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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 19th Mar 2013, 17:37
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Back in 1956 one of my teachers used to corner his Bond like a sidecar, his long-suffering fiancee being expected to lean to the inside of corners. The little engine used to foul its plug as soon as he eased off the throttle, hence the flat-out technique. I was planning to install a 500cc Velocette engine he had acquired but perhaps fortunately Ian graduated to a Ford Ten powered Dellow.

Danny, I look forward to your exploration of that Aladdin's Cave, that Depository of Dreams, the Stores Section
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Old 19th Mar 2013, 17:54
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Danny

St Athan ( known forever throughout the RAF Ground trades as "The Factory"). What delights you will find deep down south is an instalment I anticipate with glee. I must say though, we're still sitting here, me and SWMBO, in awe of a time when a chap could swan off in a Spitfire, and not be full of delight. Keep going Sir, we await the next 'Eisteddfod'.
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Old 19th Mar 2013, 18:48
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Danny,

You are really ruffling the feathers of nostalgia at the moment. In 1957 I was sent on my first solo in a glider at St Athans by Lt Cmdr Brett Knowles RN. He was quite a character and drove an old Daimler which used to belong to Sir Bernard Docker. Orignally it had a 12 cylinder engine under a very long bonnet, a nightmare when pulling out of blind junctions. Knowles had replaced it with a Perkins diesel. He had been on a recent Greenland expedition where he was most famous for quickly removing anything useful from a Hastings which crashed while dropping supplies to them.

He was one of those larger than life characters, especially in the gliding world at that time, I wondered if any other readers would remember him.
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Old 19th Mar 2013, 22:59
  #3624 (permalink)  
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Ali Baba and the 40 Store-Bashers.

Geriaviator,

The Bond was very stable in normal circumstances. I only managed to lift the inside wheel on a couple of occasions, and then no more than a foot or so. I can see the advantage in your teacher's method in RH bends. If his plugs were always fouling, then either he was putting too much oil in (I found 20:1 better than the recommended 16:1) or he was running rich (the needle in the carb could wear and you could drop it down a click). I found the three-prong plugs the best (KLG ?); if one point fouled up, you should get a spark from another.

Every 5,000 miles or so, the exhaust port would coke-up, and power faded out. Not to worry, head off, manifold off, BDC, poke coke into cyl. with blunt screwdriver, TDC, wipe coke off head, reassemble. All 2-strokes of the time needed this (do they still ?)

If he had succeeded in fitting the Velocette 500, then the tractor unit would have wrenched away from the bulkhead, punched through the front and vanished into the middle distance. Not to be recommended ! I thought that the power increment from 122 to 197 (5hp to 8hp) was dodgy enough.

Even the smaller engine would wind it up to 40 mph, at which speed road-holding was at best tenuous and at worst non-existent. The last ones had a 249 (?) weird thing which could be switched to rotate backwards (to give you reverse drive). As by then they had fitted springs to the back, maybe it could handle the extra power. They lasted well into the mid-seventies.

I would think the fiancťe had something to do with the change of wheels. Exactly the same happened to me.

Your turn, now. I look forward eagerly to more tales of Abdul, Graham and their villainous associates in Khormaksar ......D.

Smujsmith,

Sad to say, Spitfires of all Marks were treated as "hacks" then, as there were so many left over from the war. I would imagine you could pick them up for a song at any military surplus sale (why didn't I invest my Gratuity in half a dozen, and store them in some old barn ? - I'd be a millionaire now !)......D.

pulse1,

Would that be the one with the gold stars on the paintwork ? And did they try putting the V-12 into the Daimler Sports 250 ? And there was a half-size replica Spitfire flying in the US with the Jaguar V-12 under the bonnet. Could they have been the same engine ? Long noses were common enough, I remember the SS I and SS II of the late '30s - it was all show, there was nothing to speak of underneath.

Don't know your chap (try Union Jack ?) but - "There were Giants in those Days".........D.

Cheerio to you all, Danny.

"Be careful of what you wish for - you may get it"

Last edited by Danny42C; 19th Mar 2013 at 23:02. Reason: Typo.
 
Old 20th Mar 2013, 00:16
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Fair cop Danny,

I suppose I take quite a few things for granted these days without realising their future potential. Although seeing the hashinee about the potential for buried Spitfires in Borneo recently, I suspect had you bought half a dozen you could well be Lord Danny42C by now. My thoughts go from the chaps like yourself, who, had a crack on some of these classic aircraft in their infancy. To, 10 to 12 years later finding them so mundane. Whilst in modern times of course, we sit here and read it and say blimey, I'd give my left leg to have done that. Don't get me wrong, when I started as a C130 Goround Engineer, I could not believe that someone allowed me to enjoy the flying I had. After around 5000 hours in the back, I still loved the job, but was less "distracted" by the flying. I still say that anyone who could, "choose a Spit and get on their way" was indeed a blessed individual. My respects

Smudge
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Old 20th Mar 2013, 00:46
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FO Fred Sim in Lancaster LM382 on Leipzig raid Feb 19/20, 1944

Sorry for not getting back to you but I moved and had to change my email and the rest is a long story so I won't bore you. The Catlin crew were tour expired after crash landing at Manston. Four were wounded, two seriously. This crew had been beat up that night with the FE ,Barry Wright, being awarded a CGM and the rest ethier the DFM or DFC. They had landed at Manston after being shot by two German fighters which were also shot down . They also had flown home from Mannheim on three engines earlier in 1943. In 1944 my dad was assigned to Staverton where he qualified as a bombing leader. In 1944 also he was married to a Welsh WAAF who came to Canada early in 1945 and he followed her back a few months later. You can read the crew stoy in 'Lancater at War II' by Garbutt and Goulding. The story is entitled 'Clap Hands For The Walking Dead' by the authors.

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Old 20th Mar 2013, 19:36
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In 1957 I was sent on my first solo in a glider at St Athans by Lt Cmdr Brett-Knowles RN. - Pulse 1

Don't know your chap (try Union Jack ?) - Danny

Sadly neither do I, especially since he certainly seems he seems to have stood out from the crowd - and quite a bit before my time too!

However, I note that he was actually an Instructor Lieutenant Commander with seniority of 16 July 1952, who would therefore probably have been in his late 30s in 1957 when he sent Pulse1 soaring solo skywards.

By implication in view of his gliding skills, as a member of the Instructor Branch/Specialisation (broadly equivalent to the RAF Education Branch), it sounds as if he almost certainly would have been someone who had sub-specialised as a Met Officer, the duties of which were carried out by Instructor Officers prior to the much later formal establishment of the Meteorological and Oceanographic (METOC) sub-specialisation.

Meanwhile, back at St Athan ......

Jack
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Old 21st Mar 2013, 10:35
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Danny is the master of the throwaway line ... "I drew a line on the map, took a Spitfire and got airborne". But maybe it's like those old cars, lovely to look back upon but horrible old beasts when you actually meet one again. I tried a Green Goddess (Bedford RL) a couple of years ago and what a pig she proved to be!

Did you three-point your Spitfires or wheel them on? I found tail-draggers were easier on grass, but of course there's precious little grass around today's airports even if you were admitted to pay your exorbitant landing and parking fees. Anyway, back to RAF Khormaksar in 1952:



ANOTHER 10 daysí detention imposed for the camel cart affair, and Iím woken by a terrible racket from below. Itís very late, about 9.30 pm, and I peep down from the top of the stairs to see Davidís parents with Mum and Dad. The air is thick with cigarette smoke, and they have a bottle of special Grown-up Cola that Iím not allowed, not that Iíd want it anyway. I tried a sip of Dadís once when he was at the bathroom and itís foul, itís nearly as bad as milk.

Mum is all giggly, the way she is at Christmas, and the two fathers are roaring with laughter over a big green folder which they pass to Davidís mum, who reads it, turns bright red and collapses onto the sofa making a gasping noise. At once I recognise the symptoms. Iím about to go down and tell Mrs. Brindley Iím very sorry she has caught VD and I hope she gets better soon when, just in time, I remember the Official Secrets Act. I tiptoe back to bed and go out like a light.

I wake to the bugle calls from the Aden Protectorate Levy lines half a mile away. My parents are still sound asleep and I consider flinging their doors open shouting ĎWakey wakey rise and shineí the way Dad does with mine, but some sixth sense warns that this might not be the wisest course today.

From the verandah I see Graham mooching towards our house, passing the house of Tiddles the tomcat. Tiddles hasnít been seen since his fight with Abdul, Grahamís land crab. Following on our close brush with conversion to Judaism, we have worked out that Abdul removed a certain component of Tiddles, thereby turning him into a Jewish tomcat. Grahamís a thoughtful boy and just to show thereís no hard feelings he pops a couple of locusts through the louvres of the front door. He says his parents are still asleep too so we look around for something to eat. On the table beside the overflowing ashtray is the green folder they had last night. Inside we find a single typed sheet:

Station Routine Orders, RAF Khormaksar. Addendum ref. 234/52
It has been brought to the notice of the Station Commander that personnel have been interfering with camels on the Sheikothman Road. This practice will cease forthwith.
Signed: Officer Commanding.


ďWhatís funny about that? Last week they give us a whacking for turning the camel, now they laugh about itĒ, says Graham. We commiserate on the problems of having grown-ups until Mum comes downstairs and we assure her that we are not hungry, we donít mind having no breakfast. She looks guilty and says Graham can stay for breakfast, after which he can ask his parents if he can go to the lido, and hereís a shilling for the gharri. We canít believe our luck.

As we pass Abdullah he says naughty boys, naughty boys, but his eyes are smiling. I lean from the gharri, put my hands together in Indian greeting and say Salaam, Abdullah sahib. Salaam, chota sahib, he replies, points at his gate and breaks into a roar of laughter. We wave to each other until the gharri goes out of sight. Weíre friends again, the sun shines and allís well in our happy little world.

COMING SOON: Our homeward posting casts a shadow over happy days at the Khormaksar Pantomime.

Last edited by Geriaviator; 10th Dec 2019 at 16:20. Reason: Replacing picture from photobucket
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Old 21st Mar 2013, 22:47
  #3629 (permalink)  
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Geriaviator,

Another winner, chota sahib ! The pics of your quarter look nice - could that possibly be a TV set right over on the left ? (in Aden ? - in '52 ? - that size screen ?) We had our first TV in '55, and I think it was only a 12-in.

We tried to 3-point our Spits, but it didn't always come off. They were really just like big Tiger Moths to land. And none were ever "horrible old beasts" - I'll always remember them as the nicest things I ever flew. Familiarity never bred contempt !

As for the Green Goddesses, I would think they were heavily overloaded versions on the same chassis as I had on my 900 (?) gallon bowser in India. Empty, I reckoned it my best vehicle: the Bedford/GMC straight six was streets better than the Ford V-8. Full, I would suppose it would be a pig to drive, too.

I fear poor Tiddles may have lost rather more than the appendage in question, and thereafter probably sang soprano in the Cats' Choir.

I'm afraid the clerk who cut the Roneo stencil for that Addendum to SROs chose the words all too deliberately, with a view to arousing unseemly mirth among the brutal and licentious soldiery ! Anyway, it gave your Sahib and Memsahib a good chuckle over their sundowners.

Regards from the Burra-Sahib,

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 21st Mar 2013 at 22:49.
 
Old 23rd Mar 2013, 00:55
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Danny gets more than he Bargained For (Part 2)

(Follows Part 1 on #3609 p.181)

Chiefy seemed to be able to convey orders by some kind of thought transference. No word was said, but two steaming mugs of Earl Grey (poetic licence) appeared as if by magic, a tin of sugar and the Duty Spoon were found; soon we could feel again the hammer of the Indian sun and hear the mournful cry of the char-wallah, as we exchanged reminiscences of our years in the subcontinent.

We'd just about finished our tea when the phone rang. They'd found my stuff, they were sending it over. I expected to see a lad on a bike, but instead a 15 cwt turned up. The driver rummaged about in the back and with difficulty dragged out two very large cast iron brake drums - must have been for a 3-tonner at least. Carrying one of these under each arm, and the paperwork between his teeth, he dumped them at the flight hut steps, and came in: "Sign here please, sir".

Chiefy and I looked at these things in dismay. Where on earth are we going to put them ? Two of his chaps carried a drum apiece and the little party went out to my Spitfire. First we took off a wing panel and tried the (empty) gun bays. No good, the drums were just too big to fit any way we turned them. The radio compartment behind my head ? - no room there either. There's nowhere else. Chiefy shrugged. "They'll have to go in the cockpit with you, sir".

Sir did not like this idea one little bit. A Spitfire cockpit is, shall we say, "snug" (it is better to be not taller than 5' 10" and BMI no more than 20). But as our last great "Statesman" was wont to say: "There is no alternative". So we tried.

The seat back is right on the armour plate. You can't put them down the sides, there's too much gubbins down there already. On the floor (was there a floor in a Spit, or just foot rails under the double-decker rudder stirrups ? - Can't remember), they'd curtail the "Free and Full Movement of the Controls" - and what would you anchor them to ? Impasse. Chiefy frowned.

Then he brightened. He sent a lad off for some half-inch rope. Had he flipped his lid ? Was he going to lash the things onto the structure somewhere, to carry them as external stores ? Reason tottered on her throne. But he'd had a better idea than that. They cut a length of rope, enough to form a loop through both centre holes of the drums. "Hop in, sir".

Sir hopped and strapped in with grim foreboding. Then they lifted this monstrous garland over my head (I think it needed a chap on each wing for the job). The two enormous breastplates clanged and chimed like mad church bells. It was a good thing that I wasn't wearing a Mae West, or I would have had difficulty reaching the spade grip, never mind fly the aeroplane.

They'd left the knot behind my neck so that the loop could be adjusted. Too small, and the weight would bow me down: Valley would have the "Hunchback of Notre St. Athan" on my return. Too big. the full weight would fall on my lap, acting as a tourniquet on my femoral arteries, (gangrene would probably have set in before I got back !).

"You'll be all right, sir !" Sir sincerely hoped so.

By now the melodious (?) chimes had drawn wider interest. Had Mr Whippy come round ? A little knot of spectators watched our struggles with some amusement. Chiefy pushed the cockpit door closed, I managed to get the thing started. The mag switches were a bit hard to reach, but I got them on, and the fuel cocks. Luckily. it was still quite warm, for I couldn't get across to the "Kigass" (primer) in the far right corner. I flicked the covers off the two black buttons (Start and Booster) more or less in front of me, pulled the stick as far back as I could, splayed two fingers on my left hand, and poked. It fired straight away.

I pulled out of the line, merrily clanging, and swung onto the taxiway. Not only the marshaller, but the whole bunch of sightseers gave me an ironic salute ! I returned it grimly (morituri te salutamus ?)

Now you are all delightedly waiting for the inevitable disaster to overtake Danny. Sorry, folks, but it didn't happen. It was a bit awkward map reading, but all I had to do was to aim a bit west of north and I must end on familiar ground (Snowdon helped, too). I got back with no trouble at all. I must admit that the airman who marshalled me in had a rather puzzled look (never heard a Merlin make a noise like that - a ring broken ?) and was even more startled when the door flew open, and a Tin Man bawled: "Get these bloody things off me" (he had to summon assistance).

I stamped into the Flight Office to confront a very apologetic Willie. "If I'd known they were that big, you could have had the Harvard". Now he tells me ! It later struck me that, if I'd crashed on the way back, the Court of Inquiry would have had the strangest case of F.O.D. in the history of aviation.

So, all you young "steelies" remember: NEVER, on any account, agree to carry any cargo unless you know exactly what it is and how it is to be stowed.

Goodnight, chaps,

Danny42C


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Old 23rd Mar 2013, 10:58
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Now you tell me Danny! Too little and too late I fear. Mercifully though there was no call in my flying career to personally transport "Drums Brake 3 Tonners for the use of" nor for that matter fly a Spitfire (more's the pity).
Had you devised an appropriate Abandon Aircraft Drill? To do so with the drums still attached would have risked a face full of cast iron with possibly fatal results, but to divest yourself of them without creating the biggest FOD incident ever equally problematic. I thought that the Spitfire lent itself to creative external stores solutions. Weren't they once famously bombed up with barrels of Watneys Red Barrel?

Geriaviator, your total recall of those days of boyhood innocence are to envy. It's not so much the incidents themselves, though they delight in their Outlaws like anarchy, but the thought processes that they engendered in you at the time. Thank heavens for that advice received re the OSA, for Moscow might otherwise have gained a strategic advantage from which we could not escape. A damn close run thing indeed!
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Old 23rd Mar 2013, 11:00
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Danny

Talk about dropping a clanger! - I believe that you have just "black catted" Geriaviator - at least for the moment ....

Jack
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Old 23rd Mar 2013, 15:56
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Grrr ***BOREDOM ALERT*** Take care, he's off in the clouds again

Another wonderful tale from Danny, surely the only aviator to have flown a Spitfire while sporting a cast-iron bra as part of his flying kit? It must have been as uncomfortable on the front as my (kindly donated) Sea Vixen dinghy was on the rear.

Chugalug, I agree it's wonderful to have such clear early memories especially when I can't remember where I put the item I was using two minutes ago, or when I carefully stow the biscuit tin in the refrigerator. Which, with Danny's mention of uncomfortable flights, leads me to another rambling tale ...

In 1972 the Tiger Moth and I were bound for an air display in Weston-super-Mare when the wind for once was in our favour. With a 50-knot nor-wester at 5000 feet I reckoned I could cross the Irish Sea direct to Sleap in Shropshire without my usual stop to refuel at Blackpool. (I should add that ATC at Blackpool and Isle of Man were very tolerant of my regular journeys, allowing me through their zones non-radio as long as I phoned first, and keeping a grass area trimmed for the Tiger).

After a vertical takeoff and climb into the gale I turned downwind and streaked across the coast. The Isle of Man flew past at 140 knots and clearly range would be no problem for the Tiger, but it would be for me. It's mighty cold in an open cockpit at 5000ft, even after a hearty breakfast with orange juice followed by three big cups of tea. Not for the first time I reflected on the wartime instructors who had sat in the front seat often for six hours a day in the depths of winter.

Leaving Snowdonia I began to eye up the fields with their inviting hedges. I considered the benefits of my immersion suit, which I knew would keep the water out but would be equally effective at keeping it in. After two hours I carefully turned my eyes from a sparkling river off to port, lest I should provide one myself. At 10 miles out I pushed the nose down and went flat-out for Sleap with a steep slipping turn into wind and a landing run of 40 yds, by which time I had shut down the engine, undone my straps and dived over the side.

Sleap Control, understandably concerned by this airborne lunatic, despatched the fire engine which arrived shortly after I had managed to release my immersion suit and attain a state of undreamed-off bliss. The crash crew dashed up brandishing a fire extinguisher and fell about when they saw I still had working pressure on my own.

Ah, happy days when one could rely on one's plumbing system. Today I reflect that two or three times a night when I was 21 has a totally different meaning now that I am 71. But not to worry, I've forgotten what was different about it.

Last edited by Geriaviator; 7th Oct 2017 at 17:23. Reason: spacing
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Old 24th Mar 2013, 02:14
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This and That.

Chugalug,

I'm afraid I didn't think much about a possible bale-out at the time, but in hindsight I suppose my best bet would have been to open the hood (I could just about manage that), invert the thing and hope that gravity would do the rest !

Yes, I remember the story of the beer being taken out attached (must have been to a bomb rack under the Spitfire fuselage), but it must have caused a fearful drag, and surely the better idea would have been to shift it by Dakota. I believe the payload was 5,000 lbs, so guessing 400 lb per 36- gallon barrel, there should be capacity for 10 barrels plus the necessary lashings. And, in my experience out East, anywhere a Spit could get in and out of, a Dak could, too.......D.

Union Jack,

Perish the idea of "black catting" (if it means what I think it means - is it RN slang ?). ....D.

Geriaviator,

I sympathise with you in your little local difficulty. As all my flights were of relatively short duration (and in India anything you drank came out immediately as sweat anyway), it was a problem which did not concern me - and in any case. most SE aircraft had relief-tubes under the seat.

Sleap I know, in '56 I did my GCA Controller course there, but in my day I think the airfield was inactive........D.

Regards to you all,

Danny.
 
Old 24th Mar 2013, 07:52
  #3635 (permalink)  
 
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Spitfire with beer!

With regard to the Spitfire beer dray, beer could be carried in a long range tank:


However, it seems that it was also carried in kegs under the wings:


Close up of the modification:


On its way to the front line:


Cheers!!
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Old 24th Mar 2013, 11:37
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Gives a whole new meaning to a barrel roll!

Jack
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Old 24th Mar 2013, 17:18
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Roll out the barrel !

Beagle and Union Jack,

I see it, but I can still hardly believe it ! The stuff in the LRT must have been pretty flat on arrival, but then - "there's no bad beer, but some is better than others". Did the drayman get his customary pint after each drop ? And was it duty-free as export ? Did they get the money back on the barrels (Container a/c) ?

I hope they left the stuff a day or two to settle, or the customers would be complaining.

Cheers,

Danny.
 
Old 26th Mar 2013, 17:54
  #3638 (permalink)  
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What is it ?

Beagle.

Thank you for the lovely pics of the Mk. IX (I reckon) Spitfire and beer barrels. I've just noticed the short aerial sticking out under the starboard wing, near the tip.

Turns out it's a Mk. III IFF aerial. So?

Only this, I have 250 hrs on type and this is the first time I've noticed it - or even knew I had I had IFF ! (what sort of walk-round could I have been doing ?)

Ignorance is bliss,

Danny.
 
Old 26th Mar 2013, 19:31
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Danny, it was an indeed a Mk IX in those photos.

Here's what I've been able to unearth about those times:

During the war, the Heneger and Constable brewery donated free beer to the troops. After D-Day, supplying the invasion troops in Normandy with vital supplies was already a challenge. Obviously, there was no room in the logistics chain for such luxuries as beer or other types of refreshments. Some men, often called sourcers, were able to get wine or other niceties from the land or rather from the locals.

RAF Spitfire Mk IX pilots came up with an even better idea.....

It was discovered that the Mk IXís under wing bomb pylons could be modified to carry beer kegs. According to pictures that can be found, various sizes of kegs were used. Whether the kegs could be jettisoned in case of emergency is unknown. If the Spitfire flew high enough, the cold air at altitude would even refresh the beer, making it ready for consumption upon arrival.

A variation of this was a long range fuel tank modified to carry beer instead of fuel. The modification even received the official designation Mod. XXX. Propaganda services were quick to pick up on this, which probably explains the official designation.

As a result, Spitfires equipped with Mod. XXX keg-carrying pylons were often sent back to England for maintenance or liaison duties. They would then return to Normandy with full beer kegs fitted under the wings.

Typically, the Ministry of Revenue and Excise stepped in, notifying the brewery that they were in violation of the law by exporting beer without paying the relevant taxes. It seems that Mod. XXX was terminated then, but various squadrons found different ways to refurbish their stocks. Most often, this was done with the unofficial approval of higher echelons!
Roughly 40 years later, Luftwaffe F-4 aircrew evolved a similar method for resupplying their Tornado mates at Cottesmore with German beer and schnapps. This involved an F-4 with a highly modified 4000 lb centreline tank....

Last edited by BEagle; 26th Mar 2013 at 19:38.
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Old 26th Mar 2013, 20:09
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Brilliant stuff BEagle. And how typical that HM Customs were showing signs of what they were to become later in those perilous times. Must have created some serious drag though (the barrels).

Smudge

Last edited by smujsmith; 26th Mar 2013 at 20:10.
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