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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 23rd Dec 2015, 20:59
  #7961 (permalink)  
 
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IBB, quite agree about the cold courage required to keep closing with and firing at a 1000kg flying bomb, that as Stafford explains was continuously accelerating through the A/A barrage, then the fighter patrol area and, finally the balloon barrage before reaching its target. As with all new threats, tactics to deal with it evolved and some success as you say was achieved by aerodynamically toppling its gyros:-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-1_flying_bomb

When V-1 attacks began in mid-June 1944, the only aircraft with the low-altitude speed to be effective against it was the Hawker Tempest. Fewer than 30 Tempests were available. They were assigned to No. 150 Wing RAF. Early attempts to intercept and destroy V-1s often failed, but improved techniques soon emerged. These included using the airflow over an interceptor's wing to raise one wing of the V-1, by sliding the wingtip to within 6 in (15 cm) of the lower surface of the V-1's wing. If properly executed, this manoeuvre would tip the V-1's wing up, overriding the gyros and sending the V-1 into an out-of-control dive. At least sixteen V-1s were destroyed this way (the first by a P-51 piloted by Major R. E. Turner of 356th Fighter Squadron on 18 June).
but the vast majority of the 1000 or so destroyed air-to-air was by gunfire. There were never enough Tempests and every other type that could get the required performance wrung out of it (including the first Meteors) was utilised. Brave men all, as you say.

HarryM, many thanks for the confirmation of the ubiquity of PSP runways in the FE. You mentioned Changi, and the original NW/SE Japanese runway of dubious LCN (given the way that POWs were want to greatly increase the proportion of sand to cement when able to do so undetected) inevitably snagged its first victim. Unfortunately this was following liberation an Allied DC-4 that sank up to its axles. The remedy of course was PSP, which was still there in my day (mid 60s) serving as the East and West Dispersals.

Walter, we lacked the initiative shown by you and your colleagues when snow closed the Oakington runway in December 1962. Swathed in greatcoats, scarves, gloves, and flying boots we 5FTS students were armed with shovels and picks to clear half the length and half the width of its layers of ice and snow. It was of some consolation that it finally allowed Wg Co Flying to get airborne in a Vampire. It was of even greater consolation that it served insufficient for his landing, as he careened through our slush filled part, thence into the uncleared part, and finally into the barrier that ATC had thoughtfully raised for him. Our Varsity's were thereafter flown off to Wyton (which had of course been black-top throughout), and we MT'd to and from there until Mother Nature put things right again.

Finally, Season's Greetings to all who inhabit our Crewroom in the Cloud, especially to our senior contributors still telling the tale of "Gaining an RAF Pilots Brevet in WWII" and putting them to good use thereafter. Thank you Gentleman all!

Last edited by Chugalug2; 23rd Dec 2015 at 21:33.
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Old 24th Dec 2015, 00:02
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Jenkins,

Never seen it in the Welsh language, Happy Christmas to you too. May I join in sending Seasons greetings to all who lurk, dwell or imbibe in this most accommodating of crew rooms. As a native of the West Midlands can I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous and happy New Year, Bab !!!!!! As they say.

See you all in 2016

Smudge
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Old 24th Dec 2015, 00:53
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I haven't managed to come up with a successful google search phrase yet but there's a photograph in at least one of my books showing a Mosquito that was far too close to an exploding V1. There's no fabric at all on the rudder so I daren't think what the sharp end looks like. It still got back to base though.


Seasons Greetings to all.
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Old 24th Dec 2015, 02:08
  #7964 (permalink)  
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Geriaviator,

What with the many demands made on senior citizens' time and patience on festive occasions such as these, I have not yet been able to give your tour-de-force (#7954) the close attention it so richly deserves. Obviously a supreme example of the art of "Photobucket" (of which I have heard much but know nowt), I note:

It has been skilfully composed to show the VV in its natural (##se-dragging) mode of flight, ergo an A-31. It was one of the antipodean variety, as evidenced by the obese white centre of the roundel, and it bears the markings of 12 Sqdn, RAAF. Santa is demonstrating the innate stability of the beast ("Look, Daddy - No Hands !...Look, Daddy - No Teeth !) The aircraft is in its default condition (filthy) and the Second Man has been dumped (pity, he was never of any use, but it's nice to have someone to talk to).

If the USAAC could "put a bomb in a pickle-barrel from 20,000 ft", then Santa should be able to do the same with the goodies from fifty ! Bit low for a dive, though, so accuracy would suffer.

Elementary, my dear Watson !

The Tempest is one big, ugly brute, but I would have liked to have had a go (much like a P-47, I would have thought).

--------------------------------


JENKINS (your #7962......well, I suppose a Chicken Run is better than the Dog House),
...Glad to see, Danny, that in your #7953 you did not specify the Jesuits, for then I would have started to worry. All that trust which I placed in you during my FTS student days...
So you were at Leeming sometime between '67-'72 ? (or Linton '62-'64 ?). I only hope we were worthy of that trust - not like some I could name.

We were in the shadow of the great Jesuit bastion of Stonyhurst College (Clitheroe), where I suppose they beat you just as hard with much the same implement as our strap, but graced it with the Latin name of ferula. We were so far below them on the social radar that a request for a First XV fixture would have met with the classic reply that Beaumont is supposed to have got when making the same request to Eton ("What is Beaumont ?"). Beaumont hit back with: "Beaumont is what Eton was - a school for Catholic gentlemen". Or so the story goes.

Wiki tells me that Stonyhurst hauled down the flag and let the young ladies in in 1999. The Christian Brothers were forbidden by their Statutes from so doing, which I imagine was one reason why they closed in 1984.

Nadolig Happus
.....and Nollaig Shona to you, too !

Merry Christmas both, Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 24th Dec 2015 at 02:11. Reason: Error.
 
Old 24th Dec 2015, 03:36
  #7965 (permalink)  
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The swiftness of the hand deceives the eye.

Chugalug (reverting to your #7946),
...The picture you paint of young Staff's escape is one of him flying so low that the Luftwaffe flak could not get a bead on him and thus had to resort to firing high. I wonder if that was in the vain hope of a hit from the falling shrapnel? Not nearly so vain as one might first think, it would seem. At least they hit him, though fortunately only at the cost of a new spinner it would seem...
Our limited experience was that, although Wiki tells me the Bofors type 40mm had a range of 24,000 ft and went up to 41,000 ft (naturally, not both at the same time !), the lethal (for the aircraft) range from an exploding shell was relatively small. This goes for all aeriel explosions, and accounts for cases (like the famous film clip of a Spitfire (?) flying into the fireball of a V1 which he has just shot down) where the attacker is unscathed. Of course, if the shell hits you and explodes, that's game, set and match.

When you think of the tiny "timer" in the fuse of a 40mm round, and the muzzle velocity of the gun, and the fact that the range is changing so fast, it's a bloomin' miracle that the Gunners can get a burst anywhere near you (but they did !). There was an occasion in Burma (I think it was on one of the "Chindit" drops), where a Colonel (OC the grateful recipients) marvelled at the Daks "flying steadily on into withering fire - he had never seen anything so gallant" (he wrote, recommending gongs ad lib). What he (and the pilots) didn't know that the bursts were ahead and 2-300 ft below the aircraft, but because of the angle he was looking at them (head on from down below), an optical illusion was being created.

In Jack's case, IMHO, it is possible that the bursts were above, and the bits were coming down on him. But then, it is more than likely that I'm talking nonsense; we need a Gunner !

I did not know that compasses could be "swung" in the air - just shows you're never too old to learn !

With all the compliments of the Season,

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 24th Dec 2015 at 03:44. Reason: Spelling
 
Old 24th Dec 2015, 04:12
  #7966 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Danny42C

I did not know that compasses could be "swung" in the air - just shows you're never too old to learn !

With all the compliments of the Season,

Danny.
Just for you, Danny: all the way from 1942, with the sepia paper scanned to look like new

(Mind you, I thought you old codgers would have read AP 1234 during training? Hmmmm....)





Then there are the instructions for Compass swinging when afloat, the effects of swinging for tail wheel aircraft (horizontal displacement of lower pole), simplified method, Coefficient method, ..... my brain hurts just reading about it
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Old 24th Dec 2015, 09:28
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As it was my friend Frank who started this discussion about swinging compasses whilst airborne I feel that I should point out that his actual words to me were something like "sort of compass swing in the air".

Thanks JE for posting the full instructions. We are required to carry out a compass swing on our aircraft before the next Permit renewal and I will suggest that we use this method. With a couple of ex fast jet warriors in the group it should be a piece of cake.
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Old 24th Dec 2015, 10:17
  #7968 (permalink)  
 
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In Jack's case, IMHO, it is possible that the bursts were above, and the bits were coming down on him. But then, it is more than likely that I'm talking nonsense; we need a Gunner !
Sadly my father is unable to contribute, as he has long departed to the Great AA Battery in the sky, but he spent almost the entire War on AA in the UK [mainly Heavy AA, I believe] apart from a brief foray into France in July 44 [where he was soon slightly wounded and casevaced back to UK - where he stayed for the rest of the War].

To my regret, he never really 'mentioned the War', but then his was a fairly small, and relatively safe and undistinguished, part of the whole. Manning, and subsequent presumably commanding, 3.7" AA batteries in SE England had its hazards, but they were minimal compared with the risks millions of others faced [including civilians in cities].

Peppering the skies and streets with shrapnel, causing hazard to small boys walking home ... hmmmm.
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Old 24th Dec 2015, 10:36
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when snow closed the Oakington runway in December 1962
In the previous year (1961), same place, we used Vampires with their angled down jet pipes as snow blowers. As we had stacks of them some would have a pilot in and some would be pushed around by tractors.

When a suitably wide strip had been cleared the Wg Co Flying, possibly the same one, took off for a circuit and landed. This was probably why he was so confident about it the following year.

At Honington somebody had the idea that a Victor might act as a good snow blower so one was set up. A massive towing tractor pulled the Victor onto the runway and they started shifting the snow in massive amounts. The pilots, unfortunately, overdid the throttles. The tractor lost its grip, the Victor went forward under near take off power, the tractor went backwards off the runway into the snow and turned over.

They sent out trucks to buy every shovel in Suffolk and it was back to lines of people.

The biggest problem, however, was Air Traffic Control followed by others:

SATCO would come into work, drive up and down the runway and declare it unusable because of snow.

The Airfield Fire section would drive up and down the runway and declare it usable because of snow.

OC Operations Wing would then drive up and down the runway and declare it unusable because of snow.

The Station Commander would drive up and down the runway and declare it unusable because of snow.

You now had at least sixteen lines of compressed ice which was brush and snow blower proof and required physical chipping with a shovel to get it off. It wasn't until one of our Canadian pilots, who knew a bit about the subject, fronted up at the Station Commander's office and told him what he thought about it.

After that the runway was banned until clearing operations started.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 24th Dec 2015 at 13:18.
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Old 24th Dec 2015, 10:51
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Fareastdriver ... pretty much what happened at Waddington in 82[?] ... much traffic on the runway, including the bowser-mounted blades. The latter didn't clear the snow completely [and it was still shovelling it down], so every pass just compacted ... and compacted ... and compacted. And the sides of the runway acquired 2' high snow/ice banks!

Using every bit of snow-clearing kit we possessed (including the dreaded MRDs) and the valuable loan of Scampton's RolBa machine, we eventually got a questionably usable strip which [in theory] made us operational.

ISTR spending over a week out there, arguing with OC Eng Wg
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Old 24th Dec 2015, 11:29
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To Danny and all the other contributors to this wonderful thread - A Very Happy Christmas!


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Old 24th Dec 2015, 18:07
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Glad you liked the sleigh mod Danny, of course there's no second man, Santa Mod. #25-12-2015 specifies removal of rear seat to create cargo hold. This also results in tail down attitude due to excessive aft CG

Jack Stafford has more to say about Tempest and V1 attacks in his next two posts. By the way, he and a comrade downed an Me262 jet fighter on Christmas Day 1944.

May we all enjoy a happy and peaceful Christmas, while remembering our Service personnel still in peril far to the East.
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Old 24th Dec 2015, 22:12
  #7973 (permalink)  
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John (your #7968),
...(Mind you, I thought you old codgers would have read AP 1234 during training? Hmmmm....)...
Wasn't that the blue book which opened with a picture captioned with "Man is not Lost" ?
Sir, you jest ! Just look at the requirements:


(i) Calm air conditions.

What - in the UK ?

(ii) A visible Sun whose altitude is preferably less than 45

Maybe.

(iii) Sufficient view of the ground to permit pin-pointing of the aircraft.


Second bit might be difficult.


(iv) Positions for the Astro Compass in the aircraft which provide an adequate view of the Sun on all cardinal and quadrantal Courses.


Please. Sir, what's an Astro Compass ? (never seen one).


(v) A watch keeping GMT.

In your dreams !


(vi) One Navigator in addition to the Pilot.


We had unfortunate experiences with one or two Navigators.
(cf my Post p.132 #2630 this Thread)


(vii) Automatic Controls.

They would have been nice - but not for the likes of us !


All of which illustrates why Chapter VIII of AP1234 was of little interest to single-engine, mostly single-seat drivers. Anyway, consider Christopher Columbus. He didn't know where he was going when he set out, didn't know where he was when he got there, and didn't know where he'd been when he got back. He made out all right, and so did we (with or without AP1234 !)

All the best for the Festive Season ! Danny.

EDIT: (your #7975) My eye was caught by:
...Among the other types were Twin Mustang...
Had to look it up on Wiki. Worth the effort. D.

North American XP-82 Twin Mustang 44-83887.Color.jpg
XP-82 prototype
XP-82 prototype

Last edited by Danny42C; 25th Dec 2015 at 00:45. Reason: Addns
 
Old 24th Dec 2015, 22:16
  #7974 (permalink)  
 
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Gaining An R.A.F. Pilots Brevet in WW11

A. Very Happy Christmas and "Good" 2016 to all fellow members of the great Crewroom. My last flying Christmas was as captain of the duty Shack at Gan in 1961. The local chieftain gave a turtle to the officers mass but nobody had the heart to kill it, so we launched it into the lagoon at midnight. Happy days!
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Old 24th Dec 2015, 23:58
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Fareastdriver (your #7971),
...The pilots, unfortunately, overdid the throttles. The tractor lost its grip, the Victor went forward under near take off power, the tractor went backwards off the runway into the snow and turned over...
Exactly the same thing happened when I was at Linton in '63 (?) In our case, we had a sled with two Derwents blowing great sheets of ice off the pan, it was pushed along by a 2,500 gal bowser. The Derwents started to push the bowser backwards, but luckily the sled operator slammed the high pressure cocks shut before the bowser hit anything important.

It is vitally important to have a SATCO so smooth-tongued that he can convince OC(F) that the best thing to do with UK snow is to wait until it melts of its own accord. Canadian snow, I'm told, is simply rolled flat, fir branches are put in to show the runway edges, ashes spread on the surface to give a grip, and normal service resumed. More snow ? - just roll it in on top of the first lot.

At Geilenkirchen around '60, snow fell on a Monday (I think), SATCO managed to get OC(F) to leave it alone till Friday, then OC(F)'s nerve broke, they started, did 2000's worth of damage to the runway lights, it rained over the weekend, all snow gone Monday. Verb.Sap.

You canna win !

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 24th Dec 2015 at 23:59. Reason: Forgot Quotes !
 
Old 25th Dec 2015, 00:51
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Chugalug2

Thanks for your comments and compliments Chugalug. I find it surprising that I can sit back and laugh at our discomfort of those days. It's far from an easy job to clear snow and ice on airfields. I wouldn't last 5 minutes trying to do that at my age now.
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Old 25th Dec 2015, 11:00
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Get in close if you want to kill a V1
Post no. 16 from the memoirs of Tempest pilot Flt Lt Jack Stafford, DFC, RNZAF
MY TECHNIQUE for attacking the V1 was very simple and basic. I attempted to close from astern, get within 2-300 yds of the target and fire with no deflection. The formidable armament of four 20mm cannons should do the rest. At times the bomb would blow up and we were forced to fly through the blast and debris, as previously mentioned. Pilots were killed on such occasions but the Tempest was one tough aircraft and took a lot of punishment.

In my own case I just fired at the entire unmanned aircraft but seemed to hit the jet unit or part of the control surfaces. Sometimes a wing would be hit and the bomb would spin into the ground and explode. I did have several explode in front of me without serious consequences. Occasionally the gyro controlling the bomb would be hit and the missile would perform the most impressive and entertaining aerobatics before hitting the earth and exploding, usually in open country.

Speed was a requirement for success and the Tempest had the most magnificent performance. At this low altitude it was supreme. Determination from the pilot was imperative, for you had to chase and close regardless to obtain success. Any hesitation during the attack rendered the operation impotent, but the intrepid obtained and deserved victory.

All success was to a certain extent a lottery. If you were flying when the bombs came over you had a chance, if unlucky you could fly many tedious patrols and see nothing. We flew in pairs and the leading aircraft got the first chance at the target. No 2 had to wait, unless several came over together. While not often difficult to catch with a Tempest, the V1s were a minimal target, difficult to hit and destroy, and they were always dangerous. Pilots considerate of their own safety were not among the successful. As always, fortune favours the brave.

During the short period of the major V1 attacks, 486 Sqn had three pilots killed and several badly injured as a result of intercepting the bombs. Some of these, such as Kevin McCarthy, became the patients of the famous New Zealander, Dr. Archibald McIndoe, whose incredible medical skill would pioneer burns surgery. Others suffered major injuries which cancelled their flying future. From memory I think 17 Tempests were lost.

Our desire was to destroy the bomb in the air and our job was to defend the defenceless on the ground. I felt a sensation of virtue while engaged in these operations, I felt like a defender of the innocent, the knight in shining armour. It was different when intruding over Germany, where I felt I was an intruder, almost a violator. Despite this, flying over the land of the enemy with its increased danger was always very exciting, nerves on edge, an unbelievable buzz but still a trespass.
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Old 25th Dec 2015, 11:06
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"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas ..." Well, it was around July '83 in this case, in the depths of what was reputed to have been the Falklands' worst winter since WW2. Howling winds, heavy snow and temperatures well below 0c even before you added wind-chill.

RAF Stanley was decidedly non-Op, although our trusty F-4s still had to hold QRA in case our airspace was infringed by "them". They could probably get airborne, as the runway had largely been cleared, BUT ... recovering them was a different issue, as all the 5 RHAG installations were covered with snow/ice from the earlier activity on the rw. And so it was "All hands to the pumps", or more accurately shovels and pickaxes, as almost the whole Stn went out to clear the accumulations so that at least a couple of the RHAGs might work. The wind howled [40 kts rings a bell] and people were literally being blown over, or went skating involuntarily on the ice, as the clearance task proceeded.

As a parallel activity, I had to take one of our ATC Landrovers down to the Public Jetty to collect a new controller who had just disembarked [by landing craft] from the good ship SS Uganda. Hurling his kit into the back, we drove back to ATC at a modest pace in 4WD, skidding and sliding all over the 'roads' under a black cloud base and with the snow still 'persisting' down. Somewhat wide-eyed, our new ATCO was provided with a cup of coffee in the Tower to thaw some of his peripheries. Then, with the sort of cheerful smile a SATCO uses when breaking bad news, I said, "OK, Nigel, leave your kit here and grab a shovel ... we're going snow-clearing."

The next couple of hours out there must still be engraved forever in his memory.

"Welcome to RAF Stanley"
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Old 25th Dec 2015, 22:18
  #7979 (permalink)  
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The Icy Wastes.

MPN11,
...Then, with the sort of cheerful smile a SATCO uses when breaking bad news, I said, "OK, Nigel, leave your kit here and grab a shovel ... we're going snow-clearing"...
I think the "we" may have given the wrong impression here (I take it that your part in the operation may have been strictly in the technical-advisory and supervisory nature ?)
...The next couple of hours out there must still be engraved forever in his memory...
The iron of that miserable and thankless task has been driven into my soul so deep that it will never leave me.

Happy New Year,

Danny.
 
Old 26th Dec 2015, 09:53
  #7980 (permalink)  
 
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Jack Stafford (c/o Geriaviator):-
I felt a sensation of virtue while engaged in these operations, I felt like a defender of the innocent, the knight in shining armour. It was different when intruding over Germany, where I felt I was an intruder, almost a violator. Despite this, flying over the land of the enemy with its increased danger was always very exciting, nerves on edge, an unbelievable buzz but still a trespass.
An interesting quote, and very much what this thread is about. Squadron histories, history books, films even, don't tend to reveal to us these personal reflections. Was this the general feeling of fighter pilots in WWII? That in their own skies they were defenders of the innocent, but in the enemy's ones they were as robbers in the night?

It would never have occurred to me that one strapped in to a Spitfire with a different attitude, depending upon whether one was to fight over Kent in the BoB or over France on a Rhubarb, other than I suppose the possibility that bailing out would have led to a return to the fray in the former but incarceration in the latter.
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