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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 3rd Mar 2013, 18:57
  #3561 (permalink)  
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Never a Dull Moment !


Nice pics - Abdul looks a fearsome beast ! And what a rattling good story ! (would I be wrong in suspecting an "inside job" - a confederate who contrived to get into church a little early, and opened the Emergency Exit just a teeny little bit so that a small hand could gently open it a little more from the outside ?).......Let's have lots more like this !.......D.


Sandymount looks fine, but as I recall the Tatty Club was more like the Valley OMQ you showed me a while back. Mind you, it was always after dark when we got there .........D.


It very much looks as if the Mess you remember was our old place (on long finals to 16 would be about right). In which case, as I don't remember 202 AFS there, do you remember us 20 Sqdn chaps ? (or shall we just forget it - it was a long time ago, after all)......D.

Regards to you all,




Another old comrade gone - May he Rest in Peace. Please convey to his family our sympathy and condolences.

Danny42C, wife and daughter.

Last edited by Danny42C; 3rd Mar 2013 at 19:27. Reason: Additional Material.
Old 3rd Mar 2013, 19:04
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Peter Brett RIP

I remember the posts, and look back on them with great enjoyment. RIP Peter, and my regards and sympathy to your family.

bonorum virorum latronum es

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Old 3rd Mar 2013, 19:45
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Danny, I don't specifically remember any 20 Sqn chaps but was of course aware of the unit being on the station and thought its pilots mainly consisted of disgruntled middle european hairies. Later when serving on a Hunter wing in 2TAF I was able to refer to one of the other squadrons as a "target facitities mob" for the gunners. In those days I could run a lot faster than now, discretion being the better part of valour, but now frequently take ale with old 124 Wing mates as we continue to mull over the good times on 14, 20 and 26 Squadrons along with 79 Swift FR mud movers.

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Old 4th Mar 2013, 11:26
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Peter Breet

I, too, remember the posts. RIP sir.
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Old 5th Mar 2013, 00:14
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Danny and the Mysterious Visitors'

The first B-50 appeared, flying several low-level circuits to size-up the airfield. The Colonel seemed to have one wingtip in cloud and the other brushing the trees as he banked around. Finally, coming round "hot and high", he made a dirty dive onto runway 16, touching down well up and going very fast. "He'll never make it", we said, in pleasurable anticipation.

Then the engines thundered into life again and a huge ball of spray from the streaming wet tarmac covered everything. "Well, that's it", we said, "he hasn't enough left now to get off again". The engines shut down, the spray dispersed, and the B-50 reappeared, but now moving very slowly up the last of the runway. We looked at it dumbfounded. It was our first sight of reversible propellers, and we could not have had a more convincing demonstration.

The other five (?) aircraft came in in turn, But the weather was improving all the time and there was no further drama. They all got in without difficulty. But their whole detachment was a bit of a mystery to us. To begin with, where did they all live ? Certainly not in our Messes. There was no room for them, and I never saw any of them in our Mess even as visitors.

Presumably Valley, as a Master Airfield, would have some transit accommodation somewhere to cope with a civilian diversion with a load of pax. Did they live there ? Don't know. There would be plenty of technical accommodation around their dispersals; that would be no problem.

As to what they were for, we had absolutely no idea. IIRC, most of their flying was by night, which meant that we kept out of each other's way quite well. We went over to have a look at them, and were awed by their infinitely more complicated interiors. This gave rise to a current local joke: "Why do American aircraft always fly at night ?" ........"because it takes them all day to read the check list !" Naturally we were far too security-minded to ask, and they to answer, any questions about the purpose of their visit, but speculations abounded.

After about six weeks they noticed signs of corrosion on their beautiful polished silver fuselages. This was hardly surprising, as their dispersals were no more than 200 yards from the beach and the lashing salt-laden sea air and rain, (and this might have been foreseen before the decision was taken to base them at Valley). They up-staked and vanished as mysteriously as they had come. Where to ? Don't know.

Until next time, then

Regards to all,


Come one, come all.
Old 5th Mar 2013, 09:46
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A section of the xxxth Bombardment Group of Strategic Air Command would be coming in with their B-50s for an indefinite period. Why Valley and not East Anglia (that unsinkable aircraft carrier), which was their natural habitat, we never knew.

They up-staked and vanished as mysteriously as they had come. Where to ? Don't know.


A wee shoogle with something that rhymes brings up 2d Bomb Wing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia which shows that the 2(n)d Bomb Wing were stationed at Mildenhall Aug-Dec 51 and Upper Heyford between Sep-Dec 51. I don't know if these dates fit in in with your your latest great story, and haven't had time to dip into the records of the individual squadrons mentioned, but there may be a clue or two in there somewhere.


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Old 5th Mar 2013, 16:24
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The 2nd Bombardment Group.

Union Jack


We are hot on the trail now, thanks to your invaluable assistance. Both Mildenhall and Upper Heyford dates must be much later than their six-week attachment to us, otherwise they would have been in conflict with the 202 AFS.

It would be impossible for us to have had 20 Sqdn and 202 AFS and 2nd Bombardment Wing on Valley all at the same time. Therefore their visit must have been in April '51 - or even earlier, before the arrival of the AFS.

64 dollar question - when did 202 AFS first arrive on the scene ?

Subsidiary question - If they left in (say) May '51 at the latest, but didn't show up at Mildenhall until August '51, where had they been ? (could they have gone back to the US - very likely). And why were they hopping about all over the place when they could perfectly well decide on one UK base and settle down there ?

Don't suppose we'll get much further with this. Just one of the unsolved mysteries ! Many thanks for your help, Jack,

(Sun's over the yard arm now!)

Old 5th Mar 2013, 18:21
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Geriaviator, you've just caused me to splutter my coffee all over my keyboard! I love the old testament style doom laden nature of your offering. No doubt there was much gnashing of teeth as well as wailing involved in the aftermath. No wonder that for some Aden was hell, every adult on base presumably! You paint a picture of anarchy and mayhem abounding in that awful place. How one pities the incumbents, nowhere safe, not even the House of the Lord. Woe indeed!
Danny, I was once the proud possessor of a large B50 model, made for aircraft recognition purposes and obtained in a Govt surplus store. Bizarrely it was painted with Post Office Red upper sides and Silver below. Even more bizarrely that obviously didn't worry me, as it simply joined the other models suspended perilously by threads from my bedroom ceiling. You don't happen to remember if any of those that visited Valley were so finished do you? Very unlikely of course, but whoever so embellished it also added the USAF "Stars and Stripes" markings as if to imply that the whole paint scheme was cosha. Perhaps all was not as it seemed though...
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Old 5th Mar 2013, 18:59
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No, I'm afraid the bunch which came into Valley were naked as they'd been born (their aircraft, I mean !) Factory fresh, I suppose. And very smart in the sunshine they were, too. Carried the USAF insignia, of course.

But why would aircraft be flown into a potential war zone with no camouflage ? Doesn't make sense. Another unsolved mystery !

Cheers, Danny.
Old 6th Mar 2013, 09:20
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The Mighty Eighth stripped all the paint off their B17s and B24s so that they would go faster.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 6th Mar 2013 at 15:26.
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Old 6th Mar 2013, 10:27
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The Mighty Eighth stripped all the paint off their B17s and B26s so that they would go faster.

Very interesting, particularly relative to the fact that American Airlines are changing the unpainted, polished aluminum exterior of their aircraft, presumably because of the advent of composite materials in future aircraft amongst other things.

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Old 6th Mar 2013, 10:57
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Danny, I too was gobsmacked when I saw my first B-50 close up, at least until I walked round a corner at Dublin Airport many years back and encountered my first 747 which towered above me like an aluminium cliff. My reason for polished alloy is weight reduction, I think a 747 takes about one ton of paint, and the humble Cherokee takes about 20lb. That's why a/c are regularly weighed especially after repaint.

Abdul the land crab was very friendly but, sir, you do the Kids a calumny by implying we welcomed him into the Church Parade. We must give full credit to Graham for the invasion, even though it had repercussions. (Chugalug, sorry about your keyboard, best keep it to one side. I see a camel cart approaching on Sheikothman Rd).
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Old 6th Mar 2013, 19:52
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I must say that on the few occasions on which I have seen (from a safe distance) a 747 levitate, I've always thought "How on earth......?" - and a ton of paint would represent 10 pax, I would think. Might be enough to put the flight into profit. As most of the things I flew had hides like crocodiles with surface drag to match, it has never really occurred to me. You can learn something new every day !

I'm a bit slow on the uptake, but I've suddendly tumbled to it - "Graham" is a pseudonym, of course ! (and we all know who he really was, don't we ?) No wonder you know so much about "Abdul's" temperament. Speaking as one who doesn't much like things with big claws (and who can't run very fast - or - at all now), how big was he actually, ?

Hope you left him in Aden !

Old 7th Mar 2013, 10:43
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I've read that a good coat of wax on the PR Spitfire's duck-egg blue cellulose finish could add up to 20 mph on top speed, by improving the boundary layer flow. It reminds me of the quest to improve production in which the engineers stuck split peas over the countersunk flush rivets on the upper wing, gradually removing them from the rear. They found that the rear two-thirds of the wing could be built with ordinary dome-heads, leaving the time-consuming countersinks for the critical front aerofoil ahead of the mainspar. This enabled significant savings in production time.

Fellow vintage Pruners will remember Seccotine, the evil-smelling brown glue in a tube. It was based on animal hoof/bone and would give today's Health Police the vapours. Seccotine being all they had, it was used to stick the peas on the Spitfire wing. Fortunately it was dry as Seccotine wasn't waterproof. Ah, the gems we find on this thread ...

Danny, the landcrabs were all over Khormaksar and normal wingspan was about 3ins claw to claw. However, we prized the big ones for racing and Abdul was about twice normal size. And I plead not guilty, mine was called Ahmed and was safe in his stable under my bed when the Church Parade outrage took place. My father threw him out shortly afterwards but to the day we left we hadn't a cockroach about the house, which still stands with the rest of the Patch. I like to think of today's residents still cockroach free courtesy of Ahmed's fearsome descendants, cockroach crunchers every one.

Some of the airmen kept racing stables as well, remember they were only a few years older than us, and Dad said some had even less wit if that was possible. Technically, Graham's crab was forbidden as his family was Jewish and crabs were unclean but he arrived home several times to catch his mother talking to Abdul, who seemed to like humankind ... the heat did strange things to people in Khormaksar.

Last edited by Geriaviator; 7th Mar 2013 at 17:33.
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Old 7th Mar 2013, 14:18
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Just a note about the split peas on the Spitfire. The man tasked with purchasing the peas and adhesive from a hardware shop in Southampton was Harry Griffiths. He also glued them in position. I had the pleasure of spending a day with Harry.

A great thread.
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Old 7th Mar 2013, 17:24
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Land Crabs.


Only 3 in clawspan ? - I'm very glad to hear it ! (I was thinking of something more like 30 in !) Fear not if you find yourself talking to land crabs / lizards / tree rats in warmer climes - problems only arise when they start talking back to you.!

Old 8th Mar 2013, 06:58
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I was just reading a Boeing document "Surface Coatings and Drag Reduction" about the effect of various surface finishes on boundary layer control and drag/fuel savings. They committed thousands of hours research and much wind tunnel time in reaching a similar conclusion to Harry Griffiths and his bag of split peas.
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Old 8th Mar 2013, 09:16
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KHORMAKSAR 1952: the conversion that never was

WEíRE ALL confined to quarters following the Church Parade incident, and during my ample time to meditate I experience a wondrous conversion. Iím going to become a Jew like Graham.

No more Sunday School, great. No more Padre Ashe droning on in church, even better. Leaving class and heading for home when Padre Ashe conducts the religious instruction, best of all. On our release from confinement the Kids join up in jubilant agreement and at the pool all our friends on National Service think itís a great idea, they will convert too. The news goes round our little station community like wildfire, and now Dad says all his airmen want to be Jews as well because Jews don't do Sundays.

We knew who caused the church uproar as soon as we spotted Abdul, who lives a contented life in a box at Grahamís back door, eating kitchen scraps and seizing the odd cockroach as a delicacy. Graham commiserates on the grievous injustice we have suffered, listens with satisfaction as we describe the ensuing chaos, and tells us that he retrieved an indignant Abdul after Padre Ashe had ejected him with a brush. He has already rebuilt his stock of locusts, you never know when theyíll be handy. Graham keeps a pocketful of locust fuselages for his pet, and we feed these tasty morsels to Abdul as Graham begins our instruction into the Jewish faith.

We learn that the Jews have a rabbi not a Padre, or rather they donít have one at RAF Khormaksar because his family are the only Jews. A major benefit is that Jews do not go to church, instead they go to something called a sinner-gog. But Graham has never been to one, and there isnít one in Aden because the Arabs might object, we canít think why but hey, itís all good news. Robert says that Padre Ashe is always talking about sinners being washed clean of sin, so we conclude that the sinner-gog is some sort of theological laundry.

Graham talks about the Ark, the bar mitzvah and some sort of candlestick they bring out on a Saturday night. The Ark is no problem, we can launch it at Steamer Point Lido as long as it fits in the gharri. I recall that mum has a bra thing as some part of her underwear, and we fall about at the idea of wearing a candlestick as a vest, we donít wear vests in Aden anyway because itís too hot. These are but minor details, and clearly Judaism is the way to go.

We announce our decision to our parents, who have met at Grahamís house for lunch. They are very encouraging and agree that the benefits make our decision a no-brainer, for Judaism requires only one teensy weensy thing in return. We listen with mounting horror as the contribution which Judaism requires of its male members is gently explained to us.

Shortly afterwards three committed Christians and a solitary Israelite set out for the swimming pool.

NEXT WEEK: The Kids befriend a passing camel on the Sheikothman Road. Surely no harm can come of this?
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Old 8th Mar 2013, 15:34
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Hilarious ! Congratulations on the recantation of your apostasy - and not a Torquemada (busily gathering firewood) in sight !

I well remember: "Fall out, the Roman Catholics and Jews" (do we still do this ?), and a W/Cdr Brown and myself standing lonely behind the parades, our backs turned to it, at ease while the CofE Padre "bothered God" (as the irreverent saying was in those days).

I rather suspect that your camel might have done well to leg-it for the horizon when he saw you coming, but who knows ? Perhaps he comes well out of it.
We must wait and see.

Old 8th Mar 2013, 16:10
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The mandatory church-dodging wheeze was also tried at RAFC when I was there on 99 Entry.

A bunch of ex-Apprentices thought they could get out of things by declaring themselves to be atheists. However, the staff (even Les Rodda!) were wise to such ploys and told them they'd have to stand at ease outside the church instead. So they had another idea....

One morning they all asked to see the left-footer god-botherer, on the grounds that, after much thought, they'd come to the conclusion that Roman Catholicism was the best chance there was to rescue their heathen spirits. The RC sky-pilot was astonished and was almost on the point of ringing the Pope, or similar, to spread the good news.... But even he began to smell a rat....

Of course the reason was simple. The CofE contingent fell in at 1030 on the JMPG and were inspected, then marched off to church in squadrons. If we were lucky, we might be free by about 1230...

The Church of Jocks group met in the JM entrance at 1000 and marched off together to the CSFC church for their short service.

Whereas the RC chaps simply turned up at their church at 0930 and were done and dusted PDQ.... No inspection, no marching and a couple of hours of extra freedom.

This didn't escape the attention of the RC padre though. He told the would-be converts that instruction in Roman Catholicism would involve many hours of study and prayer - so were they really sure they were prepared to submit themselves to such hard work, given all the other pressures of Flight Cadet training.....

Needless to say, there were a few more CofE cadets marching to church the following week!

Last edited by BEagle; 8th Mar 2013 at 16:12.
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