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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 11th Aug 2013, 19:16
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Hi, Danny. Yes, the Hunter 1-in-1 was a 'fun' procedure. Until you got the guy to the right place (as you say, 1 mile per 1000 feet) your mental picture processing was going at 150% ... "What's your passing height?" endlessly, trying to get him to the magic spot. Don't even ask about trying to do one speechless!!
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Old 12th Aug 2013, 17:35
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Danny Sums Up and Delivers Judgment.

Before I start pontificating on this accident, and to avert accusations of the dreaded "sciolism", I must emphasise what I told Chugalug many moons ago, when this my tale was yet in its infancy. That is, I am not, and in no way hold myself out to be, any form of authority on this (or most other) subjects. It is nearly all hearsay and therefore not evidence.

I merely retell what I heard, or was told at the time (and the accuracy of my memory of even that cannot be guaranteed), or read in the newspapers. The only thing I am certain about is my description of the Truck interior, the CRT tubes and the Cursors (and the Funny Things which Happened on the Way to the Theatre). With that disclaimer firmly in place, I'll begin.

Reading the "Statement in the House", and the comment on the Dr.Touch report (did it ever see the light of day, or is it under some 50-year wrap ?), it seems to me that nobody had the problem by the throat. "Tracker" merits only one passing mention in the Parliamentary Report. There seems to have been some inconclusive references to what Talkdown said and when he said it (were there no tape recordings then, and was nobody monitoring his transmissions ? Was there no transcript ?).

Talkdown is totally reliant on his Tracker for Glidepath information. If there is anything wrong with that, go straight for the Tracker. I was told at Shawbury (and I think my Course lasted a week or two after the incident) that RAF Shawbury had tentatively offered the bottom-edge-of-cursor hypothesis to the CoI. But this was dismissed on the specious ground that the Tracker in question was highly experienced, having clocked up thousands of runs: it was inconceivable that such a person could commit so simple an error.

If this response from the CoI be true (and it rings true), then I can only say that it would not be the first time in the history of aviation, and it will not be the last, that such a thing has happened.

And now we have to take a look at the Heathrow MPN-1 (must have been that, as it had a Tracker) and how it was operated. From what I was told, it did almost all its "runs" in the ILS-tracking mode. Actual GCA approaches were few and far between, as naturally all the civil traffic inbound would go for the well-used and trusted ILS with which all its pilots were familiar. I would guess that the odd "full" GCA would only be on request from a RAF visitor, and even then only if ILS was not available for some reason (as was the case with our Vulcan).

It probably follows that they were well out of practice on the real thing. It made little difference to talkdown; he would be quite familiar with the ILS-following blips coming in at a slightly offset angle. But it was different for Tracker. If he fell into the bottom-cursor-edge trap (which, if the "deckle" had not been done, was more than likely), then the first time the E/Mtr reported "150 ft above glidepath", it would be passed via Approach to the incoming Captain, who would indignantly deny it, telling Approach that its ILS G/path must be "up the wall". The mechs would be hastily summoned to check the supposedly incorrect ILS - for this is very serious for Heathrow. Recriminations follow when it was found to be a false alarm.

When they got that sorted out, and the cursor error quickly discovered, Tracker would have his ears firmly pinned back. But in a "real" run there is no such "check and balance". We know what had been demonstrated in practice: now we had had the real thing.

All this begs a host of questions. Was there a radar alt on the panel ? If so, who was watching it ? Why were they in that pickle at all ? What about "Minimum Approach Heights" (or whatever we called them then ?). It is hard to avoid the conclusion that in the end it was a fatal case of get-home-at-all-costs-itis that was the proximate cause of the accident. The bottom-edge-of- cursor gremlin just tipped the balance, and sealed their fate. Without it, they might just have brought it off.

And I'm convinced that that's the way it was. And now it's nearly 57 years ago, Sir Harry is dead, S/Ldr Howard (the Captain) would be older than I, so he's almost certainly dead. Now the last crew of XA897 are together once more. R.I.P.

As for me: back to Shawbury and Sleap next time.

Goodnight, all,

Danny42C


"Resume normal navigation"
 
Old 12th Aug 2013, 18:01
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Heathrow GCA
Danny I flew several GCAs into LHR in the 70s on the HS Trident..generally at night when things were quiet.
Re ATA..Joan Hughes was my instructor for my instructor's rating at Booker.
Wonderful lady and the most qualified member of the ATA.
She said that she loved to wind up the station commanders by halting in mid dismount and doing her lippy....
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Old 12th Aug 2013, 19:22
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I recall an anecdote told by Doug Bianchi, who built some of the replica aircraft for the film "These Magnificent Men". The replica Santos Dumont "Demoiselle" would charge about the airfield at Booker but would NOT leave the ground. Much puzzlement and sums....then it was realised that Santos Dumont had been a very small chap. So the word was passed to Joan Hughes..."Would you like to come and fly the Demoiselle?" "OH yes, dear.." said Joan..."I'll just get my handbag!" And it was in her capable hands that the aeroplane flew in the film!

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Old 12th Aug 2013, 21:35
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Danny:-
I told Chugalug many moons ago, when this my tale was yet in its infancy. That is, I am not, and in no way hold myself out to be, any form of authority on this (or most other) subjects. It is nearly all hearsay and therefore not evidence.
You may well say that Danny, but I can most certainly comment that you are held as a very reliable and informative authority on your subject by we avid followers of your posts. You dot the i's and cross the t's, so that time and time again we respond with a "So that's why that was", or " I always wondered why they did that, now at last I understand".
So it is with this terrible story of the LHR Vulcan. Your explanation certainly has the ring of truth for me, especially as you see it as a combination of causes; an intent to land for a very important RAF occasion, and a simple yet deadly weakness in this very first generation of GCA. Just one of those not being present might have avoided the outcome, but once again the holes in the infamous slices of cheese coincided and their fate was sealed.
For want of a deckle the aircraft was lost...
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Old 12th Aug 2013, 22:28
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Met JH once at White Waltham just after I had finished my Flying Scholarship at Sywell. Bunch of youngsters (still on FS about a month behind me I guess!!) saw diminutive lady walk through clubhouse. Young cadet says something along the line of "bet she is not a pilot". Loud hrrmph from senior club member who stalks through to office returns with book like family bible, puts is on table, hrrmphs again and leaves, saying "her logbook". Young cadet gingerly opens log book to see record of solo flights in everything from Spifires to Halifaxes. Bunch of embarrassed young cadets find their presence is required elsewhere. Diminutive woman was, of course Joan Hughes.

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Old 13th Aug 2013, 08:46
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Hanna Reitsch was another diminutive women pilot. When the first V1s were spearing into the ground just after they had left the ramp she, because she was small enough, was strapped into a piloted version to see why.

After that all pilots were taught about gyroscopic precession when doing instrument take offs.
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Old 13th Aug 2013, 10:25
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I have always wondered how a V1 attained roll stability, as it has no ailerons or dihedral. A few years ago, I visited the museum at La Coupole, near St. Omer, and they had a V1 hanging in the reception area....and it had ailerons...strange, I thought. Then I moved around to the side and saw the cockpit...!! I spent quite a while looking at it...and the pulse jet intake immediately above it....thinking about Hanna Reitsch and her test flight in a similar craft.
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Old 13th Aug 2013, 17:40
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"The-things-you-find" Department....

Danny...are you looking for a garden shed??

Shepherds Hut Project EX-RAF Mobile Air Traffic Control Tower Trailer | eBay
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Old 13th Aug 2013, 18:16
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Molemot, you tinker.

It needs all the electronics surely. But if he wants it I'm willing to help with the costs. Great spot. Over to Danny

Smudge
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Old 13th Aug 2013, 18:16
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Disturbingly chintz and un-military!!

Old Dispersal ground-crew facility?
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Old 15th Aug 2013, 19:19
  #4172 (permalink)  
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Chugalug,

Thank you for the encouraging words, but it still remains true that the story is basically conjecture. Yet: "If it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck.....!" The aircraft behaved exactly as our theory predicted, after all......D.

Molemot, Smudgsmith and MPN11,

I think I'll pass up on this one ! And thank you, Molemot, for the link to the picture. I can see that it might very well do as a shepherd's hut (or a climber's refuge if a chopper could get it up the mountain), or a seaside chalet (if you could get it past the Council). Otherwise I wish them luck with it.

More interesting is the question of what was it ? It has windows, so it's for people, not a radar truck. A rest caravan for an MPN-1 or CPN-4 ? No, they always huddled behind the Trucks out of danger from wayward landing aircraft (who'd always hit the Truck first), so they were left blue-grey. Ground crew at Dispersal ? Could be, but I think they'd be more likely to be left dull, too - as they wouldn't be on the grass inside the taxiway.

A Runway Control van ? No.., or so I thought at first. All the ones I recall were prime movers; when you want them at the other end ASAP, you can't be doing with finding a tractor, getting it out there, taking it down off jacks, etc, coupling up. Life's too short - and W/Cdrs (Flying) too irascible.

Then, roaming around the Net somewhere, I found a longer specimen than ours, but a towable 2-wheel caravan with some windows and the little glasshouse up top (on ours, I reckon it's hidden in the picture or been chopped off). I tried to copy the picture, but it wouldn't play.

So, for my money, that's our boy. (Is there a Runway Controller in the House ?).......D.

Mrs D. has just given me a haircut, so I'm feeling light-headed. Will pour a couple of large sherries.

Cheers to all, Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 15th Aug 2013 at 22:22. Reason: Addition.
 
Old 15th Aug 2013, 19:38
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Possibly a Gliding Club control caravan? Often they used old buses, single or double decker, but I'm sure I've seen something similar somewhere along the way.
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Old 15th Aug 2013, 23:49
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In Memoriam

HughGw01,

Welcome aboard this best of Threads in this best of Forums !

I do not think a vehicle of this sort would be supplied to even an RAF Gliding Club as original equipment. More likely picked up at a Disposal sale. The question is: what was it when it was in service ? (Someone out there will know).

Cheers, Danny.


PS TO ALL PRUNERS

These are the closing hours of VJ Day, 15th August 1945, 68 years ago now, when six years of war and his first five years of service ended for one who Gained his RAF Pilot's Brevet in those days.

To quote the Kohima Memorial:

"When you go home, tell them of us and say,
For their Tomorrow, We gave up our Today"

R.I.P.
 
Old 15th Aug 2013, 23:54
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Danny,

How fitting that a man of the time should mark it on our forum. RIP all, and thank you for your service.
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Old 16th Aug 2013, 13:08
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Danny Goes Back to School

There was only one Truck and so only one Talkdown position at Sleap. It must have been one-to-one instruction for that. As there are two Director positions in it, they could take two F/Sgts at a time and, IIRC, they were instructed in the basic way of operation, ie a Search and a Feed Director working as a team to present the next headache to the unfortunate in the Hot Seat. In practice, of course, when they returned to their Units, in almost every case, Approach (using the CR/DF) would replace the Search Director.

Now at some time in the past, I've said that they also trained Trackers, but now I'm not so sure. I don't remember any instruction going on at my left elbow, more likely there was just a Staff Tracker (and the limited space in the truck was already packed to bursting). It follows that Trackers must all have been trained "on the Job" at Units. Obviously a SATCO would pick his brightest ATC Assistants for the job.

Now who did the training ? I certainly don't remember doing it. One of the F/Sgts, perhaps ? As I've already shown, it was an extremely important task and I reckon was certainly worth Corporal (as was the Runway Controller already), but I don't think they even got any extra pay. (If any survive - and they would be 10-12 years my junior - and are reading this, please let us know).

Guessing, I would say that we must have been divided into two groups: each group doing "Ground School" at Shawbury in the mornings and Practical at Sleap in the afternoons, and changing over weekly. At Shawbury we were introduced to the Principles of Radar, our heads and notebooks stuffed with all sorts of weird creatures: Klystrons and Magnetrons, Pulse Widths and Pulse Recurrence Rates, Lobes, Waveguides, "Skip" Distances, Ground Returns and "Ghosts", and Lord knows what else besides, only imperfectly understood then and now long forgotten. Was there an End of Course Exam ? Can't remember one. Of course the MPN-1 was the 'only Truck in town' then: they just taught that.

At Sleap, the Chipmunks had great sport with us. They put up two or three at a time to trap the Directors into 'MisIdents'. A good trick was for two to hide behind the Wrekin, No.1 going in from the West, No.2 from the East. As soon as they knew they were out of (radar) sight, they did quick 180s and came out t'other way. Director (handling No.1) would pick up his chap (as he thought) on the same heading as that on which he'd gone in. All this was mixed in with whatever else Shawbury had flying around. How we laughed !

Over the Talkdowns it is better to draw a veil. Suffice to say that many ended with the classic despairing line: "Look around for the runway and crash visually - Talkdown out !"

The mornings turned frosty. One morning I had to use boiling water on my frozen car door lock. But generally I took the bus; so still the daily rush over the little footbridge. Sometimes a pair of sculls from Shrewsbury School, sometimes a swan or two at full bore, paddling and flapping frantically to get lift-off, succeeding and instantly reverting to the beautiful thing it had been on the water.

Peter went AWOL two or three times. Each time his little elastic collar ensured that he was promptly handed in to the Law. Our local 'bobby' (there were such things in those days, believe it or not) brought him home on each occasion. He made no attempt to evade arrest, but settled down comfortably in the crook of the constable's arm much as he had done in mine when I first chucked him out of church. Luckily we came back to Mablethorpe before he outstayed his welcome at the Police Station (yes, we had one of those, as well).

"Oh, you're back, are you ?", said Boss Norcross "About time, too".

G'day, chaps,

Danny42C


Nice to know you've been missed !
 
Old 16th Aug 2013, 13:24
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How fitting that a man of the time should mark it on our forum. RIP all, and thank you for your service.

Hear! Hear! I am facing "AndyCappLand", standing to attention, and saluting now, Sir - "Up 2,3, down!"

Jack
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Old 16th Aug 2013, 14:16
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These are the closing hours of VJ Day, 15th August 1945, 68 years ago now
So much noise about D-Day and VE-Day and yet thousands were still fighting, or imprisoned, in the Far East.

"We will remember them"

Originally Posted by Danny42C
Was there an End of Course Exam ? Can't remember one. Of course the MPN-1 was the 'only Truck in town' then: they just taught that.
I may interject on that topic this evening, from a 1966 perspective at Sleap
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Old 16th Aug 2013, 16:13
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HughGw01,

I'm so sorry ! We've met before, haven't we ? And then I have to welcome you aboard for a second time ! Please put it down to a Senior Moment (I'm having a lot of them lately - though I've haven't reached the stage of going out without my trousers on - yet !)......D.

Smudgsmith and Union Jack,

Once again, thank you for your generous comments ! But always I must stress that there was nothing uniquely noble about my generation: we just happened to be there when war came along, somebody had to fight it, and there was no use looking around for anybody else. Long ago on this Thread, I was halted in my tracks by someone who wrote: "We each had to fight the war we were given".

I salute him (whoever it was) for he put his finger right on it. The whole nation had to "fight that war", although nobody wanted it and all had long feared it. Churchill (as always) said the right words: "This was their finest hour".

Jack, I'm honoured to return your salute - "Aye-aye, Sir"......D.

MPN11,

How right you are ! Sad to say, there was much truth in the "Forgotten Army" epithet, even if General Slim's caustic rider: "You've not been forgotten - it's just that no one's ever heard of you" is perhaps a little over the top.

Yet the Home Front may be forgiven. We were: "in a far off land of which we know little", and there was a lot going on in Europe at the time.

Looking forward eagerly to your interjection tonight (ten years is a long time)......D

As you see, Normal Transmission has been Resumed.

Greetings to you all four, Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 16th Aug 2013 at 16:19. Reason: Add U/Line
 
Old 17th Aug 2013, 12:07
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Was there an End of Course Exam ? Can't remember one. Of course the MPN-1 was the 'only Truck in town' then: they just taught that.
I did the GCA Course at Shawbury/Sleap in late 66, so many of my memories will be foggy. However, I'm fairly sure there was some classroom Exam to ensure we had absorbed the necessary training. But there certainly was an extensive period on on-console assessment, and of course the famous "Truck Test" on the MPN-11.

Remember those vague internal images of the Truck? I now recall the control positions were at Bay 9, Bay 12 and Bay 15 - on the left side. And of course there were equipment bays all down the right side, as well as others filling the spaces between 9/12/15. So what was the "Truck Test"? In essence, the instructor would go into the Truck and, essentially, screw it up! The Precision cursors would be displaced from their proper positions [aligned with the radar reflectors, etc], display gain/contrast controls would be mis-set [to the extent that nothing was visible] and a whole load of other settings [some requiring the use of a small screwdriver deep inside one the bays on the right] would be incorrect

The student then had to work his way around the Truck, here there and almost everywhere, restoring a semblance of normality. First get a credible radar picture, by fine tuning antenna gain and all the other things like that [I remember the words!]. Then set up all the cursors in their correct positions, sort out brightness and contrast. Oh, and don't forget to check all the radios and landlines!!
The whole process could take up to 30 minutes

On Units, the Ground Radio guys hated seeing controllers with screwdrivers clipped into their shirt pockets. It meant that their precious setting-up could be destroyed in an instant by a controller turning the wrong controls. Indeed, on many Units, ATCO's screwdrivers were banned.

Back to you, Danny42C
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