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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 21st Jun 2014, 20:38
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Your: "I know that it is drifting from the war so should I go on? " Most certainly you should !

Your experiences closely mirror mine. I, too, joined the RAFVR in'48 at Fazackerley, but they'd only just got started and there was no training programme of any kind up to the time I applied to rejoin the RAF in the autumn of that year (but the fact that I was in it as a F/O may have helped my application, as demonstrating keenness).

Why would they send you all the way to Wolverhampton to fly, when the flying (if civil) could have been done at Speke (or if military) at Woodvale, which only had an Auxiliary squadron of Spitfires on it ? It is grand to hear that "Manny" Shinwell got straight on the job and found you your TMs (we could do with some Ministers like that today !).

And there again, why Hooton Park (which would involve our going over the river and down through the Wirral, when there was Woodvale half an hour away on the Southport line from Exchange Station (trains about every 20 mins), and most of our people would be from Liverpool ? Doesn't make sense. (Sorry about you wild Welsh, but we had to think of the greatest good of the greatest number).

Now as regards 20 Sqdn. at Valley, I was there from 21.3.50. to 19.9.51. (Sqdn. disbandment). I reckon you would have got to Valley about April'51, so we were there together for that summer. Station Commander was W/Cdr J.E.T. Haile; 20 Sqdn. C.O. was S/Ldr A.R. Hindley, AFC; I was in "A" Flt (F/Lt W. Hewlett). The only Pole I remember on the Sqdn. was M/P "Joe" Halkiew, and we had a Czech M/P ("Zed-Zed" Zmitrowitz). They target-tugged with our (one and only) Beau. But apparently the AFS had moved in about that time, so they might have had some Polish QFIs, but I don't remember any.

Perhaps I should explain that we had little contact with the AFS people. They had their Flight Offices and Tech site on the SW side of the runway, we were on the NE. They must have had their Messes and accommodation apart from ours, for I don't remember them in ours (which in any case would have been far too small for both). Anyway, my weary tale of Valley is on p.168 et seq. of this Thread....D.


Your: "judicious use of the rudder alone without bothering with 'aileron'". True, but however "judicious" your use might be, it bore no relation to the change of heading which resulted ! As I've noted before, with the Link it was a case of "Shake the bottle - None'll come and then the lot'll !" Roll on your Next Instalment....D.

Cheers to you both. Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 21st Jun 2014 at 21:28. Reason: Corrections,
Old 21st Jun 2014, 21:43
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Gaining An R.A.F. Pilots Brevet in WW11

Thank you Danny. I flew quite a lot in the back of Jo Halkiew'S Beaufighter. I last saw him when I was a Controller at Pitreavie 61 to 64 and he was M/p / W/O Dascip.. I lost touch with Z-Z when I left Valley.. We used to go to the club in Rhosneigr - really the 20 Squadron Crew Room - on my motor bike,!
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Old 22nd Jun 2014, 11:22
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Harrym, your description of the challenges of an SBA approach makes one wonder why audio rather than visual input was so favoured in the 30/40s. When all that was needed was a L/R indicator rather than all those dots and dashes, was there a technical problem in the way of doing that? I never had to face such torture either in the Link or for real, but letting down through the murk with only that cacophony to guide you must have been both wearying and worrying.

En-Route navigation was also facilitated in this way by the Radio Range which transmitted morse code A's and N's instead of dots and dashes to signify Left or Right of the range. That I have seen in use (the Diamond Head facility at Honolulu shortly before its withdrawal) and again saw the great advantages that a VOR for instance had over it.

Ormeside28, please keep going. As Danny says, that is exactly what he did. There is a continuity here in linking the wartime RAF to the post war one. It is that very transition that is so often neglected elsewhere, but not here!

Hummingfrog Post 5692:-

well, its taken a long time but I eventually tracked down a 'man who knows' at the Bluebell Railway and am reliably informed that the RH loco is a Canadian National Railways U1a Mountain Class:-

While its companion to the left is a CN Class S1a:-

Hope that hasn't upset your laptop Danny, nor the finer feelings of railway enthusiasts by whom I stand to be corrected as always.

Last edited by Chugalug2; 22nd Jun 2014 at 11:52. Reason: Wrongly ascribed visual indicator to WW2 Lorenz system
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Old 22nd Jun 2014, 13:53
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A I mentioned years ago in this thread when we were discussing the Beam Approach I, and many others, flew them at our FTS at Tern Hill with Provost T1 trainers in 1961/62.
They probably shut it down when CFS (Helicopters) took over in early 1962. It was difficult enough to keep a Sycamore or Whirlwind upright during instrument flying, let alone trying to do a self interpreted approach.
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Old 22nd Jun 2014, 15:20
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Tatenhill airfield - 5th July


Very interesting to read about your experiences - especially your time at Tatenhill.

Tatenhill airfield today is a lively airfield with both an aircraft maintenance and avionics company as well as a couple of flight training organisations. In addition there are a number of GA aircraft based there as well as a Harvard (in Canadian livery) with an active social club and cafe on site. We also have the Midlands Air Ambulance (MAA) based here.

On Saturday 5th July we are having our annual Charity Fly In & Displays in support of the MAA. From 13.00pm we will have several air displays including duo Bucker Jungmanns'.

We are now also able to confirm that we will have a “surprise visitor” on the day......

.....a Griffon engine Spitfire Mk XIX (owned by Rolls Royce) which will be flown by Mark Lewis on slot at 1435hrs (L) who says his approach speed will be 330kts! This will be in addition to the existing display aircraft.

Rolls Royce thought our event in support of the Midlands Air Ambulance was a very worthwhile event to support.

More details on our website: ESFC Home Page

If you are in the area you would be very welcome to come along and join us.

Kind regards
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Old 22nd Jun 2014, 16:41
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IIRC, there was a visual aid on the panel, the "Kicker". This "kicked" L or R in response to the aural signal. I cannot recall exactly what it looked like. I don't think there was any visual indication of the Inner or Outer markers.

And somewhere in the old "Tee Emm", there was a wonderful poem about SBA training (there was also a "TBA" - Tuneable Beam Approach) - but what the difference was (apart from the fact that it was "tuneable"), I do not know.

I have a CD of "Tee Emm", but no idea how to find the poem again (it's the sort of thing you find only when you're not looking for it). I only remember a few scraps:

".....trying might and main....drift has changed with loss of height, round we go again....Gremlins rap the perspex, thoughts fly thick and fast...Stick to the Sperry Panel, or your thoughts will be your last !.....Is it right, or is it left ? what does the "kicker" say ?......"

All in all, better than nothing, but not quite as good as coming down an ILS slope on autopilot (spoken by one who has never done anything of the kind, but only read about it). The Radio Range was the standard aid for commercial air navigation in the US when we were there, and of course the SBA and the later ILS are its lineal descendants.

Don't worry about upsetting my picture - there's aways some Good Samaritan who can restore the status quo.....D.

Cheers, both. Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 24th Jun 2014 at 14:31. Reason: You'd think I could spell "Gremlins" by now !
Old 22nd Jun 2014, 18:31
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I thought I would post a couple of pictures, for the railway fans, my dad took during his journeys to/from Canada.

I didn't realise that the big diesel locos were available during the war.

Fareast driver

It was difficult enough to keep a Sycamore or Whirlwind upright during instrument flying, let alone trying to do a self interpreted approach.
I remember my introduction to the Whirlwind 10 at Ternhill and although the instrument panel looked more like that of a rotary Chipmunk it at least, I thought, had an ILS. Not so - it had, using the same indicator as a JP5 ILS, an system called Violet Picture which was used to home onto SABRE transmissions from downed aircrew.


Last edited by Hummingfrog; 22nd Jun 2014 at 18:56.
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Old 23rd Jun 2014, 00:29
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Thumbs up Just spotted this on BBC News


Could be your "target for Tonight'

BBC News - Teesside war veteran gets back in the cockpit

PZU - Out of Africa (Retired)
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Old 23rd Jun 2014, 14:45
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Danny, your recollection of a Tee Emm poem referring to a SBA visual 'kicker' indicator emphasises yet again one of the major bonuses of this thread, the throw away/BTW comment. Presumably it 'kicked' in time with the modulated dots or dashes and in the appropriate left or right direction.

So, not a variable deflection indicating say a quarter or half beam displacement, but a back up means of assisting the mental processes to get back on the centre line, especially on a back beam!

It seems this was still the technological hurdle to jump, and it took the ILS system to do it. Intriguingly Wikki says that the German SBA/Lorenz system did later feature a directional arrow to indicate direction to turn, but again I suspect that was a 'kicker' rather than displacement indicator. Also interesting that Lorenz was developed into the Elektra-Sonnen Long Range nav system used by the U-boats, and that we knew as Consul post war:-


It was presumably the ILS displacement technology that was applied to the 'localiser needle like' Violet Picture 243 MHz Sarbe homing system mentioned by Hummingfrog. We had that mounted on the instrument coaming in the Hastings. When Vietnam was raging, a flight from Changi to Kai Tak would see it seemingly welded to the LH stop while flying past Vietnam over the South China Sea, with the RH stop similarly utilised on the return. Listening in, there was even more of a cacophony than with SBA, for Guard was simply a natter frequency apparently. Bad luck for anyone trying to declare an emergency or worse still on the ground appealing for help, having banged out and now surrounded by the Viet Cong...

PS It seems that the ILS system existed pre war,


and the Luftwaffe appears to have used it during the war, see this German language page from Wikkimedia ref an AFN2 indicator of 1943:-


Last edited by Chugalug2; 23rd Jun 2014 at 15:41. Reason: Luftwaffe AFN2 indicator
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Old 23rd Jun 2014, 19:25
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During the Confrontation in Borneo in the sixties the HF frequency we used to pass our departure and arrival messages at Kampongs and clearings was jammed with traffic in Viet Nam.
One day a pilot took advantage of a quiet moment to pass a departure message. An American voice came up.
"Getta offa this frequency, don't you know there's a war on?"
To which our hero replied.
"Of course I do, we've got one here too, but we're winning ours."
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Old 23rd Jun 2014, 19:32
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Classic, and how sharp. I once needed a quick ground run at Boston Logan, to clear an engine snag on a C130. I reached for the en route supplement and identified a frequency for "non operational", ground activity related communication. On requesting start for a five minute, low power run, I was told that I was abusing the frequency and should contact ATC by telephone, "remain clear of frequency"! How rude I thought, so after doing the 5 minute run, I rang ATC on the number he had given, to thank them for their assistance.


Last edited by smujsmith; 23rd Jun 2014 at 20:26.
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Old 23rd Jun 2014, 19:45
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harry m

I'm just a watcher on this wonderful thread; my RAF career as a navigator on Hercs 67' - '73 is of no great interest to anyone else compared with some of the wonderful stories I read here most days!

I picked up on your mention of 194 Sqn, 'The Friendly Firm' - I'm a sucker for squadron histories and I once bought a small paperback book entitled '194 Squadron - Royal Air Force - The Friendly Firm (Burma Campaign). I wonder if you are mentioned or are in any of the photographs?

Do you have a copy?

Last edited by Brian 48nav; 23rd Jun 2014 at 19:46. Reason: Add bracket
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Old 23rd Jun 2014, 20:00
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The Consol system I remember had 3 stations located in Norway, France and Northern Ireland (Bush Mills/callsign MWN). The French station was at Ploneis with c/s TRQ - or that may have been the Norge one. Long time ago.
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Old 23rd Jun 2014, 23:03
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Brian 48nav,

Of course your experiences as a post-war nav have as much right as anyone else here to be with us in our cosy crewroom in cyberspace ! Everbody without exception has a tale to tell. If our wise Moderators had rigidly restricted this best of all Threads only to Posters who fulfilled the strict letter of its title, it would have been in grave danger of extinction many times in the past. Give us your story, mate !

harrym may have a link, but I'm afraid I have no connection with 194 Sqdn except as a grateful customer. Many a mile have I snoozed on the pile of mailbags at the back of one of their Daks to & from Dum-Dum (Calcutta).

Cheers, Danny.
Old 24th Jun 2014, 00:51
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To add to the zoo of strange things you describe, I seem to remember the Sperry Zero Reader, which functioned, I believe, as a sort of "What to Do" meter, and which, if bolted onto an ILS instrument, might have helped enormously.

But in my (single seat) generation they gave me a needle & ball (sometimes two - why ?), a DI and an AH. "Count yourself lucky", they said. As there were no aids of any kind in the aircraft (and precious little outside), we muddled through.

The principle of the Lorenz beam had been known for a long time. According to Wiki, the first use of ILS by a scheduled service was in the US in '38.

There was a general belief that the "Blitz" bombers were guided to their targets as "beam-riders", and that our boffins had devised a cunning way of "bending the beam". This belief was reinforced when they bombed Dublin by mistake in '41. But it would have needed a very unintelligent pilot indeed to confuse a brightly lighted city with the British blacked- out ones.

Cheers, Danny.
Old 24th Jun 2014, 06:52
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The Zero Reader was the ancestor of the flight direction panel before FMS (flight management system) and is still here with glass cockpits. It had a command function as opposed to the advisory function of the past. Attitude indicators as well as the equivalent of the compass card now have vertical and horizontal bars that advise you how to place the aeroplane to accomplish what ever input you had selected.

In other words flying a modern aeroplane is money for old rope but people don't know that because we wear big watches and Ray Bans.

Apparently one person who considered the Zero Reader essential was Nick the Greek. That is why Aunty Betty's Andovers were fitted with them.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 24th Jun 2014 at 19:36.
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Old 24th Jun 2014, 14:31
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Thumbs up Spitfires and Gliders

From a Canadian site, an interesting piece on 'Spitfires and Gliders'!!!

Spitfire Glider Tugs > Vintage Wings of Canada

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Old 24th Jun 2014, 15:14
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Geoff continues to move the metal (and some wood and fabric ones too)

May 1944 at 21 Ferry Control Mauripur. Sgt. Geoff ferries 3 Hurricanes, 2 Tiger Moths and a Fairchild Cornell in the course of the month. Positioning flights are mainly made in Hudsons, although on one occasion a Beaufort is used to drop him off in Jodhpur. Again, BOAC "takes good care" of him as he rides another of their "C" class flying boats from Allahabad back to Karachi, this one has the curious name of "Cooee" (G-AFBL). Later in the month an Indian National Airways Dragon Rapide picks him up at Chaklala, where he has completed a three day trip in a Tiger Moth (from Jodhpur, by the pretty route), and carries him to Lahore where another Hurricane awaits him. Twelve months have now passed since "Wings Day" in faraway Florida and Geoff becomes a Flight Sgt.

Summary for May: Hurricane 13.45 Cornell 4.40 Tiger Moth 13.00 and Passenger 25.15

June starts with a bit of a hiccup. He sets off (as 2nd Pilot in Dakota 541) 40 minutes later they are back at Mauripur, "A/C U/S" his log records (no reason given). The next day Dakota 541 behaves herself and they fly her to Palam. Two more Hurricane ferry flights are his next jobs. Then more 2nd piloting in another Dakota to Chaklala, here he gets a ride to Lahore in an Anson where yet another Hurricane needs a pilot. June 16 he gains some "big iron" experience, as 2nd pilot on Liberator 982, to Allahabad via Jodhpur. He returns June 19 on the BOAC Ensign (his final trip with them - although he does not know that at the time). June 29 he logs 0.35 mins. dual with a W/O from 229 Group Comm. Flight Palam (air test+check on type) says his log. Two days later he has finished with 21 FC and is now on the books of the aforementioned Comm. Flight.

Summary for June Hurricane 11.15 Dakota 10.50 Liberator 6.35 Anson 0.35 and Passenger 14.05

Ian B-B
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Old 24th Jun 2014, 15:49
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I B-B and others ... these insights force us to remember the 'drudgery' behind the scenes ensuring the the front line continues to function. Unglamorous for sure, but the whole think would have been a house of cards without ferry pilots, ATA and "as you're not yet combat ready, take this to RAF xxxx."

No glamour, almost as dangerous (weather, serviceability, inexperience), and yet utterly and totally essential.

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Old 24th Jun 2014, 17:11
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194 Sqdn etc

Brian48nav:- Think I have somewhere a history of 194, in which I certainly don't figure. I arrived only a few weeks before the bomb, thus missing its prestigious work during the Burma campaign; for sure, we were kept quite busy after the war's end but that was rather different!

Hummingfrog:- Thanks for the pix. A few Diesels were introduced into the US during the 1930s, but their widespread introduction was delayed by the war when it was deemed prudent (also less expensive, and less demanding of scarce resources) to stick with the proven technology of steam.

Tiddles:- Many thanks for the invite to Tatenhill, would love to accept but sadly live too far distant to make it practical - but enjoyed looking at the website!

Chugalug2:- The only early-days visual azimuth indicator I recall was the so-called 'drunken chopsticks', two intersecting needles that were bottom-hinged and sloped inwards at an approx 45 degree angle; when 'on beam' or whatever they were supposed to intersect on a fixed vertical centreline, when displaced they indicated left or right as appropriate. Having said that, I don't remember ever using them or even from what piece of radio equipment they were supposedly reading. Not much help, sorry!
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