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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 May 2015, 17:27
  #7041 (permalink)  
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Now found a photo of a Wellington C.XVI [ Pictorial History of the Royal Air Force vol. 2]. It's in usual Bomber Command colours. I can't quite make out the codes but the port side is clearly visible and there's no indication of a door.
The caption says that the C.XVI was a conversion from the Mk.Ic, with gun turrets removed, bomb bay sealed, seats fitted in the fuselage and - in the 24sqd. example shown - dummy turrets [ they appear to be turrets painted onto the fabric skin ].
Some of the earlier marks had a triangular window in the port side aft of the wing. I wonder if that window hinged upward Danny,and you sheltered under that?
The question of escape hatches arises - from photos and reading it looks as though there were hatches in the cockpit roof, the astrodome was a hatch and there was a starboard hatch [ although no hint as to where that was].
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Old 17th May 2015, 17:56
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Nice pic of the "Wimpey" (But why do they always shoot from the front quarter - very rarely from the port rear, which is what I want? Suppose it looks more purposeful from that angle). Can't make out what the "nose art" is (or is it a patch, in which case why haven't they doped and painted it?) And where is it, do we know?

As regards Dutch and Russian doors on DC3s, no idea. First I've heard of it. Dutch ones would all be US L/L in the war, therefore door in proper place. Russian home-builds may have got a mirror image of the blue-prints they pinched (is it possible they printed off the microfilm negative upside down? - I am not a photographer, Boots used to do all that for me).


Many thanks (so I'm not daft, after all !) All I know is that there was a door in "mine", and I was in full possession of my faculties then, however I am now.

In my innocence, I thought all wimpeys were like that. Indeed the Lanc crews went aboard through a door on the stbd side (Halifaxes ?) If they could chop a hole that size in the Lanc or Dak (conventionally built) fuselage, without seriously weakening the structure, surely they could do it in the Wimpey?. The selling point of the geodesic structure was that it could have huge chunks bitten out of it and the rest would hold together and get back home. Many did


And now a contrary witness! Danny Holmes is all at sea, and most seek solace from his pipe, his violin, and a 'fix' of a Banned Substance (only joking).

Cheers, Danny.
Old 17th May 2015, 18:06
  #7043 (permalink)  
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how will Pauline escape this latest Peril?
ah . .. . . what wafts of nostalgia for the story . .. . at least we did have a childhood Virginia . . .
imbued with such innocence .. . . but fast forwarding . . . (not TOO fast please) . .. there cannot be too many nonagenarians . . holed up in their fastnesses. . . wishing for better locales some of them no doubt
but in the case of present company obviously content . . .let nothing allow nothing to diminish memory's flow . . . therein lies the savingest grace of all as the ship comes in sight of her harbour . . . among the pleasing aspects are those redolent of reflections. An untroubled mind . . free of all conflict . . . yet alert still to every nuance . . . . . that is a consummation devoutly to be wished . .
happy and to know it . . free of pain. . . every day a bonus . . . and moreover aware. . so so aware of good fortune's smile . .
what the dear departed Ted Sly called the luck of the draw.

Another of Ted's ilk was the late Paul Metzler . . (shot down in his Cat off Rabaul January 1942) . . he'd muse and say when going over the many instances of survival as others drew the short one .. "lucky again".. .. he'd say with telling conviction.
Now though, this short ramble must end with the footnote that those lucky enough to see out year after year and see off companions boon and otherwise it is they for whom we must every day remember to spare a sanguine thought . . . for the cream of that crop we hold up as exemplars . . . (though they modestly shrug and say get orf)

p.s there is uplift of the spirit and beauty all around if the eye is only given the nod to behold. It is not impossible to blot out
the contrary entirely . The late Ted Hughes deflected agonies after the death of Plath by not allowing them to encroach .
There is a particularly fine summation of their lives by Felicity Plunkett, poetry editor at the University of Queensland Press -

"On the wall of Hughes's and Plath's London flat was an image of Isis from an astrological text. The myth of Isis describes her collecting and reassembling the scattered parts of her lover Osiris. This story underpins the astrological meaning of Isis as an expression of bringing together fragments, re-membering and resurrection. She endures; her name repeats the present tense of the verb to be: is, is."

There are two new biographies of Sylvia Plath. Felicity Plunkett says of them - "In their different ways they draw together the scattered evidence of a life, while Plath's republished book, The Bell Jar, is raw and deathless, like Esther who feels the old brag of my heart: "I am, I am, I am."

Last edited by Fantome; 17th May 2015 at 19:15.
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Old 17th May 2015, 18:24
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Danny42C - a quick search produced this

And a subsequent search found this!

Last edited by ricardian; 17th May 2015 at 20:24. Reason: found more info
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Old 17th May 2015, 22:24
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Regarding the hat of the man in the middle it was often of course the chapeau of choice

It's such a surprise for the Eastern eyes to see,
that though the English are effete, they're quite impervious to heat,
When the white man rides every native hides in glee,
Because the simple creatures hope he will impale his solar topee on a tree.

Last edited by Fantome; 17th May 2015 at 22:48.
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Old 18th May 2015, 00:47
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The Door that Never Was.

Fantome (your #7042),

Now we have released a charming stream of lyricism into the mix (what next on this wonderful Thread ?) Holed up in my fastness, I rest content. I always was Kipling's Cat Who Walked by Himself, and All places were Alike to Him.

And you will remember the obitur dicta of a learned Judge (when questioned as to why he had embarked on a legal career): "Well, we must all of us be somewhere, and I might as well be here"

Je'y suis, je'y reste...D.


Bingo! So it is possible to have a side door in a Wimpy. But mine was on the port side, and lower down, so you didn't need a ladder.

So "Sister Anna" (did she Carry the Banner?) was a Mk.X. The plot thickens (could they all have been one-off jobs for a particular purpose, and it was just our luck to find this one at Hawarden that night?)

(Your link) raises the possibility of a Mk.XV or XVI....D.

Fantome (your #7044),

Recalls Noel Coward's "Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the Midday Sun!"

Actually, your Cap SD was just as good, but the Anzac "Bush Hat" was lighter and could screw up into any corner of the cockpit.....D.

Now we are all agog to learn Pauline's fate (can she hold on by her fingertips long enough ?) Come in, Geriaviator !,

Old 18th May 2015, 08:00
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All I can offer is this, of a 103 Sqn crew circa early 1942. There are the windows previously mentioned, no sign of a door though.

(The bloke on the far right - a man named Phil Smith - would finish his tour with 103 Sqn, instruct at an OTU for a year and then be shot down on the last trip of his second tour, his 51st all up. He was the only survivor of his crew (a relative of mine was his navigator) and died in 2003.)
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Old 18th May 2015, 11:28
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As you can see from the pic the Empire standards were being maintained as late as October 1988 at Diego Garcia.
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Old 18th May 2015, 15:47
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#7036 continued ... By the way, Danny, the Arrow u/c literally whistles, I think it's propwash flowing along the hinges of the nosewheel doors

“Birmingham Golf Echo Lima cannot maintain height due severe icing require immediate descent”. The controller was back in an instant: “Echo Lima, you are cleared descend to 2000ft on your present heading, report when level. Your position 15 mls north-west of the field.”

I reduced power to 18 inches and the terrific vibration reduced as I let down, making minimal control movements and carefully holding a constant attitude on the instruments. I felt the Arrow was far from happy and the last thing I wanted was to provoke a stall or spin. Suddenly the warning horn blared and the yellow 'Gear in transit' light illuminated as the undercarriage lowered itself.

The earlier Arrows have a second 'pitot head' on the side of the fuselage which senses low airspeed and lowers the gear to prevent wheels-up landings. This sensor is heated like the airspeed pitot under the wing, but obviously not heated enough as it had iced up and given a low speed signal. So the Arrow thought I was going to land and helpfully decided to lower the gear for me. The extra drag from the wheels and open wheel wells sent the variometer to its bottom stop and we fell out of the cloud in seconds even though I grabbed the manual override to retract the gear again.

I wasn't worried, I was terrified, but as we descended into warmer air the ice disappeared as quickly as it had formed. The shaking stopped, the gear stayed up, and the Lycoming resumed its steady purr as I levelled at 2000ft and began to breathe more easily. Until a piece of propellor flew back and hit the upper windscreen with a terrific bang. When my heart resumed beating I realised it had been a chunk of ice from somewhere on the nose, and luckily the perspex was intact.

Approach and landing went perfectly but I was very glad to be back on the ground, very glad to find my Arrow none the worse apart from a dent from the ice hitting the cabin roof, and very glad to receive a CAVOK forecast for my flight home into a glorious sunset. Before leaving that afternoon the preflight revealed a chunk of ice still inside the air intake, a sobering reminder of the morning's frightening journey.

I flew many hours after this experience, but never again did I risk en-route icing even when there was warmer air beneath. In fact the only time I have approached ice is when it's in a glass. With gin and tonic.
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Old 18th May 2015, 17:07
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thank you thank you for an excellent essay
"what i did on my winter hols"
at least 9 out of ten

(most of mine back in those far distance days of
dreary classrooms and passing notes to the gels,
scored 2/10 SEE ME.)

True confessions . . . a little like the luck of the draw
and the Wellington crewman aforementioned
who came through against all odds . . .
9 out of ten of all the ones I fancied ( and
tried to really get to know) had fathers or mothers who
served in the RAAF. One of this bevy was Stephanie
from Casino, NSW. Her dad was a Watson. He and
his crew (Manchester or Lanc?) were MIA, their fate never
discovered. As with quite a number of kids of servicemen,
Steph never knew her dad. And he never saw her.

Again . . first wife's dad was adjutant to a Catalina squadron
based at Melville Bay near to Gove. He featured in the fairly
recent excellent book by Andrew McMillan , Catalina Dreaming,
in a chapter called The Cook's Lament. Not an altogether
complimentary reference either. He had the guard fire over the
heads of some locals (Yolngu) who had a camp on the outskirts of the
base, and who would come up to the cookhouse to be given
scraps by Alf, the cook in the book.

One quiet, mysterious and illusive one in the same class at Canberra High
School had a dad in the RAAF. AVM Geoff Hartnell. They lived
in Yarralumla. My friend the late GC Paul Metzler once made the comment
that Hartnell was a bloody good pilot, before he became chairborne.

Danny when you say . .I always was Kipling's Cat Who Walked by
Himself, and All places were Alike to Him....that does point to an
alter ego in some ways different to the author of numerous
posts pointing to a man who rubbed along pretty well with most types.
But who probably at the same time, kept his own counsel.
And survived by dint of more than a modicum of monkey cunning.

Last edited by Fantome; 18th May 2015 at 18:06.
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Old 18th May 2015, 20:35
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The last solar topee I saw was hanging up in Ernie Bedfords in Newark!!
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Old 18th May 2015, 22:02
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Seems to be pretty conclusive now. "My" door must have been a "special" of some kind (it would have been in the centre of the roundel in your pic). The odd thing, as I remember, was that the other members of our "guard" expected that a door would be there, it wasn't a surprise.


Don't they look smart ! But the first thing we did was to dump our "Bombay Bowlers" for something more comfortable. Having said that, must admit that these were more like the smaller and lighter "Babu" type worn by gang foremen, ticket inspectors etc as a badge of authority.

But what on earth have they used on them - Blanco?....D.


So it was not your day to die, after all! And you could chalk it up on your personal: "I learned about flying from That" file (which we all lug around in our memories, don't we?)

Best leave it to the professionals, or take an extra day (do the black/green funnels of the Belfast-Liverpool "Irish Boats" still sail?)

A splendid end to a splendid story. Any more? (and Pauline lives!)....D.


A pretty shrewd assessment! In this world of Facebook, Twitter and Lord knows what else, an old adage from my parents' time rings ever more true:

"The Names of Fools are like their Faces -
Always Seen in Public Places !"...D.

Salutations to all, Danny.
Old 19th May 2015, 07:18
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we bought ours from the Base Exchange at Diego Garcia after an enforced stop due to a tech snag. I believe they were used by the US Marnine Corps band. What the helmets were doing there we never did find out. Perhaps a corruption of an order 'section and ref' ! Hangars /ac to hangers coat !
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Old 19th May 2015, 07:25
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over Northern Canada in winter at around FL 250 our brand new Hercules decided that all four engines would surge and all four fuel low pressure warning lights came on. The a/c knew the solution and took us down to a (slightly) warmer part of the sky. Normal operation then resumed.
The water in the fuel was freezing and blocking the filters. We should have been using FSII to prevent this but 'they' had seen fit not to provide this important ingredient in the RAF fuel. It did eventually arrive.
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Old 19th May 2015, 15:26
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In January, 2008, BA Flight 38, a 777 from Peking (sorry, Beijing) flopped on LHR with the same trouble. I'm sure this FSII stuff is good, but a better idea is to drain the water off before you start.

The Daks out with us always did this every morning. Often got a cupful of water out of each tank (overnight condensation).

Old 19th May 2015, 15:37
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Thanks AA62, a frightening experience! I would like to know how you heavy haulers dealt with airframe icing. I have read that icing killed more bomber crews than the Luftwaffe, at least in the early days of WW2. The Stirling with its low ceiling seemed particularly affected, a couple being lost crossing the Alps on the way to bomb Turin. Were many WW2 aircraft fitted with boots etc?

I remember investigating an Oxford (or Anson) at Binbrook around 1950. The leading edges and props were liberally smeared with grease which I managed to transfer to my school trousers, with painful consequences when I went home. I found later that the 'grease' was Kilfrost anti-icing paste, does anyone know if it worked or not? Ppruners will be pleased to hear that Kilfrost is still a British business after 80 years, and still producing de-icing agents.

Danny, the Belfast-Liverpool boats you remember have not run for 30+ years, nor have Glasgow, Ardrossan, Heysham etc. Their quays are covered by the M3 motorway bridge. These days most people go by air, which set off my current ramblings: fellow passengers were annoyed one morning last month when we had to wait half an hour in the a/c for the de-icing wagon, but I was happy to see he took his time and sprayed plenty. One encounter with ice was one too many in my book!
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Old 19th May 2015, 22:50
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Danny #7054.

As an ex Aircraft Ground Engineer on the "Albert" fleet, I can help AA62 out on that one. In the 6 years or so flying that I managed on the fleet, every Before flight servicing was accompanied with water sediment checks through each tank water sediment drain valve. Using a piece of equipment nicknamed the "pogo stick" to locate a 1/4 inch diameter plug into a 1/4 inch diameter socket, twelve feet above your head, and hidden by a rubber collecting cup, at "oh for goodness sakes" in the morning was not an easy challenge. We often drained and examined in to large polythene bags, allowing us to determine the amount of water in the sample. Amongst the Visiting Aircraft Flights in RAF Germany were were bad news, as they often found bags of fuel infesting the Houchin cable stowages after a Herk night stop. Curiously, this was in the days when FSII (Fuel System Icing Inhibitor) or AL38 was a standard mix of our fuel, I can only surmise the problems caused by Cladosporium Resinae was the reason for the checks. Hope that helps.

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Old 20th May 2015, 06:36
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the Hercules airframe de-icing system was via bleed air from the engines. The prop de-icer was electrical. Smudge knows far more about this than I do. Often the first indication of ice was when the ALM reported it after one of his hourly scan checks.
The sound of ice being flung off the props and rattling on the fuselage could really get your attention.
Over on the Hercules thread there is a story of how one Hercules built up so much ice on the radome that the captain could only just trim out the resultant nose heavy situation.
In some parts of the world the contents of the water drain check was a highly prized item. Paraffin for fuel !
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Old 20th May 2015, 08:15
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FantomZorbin wrote:
The last solar topee I saw was hanging up in Ernie Bedfords in Newark!!
A fine establishment indeed! But the last time I rang him ages ago, he said that business was very poor as the RAF had been so decimated, particularly at training bases.

ancientaviator62 wrote:
In some parts of the world the contents of the water drain check was a highly prized item. Paraffin for fuel !
That was still the case in Freetown in 2002. The locals would be underneath the VC10 wing hoping for some 'water drain' fuel almost before the engines had stopped. A well-meaning ALM also took them some secondhand clothes once, but that was a bit unfortunate as whoever got the clothes would be robbed by the rest.
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Old 20th May 2015, 12:33
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Still there, wrecked up-country.

Somewhat ambiguous, dare I say.

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