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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Old 6th Jun 2016, 22:06
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110 Squadron 1942

From Tommy Lawton's photo album. He and his pilot Hoagy (Billie) Carmichael died on Dec. 10, 1942 in Vultee Vengeance Y120 in a practice dive over Karachi Harbour.
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Old 7th Jun 2016, 10:00
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Junior Spotter Question ... what are those 'handles' outboard on each side of the VV cockpit? The ones that look like the ends of a motorcycle's handlebars?

Are they just ... "handles, holding on to, pilots for the use of"?
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Old 7th Jun 2016, 10:07
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Originally Posted by MPN11
Junior Spotter Question ... what are those 'handles' outboard on each side of the VV cockpit? The ones that look like the ends of a motorcycle's handlebars?

Are they just ... "handles, holding on to, pilots for the use of"?
I thought they were panel floodlights?
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Old 7th Jun 2016, 10:22
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Ah, copied. Floodlighting the panel being cheaper and easier than illuminating individual items.

I know nothing about cockpit lighting ... and nothing about a lot of other things too
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Old 7th Jun 2016, 10:24
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The Charge to Production theory of the Two Balls

WW II was a time of immense industrial activity, in which vast numbers of civilians suddenly found themselves doing completely unfamilar jobs in pursuit of the War Effort.

My late father was one such. Like so many others he said very little about those sombre days but, just once, he mentioned his inner satisfaction in the part he was able to play in reducing from weeks to days the time to send vital industrial data across the Atlantic when the PTB considered this to be a most urgent necessity. (That data was the means to enable production of the Merlin engine, and the period was that darkest one when highly unwelcome visitors could be expected to come dropping in down Sinfin Lane without notice, but for the outcome of the Battle of Britain).

It is ironic that whilst Dad had deep analytical insight (and was one of those who disdained to use a calculating machine because he could sum a foolscap column of figures more quickly in his head), he was quite blind in all matters mechanical. It bears upon my thesis to mention that he had the gravitas, and sheer impudence, to challenge traditional procedures in that task despite his complete ignorance, as an outsider, of the underlying technology. This was exceptional, really Not Done; these were very much the days of "you do what you're told".

I therefore suspect strongly that the Two Balls were simply an error which arose under the pell-mell pace of war production, when a tyro scribbly doing his best hastily to assemble the specifications was quite unaware of the difference in manufacturers' nomenclature and dutifully included both a "direction indicator" and a "turn and slip indicator", never having the slightest idea of what they did or how they were to be used.

Of course, in a perfect world such a gross mistake would be spotted and corrected ... but this was the world of Wartime production. Now, when in peacetime it has been my duty from time to time to sign off reams of technical documentation, it has generally arrived when I have but ~ 15% of the time I would really like to peruse it, and I have often had to rely on that subconscious prompting, that uneasy 'summat wrong here!' feeling (which I am sure is well familiar to highly experienced doctors, auditors, policemen and not least Spitfire-trained VAT inspectors) to nail the errors. This worked remarkably well for me, but the long experience needed for it to happen must have been pretty thin on the ground in the suddenly-expanded war production workforce.

It is thus easy for me to envisage such an erroneous specification attracting the requisite squadron of approval signatures, all applied in haste .... and once so endorsed the thing acquires the status of Holy Writ, not to be queried ever after.

I so rest my case:-

"Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do ..."
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Old 7th Jun 2016, 12:41
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dogle,

A sensitive and comprehensive analsis of the problem. My reading of the panel was: someone had 'had away' the original D.I. (which was the usual kind with no ball). Find another ! They found a new pattern deluxe job (with ball) that fitted the hole. Put that in, job done. A 'one-off' - or so I thought !

It was not long before it was gently pointed out to me that this was by no means unique. First up was a pic of that tragic WWII "Tomahawk"/P-40 found in the Sahara desert only a year or so ago (with dessicated corpse of pilot). Two balls in full view on panel. Since then I have come across several other examples in different types of aircraft.

Someone must think that there is an advantage in this duplication. I am a reasonable soul. Can somebody please tell me what it is ?

Danny,

PS:
♫...."My name is Samuel Hall, and I've only got one"....♫ (No more - it's before the Watershed !) D.
 
Old 7th Jun 2016, 21:08
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Sara (#8662),

Thank you for the interesting pics, which relate to the months in 1941 (?) and summer 1942, when the old Blenheim crews of the four squadrons had been sent out to India to help stop the seemingly unstoppable Japanese onslaught. All well before my time - but I remember the pool at Quetta, it was a godsend when I arrived there with 8 IAF in summer 1944.

They were not reinforced until the end of the year, when a batch of new pilots (including yours truly), straight out from Spitfire and Hurricane OCUs in the UK, landed in India and the four squadrons got half-a dozen of these each. Coincidentally, the Vengeance arrived on the scene (to replace their Blenheims which had been sent back to the ME); the RAF had no idea how to operate these novel aircraft; the mixed bag of old, battle hardened Blenheim crews and the (bitterly disappointed) new fighter boys (who had dreams of fame and glory in a "Battle of India") had to learn by trial and error.
...died on Dec. 10, 1942 in Vultee Vengeance Y120 in a practice dive over Karachi Harbour...
The Japs inflicted little damage on the VVs during 1943-44, we mostly killed ourselves. The "speared in" from a dive accounted for most of the losses. Probably the OTU which was set up in Peshawar was responsible for the majority, as might have been expected. The squadrons had developed the operational technique for the high-level vertical dive, as I have described, it worked very well but had a safety margin of 2½ seconds built in at the pull-out point. This was quite enough, but only if you kept your wits about you.

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 10th Jun 2016 at 06:53. Reason: Two many "out"s !
 
Old 8th Jun 2016, 10:55
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dogle (#8666),
...and not least Spitfire-trained VAT inspectors...
The 1973 intake into Customs & Excise (recruited by open competitive examination to man-up VAT) had brought in a very mixed bunch indeed.

In my District, as I recall, we had a Master Mariner, a charming young lady who'd been a Third Officer on a tanker in the Gulf, a REME Captain, a less young but still charming schoolmistress and myself. Fortunately our Boss ("Surveyor" in Customs parlance), who had started after war service, had been a Sergeant in 81 (West African) Division in the Arakan at the same time as me, so we had many a good old chinwag !

And "on the road" (four days a week) a RAF connection often came to light. I particularly remember one Antiques shop I visited in a North York moors village. The proprietor was nervously defensive (a common reaction), until my glance fell on a silver-framed photograph in his office. It was of a Liberator in an obvious Bengal setting. "Salbani ?" I hazarded, "159 Squadron ?". He lit up like a lamp "Yes ! - and you ?"

I need hardly tell you that not much time was wasted on his VAT Account ! Out came the best crockery, the Earl Grey, and the chocky bikkies - and the Queen's Revenue could take a back seat. (I squared my conscience with the thought that I would be "doing" the pub down the road next week, and would be sure of a few thousand "tickle" there - pubs were my specialty).

Danny.
 
Old 8th Jun 2016, 11:27
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and would be sure of a few thousand "tickle" there - pubs were my specialty).
For you or the Chancellor?
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Old 8th Jun 2016, 12:11
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FED,

If only ! Often said: "Give me a 10% bonus on the unpaid tax I collect" - and see the cash roll in ! (It was generally accepted that [on average] each man we put on the road brought in seven times his own salary).

Not very ethical, unfortunately.

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 8th Jun 2016 at 12:14. Reason: Make it clear that this is an average!
 
Old 8th Jun 2016, 13:08
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I remember when we suddenly found we had squadron tea bars that were subject to VAT, and then later the Food Safety Act - now there was a challenge
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Old 8th Jun 2016, 20:45
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Wander00,

It would be a hell of a squadron tea bar that had a turnover large enough to make it compulsorily registrable for VAT ! There would be no sense in voluntary registration, for the stuff you buy (tea, coffe, milk, sugar, buns, butter, biscuits [but not chokky bikkies] would be zero rated, so there would be no input tax to reclaim).

The tea bar would be in the same position as the man in the street, if you want to buy a new electric kettle, you have to pay VAT on it. But you do not have to charge the chaps VAT on their "char and wads", even though catering is taxable, as you are not registered for VAT.

At least, that was how the Law stood when I retired (for the second time) in 1986.

Clear as crystal ?
...the Food Safety Act - now there was a challenge...
With most of the "tea swindles", I remember, I would jolly well think so !

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 8th Jun 2016 at 20:49. Reason: How did :bored: get in ? Out with it !
 
Old 9th Jun 2016, 08:51
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Danny, I am talking about 86 onwards when I went to non Public desk at Brampton post Mt Pleasant. ISTR VAT turnover limit then was £20,500-and there were coffee bars, St Athan was one such station where crew room coffee bars were turning over £30k. Strike Command had a couple of stations where reclaim of unpaid VAT all but wiped out the SIF. I discovered a fraud at one station in my first day as OC Admin only because I noticed a football club turning over in excess of the VAT limit but unregistered, and a black hole came to light. As I said to my stn cdr, I was glad it was on my first day in post and not my last. President of the Audit Boards was a bit tee'd off though.
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Old 9th Jun 2016, 15:38
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Wander00,
...there were coffee bars, St Athan was one such station where crew room coffee bars were turning over £30k...
Yes, I'm afraid I was thinking of squadron sized "tea swindles", such as the Canteen we ran in the '50s in the Auxiliary Fighter Control Unit at Thornaby. I don't know what the turnover of ours was, but it was a good business, for I remember that it had accumulated about £1,000 in my kitty by my time (it had been going for years). The NAAFI moaned about it, but we paid no heed.

Some of it had been earned by a barefaced fraud for which my predecessor was responsible (he got Christmas Cards printed by an unscrupulous printer, who then invoiced them to us as "Recruiting Posters"; the North Riding Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Association settled the bill without question; we sold the cards cheaply and made a killing). Needless to say, I put a stop to all such shenanikins !

One of my first tasks after appointment as Adj was to bring in one of my secretarial auxiliary officers, the Assistant Manager of a Darlington bank, to collar and safeguard all the cash he could, open an account at his Bank with it for us, and keep proper accounts for what was, (as being not even a Non-Public Fund), below the RAF radar; the Station Accountant Officer didn't want to know about it.

Although there were three Auxiliary units on Thornaby (608 Squadron, 2608 (Regt) Squadron and ourselves) plus SHQ, and they would all have tea bars, many used to prefer coming over to our Canteen. Thornaby was not a (Regular) WRAF Station but I had about 70 Auxiliary WRAF Radar Operator and Fighter Plotter trainees on strength (who, among other things, ran the Canteen). That may have been a draw !

VAT didn't come in till the 1972 Finance Act (it was, IIRC, one of the preconditions for joining the EU).

Danny.
 
Old 9th Jun 2016, 19:03
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Coffee Swindles ... eek!

As SATCO, I had posted in straight from Shawbury/CATCS a lady who had been Admin (Sec) but transferred to GD(G)ATC in her 30's. Hi, Jean, if you read this stuff!

Taking advantage of her [background & experience], I made her I/C Coffee Swindle ... my subsequent debrief by my new ATC flt lt was quite interesting. I think she saved me all sorts of sh!t
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Old 9th Jun 2016, 20:27
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Good for her! (on both counts)
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Old 9th Jun 2016, 20:58
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Small is Beautiful !

Wander00 (revisiting your #8674),
...Strike Command had a couple of stations where reclaim of unpaid VAT all but wiped out the SIF...
We are talking about what we used to call "The Station Institute Fund", I take it. Obviously things might have changed considerably since 1955, but even from 1973 onward, I would have thought there would be nothing to stop individual squadrons or units on (say) St. Athan forming informal "private" 'Tea Swindles' of their own outside the aegis of the SIF.

By combining the total of all the turnovers under the umbrella of the SIF, naturally you would soon reach the VAT registration threshold - so why not leave them alone as separate legal entities (which would be able to deal with HMRC individually - if so minded, which few would be (as explained in my #8673).

I had a Google ("RAF Station Institute Funds") to see how the land lies today, picked:

"[PDF] chapter 8 banked funds administration - RAF
www.raf.mod.uk/community/mura-raf-community/.../Chapter%208.pdf"

and looked at:

"AP 3223
Leaflet 801
BANKED FUNDS - ORGANISATION, OBJECTIVES AND MEMBERSHIP
80101. The term ‘banked funds’ is used to describe all the RAF Service Funds held by a unit
SFAS apart from the officers’ and SNCOs’ messes and the SIF..."

and decided that enough is enough !

Having said that, I must admit that, even in my time at Thornaby, and with the RAF Accountant Officer offically closing his eyes to our Unit Fund, there appeared in my office one day a civilian with a bulky briefcase, who demanded an account of my stewardship of it. Being of a kindly disposition, and knowing that our now professionally maintained accounts would be copper-bottomed, refrained from telling him to Foxtrot Oscar, and he departed after giving me a clean bill of health. So, a harbinger of things to come ?

Danny.
 
Old 10th Jun 2016, 08:45
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Danny, true, except those on high decided that all should be safely gathered in and under control, subject to VAT where applicable and audited by Station Audit Board and inspected by ("We are here to help you") Command Accounts. In by time in CA Brampton we did get a change in policy so that small funds ISTR less than £1000 a year turnover were not audited or inspected but got a quick "health check" every couple of years.
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Old 10th Jun 2016, 11:12
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Wander00,
...In my time in CA Brampton we did get a change in policy so that small funds ISTR less than £1000 a year turnover were not audited or inspected but got a quick "health check" every couple of years...
I suppose we must be thankful for small mercies. Pity it was not the policy from the start.

Danny.


...
 
Old 10th Jun 2016, 13:47
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Two Generations.

MPN11 (#8676),
...Coffee Swindles ... eek!

As SATCO, I had posted in straight from Shawbury/CATCS a lady who had been Admin (Sec) but transferred to GD(G)ATC...
For twenty years after the war, Air traffic Control in the RAF had been (as I put it earlier here) "A Sunset Home for all the good old has-beens and never-wozzers from the survivors of the wartime aircrew. There was not a control Tower in the land that could not field at least one complete bomber crew from the Controllers..." They did a fair job, and had the advantage that they were immune to the tall tales of the new Young Tigers with their dazzling new Wings.

But it then occurred to the Powers that Be that this lot would all be retiring in a bloc over the next few years, and they (ie the newly hatched MOD) had better Do Something About It. or they would have no ATC service at all. Accordingly they put the word about, and advertised in the weekend broadsheet "glossies", enticing gullible school leavers to apply for short-service Commissions in this glamourous new Branch of the RAF. Good "A" levels would suffice.

And not only school leavers - at Shawbury I instructed a Direct Entrant lady who was hard up against the ridiculous top age limit of 39. There were cross-overs from other Branches (like your ex-Admin, and a number of General List pilots and navs who had been offered earlier chance of promotion if they did so), ATC Assistants put up for commissions, and maybe some Cranwell cadets (?). This in addition to the fag-end of old aircrew put out to grass for their last years of service.

They creamed off the better applicants and gave all the Direct Entrants four (?) month's OCTU at Henlow, and everybody a three month's ATC Course at Shawbury. Then they were let loose (under supervision, of course) on the Air Force. The younsters were the future of the Branch, and I must say the Selection Boards had done their work well. They started coming in to Shawbury about he middle of my instructional tour ('64-'67) there and then I had them in my last (double) tour at Leeming ('67-'72). With rare exceptions, I found the young gentlemen keen and very pleasant, the young ladies equally keen and charming (it was true, they did pick the stunners for ATC - officers and airwomen).

But, charming as they might be, they were generally bad bargains for the RAF. As soon as they received their Certificates of Competency (and started being of use to us), and in one case even before, they tended to vanish in a cloud of orange blossom. I do not recall one who finished her active service. The taxpayer was left to pick up the bill, with little or nothing to show for it.

Whereas the young men set to work, many took General List Commissions and made successful Careers (as indeed did you). The RAF was your Oyster now. The Old Guard stood down, it was time to go.

Danny.
 

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