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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 13th Sep 2009, 16:47
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Reg, I rather liked the 'Pavlova' response!

Dave - keep it coming! Approaching at 5 knots above the stall must have been "interesting" on a gusty day. How did the Seafire cope near the stall? Did she behave herself or did she drop a wing? Was there any turbulence or windshear from the flight deck?

And what was the tune to that song? So many questions!
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Old 13th Sep 2009, 17:37
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Hello Wiley,
Yes, landing and taking off a Seafire from an Escort Carrier could be very fraught.
HMS Attacker had a flight deck just less than 500 feet long and a beam of 100 feet, rather short and narrow! Because of the restricted forward vision of the Seafire the approach had to be a continual curve and with an airspeed only five knots above stalling speed. The approach and landing was controlled by the Batsman who not only controlled the landing but also had to adjust the approach in rough weather so that the plane caught an arrestor wire as the deck was rising. The Attacker had a top speed of some 20 knots so on a good day with a wind speed of say 20 knots the Seafire hooked up at a speed of 25 knots relative to the flight deck – not too bad!

Take off also had its troubles. As Regle mentioned in permalink 1068 the gyroscopic effect pulled an aircraft one way or the other. Not too much trouble on a wide runway but on an Escort Carrier the sea wasn’t all that far away! Secondly the flight deck was rather short. When the aircraft reached the end of the flight deck it was still not really airborne and for a few seconds the aircraft was still dropping towards the sea – rather scary!
In World War Two he Germans also had trouble with gyroscopic effects – more ME109s were lost taking off than in combat!

All this talk of landing recalled the A25 Song –

They say in the Air Force a landing’s OK,
If the pilot an get out and still walk away,
But in the Fleet Air Arm the prospects are grim,
If he lands in the ‘oggin’ and can’t ****** swim.

Dave
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Old 13th Sep 2009, 17:49
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Cliff said: With the end of the war approaching fast , it was decided to bomb Hitler’s retreat at Berchesgarten as it was suspected he was in residence. 150 SQDN was to take part. I hoped and prayed that our crew would be chosen, but it was not to be.
Apparantly, although the place was flattened, only one person was killed.
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Old 14th Sep 2009, 07:56
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And what was the tune to that song? So many questions!
Try the tune for the RAF Classic, "Chocks Away!"

...with a tooral-aye-torral-aye-tooral-ayeyay!
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Old 14th Sep 2009, 10:30
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Try the tune for the RAF Classic, "Chocks Away!"

Excuse me, Blacksheep, the tune is actually that of the early Victorian song "Villikins and his Dinah", to which, to quote the Fleet Air Arm Songbook, the original 13 verse A25 song was written by David Wright and Derek Stevenson in "Cabin 75 in the Arab Quarter of HMS FORMIDABLE in 1942/43", before evolving into the later 25 verse edition, as well as a five verse (at least) rotary wing version.

Well done Dave!

Jack

PS And, to be fair to Blacksheep "With a too-ra-li-oo-ra-li-oo-ra-li-a" is indeed the chorus of Villikins!
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Old 14th Sep 2009, 17:59
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WILEY

You must think I’m going round the bend – sending you the same reply twice! Playing around with the Forum this morning I realised that there was more than one page, 55 in fact.

When I first found this site I read about someone who had sailed on the Queen Mary when Winston Churchill was going to New York. I was also on the Queen and soon after leaving Gourock we learned that Winston was aboard. One day when we were eating in the Dining Hall we were amazed to see some hundred or more German prisoners of war marched in for breakfast! Several weeks later I started flying training at 3 BFTS, Miami, Oklahoma. After flying Fairchild PT 19s we progressed to Harvard AT6s.

Once we had done a solo in the Harvard a RAF Officer told us that there was a German prisoner of war camp in Kansa, some miles north of Miami. On no account were we to fly over the camp and drop empty Coca Cola bottles as they made a whistling noise like a bomb and some of the prisoners were suffering from shell shock. To ensure that we did not ‘accidentally stray’ over the camp we were given its exact map reference!!!

In our crew room there was a machine dispensing refrigerated bottled Coca Cola and next to the machine a large box to contain the empty bottles. Surprisingly there was never an empty bottle to be seen!!! Why the Americans wanted German POWs I can't imagine

Coming back to your question about landing a Seafire I was lucky. My landings were in good weather. I can't remember any turbulence or wind shear from the carrier I was always too busy watching the Batman. A week or two before joining 879 Squadron the guys had been practising deck landings in terrible gusty weather a few miles north of Ceylon. Three Seafires were written off and at least one pilot died.

Dave
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Old 14th Sep 2009, 21:33
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'Why the Americans wanted German POWs I can't imagine'

Step Father was in the Wehrmacht, Gunsmith based around Brest and shipped off to the States via Liverpool and Canada after being kept in a field in France for about a year.
Once in the States was taken to Virginia and worked in the tobacco fields as a POW later transferred to Fort Knox and used as a lorry driver.
Shipped back to UK and worked at RAF Matlask, Norfolk again driving lorries.
Ended up staying in the UK, his mother wrote and advised him not to return, they lived just outside Dresden and things were not good under the Russians.


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Old 15th Sep 2009, 17:21
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Further browsing revealed that rather than 100, some 5000 German prisoner of war were aboard the Queen Mary together with Winston Churchill and the War Cabinet and ‘yours truly’. Just as well they didn't manage to take over.

Some years after my Coca Cola bombing exploits my feelings about the Germans changed dramatically. I married Doreen Reuter whose grandfather, Heinrich Reuter was born in Heidelberg. More years later, on holiday in Majorca, we became very friendly with a German couple, Herbert and Herta Rickmann who lived in Hamburg. A year later we spent two weeks with them in Hamburg and the following year they stayed with us in England. This carried on for a number of years until Herbert died.

Herbert served in the German navy, a gunner stationed ashore in Bremen. He told me the story of a Bristol Blenheim which regularly circled over Bremen. The Blenheim was probably on reconnaissance and never dropped bombs. In turn, the Germans never fired at the Blenheim and almost looked on it as a welcome visitor!

How times change!

Dave
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Old 16th Sep 2009, 09:58
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In the 70's BEA had a crew bus driver in Berlin who had been in the German army in N. Africa. He helped a wounded British soldier and took a set of his dogtags. Long after the war his wife found these tags and through the Red Cross established contact with the British chap who was also, coincidentally, a driver. The two families became friends and visited one another.
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Old 16th Sep 2009, 19:32
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An RAF Officer

From The Concise Oxford Dictionary.

an the form of the indefinite article used before words beginning with a vowel sound (an egg, an hour an MP). I guess therefore an RAF Officer is correct.
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Old 17th Sep 2009, 08:08
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An RAF Officer or a Royal Air Force Officer.

...or in more common parlance in my time a Zobbit.
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Old 18th Sep 2009, 15:07
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Use of Window on bombing ops

Hi All,

Would anyone (but best bet might be Cliff or Reg) be able to tell me a bit about the use of Window during a bombing operation? I understand that the Flight Engineer often had the task of chucking out the bundles (but did anyone else, like the wireless op, ever take a hand?) but I have not really got an understanding of when during the op it was used. I can understand it being dropped at a prescribed rate (four bundles/minute, two bundles/minute has come to my attention) over particular hot flak areas with radar-predicted guns, but was it restricted to these areas? Did any parts of the main force stream take it in turns to chuck it out along the whole route?

Any clues gratefully received...

Cheers,

Dave
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Old 18th Sep 2009, 23:23
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When I was dropping Windows

On July 24th.1943 I made my first operational trip in a Halifax of 51 Sqdn. as "Second Dicky " to F/Lt Irwin. The target was Hamburg and it was the first raid that Window was ever used operationally. It was extremely unusual to make a trip as a second pilot but was occasionally done and , in my case was used because of the difference in operating procedures to my previous low level daylight trips on the first Mosquito sqdn, 105.
We had known of Window for a long time previously to this date but had been stopped from using it until we had gathered enough strength to make it more useful to us than to let the Germans have the use of it. Our Bomber losses had been so great that it was decided to use Window and July 24th. was the first night of what became the terrible firestorm destruction of Hamburg with Bomber Command going by night followed by the American "Mighty Eighth Air Force by day. The effect of Window was devastating to the Defences. The German Radio was assiduously monitored by us and there were arguments springing up between Controllers and the Night Fighters as they were being directed to sectors where there were supposed to be hundreds of bombers and were reporting that they could not find them. There were even accusations recorded of "Cowardice" and German Pilots being told to report immediately to their Commanding Officers on landing. Several reports of the swamped Controllers used foul language just prior to switching off and the equivalent of "What a F...... night this has been " coming over the air from the bewildered Controllers was monitored many times back in England.
The Window was in bundles and we put them down the Flare chute at predetermined locations given to the various Groups at Briefing. I was chucking them down just as we approached the target which was already burning fiercely from the Pathfinder's marking and was visible from over 100 miles away already. Other groups had been putting it down all along the route and the Germans were really caught and were reporting that there were hundreds and hundreds of bombers in the stream.
It was a great success but the counter reaction was swift and cost us very nearly the same as when we had not been using it. They brought the "Wild Sow " scheme in to use and threw up every fighter they had including their Day fighters and concentrated on illuminating the target with masses of searchlights concentrating to make a blanket of light around 15,000 feet. The bombers were silhouetted against the light and the Fighters were up around 25,000 feet and were diving down as they picked up the stream coming over the target.
One of the most effective uses of Window was on the eve of the assault on the beaches on D-Day a few Pathfinder Lancasters gave the Germans the effect of a huge fleet approaching by a beautifully worked out pattern of dropping Window and doubling back to give the impression that this fleet was approaching a different point to the landing at around twenty knots.
It usually fell to the W/Op to chuck the Window out and the Flare Chute was the means of dropping it. The bundles were tied so that the slipstream broke them open as they came out of the aircraft and gave the impression of countless aircraft to the radar. The timing and the position was usually very well planned and each group was given a sector where they were responsible for the Window coverage with the Target being covered by the maximum. For any of you who are old enough to remember making your own paper chains at Xmas, a strip of "Window" was just about the size of one of the links that we used to use for decoration.

I hope that this helps you out as to what it was like. It certainly made the continuation of the Bombing of Germany possible.
 
Old 19th Sep 2009, 00:01
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Any clues gratefully received....

John 16:24 .... and what do you get? Regle comes up trumps yet again, complete with a George Formby-esque title too!

Jack
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Old 19th Sep 2009, 12:15
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Gaining an RAF Pilot's Brevet in WWII

As one who lived in a small village on the Hampshire/Surrey border and was, indeed, making Christmas chains from window in 1943 or '44 I recall occasionally finding un-cut rolls maybe a couple of inches in diameter. Would there have been any on-board system for cutting the foil to the optimum quarter-wave lengths according to the radar frequency to be jammed?

I also remember sometimes finding foil strips that were matte black and thus useless for Christmas decorations. Any ideas where these might have originated?

Buster11
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Old 19th Sep 2009, 19:06
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Buster and those interested.

I think that the mere idea of cutting up Window to measure in a weaving aircraft at night with the flak and searchlights all around ! ... No way and possibly the following detailed description that I found from my Squadron's (51) Official Biographer's excellent book "Snaith Days" will bring out a very good description of "Window" and how it was used.

During the third week of July 1943 a large consignment of brown paper parcels size 12 x 2.5 x 2.5 inches was under very secure storage at Snaith
These parcels each contained 2,000 Window strips size 30cm x 1.5cm made of very thin aluminium foil bonded to black paper. Later production of Window was 27cm long with a brown paper backing. Foil was already available for the production of paper capacitators used in radios etc. The length of these strips was such that they acted as half wave dipoles resonating and re-radiating a signal at the frequency of 450 to 500 MHz as employed by "Wurzburg" ground and "Lichenstein" airborne radar. One bundle when dropped from a Squadron aircraft would produce the same radar response as a Halifax Bomber.
At around teatime on the 23rd July 1943 the aircrew went in for briefing for the raid on Hamburg. At this session the briefing was given by the Squadron Commander W/Cdr. Franks and gave information that had never been given before at a Command briefing. He explained that this new RDF countermeasure ,"Window" had such a devastating effect on the enemy's ground defences that the RAF had witheld from using it until they , the RAF , had devised a defence for it. ( We were never told what that "Defence" was !).
At their briefing, the Navigators were given two points on their track at which Window dropping had to start and stop. This night the points were Long. 8 degrees East on the route in and Long 8.5 degrees East on the way back. ( A chart of the route in the book gave the Northerly routes in and out and were roughly over the North Sea stretch that led into the Delta of the River Elbe leading up to Hamburg and avoiding the defences of the Friesian Islands.) The W/Ops had the unpopular task of timing and dropping the bundles down the flare chutes at the rate of one bundle per minute. Each aircraft dropped 100,000 strips, falling at the rate of about 300 ft.per minute. It was not a popular task because the strips were often blown back into the aircraft and also there was the chance of the stub aerial of the IFF being damaged by the bundle before it had opened.
When the bundles were delivered to the aircraft by the groundcrew they were given the story that they were a new type of "Nickel", the code name for the propaganda leaflets dropped when the bomb doors were opened over the target.
The convergence point for the different Groups of Aircraft taking part in the raid marked the spot where the dropping of Window commenced and the complete bomber stream for this raid was about 200 miles long.
The effect of the strips became apparent straight away as the searchlights seemed to be aimlessly probing the sky looking for targets, different from the normal situation when Wurzburg controlled searchlights could help the uncontrolled searchlights find the target (The "dreaded" blue beam ! Reg). The now uncontrolled Flak batteries became very inaccurate in their shooting. In order to assess the effect of Window on this initial raid the Wops were told not to carry out "Tinsel" jamming operations so that the "Y" listening service in the UK could monitor the reactions of the German GCI controllers. Window did not affect "Freya" E W Radar but it jammed Wurzburg which was used with the "Lichenstein " in the Fighters to guide them on to the trapped Bombers. Their reports indicated that a state of complete panic had reigned with Pilots calling the Controllers Imbeciles when they were directed on to hundreds of Bombers and found none. There were even cases of Aircraft crews ordered to report to their Commanders immediately upon landing ; The word "Cowardice" was reputed to be heard floating around
the air waves and one weary Controller when switching off his set was heard to say the German equivalent for "What a F****** night this has been.!
The report goes on to explain that the use of "Window" was to produce a considerable reduction in casualties from about 6% average for the Command before the use of Window to about 2.5% for the Hamburg raids. The Germans attempted to limit the effects of Window by getting the GCI controllers to give running commentaries to night fighters and to start using "Thame Sau" ( Tame Sow dayfighters) to take part in freelance operations alongside the existing "Wilde Sau" aircraft. These tactics caused the Luftwaffe to alter their defence tactics with increased flexibility and , very quickly, it was considered that these changes would be to the detriment of the RAF. However it was used very successfully on the important destruction of the Peenemunde raid , on which I took part and the SQdn's route out was Flamborough Head;55.20N 80.29E;54.24N13.40E; Island of Rugen; Peenemunde; Mando; Snaith. Bomber Command had carried out a very successful diversionary operation by sending eight Mosquitos to Berlin with "Window", capitalising on it's successful raid on Hamburg. This "Spoof" raid attracted the attention of over 200 nightfighters ,conseqently only a few arrived at Peenemunde to catch the last wave of bombers. Nevertheless 29 aircraft were shot down in the bright moonlit sky of the last wave out of a total of 40 aircraft lost. As 51 Sqdn. was in the first wave it suffered no losses and I see that I put in my Log Book the words.."Very Quiet trip". The raid was considered a succcess and the "V" weapon programme was put back for about two months.

I hope that some of the Questions that you asked were answered and the use of "Window" understood more readily. Reg
 
Old 20th Sep 2009, 23:38
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Reg

Thanks for your explanation of Window.

I have a copy of a paper written by Prof RV Jones recording his views on the development and introduction of Window between 1942 and 1943.

Useful background knowledge perhaps so possibly worth posting here, or will it dilute the discussion?

Any thoughts?
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Old 21st Sep 2009, 00:22
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Reg

Thanks for that.

Just an appreciation of what both my grandfathers did, much appreciated. That's why I enjoy you and Cliff's stories, but also your stories about after with Sabena, very much.

Brilliant, please carry on!.

But I hope we'll also have other contributors like Gordon P Davis. (Carrier landings !?)
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Old 21st Sep 2009, 07:40
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Window

Hi Reg,

A slightly belated (away the last two days) thanks for your very full and highly informative posts on the use of Window. Window is mentioned briefly in so many places; books, web, etc. but I had never found an answer to the obvious questions the use of it raised - so thanks very much for answering these, and much more - very much appreciated!

I assume that there had to be an oxygen point by the flare chute if some (temporarily) spare bod was going to be bunging the bundles down for long periods at a time. When moving around a Lanc at operational height, perhaps from the w/op point to the chute, did people always use one of the small oxygen bottles in case they encountered a short delay? (Getting over the wings spars in full kit might qualify as being that...) And did the bottles just dangle or had some thoughtful equipment designer found a way of hanging them on the user?!

Cheers,

Dave
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Old 21st Sep 2009, 11:53
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Welcome back everybody

Just a quick answer to your question, Goosequill. I don't think that the use of oxygen poihts was extended to the flare chute position but the DI's and the pre-flight checks by the various trades included the topping up ,by the Instrument section, of the in-situ bottles of Oxygen and Nitrogen (if installed. A 'milk run' wpould deliver a fresh stock of portable Oxygen bottles, often accompanied by the 'daily deliveries' of propaganda leaflets and Window strips. As an interesting 'aside', the Electrical section would check that the accumulators were fully charged abd sometimes stored the connecting leads in their workshop so that they could not be used without permission. If a short to earth was spotted on any of the ancillary equipment,e.g. Radar sets, they would notify the approprate tradesman who would rectify the fault. With regard to the Radar at the appropriate time the detonators would be installed so that the equipment could be destroyed if likely to fall into enemy hands. More Sabena soon, Regle
 

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