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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 4th Feb 2009, 14:03
  #441 (permalink)  
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To Warmtoast re aiming points

Thank you for your kind remarks but Bravery....! We were all scared witless but knew that the consequences of not doing anything could not be contemplated so "Pressed on , regardless" as we used to say. No, I never bombed Munchen Gladbach but, in any case as we grew more accurate with the Pathdinder Force leading the way we bombed on their various coloured markers and the aimimg points were prechosen by the Pathfinders and then the Master Bomber would take over and direct the oncoming crews to bomb at different points and, above all stopped the notorious "creep back" caused by later waves bombing early on the already blazing targets. I doubt very much whether the water tower would have been chosen as an aiming point because, although it would stand out when viewed from ground level it would just be a very small circle viewed from above. Large prominent factories, junctions of large Railway yards, Railway staions, Reservoirs, River bends in populated areas were the types of aiming points chosen and the colours of the flares would be changed as the targets were saturated...All this over the R/T in a cool calm voice from people such as Leonard Cheshire VC and Guy Gibson VC who would stooge around the Hell raging below and above like a fussy hen gathering their chicks together. That was bravery ! All the very best, Regle
Old 4th Feb 2009, 20:03
  #442 (permalink)  
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I doubt very much whether the water tower would have been chosen as an aiming point because, although it would stand out when viewed from ground level it would just be a very small circle viewed from above.
Thanks for your prompt reply. After submitting my post above I realised that the Water Tower viewed at night from 20,000 ft would have been a relatively insgnificant object, so I reckon my German neighbour got it wrong, although I suppose the tower could have been an easily recognised landmark for ground attack aircraft sweeping in to attack Ruhr targets later in the war.
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Old 5th Feb 2009, 02:48
  #443 (permalink)  
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regle, just out of interest how many hours experience would you have had when setting out on your first raid, and also how much time in the Halifax prior to first raid. What was the Halifax like to fly, idiosyncrasies good and bad?
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Old 5th Feb 2009, 09:53
  #444 (permalink)  
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Reply to Brian

I first flew the Halifax at 1663 Heavy Conversion Unit , Rufforth, Yorks. The month was May 1943 and I flew the Mk. V Halifax. The original Halifax had suffered a bad design fault in as much as the rounded leading edges of the rear stabilisers did not provide enough area to recover in a turning dive and a "Rudder stall", usually fatal, occurred. Eventually the Mk11A was produced with square rudders and this was effective in curing the fault. When I started the course I had a total of 543 hours of which 200 were my training hours in the USA.
I found the Halifax a very easy aircraft to fly but extremely heavy on the controls and an hour's circuits and bumps was a real hard physical exercise. It was built like the proverbial brick "outhouse" and had armour plating everywhere you can imagine, This made it very popular with the crews as it was capable of absorbing very heavy punishment. It was flyable on two engines providing that airspeeds were rigidly observed and weights were crirical. If you had already released your bombload and were returning to base you would be able to fly there and land on two engines , once again, critical speeds were,,er,,,critical. Once the wheels were down then you were committed to land.
At the Con. Unit I had 14 hrs Dual (1.20 night) and 29 hrs. First Pilot (7,10 night). I was posted to 51 Sqdn. Snaith, Yorks whe re I did some circuits and bumps on the Mk.V and made my first Heavy Op to Hamburg on July 24th. 1943. The comparison between the Halifax and the Lanc. was rather like that between the Spitfire and the Hurricane. There is no doubt that the Lanc could carry the greatest load, further and higher than the Halifax but the Halifax could take the greatest punishment and was less vulnerable to the lighter calibre guns. Later in my career I was to fly the Lancaster a great deal at The Empire Flying School, Hullavington where I was a "Tutor" and it was a delight to fly to the limit and far more manoeuverable than the Halifax.....but !
When I finished my uncharacteristic long tour, Oct.1942 until Jan 28th. 1944, I had a total of 733 hours so I flew 190 hours during my Operational period.,roughly the same amount of training that I had put in during my stay in Georgia USA.
I hope that this answers your question satisfactorily, Brian. It was not the normal run of things as I had a longer training in the USA than those who had trained elsewhere and I had operated on Mosquito's (9 Ops.) before asking to go to heavies. All the best, Regle

Last edited by regle; 8th Feb 2009 at 08:08.
Old 5th Feb 2009, 15:03
  #445 (permalink)  
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Regle, I would imagine the Halifax had the same handling characteristics of the Hastings (80000lbs AUW), which was also heavy on the controls and a b****r to land in a crosswind. Flight engineers always claimed the credit for greasers and blamed the pilots for thumpers!
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Old 5th Feb 2009, 15:08
  #446 (permalink)  
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Regle. Was there ever a time when you thought "I wish I was back on Mosquito's". I understand that most people would rather have gone to the Mozzie rather than the other way around.
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Old 5th Feb 2009, 18:43
  #447 (permalink)  
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To MLC and others who have asked the same question

No, I have never regretted my decision and, as my career evolved I knew that I had made the right one. I flew large aircraft because I always knew that I would continue to fly after the war and my experience in flying 4 engined aircraft stood me in good stead time and time again. The Mosquito was, without doubt, one of the finest aircraft that I ever flew and I flew about fifty types but nothing could have prepared me for a civil career like the grounding that I got on Heavies both in the Operational sense of the word and, later, by my Instructional experience at The Bomber Command Instructional School from the very beginning of that establishment at Finningley in 1944 and later as a "Tutor" at the Empire Flying School, Hullavington. I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and was able to continue flying large aircraft until I retired at the age of sixty . The "Mozzie" was glamorous and a joy to fly (until you put the undercarriage down !). The Convair 240 was about the best civil prop aircraft and , without a doubt, the 747 the finest jet and I flew the 707 and the DC10 as well.
To quote "The little sparrow" "Non, Je ne regrette rien".
Old 6th Feb 2009, 01:17
  #448 (permalink)  
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Many thanks regle, could pick your brains for hours, nay, days, perhaps even months. Fascinating yarns, going to be a long thread by the time you tell the tale of your retirement flight.
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Old 6th Feb 2009, 08:53
  #449 (permalink)  
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mlc & Mossies

That reminds me of a joke that I had read in a book about a Mossie pilot.

This WW2 pilot apparently was wearing his winter gear (which must have been quite thick?) and had to struggle to get up the ladder into the Mossie cockpit, finally he said he collapsed "sweaty"on the seat and his groundsman started to belt him up said "don't worry Sir, the Mossie is like a v**gin woman, hard to get into but nice once your inside"

Hope that doesn't offend anyone :0)
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Old 6th Feb 2009, 09:39
  #450 (permalink)  
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Gibson’s instructions over the target were heard throughout the raid and gave no hint of trouble, but his aircraft crashed in flames.
My Uncle was Mid Upper on 630 Squadron Lancs. I have a diary put together by one of the crew. Night of September 19th, 1944, is below. The whole crew survived 216 Ops hours.

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Old 6th Feb 2009, 16:42
  #451 (permalink)  
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No1 BFTS Terrell Texas

Hello all

First I would like to thank cliffnemo for pointing me to this web site. A little about myself. My father, James E. Castleman, was a flight instructor at No1 B.F.T.S. in Terrell Texas until the end of WWII. He continued flying until he lost his life in an airplane crash in 1967. I received my pilots license in 1973 and logged more than 8000 flight hours before retiring from aviation in 2006. I joined the Dallas Police Department in 1971, spent the first eight years in radio patrol before being transfered to the Helicopter Unit. There I spent the next twenty two years flying Bell 47 and Jet Ranger helicopters. During this period I also flew part time as a Corporate Pilot for a large company in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

It is a pleasure to get to read your messages on this site.

If you are interested you can check out our BFTS web site at www.no1bfts.com

My best to all.

Al Castleman
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Old 6th Feb 2009, 16:47
  #452 (permalink)  
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B Eagle (Think about a book ?)
Many thanks for you misplaced confidence in my journalistic ability, it is appreciated, but I think I will just plod on in my own inimitable style . Every thing off the top of my head. Can’t be a mechanical geniAss, and a journalist.

Regle I think we did have the same F/S (Choular) at our respective I.T.W s, I wonder if he pronounced his name Kellar, by the time he was posted to Torquay. On our first parade we thought he was , to be polite, unsociable. However shortly after one of the cadets received a telegram saying a near relative was seriously ill. The general consensus was the F/S would not help, but to mention it when we “fell in three thick” .
To our surprise, when told he immediately detailed one of the cadets to take charge , and go through the drill book. He then disappeared with the cadet. The next we heard was that the cadet had been given compassionate leave, a travel warrant, and transport to the railway station. Another time , on what was supposed to be a twenty mile route march over Dartmoor, under the supervision of F/S C/K it became more like a ramble. We did complete the twenty miles at a leisurely pace, and finished up in a pub in Widdicombe On our final celebratory night in Torquay he joined in the fun.

Just thinking, with me at the blunt end, and Regle at the sharp end, your should get an accurate picture of how it was.
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Old 7th Feb 2009, 21:49
  #453 (permalink)  
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Cliff and blunt or sharp

Cliff, I agree that we do seem to "meld". Perhaps we should get together and write a book, alternating chapters ? The thing that stands out , for me, in your threads is the terrific technical knowledge that comes out so strongly and your technical explanations of various subjects make me green with envy. When I was tested by the examining flight of the Empire Flying School for my instructor's grading I was given an A2 and the examiner told me that I would have got the coveted A1 had my technical knowledge been of the same standard as my flying. I used to think that if you could'nt do something about an emergency then it was'nt worth wasting time swotting up the whys and wherefores of that particular subject. How wrong I was ! I always leaned to the classical side of my grammar school education, was hopeless at Maths, Science, Carpentry and all things practical and remained like that all my life. It takes all sorts to make the world and I would rather prefer the comparison to a sword for us as it is two edged with no sharp or blunt aspects. Get my point ! Reg.
Old 8th Feb 2009, 09:51
  #454 (permalink)  
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Cliffnemo, Airborne Artist......

The modern air force most certainly does sing silly songs in the mess; 30 years in NI with SH (Support Helicopters) was a breeding ground full of hilarious incidents which some bright, witty and occasionally bored aircrew chaps wrote many a pertinent song outlining events, locations, thoughts etc which can be sung to popular tunes. These songs were brilliant! Such was their popularity, especially during 'twofers' on friday nights in Sgts and Officers Messes, that a SH Song Book was compiled so that everyone could have a copy. I attended the recent Puma reunion and was delighted to find a re-issue of the SH Song Book (Issue 2) but now in 'Flight Reference Cards' (FRC) format in that it can now be carried in a flying suit pocket! Might have a problem during an airborne emergency if you mixed the two up and started singing 'Do you ken South Armagh?' to the tune of 'do you ken John Peel?' instead of reading out the 'Single engine failure' checks! I suppose we'd all die laughing if nothing else!!
The initial idea spawned in NI now includes historic songs about the Falklands and Iraq.
They are 'trench humour' and' historical documents' set to music but not for the PC-sensitive luvvies!
So Cliff, despite these days of not having enough equipment to do the job properly, RAF morale still exists!! Hurrah!
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 10:41
  #455 (permalink)  
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Many years ago at a Guest Night at RAF Northolt I was chatting to a Retired Wg Cdr with DS0 & Bar, DFC & Bar who had been the Sqn Cdr of the Unit from which Guy Gibson had borrowed a Mosquito for his final mission. This Gentleman insisted that the crash of the Mosquito on its return flight to UK was because Gibson was not familiar with the fuel management system required in operating the Mosquito .

I see that Wikipedia state that after the crash the fuel tank selectors were found to be incorrectly set.
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 10:52
  #456 (permalink)  
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@ DPD Pilot
Thanks for the link Mr.Castleman - perhaps you should start your own thread like this one. You must have a huge fund of stories to tell after a career like yours ?
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 15:07
  #457 (permalink)  
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I am in the middle of collecting and collating information for my next post. In fact I am now standing hats off in front of the C.O, but thought I had better pause, save my work in M.S Word, and welcome Al Castleman of No 1 B.F.TS.. Al by all means start your own thread on PPRuNe, but how about some input from you and your friends over there. Everyone who is constructive is welcome here. How about the odd picture ? Transferring photographs is slightly difficult, but you can always send me a personal email for details., (Sorry if you are already au fait with photobucket).

Sorry, Regle your analogy doesn't apply, you did what I intended to do, but I was frustrated most of the time. Flying round the Lake district was good fun though, and the court of enquiry exciting

Dun Diggin. Even though we sang songs like
They're shifting grandads grave to build a sewer.???
Take the joystick from out of my stomach etc ( and assemble the aircraft again) ????
And many more our revered moderator would delete.
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 15:28
  #458 (permalink)  
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Eric and cliffnemo

Thanks for the kind words and encouragement. There have been a few 'hair raising' events for sure. Fixed wing engine failure and landing gear problems. Being shot at twice in the Police helicopter. I'll look for a thread on this web site where I might add a story or two.

The Board of Director's meeting for the No1 B.F.T.S. Museum is tomorrow, Feb 9Th. I will tell the other Board members about this site and I'm sure they will be very interested. The curator of the museum, Mr. Henry Medgwick, was as student at the Terrell Flight School. I believe he was in Course 4 but will find out for sure tomorrow. He moved back to Terrell Texas after the war, married a local girl and raised a family there. The web site I mentioned contains several photos. Plus I will try my hand at adding one to this thread.

It is interesting to read the stories and comments from you gentleman who are 'across the pond'. Some of the terms and abbreviations you use I am not familiar with but I can catch most of what you're saying.

I'm looking forward to reading more of your post on this thread.


Last edited by DPD_Pilot; 8th Feb 2009 at 17:02. Reason: correction
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Old 9th Feb 2009, 14:11
  #459 (permalink)  
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Welcome DPD

I look forward to reading some interesting stories of life in the American helicopter Police Force from you, DPD so don't worry about understanding the weird way that we speak English. It is not just the different schooling, there is a lot of expressions, sayings and words that have changed with each generation. I used the phrase "He signed the pledge " which was a very common term, in my younger days for telling you that a person had sworn not to drink alcohol but it has passed out, completely, from common usage and so, baffled a different age group to my own. I won't go into the mistakes made by the British Cadets when first plunged into the American way of life.... there were so many and I am sure they have been told over and over again, So "Press on, regardless " which was a favourite term of "Get on with it " in our wartime days. Let's be hearing from you. Good luck, Regle
Old 9th Feb 2009, 15:39
  #460 (permalink)  
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And some said 'Press on rewardless'
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