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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 Dec 2012, 19:34
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You had to take Exam "B" to get to Flt. Lt. (this was still in effect in the late '50s),
That arrangement kept going until the late sixties. There was then an almighty wail from officer's messes around the World as professional Flying Officers were forced to put Flt Lt's braid on; and were then liable for Station Duty Officer and lots of other onerous secondary duties.
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Old 17th Dec 2012, 08:10
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Geriaviator,
yes the Hastings being made (mostly) of old Halifax parts was a noisy beast. But so was its successor the Lockheed Hercules, especially 'down the back'. The ALMs became expert in lip reading and sign language. I understand the the 'new' version the C130J is even noisier !
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Old 17th Dec 2012, 09:47
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Danny:
I might have been Officer i/c Pig Farm somewhere
I think that Mr Barraclough beat you to it!
I believe that formerly there had been an Exam "A" between P/O and F/O
I suppose there must have been. Funny thing but I'd never considered that. All that I remember of the B Exam was trying to understand the tortuous organisation of the Army. Regiments, Brigades, Companies, Battalions, Divisions, even Armies; the whole melange defeated all logic. Mercifully the exam I took didn't inquire too deeply and thus the second stripe and attendant pay hike duly materialised.

Geriaviator:
Our generation does not know how lucky we are.
Indeed, and that is why the posts of Danny and his cohorts are so important. As I am prone to say ad nauseam, it is the brief BTW, the quick throw away line, that so clearly demonstrates the yawning gulf that exists between life now and life then. There is nothing to be envied about facing violent death, of losing loved ones in the same way, of constant privation and suffering, and yet we do envy them. Why? Because what that generation achieved meant that ours grew up in freedom and with hope for the future. That is an enviable epitaph for any generation and the least that ours can do is simply to acknowledge that.
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Old 17th Dec 2012, 09:49
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The C' Exam.' was for Flt Lt to Sqn Ldr and the dreaded Q' Exam. was for the Staff College.
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Old 17th Dec 2012, 10:43
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Anyone fancy a flight in a Mosquito?

Thanks to Chug, AA and Danny, please keep them coming. Soon after posting about the incredible noise endured by Bomber and Coastal Command crews, I came across this:


Flying DH Mosquito KA114. - YouTube


We really have to hand it to the Kiwis for their determination and engineering skills, I've never seen anything like this. Just make sure the neighbours are out, turn up the volume, enjoy all the way to the snap, crackle and pop of a Merlin being throttled back ... and then ask yourself would you have liked eight hours of it, night after night.
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Old 17th Dec 2012, 22:51
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Fareastdriver ,

They weren't all "professional" Flying Officers, Fed. I had a good friend at Strubby, ex-Wop/Ag, who simply could not get through the exam "B". He'd tried for years without success, when he was finally "deemed" to have passed, his first act was to instruct his wife to go out and buy some steak, in place of the egg-and-chips on which the family had for so long had to subsist !......D.

aw ditor ,

Touché ! Of course, you're right (as I was never to raise my sights so high, I'd quite forgotten the "Q")........D.


Chugalug,

Many a true word spoken in jest ! On Stations which had Pig Farms, there was a sort of unwritten convention that the SATCO got that subsidiary job.

As one of the last representatives of that generation on which so much praise is now being heaped, I must repeat a point which I have several times made in my Posts. There was nothing special about us; we just happened to be on watch when all the Nazi (and Japanese) horrors were let loose; it was up to us to do something about it.

Human progress in every generation consists of twenty steps forward and nineteen back. It was simply our good fortune to be able to put that horror down at the crossroads with a stake through its heart. That was our twentieth step. We can die content......D.

Thank you all for your interest and contributions to our Virtual Crewroom. It is what keeps this best of Threads alive.

Danny.
 
Old 18th Dec 2012, 01:20
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Exams

Danny 42C---I think in the past you remarked that unless you had a PC you could not get to S/Ldr.
If this was the case what would be the point in a F/Lt taking the B exam.?
Also what was the subject matter covered by these exams?
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Old 18th Dec 2012, 09:52
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142 Sqn prepares for France, 1939



Commanding officer Wing Cdr Falconer with aircrew of 142 Sqn, pictured at Bicester a few days before the squadron left for Berry-au-Bac, France on September 2, 1939. Most would not survive a year.
Back row, from left: Curtiss, Bury, Hworel, Howard, Abrahams, Lang, Baker, Heslop, Agar, Churchill, English, Stokes, Jenkins, Raper, Durham, Brown, Morgan, Little.
Front row: Ferguson, Arthur, Chalmers, Farrell, Flt Lt Wight, Sqn Ldr Hobbs, Wg Cdr Falconer, Flt Lt Rogers, Hewson, Gosman, Taylor, Franklyn, Ennis.
BELOW: Formation of 142 Sqn Battles, one of a series taken for the 1938 Christmas card.

http://i1278.photobucket.com/albums/...psce543c97.jpg

More pictures from Berry-au-Bac on the way, if you would like to see them.

Danny, thank you for your Vengeance reference, I read it from start to finish. Your recall is incredible, and your story is spellbinding!

Last edited by Geriaviator; 6th Jan 2018 at 15:58.
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Old 18th Dec 2012, 13:24
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who simply could not get through the exam "B".
Danny; I think you have misunderstood me. In my time there were a brood of Flying Officers who had no interest in becoming Flt Lts. Thia was because they were quite happy strapping on an aeroplane a couple of times a day and propping up the bar in the evening. Flight Lieutenants could get lumbered with all sorts of extra duties which would interfere with their idyllic life. As most of them were on a 5/8/12 commission flying hours were more important than money.

Automatic promotion to Flt Lt wrecked that arrangement.
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Old 18th Dec 2012, 18:50
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DFCP,

Slight misunderstanding here. I came back in as a Flying Officer, and was still in that noble rank until I could pass my "B". What were the subjects studied ? God knows !

There would be no sense in promoting a short-service officer to S/Ldr. What use would he be to the RAF in the few years he had left of his active SSC ?....D.


Fareastdriver,

No, all I meant was, that besides the chaps you mentioned who for quite understandable reasons preferred to remain F/Os (but who would have breezed the exam had they sat it), there were others who devoutly wanted to get the second stripe, but just weren't the studious kind. My friend was one such. Automatic promotion answered their prayers. Hope that clears it up...D.

(Do you remember the character in Doctor in the House (was it "Benskin" ?) on whom an incautious aunt had settled an allowance of £1,000 p.a. so long as he remained a medical student. He became a professional exam-failurerer !) EDIT: (until his fiancée made him buckle down and qualify !)

Geriaviator,

Thanks for the kind words. You must see Chugalug's marvellous find (I gave the Post number). That is, I think, the only bit of video of flying Vultee Vengeances in existence. Keep on Posting !.......D.

Regards to you all,

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 19th Dec 2012 at 13:16. Reason: Add Material.
 
Old 18th Dec 2012, 20:17
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Danny gets back in a cockpit again (at last !)

The accident rate rose alarmingly, to the point when public opinion became aroused. It is one thing to lose your young men in war, but seeing them killed wholesale in flying accidents in peace is quite another. The RAF had to start giving some thought to Flight Safety, a concept which hitherto had been regarded as an oxymoron. Flying was dangerous, people got killed doing it, "as any fule kno" (pace Adrian Mole).

It was bad enough in my day, and got worse. I have just read some figures for Meteor accidents in the early '50s - (total 890, with 434 pilots and 10 navs killed, they must have been on the NF11s). Apparently that was the worst post-war period. But as late as '53, 608 Sqn got a National Service P/O who had been trained on Oxfords at Dalcross, so it was still going on then.

Driffield used nearby Carnaby as its RLG. Carnaby was one of a small number of special "emergency" airfields which had been built during the war to provide for bombers returning with severe damage to aircraft or crew. IIRC, the runway was 9,000 ft long and 300 ft wide (double the width and a half as long again as the usual RAF runway in those days) in order to give a shot-up aircraft a better chance of a safe landing.

But there was no permanent staff there now, of course; housing was scarce everywhere; a large colony of squatters had appropriated most of the vacant RAF accommodation. The RAF tolerated this; water, power (metered, of course) and sewage services were kept on. But we did think it a bit rich when we started getting complaints from the squatters about aircraft noise !

John Henderson, ex-war pilot (he who had inveigled the Air House into buying enough spares to keep Ansons flying for all time), who had often crossed my path when later in ATC (I think we were together at Linton) and in retirement was for some time SATCO at Teeside airport, tells a good story:

It was the end of the day, Carnaby was pestering Driffield for permission to close. But Driffield still had one solo stude up at height; both places had to stay open till he got down. The line was still open between the two Controllers when in the background came the mounting scream of an aircraft coming down very fast, followed by a dull "crump". "That's it", said Driffield, "you can pack up now !"

My first ride in the Meteor was a revelation. This was simply a different order of aviation from anything my previous experience had prepared me for. For the first time I could see where I was going on the ground - this was luxury indeed. Up to now, taxying had been a matter of peeking around a big nose, like an engine driver in his cab, getting mouthfuls of hot, acrid exhaust fumes, and having to zig-zag to make sure the way ahead was clear. Now it was like driving a car. The soft u/c suspension rode the concrete joints in the taxyway like a Rolls-Royce. There was no vibration and the engine noise was smooth and muted. It was like a magically driven glider. This was the way to go flying !

Engine handling (after you'd got the fire going, the trickiest part of the job with the early jet engines) was simplicity itself - just a throttle (all right, "thrust lever"), open or shut. (The old piston engines had four knobs each to juggle with, which adds up a bit if you have four of them - or so the old four-in-hand drivers tell me).

One thing about it I heartily disliked. The Mk. 7 canopy did not open fore-and-aft, but was hinged on the side and swung over you with a clang of deathly finality to lock into position (the Me 109 was the same). And it wasn't a perspex bubble, but a sort of greenhouse with small panels in a metal frame.

It induced a strong feeling of claustrophobia (in me, anyway), although you could jettison it (with a big black/yellow "T"-handle in the cockpit) if you had to. I would have much preferred a single all-in-one plastic canopy like the ones in the Mks. 4 and 8 fighter versions. And these allowed the fighter cockpits to be pressurised (which we were not). This also allowed the fitting of ejection seats in these Marks; I suppose a seat could smash through a plastic bubble if the jettison failed, but our metal cage was of sterner stuff - it would shred us to ribbons on the way out.

(Enough for the time being; we get airborne next time).

Goodnight, chaps,

Danny42C.


Nearly there now.
 
Old 19th Dec 2012, 12:43
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"As any fule kno"....not Adrian, but the infamous Nigel Molesworth of St. Custards!!
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Old 19th Dec 2012, 13:07
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Molemot,

Threeché ! I hang my head in shame (but thanks, anyway !)

Danny.
 
Old 19th Dec 2012, 19:53
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Sorry to steal your thunder, Geriaviator, but I just had to post the photo that you linked to. How sad that so many seen below were to die so soon afterwards, and how fitting that RAF Bicester is the proposed site of a planned Bomber Command Heritage Centre to honour their memory.

Commanding officer Wing Cdr Falconer with aircrew of 142 Sqn, pictured at Bicester a few days before the squadron left for Berry-au-Bac, France on September 2, 1939. Most would not survive a year.
Back row, from left: Curtiss, Bury, Hworel, Howard, Abrahams, Lang, Baker, Heslop, Agar, Churchill, English, Stokes, Jenkins, Raper, Durham, Brown, Morgan, Little.
Front row: Ferguson, Arthur, Chalmers, Farrell, Flt Lt Wight, Sqn Ldr Hobbs, Wg Cdr Falconer, Flt Lt Rogers, Hewson, Gosman, Taylor, Franklyn, Ennis.

[/quote]

Last edited by Chugalug2; 19th Dec 2012 at 20:03.
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Old 20th Dec 2012, 08:07
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Nothing changed in Bomber Command even in the sixties. Pilot Officers and Flying Officers ranks were not acknowledged.
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Old 20th Dec 2012, 10:57
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Winter 1939 in France

Thanks Chugalug, this is indeed a poignant picture but I could not get the images to appear, only the links. Here are a couple more, taken by my father with his illegal Brownie box camera when 142 and 12 Sqns were based at Berry-au-Bac in winter 1939/40.

A Fairey Battle taxies from its dispersal in the hedges alongside the main road
between Laon and Reims, its airfield a grass area made from fields on the right. Most personnel were under canvas. Snow has been shovelled from the manoeuvering areas in the bitterly cold winter of Dec 1940 with temperatures often below -20C.


Cpl. Davis doing the daily checks, in the open as usual. Ground crews would toil throughout the war in conditions ranging from tropical heat to the depths of a Lincolnshire winter. Their vital role is often forgotten, especially those in Bomber Command.

With the Battle squadrons on readiness, their Merlin engines had to be run every hour to prevent the oil from solidifying in temperatures well below zero. Starting was by trolley-acc, a bank of batteries on a small handcart, charged by a small generator which could not keep up with so many starts. Instead the squadron used a rope lashed to a leather cap placed over the propellor tip. At the call “Three on the cap ... contact ... two-six, HEAVE” three airmen would pull the rope to turn the engine, the cap (hopefully) being thrown clear as the Merlin fired.

Note the single forward-firing Browning in the wing. This, and a hand-held Vickers in the rear cockpit, comprised the Battle's defence against the Me109, which was almost 100mph faster.

Danny, we're all waiting for more memories. I have indeed read every line and watched every minute of the Vengeance film, and suffered for spending hours on this thread. Better go now before I hear the siren call down the hall: "Will you get OFF that **** computer NOW".
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Old 20th Dec 2012, 12:36
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Geriaviator,
these are very evocative pictures. Thank you for sharing them and the story with us.
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Old 20th Dec 2012, 15:40
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In the photo at 3302 two of the officers in the front row seem to have a badge above their sleeve rank "rings". Can anyone explain, please?
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Old 20th Dec 2012, 15:45
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Fairey "Battles" in France.

Chugalug, Fareastdriver, and Geriaviator,

What a feast for Christmas ! Thank you, thank you !

Questions and comments fairly bubble up:

(Cpl Davies looking with affection - or Wild Surmise ?) at the Merlin......What a subject for the Caption Competition !........I like those exhaust stubs (anti-glare for n/f ?).........Surely they could afford a spinner to make the poor old thing look "finished off" (in the nice sense) ?........Shows what could be done with a Box Brownie (12/6 ?).....the original point-and-click.

(The one with a wheel on the - evilly glittering with ice -road).......What happened when he started to taxy from his dispersal?......How far did he get ?.....How did he stop ?

I've heard of the Rope Trick before. As told to me, it was a Dakota. They wound the rope round the prop hub and hitched the other end to a Jeep.

All this must not blind us to the terrible reality. Over half the Battle aircrews who went out to France died (Wiki tells me that it was pro rata the worst casualty rate of the war). The RAF won its first two VCs (F/O Garland and Sgt Gray). The poor airman who was the gunner in the back got nothing - he was not part of the decision-making process and so did not have to be brave to get killed !.......it makes my blood boil even now.

Of course this was replicated many times after, the pilot (and perhaps the Nav) got his DFC/DFM at the end of their "tour", the lesser breed down the back got nowt. Speaking as one who earned (and got) nothing beyond a whole skin and is therefore impartial, I thought it grossly unfair.

Geriaviator, as I have said somewhere before: I shall endeavour to give complete satisfaction !.......And don't we all know that peremptory call !

Danny.

EDIT: 26er, Their uniforms look darker, too. Could they be RAAF ? But then didn't they have black plastic buttons instead of brass ? (So long ago, so hard to remember). Garland and Gray, BTW, were 12 Sqdn. The bridge-busting operation was a gallant try; France collapsed; Guderian and his merry men were to go straigh through just the same next year.....D.

Last edited by Danny42C; 20th Dec 2012 at 16:17. Reason: Additional Material.
 
Old 20th Dec 2012, 20:34
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Danny, I don't know whether you've been watching the Dangerous Railways series on Channel 5 with Chris Tarrant, but in case you haven't this last episode should be of interest. He rides the Konkan line south of Bombay down the west coast to Goa. This is the missing line that you couldn't take, on account it wasn't built until the 90's. Despite Tarrant's "Grumpy Old Man" style (at least he manages without clutching an ancient copy of Bradshaw throughout!), the technical achievements of what were then 20 year old engineers are impressive. The British decided that this route, open to the Monsoons from the Arabian Sea and the raging rivers out of the Western Ghat, was just too difficult to build and operate. The Indians begged to differ...
Episode 3: India | Chris Tarrant: Extreme Railways | Channel 5

Ref the two officers with darker uniforms, they probably are Australian as neither of them have folded their arms exactly as briefed, unlike nearly everyone else!

Last edited by Chugalug2; 20th Dec 2012 at 20:43.
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