway Control Corporal was hiding under his caravan ?) All your Christmases must have come at once when you got the C-130s!

Your Youtube clip never ceases to intrigue. Sometimes the flash appears, sometimes not, once I swear I saw a double flash, and last night a "hollow" flash that must be a bomb. (And no, T####'s excellent Aussie plonk had nothing to do with it !). And who was that joker running around with dive brakes out ? Sometimes your ground crew would take a ride between dispersal and flights, but you'd close the things when your passengers hopped off. I hope he didn't forget and try to take off with them still open. It could have been messy.

I'm convinced the "action" scenes at the end are a montage of several different shots. The terrain he rolls over onto might well be flat, open Akyab or possibly a training back area, but the densely wooded hills look more like Arakan or the Naga and Chin hills East of Assam. That bit could be "ops" (and that's where the flash is). I could go on all night !

Cheers, Danny.
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Old 15th May 2012, 18:31
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Please do (go on all night), we're all paying attention.

Seriously, thank you very much for doing this
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Old 15th May 2012, 22:45
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Danny, I suspect the quietness is from an audience captivated by your saga and loath to interrupt it. However, as you have made clear quite a few times that you welcome feedback if only to confirm that there is indeed an audience, can I implore those that are avidly following your peregrination to post to that effect and follow Joe-FBS's example?
As regards the clip, Danny, it can be found by going to YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. and doing a search for Vultee Vengeance (if I post the link PPRuNe produces the same viewing window as in my original post). The author, fmcVlad, has an eclectic mixture of postings, mainly military, and seems to be a Russian based modeller, or that's my take at least. There is of course the means of posting comments or questions on the YouTube page, or of sending a personal message instead. The posting is two years old so may or may not exact a response. All it needs is to register, in the same way as with PPRuNe. If you like I can post a question, just let me know and I'll do it.
I'm sure that you are right about the montage, indeed the whole compilation is just that, and all woven together by Elgar! The "Arakan" hilltop setting is very reminiscent of the Borneo jungle where we dropped supplies to similar hilltop DZs during Confrontation. Ah memories!
The Hastie might have wallowed like a galleon on the approach, but she waddled like a duck once back on Terra Firma and on all three points! The amazing thing was though that co-pilot training culminated in "co-pilot solo" at the OCU, when in time honoured fashion your training captain would have you taxy to dispersal, climb out of the aircraft, be replaced by another U/T co-pilot, and off you would go for a take-off, circuit and landing as first pilot.
The instructor's faith in your prowess was not necessarily shared with others though, who having seen that such exercises were due to be flown would bring families and picnics to a safe vantage point to watch the resultant bouncing arrival fun and games! All such indulgence ceased with the changeover to the Hercules. It had a nosewheel and only the LH pilot had a tiller, ergo no co-pilot solos from the RH seat, ergo money saved, but not that tremendous vote of confidence for young inexperienced pilots.
Finally, I see that Avialogs are back on-line. They have a treasure trove of Pilots Notes etc, and here (albeit the A-35 Target Tug variant) is the RAF one for the Vengeance:
Avialogs - 4348 todo
Avialogs themselves can be found and registered at for free (downloading pdf files costs $'s) here:
Avialogs - Avialogs: Aviation E-Library and more

Last edited by Chugalug2; 16th May 2012 at 12:49.
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Old 16th May 2012, 15:50
  #2576 (permalink)  
 
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Chugalug,

Thanks once more for all your help, and for the researches you're undertaking on my behalf ! - In particular for the offer to post further questions on YouTube (of which I know nowt). I don't, however, think that there is much chance of getting any more footage of VVs. Heaven knows how Vlad (The Impaler ?) got hold of what I think must have been private 8 or 16mm film shot by an IAF member. How did he get away with it ? Were the SPs asleep ? AFAIK, all private cameras were forbidden (for obvious security reasons) in war zones.

But I'll try Avialog as you suggest, I'd be quite interested in seeing RAF Pilot's Notes for the VV. I never knew they even existed - suppose they had to make some up for the target tugs in UK.

Had to look up the AW681 VTOL - that would really have been something, wouldn't it ! (when I saw my first Harrier perform, I thought: "I'm seeing this - but I still don't believe it !")

Strikes me your new second dickies must have been brave men, to entrust their lives to some sprog who'd just soloed himself. But we were young and foolish......

Revenons a nos moutons - more on following Post.

Danny.

***************

JOE-FBS,

Thank you for the encouraging words - always welcome. But, while all feedback is appreciated, what I really need is another old timer (or, better still, more old timers) - For who will stand/At my right hand/And keep the Bridge with me? - I'm sure they're out there somewhere.

This Thread - any Thread - must not be a monologue. That is not what these Forums (yes, I know, Fora) are for. For the sake of Cliff's memory - and because I like the sound of my own voice - I can keep going for a long time yet (I hope !).

But it'll be on your own heads (present company excepted, of course !) if the Moderator rings down the curtain, and I wouldn't blame him,

Cheers,

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 16th May 2012 at 15:59.
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Old 16th May 2012, 16:22
  #2577 (permalink)  
 
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Vultee Vengeance Part 4. (Danny takes a Close Look)

The rest of the first day was spent in settling in, and getting to know people. Besides the NCO Navigators and Wop/AGs of the former bomber squadron, there were a few of their NCO pilots: W/O "Doug" McIlroy (NZ) and Sgts. "Reg" Duncan (CAN) and George Davies (RAF) on "A" Flight. As far as I remember, there were no officer pilots, other than "Topper" - F/O Topley - the Flight Commander. But he had two Navigator officers: P/O Robertson and another P/O whom I will not name for reasons which will later become obvious. Reg's dog "Spunky" (which he'd had for a month or so) completed the family. I have a Flight photograph taken in the first few days of '43, which I will post if I ever learn how to do it.

Domestic arrangements were simple. I was allocated a charpoy in the Sergeants' basha (this was long before I made my air-transportable DIY bed), and took a half-share in somebody else's "bearer". By now we'd all got a "tin box" (uniform case) from a local bazaar (Rs20) to secure our kit against theft and the "white ants" (termites) which were a constant plague. This box went under your charpoy.

Stores issued me with goggles, helmet (tropical, cloth) and mask/mike. That's all you'll need out here! (they gave me my own parachute, too). I still had my American "Ray-Bans"; they must have had issue sun-glasses, but I didn't draw any.

The Armoury gave me a Smith & Wesson .38 pistol, and a little cardboard box of 18 rounds. "That's your lot", they said "No more - sell your life dearly !" So back to stores for a lanyard, blue webbing holster, ammo pouch, shoulder strap and belt. The clobber was starting to build up. All this was padlocked into your tin box for the time being, as you didn't need to swagger around armed to the teeth in Bengal.

Next morning we strolled across to the Flights. I looked closely at a Vengeance; it was not love at first sight. The thing was enormous. The Spitfire is really quite a small aircraft. This monster was twice the size. With a 48ft wingspan, it was 40ft long and stood 14ft high to the top of the engine cowling. And now I had better start with a technical description, insofar as I can remember details.

It was a low mid-wing single engined all-metal monplane with two cockpits in tandem. All-up weight was around 14,000 lbs, including a bomb load of 1500 lbs: two 500 lb in an internal bomb bay and a 250 lb under each wing. Two .300 Brownings were mounted in each wing. Much more concerning these guns will be related in a later Post.

An inch yellow line, painted fom the nose along the top of the fuselage to the base of the screen was all the bombsight we needed. Twin .303 Brownings on a hand-held mounting fired back from the rear cockpit (there was nothing to stop you shooting your own tail off !).

This was the Navigator/Gunner's position. He had a swivel seat, a small map table in front of him, above this an altimeter and an ASI. And they gave him very rudimentary dual controls: throttle, rudder pedals (no wheelbrakes) and a stick (detachable and stowed at the side of the cockpit) . No trims and no hydraulic controls. The idea must have been that, if his pilot were incapacitated, the back-seat man could try belly-landing (wheels-down, he'd probably kill them both). We reckoned his best bet would be to fly home, bale out and leave his pilot to it !

He (and the pilot) had, most importantly, a dual hand "wobble pump". This would maintain fuel pressure and keep the engine running if all electric fuel pumps failed. The action was exactly that of a water pump in a caravan.

There was an intercom and a short-range US R/T set. No oxygen was fitted, but then we didn't need it. There was no point in climbing above 12,000 ft for a dive, and there is nothing that high in India if you stay away from the Himalayas.

There was never any question of night flying. We had navigation lights but no cockpit or landing lights. In any case the thing would be very difficult to fly by night because of flame dazzle from the open exhaust stubs. And there were few airfields in India lit after dark, anyway.

The power plant was the Wright Double Cyclone GR-2600- (about 42 litres) -A5B. This was a 14-cylinder aircooled twin row radial, rated at 1600 hp at 2400 rpm and 40 in. of manifold pressure (about +5 lb boost to you and me). This drove a three-bladed propeller (with CSU) of 12 ft diameter.

Total fuel was (as far as I can remember) 220 US gallons, split between five main fuel tank groups and a 20 gallon "trap" tank, which took the fuel pumped from the main tanks and fed it to the engine. The wobble-pump was the back-up for this. In the Mk. 1, all six pumps were immersed electric units, but in later Marks the electric trap-tank pump was replaced by an engine-driven unit (to relief and satisfaction all round).

100 octane was used at 50-60 galls/hr (cruising), giving a comfortable endurance of three hours and a range of around 500 miles. (Yes, I know that Wiki gives totally different figures, but theirs must be "maker's figures", to be regarded in the same light as the mpg figures at the bottom of car adverts ! The Wiki speeds are also IMHO, strictly for the birds).

Oil was fed to the dry-sump engine from a 21-gallon tank just forward of the firewall. Consumption was heavy at 1-2 galls/hr, and had to be watched carefully. Past engine neglect (story elsewhere) could cause a sudden gross rise in oil consumption. There were cases where the whole 21 gallons were used, and the engine failed, on a single flight (there being no contents gauge).

I suspect all this may be boring, and there's more to come, but bear with me, for you (and I !) must Know Our Foe.

Enough for the moment, more later,

Ta-Ta,

Danny42C


Takes all sorts. 

Last edited by Danny42C; 24th Nov 2013 at 01:13. Reason: Wrong name (McAvoy should be McIlroy, line 3)
Danny42C is offline  
Old 16th May 2012, 16:41
  #2578 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: 5909N 00238W (IATA: SOY, ICAO: EGER)
Age: 76
Posts: 806
I suspect all this may be boring, and there's more to come, but bear with me, for you (and I !) must Know Our Foe.
Enough for the moment, more later,
Ta-Ta,
Danny42C
Danny, this is most definitely NOT boring to this 68 year old who left the RAF as a corporal in 1973 and spent most of his RAF time in commcens, sending & receiving messages via teleprinter and/or morse. My only contact with aircraft (if you can call it that) was when I was part of a Forward Air Control unit with Flt Lt Pete Maillard in 1968-70.
Looking forwards to hearing the next instalment from you
ricardian is offline  
Old 16th May 2012, 17:31
  #2579 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Hertfordshire
Age: 66
Posts: 276
You can also find Pilot's Notes and an RAF maintenance manual, amongst other things, on CD here:

Flight Manuals on CD - Vultee A-35 Vengeance

I've bought from these people and can vouch for them.
Hipper is offline  
Old 16th May 2012, 18:08
  #2580 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: 45 yards from a tropical beach
Posts: 1,104
Danny,

You, Sir, are a major contributor to the most majestic thread in PPRuNe's history. No Moderator would contemplate binning it, as I am sure that they are all amongst your most ardent fans.

Encore!
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