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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 20th Oct 2012, 20:21
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Danny42C
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Buried (?) Spitfires.

mmitch,

Interesting link. But whatever the drill brought up, it was unlikely to be wood. Look up "Termite" on Wiki - specifically "Subterranean Termites". I reckon the "crates" might last a month.

But the main stumbling block always remains the "Why". We were the colonial power till Jan 1948. So we have to bury them 40 ft deep to avoid their being stolen in 1946. Who is going to pinch 'em ? When we're chopping them up for scrap all over the place ?

If they turn up, I'll eat my hat (or would, but I think my G.P. might say it was contra-indicated).

Danny.
 
Old 21st Oct 2012, 17:48
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Danny has to do without the Harvard.

On 5th December, W/Cdr Edmondes took off solo in his Harvard FE965 to do a reconnaissance round the Porkal area. I'm not clear as to the purpose, perhaps to look for additional areas which might be suitable for the CDRE. He went off about 8.30, and we expected him back in two hours at the outside. (Of course, he would be out of R/T range as soon as he was out of sight). Two hours passed, then three, then four, with no sign of him. By this time he must be out of fuel. Things were looking serious.

We signalled Porkal: they had neither seen nor heard him. I signalled Group to report what had happened, asking them to stand by until I'd decided what help I might need from Yelahanka (200 miles away). Curiously enough, I can still remember the little place we thought might be a good spot to start looking - it was called Golitattu. A search had now to be mounted, and by good fortune I still had with me the F/O navigator I've mentioned before. Now he could make himself useful.

Searches are a Navigator's business, and part of his training, and now he could put it to good use. I put him in charge of the search planning. We had to make some assumptions. There was no reason to suppose that the W/Cdr would have flown out to sea, but he might have force-landed on a beach or in the shallows. In which case he would be easy to find, the Harvard was still in its all-yellow training plumage.

We planned a "Creeping Line Ahead" search based on a line along the coast 20 miles North and South of Porkal. Roughly this would be 340/160, but we had to allow a few degrees to take account the onshore breeze, which ran at 15 mph at that time of day.

I took the first search aircraft off at about 1300, with W/O Thompsett (pilot) as a second pair of eyes. Flt. Lt. Alex Bury would come out after 1½ hours to relieve me (our third VV was u/s). We flew at 120 mph, which was about as slow as was comfortable in a VV. We followed the shoreline up to the northern point of search, but there was no sign of him, so I turned Rate 1 onto the reciprocal for the first leg inshore.

That should put me about 1½ miles inland, from 1500 ft we could spot a yellow wheelbarrow, never mind an aircraft. Nothing on the first stretch (southbound). Turn left, northbound, nothing again. Turn right, still nothing - I'd be about five miles in from he coast now. Alex appeared on the horizon, closed up into R/T range.

The W/Cdr had been found, his engine had failed, he was unhurt after a successful forced landing about 10 miles inland. The local Police had picked him up and driven him back to Porkal: he'd simply walked in there. Porkal had signalled the CDRE, they rushed over to tell us just as Alex was climbing in. Search cancelled, all go home. I signalled Group to stand down.

The W/Cdr came back by road, rather quiet and a bit cagey about the affair. As far as I know, there was no investigation of the cause of the failure. The S.O.P. was that the aircraft was immediately struck off my charge and transferred to the Repair and Salvage Unit for the area.

Although it was not seriously damaged, they would have to dismantle it to get it out, and it was simpler to scrap it. The war was over, the Harvard had never been essential to CDRE's operations even while it was still on. Needless to say, they didn't give us another one !

I thought it a bit strange. The Wasp was renowned as an extremely reliable engine. In my time on them at Advanced School in the US, I don't think I ever heard of one failing. One possibility was fuel contamination. Our supplies came in 40-gallon drums, but of course it was all filtered before decanting into the bowser or directly into the aircraft. The filter was a big square open metal box with what looked like a bit of blanket across the bottom.

Rough and ready it looked, but it was sobering to see the amount of rust, grit and (condensed ?) water which collected in the blanket. If by mischance some of that had got through...? As I've said, that aircraft was little used, but the tanks were never left part full to avoid the risk of condensation in the empty spaces.

Perish the thought, could he have mismanaged the fuel system and run a tank dry ? I cannot remember the fuel layout of the Harvard - anybody help ?

What the incident pointed up was a deficiency which (in hindsight) McInnis or I should have recognised and done something about. We had no R/T contact with the people on the ground at Porkal or Kumbla. Our (US) R/T sets were not compatible with anything the Army had.

But surely it was not beyond the wit of man (ie my wit) to get hold of a spare a/c set for the Army; they could have coupled MT batteries up to provide the 24V DC. We had the same problem at Cannanore, of course, but that one was easy. A chap with headset in the cockpit of anything on the line was "Cannanore Tower" for the moment.

Of course, for safety, there must have been some sort of "signals square" at Porkal and Kumbla to tell the newly arriving gas/dropper/sprayer: "Start/Stop/Wait/Carry on/ Go home", but I have completely forgotten it (the "Carlstrom Field Syndrome" again !) Aldis lamp ? - don't be silly. (It had been a long time since ITW).

Next time: "How Danny used to find his way about".

Evenin' all,

Danny42C.


Man is not lost (much).
 
Old 23rd Oct 2012, 15:32
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Danny, a question.

Your comment about the Thunderbolt intrigued me.

What charmed me most of all was the power-operated canopy. Until then, I'd had to struggle awkwardly, dragging it closed and pulling it back open, while trussed up in my harness like a turkey. Now press a button, slides open ! Press again, slides closed ! Marvellous !
As a sprog, I saw plenty of period photos and film of Spitfires/Hurricanes etc. taking off and landing, and I always wondered why pilots commonly left the canopies open. Since then I have been led to believe that having the canopy open improved one's chances of escaping if things went horribly pear-shaped, and you found yourself stationary, upside down and strapped into a hot metal thing with a fuel leak.

Is there any truth to this?

Let's see them try that in an Me109.
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Old 23rd Oct 2012, 18:53
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Scratch one Harvard then, Danny. Easy come, easy go. Pity they didn't crate it up and bury it. Worth millions now, by all accounts!
Your mention of the Signal Square stirs ancient memories of learning about them as an RAF CCF cadet at school; of red squares with and without diagonals, white dumbbells with and without black bars or red L's, red right angled arrows and of course white rotating T's. Other variants existed as well, listed here:-
Signal Square
Possibly one of the longest lived items of aviation infrastructure?
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Old 23rd Oct 2012, 22:48
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Canopies and Signals Squares.

Yamagata Ken,

You are correct in your belief. IIRC, it was included in the Vital Actions before take-off and landing in all types where it was possible.

In the earlier smaller-hood Spitfires, there was an extra safety-measure. The fold-down cockpit flap had a double catch to close (like the one on your car door). The drill was: pull your hood full back, then open door on the second catch. That would move the hood rail on top of the door some half-inch outward, making it impossible for the hood to fly forward whatever happened, until you got airborne. Then, of course, you had to fully close your door before you could close the hood (and reverse rigmarole downwind for landing).

I might have had some sympathy with the Me109 pilot (side swing-over hood) until I met the Meteor T7 (same arrangement) and decided to save sympathy for self (for of course you couldn't take off with that lot hanging over the side).

I'm not sure, but I don't think we left any of the later "balloon" canopies (all power-driven) open in the air. Certainly not the (pressurised) Vampire, they would get ripped off by the airflow..........D.


Chugalug,

Thanks for the link. Yes, it's all there where we remember it. Takes us back to the early days when the place was called the "Watch Office", in which dwelt the "Duty Pilot" with binoculars, an exercise book and a stub of pencil on which he recorded our comings and goings.

They often had a notice outside:"VISITING CAPTAINS REPORT HERE". Didn't we feel grand !

Don't think the USAAC had anything more than a "T". (Could be wrong, as you well remember, I can forget a whole camp without difficulty !)

Thank you both for rescuing our Thread from the doldrums,

Goodnight, Danny.
 
Old 24th Oct 2012, 16:53
  #3146 (permalink)  
Danny42C
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Danny's Patent Navigational System (or Come back, Columbus, all is forgiven).

Picture a happy land, where there is (a) no ATC to bother you (b) no Airways or Terminal Approach Areas (c) no (notified) Danger Areas (d) no NDBs, VOR/DMEs, PARs, ILSs, QGH/GCAs, TACANs, INSs, GPIs, or any of the rest of the alphabet soup (e) no D/F kit in the aeroplane (and nothing to D/F on anyway) - in short, no nuffin' - (f) no Flight Planning, so nobody gives a damn whether you turn up or not (g) they will fill you up for free wherever you land, no landing or parking fees - and they'll give you a bed for the night !

Such a place once existed, and it was called Wartime India. There was you, your aircraft, a map, a compass, a watch and the Wide Blue Yonder. It followed that DR was king and that your skill as a Pilot/Navigator (duly certified in your log by a string of bored CFIs during your training) would now be put to the test. We mostly had a Dalton to hand, but had forgotten how to use it.

It was left to the individual to devise his own system. Mine was based on a constant which I could not forget or leave behind when I climbed in. It was my top thumb joint, specifically its length (1¼ inches). My procedure was as follows (assuming a flight from A to B). First, draw pencil line from A to B, put protractor on track and then hunt for identifiable "check points" each side of the line roughly every twenty miles.

Here the spider's web of railways all over India was of immense value. Roads were useless, and water features might dry up in the hot weather, but the railway bridges would still be there. Knowing that my thumb joint represented the map distance covered in 8 minutes of flight at 150 mph, I could easily and quickly plot an approximate DR position from time elapsed from setting Course (M).

Winds in the dry season were usually fairly light and could generally be disregarded. Essentially you "felt" your way along from the ground to the map. The greatest difficulty was your panel-mounted compass, which was of doubtful accuracy, and only had 5° markings anyway.

It all sounds very hit-and-miss, but I managed very well with it (remember when "A" Flight of 110 was led astray by a "real" navigator, but I hit the required place "on the button", following half an hour later on my own ?). At least, I'm happy to say I always landed on three wheels except for the one occasion when I'd no option.

Afterthought: do you have a Grand/Son/Daughter happily waving a "C" grade GCSE Maths ? You do ? Try 'em on this: from information given, what was the most likely scale of Danny's map ? (3 mins allowed, calculators permitted, no prizes).

Short one tonight, next time (by way of light relief): "Winter Sports in a Hot Climate".

Early to bed,

Danny42C.

Last edited by Danny42C; 17th Sep 2014 at 19:49. Reason: Correct Spacing and Spelling.
 
Old 24th Oct 2012, 17:28
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1:1,000,000 - I hope

Edited - long day, failed to read calculator correctly.

Last edited by airborne_artist; 24th Oct 2012 at 18:46.
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Old 24th Oct 2012, 18:21
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16miles/inch
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Old 24th Oct 2012, 18:47
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1;1.000.000.
A-A,tut ,tut,should`ve stayed awake in Nav .lectures...!

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Old 24th Oct 2012, 18:52
  #3150 (permalink)  
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I tried Sycamore, I did try. I'm sure that the Sqn Ldr (Retd) who taught ground school nav at RNAS Leeming was in the RAF on 1.4.1918
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Old 24th Oct 2012, 22:11
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I'll go down with Airborne Artist then, because I think that 1:1,000,000 is the nearest likely aviation map scale applicable. There are 1760 yds to a mile, 3 feet to a yard, 12 inches to a foot. So a mile is 1760*3*12 which thanks to Danny's permission to use a calculator is 63360 inches. So on a 1,000,000 map 20 miles (the distance Danny flew in 8 mins at 150 mph) is 20*63360/1000000 = 1.27", which in good old air force parlance is close enough for Government work to Danny's thumb tip to knuckle length.
Oh, edited to add that all the above holds true for statute miles only in speed and distance. As Danny was flying a US aircraft I'm assuming the ASI was calibrated as such, otherwise I make'a the big mistake.

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Old 24th Oct 2012, 23:59
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Doing Sums.

airborne artist, Fareastdriver, sycamore and Chugalug,

All spot on, of course ! (Are we sure that Junior didn't give Gran/Daddy a hand with the homework - or vice versa ?)

Chugalug, yes the US was still with mph and Statute miles in those days.
(I award him Bonus Points for Showing All his Work !)

Fareastdriver, 16 miles/inch is a scale I hadn't seen much, but it gives exactly the same approximation to 1:1,000,000 (from my data). Never noticed that before. Just shows, there's something to learn every day.

My thanks to you all for rising to the bait so promptly !

Danny
 
Old 25th Oct 2012, 02:13
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Late to the party as ever (asleep in Japan), but did it in my head. I got 15 miles to the inch. As an approximation, the old inch to the mile OS maps became 1:50,000, so my final figure came out at 1:750,000. That's what happens when a boy scout grows up to be a geologist. You did say DR, which I interpret as dead reckoning.
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Old 25th Oct 2012, 10:43
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DR Navigation

In the dim vistas of my memory I can recall doing DR navigation in the Jet Provost (let's face it we had d@@@ all else). However, Danny, by the late 60s we had modernised with a novel invention called the graduated pencil. this worked in exactly the same way as the thumb except we had pre-marked it to the scale (which scale?) of the map we carried. Its immediate usefulness was then dependent on the remaining length of pencil after it had been re-sharpened a few times.

Even on the Mighty Workules I used a fair amount of DR to keep an eye on what the Directional Consultant was up to. It rarely failed to pay dividends in some way.

Keep up the memories. You claim these are fallible but are nevertheless completely fascinating for us sprogs.

Last edited by Xercules; 25th Oct 2012 at 10:44.
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Old 25th Oct 2012, 20:56
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Thumb-end Navigation.

"Oh what a tangled web we weave/When first we practise to deceive" (or to set mathematical problems !)

8 miles @ 150 mph is 20 miles, or 20 x 5280 x 12 in, or 1,267,200 in. (no argument about that).

Dividing by Danny's 1.25 in horny thumb-end gives 1,013,760 thumb-ends (fair enough ?)

Dividing into a 1:1,000,000. scale, the difference appears (as above) to be 1.35733 %. At 16 miles/in (811,008 t/es) it would be 23.3%. At 15 miles/in (760,320 t/es) - 31.5%. (but that then would be very close to a 1:750,000 scale @ 1.35733 %). Was there such a map scale ? - I ask in all ignorance). If so, the one-in- a million and the 15mi/in maps must be joint "proxime accessits". Fareastdriver, awfully sorry, but have to withdraw my previous award of joint winner to 16miles/in. (I'd inexcusably forgotten to include the thumb factor in that calculation).

Wish I'd never started ! (Einstein, thou should'st be living at this hour !) .............D.

Yamagata Ken. Yes, DR is Dead Reckoning..........D.

Xercules,

Kind words much appreciated. I was in ATC at Leeming '67 - '72 (last posting before retirement). W/Cdr Ramus was the O.C. Flying Wing/CFI, S/Ldr Angela (ex-Red Arrow) one of the Sqdn C.O.s, S/Ldr "Harry" Talton SATCO. You may have heard my dulcet tones on air.

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 26th Oct 2012 at 01:10. Reason: Typo and Spelling.
 
Old 26th Oct 2012, 16:42
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Thumbs and Marked Pencils.

Xercules,

Curiously, this is the first I've heard of your magic pencils (just shows how far ATC was (is) divorced from reality !). However, it shows how Great Minds, as ever, Think Alike.

I take it that these would only be used in the Flight Planning Room. If, however, you took them into the air to use:

How did you tether them to you (on a piece of string ?),

If they weren't secured, what happened when you dropped them down the bottom of the cockpit ? (apart from the whack on your bone dome which bid fair to compression-fracture a cervical verterbra or two).

Did your instructor then invert the thing and pick it off the canopy ? (this actually happened to me once in a Harvard in the States).

All shows the innate superiority of the Thumb Method.

Cheers, Danny.
 
Old 26th Oct 2012, 16:53
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Strange things get into JPs...I was at Linton in 1971/72 and remember a seat being removed for servicing...beneath which was discovered a meat pie with one bite out of it!! One can only conjecture what attempted lunch recovery manoeuvres were attempted...
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Old 26th Oct 2012, 18:03
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Referee!!!!!!!

Thumb joint = (8mins @ 150 mph) 20miles. Your figures.
Thumb joint =1.25 inches. Your figures.
Therefore 1.25 inches=20miles. Everybody agrees.
Five 0,25 inches = 1.25 inches.
0.25 inch = 4 miles
Four 0.25 inches = 16 miles.
1 inch = 16 miles. 16 miles/inch

I am assuming that you did not have aviation maps at that time in India as there were no aviation thingies to map. India was British and the first maps in the UK were 6 inches to the mile and at your time 4 inches/mile was de rigeur. India was too big for general large scale mapping so outside the main cities they would have been fairly snall scale showing only the three ‘Rs’, roads, railways and rivers plus cities and notable towns. Mountains would have been shown by hashers, a series of dashes indicating a wall of rock of some indeterminate height. We used this type of map in North Borneo in 1966 nicely decorated with white patches marked ‘relief data incomplete’. The people that knocked up these maps in India would have probably been guided by experience in England and could well have gone for a multiple of the 4 inches/mile format; ie 16 miles/inch.

I claim First Prize.

I was in ATC at Leeming '67 - '72 (last posting before retirement).
So YOU belonged to the bunch that brought out those rules about Avgas and Avtur lines at Leeming just because somebody tried to fill up a Basset with jet fuel.

I was leading a pair of Pumas from Odiham to Otterburn to lift some guns around for the Royal Artillery and we went into Leeming to refuel. On board I had an Air Vice Marshall who had just taken over 38 Group and wanted to see how his troops performed.
On arrival the Air Trafficess was of the belief that all helicopters were petrol driven so we were guided and then shut down in the Avgas line. It was a chilly day so I had lent the AVM my combat flying jacket whilst we refuelled. They had sent an Avgas bowser so we shooed it away and told them to bring an Avtur example. This was refused because Avtur bowsers were prohibited from crossing the Avgas line. There was a bit of a confrontation about this and eventually a Sqn Ldr groundocrat told us that if we wanted them refuelled we would have to PUSH (5.5 tonnes) our aircraft to the Avtur line.







At this point my Air Vice Marshall took my jacket off.

We didn’t seem to have any trouble after that. What was annoying was that the bowser driver told us he had refuelled a DH125 parked next to us, also in the Avgas line, less than an hour previously.

After that that AIP had a note for Leeming that if an inbound aircraft had a senior officer of Air Rank on board than the tower was to be informed on first contact. This unique instruction was still around at the turn of the century.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 26th Oct 2012 at 18:08.
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Old 26th Oct 2012, 20:47
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I was there too!

Danny we overlapped - stude on BFTS at Leeming! Sqn Ldr Angela was the boss. Some how they got me through!

Last edited by WarmandDry; 26th Oct 2012 at 20:47.
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Old 27th Oct 2012, 01:14
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Replies all round.

Fareastdriver,

Once again I sit on the penitent's bench (my default position!).

You are of course, absolutely right mathematically. But we did not use any Miles/inch map scales for navigation in India (or later in UK, do they use them now ?) I think the only ones in general use were the 1:1,000,000, 1:500.000 and 1:250,000, and IIRC, we got by with just the million map out there. (I think the 1:750.000 was a red herring, was there ever such a thing ?)

So in setting the question, I had only these maps in mind, and so caused the confusion. Mea maxima culpa !

Even in comparison with 15 mi/in, you are the clear winner. Differences from a million:- 16m/in (1013760): +13760, 15mi/in (950400): - 49600.

I am sorry that my old station should have treated you in so boorish a way (I hope it was not in my time ! - But it shows the value of having an Air Marshal around). There was sense in separating the refuelling lines. Valley had a case a long time ago when a Pembroke or a Devon or something of the sort was refuelled from an Avtur bowser (or was it even worse, a water bowser ?). Unluckily, there was enough good stuff in the fuel lines to get it up; it splashed down in Caernarvon Bay and I think there were casualties.

My sincere apology for the misunderstanding.........I have pleasure in awarding you the (Virtual) Prize....Summa cum Laude.....D.

Molemot,

I have found meat pies warming up nicely in the tail-pipe of a recently landed aircraft, but as a Foreign Object in the cockpit, that takes the cake ! (or rather, pie). Wonder how many hours it had put in ? Did JPs have a "G" meter? Any record of excessive negative G after pie-recovery efforts ?...........D.

WarmandDry,

Welcome aboard ! Why not tell us your story from the sixties ? (pace the Moderators: I hope they would allow). It pleases us old codgers to hear of you youngsters suffering as we did.............D.

Bedtime. Goodnight, all,

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 28th Oct 2012 at 22:07. Reason: Complete Bracket.
 

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