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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 18th Aug 2016, 21:37
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Ahhhhh,but he hasn`t got to ground resonnnnannnce yet......!
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Old 19th Aug 2016, 08:49
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Old Comrades

On Thursday afternoon, 3rd May, we were flown from Brussels through dirty weather to England. At last after 3 years came that longed-for moment when I could see the "white cliffs of Dover" over the Channel. All noses were glued to the windows. We landed at Dunsfold in Surrey and were met by motherly W.V.S. (Women's Voluntary Service) women and nurses and conducted to a beautifully decorated hangar where we had tea, sandwiches and biscuits. Flash left me here, en route for Brighton with the South African contingent. I was sent to London with a Corporal as escort "in case I was scared by the traffic". We went to the residential Endleigh Hotel near Euston and I was taken in charge by a dear old Squadron Leader who fixed me up with tea - poached eggs on toast - a hot bath and a room.

My bad news started from then. After attempting to 'phone home I was unsuccessful, being informed that the number was on a "spare line", a piece of information that puzzled me and could not be explained by the telephone operator. Next morning, still being impatient to speak to my Mum or Dad, I telephoned the Lebus furniture factory (my father's work) and was told that my Dad hadn't been to work for 3 months, but the operator said she would try to get me Dad's new address. A nasty sinking feeling overcame me, and I asked if everything was all right. The operator was rather upset. She told me that "Dad and your sister are O.K. but I don't want to tell you any more”

Further enquiry by telephone to Chingford Police Station confirmed the grim news that my mother had been killed by a V2 rocket. It happened on 1st February, a Thursday, at 2.30p.m. If the damned thing had fallen on any other weekday, my mother would have been working at her job in the shop. How I wished that I could go back then and there to settle accounts with one or two of my German acquaintances.
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Old 19th Aug 2016, 09:51
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Walter,

What can I say ?...... There is nothing I can say.

Danny,
 
Old 19th Aug 2016, 13:20
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Originally Posted by fareastdriver
On the Monday there was a strange atmosphere in the crew room. I was then summoned to the Sqn. Cdr.’s office and grilled about my instructor. He was a diving enthusiast and his car and his clothes had been found by a Welsh beach but there were no signs of him or his kit. “Was he behaving normally?” “I think so, I hardly knew him.” “Do you think he had suicidal tendencies?” “I don’t think so. I didn’t think my flying was that bad.” A few other questions and then I started again with another instructor.
Would this instructor be Terry Peet, whose story is comprehensively told in 'Renegade Hero'? (Pen & Sword ISBN 9781848845305)
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Old 19th Aug 2016, 14:05
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Walter, like Danny I am shocked by the sudden turn of events that your home coming has revealed. Here is the reality of war, and not movie-land's happy ending of reunion with one's loved ones after much travail and suffering. I suspect that this very sad experience was far from unique amongst returning POWs. With very restricted news from home anyway, and NoK not wishing to add further to the everyday trials of those behind the barbed wire, the truth was only fully revealed following their return.

Even those who had survived the home front could have been changed by the war in the meantime, ditto those returning from camps or overseas campaigns. For many families the war went on for decades after August '45, for some it still does....

My sincere condolences, Walter.
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Old 19th Aug 2016, 15:10
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Thanks for sharing that sad ending, Walter. It is a reminder of how the general public were also playing 'the lottery of life', albeit with few defence mechanisms where the V1/V2 were concerned. My grandmother was a couple of hundred yards from the UK's first V2 arrival.
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Old 19th Aug 2016, 15:37
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There was only one redeeming feature of the V2s by all accounts - they arrived silently, (supersonically), so there was not the agonising ten or fifteen seconds' wait between the V1's engine stopping and the bang, when no one in the vicinity knew where it was going to land.

Or so I read. I was in a far away place with a queer sounding name at the time.

Danny.
 
Old 19th Aug 2016, 16:43
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My great grandmother got the last but one V2 in her back garden. It was about 80 yards from impact to their kitchen. Apparently the warhead didn't detonate but the impact shook out the windows and most of the roof off. Years later when I used to visit as a kid there were still bits lying about, noticeably a part of the combustion chamber. There was a rumour going around the family that the warhead was too far down to recover and it is still there.

I bet the people who flashed out about £550,000 for the property a couple of years ago don't know that.
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Old 19th Aug 2016, 19:15
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Would this instructor be Terry Peet
That's the one. He contributed to PPRuNe a few times but I gather he died nearly a year ago.
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Old 19th Aug 2016, 19:18
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It is, generally speaking, not a good idea to fly in the dark with a single-engined helicopter. They have a close affinity with birds and they avoid it too. However it has to be done and the Sycamore’s characteristics make it essential that as little is done as possible. The exercises were confined to the airfield circuit and the aircraft were fitted with Schermulies. These were parachute flares that could be fired electrically to illuminate what was to become the scene of your accident. Having been suitably briefed the CFI (Syc), working on the basis that never send anybody to do what you are afraid to do yourself, took me on my dual trip.

It was not very pleasant. The visibility was awful but fortunately the circuit pattern allowed us to use a well lit prison as a final approach fix. The instrument lighting was below par and it was all very difficult. One dual and one solo flight was the ration so after I had managed to struggle around to a satisfactory standard I was sent off solo.

It was the same on the solo flight. Lousy vis, awful lighting and at one stage I felt like firing off the flares and chucking in this helicopter business. However, I persevered and after the three circuits I returned to dispersal to hand the aircraft over to another solo student.

Nowadays when there is a running change on a single pilot helicopter the new pilot brings someone along with him to hold the controls whilst the departing and arriving pilot change seats. Then it was slightly different.

The new pilot would be cleared to the cockpit and the door would be opened. He would then hold the cyclic stick steady whilst the existing pilot would undo his straps, slide his backside over the centre console and plant himself in the left hand seat. Then he would hold the controls whilst the new pilot strapped in.

We achieved this with no disasters so I stepped out of the left hand door and started to take off my helmet. There was a bang on my nose. I lifted my dark blue high altitude visor and I could see for ruddy miles.

Flash forward twenty years: I am picking up one of two company S76As from Antwerp. We fly them from the docks to Antwerp airfield for fuel, flight plans etc..
My one is an early model with four automobile doors with American IFR instrumentation. The ILS/VORs were different, apparently unserviceable and there was a blanking panel on the consol where the Loran should have been. Also, being an early version, the centre consol was smaller and more deeply slanted than current ones. It was decided that we would fly as a pair with me as No 2 so we departed Antwerp for Gatwick for customs.

Wheels up, fags out, was my standard so out came the Bensons and I lit up. There then came a problem as where to park the cigarettes and lighter. The normal place at the rear of the consol was different so there was no room but just in front of the Loran blanking plate there was a convenient step which was ideal. I placed them there and continued. Half an hour later it was time to light up again. The fags were there but the lighter wasn’t. I felt with my fingers and they revealed a void under the front of the plate. Underneath the plate was the main wiring harness that controlled all the gizmos; like autopilot, engine beepers and fuel pumps. There was however, a solution.

We used to have a small four bladed miniature screwdriver disc for undoing the Zues fasteners on the gearbox canopy during our pre-flight. I could now undo the fasteners and lift the plate and there was my lighter resting on a big bunch of cables. Once rescued, I replaced the plate vowing to use another resting place. That was when my maps migrated off the left hand seat and slid down between the door and the seat.

I now had no Loran, two dodgy VORs and no maps heading towards the London Control Area. This is where my Sycamore training resurrected itself.

I moved out to about four rotor spans; unstrapped; I didn’t need any body to hold the stick as the autopilot was good at that. With a practised movement I swung my back onto the coaming, lifted my feet into the port footwell and slid into the seat. I recovered my maps and reversed the operation to the correct seat. The aircraft, somewhat terrified, didn’t budge from the formation position. The weather was socking in at Gatwick so we got clearance to do a formation ILS on the Westerly runway. We went into cloud at 1,500ft and came out at about 700ft. Formation let downs and PARs were standard practice when I went through training; I don’t know whether it is now.

After forty or so hours on the Sycamore we moved to the advanced phase on the Whirlwind Mk10 but before that I must mention another characteristic; this was its tendency for Ground Resonance.

Non rotary people have heard about it and it was a big problem in the early days. As helicopters have multiple blades and associated engineering rotating in sympathy so out-of-balance or out-of-trim forces can be amplified especially if a harmonic builds up between two or more components, especially the undercarriage.. The Sycamore was designed just after the WW II so this phenomenon was not understood, the result being that it was designed with a main rotor with three blades, a tail rotor with three blades, resting on an undercarriage with three wheels. It was a perfect combination for ground resonance and did it ever! Talk about it and it went into it. Think about it and you could feel it tremble and if they were discussing it in the crew room and you were running outside you had no chance at all. It would start a slow shake which would build up in intensity until it started to get uncomfortable. The instant response is ideally to lift into the hover so the undercarriage is taken out of the circle. Should you not be able to get airborne then a rapid shut down may let you get away with it. Should it not be prevented and allowed to carry on it will increase in intensity to the point where the aircraft will effectively self-disassemble around you so that you can wade out of the wreckage.

A new basic helicopter course replaced us on graduation to the Whirlwind. They had two self-destructs in a fortnight through ground resonance and as the Sycamore had little in common with the rest of the Air Force’s equipment the decision was then made to cease using it. The Bell Agusta Sioux, (Supercharged Bell 47) which were already on the base for instructor training was now thr primary trainer.

So the best, (if you could fly a Sycamore you could fly ANYTHING) trainer the RAF ever had was relegated to communication duties.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 20th Aug 2016 at 09:46.
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Old 19th Aug 2016, 19:39
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Fareastdriver ... your dissertations all tell me that the RN made the right choice in not sending me off to be HSP

But ... I have still, over all the years, followed various topics and conversations [here and elsewhere] that reinforced Their Lordship's wisdom: ground resonance being one of them!
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Old 20th Aug 2016, 13:32
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Originally Posted by MPN11
Thanks for sharing that sad ending, Walter.
It's still not the end!

Dad has these two images, although we're not too sure that the second one is of his old home, where he was born: 8 York Road, Chingford E4. After the V2 hit





The devastation from this terror weapon (which is a fair description, being aimed at civilian targets) is quite obvious.
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Old 20th Aug 2016, 14:27
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John,

What devastation ! I believe the civil authorities thought that a massive gas leak was responsible for the first of these attacks, for it had come out of the blue with no sound.

It is sobering to think that, had it not been for the Peenemunde raid, they would have started far earlier and caused thousands more casualties. In the end, it was only when the Allied advance overran the launch sites that they ceased. Hitler's most effective "Revenge Weapon" was just a bit too late !

But in war that is fatal.

Danny.
 
Old 20th Aug 2016, 14:38
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A terrible scene of devastation in those two pictures, John. Merely looking at them from an uniformed standpoint they do seem to match, ie taken of the LHS and RHS of the point of impact. Indeed the sloping blast damage to the left hand building is almost reflected exactly in that of the right hand building. Also notable the seemingly minor damage to the line of houses behind the rubble (no doubt their windows were blown in but the roofs appear to be intact).

Presumably this was typical of a V2 impact. Total ground level devastation within the blast radius which was however sharply coned by the supersonic speed of impact, but would appreciate input from those better equipped than I.

Quite agree about it being terrifying. I believe that the "V" of the V weapons stood for "Vergeltungswaffen", or retaliatory weapons. Retaliation for what though? I suspect that it alludes to the so called "Terror Bombing" of Germany by the RAF and USAAF. Being a civilian in WWII, especially of a city or large town, put you in the front line no matter if you were German, British, or any other inhabitant of "half a hundred" such targets.

Was there a policy of "misinformation" re the impact locations for the V2's as there was for the V1's? If so was it as effective? Again, all contributions gratefully received...
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Old 20th Aug 2016, 17:56
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Double Bluff.

Chugalug,

Hard to remember, but I seem to recall that one of Hitler's "turned " agents was made to pass back reports that the bomb had actually fallen in south London, not north as widely reported in the Press.

Aha ! thought German Intellingence - these crafty Englander, they want us to lower our sights a trifle, so as to move the aiming point south into open country. But we can see through that - we'll move it north and plant it in the city centre - so there !

With the result.........

(All hearsay). Danny.
 
Old 21st Aug 2016, 05:21
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Danny, Chugalug, MPN11, Fareastdriver, et al.

Thanks mates for your comments and sympathy. I still feel the emotional pain after all these years of what happened to me and my family in those dreadful days. Never did I dream that my dear young Mum (age 42) would be a war victim on the brink of my return from Germany. Curiously she lost a brother in WW1. Alexander Middleton was a Scottish soldier captured in 1917 and died in hospital as a PoW.

Another posting or two and I'll be finished.

Walter.
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 08:49
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Walter,
...Another posting or two and I'll be finished....
Don't you believe it, mate !

Danny.
 
Old 21st Aug 2016, 12:05
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John Eacott

Re. 8 York Road, Chingford

Google Earth shows 8 York Road here:
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/...22656?hl=en-GB

Click and drag the yellow "Browse Street View" icon (bottom right) to York road for a close-up as it is in 2016.

WT
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 13:56
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They didn't hang about rebuilding it. You select History and go back to 12/45 and the replacements are already there.
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 15:08
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The Whirlwind 10 was a modified licence version of the American Sikorsky S55. A different control system with the fixed and rotating star I have mentioned earlier. It had hydraulic assistance at IIRC 1,200 psi which cancelled out the feedback from the main rotor completely. The fuselage was on two levels with the pilot’s seat elevated above the main cabin which was a clear box-like structure. It was designed to carry Grunts around in minimal, if any at all, comfort. To get into the cockpit though a large window one had to climb up the side of the aeroplane and sit there, master of all he surveyed. In front of him instead of a mighty radial engine of previous models he had a Gnome gas turbine, a licence built version of the GE T58 which although capable of producing 1,000 horsepower was restricted to about 750 hp so the transmission could cope. The cockpit instruments were electric; real Artificial Horizons and G4 compasses. On the consol an HP cock and a Speed Select Lever. This, through a computer, selected the rotor speed and held it without the pilot having to control the engine with a throttle. Beside was a large plunger. Should the computer fail then pulling this disconnected it from the engine throttle actuator and control of the engine was then in the pilot’s hands by means of a twist grip on the collective. There was no cam, it was raw throttle.

A press of the starter button and the engine whined into life, no clutches, it had a free turbine. At the rotor speed increases then the hydraulics, driven by the gearbox, come on line and with that one can feel that there is almost no resistance on the cyclic stick, the hydraulics have overcome all the rotating forces. Once everything is up and running a few checks to make sure the secondary hydraulics take over if the primaries are switched off and we are ready to go.

We lift into the hover. Left pedal to counteract the torque as the rotor goes the American way. It sits there in the hover, effortlessly. There is no feedback, hardly any feel, a slight movement of the palm controls any meandering that it dreams up. One learns to rest ones wrist on their knee and use it as a datum for the current manoeuvre. A totally different flight profile requires only inches of repositioning. Spot turns require more effort from the legs because the tail rotor is still a manual version. Compared to the Sycamore it was like stepping into a different world! Ground Resonance, with three Main blades, two Tail blades and four undercarriage legs was virtually unknown.

The normal exercises before the solo stage. EOLs were far simpler. Pull the Speed Select Lever and the engine backed off to Flight Idle; autorotate, a comparatively smooth flare and easy touchdown, anything between 0 and 15 knots. I was beginning to like this; there was a bond developing between me and the aircraft. Three trips, two and a half hours and I was off on my own.

On my third solo flight I was returning from Chetwynd, out relief landing ground at 500 ft. to return to the Tern Hill circuit. A glow on the panel; it was the Engine Fire Warning Light! Before I had time to check the Ts & Ps smoke started rising through the footwell which confirmed that there was a fire. Whirlwinds are made of magnesium and burn pretty well so there was no spare time. Down with the lever, HP cock and fuel pumps off, hit the fire button and Mayday.

There then arises the problem of where to land it and I was downwind. I turned in autorotation into wind and went for a small field that had dragged itself through the woods to place itself in front of me. My flare worked out fine and I landed with about five knots on. We were at the Brakes On phase in Standards so I skidded safely to a halt. To my relief there was no conflagration around me so I vaulted down to the ground.

It’s very lonely when you suddenly arrive in the middle of nowhere with, or without, a sick aeroplane. A quick inspection of the engine compartment, lots of steam and crackling noises but no fire anymore. A commotion from the sky as a Sycamore found me and landed alongside. They checked that everything was OK and then there was a protracted period whilst they found a way where they could get out of the field again.

Forty five minutes; FORTY FIVE MINUTES and a Whirlwind arrived with the guard who were going to look after the aircraft overnight. I was flown back and as it was late I was told to go home and sort the paperwork out tomorrow.

The problem wasn’t a fire as such; it was a split in the annular combustion chamber. The next afternoon I went in the back of a Whirlwind with an instructor to my aircraft. They had finished the engine change so we did the check runs and then I flew it back to Tern Hill.

Not only was it an advanced helicopter course but it was also the OCU because there were four squadrons of Whirlwinds in the Far East, another two SAR squadrons in the UK plus several small flights scattered around the world from Hong Kong to British Guiana. To this end we were trained in the whole spectrum of trooping, underslung loads and at the end we went to RAF Valley for the Mountain Flying and SAR element.

Mountains are beautiful to look at but they can hide a brooding evil when you fly amongst them. The natural movement of air around produces varying air flows that may bear no relation to the general wind around you. One is taught to look at a valley or ridge and visualise how it is going to affect you. For example the wind blowing over a ridge will have a marked upward flow on the upwind side but a rapidly descending airflow in the lee. Ignoring this and carrying out a normal approach path to the top of the ridge can lead you into the down flow and if strong enough it will exceed the helicopters rate of climb so you will fall short. Knowing the score one does a far steeper approach to stay in the updrafting air. One learns to read the possible severe turbulence that can be set up in the lee of mountains. Ignorance of these conditions can lead to disaster; for example BA911 which was torn apart by the turbulence around Mt. Fuji.

https://www.flightglobal.com/FlightP...20-%201067.PDF

Whilst I was at Valley Ian Smith declared UDI. I had been there three months previously on my Domcol leave so I knew it was boiling up. A sudden closing of a short friendship with two RRAF trainees doing a Hunter course as they were dispatched back to Salisbury.

On with the immersion suits and on to sea winching. You were now being assessed not only by your instructor but hairy old experienced winch operators and winchmen; a far more terrifying prospect. Hovering over land is fairly straightforward, it’s little more than flying a hot formation on a blade of grass but over the sea the surface keeps moving and the dinghy or whatever isn’t. There are loads of individual ways to maintain a 15 ft. hover over the sea; sometimes just telling the aircraft to keep still works as well as any. They were quite pleased with me and the suggestion that I would be suited for an SAR squadron was mooted.

Another part of the course was the mysteries of the Decca Navigation System, a hyperbolic system using low frequency phase comparison. There were three; red, green and purple indicators that were checked against a master. You Decca map had similar coloured lines printed on it and working out what colour and number lane you were on enabled one to get a cross cut with two with the third as confirmation. On the coaming was mounted a roller map with a pen which by a combination of the receiver rolling the map back and forth and shuffling the pen from side to side indicated where you were. The map itself was distorted as the curved line of a normal map had to be straightened out for the benefit of the mechanics. You could do a Decca instrument approach on the airfield down to 50 ft and within ten yards of the cross which was the aiming point.

When we returned to Tern Hill our postings were awaiting us. Good bye, thoughts of SAR, hello North Borneo with one year unaccompanied to boot. Just the job when you have been recently married. It was a foretaste of what was to come as I was about to lead the nomadic life of a military and then a civil helicopter pilot.

Other planning also fell apart. After my Final Handling test I was earmarked to return to Tern Hill for instructor training after my year in Borneo. That was scuppered because Confrontation ended early and the whole squadron came back to the UK in one piece. By then I had far more interesting plans than to join the training mill.

In January 1966 I arrived in Labuan to start a totally different form of flying that I had ever considered doing when I signed the dotted line in Salisbury six years earlier.

That's all for now.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 22nd Aug 2016 at 10:38.
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