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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 May 2017, 18:19
  #10721 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Co. Down
Age: 79
Posts: 570
I hope all this is relevant!!
Ormeside, it's meat and drink to the denizens of this virtual crewroom, more please!
I note that our much revered senior member has just posted #10720, 11k on the way I hope.
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Old 26th May 2017, 18:24
  #10722 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Fairford, Glos
Age: 96
Posts: 155
York Throttle position - #10693

Yes JW411, the York's throttle positioning was unusual (though I believe the Catalina's was similar) but was dictated by the aircraft's front end design; for with the pilots being seated high in the nose, with a sort of chasm between them, there was no other option. Given the standard Transport Command policy of engineer-operated throttles, setting them according to the pilot's command, this made life complicated (and potentially hazardous) for flight engineers who had to balance themselves with one foot beneath the captain's seat and the other wedged somehow under the navigator's table with no means of restraint provided. Whether or not the civil world used the same dangerous system I don't know, I rather doubt it as throttle setting by either pilot was perfectly possible if perhaps rather awkward as compared with the the vast majority of other aircraft.

I had personal experience one day of the RAF's dangerous SOP when detailed to act as engineer on a short-notice internal flight, no qualified engineer being available. Given my 6ft 4 inch frame it was quite a job lodging myself in the approved position, but all went well until arrival at destination where the runway was out of use for repair and we had to land on the grass alongside. Whether or not this put the pilot off I don't know, but he made such a hard landing that my knees gave way beneath me and I fell backwards into the gangway several feet below, mercifully without injury - I was indeed most fortunate, no bruises or cuts and I did not even bang my head!

It has always seem odd to me that that this dangerous practice was tolerated by a system that also rigidly enforced the use of full harness on take-off and landing for other crew members - but then, as we know, the RAF could at times be rather short on logic!
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Old 26th May 2017, 21:12
  #10723 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: West Sussex
Age: 79
Posts: 4,434
Wow, what a plenitude of posts to savour!

JW411, much thanks for the link which produces a veritable feast of Hastings photos and videos! Most relevant to current discussion is one clearly showing a beam hanging jeep and gun combo. The jeep facing backwards (presumably so that the heavy engine pitches it downwards on release) with a gun behind which seems to have a vane attached to the trail (as a rudder to prevent it rotating on release to spear the fuselage?). Oddly a para stick is already exiting the aircraft. Was it not SOP to drop heavy loads first and then the troops and not vice versa to prevent being hit by the former (especially in the case of a maldrop? Perhaps the vehicles were going to an alternative DZ?

So, another 5% man. Isn't there a tie (obvious motif, flaming balls!) for you chaps? Sounds as though you all have a good case to sue the Faraday estate, I'd say.

Ormeside, thanks for your Hastings memories also. It sounds as though the position and/or the length of the beam could be adjusted to accommodate the load in question? It also seems that Jeeps with or without trailers featured more in the Para wish list than guns. I seem to remember that the lack of vehicles at Arnhem together with the distance of the DZs from the bridge posed great tactical problems in seizing the latter and holding it (yes, the odd SS battalion and fog in the UK didn't help, I'll grant).

I've seen a pic of the Greenland Hastie before. Fate moves in mysterious ways her wonders to perform does she not? Having said that all survived unscathed I think. Free dropping from 50' tricky enough. Over ice and snow in a whiteout? Not a good idea!

I fully support Danny and Geriaviator's calls to arms. If you look in the bottom of your tankard you should see one of Her Majesty's shillings!

Danny, blood chits were one RAF tradition that spanned the decades. I was glad to sign one to be allowed a ride in the BBMF Lanc's rear turret. I was now a civvie but Jacko allowed me on board for the 20mins flight of a lifetime!

Speaking of the BBMF, I seem to remember a few years ago an interview with a later BBMF O i/c explaining the help he had received from a visiting veteran Lanc pilot. Having heard the trouble they were having trying to three point theirs in cross-winds he was told, "We never did a three pointer in a x-wind, but wheeled it on and only lowered the tail as rudder control was lost". I could have told them that! I don't know if they were just being polite, but a lot of such info that is passed on verbally from instructors to trainees tends to be the first thing lost.
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Old 26th May 2017, 21:37
  #10724 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a
Chugalug (#10725),

"We never did a three pointer in a x-wind, but wheeled it on and only lowered the tail as rudder control was lost". I could have told them that!"

Didn't everybody with a tail-dragger ? How else was disaster to be averted ? Stands to reason

Shows that we old duffers can still help out on occasion !

Now when I were a lad .....................

Old 27th May 2017, 00:07
  #10725 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Llandudno
Age: 96
Posts: 120
When I returned from 1 BFTS in Terrell, Texas in June 1944, I fondly imagined that I would be flying Mustangs or Spitfires. Not so, and after the debacle at Arnhem, the Glider Pilot Regiment was virtually non- operational. Volunteers from we, awaiting further training, were asked to volunteer for secondment to the Regiment. Few volunteered so we were read the riot act at the pool in Harrogate. We were told that unless we volunteered we would be sent to the infantry or down the mines. So we were voluntary conscripts!! We were taught to fly Hotspur, Horsas and Hadrians and were incorporated into the Regiment. They taught us to become infantrymen and to be able to help with anything which we would take into action -- the Regiment didn't have passengers. I was lucky enough to take part in the Rhine Crossing and survive. On one exercise we did carry 26 members of the Parachute Regiment in the Horsa. They were not impressed and said that they would rather jump. Of course, we didn't carry parachutes. I was on embarkation leave for the Far East when, luckily the. Bomb was dropped. I left the RAF in 1947 .. I rejoined the RAF in 1951 and after a year ended up on 47 Squadron at Topcliffe. So I was very interested in seeing airborne ops from the comfort of the Hastings.
I do not tnink that the Hastings ever towed a glider, and by this time the Glider Pilot Regiment had been incorporated into the Army Air Corps. From 47 I was posted to Coastal at St Mawgan. I was hoping to go to Sunderlands, but by the time I had finished OCTU, Calshot had closed and Sunderlands were a closed shop.
I was posted to Kinloss and given the choice of Neptunes or Shackletons. I chose Neptunes, and ended up on 203 Squadron , back at Topcliffe, now a Coastal base.
The Neptune was a lovely aircraft. At that time it was equipped with two 20mm cannon in the Noe and tail and twin .5 machine guns in the mid upper turret. We also could carry 16 rockets under the wings and a couple of depth charges and the Lindholm asr gear in the bomb bay. We had the APS radar underneath the flight deck, the APS 31 attack radar in one wing tip fuel tank, and a 75 million candlepower searchlight in the other. It had two 3500 hip Wright turbo compound engines . A press button on the pedestal could synchronise the engines and we could speak to each other on the flight deck without the intercom. The poor old engineer sat on a wooden chair at the entrance to the flight deck where he could see the the enormous switchboard by his left shoulder and operate the very clever cross feeds under a cover by his feet
We had lift spoilers on the wings so steep turn were a doddle. There was a varicam button on the control column which allowed an electric motor to activate the tail plane which would help the elevators i.e. No varicam, no roundout. Then the captain would shout "stick", the co pilot would push the stick forward and the captain would engage reverse gear and transfer his left hand to the wheel for the nose wheel steering. When we lost our turrets and were fitted with the MAD tail, we had to have an hydraulic varicam as the electric motor interfered with the MAD. In 1200 hours on the Neptune I only had to feather once in anger,, had to ditch the wing tips ( not popular!)
We lost one Neptune from Topcliffe when it hit the Mull of Kintyre on an exercise from the Joint Anti- Submarine School, operating out of Ballykelly. Fair amoun of controversy over that!!
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Old 27th May 2017, 09:30
  #10726 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: uk
Posts: 1,660
Hastings Greenland Crash

The book about the Greenland expedition describes the Hastings crash. Apparently, the stunned silence after the crash was broken by the sound of Lt Cdr Brett Knowles tearing down a glacier on skis and armed with a screwdriver to start stealing any useful parts from the wreckage. A few years later Brett Knowles sent me solo as an ATC cadet in a Mk3 glider. We were all encouraged to buy the book to help pay for another expedition he was trying to set up.
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Old 27th May 2017, 10:47
  #10727 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 5,008
A question about spinners for Hastings drivers.

On almost Pratt & Whitney and Wright radials there is only the propeller mechanism which is shrouded, again on Bristol and Alvis. The pictures of the Hastings vary; most have a big spinner that covers most of the first cylinder bank and the Viking and Valetta were similar.

Occasionally pictures show up of them flying with the spinners removed. It could not have been a tropical requirement or all the aircraft in FEAF would have flown without them.

Two reasons for spinners come to my mind. One is to streamline the nacelle and the second is to stop the engine being overcooled. My little experience on American radials; CH57 Mojave; which had little aerodynamic cooling, showed that on the whole the gills were only fully opened in the hover so I wouldn't have thought that overcooling was a problem. On the Hercules was there was a penalty for the lack of finning because of the sleeves?

They look pretty but why did they come along so late in the radial engine era.
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Old 27th May 2017, 11:39
  #10728 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: UK
Age: 79
Posts: 3,735

The Icecap Hastings did produce one injury; the signaller hit his head on one of the radios and needed some attention. We did not carry a signaller on the Argosy but we had a Station AEO. When I got to Benson in 1962 the incumbent was M Sig Frankie Burke who was the casualty as described above. He was a most amusing chap and he had some great tales to tell.
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Old 27th May 2017, 12:28
  #10729 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Co. Down
Age: 79
Posts: 570
Great stories Ormeside, more please! Sixty years ago we spent summer holidays in the little harbour at Ballintoy, on the north Antrim coast (now very popular after its use in Game of Thrones). I recall seeing the Neptunes rumbling home to Ballykelly at about 500ft and exchanging waves with crewmen sitting in the open door which was on the port side if I remember correctly. British a/c such as Lancaster, Lincoln, Wellington etc had the rear door on the starboard side. Maybe it was something to do with the odd US practice of left-hand drive
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Old 27th May 2017, 12:45
  #10730 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a
Ormeside28 (#10727),

".... On one exercise we did carry 26 members of the Parachute Regiment in the Horsa. They were not impressed and said that they would rather jump ....."

Long ago I told of a weekend occasion somewhere near Shawbury. The RAF Parachutist Display Team ("Red Devils" ?) was being ferried to or from an engagement in their "Dominie" (aka Dragon Rapide). An engine failed. Loaded, the thing could not maintain height. The pilot appealed to his pax to do the decent thing. They readily complied and floated down over Shopshire. Unencumbered, the Domine made it safely into Shawbury (?)

SDO Shawbury spent the rest of the afternoon organising transport to rescue the castaways from the various low taverns into which they had taken refuge.


"...They were not impressed..."

Don't blame 'em. Did a (very little) Club gliding myself at Geilenkirchen 1960. Every landing a forced landing (apart from winched circuits) - and no Flying Pay ? (only joking- I enjoyed it !

"...I left the RAF in 1947 .. I rejoined the RAF in 1951 and after a year ended up on 47 Squadron at Topcliffe..."

I left in 1946, rejoined in 1949, and a year later was posted to 20 Sqdn, after a conversion onto Meteors. They gave me a Vampire (which I'd never seen) and a Spitfire (which I'd trained on seven years before) to fly. It figures !

Never a dull moment !

Old 27th May 2017, 13:44
  #10731 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a
pulse1 (#10728),

"...armed with a screwdriver to start stealing any useful parts from the wreckage..."

In my day, it was always the clock which went first, as they were wind-up jobs, attached to the panel with only four bolts, and would easily transfer to the dash of your old banger.

Old 27th May 2017, 14:58
  #10732 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a
Fareastdriver (#10729),

"...Two reasons for spinners come to my mind. One is to streamline the nacelle and the second is to stop the engine being overcooled. My little experience on American radials; CH57 Mojave; which had little aerodynamic cooling, showed that on the whole the gills were only fully opened in the hover ..."

I can see the sense of that in a helicopter. And even in fixed wing, in India, with twin-row US radials, we always took-off with cowl gills full open. As for spinners, I always thought that they were only cosmetic. The old "Battle", which was really a handsome aircraft, would have looked more complete with a spinner. But I can't see how a spinner would increase the cooling much.

But having the two-postion (Valiant), or constant-speed mechanism (Harvard) in full view from the side after start-up, enabled many a stude to understand how a "Wasp's" worked better than any lecture. (What was it btw ?)

Our Hamilton Standard props on the VV had a simple "dome" front, much neater, and didn't need a Spinner.

Old 27th May 2017, 17:52
  #10733 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Fairford, Glos
Age: 96
Posts: 155
Hastings spinners

This was always a bit of a mystery, as throughout the Hastings' life spinners seemed to come and go for no apparent reason. I vaguely recall that in the very early days they carried fans as well, although the blades were soon removed never to return.

Whether with or without the fan, or removed entirely, there seemed to be no discernible effect on performance or engine temperatures either. For much of its life the majority of the fleet was spinner-less although a few kept them; the Mk IV my crew and I operated from Changi in the early 1950s was one, retaining them for our entire 2 1/2 year tour.

The aircraft certainly looked better with them fitted, their removal exposing a rather ugly metal disc that looked rather like an enlarged colander.
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Old 27th May 2017, 18:05
  #10734 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Co. Down
Age: 79
Posts: 570
Poona memories 1946

Continued from #10694 page 535, the adventures of a five-year-old in RAF Poona, 1946

About a week later Pop our Indian bearer calls me outside, he says someone wants to talk to me. To my delight it's Pop's friend the mongoose-wallah, and my furry friend Arthat. As he settles down across my lap Pop says he will interpret because Arthat doesn't speak English, and he puts his ear down to the mongoose.

Namaste, chota sahib, says the mongoose. Greetings, young sir. Namaste Arthat sahib, I reply. Arthat, in the voice of Pop, tells me that snake hunting is best left to the mongoose like him. Koborrah sneep bahut burraburra hai, he says, the cobra snake is very bad. If he bites you it will be very sore, but he can't hurt me because I am protected by the good Lord Shiva. Would the Lord Shiva protect me as well? I ask the mongoose. Pop listens intently, and replies that Arthat is sure Lord Shiva will look after me too, but he can't watch everybody at once and he might not see me under the bungalow next time.

I assure the mongoose that I will never go looking for snakes again, and the kindly owner lets me play with him until it's time for tiffin. Mummy even lets me take him into the house, and she thanks Pop and the mongoose-wallah for bringing him to visit.

Shortly afterwards, we leave for Daddy's next posting in Karachi. I have never seen, still less handled, a mongoose again but neither I nor family will ever forgot Pop's thoughtful and kindly warning to a little boy.

Next instalment: Geriaviator (aged 5) attempts to introduce multiculturalism to the Church of England, RAF Poona branch. Alas, his efforts do not go down well with the padre ...
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Old 27th May 2017, 19:19
  #10735 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a
Geri (#10763),

"...neither I nor family will ever forgot Pop's thoughtful and kindly warning to a little boy..."

A heartwarming story indeed. From my Page 11, #219 on the "Wg Cdr Arthur Gill OBE DFC" Thread:

"...One small point: "Bearer" is translated as "waiter" and that is correct. You would use the word to call a waiter in a restaurant. But a single officer would have one to himself, and an Other Rank a share of one, as his "batman" (personal servant and factotum), his "Jeeves". A good bearer was worth his weight in rupees: in my time the going rate was Rs20 a month (1/10/- or $6 'over the pond').

Somewhere in the past I have Posted a rather nice little story. A young officer fresh out of Sandhurst had been posted to a British battalion going out for a "tour". An equally young local was engaged as his "bearer". He learned very fast, and the two got on very well together for the three years. Then the Lieutenant went home and thought no more about it. Exceptionally, he did not go out again for twenty years, and then (a Lieutenant-Colonel) returned to India to take command of his battalion.

Waiting for him at the foot of the gangplank in Bombay was his old bearer, ready to take charge of his kit. He had heard (in some mysterious way) of his old Sahib's impending return, and travelled a thousand miles from his village (probably on top of, or hanging on to, a train), confident that they could pick up where they left off. It was so, and they went on together to the Colonel's posting, the bearer now in the comfort of the bearer's compartment at the back of his Sahib's first-class carriage. So the story (true, I'm told) ends..."

And I am sure that Wander00 will not mind my copying his #220 (which directly followed my story):

"...Danny - your story reminds me that when I rejoined the RAF in 1980, after an 11 year gap, I turned up at Cranwell and parked at the back of SHQ, As I opened the car door it was "taken" from me and as I stepped out I was greeted by my Batman from cadet days, Pop Amies. "Good morning, Sir. I hear you were returning and I thought it only right that I should welcome you back". How he knew I do not know, but I walked into SHQ with a huge lump in my throat. Bless you, Pop..."

Such people are the salt of the land !

Old 27th May 2017, 22:05
  #10736 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Glasgow
Posts: 21
In 10733 Danny recalled:

In my day, it was always the clock which went first, as they were wind-up jobs, attached to the panel with only four bolts, and would easily transfer to the dash of your old banger.
Which gives me the cue for a warning message. I too "acquired" an aircraft "glow-in-the-dark" dashboard clock ca. 1957 (I have forgotten what RAF plane it came from) which stayed with me as a treasured possession until I became a postgraduate student in Genetics in the University of Edinburgh, where it sat on my newly-acquired desk in my little labspace, in a room shared with several others. One of the others had started to work with radio-isotopic tracers and had a Geiger Counter, which he found was going nuts all the time.

Of course the radium paint on the numerals of my clock were to blame, emitting lots of hard (penetrating) Gamma-radiation. Sadly, the clock was immediately consigned to the radioactive waste disposal system and buried somewhere. Safety-first!
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Old 28th May 2017, 09:40
  #10737 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: France
Age: 76
Posts: 6,365
Danny, you save my repeating that little story, which still gives me misty eyes.
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Old 28th May 2017, 10:15
  #10738 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: sussex
Posts: 1,642
I have been away for a very pleasant week on a River Seine cruise and am now just catching up with the wonderful posts. The story of the cobra under the bungalow had the hairs up on the back of my neck. When I was on 48 at Changi with the C130 we would sometimes get large swamp monitors up the nosewheel bay. The SOP was to send for pop the Chinese 'caretaker' to get it down. It probably ended up in the lunchtime curry!
We had a lightning strike in the C130 abeam Brno and I saw the ball of lightning roll down the fuselage. As we could hear a banging on the fuselage we diverted there. The strike had broken the HF Ae at the fin attachment and it was thrashing over the wing. The G/E disconnected it at the other end, rolled it up and stowed it in the a/c. It was not until we got back to Lyneham that a small exit hole was discovered high up on the fin.
Crossing the Indian Ocean and seeing the cu nims clib faster than you could and they were always bang on your track.
Chugalug's description of the problems involved in loading the Hastings reminds me what a benefit the arrival of the Hercules was for the Loadmaster and the movers.
I went to the Palm Springs Aviation Museum and was fortunate to be able to chat with some of the old boys and get a look around the B17 there. They started it up to move it across the airfield. However one outboard would not start but they moved anyway. Sure enough as they turned cross wind it weathercocked and they were stuck.
My only taildragger experience was with my Super Cub, but it would always want to swap ends in any croswind ! You could only relax once the chocks were in and you were outside admiring it. Great fun though.
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Old 28th May 2017, 10:45
  #10739 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: UK
Age: 79
Posts: 3,735

Your story about loose flight engineers on the York rang a distant bell. This is what I wrote on the subject with reference to the Beverley:

"June (1959) also saw the arrival of flight engineers on No.53. It had originally been thought that there would be no need for a flight engineer on a Beverley crew since only short-haul flying was envisaged and that his duties could easily be performed by the two pilots. However, flights of ten hours and more had become common and among other duties, the co-pilot often had to dash off to hand-pump fresh oil into the thirsty Centaurus engines during flight. It was often said that Beverley crews navigated outbound and then followed the oil slick home! It should be noted that no autopilots were fitted for the first two years of the Beverley's life so the two pilots were kept busy. As an interim measure, a "director's (fold-up) chair" such as would be found in a film studio, was provided for the flight engineer to sit on. One wit even had the name "Shirley Temple" painted on the back of his chair. After a year or so, a folding jump-seat was fitted behind and between the two pilots".
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Old 28th May 2017, 10:59
  #10740 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Oxon
Age: 89
Posts: 260
Climbing out of Cologne one day in a BAC1-11 with the cockpit door open, at about three thousand feet there was a large bang and a ball of energy slowly left the flightdeck and made it's way down the aisle to finally disappear near the tail. The stewardess, a very pretty girl with a shortish hairstyle, unstrapped herself from her seat in the galley and came into the flightdeck "asking what was that?" not realising that her hair was now standing upright like a field of corn. Oh how we laughed!
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