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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 26th Feb 2017, 09:26
  #10261 (permalink)  
 
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Reading JW411's recollections of the ACR7 at RAF Salalah (OOSA) brought back memories of my own tour there in 1975. By then 04/22 was a tarmac runway of 6,000' x 100' although 17/35 remained rolled sand. We had two ACR7 radar heads (no expense spared by the MoD) with the displays in separate locations; this was to give redundancy in case the Adoo managed to take out one with their mortars. The approach was still made to 35 although if conditions permitted a low level visual break to downwind left and landing on 22. This was the norm for the larger/heavier types such as the BAC111 during the Khareef, although I do recall doing a number of talkdowns on a Belfast, which was bringing a much needed refueller in. He eventually made it, and I'm pretty sure the landing was on 22. Must look out the photo I took.

The Strikemasters of 1Sqn SOAF were located in Burmail (45 gallon oil drums filled with sand) revetments around the 04 end adjacent to the threshold and when they called "Jets Scrambling" there was a pair of them, and they were going off 04 regardless. That caused some surprise to the occasional RAF crews on final 22 more used to the Air Support Command rules, and also to the ATCEB whose eyes became like saucers and complexions paled as they saw aircraft approaching and taking off from four directions on two runways. Land and hold short was in use there long before the Americans "invented" it.

Happy days. Probably the best airfield tour I had in the RAF.
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Old 26th Feb 2017, 12:10
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As something of a coincidence, I had the only genuine engine fire of my long career on take-off from runway 22 at Salalah. The date was 14.04.67 and we had arrived at Salalah from Muharraq via Sharjah with 50-odd troops in Argosy XN820. We were then due to fly back to base at Khormaksar empty.

As we taxied out, Colin called on the radio and said that he had found an Army major who needed to get back to Aden. I arranged for the major to be sent out in a Land Rover and for him to board through the crew nose hatch which allowed us to keep the engines running.

My trusty co-pilot (Brian S) was driving, John LeJ was the flight engineer and DougM (of this parish) was the navigator. At about 60 knots on take-off, John announced a massive torque drop on No.1 so I told Brian to abort. At the same time the fire bell went and John announced that we now had a fire in No.1 so I told him to carry out the engine fire drill which he did in grand style. The aircraft started to fill with smoke so I ordered an evacuation.

I was about to exit through the port para door when I heard the rustle of a newspaper. The Army major was sat there right at the back reading an air mail copy of the Times completely oblivious to everything that was going on around him. I invited him to join me.

The fire had gone out immediately after John had shut the fuel off. Next I had to persuade the firemen not to cover the aeroplane in foam unless they could see actual flames.

The bottom combustion chamber had failed at a weld-joint and that particular can had a fuel drain running through it. Despite the fact that the fire had been dealt with in double-quick time, it had still managed to torch a hole through the double layer cowling.

The next problem came when John discovered that the 2nd Shot fire extinguisher for No.1 engine had actually gone into No.2 engine. This should have been impossible but it transpired that ours was the only unmodified fire bottle in the entire fleet of 56 aircraft!

I would have to say that if can't have your engine fire when parked on the ramp then 60 knots on take-off is a pretty good substitute! Salalah looked after us magnificently that night and we left for Aden the following evening fully repaired.
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Old 26th Feb 2017, 13:37
  #10263 (permalink)  
Danny42C
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MPN11 (#10260),

Re: the ACR7, I worked one for eighteen months '62-'64 at Linton-on-Ouse. Here is an excerpt from my Post here Page 263 , #5255.
...IIRC, there was nothing out of the ordinary in Tower or Approach (usual CR or CA/DF), or in the local procedures, to frighten the horses. But the Radar was a weird beast of a kind that I'd never seen before, and only vaguely heard about. This was the ACR7C, which I believe I've written about before some time ago, but no matter as the tale is worth retelling.
This came to us in two guises: the 7C (Cossor), which was the mobile version, and the 7D (Decca), which was a fixed installation with the console in the Tower (like the later AR1). Ours was the mobile one, IIRC it was sited somewhere in the "cocked hat" in the middle of the three wartime runways. (I think we only used two of these, Wiki gives 03/21 (2,000 yd) and 10/28 (1400 yd). Placed where it was, it could cover all approaches. (p.262 #5234 has a full description and pictures).
Obviously it had to be mounted in some sort of vehicle. Wiki shows a Commer "Cob" with a 7C on the back, but somehow I can't remember a prime mover at all. I think the console (one 12-in PPI tube) was with its operator in something about the size of a rest caravan. [See Posts #5233 #5234 p.262]
There were no other vehicles, just an external diesel generator to power the radar, and a 40-gallon drum of derv - and I'm quite sure about that as it figures later in my tale.
Of course the ACR7 had no Glide Path, it wasn't a Precision Radar, just a PPI runway approach aid. But these are not to be sneezed at. Both MPN-11/CPN-4 and MPN-1 can be used in this mode, although a PPI approach in the MPN-1 would have to be done from one of the Director positions, as talkdown has no search radar console, only a precision centreline and the "Errormeter", which was operated by the Tracker. I never did one on the MPN-1 (not necessary as it could move round to cover both approaches to the [Strubby] main runway), nor on CPN-4, but at least one on AR-1 (and that was under strange circumstances indeed).
ACR7 had originally been designed for the entirely different purpose of marine estuary control. And as all vessels afloat within 20 miles are more or less on the same plane (pace Union Jack, but even 100 ft between wave crest and trough does not subtend much at 10 miles), they were quite content with a very shallow radar lobe. The PPI only had a range of 20 miles, IIRC, but we never had to do any searching as all our customers were handed to us on a plate by Approach.
Aircraft, on the other hand, have the awkward property of going up and down, so as to square this circle and modify the kit for RAF use, they mounted their aerial so that the mid point of the lobe could be raised from ground level to something like 10 above horizontal, IIRC in about seven stages. So when someone was coming in on a QGH, you were monitoring Approach, knew the height and had a rough idea of his range in the turn. In the hut you had a graph from which you could read off the best elevation "stud" to use - but after the first dozen runs you could guess with fair accuracy on which one of these your man would show best.
In my next Post, I do not need to describe our PPI "Talkdowns" (for those who fancy they have heard the tale before are quite right - below is an edited copy of my Post to ACW418 last July (p.198 #3954 - or it was that serial number yesterday).
"You are of course right - you were in the hot seat, and you know ! IIRC, we used two methods, the "Continous Descent" (with a height check every mile), and the "Step Down". This involved only two (?) steps down, from 1500 ft at 5 miles, to 900 ft; he would hold you at that height till you reached 3 miles, then tell you to descend to whatever MAA was in force. Or something like that, but memory fades. I can well imagine that the first method would be just as hard work for the pilot as hugging a glidepath in GCA, but would have thought the second needed much less brainwork (and was just as safe).
The PPI was impressive. Of course it was a very narrow lobe radar, so you could be really accurate. It was the only gear wth which I've been able to see the runway lights ! And I still recall the sharp-cut little square blip. The story was that it was first designed as an estuary radar, and of course all ships are (for practical purposes) in the same plane. The same thing went into towers as the ACR7D (Teesside Airport had one), but the 7C was a truck".
As I can recall no particular triumphs or disasters directly attributable to my tenure in the ACR7C, I will next time launch out instead onto my Subsidiary career as a Fire Officer.....
Your:
..
.IIRC, the ACR7 was actually, originally, a ship's navigation radar which 'inverted' for ATC use...
Haven't heard that, but quite possible.

Danny.
 
Old 26th Feb 2017, 18:15
  #10264 (permalink)  
 
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Thank you, Danny42C for that reprise - which I now recall.

I defer to your concept of "Estuary Radar", and I am just glad I remembered something about it having nautical roots! It is vaguely possible I conducted an Approach at Manby using their kit (we were encouraged to liaise with them). IIRC they had 2 consoles, so as with MPN-11 doing multiple talkdowns there was the inevitable argument about where the beam tilt should be (depending on who had the aircraft on shortest final).

Brave guys worked that kit!! Indeed, any SRA requires a degree of mutual faith. I hated doing the occasional SRA using the Stanley AR-1 (Mobile) before retreating to the safety of my office in the corner of the Tower! I did one with a C-130 in really claggy conditions to Stanley's 09 (across the harbour, mind the stubs of the masts on the wreck of the "Lady Elisabeth", and had a strong suspicion he just wanted azimuth info while he ducked below the 'notional glidepath' once safely (relatively) over the harbour!
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Old 26th Feb 2017, 20:28
  #10265 (permalink)  
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MPN11,

Never having flown either of them, I think I would prefer the "Step Down", as neither the operator nor I would have anything to think about other than keeping me on the line, and as the ranges (concentric circles on the tube) would be accurate, I could safely make the two descents as I was told at (say) 400/500 ft/min, confident that I was completely safe, and would have a few moments each time to settle down before the next stage.

Much less mentally stressful than having to chase a kind of "glide path" all the way down on top of everything else ! Would welcome input here from (dis)satisfied customers who've used the system.

Did we do them on the Link ?

Danny.
 
Old 27th Feb 2017, 10:39
  #10266 (permalink)  
 
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“Step Down” will end up more difficult to fly than a continuous glide path.

3 degrees or 300 ft/mile is the accepted targeted glide path on most approach patterns. This equates to 120 kts; 600ft/min in zero wind. This is easily achievable of most aeroplanes, either fixed wing and helicopter, by a simple known adjustment of power at the start of the descent stage. An experienced pilot will modify that adjustment to cater for headwind/tailwind leading to a smooth unruffled descent to minimums.

Should you start messing about with that you just make life complicated. To do a stepped approach means that you have to descend in excess of the glide path and stop it to get to the next stage and this involves a lot of brain power and throttle bending. Not only that, because even when you go through a height/range absolutely spot on you have no idea of the wind conditions in the next stage whereas if you come down the slope you can read the differing wind effect as you come down and correct for same.

ACR7 is dead and gone with surveillance radar approaches. The nearest equivalent is the VOR/DME approach where the VOR beam bar keeps you on the selected radial/approach track and the DME gives you the distance to the VOR +/- extra to the runway. Some of these are one way only so you can end up with a stonking tailwind.

You have two choices; reduce your speed or increase your rate of descent.

MY personal rule of thumb was that the faster you go down an instrument approach the less time you have to cock it up but with a tailwind this doesn’t work because rates of descent much above 1,200 ft/min becomes difficult to fine control so one has to reduce speed. This brings its own problems as now the aeroplane is more susceptible to atmospheric effects. I have seen and been in aeroplanes where they have banged down full flap at the start of the approach. It would be impossible to do a stepped approach in those circumstances.

It’s all very academic. Nowadays the approach profile is in the Flight Management System so it does it for you and one puts out one’s fag and takes over at 200 ft on finals.
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Old 27th Feb 2017, 12:22
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“Step Down” will end up more difficult to fly than a continuous glide path.
Particularly if you are asymmetric. Every level off would upset both the pitch trim and the rudder trim.
Did a lot of ACR7 approaches, but never remember a step down. All but my basic training was multi engined, - perhaps they did not offer stepdowns to multis for just that reason.
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Old 27th Feb 2017, 13:03
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Whilst I have done squillions of talkdowns, and literally dozens of SRAs, I have never done (nor seen) a step-down. I obviously led a sheltered life
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Old 27th Feb 2017, 13:16
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Fareastdriver and oxenos,

Thanks, chaps - there's the 'gen' from the horse's mouth, seems things not as easy as I'd supposed. YLSNED !

Perhaps it's good that the ACR7 is a thing of the past ....... And yet ... Anything is better than Nothing, when all's said and done.

(an enlightened) Danny.
 
Old 27th Feb 2017, 13:28
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Worksop, with a CRDF on the airfield and a manual VDF at Gamston to give cross-bearings, offered a step-down approach from a QGH to AFIR 300ft. Given all the local industrial crud it was needed and worked quite well.
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Old 27th Feb 2017, 13:58
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That sounds stimulating, binbrook ... and a potentially slow recovery rate!
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Old 27th Feb 2017, 14:31
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MPN11

I don't know - recovery rates were beyond the limited ken of a student on the Short Asymmetric Course. If you cocked up the approach the bad weather circuit was interesting too - left to Manton Colliery chimneys, down the railway line to the level crossing, left to Ranby roundabout, and hope to pick up the approach lights.

It really was not a good location for an AFS/FTS.
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Old 27th Feb 2017, 15:32
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I have to admit that I can't remember ever doing an ACR 7 approach using the "step down" method (or "dive" and "drive" as my American colleagues used to call it). Whilst it is probably perfectly legal, we were discouraged from such methods about 30 years ago when the CAA encouraged us (in writing) to instead attempt to follow a 3-degree stabilised approach when carrying out a Non-Precision Approach.

I can remember my task master getting me to fly an NDB approach into LGW on my final line check in the DC-10 when I joined Laker after I left the RAF. I can imagine that the noise created during a "dive" and "drive" with a DC-10 would have wakened every tree-hugger in Sussex!
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Old 27th Feb 2017, 16:54
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The consensus is clearly in favour of a stabilised approach, rather than ducking and diving
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Old 27th Feb 2017, 18:00
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I wonder if anyone with a better memory than mine can help me with a search. At the end of my description here of the 20 Squadron Spitfires being used in '50 and '51 as (mirror-image !) targets for the TA AA gunners at Tonfanau (Towyn), I recall that I wrote a Post (or could it have been a PM ?) about a few moments innocent relaxation we allowed ourselves after a boring afternoon flogging up and down between Barmouth and Aberdovey, and the guns had stopped firing (about 1600).

On the way back to Valley, we diverted to Abersoch on the Lleyn Penindula. In summer, this was a sort of mini-Cowes for the yachting confraternity. While their menfolk were doing their stuff on the ocean wave, their WAGs and daughters topped up their tans on the beaches. We would do (only one) very low-level W-E run along the tideline to "admire the view", as it were. It did not take long for the girls to cotton-on to this, and shortly before 4 pm, the more enterprising ones would co-operate by tracing names and phone numbers in large letters in the wet sand.

These were duly noted on thigh-pads. I believe some contacts were made. But it was a case of "so near and yet so far !". Although we could fly back to Valley in 2-3 minutes, the road journey would take all day (and use a full month's petrol ration). I don't think anything came of it. Then some killjoy found out about it, reported it and it was stopped.

Can I find this on PPRune Search, or Google ? I can not. I haven't dreamt it. So ???

Danny.
 
Old 27th Feb 2017, 18:12
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I can't remember you writing about it. Take that as you wish.
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Old 27th Feb 2017, 19:06
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Worksop, with a CRDF on the airfield and a manual VDF at Gamston to give cross-bearings,
I can remember flying from Aberdeen to the Shetland basin oilfield using the Scotston Head NDB near Peterhead for tracking and the Consol at Stavanger for distance checks.
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Old 27th Feb 2017, 22:52
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Can I find this on PPRune Search, or Google ? I can not. I haven't dreamt it. So ??? - Danny

Para 6 onwards of Post #3458 of http://www.pprune.org/7653773-post3458.html is the nearest thing I can find.....

Jack
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Old 28th Feb 2017, 09:01
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Chug2's post No 10261 reminded me of my first tour, also on Hastings, at RAF Colerne in the early 1960's when we had to rely upon the ACR7 to guide us home after we had first landed at Lyneham to clear HM Customs following trips overseas. There, we had to accept the lowest priority for Customs clearance if any of the 'shiny' fleets of Comets and Britannias arrived there at the same time, and in consequence all too often found ourselves making the short hop between the two airfields late in the gathering gloom. GEE was not a lot of use beyond the half way point as coverage ran out, although our accomplished navigators could make very good use of it, so if the ACR7 was still being manned at Colerne it was a very welcome aid to enable a safe arrival to be made on the airfield's hill-top runway.

It was not long after I joined my Squadron at Colerne that in September 1963 I flew as co-pilot in Hastings 582 to Middleton St George where our aircraft was to become a static exhibit for an Open Day. I remember the arrival all too clearly, for my Captain was handling the aircraft when we landed and, as happened all too frequently with our four piston-engined tail-wheeled transport aeroplane, it decided to leave the runway and take a short cut to dispersal through the long grass. (For those who never enjoyed flying this Queen of the Skies - yes, it was quite slick in the air for a piston-engined aeroplane - low-speed handling on or near the ground could be a challenge.) Anyway, we speared off towards an orange and white caravan in which its occupants, the ACR7 team, might have imagined they were safe. I shall never forget seeing the doors open left and right with the occupants leaping out and sprinting off in opposite directions, legs going flat out whilst still in the air. Happily, we stopped short of the caravan and the controllers were able to return, probably a little breathless, with muddy feet and just a tad upset!

One other issue regarding ACR7. In later years I flew the RAF VC10s when these were all in the passenger (or passenger/freight) configuration. We were engaged at that time in supporting the return to the UK of Service personnel and their families from Singapore, for which we generally used Changi aerodrome as it existed in the early 1970s. The weather in the late afternoons there tended to be very wet with either vigorous cumulus or thick stratus, both resulting in poor slant-range visibility as observed when making the final approach to land. As part of the withdrawal, the ILS (their only precision approach aid) was one of the first pieces of equipment to be uprooted and decommissioned, leaving us to rely upon the good old ACR7 to see us down. This, I should add, was at the end of a very long day that would have started at Bahrain with a refuelling stop at Gan: the night stop at Bahrain was 26 hours (the worst possible rest period) following a midnight departure from Brize Norton! Thus we were very tired by the time we got to Changi where an approach in poor visibility to be followed by landing on a really very wet runway was far from ideal.

But we couldn't have got in without the ACR7 team, to whom, "Thank you".
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Old 28th Feb 2017, 11:14
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On rather less exotic machinery: last week I was privileged to drive a beautifully restored 1942 ex-RAF Bedford QL, the 4x4 three-tonner which played a major transport role for all three Services as it whined down the world's highways, for in the QL's day Britain still owned quite a few of them. As well as the transmission howl it featured all the QL tricks, such as the angry spitting back through the carburettor when cold causing sharp jolts which fired all the occupants to the front, and the vague steering which in fact wasn't bad for its day -- fortunately the speed limit was 20 mph.

Remember the trafficator, the little yellow arm in the side pillar which was occasionally raised by a solenoid to indicate the direction of turn? If it didn't project, a thump on the pillar usually did the trick or one could wind down the window and stick one's hand out. The eight-inch arm would have been lost on the bulky QL, which has instead an 18-inch metal arm painted white and operated by a wire along the back of the passenger seat. To signal left, pull the wire and loop it over the hook provided, while double-declutching down and preparing to haul the non-power steering wheel. Self-cancelling it is not, but a lift of the finger releases the wire and the arm falls with a satisfying clatter. These vintage machines, be they earthbound or airborne, were hard work!
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