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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 17th Jan 2014, 18:46
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A story about wheel studs.

In 1952 the family were going to drive down from RAF Heany, near Bulawayo, to Durban for a holiday. We had a 1935 Chevrolet that had stacks of room for the four of us. The luggage went on a rack on the back and there was also a roof rack. The spare wheel was mounted in the port front wing as was the fashion at the time. My father thought that it would be prudent to take an extra spare wheel. A friend of his who ran a used car business dismounted a spare wheel off a 1935 Chevrolet delux that had a spare mounted on each side.

We drove off to Durban, three days travelling, had a week or so in Durban and then proceeded back to Rhodesia. We had a punture just north of Johannesburg and because the hired wheel was underneath some cases we used our wing mounted spare. Just short of Messina, the border town on the Limpopo and then Rhodesia we had a second puncture.

We unloaded the luggage off the roof rack, my father congratulating himself on his forsight, Jacked it up and took off the offending wheel. My father was having some difficult refitting the spare and was getting somewhat annoyed that it would not go on. He was even more annoyed when I pointed out that the wheel had six holes in it and not five.

A passing motorist gave him a lift to Messina to get the punture fixed and the garage brought him back. (You couldn't leave you wife and kids behind whilst you got a puncture fixed in South Africa anymore).

Once mobile again we drove back home.

Why General Motors would change the specification of the wheel hubs just because the delux model had leather upholstery and two spares wheels is beyond me.
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Old 18th Jan 2014, 11:51
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WE NOW know that the crew of Catalina Z-Zulu of 209 Sqn from Castle Archdale were guided by Enigma intelligence when they spotted the Bismarck, leading to its disablement by Swordfish torpedo-bombers of the Fleet Air Arm and its destruction by gunfire. Sadly there was no guidance on the dark December night when she flew into the mountains above Castlegregory in Co. Kerry, some 200 miles south of Lough Erne. The explosion of her depth charges was heard 20 miles away in Tralee, and a huge fireball lit the countryside for 30 seconds.

Training accidents were all too frequent, and the weather was often a factor. The magnetic compass swings wildly when disturbed by turning or turbulence, so it is linked to the direction indicator or DI -- an instrument stabilised by a spinning gyroscope, so its readings are constant. Early gyros had to be caged or locked to avoid damage as the flying-boats bounced over the waves on takeoff and landing, and released just before they became airborne.

The crew of a Catalina from the Canadian OTU at Killadeas, a few miles from Castle Archdale, omitted to uncage their DI and entered cloud at a few hundred feet. Under the torque from the engines the Catalina gently turned left, the trainee pilot failed to notice the turn on his instrument cross-check, and the aircraft disintegrated along the top of a ridge bordering Lough Erne. Alloy fragments can be found there to this day.

Later in the war the BABS system was installed at Castle Archdale, a vital aid to letdowns in Fermanagh’s winter weather of low cloud and misty hills. It did not help the crew of one returning Catalina which overflew the base and was never heard of again. The Cat and her crew rest somewhere beneath the waters of Lough Erne, their memorial a stone on the shore near Gay Island.

Sunderland ML743, which began this story, had taken off from Castle Archdale 30 minutes before crashing into the cloud-shrouded Donegal hills about 20 miles north of track, where her Pegasus engines lie to this day. Did her crew make a basic mistake in setting course? Was the wind far stronger than forecast? We’ll never know. As to the beacon at Ballyshannon, Desmond said it was low powered and besides the Cat nav gear was not very reliable.

“The old radio compass might work for weeks, then one day the cockpit acquired a whiff of burnt fish and we knew the set had gone U/s again. We always kept a detailed log and plot, using the beacons for confirmation rather than basic nav. And you’ll do the same if you know what’s good for you ...”
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Old 18th Jan 2014, 16:19
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Cliffnemo,

Just a quick note chaps, from my recollection today (18th January) would have been the birthday of Cliff The threads originator, all those posts back. I believe his 101st birthday. I'm sure we'll all be hoisting one to him tonight, and hope the thread sees many more memorials to his great foresight in starting it. Cheers Cliff.

Smudge
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Old 18th Jan 2014, 18:38
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Clifford Leach (RIP)

Smudge,

Well said, Sir ! cliffnemo was the "Onlie Begetter" of our incomparable Thread; we all owe him a debt of gratitude; I hope that, wherever he is now, he's able to read what has developed from what he started (5,000+ Posts, a million "hits" and going strong).

Stop Press: ITV4, 2100Z tonight, "Memphis Belle" (the second, Hollywood-heroic version of the first real thing). Worth a look or record if you don't take it too seriously.

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 18th Jan 2014 at 19:36. Reason: Add Bracket.
 
Old 18th Jan 2014, 20:18
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Reader123,

Thanks for the YouTubes. The pictures of the monsoon mud are all too familiar; it was quite impossible to get or keep dry, but at least it was warm. Gen. Stilwell was known as "Vinegar Joe" to his troops, but they were operating in NE Burma on the Ledo Road campaign, and we didn't see much of them.

I'll try my hand at the B-24 !.....D.

Fareastdriver,

So there were six-hole jobs ! (Any advance on six ?)......D.

Geriaviator,

Sad stories indeed. And wasn't it an RCAF pilot who crippled Bismarck with his torpedo and allowed the pursuers to catch up and exact vengeance for Hood ?.......D.

Cheers, Danny,
 
Old 18th Jan 2014, 22:06
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A glass duly raised to you Cliff. I doubt if you had any idea of what you were starting back then, but thank you for doing so. It has been a journey in the company of good friends and fellow aviators. Long may it continue!

Danny, as ever you give us a rich and varied diet to feast on. The Peugeot company certainly had an eye for detail, a real engineer's product rather than that of the beancounters. As to Dieppe, even if it were a cover to capture Enigma machines, it was poorly planned and the cost was out of all proportion to any supposed D-Day rehearsal lessons to be learned. The only lesson I would have suggested was not to put Mountbatten in charge of any thing larger than a whelk stall, but of course no such lesson was learned. Thanks for the Memphis Belle heads up, am watching it now as I type so I'm obviously not taking it that seriously!

Geriaviator, your picture of the Castle Archdale slipway is amazing. I haven't counted the number of Sunderlands and Catalinas crowded in such a narrow space but they must compete with the number of aircraft crowded onto a carrier deck. I assume that they were allocated to tasks from the waterfront first, or how else were the ones at the back ever going to get launched? I'm surprised anyway that so many were out of the water, presumably on trolleys, as I always understood that they were left at moorings between flights unless undergoing heavy maintenance or repair. The Sunderland's leading edges hinged down to form a gantry which could then be extended to encompass the engines for daily maintenance, though anything dropped was invariably lost of course.
The first amendment I carried out was to my newly issued QR's, from which I removed all regulations relating to the issue of hard lying allowances to crews required to slip moorings and spend all night taxiing Flying Boats into wind when bad weather required it.
Could your picture be taken after hostilities had ceased, and there was no further need to keep the aircraft waterborne and thus requiring less daily attention?

Great videos, Reader 123. The trick of synchronising adjacent propellers by bringing the strobing shadow formed between them to a halt is well recalled. The real trick then of course was to bring the beat between the port and starboard pairs to a halt as well. A game that kept Flight Engineers occupied throughout a flight. Later it could be done electronically, which in the end did for the Flight Engineers as well sadly.
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Old 18th Jan 2014, 23:19
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Not a great aircraft recognition buff but this photo of a two seater Spitfire over Kirkwall was recently posted on an Orcadian FB page


More on this aircraft

Last edited by ricardian; 18th Jan 2014 at 23:28. Reason: Added more info
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Old 19th Jan 2014, 20:43
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Warmtoast.
The West German Luftwaffe received a total of 915 Starfighters and during its period of service with the German armed forces, about 270 German Starfighters were lost in accidents, just under 30 percent of the total force, killing 110 pilots, hence the nickname "The Widowmaker".
During a boring afternoon Il looked the 104 accidents in service with the Luftwaffe.

GermanF104

With respect I first had the 104 descibed in that way to me by the USAF in Offut during 1962 with regard to the downwards ejector seat before they were in widespread service in Germany. As you have posted the GAF lost an awful lot but if you look down the list at the high percentages of CFITs then it can be argued that the aircraft was not necessarily the culprit

As I mentioned before. Blundering around Germany at low level at high speed and low vis was bl@@dy dangerous.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 20th Jan 2014 at 09:16.
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Old 19th Jan 2014, 21:06
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Chugalug (your #5014),

Your remark about the Peugeot 403 echoes almost exactly the concluding remarks of the Road Test in Motor and/or Autocar ca'55): "This car feels as if it has been screwed together - by engineers"....D.

ricardian,

Thank you for the lovely picture of the nicest thing it was ever my good fortune to fly. But your "more on this aircraft" - ain't ! The link takes us to the much better known ML407. This is PT462, another of the 20-odd originally converted by Vickers (how many are flying still, I don't know).

This is not a geekish point. I at first glance thought "what's happened to the r/t mast ?" (originally they were all vertical on the Spits). Now they seem to be set back at various angles on this conversion. I believe some of the MkIX(T)s have had teardrop canopies put on, and I suppose they would need the mast to be bent back for the open rear "bubble" to fit. But PT462 has the old, small canopies, they shouldn't need this. So why ? (there must be people reading this who know the answer).

This gives me an an opportunity to slip in a bit of text I've been hoarding for some time. It may be of interest:

Somewhere or other I saw a familiar shape. Shrouded as it was in a large loose tarpaulin, you couldn't mistake it - a Spitfire. I went over to have a look. Even with the cover on, there was something funny about the outline of this specimen. As I got closer, it seemed to be a two-humped camel.

This was my first sighting of the Mk.IX (T) - (indeed, I'd never even heard of such a thing before). I looked at it, interested. Who had done this ? And where ? And how ? And for Heaven's sake, Why ? I glanced along the fuselage. It was in the colours of the Belgian Air Force - so this must be an official "mod". When I got back to GK, a few people had heard about these things (it seemed there was more than one), but nobody knew much.

Only years later did I learn the full story (inter alia, from Wiki). The conversion, I first heard, had been done by Oxford Air Services (wrong - it was Vickers). The RAF had no interest in the thing apart from supplying surplus ex-war Mk.IXs for the job (true). Some 20 Vickers models were built (but there had been earlier one-offs). They had, apparently, been sold to India and Eire for their Air Forces. The Soviets had one or two "home-builts" (I doubt whether anyone got any royalties !)

To this, I could add "Belgium", and (so rumour went) "Holland". Curiously,for all the thousands of Spitfires which went to the scrapyard after the war, several of these 20 have survived, and often appear on TV and Press to keep the memory alive of Mitchell's incomparable masterpiece.

There is, I think, only one flying "Hurricane" left (in BBMF), which is a pity, for it did most of the "heavy lifting" in the BoB, but never acquired the "star" status (in public esteem) of its more glamorous rival.

Now we come to the most beguiling question of all - the "Why?". For a long time, I could see no sensible military purpose for the thing at all. But some time ago we had a discussion, on this very thread, about the feasibility of a TM direct to Spitfire training programme, and concluded that the idea was not impossible. Of course ! This could be exactly the way to do it ! It made sense.

You are a country building up a small, young Air Force. You have light aircraft flying around, and you can buy low-hours Spitfires for a song (In India's case, they already had battle experience with the Mk.XIVs, and had still got them - (except for the ones supposedly buried [???] in Burma ). Why buy Harvards to bridge the gap - they will cost dollars, which then were like gold - when there is a much cheaper option (for sterling, too) ?.....D.

Cheers to you both, Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 19th Jan 2014 at 21:28. Reason: Error.
 
Old 19th Jan 2014, 21:11
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Danny42C - as I said I am hopeless on aircraft recognition, I was in ground signals 1959-73 and had minimal contact with aircraft. My only "proper" airfield posting was Akrotiri 1965-67. Glad you enjoyed the photograph and many thanks for your fascinating memories of your time in the RAF
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Old 20th Jan 2014, 01:26
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Danny
I'm glad to be able to tell you you're wrong regarding flying Hurricanes. The BBMF have two and in total there are around a dozen worldwide which is more than at any time in the last fifty years or so.

What you describe as the old small canopies on PT462 is the design the late Nick Grace came up with for ML407 as mentioned in Ricardian's link and afterwards used on several of the other survivors although at least one has since reverted to the original pattern.
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Old 20th Jan 2014, 09:54
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Danny.
Hawker Restorations have been steadily adding to the airworthy fleet of Hurricanes. They also restored the BBMF Hurricane that crash landed many years ago. I have read that they have the bones of a 2 seat Hurricane project in the pipeline...
Hawker Restorations Limited restorers of the Hawker Hurricane World War II aircraft
mmitch.
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Old 20th Jan 2014, 10:37
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Geriaviator, I've just discovered the answer to my own question re the Castle Archdale picture that you posted. I found it at Wikki (where else?) which says:-
Sunderland and Catalina flying boats of RAF Coastal Command at Castle Archdale in Northern Ireland, January 1945.
The big freeze. Nearly all the aircraft on strength with three Coastal Command squadrons are visible here, drawn up out of the water at Castle Archdale in Northern Ireland as Logh Erne froze over in January 1945. More than 30 aircraft can be seen, including Sunderlands of No's 201 and 423 RCAF Squadrons and No 202 Squadron's Catalinas.
here:-
File:Sunderland and Catalina flying boats of RAF Coastal Command at Castle Archdale in Northern Ireland, January 1945. CH14837.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


One of the disadvantages of flying from a fresh water rather than sea water base, I guess. I recall a fellow pilot on 30 Squadron who had once flown Sunderlands, of which he spoke most fondly. He said that you needed to have as much Seamanship as Airmanship to operate them properly.
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Old 20th Jan 2014, 17:44
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Fish (no, Flying Boats) out of water.

DHfan and mmitch,

This is very heartening news indeed - thanks ! I remember a time in the late '60s, at Leeming IIRC, when one (BBMF ?) came in for some reason and I climbed aboard furtively to have a look for old times' sake.

I was appalled at the host of little red warning plaques all over the front panels: Do not exceed 180 ASI, Do not do This, Do not do That - you'd be afraid to press the starter button !......D.

Chugalug,

(Tongue in cheek) How would it be if you just landed the 'boat gently on the ice surface ? Shouldn't cause any damage (I believe thay have been landed on runways when need arose - or when an amphibious Catalina pilot forgot the wheels !). And if the ice gave way when you came to rest, you'd float anyway. (Reminds me of the horror story from the Russian-Japanese war early last century: Lake Baikal was frozen really deep, they ran a temporary rail line over the ice to cut the corner, troop train goes puffing across, one stretch not frozen deep enough (unsuspected warm springs below).

Train plus track goes through. I believe the carriages are still there; the skeletons sitting with their rifles between their knees. Or so they say.

Admittedly, you'd have a long landing run, but then Lough Erne is very big, and I suppose you could cast out a kedge anchor ! How would the crew get ashore ? Teach 'em to skate !.....D.

Cheers, everybody. Danny.
 
Old 21st Jan 2014, 09:48
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The prospect of landing a Sunderland on ice recalls an earlier Belfast-built craft. It was called the Titanic ... Seriously, fresh water avoids salt corrosion problems although the boats were all thoroughly protected with yellow jointing compound oozing from all faying surfaces. (I noticed some when visiting the IWM Sunderland many years ago, and the Belfast freighter was built the same way.)

Routine maintenance was done in the open, the majors in the hangars, more to protect the aircraft innards than the grease-monkeys. The Catalina base at Killadeas had a canopy at the end of the slipway just big enough to cover a pair of Twin Wasps.

As to maintenance on the buoy, my father told me that officialdom questioned Pembroke Dock's remarkable consumption of linen rigging cord for metal aircraft, and was told that the fitters tied every tool to their wrists. Otherwise, as Chugalug says, it was lost forever.

For a Sunderland-on-land-landing, see www.youtube.com/watch?v=cD00dqRbKzc

Last edited by Geriaviator; 21st Jan 2014 at 12:00. Reason: Add runway landing clip
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Old 21st Jan 2014, 16:57
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4GiyDOGdpM

A bit American and Pacific based, but some nice local colour for the flying boat posts. This Youtube malarkey is rather addictive... particularly all the colour film - for an era one assumes to have been lived in monochrome...
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Old 21st Jan 2014, 21:56
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Reader 123, (your #5008 p.251 refers)

Thank you for the link: "WW2: Flying the B-24D 4 Engine Land Bomber (1943) Reel 1/2 - YouTube" (Reel 1). I was amused by the way that it jumps from take-off to landing with nothing in between (if only it were that that simple !)

But there is a hidden gem. If you run through it to the end, a little box of thumbnails appears. One is of a lone B-17. Pick that, and you get the original War Department "Memphis Belle" - the "real" one.....D.


Chugalug, (your #5014 p.251 refers)

This is worth a look. It reminds me of the Ministry of Information film "Target for Tonight" during the war, which put all its fictional followers in the shade....D.


DHfan, (your #5019 p.251 refers)

Thanks for the "gen" on the MkIX(T) canopies and radio masts. It might have been simpler to cut a hole a foot further back, extend the lead and reposition the mast, rather than bending it back as they did ...D.

My regards to you all, Danny.
 
Old 21st Jan 2014, 22:35
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Geriaviator

As to maintenance on the buoy, my father told me that officialdom questioned Pembroke Dock's remarkable consumption of linen rigging cord for metal aircraft, and was told that the fitters tied every tool to their wrists.
When I flew with 205/209 Sqn from Seletar to China Bay, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) by Sunderland in 1957 I photographed the aircraft being refuelled at Glugor (Penang). The only thing being tied to anything to stop it dropping in the drink was the refuelling hose as seen below, although ISTR that the engineer had a screwdriver/spanner tied to his trousers just in case, but not visible in my photo.

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Old 22nd Jan 2014, 09:14
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Many years ago (60s) my OC Admin was a guy called Peter Moon. Years later when I was sec of large yacht club on the south coast he called in to see me. I was ver touched by this kind thought. Sadly he died not long after and I went to his funeral - there his story was told - left school young with no qualifications. Left a dead end job to join the wartime RAF and ended up on Sunderlands, I think at PD. One night in a gale he was the duty guy on a moored aircraft as a gale raged. Whatever he did he was reckoned to have saved the aircraft. Was later commissioned and ended up a gp capt. Amazing career, and someone from whom I learned a lot.
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Old 22nd Jan 2014, 11:44
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Danny:-
Pick that, and you get the original War Department "Memphis Belle" - the "real" one.....D.


The real McCoy, as you say, Danny.


Warmtoast, interesting that the inboard props have been motored to 12 o'clock, which means that it is highly likely that so were the outboards. A simple bit of professional pride by the Flt Eng, or was this perhaps a VIP flight? Whatever, he will ensure that all the refuelling caps are properly and securely replaced afterwards, as is his responsibility.


Geriaviator, I think that I have found the footage that you refer to, as the link wouldn't work for me. The incident obviously justified the use of precious film stock, though I suspect it had to be taken surreptitiously, hence the shaky result. Here's my link, though no guarantee it will work either. Its title is; Sunderland flying boat "crash" landing on land :-


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