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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 22nd May 2017, 18:03
  #10681 (permalink)  
Danny42C
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harrym (#10679),

So that's that made all the row ! I snuggled happily behind my inch-thick panel of armoured glass (it'd bounce off the angled side panels). Engine not bothered - cowlings paintwork battered a bit.

A frightening experience in your York ! Similar thing happened to me in a car: out of the blue came a loud crack and the screen crazed. Crawled to nearest Halfords, got celluloid sheet (then in demand for sport car and sidecar windows), about 9x7 in, pushed big hole in screen outwards easily, covered it with the clear sheet and secured with Sellotape. Drove over the Pennines to York on a snowy Christmas night ('62, I think). Luckily it didn't snow any more, as I couldn't use the wipers. Traffic almost nil.

Got in all right !

Glad to see you back - now how about some York stories ?
 
Old 23rd May 2017, 09:51
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Yes indeed Harry, what was the York like to fly, did it bear resemblance to its much-loved military sister the Lancaster? Did you like it? It does seem to figure quite often in accident reports I saw one at Bombay on our way home in 1947 and another flew over Binbrook about 1950 but neither myself nor father ever was close to one.

I have asked in this matchless thread for memories of icing, one brush was enough for me and I know that many WW2 aircraft were lost because of it, but we would all welcome memories of post-war aviation when experienced crews still battled with limited equipment and the same old weather.

Further to the discussion on instrument panels, Capt. A A Fresson's book Air Road to the Isles recalls operating DH89 Rapides on the Scottish island services, with no artificial horizon or DI on some aircraft. He did have ADF radio compass and an early radio altimeter the radio had a 200ft aerial which was wound in for landing except in bad weather. The radio op would keep one hand on the cable and tell the pilot when he felt it brush the surface. As the aerial had a 7lb lead weight on the end wise groundlubbers stayed inside during the procedure.
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Old 23rd May 2017, 14:53
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My first airborne hours were in one of those Rapides, circa 1943, flying from Renfrew (then Glasgow's airfield) to South Uist. And 70+ years later, I still recall reaching for the Sick Bag as we battled with the 'air pockets'! Seeing as that would have been in the days of "Is your journey really necessary?", I can only assume that some family crisis took my Dad and me on such an adventurous (and expensive?) journey.
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Old 23rd May 2017, 15:22
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My first flight was in a Rapide at Aldergrove during Empire Air Day. The last York I saw was a Dan Air York that arrived in Honington in 1963 to take Victor spares for the detachment in Singapore.

According to the reports I heard they had a 45 Gallon drum of engine oil inside but it got there in the end.

As an example of how old pistons were used in the civilian world I looked over a Constellation in Belize. The mainwheels were soaked in oil and I was invited inside by the flight engineer who proceeded to run No 4 so I asked him if he was worried about the engine.

His reply was that No 3 was the dodgy one and after takeoff they would feather it immediately so as to make sure they had five minutes out of it on the approach.

No 4 only had a 300 rpm mag drop----not a big problem.
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Old 23rd May 2017, 18:24
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Fareastdriver (#10685),
...According to the reports I heard they had a 45 Gallon drum of engine oil inside but it got there in the end...
We had an old Minx Staff Car. Drove it from N.Yorks to Hampshire with a 2-gallon tin of oil in the boot. Used it all - couldn't see out the back for smoke - but arrived !

Danny.
 
Old 23rd May 2017, 19:00
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At Shawbury in my student days was a 5 Alvis with a V8 engine that did 200 mpg of oil. You could see it going from miles away.

Sold on from Course to Course, of course.
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Old 23rd May 2017, 20:58
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Actually worked on a civilian York, once.

It diverted into Istres with a snag. It was un-officially fixed, for a small contribution to the unit bar funds.
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Old 24th May 2017, 09:37
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There are two surviving Yorks; at Cosford and Duxford. The one at IWM Duxford is ex-Dan Air G-ANTK that saw RAF service as MW232 from 1946 and flew on the Berlin Airlift. It now belongs to the Duxford Aviation Society along with 11 other airliners including Ambassador G-ALZO and Comet 4 G-APYD, both also ex-Dan Air.

There are moves afoot to redevelop the part of Duxford that the DAS flight line occupies to WWII appearance. That means that the flight line, together with the DAS workshops and offices, would be on the move. Hopefully that would be elsewhere at Duxford, but these are early days.

http://das.org.uk/
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Old 24th May 2017, 10:31
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Originally Posted by Geriaviator
Yes indeed Harry, what was the York like to fly, did it bear resemblance to its much-loved military sister the Lancaster? Did you like it? It does seem to figure quite often in accident reports … I saw one at Bombay on our way home in 1947 and another flew over Binbrook about 1950 but neither myself nor father ever was close to one.

I have asked in this matchless thread for memories of icing, one brush was enough for me and I know that many WW2 aircraft were lost because of it, but we would all welcome memories of post-war aviation when experienced crews still battled with limited equipment and the same old weather.

Further to the discussion on instrument panels, Capt. A A Fresson's book Air Road to the Isles recalls operating DH89 Rapides on the Scottish island services, with no artificial horizon or DI on some aircraft. He did have ADF radio compass and an early radio altimeter – the radio had a 200ft aerial which was wound in for landing except in bad weather. The radio op would keep one hand on the cable and tell the pilot when he felt it brush the surface. As the aerial had a 7lb lead weight on the end wise groundlubbers stayed inside during the procedure.
Geriaviator - You're right - they did seem to be accident prone. In the mid-50s as a child I flew from London to Tehran on a Persian Air Services York ("Dog Easy" - EP-ADE).
I don't know how many PAS started with, but they managed to write 3 off (including Dog Easy).

Last edited by artee; 24th May 2017 at 10:32. Reason: Spillong
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Old 24th May 2017, 11:11
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When I was a lad, Scottish Aviation started to drag ex-RAF Yorks out of the MU at Silloth in order to refurbish them for my local airline, Scottish Airlines. They were to be used on trooping contracts.

Eight aircraft arrived at Prestwick in total. Seven of them entered service but no less than five of them were written off in a period of about 3 years! Sadly, two of them involved fatalaties.
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Old 24th May 2017, 14:31
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York v Lanc

Re #10682 Sorry Danny, my 800-odd hours on the York during 1949-50 were largely passed in plodding uneventfully between UK, Singapore and (occasionally) Aden so no excitements which is, after all, how I preferred my flying! Despite its later indifferent safety record in the civilian world, I had only one engine shut-down and that was for a glycol leak.

Re 10691 The York was of course necessarily operated at less than Group A standards and thus, like all large (and rather underpowered) aircraft of that period having the third wheel at the wrong end, suffered from a 'safety gap' between some unspecified speed during the take-off roll and attainment of 3-engine safety speed after airborne usually about 25k above unstick speed. Thus, loss of an engine during that gap was an almost sure guarantee of disaster (indeed, at higher weights and/or temperature a dead cert).

Re 10638 Apologies Geriavator I never flew the Lanc so can make no comparison, though I would imagine given its boxy, slab-sided fuselage the York handled less pleasantly than its progenitor. I recall it flew quite neutrally with no vices, although never seemed to warrant the praise I heard lavished on the Lanc. One minor feature that always annoyed me was the poor design of the spectacle-mounted brake lever, almost sure to cause a blistered left index finger if a long taxy had to be undertaken on a windy day.

Although obviously encountering ice from time to time over the years, I don't recall ever having had any problems; guess I was just lucky, although to balance the picture lightning gave me the odd jolt now & then!
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Old 24th May 2017, 14:45
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I have an old friend at Shoreham who flew the York for Skyways. He tells a story about losing an engine just after take off from Khartoum. The highest they got in the subsequent circuit was about 150 feet. As you say, certainly not to Performance A standards but at least they didn't crash! He also reckons that having the throttles in the roof was less than instinctive until you got used to the idea.
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Old 24th May 2017, 17:17
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THE COBRA

The RAF married quarter bungalows rest on stilts with a three-foot space beneath, and I have already explored this inviting cave before the monsoon. I decide that if I can find a snake or two they will bring Arthat back to deal with them and maybe he can stay longer this time. In fact, why doesn't he stay with me and I can provide a local snake disposal service?

Underneath the bungalows it's cool and quiet if rather mucky, and soon I'm covered in red mud left by the monsoon rains. As I'm crawling under Sgt James's house next door I sense rather than see something move from between the stilts, and I'm suddenly seized by utter terror as a diamond-shaped silhouette rises and sways not five feet away from me. I know it's a snake and some basic instinct screams to me that I'm in terrible danger.

I reverse into the sunlight yelling in fear, plastered in red mud and calling in English and in Hindi words picked up from our friendly bearers. Sneep, burra sneep, jeldi jeldi, mongoose-wallah karo! Snake, big snake, quick quick get the mongoose-wallah! Sgt James hobbles down the steps on his broken leg, Indian bearers run from the other bungalows, one with a hooked pole drags out a snake and they beat it to death.

They call that it's a cobra and hold it up so I can see its body is taller than I am but I dare not go near it. Mummy is very upset and Daddy is called home from work. I've had such a fright that I am scared to come down the verandah steps for the next week, even with kindly Pop our bearer as escort.

Next instalment: Arthat the mongoose tells Geriaviator (aged 5) that the cobra is a very bad snake - Koborrah sneep bahut burraburra hai, for mongooses don't speak English) and it's best to leave the snakes to him because he is protected by the Lord Shiva. Which will lead to an interesting theological discussion with the padre
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Old 24th May 2017, 17:59
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harrym (#10692)
...Re #10682 – Sorry Danny, my 800-odd hours on the York during 1949-50 were largely passed in plodding uneventfully between UK and ...
No, harry, you can't bow out as easily as that ! The devil is in the detail - and all the funny bits, too. As has been often said on this Prince of Threads: "A Funny Thing happened to me on the way to the Theatre tonight" - the stand-by entry gag of the old end-of-pier comedians - and it was usually the best part of the Show. Think back over your whole service (what happened to you after you finished training in Canada ?) .... Give ! - we are all waiting round the stove in our cybercrewroom.

Has been asked before, is it true that the York (and Hastings and Valletta) had to be tail-draggers so that the Army could load them out of the back of a three-ton truck ?

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Old 24th May 2017, 18:36
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I think that nosewheels were a bit Avant garde for British designers. Their main concern was the weight of the assembly plus all the hydraulics required. Considering that at that time the USAF large aircraft were almost entirely nosewheel equipped apart from the B17, a mid thirties design.

They got it right with the Gloster e28/39 and then the Meteor but Supermarine fouled it up with the Attacker. The RAF threw it away and the Navy persevered with it for a short time. According to Wiki when it took off on grass it left a furrow that three men could lie down in.

This allergy to nosewheels continued with the Hastings, Valletta and Shackleton; it wasn't until the fifties that all new aircraft had a nosewheel undercarriage.
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Old 24th May 2017, 20:14
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It wasn't the technical difficulty of providing a nosewheel that had the Hastings sitting on its rear end and waddling around like a duck on the ground, for its contemporary in the civil field was the Hermes. Same company, same aircraft almost, but with a nosewheel. LGW had one grounded just outside the old control tower as a rescue trainer. Up front inside it was almost identical to the Hastings, same throttle quadrant, same seats, same layout.

Danny, you are right, it was the Army that demanded it be a tail dragger, but not for the convenience of loading (ask anyone who has manoeuvred a vehicle on the specially required loading ramp and then had to bounce it though the doubled freight door opening so that it was aligned fore and aft with the aircraft, before pushing it up the one in whatever hill, chocking all the way, until tied down in the required position).

The same hill meant lots of height between a/c underside and ground so that a gun and limber etc, together with parachute packs, could be slung from a beam between the main undercarriages. The beam in turn could be released by a WC flush like handle above the co-pilot. As has been pointed out, an engine failure between V1 (ie you could no longer stop on the runway) and safety speed (ie you could now continue in sustained flight) meant that it was left to the pilot to exercise his discretion as to what action was appropriate ("all crew to i/c and say after me...."). Thus, so loaded, the take-off was deadly quiet, for if anyone so much as cleared his throat the co-pilot would immediately pull on the handle sending gun, limber, etc, south at 32'/sec squared. By 200' safety speed should have been attained, even with this ungainly appendage, and Hastie, crew, and encumbrance could continue on their official occasions to the DZ (a hastily revised one no doubt).

Last edited by Chugalug2; 24th May 2017 at 20:35. Reason: change of DZ
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Old 24th May 2017, 20:40
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The same hill meant lots of height between a/c underside and ground so that a gun and limber etc, together with parachute packs, could be slung from a beam between the main undercarriages.
I cannot fathom the reason for insisting on a tailwheel undercarriage for this purpose. The gun and limber have to be mounted underneath the aircraft at about the C of G. On a tailwheel the gear is slightly ahead of the C of G, nosewheel slightly behind. It doesn't matter what you have if the main oleos are the same length because the aircraft's C of G will be at a similar height.

I cannot see how mounting the limber from the rear in the attitude that it is going to fly at can be more difficult than the performance of loading it at an angle.

Being a cynic I think that that might be an old wives tale.
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Old 24th May 2017, 21:08
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FED:-
Being a cynic I think that that might be an old wives tale.
While I cannot admit to first hand knowledge (this and glider towing, for which the release ring could still be seen in the tail lamp cluster, were mercifully no longer a part of the OCU syllabus at Thorney Island in 1963), I have googled this pic of at least one Jeep/Land Rover (and gun?) underslung on a Hastings in flight. I offer it as Exhibit A m'lud:-

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Old 25th May 2017, 08:51
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I.ve seen that picture before so I am in no doubt that it was done. Looking at that picture one can imagine the lack of space to manoeuvre the limber on the ground with the tail hanging down plus the propellers getting in the way.

'The old wives tale' was not whether it happened but an Army requirement was an excuse as to why Handley Page were unable to think of putting a nosewheel undercarriage on until they tried to build a DC4 lookalike.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 25th May 2017 at 09:32.
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Old 25th May 2017, 09:42
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FED. If you read up on the HP Hermes, it was supposed to enter service before the Hastings. It did not do so because the prototype crashed and also because of the urgent demands of the Berlin Airlift (though admittedly it flew with a tailwheel as did the second prototype. The nosewheel production version flew in 1948). The "old wives" who told me about the Hastings tailwheel configuration were clear that it was at the Army's insistence. I take your point about the headroom clearance between the main gear structures being the same in tail or nose wheel configs. The problem wasn't the load in situ but the getting of it there.

From the picture you can see that the load has been prep'd for airdrop, including compressible platforms rigged beneath the wheels for cushioning impact loads. It thus had to be presented to the aircraft on a low loader, which was backed into position from the front where there was greatly increased clearance. The Army would be aware from WWII experience that loading tail draggers (bombers, as well as transport external loads) was greatly facilitated by this increase in headroom. Speed of preparation and loading is an important part of airborne operations, especially in the mass formations then envisaged (and possible!). There was of course the enormous stockpile of components surplus from wartime production. Many of those in the Hastings were originally for the Halifax (the main wheels being the most obvious external items). Exploiting this was plain economic common sense. That it coincided with the main customer's wishes merely made it a no brainer.

BTW, once airborne the HP Hastings could outhaul and out range the DC4, and served RAF MRT requirements long after its rival left similar USAF service.

Last edited by Chugalug2; 25th May 2017 at 10:41. Reason: Words
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