Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Aircrew Forums > Military Aviation
Reload this Page >

Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Military Aviation A forum for the professionals who fly military hardware. Also for the backroom boys and girls who support the flying and maintain the equipment, and without whom nothing would ever leave the ground. All armies, navies and air forces of the world equally welcome here.

Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Old 22nd Sep 2014, 15:59
  #6201 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: France
Age: 75
Posts: 6,377
Danny - aah, the BMC 1100 - quelle domage! But wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for your fascinating contributions to this thread. I have learned much. W
Wander00 is offline  
Old 22nd Sep 2014, 17:23
  #6202 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: AndyCappLand
Age: 98
Posts: 7,646
blind pew,

"......and a Trident would have probably never been parked in a field at Staines!...." no doubt refers to the unfortunate Captain Key's unscheduled arrival there (helicopter fashion) shortly after take-off from LHR in '72.

Our QFIs at Leeming were not sympathetic when the sad news first hit the headlines.

"He's not paid 10,000 a year (about 3 times their pay) to stall the aeroplane" was the common reaction at the time. Later, of course, we learned of the extenuating circumstances. IIRC, his crew were not very helpful, and the Third Officer was a drag on the rope. Still: "de mortuis nil nisi bonum" must apply.

I've no knowlege of the workings of commercial aviation, but I'm horrified that the rules under which you had to operate seemed to value the comfort of the townsfolk below ahead of the safety of the crews and passengers in the air. It's easy to be critical when you've never been affected, but it seems to me that LHR had been there for a quarter century; almost all the householders had moved in since then with full knowledge that LHR was there and would be noisy ('ware incoming !)

I thought that one of the selling points of the fanjet was supposed to be that it was much quieter (from the ground). Certainly that applied to the Tristar as against the 707 (say), IMHO.

Danny42C is offline  
Old 22nd Sep 2014, 17:55
  #6203 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2012
Location: London
Posts: 47
"Lots of rumours about Chinese aviation in the eighties and nineties; none of them true."

Really...? My father flew on a Chinese airliner in the early 1980s. There were two more passengers than seats, which wasn't a problem as they found a couple of deck chairs for them to sit in. My father having served during the war had doubtless seen and experienced less comfortable and safe air transport, but did raise his eyebrows when said passengers were offered seat belts to secure them to their deck chairs...

Danny I know you're not going anywhere, but just to add my noise to the legion of voices thanking you for your most entertaining stories. I am very disappointed that you will not be relating your VAT employment in weekly episodes. As a piece of history "I joined HMC&E and was one of the first VAT inspectors" is probably as good a tale as - and certainly a less-oft-told one than - "My service in WW2." I implore you to continue as you are a most skilled raconteur.

VAT's not enough yet... (Or, maybe, there's another 20% of this story to go...)
Reader123 is offline  
Old 22nd Sep 2014, 20:17
  #6204 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: nicolalaland
Posts: 121

Dear Danny

Bombdoors did just occasionally open themselves. Nicely settled in the climb in a Canberra (250kt max at the time to offer the chance of overpowering any runaway elevator trim) we shuddered then it stopped, shuddered again, stopped, and so on. Eventually out of the corner of my eye I saw that the B/D dollseye was alternating black/white/black to tell me that the doors were opening and closing without my help.

The cause turned out to be a short in the Master Jettison switch, which some genius had positioned almost directly under the DV window, which of course let in rainwater if it was not firmly shut on the ground. Fortunately the load was the usual 8 x 25lb, which could not be jettisoned. If it had been the 6 x 1000lb which constituted the Heavy Load we had to carry once in a while the good burghers of Nottingham would presumably have collected the lot.

And like many others may I say "Thank you".
binbrook is offline  
Old 23rd Sep 2014, 17:45
  #6205 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2012
Location: London
Posts: 47
"Fortunately the load was the usual 8 x 25lb,"

The Camel carried 4 x 20lb Cooper bombs; so much for progress!
Reader123 is offline  
Old 23rd Sep 2014, 20:33
  #6206 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 4,639
The mighty V force would have a trip carrying a 10,000lb inert bomb to simulate the instant sunshine of the time. This consisted of a big tin tube filled with concrete.

On this occasion there was a load thump in the back of the aircraft and the bomb aimer, checking his bombing equipment, realised that the inert had released itself and was sitting the bomb bay doors.

Not wishing to dig a big hole in the UK they were instructed to proceed to Wainfleet range and release it by opening the doors. The barge that was to be the target was identified on the NBS radar and in they came.

The bomb aimer had no idea of the ballistic characteristics of an inert; it was not something they published at the time, so he selected a bomb type 0, i.e. a perfect bomb.

He had the cross hairs on the target and with two minutes to go the bombing computer opened the doors.

They never did find out where it landed.
Fareastdriver is offline  
Old 23rd Sep 2014, 21:23
  #6207 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Bedale, North Yorkshire
Age: 65
Posts: 1,060
They never did find out where it landed.

It wasn't The Prussian Queen pub by any chance?

Ah,that was a stick of 25lb'ers

Iconic Aircraft Aviation Forum ? View topic - The bombing of the Prussian Queen pub 1952

A 10,000lb'er would certainly been 'last orders, please'.
taxydual is offline  
Old 23rd Sep 2014, 23:40
  #6208 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: AndyCappLand
Age: 98
Posts: 7,646

Mine was never right from the beginning. Even during the six (!) months warranty that was all you got in those days, I was complaining about being down on power: they palmed me off with "It's still a bit tight, sir - after a couple of thousand miles more it'll be all right !

Of course it wasn't, but functioned well enough with minor ailments (the autobox had a total-loss oil system, I put the oil in the top and it leaked out at the bottom) and they could never fix even that.

Up to around 70,000, then the engine troubles began among clouds of steam. I will not bore you with the harrowing story: suffice to say that it would have been cheaper in the end for me to have thrown the engine out and bought a new one (I don't think you could get exchange reconditioned Renault ones as you could with Ford and others then). The thing was off the road for three months in a bad winter, when they at last got the (Renault) spares, they had to go to a local machine shop before they'd fit the car (all on our bill, of course).

Eventually they got it back on the road again ; things weren't too bad till 140,000, then timing chain bust (by great good fortune, outside the shops in our local village, right opposite our garage). Then the full beauty of the back-to-front power plant idea was revealed - you had to lift the whole "lump" out to get at the chain ! As this would cost more than the car (11 years old) was worth, and the rot had got a good hold, anyway, it went free against the cost of towing to a scrapyard.

I'm a glutton for punishment. After it we ran two other (2/h) Renaults - a 5 (the best of the superminis of its day) and an 18 Estate (both fine cars). To be fair, those were the times when Red Robbo ruled our industry: British cars were a byword for unreliability, too.

Danny42C is offline  
Old 23rd Sep 2014, 23:50
  #6209 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: AndyCappLand
Age: 98
Posts: 7,646
Fareastdriver ,

So Murphy still ruled as late as your day ! Even in the Avro 504s, IIRC, they'd tumbled to that and had different sized turnbuckles to join control cable sections.


".... and when you thought disaster was certain the wings would claw sufficient lift to get it off the ground...." (the universal experience of all of us old NervousSLFs who once sat in the 'Seat of the Mighty', but now must cringe far back in Steerage on the rare occasions we can scrape the cash together to do so).

Now, seriously, you must have enough Chinese flying stories to keep our Thread going for a twelvemonth. Now give, please ! (I'm sure I speak for all, don't I, chaps ?)

Danny42C is offline  
Old 23rd Sep 2014, 23:57
  #6210 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: AndyCappLand
Age: 98
Posts: 7,646

Thank you for your kind words ! (but I've learned more from our Thread than ever I put into it).

"Quelle dommage" all right ! But in all fairness it had been my daughter's first car - and she'd bought it from another girl: it'd been her first car. The poor (old) thing had some excuse, I suppose (Lord knows what the mileage was - probably "clocked" anyway).

Went for scrap.

Danny42C is offline  
Old 24th Sep 2014, 00:11
  #6211 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: AndyCappLand
Age: 98
Posts: 7,646
Ian BB,

IIRC, the Arnold (US Army Air Corps) Scheme ended ca Feb '43. Their Schools returned to the training of US Cadets (I suppose that enough BFTS had been opened by then) to cover the RAF requirement.

The statistcs are appalling. We sent a total of 7885 RAF trainees out and got 4165 pilots back, so 3550 "losses" (55%). The training "washouts" were 3392 (43%). This has been a mystery to this day.

A quick answer might be "The US training was superior to the RAF's" (and indeed regle [RIP] described it as "the finest flying training in the world". But then, why didn't that show up at the OTU stage ? No one (AFAIK) at the time ever noticed any difference in the "finished product" from the graduates of the Arnold Schools compared with those from the BFTS and Empire Flying Training Schemes. When you break it down into Courses, the mystery deepens:

Strange figures from Arnold wastages (nothing to do with BFTS)

Overall Losses* occurred (roughly - as a % of all Intakes): At Primary 60%; at Basic 12%; at Advanced 4%; (Retained as Instructors 13%); others (mostly killed); 2%.

Survivors By Course (% of Intake):

42C:64; (my Course)
42D:61. (this Course would graduate about 1st April - five weeks after me - work back six months, they must've started about beginning October '41. I started flying on 2 September, I must have got there a week before - it fits perfectly).

Average survivor rate (Courses 42A-D) 60%, therefore all losses* 40%.

Survivors By Course (% of Intake):

(No record of 42J, seemingly ?).
43B:97.1; END. (would be about Feb, '43)


(The Official Website of - Arnold Scheme)

Stats & Facts

Total RAF Intake 7885
RAF cadets Eliminated at:
Acclimatization Centres 9
Primary Schools 2687
Basic Schools 526
Advanced Schools 170
Cadets Killed in Training 158
(Grand Total 3550 45%) (Washout 3392 43%)

Highest Rank achieved by RAF Graduate: Marshall (sic) of the Royal Air Force.
Highest British Decoration Awarded: Victoria Cross.

Average survivor rate (Courses 42E-43B) 98.4%, therefore all losses* 1.6%. (This, I was told later, about matched the BFTS experience. Subsequent reports on this Thread quote much higher figures for BFTS, up to 30% ?????).

* "Losses" would include (mainly) "Washouts" for all reasons, plus a few (sadly) killed.

Whether the 577 "Creamed Off" Instructors were included (as we didn't get them back - at least not until much later - in UK), I do not know.


Danny42C is offline  
Old 24th Sep 2014, 00:18
  #6212 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: AndyCappLand
Age: 98
Posts: 7,646

First, thank you for your appreciation of my efforts ! It was never my problem, my old Vengeance was seven tons of parasite drag anyway and flew the same with doors open or shut. Only thing was, there was the heck of a draught up from the "mailbox" on thefloor, as this blew all the dust up, it was wise to put goggles on before opening !

I'm a bit puzzled by your remark about the good folk of Nottingham being in peril of live or 'safe' bombs raining down on them. Surely you had to select which first, and then press the button, before anything could happpen. The mere fact of your opening a bomb doors (or it happening spontaneously) couldn't trigger a drop (or could it ?)

Cheers, Danny.
Danny42C is offline  
Old 24th Sep 2014, 00:25
  #6213 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: AndyCappLand
Age: 98
Posts: 7,646

Thanks for the compliments (but I suppose I owe it to my ancestry that I seem to have been endowed with the "gift of the gab" !). But to take your point, my view is that it's fine for people who carried on in the RAF or civil aviation after war service to continue on the Thread after finally taking uniform off, but to carry on in it into a future tale of some humdrum civil job is simply "not on" (and I would expect the Mods to stamp on it).

That is not to say that I may not pop in from time to time with titbits which have amused me, but there will be no consecutive story of my coming trials and tribulations in C&E.

And you've guessed correctly - it's not all over yet.

Cheers, Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 24th Sep 2014 at 16:12. Reason: Remove Smilie - God knows how that got in !
Danny42C is offline  
Old 24th Sep 2014, 03:23
  #6214 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Wide Brown Land
Age: 35
Posts: 516
Mostly off-topic, but the talk of 'curvature of the earth' take-offs reminded me of this one, filmed in Canberra a few years ago... one mild naughty word (you'll see why):


kookabat is offline  
Old 24th Sep 2014, 08:23
  #6215 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: ɐıןɐɹʇsn∀
Posts: 1,963

I'm not sure if this partly answers or not, but there is an e.book on the Arnold Scheme on Google Books "The Arnold Scheme: British Pilots, the American South, and the Allies By Gilbert Sumter Guinn".

There was indeed Course 42J, it included C.J Barton VC, who was the schemes only Victoria Cross. It says, amongst other things, a couple of interesting things about the pass rate of the different courses.

Chapter: The Final Six RAF Classes in Georgia

When students of the class (42J) began to fly, Spring was in full bloom and it was good to be alive. For instructors and cadets alike, manoeuvring a Stearman PT-17 with its open cockpit over miles of fields and woods and swamps in the bright southwest Georgia skies was an exhilarating experience.
Page 286
Unlike earlier classes, many members of Course SE-42-K had completed in excess of 30 hours flying in flight grading courses at scattered elementary flying training schools (EFTSs) in the United Kingdom. As a result, their progress in primary flying training was much more rapild than earlier classes, and their failure rate much lower.
Page 287
The Arnold Scheme: British Pilots, the American South, and the Allies ... - Gilbert Sumter Guinn - Google Books
Hempy is offline  
Old 24th Sep 2014, 09:04
  #6216 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: by the seaside
Age: 70
Posts: 833
Ah Danny
When has a good old British public inquiry done anything in the way of finding the truth and not just protecting the establishment?
Thanks to yourself, Reggie and Cliff, I have understood some of the pitfalls of the RAF training machine which strangely has just run full circle today. The two junior pilots (and the guy on the jump seat) at Staines were what became known in UK civil aviation terms as "Hamble Mafia". Incredibly stringent selection and 1/3 chopped to produce a generation of Uber Mensch.
Unfortunately it would take a couple of decades to change the old attitudes.
Staines had some of it's origins in the Munich disaster -1958 - where BEA management decided that two recent take off accidents were no concern of their pilots - both were slush covered runways. Incidentally I occasionally commandeered a vehicle to inspect the runway myself if I wasn't convinced of the validity of runway reports (1990s).
The Trident had three reported premature slat retraction and stick shake/push in it's recent history before the Staines accident. The root cause was cowboy lack of adherence to our noise abatement procedures. They were deemed "one offs" and not passed on. We did not have a stick push procedure in our manuals and Keighley and myself were taught to "dump the system" if the push triggers "because it's always faulty".
Some of this came out at the inquiry - mainly from George Childs and "Cat's eyes Cunningham"...the first being an astute line captain concerned with what we had been taught; the second was the Trident's test pilot. Child's testimony exposed "corporate amnesia" and he later resigned as his life became "untenable" in BEA.
Six months before the accident I flew with "slow" Jerry Keighley (P2) from Ostende to Hamble. The rest of our training fleet was grounded due to a virulent cold front across eastern england. I was sitting behind him in the D55 Baron when we hit moderate turbulence - he suggested that he slowed back to Turb. speed but our instructor - Pat Courtney (he left a wingtip on a tree stump during a strafing attack whilst flying a Hurri-bomber) said "no - you only have to worry when the eyeballs bounce and you can't read the instrument panel".
About a minute later we must have hit the cell and Pat wrenched the throttles back, I thought "[email protected] I'm going to die", the guy next to me screamed (he's currentlly flying the 787) and Jerry continued flying along the airway through the cell without any problems.
The blame game destroyed his family - His father was shot down during the Battle of Britain whilst on a lone, daylight raid on Berlin in a Whitney. Churchill had decided that if he bombed Berlin the Luftwaffe would take some of their resources from the Pas de Calais and give fighter command a break. As you know it led to the Blitz. Bill Keighley crashed on Texel- spent the next four years in Stalag luft drei and then participated in the death march.
For those of you who didn't live through the 70's it was a time of industrial upheaval - strikes - three day weeks - electricity cuts -IRA bombings - shortages and hoarding not forgetting interest rates of 18%. We were badly paid but worse was the bully boy attitude and the old "if you want a command Sonny".
A group of pilots had been sacked, others were threatened including Jerry's flat mate's captain a few days before his crash - his flat mate had selected Land Flap instead of Flap Up at the cutback point.
A whole group of captains had written to the Board of Trade to get them to do something before we crashed yet another aircraft.
So if someone said jump to me I jumped...and Key, no doubt, flew non standard procedures and probably gave Jerry an order than he misunderstood - his manipulation was never spotted because we had a "quaint" procedure that EVERYONE wrote down a clearance at the SAME time - with no one minding the shop.
Sadly National Geographic recently made a documentary which imho has very little to do with the truth - and that's another story.
I had a great career and am still flying - albeit paragliders - but I couldn't wait to leave BEA which I did - they crashed 8 aircraft in the 6 years I flew for them and if the inquiry had been balanced maybe some of them wouldn't have happened - most were down to the training department - just like the RAF and Meteors, Lancasters, etc.
blind pew is offline  
Old 24th Sep 2014, 09:46
  #6217 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: sussex
Posts: 1,589
blind pew,
a sobering tale indeed. When we got the new C130K in RAF service shutting down an engine for 'training' at a critical point was still a part of the deal. It took several crashes for an outbreak of common sense to appear. Of course we did not have the benefit of a 'black box' or a CVR to help the investigators, no doubt due to 'costs'.
ancientaviator62 is offline  
Old 24th Sep 2014, 11:09
  #6218 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 4,639
My father flew on a Chinese airliner in the early 1980s. There were two more passengers than seats, which wasn't a problem as they found a couple of deck chairs for them to sit in.
Trip from Shanghai to Wuhan in 1998. Those days if you were flying from Shanghai in the morning you had to book into a hotel by the airport the night before because you couldn't get from the centre of Shanghai in time. Two heavies accompanied me to the check-in and they bulldozed me through the crowd to the front. No seat selection, I got a boarding number, 11, similar to some present low cost airlines.

The boarding of the 727-100 was straightforward enough and I found myself a seat by a window underneath the fin attachment points. I worked on the basis that if we didn't hit something too hard the deceleration rate plus the fifty or so cushions in front of me would make it survivable. Both the seat belt and the ashtray were in place and the lights for them, in Spanish, worked.

We got airborne and as we settled in the cruise the overhead CRTs pivoted down from the ceiling and the flight's entertainment came on.

It was Karaoke.

You could hear the music through the headphones but also the person singing it. Removing the headphones meant that you could only hear the singing which was even worse. I was scrabbling around trying to find some ear defenders, it would have been grossly impolite to stick one's fingers in your ears, but with no success.

I cowered into the corner and resigned myself to the torture. Eventually it all went quiet apart from the air hostess wandering up and down calling 'She yi?'

She yi, I thought, that's eleven in Chinese so I held up my boarding ticket. She then came over and thrust the microphone into my face. I shook my head, "Mayo," (No nothing) I said and immediately about six Chinese jumped on me trying to get hold of my ticket.

At that time Wuhan airport was a joint military/civil airport in the middle of town. Kai Tak was quite spectacular dodging the concrete on the final turn to the runway but Wuhan had it in Spades. Both wingtips were clipping the balconies and at the last moment they retreated to be replaced by the threshold lined with twin engine Xian Y7s in various states of disrepair. The runway was built from large square concrete pourings with tar inlays at the joints and was incredibly noisy and bumpy. I thought for a moment the vibration had shaken the overheads open but it was the passengers starting to retrieve their baggage before the engines' reversing petals had closed.

After disembarking I was escorted the rear of the aircraft where they were unloading the baggage so that I could identify mine. I watched as the baggage was tossed out of the door onto the ground ten feet below and when I saw mine poised I shouted and it was gently lowered down.

I went Wuhan a couple of years later when the Yangtze flooded for the last time. To see rows of PLA soldiers in three ranks, chest deep in water, arms locked together, acting as a human dam to stem the flow of the floodwater through a breach in the dykes so that the sandbags being thrown in could get a grip has left an impression on me for ever.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 24th Sep 2014 at 13:12.
Fareastdriver is offline  
Old 24th Sep 2014, 13:11
  #6219 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: by the seaside
Age: 70
Posts: 833
ancientaviator....the good old critical engine failure on TO balls up...
BEA in my time belatedly got into charters...in the form of Airtours. My father had been in partnership with a hotel owner during the 60s in Westcliff on sea supplying Channel Airways with in flight meals (Ham and Colmans mustard sandwiches wrapped in cellophane made up in Eddie Troppers hotel kitchen) ....until dad took a short cut under the wing at Rochford airport and got his bedford van stuck. Channel had started the all inclusive holiday flights in Britain.
BEA bought around 10 surplus American 707s.....they didn't ask for BOACs expertise as they knew better.
A new conversion FO ex vanguards who hadn't flown for a year was given a critical failure which was over done by the training captain and when things started going wrong he throttled back the two engines on the other wing and added thrust on the throttled back engine - it resulted in a smoking mess on the end of the runway at Prestwick....some of the old guys still swear blind that BEA had discovered VMCA which had been missed by Boeing, BOAC and everyone who operated the 707.
Even better they crashed one in Heraklion...bent all pylons including shearing bolts on one and bent the wings...rather than ask BOAC they used their own "expertise" and illegally authorized the return flight - with a hundred odd souls on board.
Aircraft condemned by Boeing.

Fareast driver......interesting .....BOAC was threatened with being banned from Kai Tak after yet another Airtours 707 missed the turn on the checker board approach and nearly skewered a block of flats....the Hong Kong government figured that the Corporations communicated and were similarly professional - both being funded by the British Taxpayer....how wrong they were.

I did a month flying around East Africa on a MD80...always overloaded...as they say when one flies in Africa it is moving countries and they carry their whole life with them.
I took my wife but there were no free jumpseats and her priority was zero but I never had the racist problem and got on well with all and sundry. We were somewhere in the middle of nowhere with the aircraft very over loaded and one of the station staff said "No Problem Sir...get Madame to board last...walk down the aircraft, pick up a small person, sit down and hold small person on her lap for take off - after take off go and sit on one of the stewardesses seats ...do the reverse for landing"
And that's was what madame did....overweight takeoff (tonnes)...avoided the ITCZ which wasn't too active...and we had a couple of great days in Dakar together.
blind pew is offline  
Old 24th Sep 2014, 17:22
  #6220 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: AndyCappLand
Age: 98
Posts: 7,646
Wunderbar !


Here we've got a perfect example of our "Crewroom in Cyberspace" working
exactly as it should, with the tales bouncing off from one to another.

You can almost smell the fug of cigarette smoke, see the battered old thrown-out easy chairs, and hear the rain drumming on the Nissen roof, can't you ?

When the last of us "Gainers of a RAF Pilot's Brevet in WWII" has "shuffled off this mortal coil", perhaps our Moderators (bless their little cotton socks), who by their forebearance have allowed Cliff's (RIP) Thread of long ago to grow into the best thing on PPRuNe, may allow it to run on renamed as above when its original title has (literally) expired.


Last edited by Danny42C; 24th Sep 2014 at 21:52. Reason: Spelling
Danny42C is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.