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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 16th May 2012, 20:06
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CERTAINLY NOT boring, Danny. Many thanks for taking the time to post your memory of these events. I visit almost daily hoping for the next installment!

It's the details of the experience and the equipment itself I find most interesting.


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Old 16th May 2012, 22:57
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Thanks all round !

It never rains but it pours ! Again I must bundle my "thank-you's" into one Post.


Got the Pilot's Notes from Avialog. The cover's normal, but the text inside looks as if it's been knocked off on an ancient typewriter on a Gestetner wax stencil (remember those? ) and a couple of dozen copies run off - there can't have been all that many tug pilots to need them - pity they didn't clean the typewriter keys to begin with.

But, as I surmised, they're for the A-35 - our Mk IV - which should really have had a new name, for they seem a lot different from the ones (A-31s) I remember, and so not much help to my memory. I think our Notes were in a quarto format from Vultee; they produced a publicity brochure of the same size with an artist's impression on the cover of a VV taking off from an aircraft carrier ! This caused a good deal of hilarity: we reckoned they might just about manage it with three carriers coupled end to end !


Hipper, Greetings,

Thanks for the suggestion, but for the reasons above I don't think I'll be buying any CD manuals for the A-35 just yet. But thank you just the same.


Ricardian, Neptunus Rex and Jason Burry,

Thanks for the support, and all the complimentary remarks. (All are welcome here, Ricardian). The more, the merrier ! Coincidentally, I retired in early '73, too. I'll keep plugging along here until somebody tells me to stop.

Goodnight to you all,

Old 17th May 2012, 09:02
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I have been away so am just catching up on your excellent story. In respect of the Japanese Army stopping on the Burma/India border I think Imphal and Kohima may well have had something to do with it ! Others more learned than I could fill in the details no doubt without too much thread drift. As chugalugg has said the Hastings and the Hercules used the same airdrop techniques as were developed during those desperate days of WW2.
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Old 17th May 2012, 09:09
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Danny. I went through Bombay some twenty years after you and I wonder if you had the same trouble with Indian beer. The problem was the Godalmighty headache in the morning caused by the glycerine used to preserve it.
The trick I was told by the old hands out there was to open the bottle; put your thumb over the top, then invert it, immerse the neck in a bowl of water supplied by the waiter and release your thumb. This would cause the glycerine to flow out of the beer instead of into you.
Seemed to work with me.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 17th May 2012 at 11:48. Reason: Insertion of 'then invert it' so that people don't think that the beer is going to pour out of the bottle.
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Old 17th May 2012, 22:05
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Stores? Armoury? Suddenly this primitive existence of atap bashas and flimsy charpoys takes on a new dimension. Did the camp boast all the usual RAF facilities? SHQ, Sick Quarters, Institute, Guard Room, ...a Bicycle Store even? No matter how primitive the accommodations I suspect that each and every one was proudly announced by a suitable sign. The last man in the Service will be a sign writer, and no doubt his last job will be a reminder that he switches off the lights as he leaves ;-)
THE VV sounds a somewhat Spartan beast, Danny. How novel though to provide the Nav with flying controls, was it your custom to share the flying with him? It would seem to be an incentive to do so if he was thus able to get you home in the event that you were incapacitated.
Your mention of lbs v "Hg of boost again stirs memories of the Hastings. Sorry everyone! A NATO Stanag resulted in all boost gauges calibrated in lbs being changed for ones reading "Hg (ie the US standard as per your Vengeance. That would have been OK were it not for the routine for the Eng to set the power on the approach as called by the pilot. So "-4...-6...-4" became "24...20...24". The conversion was to double the boost you required in inches and then subtract that from 32. Easy enough on paper, but with a heavy (and she was heavy on the controls, hence the need for someone else to set the power) wallowing (love that word!) aircraft and a gusting cross-wind, the mental arithmetic soon resulted in 3 degree approaches diverging to 2 or 4 degree ones! Worth it I'm sure though for the instrument standardisation attained!
Finally, great to see the well deserved support expressed by your readership Danny. The more detailed the telling, the more interesting the story. Why a tin trunk? White ants, dear boy, white ants!
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Old 18th May 2012, 01:42
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Again, I'll have to be like that romantic hero of the Edwardian novel, who "Leaped into the saddle and galloped off furiously in all directions !"

In order, therefore:

ancient aviator,

Dates, dear boy, dates ! The events of which I speak took place in early 1942, and it then looked as if the Japs could carry on indefinitely with the successful tactics which had brought them all the way up from Singapore. Essentially, encumbered by what transport and material we had left, we tried to make a stand on the roads. The Jap just walked round us through the "impenetrable" (as we thought) jungle and appeared in our rear. We had to fall back, tried to make another stand, same again.

This miserable ratchet mechanism brought them all the way to the gates of India. At that point it must have been so difficult for the Jap to supply his forward troops that he had to stop.

Fast-forward two years to the spring of 1944. Now the brilliantly led, much larger and better equipped 14th Army was gaining the upper hand. The Japs put in one last desperate counter-attack at Imphal and Kohima, (much the same as the German counter-attack known as "The Battle of the Bulge" at the end of the year).

As we know, both failed. It was Hitler's last throw; in Burma the allied armies were able to get over the mountains into the central plains of Burma, where our armour could freely operate.


Sounds an ingenious idea ! If the bottles had been properly sealed in the first place, it shouldn't be possible for wild yeasts to get in - look how long bottled beer can last - but glycerine ? Well, why not ? I can remember when potted meats were sealed with butter. However, having no beer at all where we were, it sounds as good a way as any. (Our trouble was in the continuing fermentation taking place inside the bottles, with the result familiar to any home-brewer).


Yes, we might have been without many of the trappings of civilisation, but Admin and Org must still go on ! I rather fancy that these must have been station-based, for obviously you couldn't drag your complete stores round with you from strip to strip, even though the Squadron would have its own Equipment Assistants, Armourers, Nursing Assistants and so on. We worked in a similar way, post-war, with the Auxiliaries.

The back-seat man was forbidden, on pain of death, to touch anything in the nature of a flying control, and not even think about removing the stick clipped to the side of his cockpit. His business was to work the wobble pump on command. What else did he do ? Well, really, not a lot. There was no radio for a Wop to bother with. The Gunner had nothing to shoot at for most of the time. As for the Nav, we did all the navigating, both by habit as old single-seaters, and after one or two woeful episodes of classic navigation over which it is better to draw the veil (but they're worth a Post). But there were good reasons to carry somebody.

There was a sad affair which briefly changed our minds. Close to us in the Arakan there was a Beaufighter squadron. One of them was hit, the pilot was dead or dying - in any event unconscious, but the aircraft still flying straight and level. I do not know the Beau, but apparently it is just possible for a very thin Nav to wriggle his way forward into the front. Our chap did this, managed to fly it back (lying on the pilot), tried to land, didn't make it and they both died.

When we heard of this, pilots looked thoughtfully at their back-seat men and decided that a few simple flying lessons might be a good idea. But, alas for good intentions ! Nothing much came of it.

One last question for you and ancient aviator, I once heard that the York and Hastings had to be tail-draggers because the Army stipulated that they must be able to be hand-loaded from the back of a truck. Any truth in this ?

Goodnight, all,


Last edited by Danny42C; 18th May 2012 at 13:36. Reason: Correct spelling error.
Old 18th May 2012, 08:07
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It sounds as though your rear seaters were treated in much the same way as our RH seaters; "Don't touch anything unless I tell you to, which isn't very likely",
I can't speak for the York, other than to point out the obvious that as a development of the Lancaster its config was pretty well laid down at birth.
As to the Hastings it had a civvie variant, the Hermes, which indeed boasted a nosewheel. The reason that the Hastings did not was put down to the Army's requirements that it should be able to carry "external stores". These could only be attached by access from underneath the archetypal tail-draggers elevated nose. A beam could be attached between the two main undercarriages, and a field gun and jeep could be hung from it with suitable parachute packs attached. The co-pilot had a release mechanism to hand, a glorified old fashioned lavatory chain arrangement. On take off if anyone as much as sneezed he was briefed to pull the handle, jettison the external stores, and it was hoped that the aircraft might then be able to climb away safely from the presumed engine failure.
You are right though, loading transport aircraft directly from the back of a truck was always a prime consideration. In the 60's the competition for a short range transport was entered by Handley Page (with the Herald) and Avro (with the 748). The former was the obvious choice, for with its high wing, its sill height was just right for that purpose. However Handley Page was resisting the Government's rolling up of the many airframe manufacturers into just two: BAC and HS, so was doomed to lose the contract. To win it, Avro had to invent the dreaded "kneeling undercarriage" in order to make its low wing aircraft "mate" with an Army 3 tonner!
The other anomaly of the Hastings that was also mercifully history when I got to it was its role as glider tug. Inside the rear nav lamp cluster was the cable attachment/release mechanism for that purpose. When one recalls that the Beverly started life as a proposed glider before 4 Centaurus were hung on it, the mind boggles!
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Old 18th May 2012, 18:54
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The vision of a Hastings with a field gun or (and?) a jeep slung ("atween the roundshot" - like Drake !) makes my flesh creep. I recall a good story from Calcutta. There was a big munitions factory at Dum-Dum. They were losing a lot of stuff from pilfering; the guards on the gate spot- checked the offgoing shift; one chap was waddling along with difficulty, obviously in some discomfort. "What's the matter with you?"........"Elephantiasis of my scrotum" - (try putting that into Bengali !) - not uncommon there, it seemed.

They whipped off his dhoti, slung between his legs was the chuck off a lathe, weighing half a hundredweight ! (Off thread a bit, sorry, Mr Moderator).

I was amused by your reference to the "lavatory chain" which your second dicky had to pull. The u/c handle on the Spit Mk.I had the exactly that same white ceramic handle which graced the "smallest room" everywhere in those days (and vulgarly known as a "bog-pull").

I looked the Hastings up on Wiki. Quite a long charge-sheet, wasn't it? Was in Leeming (ATC) about '69, we had the JP, kindly RAF arranged to fly a body of all ranks to Warton (?) to see the new Strikemaster. Oversubscribed, of course, until it became known that a Hastings would be laid on for the trip. All our lads who had booked gallantly stuck with it, but made their wills! Did not go myself, said thing only a JP with hair on its chest - (Strikemaster, that is). That's my story, and I'm sticking to it !

Them were the days !


Last edited by Danny42C; 19th May 2012 at 03:01.
Old 19th May 2012, 14:41
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Thanks to all the contributors who keep this thread alive.
like most, I miss the amusing anecdotes and minutiae of "life in the RAF " that were posted by Cliff and Reg. this ongoing archive of reminiscenses is a fitting tribute to them, and all the other brave souls involved in armed conflict.

most of us "civvies" would have no idea of the comradeship, the bungling admin, the trials and tribulations of being under orders of chinless wonders.....you guys bring it all to life.
long may the posts continue.....thanks, lads.
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Old 19th May 2012, 18:03
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Danny, as regards gun and jeep, I understand that was possible, though all this was very much before my time. Certainly jeep and jeep was possible, witness this 1952 photo in Flight Magazine. Perhaps the co-pilot had two loo-handles!
1952 | 0460 | Flight Archive
My client might indeed have a full charge sheet, M'Lud, but I would plead mitigation on a number of points.
1. Approx 30 years service and more than 150 built.
2. Designed to WWII standards (and mainly with WWII parts!). Thus the period between V1 (no longer able to stop) and V2 (safety speed, not obtained until approx 200') meant that the best course of action following engine failure was left to the pilot's discretion....
3. Whatever the airframe shortcomings, the Bristol Hercules 216 engines were excellent, It was famously said that 99% of engine problems could be cured by either an injector flush or a plug harness change, so para 2 was not quite as serious as one might suppose.
4. I loved flying her, so there!
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Old 19th May 2012, 19:17
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Danny takes his place on the Squadron.

cockney steve - welcome - I'll try to live up to my illustrious predecessors !

Chugalug - No 4: Love me, love my aircraft ! (Same with me !) D

Before we go back to the technical details of the Vengeance, a few more words on the human side of the story.

We lost no time in getting down to buisness. Dual instruction was obviously impossible with the limited controls in the back seat. Really, that didn't worry anyone, for there were no dual Hurricanes - or Spitfires (then) - or most other single-engine things, for that matter. You simply read the book, had a good luck round inside and out, climbed in and off you went.

But they thought they might as well use what they'd got. So the new boy was put in the back seat, put his stick in its socket, an experienced (five hours on type) pilot took off, cleaned up, trimmed it and handed over. My mentor was Reg Duncan, and the date 5th January '43.

I was agreeably surprised. The thing was much heavier on the controls than the Spitfire, of course (is there anything that ever flew which isn't heavier ?), but it was far from the BT-13 feel-alike I'd been expecting. It would turn quite nicely on the stick alone, seemed very directionally stable (that huge fin and rudder), but rather heavy on the elevators. All in all, I could get used to this. Later I found that, for all its bulk and formidable appearance (see Chugalug's #2549 and the marvellous video clip), the thing was completely docile and very easy to fly. I poled around for twenty minutes or so, then Reg took it back and landed. Now I was a fully qualified Vengeance pilot !

Back to details of the beast itself. The electrical system (24v DC) was unremarkable in itself, but the fuel pumps gave us heart-stopping moments. They were immersed in the tanks, the fuel kept away from the electrics by seals of the new wonder material - neoprene. This was fine in theory, until Sod's Law kicked in (if a thing can go wrong, it will). The fuel got past the neoprene to the sparks, a circuit shorted, the main fuse blew, all the pumps stopped, the engine quit and the pilot bawled "PUMP!"

The back-seat man didn't need telling twice. Swinging his seat sideways, he set to work with both hands on the "wobble", a few long seconds and the engine would pick up. Then they had just the trap tank fuel (perhaps 20 minutes) to get down. The pilot made doubly sure to get in first time, for there was no certainty that, if he had to go to full power on a missed approach, the pump would get enough fuel to the engine. Naturally, this meant that you always flew with a passenger, for a lone pilot could not hope to land unless he had three hands.

In the early days, everyone had to "wobble" home at least once (and luckily we were never far from a strip - they were all over West Bengal). Then a replacement engine-driven pump for the trap tank solved the problem. Tail-end Charlies no longer displayed their blistered palms as badges of honour.

In retrospect, I now wonder how that "mod" was put in so quickly. Perhaps the Double Cyclone (which was used in many American types) had a standard power take-off for this purpose, and the VVs simply blanked it off till they needed it. (This is why some "plumbers" on this thread would be so useful, for the gaps they could fill in our technical knowledge).

Having got the thing into the air, liifted wheels and flaps, and quietened the engine down a bit, you stretched out in the luxuriously large cockpit and surveyed your domain. With canopy open, there was a beautifully cool breeze. And (sometimes) wearing a Mae West, over that a parachute harness, and over that the seat harness in an aircraft on whose wings you could fry eggs, you were suitably grateful.

Climb was slow in comparison with what we fighter boys had been used to. In formation with a bomb load it felt like zero - 500 ft/min, I suppose. Life was simple when you were on your own. You had trims on all three axes, and quite a bit of dihedral on the outer wings. Trimmed, it would more or less fly itself. The engine was cruised at 1850 rpm (the magic figure for all the American radials I flew) and enough boost (32-34 in) to give about 160 mph. At that, the engine rumbled along contentedly, albeit rather roughly. The Wright "Cyclones" were never as smooth as their arch-competitors, the Pratt & Whitney "Wasp" family of engines, but none the worse for that.

A mixture control on the throttle quadrant "leaned out" the engine to run smoother and save fuel. The two-speed supercharger was always left on "low". Now there was nothing to do but watch the fuel and engine, and navigate.
Watching the fuel sometimes meant running a tank dry to check the exact rate of consumption. The engine would cut. No drama: a change of tank and a booster pump would shortly restore normal service. Your pillion passenger resented these episodes (especially over shark-infested waters) and would make that clear with many a lurid oath.

When not on "ops", there was a lot of spare passenger room around and behind the back seat (more if the guns had been taken out). I believe the record was five on board (plus kit). This was very dangerous; these extra people had no restraints (often no parachutes) and were bound to be injured in any but the slightest accident. But all this was long ago, before Health & Safety had been thought of.

Dogs travelled from time to time. The animal was put in a parachute bag (that wonderful all-purpose brown canvas holdall) and zipped in with just his head sticking out. He couldn't get out or move about the aircraft, and the bag plus dog could be carried about by the straps. Hopefully he was parachute-bag trained ! As a rule he seemed to fly very well and to enjoy the experience.

No one worried about what all this extra weight in the back might be doing to the C of G. Having no guns or ammo helped, of course, the pilot simply trimmed nose-down and accepted a less stable ride.

Enough for the time being,

Regards to all,


We had wooden aircraft and iron men !  

Last edited by Danny42C; 19th May 2012 at 19:31. Reason: Add Title.
Old 20th May 2012, 23:54
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The more we are together, the happier we shall be.

The next stage was to get myself a crewman. Actually, it wasn't quite like that. I was told that at home, the drill was (on bomber crews) that the new nav was supposed to wait, like a wallflower at a dance, until a twin-wing prince came over and popped the question. If the deal was done, the pair then went round selecting the rest of their crew.

But that presupposed similar levels of experience all round. In our case, the ex-Blenheim navs and wop/ags were all battle-hardened veterans from shipping strikes over the Channel and the like, and the squadron had taken a fair hammering. They were not going to be picked over by this intake of sprogs fresh out of training !

So it was that Sgt Keith Stewart-Mobsby (Wop/Ag - and hereinafter "Stew") came over and said "You're my Pilot - any objection ?" It seemed that the deciding factor had been that he wanted a British pilot this time - being fed up with the Wild Colonial Boys he'd had before, As I was the only new one in town, it had been Hobson's choice for him. It worked out fine, and we stayed together, off and on, till the end.

The next day we flew so that I could settle myself in the aircraft and we could have a good look round the area. There was the usual tendency to swing left in the early part of the take-off run, but it was easily controllable. We had a tailwheel lock, but it wasn't necessary and most people left it unlocked all the time. Once the tail was up, you had complete control with that enormous fin, and the rare pleasure of being able to see fairly well over the nose (come to think of it, it was the only time you could do so, except when you were pointed straight down).

The acceleration was poor; there were always complaints about the long take-off run, but eventually you wound it up to about 95 mph (a bit more if you were bombed-up), eased back into a three-point attitude and lumbered off reluctantly into the sky. Much like a 747 out of Heathrow today! - (don't you just look at them inching across the sky, and wonder: "How on Earth"?)

Putting it back was not difficult, provided you came in on a wide curve (no "Spitfire Approach" here !), and slowly, with a fair amount of power on. Attempts at glide landings (to see over the nose) almost always ended in very heavy "arrivals", as it would "mush" into the ground on round-out.

Training started at once. Really it was simple, we had to learn to dive-bomb and to fly any position in a box-of-six which was to be our normal tactical formation. A range was set up on a big sandbank (it was the dry season) on a bend in the river Damodar, about 30 miles from Madhaiganj. Who supplied the observers, and what equipment they had, I do not know. There must have been two of them at a safe distance, with lines of sight at right angles and some form of theodolite.

We went to work on this range right away. All we were concerned about was results, and with practice these became quite good. Four 11 lb smoke bombs were carried on a rack under the left wing, and dropped one per dive. The trip to the range took about 15 minutes, and by then you'd climbed to bombing height of 10 - 12,000 ft.

The trick was to fly up to the target in such a way as to be vertically above it when you rolled over. The best method was to keep it in view, running along tight against the left side of the fuselsge from the nose back until it slid under the wing, count ten and go over, crouched, standing on your rudder pedals on the way down.

The steeper the dive, the better the result. You "throw" your aircraft at the target much as a darts player "throws" his wrist at the board. You must not forget to (a) use the dive brakes and (b) pull out in good time. As to what constituted "good time" we experimented, pulling out high to start with and then reducing until we'd established the lowest safe height. This was reckoned to be when the altimeter passed 3500 ft above ground, although the aircraft would be lower at this point, as the instrument lagged by several hundred feet.

Having planted your first bomb and swung round to see where it had gone, you climbed up and dived three more times, then home. As such a climb and repositioning took you ten to fifteen minutes, two or three aircraft could space themselves out and use the range together.

These sorties lasted little more than an hour and formed the greater part of our training. We improved with practice: at the end almost all bombs would go in a 100-yard circle.

Enough for tonight,

Sleep well,


We didn't have bird strikes - we had pterodactyl strikes !

Last edited by Danny42C; 18th May 2016 at 11:05. Reason: Correct errors.
Old 21st May 2012, 17:02
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Never having been involved with things that go bang, apart from lugging them about from time to time (in which case you very much hope that they don't), how does a 1/2 lb smoke bomb work? Does it emit smoke upon release so that you can follow its trajectory, or merely on impact so that you can see where that is?

Evidently the practise bombing in the 1920s at Bicester (a uniquely preserved pre WWII RAF station) was done over the grass airfield, which was marked with an aiming point. The ""bombs" were simulated by the firing of flash bulbs in the Sidestrands, etc. By also releasing stannic chloride from containers made out of Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup tins, the resultant cloud could be tracked from a "Camera Obscura" in the roof of SHQ and the drop wind assessed. Thus an optimum release point was calculated and the difference between that and where the flash bulb firing occurred created the theoretical error, to be reported back to the crew after landing and/or their boss!

No doubt we will soon have to return to the use of Syrup tins and Flash Bulbs as Mr Osborne seeks out further efficiencies....
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Old 21st May 2012, 19:12
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I didn't make myself very clear did I ? Problem is, I can't find fractions yet. Should have said "Four Eleven and a half pound bombs !" - (why don't we forget about the half, just toss for it, and simply call them 11 or 12 lb ?)

But of course you had tongue-in-cheek, I'm sure - if not, idea is: bomb hits ground, goes pop, emits smoke for a minute or two, goes out. Simple.

But not a toy. General rule: smaller the bomb, the nastier.

Camera obscura ? - there's an idea. But CCTV better !



Last edited by Danny42C; 21st May 2012 at 19:35. Reason: Add material.
Old 21st May 2012, 20:13
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You were very clear Danny, and if I'd properly read your post or even stopped to think, the notion of a 1/2 lb bomb of whatever type would be plainly absurd. It just proves what I said, that things that go bang are beyond my ken!
Interesting though that you say the smaller the bomb the nastier! That needs explaining somewhat, if you wouldn't mind. Though no doubt conventional wisdom in the bombing world, it seems somewhat counter intuitive.
Bicester has original pre-war bomb stores as well as much larger capacity WWII rail-head bomb ramps and fusing huts, all naturally on the far side of the airfield from the Tech-Site. Even so there were some dreadful accidents (East Kirkby for one) where the necessary coming together of bomb and bomber proved disastrous. What arrangements were in place in your case? Were there remote mounded bomb stores, or simply pyramids of the things? Other than 11-12 lb bombs (see what I did there ;-) what others did you have? A dotting of munition i's and crossing of t's please!
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Old 22nd May 2012, 02:47
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Things that Go Bang in the Night (and Day)


Now I must be careful, for we have an Armourer (harryhrrs), of my age group among us, quite possibly in earshot (where are you, Harry ?), who may well jump out on me, and lay bare my ignorance for all to see.

AFAIK, the thing is, the bigger (and presumably more expensive) a bomb is, the more room they have for and the more they can afford to spend on the fuse. Therefore they can build better and more sophisticated safety features into it, making it safer for the user. When you get down to the 11 or 12 lb level, I think all they had was a sort of split-pin (like a Mills bomb), while it's in you (should) be all right.

Of course, no device is proof against idiots; if you circumvent all the safety measures, then it matters little whether you are sitting next to a 250lb or a 2000lb one - you won't feel a thing either way. I don't know if a 11lb would kill you, but it would sure make your eyes water !

Familiarity breeds contempt. On one of our sqdns in East Bengal, an armourer had to take out the fuse from a 250lb sitting on a bomb trolley. Some grit had got in, the fuse/detonator was jammed in its thread. He collected a hammer and a cold chisel, straddled the bomb and went to work.

They found one wheel and half the chassis of the trolley some distance away, but that was all. (It is quite likely that something similar caused the RAF Fauld disaster in 1944).

Storage ? I don't think anybody bothered much where they were stored. Until it's fused, a bomb is very safe. But in our case, we were dropping the things as fast as (or faster than) they could be got up to us; it was a sort of just-in-time system, storage was not a problem.

When we moved from one kutcha strip to another a few miles away, we always flew across bombed-up - to ease the MT load, and to be ready for action as soon as we landed. In those cases, the long sides of my bed had to go by road - the armourers jibbed at having to fit a bomb and my bed section on the same rack!

The only "proper" bombs I ever dropped were the GP 250s and 500s HEs, usually fused "NITI" (Nose instantaneous, Tail instantaneous), sometimes with "Rods", about 12in long , fitted to the nose fuse so that the blast would go sideways instead of being wasted digging big holes in Burma (never turned up any crated Spitfires, though).

Too much already, Goodnight,


Last edited by Danny42C; 22nd May 2012 at 03:03. Reason: Add text.
Old 22nd May 2012, 07:33
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While we're talking of practice bombs, can I relate a story from a pilot I once knew? Before he went to 467 Sqn and joined up with my great uncle's crew, then-F/L DPS (Phil) Smith was a pilot instructor at the OTU at Honeybourne, having previously completed a tour on Wellingtons with 103 Sqn. He was flying Whitleys when this incident happened in April 1943. I quote from a manuscript he wrote after the war for his grandson:

Before a trainee crew could be passed out, each one had to reach a fixed standard in bombing exercises. Our flight had got behind in bombing and so we had not been delivering our quota of trained crews. We had been doing the exercises but had not been getting all the required results. mainly because our practice bombs had been 'hanging up' [...] I had taken a trainee crew up when we were being pressed to get results and, on this occasion again, we were one bomb short of our quota. I was very irritated to have another failure on my hands and was determined to find out what was happening. When we had landed and arrived at our dispersal hard standing, I ordered the crew not to open the bomb doors as is normal at that stage until I had got out and was ready to check on the bomb release gear. When I was ready, I called out for the bomb doors to be opened and as soon as this happened, the missing bomb fell out in front of my face. It had not fallen far enough to turn head down and so did not go off. This was an awful shock...

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Old 22nd May 2012, 08:12
  #2598 (permalink)  
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Its many years later in 1969, at RAF Waddington. A Canberra enters the circuit with a "hang-up" and I'm sent out to marshal it to a stop on the peri-track, far away from buildings - and anything else apart from me! The aircraft lands and taxis round to where I'm waiting, with the entire RAF Regiment Crash section following at a respectful distance. When he comes to a standstill with engines running, the pilot signals me to open the door. Out pops the navigator, who runs under the wing and reappears with a practice bomb tucked under his arm. He gets back into the aircraft and away they go again.

I suppose he stowed it safely away in his Nav-Bag, but it makes you think.

Last edited by Blacksheep; 22nd May 2012 at 08:14.
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Old 22nd May 2012, 08:55
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Deployed from Schofields to Canberra once Down Under in a Mustang with 4 x 11 pnd practice bombs under each wing on light series carriers.

On the landing roll out at Canberra one bomb came adrift, skated along the runway, wore off the safety pin and exploded. The small blast, just audible, was enough to lift the wing a little without doing any damage.

Does anyone know what the chemical was that produced the smoke?
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Old 22nd May 2012, 10:35
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Does anyone know what the chemical was that produced the smoke?

Depends whether the smoke comes from the bomb or the assembled company - if the latter, it's probably "carbon dibaxide"!


(who served at Schofields when it was HMAS NIRIMBA)
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