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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 16th Dec 2015, 08:43
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Pettinger93 welcome to our humble abode. The furniture is utility and worn, the stove has an unfortunate habit of plummeting the room into IMC in certain wind conditions, and the hygiene arrangements wrt chipped crockery might be open to some improvement, but we are a happy band, united across the world by our interest in the aerial struggle of WWII and its aftermath.

Now we have a record number of contributors, with new ones joining us all the while. Despite its cosy setting our Crewroom in the Cloud has a seemingly infinite capacity to accommodate all comers in surprising comfort, each to add yet another viewpoint whether gained first hand, from their elders, or simply having absorbed the mountain of testimony available. The further we get from this global struggle the more it impresses in its extent and scope. Ironically I find that is better appreciated in the stories that you have of your father, that Danny recalls of when he was a young man, and from all who have posted here, than in the grand sweep scenarios of strategy.

For those interested in the airborne aspect of the Burma Campaign, may I point to "Drop Zone Burma, Adventures in Air-Supply 1943-45" by Roger Annett? Available down a certain South American river, it tells the story in the words of those who participated, as here.
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Old 16th Dec 2015, 08:50
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danny42c

Re Dad's Kukri: Dad's weapon has no silver adornment, only a little detailed carving in the wooden handle. He told me that the blade was made for him in the Chindit base workshop by a Nepalese blacksmith from the leaf-spring from a truck: heated, beaten and and tempered by hand, and assembled by some of his Gurka soldiers. I gather that it was used in in action at one point, but Dad would never talk about that. My youngest brother Andrew has it now.


Would also like to praise the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. As I mentioned, they wee very kind to Dad. When arranging the visit, I imagined that we would just be shown around the edge of the hangar like any other visitor. However, we were allocated a senior NCO who took us to the Dakota, and helped us into it and showed around the aircraft. Dad was able to sit in the pilots seat, and talk for ages with the NCO. Afterwards we had an 'up close and personal' inspection of all the other Flight aircraft.


For a while, Dad could hardly speak through his emotions, and I cannot speak highly enough about the BBMF.
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Old 16th Dec 2015, 12:34
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Kukris.

Pettinger93,

You may find this excerpt from my Post 132 #2621 amusing:
...Small-gauge railways to places like Dehra Dun (not sure), Chakrata - certainly ! While there I was told that the local kukri-smiths found rail steel just the job - it would take a lovely edge. Driver of 8.15 gets shock when loco drops on to sleeper, length of line lifted during night !

Gentlemen's agreement reached: old worn lines left by side of track for the smiths when replaced by new: new ones no longer pinched !...
Danny.
 
Old 16th Dec 2015, 12:52
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Nostalgia.


Chugalug
,

I found a note of this on one of my files - may be worth a look:
...Britain’s longest campaign of World War II – Burma
- See more at: Burma ? Britain?s longest campaign of World War II, links to photographs, videos and other resources

Burma – Britain's longest campaign of World War II, links to ...
ww2today.com/featured/burma-britains-longest-campaign-of-world-war-ii
For all except the last hundred miles to its mouth, it cuts its way through high mountains. Because of its speed .... Troops of 11th East African Division on the road to Kalewa, Burma, during the Chindwin River crossing. .... I would love to see a movie made of the Burma campaign. ..... jonathan Kruger April 24, 2014 at 3:34 am...
But not the Errol Flynn version, please !

Danny.
 
Old 16th Dec 2015, 13:43
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danny42c

Talking of the Chindit base workshop: A great deal of imaginative engineering improvisation took place there. One of the many items air dropped into the jungle were some of the earliest petrol outboard motors, (then a very new invention), used by the Chindits to drive rafts etc across jungle rivers. As delivered, they were very unreliable, so had to be rebuilt by the army engineers at the base and 'run in' before use. To do the latter, they were each placed in old fuel drums filled with water, and run until the requisite period had passed.

When clearing Dad's house after his death, we found several original note books containing the code words and numbers used by Chindits in the jungle to order their requirements for the next airdrop, and to give their location. They were marked 'top secret', though I guess that no longer applies after 70+ years. We have passed them to the Imperial War Museum, though I have no idea what they will do with them.
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Old 16th Dec 2015, 15:30
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Just watch my arse and make sure we don't get bounced by cunning little Huns!

Post no. 11 from the memoirs of Tempest pilot Flt Lt Jack Stafford, DFC, RNZAF

THE NAPIER Sabre engine in my Typhoon roared as I watched “Woe” Wilson sitting in the other kite. He signalled to me, released his brakes and started to move forward from the dispersal. As he taxied to the perimeter track his speed increased and he moved quickly towards the western end of the airfield. Feeling tense but more than ready to do the job in hand, I followed.

It all began on a cold, grey winter morning. Low clouds swept across the airfield and the pilots sat around the stoves in the dispersals, smoking, playing cards and waiting. A quarter of an hour earlier I had been sitting with them when the flight commander, Frank Murphy, walked in. “Wilson, take Stafford and carry out a patrol along the French coast from Boulogne to Dieppe. Some Spits went out on a rhubarb a while ago and they should be leaving France soon. You provide a bit of support in case they are intercepted. Have a look at the harbours as you go down the coast for anything unusual in the offing”. (A rhubarb was an offensive fighter patrol designed to draw the Luftwaffe into battle.)

Frank looked at me. “Ready for your first show, Staff?” “Yes sir,” I answered, my excitement rising rapidly. On operations at last! This was the culmination of all the training, all the waiting, all the hoping for acceptance, all the fear of rejection. Back from this, and I would be an operational pilot. Woe had been on the squadron for some time and had shown me consideration and friendship since my arrival a month or so earlier. I was glad I was going with him; Frank Murphy was a most able and astute leader, and he probably knew I would be comfortable and well looked after with Woe.

We picked up our Mae Wests and our parachutes, then walked out to the aircraft. “Keep up with me Staff”, he said. “Don't lag or stuff around, I'll be busy enough without looking after you.” I nodded and asked if he had any particular instructions. “Yes. Remember you're here to make sure we don't get bounced by some cunning Huns in their dangerous little Focke-Wulfs or 109s … Just watch my arse”. We walked on in silence, each deep in his own thoughts.

The green light flashed from the control tower and we moved onto the runway, turning into the wind. Woe looked across, his face obscured by his oxygen mask, and gave me the thumbs-up. He turned his head back and I saw him opening up, so I did the same. Side by side we thundered down the runway with breathtaking acceleration. Smoothly we left the ground, raised our undercarts, and climbed into that overcast, threatening sky. I throttled back to stay with Woe and checked my airspeed, 190 mph, and we were climbing steadily. Tangmere disappeared into the gloom behind us as we scuttled across the countryside.

We crossed the English coast and swiftly dropped until we were just above the waves, beneath enemy radar. We went into cruise at 3700 rpm, +4.5 boost, and Woe set course for France. I scanned the sky above and behind, watching, always watching. It seemed no time until Woe's voice was in my headphones: “OK, Music Red 2” and we climbed to just below cloud base, with the enemy coast ahead.

Last edited by Geriaviator; 16th Dec 2015 at 15:32. Reason: Insert quotes
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 08:20
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Beaufighter Compass Problems

I asked Frank about the problems with the compass after firing the cannons and he confirmed that it was so. However, he couldn't remember curing it by firing the guns again on a northerly heading mentioned by Walter (7855). Frank remembers having to carry out a compass swing while airborne using known landmarks. The thought of doing that while over enemy territory, and looking for enemy fighters, is yet another fact which fills me with awe at what these guys did.

Anyway, COMING SOONto a thread near you:

Some genuine 1941 RAF Navigation Exams (just as soon as I can be confident of up loading them without bringing Pprune crashing down)
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 09:34
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Jack Stafford (c/o Geriaviator):-
THE NAPIER Sabre engine in my Typhoon roared
Napier and Son should be better known as an industrial, marine, rail, and aero engine manufacturer than they are in the British consciousness in my view. They were forever at the leading edge of technology, utilising H blocks, sleeve valves, opposed pistons and deltoid layouts in order to ever increase the available power. If they had one weakness it might be said that they were too clever for their own good, but that could be said of anyone pushing at the constraints of the envelope. Reliability thus suffered and even in military use that could be said to be almost as important as performance.

No doubt we will hear more of that from Jack Stafford, but a company that successfully adapted the pre war Junkers Jumo aircraft diesel engines (under licence) into the post war Deltic engine for the BR diesel electric locos of the same name had something going for it. By this time they had been taken over by English Electric, they in turn by GEC, they in turn by Alstrom, thence to Siemens, and were then subject to a management buyout.

The Deltic was the end of the road for Napier as an engine manufacturer, and it is now reduced to the making of turbochargers under Wabtec. A case of how the mighty are fallen, or par for the course for a UK manufacturer? Either way my take would have been to "keep it simple, stupid", but I'm only an ex-driver airframe. Perhaps our resident engineers would care to comment (and no doubt take issue with my unjustified generalisations)?

I should add that my info is trawled as ever from Wiki:-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napier_%26_Son

Last edited by Chugalug2; 17th Dec 2015 at 09:46.
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 10:20
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They have got a sectionalised Napier Sabre engine on a stand at Duxford. Unless you understand the principle of sleeve valve engines it's an absolute nightmare to look at.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=na...COlou6uhGrM%3A
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 13:29
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I still have the kukri given to my late father by his men during his wartime service in Burma with the Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners.

It was made from the leaf spring of one of the trucks his company used, which had been written off in an accident.

Not a 'decorative' item, it has a 15" blade....
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 13:40
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Thanks FED. The sleeve valves were indeed the Achilles heel of the Sabre, and Bristol had similar issues of course with their ever more powerful radials. The way that their expertise and tooling was "appropriated" to ensure the reliable production of the Sabre, together with a rob Peter (in this case Pratt & Whitney) to pay Paul (Napiers) arrangement for centerless grinders is described here:-

Sabre II sleeve valve engine | Warbird Engines
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 13:46
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Walter603, what a Christmas treat! Thank you for your contributions and for bringing this thread back to firing on all twelve cylinders, I hadn't looked here for a bit as 1960s ATC is somewhat minority interest...

You piqued my interest when you wrote:

"When we passed out of SFTS with our Wings on 23 December, Hasenfus was commissioned, and you will believe it because that's the way the idiot Service managers did things in those days."

which made me have a look in the London Gazette, not least as I hoped to find out something about him - not least whether he managed the usual promotions. However I can find no Hasenfus - if you stick

Hasenfus site:wwwthegazette.co.uk


into Google then you will see. So no joy there. Did he have another name?
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 15:18
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Fellow Pruners:

I read engineer/author L J K Setright's book entitled The Power to Fly when I was studying for my engineer exams in the 1960s. He was obviously captivated by this mechanical masterpiece and extracts from his tribute can be seen at The Greatest Engines of All Time by LJK Setright If the Americans wondered at the Napier-Bristol squabble one wonders what they would make of the Rolls-Royce machinations. FED's right about the Duxford engine, after I spent almost an hour poring over it a kindly attendant approached to ask if I was all right.

More praise for the Sabre can be found in Pierre Clostermann's book The Big Show. Clostermann flew Tempests with 122 Wing which included Jack Stafford's 486 (NZ) Sqn, and he recounts that at one stage the Tempests shouldered much of the airborne load as the Allies advanced into Germany, ground attack in particular taking a terrible toll. After the war I have read that the Sabre was granted a civil aviation certification rated at 5000bhp for takeoff, but by then it was clear that the future lay with the turbojet.
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 15:56
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The kukris worn and used by serving Gurkhas in Borneo were issued, therefore they had a serial number stamped on them. Very difficult to get hold of one, for obvious reasons, as they are effectively in the same bracket as guns.

Not as good as a machete for slashing through secondary jungle so they carried those as well.

plus an Armalite
plus God knows how much ammo
plus a thundering great big rucksack with motor barrels and/or bombs
plus a big smile
sometimes holding a baby gibbon.
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 18:23
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Ah, well....

Geriaviator (your #7887),
...Side by side we thundered down the runway with breathtaking acceleration...
An extract from my p.123 #2455 (and a lesson in humility !)
...I saw my first "Typhoon" there, flown in by the ATA; in early 42 that was a very rare bird indeed. They hadn't got the carburetion sorted out properly yet; every start was a toss-up whether the engine would run or burst into flames. A fire truck had to stand by every time, and this always attracted a crowd (don't we all enjoy a good bonfire?) On the morning of the Typhoon's departure, a small bunch of us, not scheduled to fly till later, strolled round the taxyway to watch the fun from a safe distance.

All was made ready, the pilot came out and jaws dropped. A pert little blonde in a snazzy white flying overall hopped up into the cockpit. This put quite a different face on things. We hadn't come here to watch a re-run of St-Joan-at-Rouen, and were glad to see that she didn't strap herself in before pressing the button. The fire crew gripped their extinguishers, we held our breath.

The ancients believed the unicorn to be a savage beast, only to be subdued by a chaste young maiden. There may have been something in it, the big "Sabre" fired-up with no more than the customary snarl of fire and brimstone from the exhaust stubs, then idled sweet as a nut. Our aviatrix ran through the checks, imperiously waved chocks away, and off she went.

We walked back pensively to our Spitfires with male egos sadly deflated. If this chit of a girl could handle a monster like that, where did that leave us? The message was reinforced as we came up to the marshalling point, she came bellowing down the runway and flashed past us fifty feet in the air. We trudged glumly back to our Flights...
Danny.

EDIT: Only other thing I remember about Typhoons was a tale told me by an old airtrafficker. He'd had to put it down wheels-up, as they were careering along the Sabre broke out and continued bouncing along beside him like a friendly dog. He was rather apprehensive that it might land on top of him, but they came to rest apart. D.

Last edited by Danny42C; 17th Dec 2015 at 18:37. Reason: Addn.
 
Old 17th Dec 2015, 18:38
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FED, you forgot the bottle of `rum`....
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 19:03
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You piqued my interest when you wrote:

"When we passed out of SFTS with our Wings on 23 December, Hasenfus was commissioned, and you will believe it because that's the way the idiot Service managers did things in those days."

which made me have a look in the London Gazette, not least as I hoped to find out something about him - not least whether he managed the usual promotions. However I can find no Hasenfus - if you stick

Hasenfus site:wwwthegazette.co.uk

into Google then you will see. So no joy there. Did he have another name?
- Reader123

More of another nationality than a name it might appear from a look at the following links, firstly:

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/.../2869/data.pdf

which is from:

"THE LONDON GAZETTE, 24 JUNE, 1947
LIST of ALIENS to whom Certificates of
Naturalization have been granted by the Secretary of
State, and whose Oaths of Allegiance have been
registered in the Home Office during the month of
May, 1947.
The date shown in each case is the date on which
the Oath of Allegiance was taken."

then the following, which may be of even greater interest, not least because it seems that what seems to be our man was Polish but educated in Germany, with some intriguing Australian connections:

PERCIVAL PROCTOR IN AUSTRALIA

https://news.google.com/newspapers?n...,4382348&hl=en

16 Apr 1948 - MIGRANT FERRY PILOT

No "hasenfus" emerges from a cursory look at Australian White Pages, but I suggest that Walter and John are better placed to dig further, should they so desire.

Over to you!

Jack
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 20:19
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Doing it the Hard Way.

pulse1 (your #7888),
...Frank remembers having to carry out a compass swing while airborne using known landmarks. The thought of doing that while over enemy territory, and looking for enemy fighters, is yet another fact which fills me with awe at what these guys did...
It would fill me with awe, too ! Think, he's a bit "off the beam" here (Compass swings were generally done on a Compass Swinging Platform on the airfield. (See my p.138 #2744 on this Thread).

Never heard of it being done in the air, but someone will enlighten us, I'm sure !

Danny.
 
Old 17th Dec 2015, 22:20
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Compass Swings

You're never too old to learn something new, but as an old Nav Insty, I think it would have been a bit tricky to set up a Medium Landing Compass (or worse still, a Watts Datum Compass) behind an airborne fixed wing aircraft. Might just have got away with it with a helicopter, had enough beer been on offer.

Fixed landmarks - better than nothing but you'd need at least four at the cardinal points to get any sort of accuracy...
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 22:43
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pettinger93 & BEagle


Re. your posts about knives made from the leaf-springs of vehicles.
Seems to be a common practice in the East to use/re-cycle left-over car springs as I have a souvenir knife from my time in Gan (1958), allegedly made from the springs of a vehicle left behind on the island when the Brits departed Gan (Addu Atoll) at the end of WW2. See below.














Still razor-sharp, it comes in useful when a particularly hard-to-open cardboard box needs opening!
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