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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Old 18th Feb 2018, 12:34
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... and 'em as can't instruct examine!

... 'at, coat, etc!
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Old 18th Feb 2018, 13:27
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Roaming around on this Thread (as one does), came across 6 min of YouTube showing IAF Vengeances. Might interest anyone who has not seen it before (Page 585 #11694 from Octane). Note the long take off run, the dust problem and the trademark tail-down "sit" in the air.

Also Chugalug's find (the Vlad film) at Page 129 #2561 is worth a look.

Don't know of any other shots of VVs flying.

Danny.

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Old 19th Feb 2018, 12:48
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Posted on an RAF-related group today:

My good friend ex-Flt Lt Brian Whitely passed away on Saturday. His RAF
career wasn't particularly distinguished, but he led an interesting
life. He started as a short-service commission direct entry pilot,
flying the usual training aircraft of the day, and then on to Brigands.
Later he flew Meteor 12 night fighters and then Venom 2 and 3's. At this
point his eyes gave him some trouble and he retrained as a navigator on
Javelins with 25 Squadron. He left the RAF after 12 years and spent
several years with the Antarctic Survey as an expedition leader,
wintering in Antarctica twice.
He then trained as an air traffic controller and worked extensively in
the middle east, where he was responsible for setting up much of the ATC
network there. He had actually retired when the first gulf war broke
out, but as he was probably the person with the most knowledge of the
ATC systems there he was recalled on a contract to the USAF to run ATC
so that there was no conflict between military and civilian traffic.

Following this, he devoted most of the rest of his life to an extensive
investigation into the quality of wine in Australia. Unfortunately the
investigation was incomplete at the time of his death, so we shall never
know his conclusions. Curiously, although he had been a fighter pilot,
he was like a little old woman behind the wheel of a car. He was a good
friend and a thoroughly likeable bloke. I shall miss him.
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 15:54
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In addition to the BCATP in Canada, there were several out of the norm training schemes going on. For example, the Norwegians trained at Toronto island airport, with a satellite field at Emsdale Ont ( known affectionately as Little Norway). The Royal Navy established a training field at Kingston Ont, and RAF Ferry Command established a facility at North Bay Ont to train pilots and navigations in the art of Trans Atlantic flying, after a successful test around 1940 involving 7 bombers to be ferried from Canada to UK ( using the methodology of the time, it was to be considered a success if at least 4 of the 7 bombers made it- and all 7 did!).
While a hangars and facilities were built at North Bay, it remained a civil airport with no official RCAF or RAF designation until the mid 1950, when the Cold War escalated. While facilities were expanded, it still remained a civil airport, with the now established ATC also being civilian. The added benefit to this was that they were *ahem* a bit more relaxed in their handling of clearances, and many an impromptu airshow resulted!
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 17:21
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I was really surprised to see that the IAF operated the Vengeance (I think that technically that should be the RIAF as I believe that they had the Royal Charter in 1944) The reason for my surprise is that I am just coming to the end of one of the best reads I have enjoyed for a long time. It is the autobiography of AVM Harjinder Singh who built up the aircraft engineering and maintenance side of the IAF from 1932 right up to the 70's when he retired as AVM. Although the book covers most types operated throughout that period, I do not recall any mention of the Vengeance. It may be that, by 1944, Harjinder's attention was spread too widely and he spent some time in the UK. It is interesting that he doesn't mention the Dakota until after the war so I wonder if the USA provided engineering support. He did spend time in Burma earlier on in the war keeping their squadron of IAF Lysanders going against the Japanese. He had modified all the IAF Lysanders to carry two 250lb bombs instead of the practice bombs they were designed to carry. Until Indian independence, all the types he worked on seemed to be of UK origin, from Wapitis up to Tempests. However, at that time, he demonstrated amazing engineering and leadership skills by restoring about 40 or so Liberators which became an important part of the IAF for another 20 years.

For anyone interested, "Spitfire Singh" is very well written by Mike Edwards MBE who, as a BA pilot, spent a lot of time in India and helped the IAF to restore their Vintage Aircraft to flying status.

The first leading pilot of the fledgling IAF was Sqdn Ldr Bouchier who, when he met Harjinder again as AVM Sir Cecil Bouchier KBE CB DFC, said to him, "Yours must be the most romantic career of any man, in any service, anywhere in the world."

I also learned through this book that the very apt title of David Hill's excellent book "Their Greatest Disgrace" is not original. It was used by the head of the RAF in India in 1934 when he accused the fledgling IAF of bringing "the greatest disgrace upon themselves". Seems like some RAF VSOs have a long history of being in the wrong.
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 18:39
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pulse1 (#11826),

If you Google < 7 [or 8] squadron royal indian air force bharat rakshak> you will get a lot of "gen" - most of it duff-ish about the Vengeance. These were the only two IAF Sqdns which operated the VV. I flew on 110 (RAF) and 8 (IAF).

More tomorrow.

Danny.
 
Old 20th Feb 2018, 11:44
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Forgive the interruption to the fascinating discussion of the IAF and the Vengence, but before I forget I found this very recently uploaded video on youtube. Its original colour footage (I think) rather than colour enhanced. The music which accompanies it is a touch dramatic but so is the footage.

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Old 20th Feb 2018, 15:44
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pulse1 (#11826),

Back on the subject of VVs in the IAF, I quote from and remark on excerpts from BHARAT RAKSHAK:

..."No.7 Squadron , Indian Air Force was formed on 01st December 1942 at Vizagapatnam under the command of Sqn Ldr Hem Chaudhuri. Under Air HQ formation order 268 dated 18 Nov 42, personnel from 104 Squadron, IAF and 353 Squadron, RAF as well as Nos 3 and 6 Coastal Defence Flights were drawn to provide No.7 with manpower...."

I think all the VV squadrons (Two IAF and four RAF) got their Vengeance about the same time in the closing months of 1942. 152 OTU Peshawar must have been set up about that time too, but trained only IAF (the RAF Sqdns had to work it out by trial and error - and probably set the OTU syllabus), for the RAF knew little about dive bombing and there was no Manual (AFAIK) for it. Later I believe some RCAF pilots who had been posted in later were also trained there.

..."After training extensively with the Army, the Battleaxes [7 Sqdn] were given orders to move to Kumbhirgham in Assam by 12 March 1944. The Squadron deployed at the Uderbund airstrip, about 12 km from Kumbhirgham"...

On a kutcha strip, living in bashas in Uderbund, 7 did not go into action (on the Assam front), until late March, 1944 so did only about two month's work in all before the entire VV ops were called off for good - but complained that the Sahibs of 110 Sqdn, who had gone into action with VVs in the Arakan in May, 1943, moved up to Khumbirgram in October of that year and operated there for six months until the end, had dwelt in the luxury of the palatial planter's bungalow; flew off a concrete runway (and got bombed for their pains!), whereas they were out in the 'bundoo' in the dust and mud of Uderbund (can't please some people!)

Not sure when 8 (IAF) was formed, but the trouble was that there were not enough trained air and ground crews to field two VV Sqdns. So to get the second one (8) operational, all the RAF Sqdns were robbed of trained crews to make up the deficit.

It seems that on 26 Nov '43, 20 RAF aircrew joined 8 Sqdn - many names familiar to me, my own included!, and a further 39 before hostilities ended. They converted from VVs to Spit XIVs later in '44, so many of the later pilots would have been on the Spits. Even so, the plain fact was that ten VV crews were "transfused" into 8 Sqdn, which is almost a whole squadron, in February 1944 a RNZAF Sqn Ldr (Ira Sutherland DFC) took command, so what we had then was pretty well a RAF Squadron with an Indian component. We got it "on the road" in November, 1943 in the Arakan: it operated there till the end.

Hope that is of interest, Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 20th Feb 2018 at 15:46. Reason: Typo
 
Old 20th Feb 2018, 17:25
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Danny,

Many thanks for that. I am now beginning to get the bigger picture. The book I'm reading is the story of Harjinder Singh who joined No 1 Squadron as a Sepoy (lower than any rank in the RAF) in 1934. This Squadron eventually became the first totally Indian squadron led by Sqn Ldr Jumbo Majumbar who eventually became the Chief of the IAF. In fact it is interesting that, in the post war years, almost all of the top VSOs of the IAF, including Harjinder, hailed from this Squadron. This was the main reason I failed to see the bigger picture. Harjinder's responsibilities did not really broaden until the war had ended and he headed up the IAF Maintenance Command based at Kanpur*.

I see that the VV squadrons were largely formed from a number of mostly volunteer Coastal Defence Flights. probably a bit like the RAuxAF I suppose. It seems that operational activities of these Squadrons were more integrated within the RAF whereas those involved in No 1 Squadron always saw it as a major stepping stone to a totally independent IAF and country. O course, following the catastrophic events of partition, many of the members of the IAF would have ended up in the Pakistani Air Force, shortly to be waging war against their old comrades.

* It was at Kanpur that Harjinder found the abandoned wreckage of a Spitfire and, having acquired a PPL some years earlier, he rebuilt it and started to fly it. He was subsequently accepted for pilot training by the IAF and flew to his own Wings Parade in his own Spitfire! I think that this aircraft is now part of the IAF Vintage Flight.
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Old 22nd Feb 2018, 08:54
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jeffb:-
In addition to the BCATP in Canada, there were several out of the norm training schemes going on. For example, the Norwegians trained at Toronto island airport, with a satellite field at Emsdale Ont ( known affectionately as Little Norway). The Royal Navy established a training field at Kingston Ont, and RAF Ferry Command established a facility at North Bay Ont to train pilots and navigations in the art of Trans Atlantic flying
Canada's vast and remote territories lent themselves uniquely to supporting the allied war in the air, particularly in connection with the arsenals of the USA. I've recounted before of the saga of ferrying Lockheed Hudsons to the UK before the US entry into the war. The aircraft were flown within the US to an a/f very close to the Canadian border, and then drawn across it by teams of horses. RAF aircrew, no doubt trained at North Bay, flew the prepositioned aircraft from the Canadian east coast on a series of hops via Greenland and Iceland to Scotland (often to Prestwick). One of my RAF Instructors (the renowned Jack Huntington) told of one such delivery when on the final leg they were continuously between layers, so that the nav could neither take sun shots nor sight surface drift and was thus reduced to D/R on the rather iffy forecast winds. Eventually they got to the calc TOD and so started down to Safety Altitude (determined by the Scottish mountains). Cloud still prevented any further updates and the fuel was becoming critical. Eventually the nav reckoned that they must have cleared Scotland and were now over the North Sea, so they maintained heading and continued descent on the forecast QNH. At about 200' they broke cloud and saw the sea below. The problem was which sea? The nav assured them that it was the North Sea so they did a 180 and retraced their steps, keeping the sea in sight. The gauges were now showing empty and they were braced for a ditching when cliffs loomed ahead. They were able to just clear them and still stay out of the cloud and miraculously a runway loomed into view straight ahead, and on which they landed without further delay. As the tail came down the little fuel left in the tanks flowed to the back of the tanks leaving the fuel lines to run dry, and the engines soon quit in turn.

A close run thing indeed and many others were not so lucky. I'm afraid that if I was ever told the location of that runway I have since forgotten it, but it was certainly in the right place at the right time!
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Old 22nd Feb 2018, 10:09
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At about 200' they broke cloud and saw the sea below. The problem was which sea? The nav assured them that it was the North Sea so they did a 180 and retraced their steps, keeping the sea in sight. - Chugalug

An all round BZ for the navigator in my view, especially recalling that seamen can develop a very keen sense of where they are - at least in a broad sense - by the nature and appearance of the sea. Such differences between the Atlantic and the North Sea are substantial in terms of colour, swell etc, and the nav clearly saved the day.

I'm afraid that if I was ever told the location of that runway I have since forgotten it, but it was certainly in the right place at the right time! - Chug

Might well have been Wick or Skitten.

Jack
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Old 22nd Feb 2018, 12:13
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Union Jack:-
the nav clearly saved the day.
Agreed! As to the runway, I have a vague feeling that it might have been one of the emergency diversion ones, ie double the width of a standard runway. If that were the case, and I'm far from certain, then it must have been the most northerly, RAF Carnaby. Well south of the border of course, but if you extend the track from Kevlavik/Reykjavik to Prestwick and allow for some understandable wandering it might just be possible. It might also explain the very low fuel state given that the nav would have calculated the possible transit of Northern England as well as Scotland before deciding that further descent was reasonable.

As you say, well done that man! The hills and mountains of the UK give testament to many others at that time that didn't fare so well.
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Old 22nd Feb 2018, 18:52
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Chugalug,

Carnaby runway was used as a RLG for Driffield when I did my Meteor Conversion there in January, 1950. The camp itself was disused and had been taken over by squatters - who had the gall to complain that the aircraft noise was a nuisance!.

Danny.
 
Old 22nd Feb 2018, 19:09
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Danny, presumably you were at least able to go on using it then. Nowadays more likely all flying would be banned there, so that the squatters' rights to a quiet and peaceful life would be upheld. Be thankful for small mercies!
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Old 22nd Feb 2018, 19:47
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Originally Posted by Chugalug2
Danny, presumably you were at least able to go on using it then. Nowadays more likely all flying would be banned there, so that the squatters' rights to a quiet and peaceful life would be upheld. Be thankful for small mercies!
10 years later those squatters would have been really upset when Carnaby became the home for 3 Thor nuclear missiles with parent HQ at Driffield. The last time I heard of Carnaby it was a giant car park for one of the big car manufacturers
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Old 23rd Feb 2018, 01:24
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Danny, does the name Plt Offr O'Leary ring a bell ? or WO Stewart Mosby ?

:-)
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Old 23rd Feb 2018, 06:59
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ricardian wrote:
The last time I heard of Carnaby it was a giant car park for one of the big car manufacturers.
For many years it was home to large numbers of imported Lada and Moskvich cars, which had been ferried from the USSR to Hull, then transported to Carnaby for UK modifications.

There was a tale that many were fitted with vinyl roofs, the reason being that ships' crews would often walk over the cars which were tightly packed on board - and it was cheaper to put vinyl over the scratches and dents than to repair them. I'm not sure that I believe that though!

One of the problems facing ferry crews uncertain of position must have been the high values of local magnetic variation in those days - something like 15 of difference between Keflavik and East Coast UK. With uncertain wind velocities and wandering gyros, trying to maintain a desired great circle track must have been a huge problem...
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Old 23rd Feb 2018, 09:15
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ships' crews would often walk over the cars which were tightly packed on board
There was a reverse trade in the 80's where sorry looking Ladas tucked away in the far corner of a car breakers yard would be bought by eastern European fishing crews. Lack of MOTs wasn't a problem as long as they went.

They could, as I saw a couple of times, get three across the deck of a fishing trawler.
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Old 23rd Feb 2018, 12:12
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jaganpvs (11837),

Yes, remember the fellow quite well, a very nice chap indeed. Not so sure about his gunner (?), think he was a F/Sgt at the time so we wouldn't have had much to do with him.

Danny,
 
Old 23rd Feb 2018, 15:49
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Fareastdriver
They could, as I saw a couple of times, get three across the deck of a fishing trawler
Not quite the same, but photographed by me whilst camping alongside the River Mosel in 1973 - it seemed to be common practice for these large barges to have the skipper's car on deck for use whilst his barge was loaded/unloaded from/to wherever.


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