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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 Nov 2013, 12:43
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When I took the Common Entrance because I was so bright I went straight into the Fourth Form, others who were just average went into the Third Form and took GCE after 3 years whilst those who started in the Fourth Form took GCE after just two years

BEAGLE

As you failed two subjects I guess you went straight into the Third Form

PS As you say you took the exam in Dec 1964 How come you do not know how old you were?
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Old 19th Nov 2013, 17:42
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No, I was a scholar (we didn't stoop to the oikish 'CE' ) and went straight into the 'A' stream - 2 years to O level rather than 3.

Since my birthday is in December and I cannot remember the precise date of the 1964 Elementary Mathematics exams, I might have been 13 or 14 at the time....

I failed English Lit. and God-bothering because I couldn't be ar$ed to read Twelfth Night, The Nun's Priest's Tale, The Pardoner's Tale, The Gospel according to St.Mark and the Acts of the Apostles 1-XV. I far preferred Aeromodeller, Model Aircraft, Flight and Ian Fleming....
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Old 19th Nov 2013, 18:28
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14? or 16?

BEagle, Union Jack and thegypsy,

All I've read so far has left "confusion worse confounded !", with a distinct feeling of "Hunt the Lady" or the Three Card Trick (now you see it, now you don't !)

As I recall, in medieval times, when the Julian calendar was replaced by the Gregorian, the plebs went around bleating: "Give us back our eleven days !" What happened in the educational world in the '50s during the transition phase ?: "Give us back our two years ?"

BEagle,

Your: "I still have all the papers". Some years after the war I came across my Pure Maths HSC papers. I looked at them in utter bewilderment. Not only could I not attempt the answers - I couldn't even understand the questions. It was all Greek to me ! (and still is).

Cheers, all. Danny.
 
Old 19th Nov 2013, 18:37
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BEagle

Didn't have to stoop to try for a scholarship myself as we were rich. Did not want to deprive a less fortunate person such as yourself.

As you said you had all the papers still ( anally retentive? ) cannot understand why the date confounds you as to your age
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Old 19th Nov 2013, 19:21
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As you said you had all the papers still ( anally retentive? ) cannot understand why the date confounds you as to your age
Which part of
Apart from Elementary Mathematics, I still have all the papers!
were you unable to comprehend?

Didn't have to stoop to try for a scholarship myself as we were rich.
Awfully lower order to flaunt wealth in such a manner.
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Old 19th Nov 2013, 20:43
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Danny takes to the Open Road.

Gentlemen, Gentlemen - we're all friends here, aren't we ?

The great disadvantage of life in the Volkspark was the distance (about 50 miles) from GK. And at that time the extension of the autobahn from Aachen to Cologne was still under construction, only sections at a time. IIRC, the journey Westbound was split up into five parts of roughly 10 miles. First you had Landstraße , then Autobahn, then Landstraße, then Autobahn, then a last stretch of Landstraße when you peeled off north-west to "cut the corner" cross-country to GK.

There was little of note on the route, except for about halfway, where there was a huge opencast coal mine (name forgotten), and on it what was supposed to be the biggest drag-line excavator in Europe (jestingly, the old Hoover advt. was applied to it: "It Beats as it Sweeps as it Cleans !"). I'm pretty sure that this opencast pit was the scene, a year or two later, of an unforunate accident, but will let this fox live for the time being.

The Watch system meant three round trips (two five-hour shifts plus one fourteen hour plus three hours' driving per shift) in each four-day cycle, and each trip chalked up a 100 mile commute. So you piled up the miles quickly (the joke was: "You can always tell the Volkspark people - they're the ones with the worn-out cars !")

And at this point you may be interested to know the financial aspect of running a car in RAF(G). There was no "Road Tax", apart for an insignificant (17/6 ?) sum for BFG registation (and I think that lasted your full tour). For this you got a black (white lettered) plastic number plate (ours was LP 97 B), which I screwed on top of the pink & silver French job. (I think you had a month's grace with that after bringing your car into Germany).

So far, so jolly good, you might think. But there's always a snag - Insurance ! Generally no Insurance company would touch a BFG car with a bargepole (not Comprehensive, anyway). As I remember, only General Accident, Fire and Life in the UK, and a Dutch firm (name escapes me), which some years later went bust, were in the market.

The reason was that, on average, every BFG-regd car had one serious crash per tour. The ones who'd bought bright new cars naturally looked after them. But many of our airmen (and officers too) bought old German cars just for the tour, and as (I think) the German taxation system weighed heavy on large-capacity ones, these could be bought 2/h for a song (and, of course, BFG registered).

So now you have the picture, young erk buys (say) old Opel Kapitän with 3 litres and bags of oomph (but dodgy tyres and brakes - no MOT in those days), goes out with a load of pals to a local kneipe, tanks-up on local (very good) bier . And there you have it.

So it all got loaded onto your Insurance premiums. We reckoned that Insurance alone cost more than Tax plus Insurance had cost back home. But there was a silver lining.

You were issued (from Accounts ?) with a very liberal free ration of Petrol "Coupons". And extra ones were ridiculously cheap. These could be exchanged for petrol - but only at the tankstellen of a particular petrol company which had got the contract for that year (?) I remember that, for the better part of our time, it was BP, and we always had to look out for the green-and-yellow livery to pull in for fuel.

The question was: who was paying for this magnificent perk ? It seemed to be the Bundesrepublic, in another form of post-war Reparations. They must have been paying through the nose, too, for the fuel companies had to bid for the contracts (who got the money ? - don't know), so it was profitable for them, too).

And now, best of all, you got extra free coupons to cover duty, home/duty, and leave travel, besides travel allowance for this (and leaves, too, in lieu of a rail warrant). It was said (and I'm sure it was right), that you couldn't afford not to go on leave, as even with the holiday expenses you still ended up in profit.

Till next time, then,

Goodnight, all,

Danny42C.


It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.

Last edited by Danny42C; 3rd Dec 2013 at 17:18. Reason: Spacing.
 
Old 20th Nov 2013, 14:55
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Uncle James

I appreciate that this a very late reply (5 years to be precise!)
But I have been trying to trace my Uncle James' Service records with Coastal Command.
Having read several books I came to a dead end.
I know he served from 1939-45 and flew Liberators, he never talked about it much, but did say that he a spell in the Bahama's/West Indies?

He passed away about the time you indicated, surely there cannot have been that many James Markham's in CC that flew Liberators?

I have certainly not been aware of any books, if so I would be honoured to find a copy.
I am sure he was posted at St Eval, Cornwall at some stage, but cannot clarify.
Any information you may have would be greatly appreciated.

Kind Regards
Jeremy Markham
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Old 21st Nov 2013, 20:03
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Danny,

If you look at your "petrol stamps" situation compared to the modern day costs of fuel for road vehicles, you were on a nice little earner there. I never did a tour in Germany, a few night stops when transitting with Herks, so your current dialogue is fascinating, for me at least. Keep it up Danny, there must be loads of interesting stuff still to come.

Smudge
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Old 21st Nov 2013, 23:38
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Danny finds that "The best laid plans of mice and men/Gang oft agley".

So we settled down in the Volkspark - but only for a short time. As I've mentioned before, Mary took her first steps in the playpen there. There must have been still a good deal of the former park left, for we well remember a stroll with the pram one afternoon. A riderless horse trotted past us, about twenty yards away, obviously homeward bound. A quarter-mile further on we met the disconsolate rider, plodding along after his horse, having given up the hopeless attempt to catch it. We could only sympathise, point, and say "thataways" (or whatever the equivalent might be - geradeaus ?).

Of course, we went to have a look at the Cathedral, which is just off the top end of the Hohestraße. I read that this is the largest Gothic cathedral in N.Europe, with the second-highest spires (515 ft) in the world. Although it was hit many times by bombs, those spires were, amazingly, still standing defiantly at the end - the only thing in all Cologne which had not been flattened by Bomber Command and the Mighty Eighth.

This says a lot about the medieval builders, but unfortunately they shared many of the characterstics of their modern descendents. Starting in the 13th Century, they beavered away for 200 years, then went off on a tea-break in the 15th. They were not seen again for 400 years (obviously having found a better contract) until the 19th (when that ran out ?), then they came back and finished the job.

I don't think we heard a single Mass in the Cathedral. So where did we go on Sundays ? If the Volkspark Service enclave was as large as I read (3,000 MQs), then a fair guess would be 300 RC families, but we don't remember an RC chapel on site. But of course, any RC church would do.

For those were the days of the old "Tridentine" (Latin) Mass. It didn't matter whether you were in Cologne or Casablanca, or Calcutta or Canton, or Lima or Liverpool: the moment when the priest swung on through the altar gates, handed his biretta * to the server, and launched into "Introibo ad altare Dei", you were back at home in your old parish church. In Latin, the Mass was exactly the same everywhere in the world on that particular Sunday of the year. Of course, the Sermon would be in German (or whatever).

* (No, not beretta - side arms were (usually) not worn).

And every one would have their own "Missal", which had parallel paragraphs of Latin and English for you to follow. Not that that was needed by "cradle" Catholics, who had grown up with the Old Mass from childhood - especially ex-altarboys, who had had to be aware of everything going on all the time, so that they could come in on cue. (Even today, I can rattle off the "Confiteor" with the best of them, and get all my case-endings right !)

And then in mid-September, my wife's mother fell gravely ill: she and Mary had to go back to Yorkshire. They flew Düsseldorf - Newcastle. I was left on my own in the Volkspark. At this time, our MQ came up at GK. I must have been a very busy little bee, for I packed up at the Volkspark . I must have done some sort of a march-out, made sure that the "Maggie" that took our stuff wasn't the coal-truck this time (and covered the pram properly), and said farewell to Cologne.

I marched-in at Bruton St, RAF, GK. My memory of this whole period is hazy, but I must have lived in the house (for of course, I had to give up my room in the Mess), but took my "casual meals" there.

I got to grips with the CH boiler (it was starting to get chilly now), sorted our stuff out, tidied the garden and generally had a good look at would be our home for the next two years.

Goodnight, all,

Danny42C.


Home, sweet Home !
 
Old 22nd Nov 2013, 20:51
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Angel Tridentene

Yes Danny, there was a lot to be said for the old Latin Mass, you felt at home in any Catholic Church wherever in the world. The continuual changes in the liturgy these days make it so confusing for we old chaps.
I have enjoyed reading about yout ATC experiences especially those concerning all these
new fangled landing aids. All my last station had was QDMs and SBA.
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Old 22nd Nov 2013, 22:35
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Taphappy

All my last station had was QDMs and SBA.
Wot - no QGH's?
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Old 23rd Nov 2013, 00:27
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Warmtoast,

Although Taphappy doesn't mention it, any airfield able to give you QDMs must ipso facto be able to use its D/F equipment to set up a QGH procedure. It would simply be a question of selecting a suitable "Safety Lane" for the descent.

Cheers, Danny.
 
Old 23rd Nov 2013, 18:17
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BEagle

You quite clearly stated that you took Elementary Maths in Dec 1964 so it is irrelevant whether you have the papers or not.

You then say you cannot remember whether you were 13 or 14!!

I think that you are now trying to say but lack comprehension of written English that you think you took the Elementary Maths in Dec 1964? Hence your confusion as to whether you were 13 or 14 at the time I presume.

If this is the best a so called " Scholar " can come up with I assume the competition was not great at your no doubt minor Public School?

Never flaunted my wealthy background just merely pointing out to you why I never took one
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Old 23rd Nov 2013, 19:34
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thegypsy, I'm not sure why you're being quite so dim-witted and rude?

If the exam was before my birthday in December, I would have been 13. If it was after my birthday, I would have been 14. I don't recall the specific date of the exam (which would have been printed on the papers, if I still had them).....so I don't know whether I was 13 or whether I was 14 at the time. Now do you understand?

Now give it a rest, for heaven's sake.....
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Old 23rd Nov 2013, 19:48
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This to me is without doubt the most popular fred on Prrune and it does no one any credit to squabble in this manner. I personally do not care how old anyone is, or their standard of edukayshun....

Can you folks please call it quits?

Last edited by glojo; 23rd Nov 2013 at 19:49. Reason: Spelling miss steaks
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Old 23rd Nov 2013, 19:49
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Right, I'm really really cross now! This thread is a banter (in the modern nasty sense of the word) free area and the exception to the usual PPRuNe mores. So can you two gentlemen please take it somewhere else? If one of you, or both of you, consider yourself to be the "innocent" party then don't feed the troll (ie the other party).

I don't ask on behalf of Danny, because he is quite capable of doing any remonstrating of his own, I do it on behalf of the next raconteur waiting patiently in the wings to tell the story of gaining his wings (if you see what I mean). He or she is unlikely to be encouraged to do so confronted by this unedifying display of petulance. So please pack it in or go away.

No, I am not a moderator, and no I have no right to tell anyone what to do. I just ask that this best of all PPRuNe threads remains just that and exudes the tolerance that marks it out as being so special.
Thank you!
Chug
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Old 23rd Nov 2013, 19:53
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My first pathetic collection of O-Levels was acquired in the Summer of 1960 ... that's all the University of Oxford says on my Certificate. Although it gives my date of birth in exact detail. So that's ... mmmm ... 1960-1944 is ... 16, but ... it was exam time before my birthday, so that's ... 15, right?

I scraped the other 2 the following year, so I guess that would be ... 16? I went OTT - I only needed 5 for a commission

I'd be very glad if the Mods would apply a feather duster to this thread, we can get back on track.
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Old 23rd Nov 2013, 20:13
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I concur.

Back to the thread - we were still practising QGH to PAR during my AFTS course on the Gnat. Assuming the ATCO didn't peep at his surveillance picture, the trick was to home to the overhead, then descend you (hopefully) on the outbound track for a calculated time, then turn you inbound and hope that you'd paint on precision....

Of course you'd be in a poor situation to have to do it for real as you would have had to have lost TACAN and ILS and the aerodrome would have had to have lost its surveillance radar... If you had TACAN, self-navigating to 'Point Echo' (10 nm on the centreline of the RW in use) for a GCA pick up was a much better option.

Some of the weird and wonderful approach aids of the 70s were less fun - such as the DME approach in the JP. At Wittering they even had an NDB to DME approach for the Hunter Wing; one problem being that, because of interference, you had to switch off the DME until inbound on the NDB final track, then turn on the DME and hope that it would work!

Having not had to bother with a Turn and Slip standby instrument approach on the Gnat, with its back-up artificial horizon, flying a QGH to SRA in the Hunter came as a rude shock. One poor QFI, having had to wrest control from 2 consecutive students in spiral descents with the turn needle pinned full-scale, decided that our course was clearly out to kill him!

Remember the maxim "One peep is worth a thousand scans!".
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Old 24th Nov 2013, 15:30
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For those unfamiliar with QGHs as they were last century, herewith a piece I posted earlier about QGHs in the 1950s.

As a RAF VHF/DF Operator for over eight years in the 1950’s I provided the bearings for many “QGH’s”. As described these were procedures as used with Harvards and Chipmunks at 5 FTS RAF Thornhill (S. Rhodesia).

In the 1950’s in the RAF a ‘QGH’ was a request made by a pilot for a ‘Controlled Descent Through Cloud’ and the procedure was to home the aircraft to overhead the airfield with ‘Magnetic Bearings to Steer’ (QDMs) and having reached the overhead the controller would decend the aircraft through a "controlled decent through cloud" to line it up with the runway on finals for a successful landing.

QGHs would be controlled by the air traffic controller, but on a couple of occasions I did it myself, which was probably against all the rules and regulations, but they worked.

QGHs
Here is what I wrote earlier about this approach procedure:

Procedure: The pilot would give a ten-second transmission on the RT which would allow the DF operator to swing the DF aerial to find the ‘null’ on the transmission and by depressing the ‘sense’ plate (which put the aerials out of phase) determine that what was being shown on the DF wheel against the cursor was the correct bearing to the aircraft and it was not a reciprocal. When the sense plate was depressed the signal either when up or down, if it went up the bearing was wrong and the reciprocal was indicated, it was then a matter of swinging the aerial 180-degrees to find the ‘null’ again, go ten degrees either side of the ‘null’ point and depress the sense plate again, this time the signal should go down and if it did one had the correct bearing.

The circumference of the DF wheel was marked with two scales. Top scale showed true bearings from the VHF/DF station (QTE’s) whilst the lower scale was marked in red and showed the magnetic course to steer to the airfield (QDMs). To home the aircraft to the airfield overhead for a QGH one read off the bearing shown on the bottom scale, passed it to the controller who in turn passed the magnetic course to steer to the airfield to the aircraft. Aircraft RT transmissions were given every minute or so (or less) with the DF operator taking bearings on the aircraft's transmissions. When the aircraft reached the overhead the aircraft’s transmissions sounded all mushy; confirmation that the aircraft was overhead was established by depressing the sense plate and if there was no increase or decrease in signal the aircraft was in fact overhead.

Having informed the controller that the aircraft had reached the overhead, the controller then asked the aircraft to steer an outbound course about fifteen or twenty degrees to the right of the reciprocal of the inbound runway heading and to descend to an agreed height, possibly 800-1000ft. The outbound track was flown for about two minutes.

At the end of the two minutes the aircraft was asked to do a rate one turn onto the inbound runway heading, which if all had gone well placed him very near the extended runway centre line at 800-1000ft. On the inbound leg DF bearings were taken which allowed the controller to check that the aircraft was steering the right course inbound. The controller also gave heights to descend to, so perhaps with one minute to fly to the airfield the aircraft would be at about 500ft and descending to the minimal obstacle height. Unless flying in exceptionally poor visibility the aircraft would see the approach lights and land.

This is all culled from methods last practiced by me over fifty-five years ago, so if there are any inaccuracies, blame it on age, but the principles are as I remember them and as practised with piston-engine aircraft.
Photos below show the 5 FTS VHF/DF Station, the radio layout and taking a bearing.





Two R.1392 Crystal controlled VHF receivers, wheel to rotate the aerial, "squawk box" to talk direct to the controller in the tower and a mic to talk to aircraft.



Depressing the "sense" wheel to get the correct bearing.

To minimize bearing errors VHF/DF Homers were placed as near as possible to the runway, which on most occasions worked well, until some clot doesn't correct for drift on take-off and manages to ruin the VHF/DF as seen below.



The collision was caused by a pupil pilot in a Harvard. Despite a severe dent in his wing following the collision he managed to do a circuit and land safely. Thankfully the duty VHF/DF operator was shocked but unhurt - if the aircraft had been a couple of feet lower when it hit, a major tragedy would have been the outcome.



In those days the RAF catered for every eventuality and a temporary "homer" in a tent was despatched promptly from an MU at Fayid in the Canal Zone and quickly installed as seen here.

The RAF Thornhill VHF/DF homer was an essential nav-aid for budding pilots who were forced to do their navigation training over relatively wild and not particularly well marked terrain.

So much so that in 1952 the total number of bearings passed by the RAF Thornhill VHF/DF Homer was 35,903 - and an RAF record of 2,810 bearings in ten days was set up - this fact was made known by a congratulatory letter from the Chief Signals Officer at HQ RATG notifying the Thornhill DF operators of their fine work in achieving this standard. We all felt quite proud of this.
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Old 24th Nov 2013, 15:49
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As a side-note to QGH procedures, a dimly-lit memory cell tells me that having sent the aircraft outbound descending from the overhead, the inbound turn was initiated at "Half overhead height + 2,000 ft". The r/t phraseology, another memory cell tells me, went along the lines of:
  • "Indicating overhead, turn (L/R) outbound heading (***), set QFE (****) and stand by for descent."
  • When the DF trace showed the aircraft was indeed in the outbound sector, "Commence descent to (insert height here), report turning (L/R) inbound at **** feet" (= overhead plus 2)
  • When steady inbound, continue giving steers and clear descent to either GCA pattern height or to MBOH (Minimum Break Off Height).

ISTR the Strubby Varsities homed at FL50 or above, and Canberras and other fast noisy things at FL180 or above. So the "Half + 2" catered for the significantly longer outbound run needed for high level ac, as well as catering for those at the lower levels.
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