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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 25th Feb 2016, 19:28
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Danny42C
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Danny's Last Operation (It come t' pieces in me 'and, Mum !)

(Part II)


First task would be to secure our belongings. The ambulance crew had reported back to the Squadron what they'd seen when they'd picked us up, but of course it had taken them some time to reach us and I'd been bleeding like a stuck pig all over everything in the meanwhile. So the tale they told was pretty gruesome; the general opinion was that they'd seen the last of me.

No use my kit going to waste. My DIY bed was a prize legacy, they had a draw for that. The rest was shared out among the others; there was no use trying to send stuff after me, it wasn't worth it and the chances were that it wouldn't reach me if they did. (This was standard procedure - anything personal or of value would, of course, be secured for safe keeping by the Adjutant or Intelligence Officer - we are talking about clothing, bedding and towels etc., which you could quickly and cheaply replace).

Six weeks later the bad penny turned up. A shamefaced procession turned up with various items of my kit: "Sorry about this, old man - didn't think you'd be needing it any more!" And of course I recovered my bed - not that I would need it for long, for all six Vultee Vengeance Squadrons were ordered to cease operations in June '44, and we would shortly be moving out from the Arakan (as it happened, never to return).

"Worse things happen at sea !"

That done, we went off to Calcutta for our leave (transport no problem, you could always cadge a ride on one of the many 'Daks' which were continually shuttling Cal-Chittagong-all points- east and back. I will not describe our leave now, as I plan to make a separate Post out of Calcutta; it is worth a Post on its own

Back on the squadron, the engineers debated. The engine troubles which had plagued the first Vengeance the year before had mostly been cured, and the most likely explanation for the failure was a lucky shot hitting an oil tank, cooler or line. But in the condition I left the aircraft, it might have been hit by a 3.7 AA shell and look no worse ! They returned an open verdict.

In an earlier Post I have worked out that the Sqdn finally moved to Samungli (Quetta) on 6.8.44, so it stayed on in the Arakan doing nothing much for three monsoon months. Early In that time it must have left whatever 'kutcha' strip it was on and fallen back on a paved strip (I think Chittagong or Dohazari) or they would never have got the aircraft out of the mud to fly away. And both these places were rail points, from which the ground party could move. I have only vague memories of that time, but I flew a couple of times (non-op) in July, and I think I was loaned to 244 Group in Chittagong to do some paperwork, so I wasn't altogether idle.

Once the decision had been taken to stop VV operations, there was absolutely no reason to leave us in the Arakan a day longer. For although there were dozens of 'kutcha' strips, there were relatively few with a paved runway and drainage: these should have been left for the Hurricanes, Beaufighters and Mohawks who could still do useful work even in monsoon conditions. We were just cluttering up the place.

We became entitled to a "Wound Stripe" apiece. This daft and short-lived thing may have been peculiar to India. I never heard of it after I came back. The idea was similar to the American "Purple Heart", at which we poked much fun (it was said that you could get it for being nicked by the camp barber!) But it was entered on our records, and I seem to remember that I had an inch-long gold lace stripe to sew on my khaki tunic sleeve. As we never wore tunics (only bush jackets or shirts), it didn't seem worth bothering with.

"Stew" and I had been amazingly lucky: we both knew we'd live the rest of our lives on borrowed time. It's a pity that no photographs were AFAIK, taken of the wreck - it would have been quite a memento in my logbook. But then, after all, down the years I've had a reminder every time I've looked in a mirror!

(He and I parted soon after this, as I was posted away from Samungli, but were reunited the following year, when he rejoined me as my "Adjutant" in Cannanore. Having come out to India much earlier, he went home earlier. I looked him up once (in Southend) after the war, but then, I'm sorry to say, we lost contact).

Many years later I watched a TV documentary about an oil sheikh's new racecourse complex somewhere in the Gulf. The architect was mentioned. There couldn't be two of that name! He appeared. Incredulous, I looked at this little, bald, fat chap - a far cry from the wiry young man with the Byronic looks I remembered. (Ah, the ravages of time !)

There is a present-day slant on the tale of my crash. In any forced landing a pilot has to make the best of a bad job. He can do no other. In two cases which have hit the headlines in the last year or so (the 777 which just managed to flop over the fence into Heathrow and the Airbus ditched in the Hudson river), the pilots concerned have been surprised to find themselves publicy fêted as "heroes".

My case was the same as theirs (in kind, though much smaller in degree). Naked self-preservation was the name of the game. Three questions arise: Did I do a good job? - Yes! Was I "incredibly" (in the true sense of that now much abused word) lucky? - Yes! Was I a "hero", in any sense? - Sorry folks, but No! I did what had to be done, and so did they, and we all got away with it, and there's no more to be said.

That's all for the moment, Goodnight, all, Danny42C.

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


EPILOGUE
________


Since that February morning in Burma, long, long ago, I've often looked back on it and it's become obvious where I went wrong. I should never have decided, in the absence of other symptons, that the oil pressure gauge was at fault. I should have "played safe", assumed the worst and acted accordingly. I should have hung on to my 3,000 feet to the end, dumped my bombs "safe" (there was no provision for dumping fuel), and perhaps lowered 20°-30° flap (which would have given me a lttle more gliding distance if the engine failed).

The coast was not far away, I could have followed the shoreline North until I was close to base. There were miles of sandy beaches. Apart from a few inshore net fishermen, these would be mostly empty, if necessary a wheels-up landing should be easy.

Then I should never have come down into the circuit, but kept my height until overhead the strip (as it happened, the engine would have kept going till then), and used the "90° Left" or "270° Left" procedure taught me in the U.S. for forced landings. (How many times had I practiced this at Carlstrom Field in Florida !) From 3,000 ft, wheels down and 120-130 mph, it should have been child's play to dead-stick it down at one end of the strip or other (there wasn't much wind anyway, just a light sea breeze across the runway in any case).

Instead, you know what happened ! It was amazing luck that I wasn't killed (but if I had been it would have been my own fault). But poor "Stew" (who survived with me) wouldn't have deserved to die on that account.

But then, isn't hindsight a wonderful thing ?

Danny.



* * *
 
Old 25th Feb 2016, 19:45
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C'est La Guerre.
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Old 25th Feb 2016, 20:56
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Wound Stripe and Purple Heart

@Danny: "We became entitled to a "Wound Stripe" apiece. This daft and short-lived thing may have been peculiar to India. I never heard of it after I came back. The idea was similar to the American "Purple Heart", at which we poked much fun (it was said that you could get it for being nicked by the camp barber!)"

Interesting comment. I understand that the circumstances leading to this decoration can vary widely and perhaps lend some to treat it as a mark of nothing more than "I was there". I know you meant no disrespect, but personally I carry it in higher regard than your comment suggests.

I am not a recipient. I honor those who did receive it for the reminder that combat service in defense of freedom and our flag (or King) carries tangible risk. Those who receive this award have been in some form of peril in the service of their country and to some degree it cost them, some much more than others. I am grateful to those who served, but my hat is off to those especially who paid some price, physically, and wear the Purple Heart. And, as in your case, my hat is off to you, honored ally, as a recipient of the Wound Stripe.

p.s. Enjoyed Part II, glad for the outcome and grateful you are able to describe it to us so many years later.

Respectfully

Last edited by GlobalNav; 25th Feb 2016 at 22:57.
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Old 26th Feb 2016, 00:11
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Danny42C
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"He jests at scars who never felt a wound!" (Falstaff ?)

GlobalNav (your #8224),

Our two Air Forces have fought together, bled together and died together in the same causes for far too long for me to make serious pejorative remarks about the customs and traditions of your service ! Please accept my apology for any unintended offence given in this case.

But there has always been a friendly rivalry between us, and this is often expressed in jocular fashion. Our reaction to one of our own people who was wounded or injured in action in WWII was likely to be either: "Shouldn't have joined if you can't take a joke !", or "Well, you're still alive aren't you ?" or (in WWI): "Lucky beggar's got a Blighty one !" (ie: one which would mean return home for treatment). Effusive sympathy was in very short supply.

As for our Wound Stripes, (Wiki knows all about them), they were treated with derision among us, and I can safely say I never saw one worn in all my service (five years in war and another 23 in "peace"). Naturally your Purple Heart (being more in the nature of a decoration) had to be worn on uniform, and was, I'm sorry to say, often regarded with good-natured amusement by the "Limeys".

(A penitent) Danny.
 
Old 26th Feb 2016, 00:52
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Thumbs up

Thanks Danny,

I really enjoyed that episode!

You write so well; you must have a book or two in you. You guys still rock our world. I'm very proud of your type. Just like Arthur Gill.
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Old 26th Feb 2016, 02:28
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Originally Posted by Ddraig Goch
2.Night fighter over Germany - Flying Beaufighters and Mosquitoes in WW2. Graham White. A well written book covering training in the U.S.A. and life as an N.C.O. pilot.

Both add something to the topics raised throughout this wonderful thread.

Before anyone asks I am not on commission
A few dollars well spent on a collection of tales worthy of the Mil Forum

The author (Graham White) spent his flying time as a sergeant and then Warrant Officer pilot, so you can understand that the telling of tales is much along the line that we are used to. It gets funnier and funnier, I had to stop reading during breakfast on instructions from SWMBO since I was laughing too much!

Very little about Beaufighters except to rate the Mk II as the worst aircraft he knew. Which will give me a topic of conversation with Dad who rated them as nice to fly
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Old 26th Feb 2016, 08:58
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Wound Stripes

Danny, your comment on 'wound stripes' in relation to crews stationed in the Far East goes some way towards addressing a question I have had concerning a photograph of my late father wearing one in 1945.

After having flown Hurricanes on Station Defence sorties from RAF Hullavington where he was a flying instructor on Harts flown by No 9 Service Flying Training School in September and October 1940 (during the Battle of Britain but not qualifying subsequently for the BoB Clasp as he had not been under the control of Fighter Command), then Wellington ICs with No 115 squadron at RAF Marham, he was sent out to India in mid 1942. Initially he spent time at AHQ before moving up country to fly Wellington 10s with No 215 Squadron which converted to Liberators in August 1944. In September he became its Squadron Commander at Digri and they moved to Dhubalia early in 1945 .

In June 1944, just prior to this conversion, the aircrew were detached to assist No 117 (Transport) Squadron for six weeks to fly Dakotas (C47s) in support of the Army 'over the Hump' due to the pressing need to keep supplies flowing to where they were needed. They flew mainly to Indawgyi Lake, Imphal and Mogaung, losing one entire aircraft and crew.

With the Liberators they flew many offensive missions to the Malay Peninsular and beyond, and took casualties. (Many of these exploits are described by the late Flight Lieutenant W W Fraser RCAF in his book 'A Trepid Aviator' that chronicles the time he spent on operations with No 215.)

Anyway, somewhere along the line my father was wounded (and I can remember the scars he bore). In mid/late1945 he completed his tour with No 215 and flew home, and in a photograph that shows him, his faithful hound* and me (aged 4) taken at that time he bears a wound stripe mounted vertically above the rank braid on his left sleeve. As this is the only photograph of him in uniform that shows him displaying this badge, and as I cannot remember ever seeing him wearing it in later years, I am ready to believe that this might have been something that was peculiar to those who served in the India/Burma theatre but possibly not retained in the UK.

If anyone can add to this, regarding the wearing of wound stripes in the UK, please do so, for I am intrigued!

*The faithful hound was Remus, a cocker spaniel that had been acquired by my parents before the war and supported my mother and me throughout hostilities. We lived at Thorpe Bay, near Southend on the Thames estuary, and when enemy bombers came over on the way to London we would sleep in a metal cage under the drawing room table. Remus gave the first early warnings of the approaching threat by barking - I can only guess that he connected the particular beat of the bombers' engines with the subsequent crashing of explosives and many bright lights in the sky from searchlights, ant-aircraft guns, etc. I have been told that he ignored noises made by allied aircraft!
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Old 26th Feb 2016, 11:07
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Wound Stripes

A World War earlier, they were certainly worn. Great-Uncle Jack, on the right in 1917, had a couple[1] in addition to his 2-year Good Conduct stripe[2] and Rank stripe. I suspect signalmen inevitably acquired a collection of Wound stripes, given the nature of their work [repairing telephone cables under fire].

Wiki also tells us ... "The badge was reintroduced in 1944 for the Second World War (1939-1945) and was discontinued after 1946."


1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wound_stripe
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Conduct_stripe

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Old 26th Feb 2016, 13:25
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Danny #8225

I took no offense at your comments regarding the decorations, but only wished to offer another perspective on them than you expressed and which you have every right to. No penitence is needed at all. I owe you an apology if my comments have sounded as some sort of correction. They were not.

It's probably good that, like you, those who serve take such things with a healthy grain of salt and humor. Your countrymen and mine who live freely because of what our armed forces accomplished do well to never forget the cost.

Perhaps it's time for someone to pour an ice cold bucket of water over my head and have a laugh. 🍻
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Old 26th Feb 2016, 14:00
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No buckets of water needed ... anyway, it would make a mess on our cyber-crewroom floor.

We all have Service and National differences. The lovely thing is that most of us can laugh about them ... although I'm disinclined to try that with USMC or RM, as I value my remaining health!
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Old 26th Feb 2016, 16:51
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I was pleased to see MPN11's picture from the Great War, so often overshadowed by subsequent conflicts.

Alongside aircraft, heavy vehicles have remained a lifelong hobby and I have happy memories of the Leyland Tiger coach I drove for charity groups, for transporting the veterans of two wars for the Not Forgotten Association was a great pleasure. Half a century ago I took a full load of 45 plus two nursing orderlies to the Guinness Brewery in Dublin, and discovered the old warrior in the front seat had flown SE5s as a lieutenant with the Royal Flying Corps in France. He carefully unfolded two 'flimsy' carbon copy sheets of paper which turned out to be the pilot's notes for the SE5, issued to help younger pilots fresh from England. His flying stories on the four-hour drive home included the Sopwith Camel, which he said was a magnificent aircraft despite its reputation.

We had ample time to talk, for the Guinness refuelling staff had been most generous to my passengers. The first request stop came after 10 miles, and puddles anointed every layby between Dublin and Belfast. When summer returned I called to take William for a flight in the Tiger Moth, but sadly he had made his last takeoff only a month before.
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Old 26th Feb 2016, 22:31
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I have just finished reading this thread from the start - having begun just after Christmas......! It is without doubt the most interesting, descriptive and well-written bit of oral history I have ever read. There are some cracking books in a similar vein, but they don't have the facility to wander off on fascinating side discussions that this "virtual crewroom" does.
I am not a serviceman, merely a civilian with an interest in the military and engineering areas, but for me somewhere like the IWM should be looking to preserve this thread and any others like it so future generations can read, enjoy and try to understand what it was like for those "ordinary people doing extraordinary things".
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Old 27th Feb 2016, 00:53
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Floriat Southportia !

andytug,

May I take it upon myself, as one of the Oldest Inhabitants of our "virtual crewroom", to thank you for your generous and encouraging words of support for this "our" Thread. It was a work of genius by Clifford Leach RIP ("cliffnemo") to start it 7½ years ago; since then it has never looked back, and I don't think has ever been off Page 1 or 2 of the Military Aviation/Aircrew Forum. On this, apart from "Caption Competition", it has the highest number of "hits" of any Thread, and its success is in no small measure due to to the saintly forebearance of our Moderators, who let us "wrinklies" roam off Thread all round the houses and then back again.

Quite a large number of the "founding members" were Liverpudlians (as am I); my maternal grandfather lived in Southport (Linaker Street), and I have fond memories, as a boy in the twenties and thirties, of the times I spent in that charming town. You may not have seen this, but may I offer you <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcGCIoT_bjQ>, which is a lovely video of the Southport I knew as a boy and a young man. I haven't seen the place for forty years and more now, and of course will never see it again.

One small cavil I have with PPRuNe: I think it should be mandatory for our members to declare their ages, for that enables others to put them in the right "time frame" in understanding and composing answers their Posts - (this is NOT a 'dig' at you, but a general observation).

Cheers, Danny.
 
Old 27th Feb 2016, 02:15
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Sino-Indian conflict.

Fareastdriver (your #8218 & 8220),
...“You know this nonsense that the Chinese and Indians are having about their border region. They’re sending out a squadron of Javelins to show Commonwealth solidarity and we, and 214 Squadron, are going to tank them out...
and
...“The Chinese and Indian governments are in dispute over their border in the Himalayas. This has given rise to fisticuffs and now they are beating bigger drums. The Indian Air Force has no all-weather fighter capability so the government, as a sign of support, are detaching 23 Squadron to India until the dispute is settled.”...
Why, in the name of all that's good and holy, were we putting our noses into that hornet's nest ? India, Pakistan (who would have a dog in the fight) and China were all big boys then (and, I think, all nuclear armed). Let them settle their own differences ! Hadn't we all the trouble we wanted in Europe with the Cold War and all that ?

Bit late in putting this comment in, but as I have some old, small knowledge of those parts, I have been researching the history and material available on Google (until I lost the will to live). It is a good thing that the "fisticuffs" mentioned were mainly just high altitude artillery duels and not something far more serious. Interesting, though.

Danny.
 
Old 27th Feb 2016, 08:12
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Danny,
as I have made a small contribution to this the greatest of threads I will comply with your request. I will be 74 in May.
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Old 27th Feb 2016, 08:35
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Danny

For the first 3 years or so of my membership my age was displayed. Then under 'ATC Issues' another poster disagreed with my opinion and called me a coffin-dodger,which I thought was typical of many people these days who seem to think they can insult others on a forum, yet they probably wouldn't dare do it to one's face!

I have noticed on Military Matters several 'baby-boomers' have been patronised by the expression Cold War warriors - this from younger folk who have seen action and seem to think less of us they assume haven't. I am relieved to say as far as I know no-one shot at me or the aircraft I was in, and after 8 years I left the RAF unscathed! But, many of my fellow baby-boomers stayed in until 55 or even 60 and served in all the actions that have taken place since the Falklands war.

Rant over! By the way I was born in 1946 and had the privilege of flying with many ex WW2 aircrew.
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Old 27th Feb 2016, 08:56
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Ron and a couple of the other members of the squadron were standing clutching their beers as if they had been pole-axed.
“What up?” I asked.
“Bombay’s bloody dry! Some bloke who’s been to the Indian Staff College told us; there’s no bloody booze in the State of Maharashtra”.
We all agreed that if we were going to have a week or so of enforced abstinence we had better start tanking up now.
“What about the chap from 214 Sqn. who had gone to make all the arrangements.
“I know him. He’ll fix something up, there’s no way he will survive out there like that. He could organise a piss-up in a mosque.”

Whist I had been airborne a few more snippets of information had come down. The nine rupees wasn’t changing but they might boost up the laundry allowance to compensate. It had to be that way because we were staying in a hotel and we would have to buy our own food. Bombay was an absolute tip and you can’t even brush your teeth with the water. The Britannia was going to be so full of blokes that all the aircraft spares would have to go in the bomb-bay panniers. They had better be strapped down tightly otherwise the Javelins are going to spend all their time dodging spare wheels and suchlike. We wended on about real and imaginary problems until the bar steward announced that he was closing the bar.

The next morning I went into work at eight-thirty. The Britannia had already arrived with its characteristic silence and was standing on the pan being refuelled. In the crew room the spare crew were lolling about in khaki awaiting nine o’clock when they had to report for the flight. They would be in Bahrain tomorrow morning and they had two days off before their turn came.

We had the routine met briefing and I found out that the crew I had joined had to do a test of the new HDU that had been fitted to our aircraft. No 55 (Victor) Squadron had suddenly found that their in-flight refuelling training programme had been drastically curtailed but they were going to use us to salvage something. The boss hadn’t anything new but he expected to find out a bit more at the station operations brief. Just after that our spare crew lugged their bags over to the Britannia and at about ten the ‘Whispering Giant’ as it was known as took off with hardly a sound from its four turboprop engines. Shortly after it had left our particular Victor used up most of the runway and loads of decibels as its four Sapphires levered it into the air. We weren’t getting airborne until two o’clock so I ran through Brian’s fuel planning to India. It looked fine as far as I could see and as all the co-pilots had cross-referred to each other there was a fairly good chance that it was right.

The flight planning for this trip was minuscule. We were only punching up to Spurn Head and flogging the refuelling racetrack over the North Sea whilst the Victor did its stuff. We couldn’t stay for more than an hour; nor could he because unless he took fuel from us he was going to run short himself. My job was to calculate the take off roll according to the weight of the aircraft. As it was relatively light it was only in the region of 4,500 feet and the three-engine safety speed was before the final stop speed. It was not always the case. In the next few days we were going to spend a long time on runways not being able to stop or take off if we lost an engine. The Valiant acceleration check point, a line across the runway at 1,500 ft, had to be passed at, or in excess of, a calculated speed to prove that the aircraft’s acceleration was normal. That was about the only firm thing you could rely on. This one was about 80knots but 60 was not uncommon. With about an hour to go before take off we changed into our flying kit and boarded the crew bus.

Valiant BKMk1 XD820 was standing alone on the concrete off the perimeter track, pristine in its white anti-flash finish, the inevitable deafening Houchin generating unit running beside it. They were just completing the hose run-out checks and six airmen were vainly tugging at the hose and drogue assembly as it pulled them inextricably under the tail. The crew chief was standing beside the drum, checking that it coiled without any kinks. I clattered up the ladder to the cabin and in there was a sergeant operating the hose from the Nav-radar’s position. As the gauge went to zero there was a clunk as the drogue hit the travel stop and thankfully the Houchin quietened down as it was relieved of a couple of hundred amps.

The Valiant’s cabin was on two levels. The two navigators and AEO sat flying backwards looking at what was known as the coal face. No ejector seats for them. The AEO had the best chance because he was by the door and the poor Nav-Radar had to wait until the other two had gone. Up front the cockpit’s floor was about four feet higher. Two eighty feet per second ejector seats towered over the rear compartment. They had to be big boomers to get you over the tail as they found out when the first person to eject hit the tailplane with a lower powered gun. The seats were 90knots ground level ones but the canopy above them wouldn’t jettison satisfactorily below 120. I picked up the checklist from the AEO’s drawer. Everything was done by challenge-and-response in Bomber Command, even the pre-flight walkround.

We droned around the aircraft confirming that obvious things like engine blanks etc, had been removed. Under the undercarriage bay we confirmed the well being of the two enormous wheels on each unit. The flying controls had electro-hydraulic units that came off the Frazer-Nash gun turret of Second World War vintage. The flaps, two massive barn doors attached to the wings were driven by one motor via a horrific combination of shafts and gearboxes, as were the airbrakes. It had one saving grace. In the last extreme it still had the controls connected to the flying surfaces so it could, uniquely for its size, be flown manually. The walkround completed we went up into the cockpit.

It was a squeeze to get in between the seats to the front. Once sitting on the seat it was comfortable enough as long as the dinghy you were sitting on had been packed properly. You strapped yourself to the parachute and seat separately remembering to connect up the leg restrainers that stopped your feet from flapping around your neck if you were launched into a 600 knot air stream. I had to be especially careful that I strapped myself in tightly. The seat left the end of the triple cartridge gun that telescoped to 8ft at 80ft/sec with a 175lb pilot. I weighed about 155lbs so I was going to go out considerably faster. The rudder bars adjusted conventionally and the flat-bottomed U shaped control wheel could be adjusted for reach. It was mounted on a rod on the side and by pulling out a knob the whole thing could slide forward against the panel out of the way.

We put on our helmets and made sure everybody was on line. Being an all-electric aeroplane all the checks and all the flying functionals could be done with the Houchin before engine start. We closed the bomb doors, did the cockpit checks and the crew chief confirmed that the flying controls and flaps all went the right way. We always started No3 first, probably because it was on the other side of the door. The corresponding throttle was advanced out of the high-pressure gate to ground idle and the captain selected the engine on his start panel and fired it up. The RR Avon 205 was an easy starter and settled down at 3,000 rpm. The other three followed suit, the Houchin would be disconnected and we were ready to go. We stopped at the holding point, checked the take off configuration and when cleared to line up and take off we moved on to the runway.

My job was to look after the engines and call out the relevant speeds. The brakes were man enough to hold the aircraft as I advanced and balanced the engines at 8,000 rpm. I confirmed that everything was as it should be so John released the brakes and at this weight we surged forward. I had one eye on the engines and the other eye awaiting the acceleration checkpoint. As it swept under the nose I looked at my ASI which read 88 knots and called “Up Eight”. Almost immediately afterwards I called “Safety Speed” and at 105 knots which was twenty five before the calculated take off speed I called “Rotate”. John pulled back the control arm smoothly and it got airborne at 130 knots. He called for the undercarriage at about one hundred feet and when that had cleared we pulled up the flaps, pulled back the engines to 7,800 and continued with the rest of the after take off checks.

We settled down at 32,000ft and when we reached Spurn Head we took up the race track to await the Victor. He wasn’t going to be very long so we established 240 knots, opened the bomb doors and streamed the hose. The refuelling basket was a rigid one that looked like a shuttlecock and behaved much the same way. One had to hit it quite firmly to make it work for if you were too gentle the resistance of the valves would drive the hose in.

The Victor came up on the frequency. There was a trial with a Tacan beacon that was fitted to our aircraft, predominately for single seat fighters to find us, and the two AEOs were comparing notes to see if it was working. It apparently was and in a few minutes the Victor drew up beside us. It was the first time for the pilot under training so the instructor was showing him the relative sizes of the tanker and the refuelling gear. In other words he was showing him that he would be practically in the bomb bay. He then fell line astern and having done the preliminaries we cleared him to carry on then sat back and waited.

The pilot under training behind us was a long time bomber pilot and for him to fly in close proximity to another aircraft again was going to take some getting used to. The instructor would formate it just off the drogue to get him used to it and then the pupil would spend at least ten minutes cavorting around it even though it was relatively still. Once he had got used to it then he would be shown the procedure. He asked us for clearance to contact and I switched on the refuelling tanks. The refuelling hose operator cannot see the receiver, not even on a TV. He only knows what is going on via his hose gauge and fuel flow meter.
“Contact.” Paul called, and then commenced a running commentary of what his instruments were telling him. “Five, ten, fifteen, fuel on, three-five, four thousand.”
He had pushed in fifteen feet of hose and was taking fuel at 4,000lbs/min. The Victor then pulled off and asked for some dry contacts.

This time it was the student. “He giving it a nudge, no he’s not. Here he comes; five, ten, five, he’s gone off the end. He’s in again, fivetenfifteentwenty, he’s gone; restreaming.”
When a pilot comes in too fast he invariably goes out so fast that the drum brake comes on and pulls the drogue off. This means that the hose has to be restreamed to its full length. There was a long pause as the Victor flew back to the same airspace as we were using and he tried again. He was getting better and after a couple of sessions holding a reasonable position we were asked to go wet. As the time was being used up it was a good idea and we waited.
Paul started. “He’s in, ten, fifteen, fuel on, four thousand, twenty, twenty-five, twenty, fifteen, twenty.”
He wasn’t the steadiest bloke in the world but for the first time who is. He was now being affected by the increase in weight and was starting to drag out. He overcorrected and came roaring in.
“Thirty, thirty-five.”
I didn’t need to listen; I could see by my control spectacles that he was in close.
“He’s lost it; his probes gone, fuel going off.”
With that Paul hit the stop switch on the pump. The sudden rise in the flow rate to 5,000 plus told Paul that the hose was pumping fuel through an open probe valve into empty air. What had happened was that the Victor had got so close that with a combination of concern and his tailplane coming into our jet wash he had pushed down and taken off the probe end.
A call from the Victor, “We’ve lost our probe, I’m afraid.”
He had seen it before but the new bloke must have been terrified watching a drogue dancing in front of his windscreen shovelling fuel at 5,500 lbs/min all over the cockpit.

There was no harm done, more pride than anything. He was not the first and not going to be the last. We went through the various checks. The hose had to be streamed for twenty minutes to ensure that when it was wound in there was not any fuel in it to deposit itself in our bomb bay. Whilst this was going on I brought the transfer tank on to the fuselage group. I left the bomb bay tank for the port underwing so I could get rid of it at the top of descent jettison checks. By the time the bomb bay doors had been closed up we were approaching the descent point known as REP3 (Radar entry point, thirty thousand feet).
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Old 27th Feb 2016, 09:04
  #8238 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
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Originally Posted by Danny42C
andytug,

May I take it upon myself, as one of the Oldest Inhabitants of our "virtual crewroom", to thank you for your generous and encouraging words of support for this "our" Thread. It was a work of genius by Clifford Leach RIP ("cliffnemo") to start it 7½ years ago; since then it has never looked back, and I don't think has ever been off Page 1 or 2 of the Military Aviation/Aircrew Forum. On this, apart from "Caption Competition", it has the highest number of "hits" of any Thread, and its success is in no small measure due to to the saintly forebearance of our Moderators, who let us "wrinklies" roam off Thread all round the houses and then back again.

Quite a large number of the "founding members" were Liverpudlians (as am I); my maternal grandfather lived in Southport (Linaker Street), and I have fond memories, as a boy in the twenties and thirties, of the times I spent in that charming town. You may not have seen this, but may I offer you <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcGCIoT_bjQ>, which is a lovely video of the Southport I knew as a boy and a young man. I haven't seen the place for forty years and more now, and of course will never see it again.

One small cavil I have with PPRuNe: I think it should be mandatory for our members to declare their ages, for that enables others to put them in the right "time frame" in understanding and composing answers their Posts - (this is NOT a 'dig' at you, but a general observation).

Cheers, Danny.
Danny - I'm in my middle 40s, so a mere whippersnapper compared to the majority of posters here I think . I'd be reluctant to compel people to post definite ages as that kind of information on the Internet can potentially be misused (working in IT makes you a bit paranoid about such things!) but think a rough approximation would be fine.
Thanks for the link, have had a quick look and will watch properly later. Sadly Southport like a lot of seaside towns has lost some of it's uniqueness over recent years, the Victorian features mostly remain, but the small shops that gave it character are vanishing and being replaced (or not) by the same chains, takeaways and charity shops as every other town, plus the parking fees are extortionate and backed up by over-zealous attendants! Not all is doom and gloom though, the Kings Gardens and Hesketh Park have both had multi million pound refurbishments and look much better as a result.
Before I wander too far off topic - I did a little research on the local airfields that are no longer with us (e.g HMS Ringtail at Burscough, Blackpool Zoo) and was surprised to find that there was one slap bang in the middle of the beach, just north of the pier! The runway was the beach (so presumably no flying at high tide, but that only lasts an hour twice a day!) and the hangars etc stood on what is now Hesketh Road- and part of the tarmac still remains and is visible on Google Earth next to the existing road!
Living just north of Southport means I get to see most of the annual air show traffic - the two Lancasters and the BBMF flew right over us a couple of years ago, ten Merlins, what a sound, a privilege to see and hear.
A link you might find interesting - old photos of Britain from the air, some of Southport before the coast road was even built!

Britain from Above | Rescue the Past

Last edited by andytug; 27th Feb 2016 at 09:44. Reason: correct link
andytug is offline  
Old 27th Feb 2016, 09:19
  #8239 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Often in Jersey, but mainly in the past.
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Fareastdriver ... ah, the old 'broken probe'!

In the days of Empire at a huge overseas airbase ... with great ceremony, there was a presentation in the Mess. Beautifully mounted on a wooden base was the tip of a probe, and the associated brass plate bore the brief rhyming couplet:
"Tiger, Tiger, burning bright,
Did you blunt your end last night?"
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Old 27th Feb 2016, 10:27
  #8240 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
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"He jests at scars who never felt a wound!" (Falstaff ?)

Danny, yr. 8225

In keeping with the ethos of this great thread, (Information, Education and Entertainment).

(In pedant mode now) "He jests at scars that never felt a wound" is Romeo, (Act 2 Scene 2) R & J, just before he says "But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?

I'll just get my coat......

Ian BB, 68 (and a half)
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