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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 6th Jan 2015, 20:45
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Danny42C
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Warmtoast,

Could it be a flame-suppressant idea ?

Somebody's picked up a fine tan from somewhere !

D.
 
Old 6th Jan 2015, 22:32
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Danny


The photo was taken at RAF Glugor (Penang) in 1957. My recollections of Malaya and Singapore were that they were not good places to get a tan easily - too humid - still the chap in my photo got one from somewhere!


WT
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 23:10
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Danny42C
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Danny undertakes a Traditional Duty under Difficult Circumstances.

You may recall that some time ago, I noticed that several Posts seemed to have disappeared from the record around the time of my arrival in India, so here is a re-written bit.

After two months on the Open Wave in the good troopship "Stirling Castle", my bunch of newly hatched RAF Hurricane and Spitfire Sgt-pilots disembarked, a week or two before Christmas of '42, before the "Gateway of India" (a massive commemorative arch) in Bombay . The general idea was (or we thought it was) that we should fly Spitfires to defend the "Jewel in the Crown" against possible Japanese air attacks (they had walked up to the NE India/Burma border though Malaya and Burma, and were expected to keep on walking, for our defences in the area were woefully weak at that time).

Our hopes of emulating the "Few" of the BoB and covering ourselves with glory were dashed for two reasons: there were no Spitfires at all in India and the Jap wasn't making any air attacks anyway. But that was for the future, for the moment we were parked in a Transit Camp (where else ?) at Worli, a northern suburb of Bombay.

There is in our Forces a long tradition that, on Christmas Day, the Officers and SNCOs of every Unit (do Corporals escape duty ?) should serve Christmas Dinners to their troops. And so at Worli 30-odd Sgt-Pilots made up a large proportion of the "volunteer" waiters (there seemed to be few other Officers or SNCOs to hand), who stood ready to do their duty.

The Airmen's Dining Room, and the Kitchen which served it, were open sided larg bambo "Bashas", separated by some 40 yards of open ground.

Now one of the first wild creatures you meet in the subcontinent is the ****ehawk (I make no apology for the use of the name - the Oxford English Dictionary knows all about it and there are plenty of references to it. It seems to have been variously identified as a Red Kite and a Black Kite, and photographs show an eagle-type of bird, but the ones I saw (and I saw hundreds) resembled more a small, scruffy vulture. A grown specimen was the size of a big turkey, say 20lb, with sharp beak and talons.

Be that as it may the skies above any human settlement were crowded (at 1,000 ft or so) with these birds, lazily circling in the thermals and keeping a sharp eye open for food. They were scavengers, not predators. This was long before cellophane, cartons and plastic bags; the waste that piled up was all animal and vegetable: this was their fare. Whether they were coprophagic I cannot say, but they had the unlovely habit of starting at the anus of any dead creature they found. On account of their value as scavengers (as are our carrion crows) these birds were esteemed and protected by the law of the Raj.

In Bombay the Parsee community made use of the SHs to dispose of, in a natural way, their dead. On Malabar Hill they built a "Tower of Silence". This was a cylindrical building perhaps 20 ft diameter and slightly higher. The top was open to the skies, but a few feet down a wide iron grating stretched across the gap. The deceased was placed on this grating, and left to the sun, wind and rain - and the birds. When these had done their work, the skeleton, now cleaned of all flesh and connective tissue, disintegrated and fell through the grating to an ossuary below. What happened then, I don't know, but it seems that India was (and is) an exporter of bonemeal.

At Worli the "waiter service" involved carrying unprotected plates of food across the 40 yard gap. The local SHs noted this and quickly developed a suitable tactic. Flying a tight LH circuit round the dining basha at roof height, they made a "firing pass" each time round. Their object was to snatch the food from the plates, but inevitably many plates were knocked or dropped from the hands of the terrified "waiter", in which case another bird in line astern would pick the food up from the ground. Avian news of this bonanza quickly spread and soon every SH in Bombay eagerly joined in the fun.

It became obvious that a "waiter" could carry only one plate at a time, for you needed a piece of wood, the size of a policeman's truncheon or a baseball bat, to defend your plate (and yourself, too, for there were accidental injuries); if a beak or talon scratch had drawn blood you should report to the MO ASAP - for you never Knew Where the Bird Had Been ! (but you could guess).

The impatient diners hooted with mirth, even when the bird won and someone's dinner had gone flying: not only were they being served - they had this cabaret as well ! I would estimate (from my own experience) that 2/3 of the dinners got through (the cooks must have cooked extra dinners to allow for this). Normally, I suppose the food would have been sent across fom the cookhouse in bulk in covered trollies, and the usual serving line set up in the Dining basha.

The SHs were amazingly clever fliers, I don't think anyone ever landed a blow on them - they dodged so quickly. They had the "slatted" wing tip feathers of all the hawk tribe (there must be an enormous aeronautical advantage in this, but our designers haven't worked it out yet). For this reason, bird strikes were almost unknown in my time.

The only one I fielded (in three years and 300 hours) was hopping casually around in the middle of my strip when I came along full chat on takeoff. There was a heavy thud and a cloud of feathers flew out of the cowl gills and flashed past the cockpit. The engine wasn't bothered, and in any case I was far too fast and too far down to abandon take off, so I flew a quick circuit and put it down again.

My chaps had to take all the engine panels off: the carcase was wedged between the two rows of cylinders and they spent a happy hour up the stepladders fishing out blood, guts and feathers (these would, of course, be immediately consumed by the remaining SHs).

And that is all I can tell you about SHs.

Goodnight, all.

Danny42C.

"What did you do in the Great War, Daddy ?"

Last edited by Danny42C; 7th Jan 2015 at 18:25. Reason: Add Text
 
Old 7th Jan 2015, 17:08
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Stupid guesses

Flame-suppressant fits my guess... also fitting something which will glow in the dark topsides when those that are trying to spot you are much more likely to be below you than above.
Red hot metal and cold sea water..........splash on landing??????????? Moved away from the spray.

"What did you do in the Great War, Daddy ?"
Very little........might post on a very slow news day when we sink into page 2.
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Old 7th Jan 2015, 20:45
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Gaining An R.A.F. Pilots Brevet in WW11

Danny, I had no wish to fly for airlines after I left the R.A.F. I enjoyed my service flying, especially on Coastal where we were very much left to get on with the job and only the Cat board to worry about.
Well our stay at Brunswick was interesting. The Marlins and Mariners were impressive but I preferred my Shackleton. Once again the Americans treated us right royally, and we appreciated their kindness
Our final destination was the R.C.A.F. Station, Greenwood in Nova Scotia. We took part in an exercise with their carrier Bonaventura and submarines. Then the R.C.A.F. Had a squadron of Maritime Lancasters at Greenwood. After the exercise we had the "wash up" at Halifax. The whole area was snowbound but we just sped along the road in a staff car, seemingly without any problems!
Our return to Aldergrove was via Lajes. Again.
Back at Aldergrove, more shadowing, then another visit to the School at Luqa.
Whilst I was there a friend at Coastal rang my wife at Belfast to see if we would like to join the new Shackleton squadron replacing the Sunderlands from Seletar at Changi. Yes please.
So back at Aldergrove, pack your bags and move on 9th June 1958. Unfortunately my leave was extended because of the trouble in the Middle East and it was not until August 9th 1958 that my wife and I and small daughter departed Blackbushe in a Hermes 11 of Air-work. Carried families for Changi.
Our route was Brindisi, Ankara, Abadan (dicky engine ), Karachi (night stop) Delhi, Calcutta, Bangkok, Singapore. What a relief! And now 205 .
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Old 8th Jan 2015, 08:54
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Ormeside28

We had a Herc' captain on 30 ( late 60s/early 70s ) who had been on Sunderlands with 205 in the late 50s - a Kiwi called 'Abe' Lincoln ( RIP ). Did you serve together?
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Old 8th Jan 2015, 14:01
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Gaining An R.A.F. Pilots Brevet in WW11

Hello Brian 48Nav. Abe Lincoln was one of the first of the Sunderland Captains to convert on to the Shackleton and I flew with him on two Navexs in the South China Sea. The boss said to remind him not to land in the water! A very nice man who was very concerned about water spouts, especially at night, as we reckoned that they didnt always show up on radar. When he came back to the U.K. he was at Northolt before going to Transport.
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Old 8th Jan 2015, 14:40
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Like Brian, I remember Abe well on 30 at Fairford. A gentleman in every way, he explained that Flying Boat operation required as much knowledge of Seamanship as of Airmanship.
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Old 8th Jan 2015, 16:24
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Name dropping.

Ormeside28, Chugalug2, Brian 48nav.

Gentlemen since we are name dropping any recollections of either Fred Harris or Bill Porter? Both were boatmen navigators and my instructors at 2 ANS. I know Fred was on the North East Greenland expedition.
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Old 8th Jan 2015, 17:02
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Gaining An R.A.F. Pilots Brevet in WW11

My new C.O. On 205 was Wing Commander MacReadie.He was on the Greenland expedition. He apparently hit ice on landing in the fjord but was able to beach the Sunderland. It was fitted with a concrete patch and cleared for one take off and then landing at Pembroke Dock. Another nice chap and a good C.O .
Another ex Sunderland Captain who joined us was Flt.Lt.Stan Bowater, sadly lost a couple of months later with Stan Bouttell, but I will come to that.
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Old 8th Jan 2015, 17:12
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Ormeside,

Your: "The Marlins and Mariners were impressive but I preferred my Shackleton".

Speaking as one who knows nowt about it: I know that: "Happiness is Four Engines", but flying over open water, wouldn't you be better off in something that could float ?

D.
 
Old 8th Jan 2015, 21:50
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Gaining An R.A.F. pilots Brevet in WW11

I joined 205 Squadron at Changi on12th August 1958, and found out that I was to be used as co - pilot to those ex Sunderland Captains who had been converted to Shackletons.
At this time 205/209 Squadron was partly Sunderlands at Seletar and partly Shackleton Mk 1 s at Changi. The Sunderlands were being sold off to Chinese wreckers and we still only had a few Shackletons at Changi
We were in permanent buildings on the main site at Changi but our aeroplanes were at the seaward side of the airfield on PSP tracking! The poor ground crew were in tents
As the "Converter" (J.E.) had not yet arrived with his crew - I was to be his co- pilot until another Sunderland Captain was converted - I was sent on the Jungle Survival Course. One week at Changi learning the basics and then a week up country in Malaya putting it into practice. With a rifle and five rounds, stand to at dusk and dawn to "beat off Communist attacks". Luckily no attacks happened to us. Interesting, but hardly enjoyable. The jungle is certainly not neutral!
My Captain arrived at the beginning of October and it was back to flying Shackletons.
We had a lot of dealings with the Far Eastern Fleet. There was a flotilla of "c" class destroyers, the carrier Albion and various frigates and submarines. We had plenty of exercises with them, social occasions as well. Sometimes we exercised with the Australians, the Siamese and of course the Americans out of the Philipines.
On 9th December we were on SAR standby. Stan Bouttell, who converted me at Aldergrove, with an ex- Sunderland Captain, Stan Bowater as his co - pilot, and the ex 120 Squadron crew who I knew, was on an anti - piracy patrol around Borneo. They had been diverted to search for a missing boat. They found it and said that they were resuming their task. That was the last message, and they had been out of contact. When it was dark at Labuan, and no sign of Stan, we were ordered off. We followed his intended track around North Borneo and orbited until daylight, landing after 17 hours at Labuan. By this time a full scale search was under way. After six days it was called off and we asked to do one more trip up the atolls. At Sin Cowe there was a grave with a bowl on top, a wooden cross with B205 (now in St Eval Church), B205 in coral on the beach and an arrow pointing north. We landed again at Labuan and asked if we could follow the arrow. Yes! The NZ frigate Rotoriti landed a party and brought the body of the engineer, F/S Dancy, back to Singapore. We followed the arrow to the north, we felt sure that there were survivors because of the arrow. Checked the Paracelsus, Hainan, and landed at Hong Kong. Months later a Formosan fisherman reported that he had witnessed the aircraft crashing and had taken the only body that appeared. He was apparently given gold for his kindness.
It was a very sad occasion, but two more Shackletons were lost later en route from Gan to Changi. Enough for now.
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Old 8th Jan 2015, 22:38
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Ormeside28

The Sunderlands were being sold off to Chinese wreckers
As here - the wreckers yard at Seletar in November 1957.




Last edited by Warmtoast; 9th Jan 2015 at 16:08.
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Old 9th Jan 2015, 14:28
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Beached.

Ormeside and Warmtoast,

(From Wiki): "To the Shackleton is often incorrectly attributed the unfortunate distinction of holding the record for the highest number of aircrew killed in one type in peacetime in the RAF. The true figures suggest rather differently in that some of its contemporaries fared far worse, such as the Gloster Meteor with over 430 fatal losses of aircrew" [out of 3947 built or 10.9%] against the Shackleton's 156 [out of 185 built or 84.3%]. But as they had 10 crew, you could reckon they killed 8.4% of all their crewmen.

For the Meteor, many (say a ) of the accidents would be in dual training in the T7s in the early '50s; this would mean a "crew" of perhaps 1 per aircraft, reducing their "crewmen" rate from 10.9 to to 8.7%.

It's as broad as it's long !

So from one old Meteor survivor to one old Shackleton survivor: "Aren't we the lucky ones !"

Nice story about the helpful Formosan fisherman: sad about the pictures of the Sunderlands for scrap (wouldn't they make nice little houseboats ?)

Cheers, Danny
 
Old 9th Jan 2015, 19:05
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Gaining An R.A.F. Pilots Brevet in WW11

Thank you Danny and Warmtoast. We found out much later that the Shackleton would not ditch successfully and several broke by the engineers position when they "ditched". Four engines were much better morale wise when far out!, now back to Changi. Resident there were a Hastings Squadron, a RNZAF Squadron of Bristol Freighters and our Shackletons. Gradually we received our complement of aircraft, some good some that,we felt, other Squadrons wanted "out". One was a rogue and the chief engineer told our C.O. that if it was a horse he would shoot it!.
In February 1959 the Duke of Edinburgh visited the Far East in Britannia and 205 was given the task of escort. It was very impressive as the Royal Yacht was closely escorted by the cruiser Ceylon and the flotilla of the "C"class destroyers
In April we had a large scale exercise in the South China Sea operating from Labuan and then moving to the U.S. Navy base at Sangley Point to operate with the Americans.
In May we had another Sunderland Captain qualified on the Shackleton and I was made his co-pilot and we got on well. We came home to U.K. In June
by R.A.F.Comet. 25 hours to Lyneham . Sun came up as we left Changi, sunset at Lyneham. Route, Katunayaka, Aden, El Adem, Lyneham. Very impressive.
We took a few days leave and collected a Shackleton from Kinloss. Our route back was Malta, Aden, Katunayaka, Changi 42 hours and now BA do it in 12!
Gan was on Addu Atoll, the southern end of the Maldives and virtually on the equator. It had been a secret naval base during the Second World War and, because we were leaving Ceylon, it was being brought into service again.
Costains had the contract to construct a 3000 yard runway and accommodation to support an airfield. There had been an incursion by the Male Government and the authorities were concerned that the Soviets were interested. There was a report that a Russian cruiser was in Male, so my boss came with me, low level from Ceylon, to investigate. No cruiser, but from then on we flew from Katunayaka daily and checked all the islands, landing at Gan. The accommodation and facilities at Gan were very primitive, an atap hut was the combined mess and H.Q. The food was awful so we used to take fresh veg eggs etc each day. We had to be back at Kat by 1600 because of rainstorms there.
These patrols carried on until the end of the year when we moved in to Gan permanently. Katunayaka when the R.A.F. Had been in charge was a very well serviced base. The grass was cut, coconuts were knocked down from the trees and it was fairly safe to wander without worrying about snakes and other nasties. When we finally left it started to go back to nature. The main airfield was Ratmalana ( I think ) and Kat was allowed to decay.One nice thing about it though, when we landed a pretty girl appeared by the aircraft with a tray of tea!
My Captain left for home in October59 and I was given the crew.
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Old 9th Jan 2015, 19:46
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Pom Pax, Ormeside28

Sorry those two names mean nothing to me - I had a quick look at an old Retired List on my bookshelf no F Harris but a W Porter retired in 1961 aged 38.


At one time at LATCC ( London Air Traffic Control Centre ) there were 3 of us who had flown with Abe Lincoln, Frank Leeming as a nav on Sunderlands, Bob Trott a Siggie on Shacks and myself a nav on Herc.


Abe became a Wing Pilot on Hercs at Lyneham having become a Spec' Aircrew Sqn Ldr in '72, he then retired during the big clear out in '76 following the massive cuts made by Labour to the transport fleet, and went back to New Zealand.


About 20 years later I was in W H Smiths in Blandford and heard this familiar voice talking to the checkout lady; 'Crikey' I thought, ' That's Abe Lincoln'. I went over and said hello and was regaled with ' My favourite navigator ' Gosh I felt so humble as I thought how could he remember me?


NZ hadn't worked out for Abe and after his mother died he decided to return to UK. He lived in a flat in Blandford and spent most of his time restoring an American WW2 casevac aircraft ( Stinson ? ), that he had brought from NZ, at Henstridge airfield. Chugalug will remember the Hensridge X Roads from the old standard low-level route.


A few more years went by and I saw a photo' of Abe, in a local freebie paper, alongside his aeroplane that was about ready for its first flight since restoral. I went down to Henstridge on my bike ( about 10 miles away ) and found his aeroplane in a hangar but no Abe. A couple of ground engs told me the best time to catch him was on a Thursday, so a week or so later when another ex-30 captain ( Ron Jeffrey ) was staying with us we went down to see him. Again no sign of Abe but the same guys told us that Abe had had to postpone the first flight as he had a hospital appointment to investigate a stomach problem.


We said tell him we were here and wish him well. A few days later I had a call to say Abe had died under the knife - he had cancer! They asked if I could organise a flypast of a Herc during his funeral. Well it was about 30 years since I had left the RAF but I did leave a message with 30 Sqn's Flt Cdr Ops to call me. I then had a further call from the Eng' at Henstridge to say that Abe's will had been read and that there was to be no-one at his funeral and no 'celebration or honour of his life in any way' was to be made.


Typical of the man, no sentiment or nostalgia at all. I flew with him a lot and he always expected nothing but 100% from his crew and I have remained proud to this day that I believe he had faith and confidence in me as his nav'.
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Old 10th Jan 2015, 11:47
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Can't find a Dambuster thread so posting on here. Interesting auction coming up on 20 Jan, items include original Dambuster bombsight
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Old 11th Jan 2015, 14:29
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Burma-Hong Kong Feb/April '46

In the middle of the dry season, and situated on the same low ridge as Mingaladon further south, Hmawbi was a dusty little airfield with a 2,000 yd runway, some decrepit tents and bashas and not much else; indeed, nothing much seemed to going on either as we soon found out after our mid-Feb 1946 arrival, our first off-base flight in early March to an MU at Cawnpore to collect some new engines in exchange for old. Staging through Dum Dum in both directions, soon after departure on the return flight the aircraft batteries started to boil, necessitating a swift return before the fumes became overpowering (they lived under the flight deck floor, but accessible only from outside). Oxygen? - I don't think the system was charged as we never operated much above 8,000 ft, and anyway I don't recall any masks!

Our only other flight in March was passenger to Hong Kong to collect an aircraft that had to be ferried empty back to Hmawbi, no payload allowed. I have no recollection as to the why of this restriction, but the trip itself was worthwhile on two counts: we would get a look at our squadron's new home to be (although the 'when' was still uncertain), while a change of scene to something far more civilised than rural Burma was a real bonus - plus the usual night stop at Saigon both ways. Standing behind the pilots on the run in to Kai Tak was enlightening to say the least, with the peaks of many rocky islands disappearing into a solid 800ft or less of overcast, while first sight of the final approach to RW13 could only be described as hair raising see the accompanying (or soon to appear) airfield chart of this the original Kai Tak, which makes the later post-1958 one with its long runway, many radio aids, chequer boards etc look positively benign by comparison (a fuller description appears later in this narrative).

There followed several weeks of boredom when, aside from one brief training flight and several (airborne) compass swings, for us there was no flying at all (can't recall how an airborne swing was carried out, perhaps by clever use of a sextant in place of an external compass?). Time was passed in various forms of idleness such as reading, cards, games of chess or suchlike, with occasional visits to a 'restaurant' run by an enterprising Indian offering little more than egg & chips but nevertheless a welcome change from the endless McConachie's (tinned meat & veg) that was our usual fare. For me additional if unexpected relief was provided by finding an old school friend as o/c an airfield maintenance party of West African troops based at one end of the runway; having his own transport, regular visits to a large reservoir down the Rangoon road became possible, where we could swim in clean and reasonably cool water. There was another bright spot about this time when my promotion to Warrant Officer came through most assuredly not on merit for the wartime system of time promotion for aircrew was still in force, but the pay rise was no less welcome!

At last word came for the squadron to move to Hong Kong at the end of the month; not before time, as the odd early season shower had shown us that our tents, survivors of the previous year's wet season, were unlikely to withstand another; thus on the 28th April '46 our crew found ourselves part of a group of several aircraft heading east, not in formation as such but rather of the 'same way, same day' variety towards a Saigon night stop several nights for us in fact, as our bird developed some electrical problem that caused two aborted departures before finally setting off on the longish (six or so hours) to Hong Kong.

Normal procedure, then as now, was to make a straight-in approach, but this being my first arrival I requested a circuit first so as to have a good look at what seemed a rather daunting prospect how to achieve a safe arrival on the runway in use, the dreaded 13 with its 30 degree descending turn before lining up almost at ground level; so this is a convenient point for some comments on this most unique of international airports, which had to serve unchanged until its successor was completed over ten years later. Reference to the airfield landing chart, which will closely follow this post courtesy of Fareastdriver, is advisable as always!

The rather alarming spot heights immediately north of the field will immediately attract attention, the two highest being the formidable crag of Lion Rock at top left (and thus just over half a mile from the RW13 threshold) and the even higher peak NE of RW07/25. Take-off was permissible solely on RW13 or 25, the latter only used when there was an excessive tail component on 13 while landings could be performed in either direction on 13/31, or (again only occasionally) on 07.

But first things first: since there was no question of an instrument approach to any runway, in conditions of poor vis and/or a low base it was necessary to enter the harbour area while maintaining VMC or something like it through either the south west or south east gaps separating Hong Kong island from Kowloon, having first carried out an NDB approach of sorts using the beacons on either Cheung Chau (west) or Waglan island (east). If on 13, one aimed for Stonecutters' island and then headed towards Lion Rock keeping it slightly to the left and descending so as to cross the low ridge that sloped downwards towards Kowloon, aiming to start a 30 (or so) degree bank right turn to pick up the runway centre line at a height of a few hundred feet with (by now) no more than a trickle of power on. This approach was, in normal conditions, the most demanding of the three but probably because of this it called up one's best efforts and I recall no accidents - during my time, at any rate; in later years, when larger aircraft came into service, there were one or two incidents but they don't belong here. Note that the runway extension over the public highway (traffic light controlled) was for take off use only, the landing threshold being about 200 ft in.
Landing on 31 was less of a nail-biter, especially for one's passengers, but even so it was not possible to line up properly until the last mile or less due to the headland that can be seen on the chart; so one aimed for the small shipyard situated in the marshy inlet just west of this obstruction, turning to line up as it passed beneath the nose; and it was important to get one's height right, as a low level go-around on this runway could be between tricky and impossible given the high ground at the other end. RW07 was only ever used for landing when wind conditions ruled out use of 13/31, and here there was no question of any overshoot see the chart!

As for take-off, the normally permissible directions were 13 or 25, the latter only used when wind made it unavoidable as initial climb-out was over rising ground that was covered in mainly residential buildings; so, inevitably, there were occasions when one either accepted a tailwind on 13 or stayed on the deck.* This was of course long before the days of ODMs, BCARs and suchlike, so departure could be a slightly hairy process as one rapidly approached the sea wall end of the runway while still glued firmly to the ground an experience (or sight) that became even more heart-stopping with the later advent of Super Connies & suchlike, not to mention the dreaded Hastings. Given that the runway was unusually wide at 200ft, it was possible to gain a few more precious yards by taking off at a diagonal although any advantage thus gained was I think more of moral value than serving any practical purpose!

The next (and final) instalment will contain some details of various operations, and of life in general, up to my return to UK for demob in Oct '46.


* In fact departures using 31 were very occasionally attempted when wind conditions ruled out any other runway, but it could be a dangerous business; indeed I witnessed one of our aircraft lose control and crash into a ravine shortly after taking off from this runway, following loss control in the turbulence downwind of Lion Rock. It was (and probably still is) policy that all serviceable aircraft should evacuate before any storm's arrival, but unfortunately this accident involved a scheduled passenger-carrying flight. True, strong NW winds from an approaching typhoon had ruled out use of any other runaway, but the flight should only have been attempted (if at all) with an empty aircraft.
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Old 11th Jan 2015, 15:49
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* In fact departures using 31 were very occasionally attempted when wind conditions ruled out any other runway, but it could be a dangerous business; indeed I witnessed one of our aircraft lose control and crash into a ravine shortly after taking off from this runway, following loss control in the turbulence downwind of Lion Rock. It was (and probably still is) policy that all serviceable aircraft should evacuate before any storm's arrival, but unfortunately this accident involved a scheduled passenger-carrying flight. True, strong NW winds from an approaching typhoon had ruled out use of any other runaway, but the flight should only have been attempted (if at all) with an empty aircraft.
Possibly this one on 25 September 1946: ASN Aircraft accident Douglas C-47B-25-DK Dakota C.4 KN414 Hong Kong-Kai Tak International Airport (HKG)

"The C-47 departed Hong Kong runway 31, climbing to a height of 700-800 feet. At that point the airplane lost control and crashed. The Dakota possibly stalled after encountering turbulence from the foothills." All 19 crew and passengers died.
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Old 11th Jan 2015, 17:09
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Yes caiman27, that's the one. Subsequent to the accident (and despite it) all of 110 Sdn's* Daks evacuated to Saigon, using RW31 for take-off and getting away safely by dint of turning sharp left immediately on becoming airborne - unlike KN414 which, being a scheduled flight carrying payload, was arguably less manoeuvreable than those following which were more or less empty. In the end, by a tragic irony the expected typhoon failed to materialise.

I had been due to travel on that aircraft on the first stage of my journey home; furthermore, I had experienced a similar escape a couple of years before and was have a third one nine years later, so have often wondered if I have (most undeservedly) a guardian angel somewhere - whatever, I am most certainly a very fortunate person.

* A final note to avoid any confusion: readers may recall that our squadron was 96 when it moved to Hong Kong, but shortly after arrival (for reasons never explained) our number plate was changed to 110.
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