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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 6th Sep 2018, 14:41
  #12241 (permalink)  
Danny42C
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663 Squadron Auster V low flying ove airfield somewhere in Italy. needs info. (Photos: SIkorski's Institute)

sycamore (#16),

It can't be ..... zoomed in as far as possible and got magnifying glass out. They've got a tarpaulin over the cockpits, but the tail end is unmistakable. It's a VV, and no mistake ! (then a chap's head gets in the way, but is that a prop blade tip on the other side of the helmet ?) I think it's an A-31, as otherwise the big rear 0.50 would be sticking back out of the tarpaulin (but is it ? - sharper eyes than mine needed !)

These pictures have been taken in 1945. The VV has a roundel plus yellow (?)ring - some sign of a training aircraft ?

This is utterly mystifying. How on earth could a VV get to ITALY in 1945 ? A few Mk.Is had come across to UK for evaluation: possibly when they were found useless they were chucked all over the place .... and this is one.

If it is an A-35 (Mk.IV), then the Free French took a few (in Morocco), could one have got to Italy ? We took some Mk.IVs, but modded them as target tugs. and I think the cable windmill was on the port side.

I am completely foxed. Is there anyone alive who can throw light on this ?

Thanks a lot, sycamore ! Danny.
 
Old 6th Sep 2018, 16:16
  #12242 (permalink)  
 
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Well spotted, sycamore! I was confused by there being two such threads on AH&N, but no doubt the mods are doing a bit of re-arranging at the moment. As to the yellow outer roundel on Danny's shy and retiring VV, I don't think that was a training indicator but a wartime device to ensure the roundel (as progressively modified) was correctly ID'd no matter what the background colour on which it was placed. Not a system used in the FE of course, where the problem was to distinguish Allied aircraft from the Jap 'meatball'. You'll see the Polish Austers also boasting the additional outer ring on the 663 Sqn Pics page:

To Danny and all - Polish airmen in the RAF

Polish Squadrons Remembered

Edited to add that the previous pic shows medal presentations to 633 pilots by General Anders. Could this be the occasion of the VV pic also? I can't think they fielded a full ceremonial Colour/Standard (?) Escort too often. If it is the same occasion, the medal presentation was at Bologna, Piazza Maggiore....could the low flying Auster be flying the General into/out of the local airfield?

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Old 6th Sep 2018, 17:47
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#12226 & 12241
Sqn Ldr "Iggy" Ignatowski was a Staff Pilot at the Air Engineer and Air Electronics School at RAF Topcliffe in the early 70s. I last flew with him in Aug 73, just before the AE & AES moved to RAF Finningley and Topcliffe closed and was handed to the Army. I believe he then retired having extended his service until Topcliffe closed.
My last but one flight with him on 9 Aug was fairly eventful. We were returning to Topcliffe after an AEOp Course landaway and nightstop at Wildenrath. Just after we crossed the Amsterdam/UK FIR Boundary an airman passenger had a fit. We diverted to RAF Coltishall at VNO and called for medical assistance. Shortly thereafter there was loud rythmic banging and severe airframe vibration. What had happened was that the Escape Hatch, in the floor just aft of the pilot's seats had come unlatched and was swinging between closed and nearly open hitting the top hatch/cockpit floor which was being forced up. We slowed down to try to stop this happening, but it still occured as the hatch would not lock in the open position.The AEOP Instructor donned his parachute, was tied to the copilot seat was copious amounts of lashing tape, and with the help of my leg down the hole holding the hatch half closed, he jumped onto the hatch to force it closed. We then proceeded at a fast, but not VMO, pace to Coltishall.

At Topcliffe, at the same time, we had a Polish Navigator Sqn Ldr Bruno Szota. He had escaped from a German POW camp, only to be captured by the Russians and sent to a Russian POW camp! After escaping from them he made his way across Russia and via Iran, the Gulf and South Africa to ship to UK for aircrew training. After surviving a torpedoing he eventually completed training in 1944. He told us of several interesting ways to kill Russians and blow up Guard Houses!

I also flew in a Meteor in Jan 63, at RAF Stradishall, with Flt Lt "Murky" Murkowski.
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Old 6th Sep 2018, 18:14
  #12244 (permalink)  
 
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I had the same reaction as Danny that it was a Vengeance!
As seems de rigeur in wartime photos, there HAS to be someone standing exactly where the sole means of clearly identifying it is, and obscuring it.
You would have thought, with all the lumps of lead whizzing about that they'd steer clear of such things, but, no, someone has to "photobomb" in precisely the WRONG spot!

It's almost a Polish honour guard fro the aircraft, the way they are looking and the Auster overhead....
I don't think the French used a yellow outer, that seems RAF - but surely they couldn't have a lone VV, where would they get any spares to keep it operational?.
Looks too big and slightly different from a Mustang, does anyone recognise if the Polish standard and double headed eagle might identify the troops?

Intriguing photo!
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Old 6th Sep 2018, 21:08
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Like Icare9, my first reaction was denial:
...but surely they couldn't have a lone VV, where would they get any spares to keep it operational?..
.
It can't be, therefore it ain't !

Then I carefully compared the rudder, fin and tail unit with the line drawing in the Wikipedia "Specifications". Same thing, no doubt about it. Is there any other aircraft with a tail end which matches so exactly ? Anybody ?

So now the questions swarm in :

How did it get there ? (must've been after cessation of hostilities in Europe 1945, otherwise no chance of its survival so far)

Where had it come from - only possibility UK ? With a range of only 400 mi ? (never mind what Wiki says).

Why was it there ? (God knows !) Who was operating it ? My guess was it wouldn't need any spares (as it would probably never move again).

What happened to it in the end (could be it is still rotting in some Italian barn ?)

How come we've only found about it now from an old (73 yr) photo ?

I throw the question open to the Pprune community - there is always someone who knows the answer (but is he alive to answer it ?) ... A medium, perhaps ?

Danny.
 
Old 6th Sep 2018, 21:14
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Danny,having looked and zoomed closely,it looks as though the VV may not have any outer wings,as I would have expected to see the tips against the distant fence posts,or between the helmets of the troops.
There is a shadow on the ground behind it that could be an` aircraft shape`,given the angle of the Sun,but need some more photos to confirm that.....over to Franek.....
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Old 6th Sep 2018, 22:47
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You've started something now, sycamore! A Google search for "Vultee Vengeance Italy" produced this:-

https://449th.com/fred-lax-gallery/r...ttaglie-italy/



Grottaglie is just inland from Taranto FWIW
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Old 7th Sep 2018, 00:22
  #12248 (permalink)  
 
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Chug/Danny,interesting looking at the other photographer`s collection as well...no more VV,and I think that one is probably a target-tug,looking at the bomb-bay and other bits under the fuselage..also appears to have visible incidence on the wing...
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Old 7th Sep 2018, 13:45
  #12249 (permalink)  
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Chugalug,

Ta for the link ! - and a Google <vultee vengeance target tower> brings up a whole lot of interesting stuff: all worth a look. I found <Vultee A-31 / A-35 Vengeance - dive bomber - Aviastar.org> gives a reasonable potted history and the "comments" are the cherry on the cake.

I think your VV is a TT, as the excrescence below the aft fuselage looks like some kind of TT kit (cable paid out and hauled in by an electric motor ?) Always thought the UK ones (Mk.IV) had a pylon on the L side with a windmill as motive power for the cable winch). But here I am hampered by never having even seen a Mk.IV. Even so I have a gut "feel" that your VV is a Mk.I - II (A-31).

sycamore,
...also appears to have visible incidence on the wing..
.
It is extraordinarily difficult to judge the AoI on a VV wing from a photograph , unless you have one of each side by side, taken from the same spot.

Danny.
 
Old 7th Sep 2018, 17:29
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Geriaviator
Sure, no problem.

Tengah
Bruno or Bronisław Szota rangs a bell with me. I need to check, but it sounds more than familiar. If torpedoed, then he belonged to a group evacuated with the Polish Army from the Soviet Unioninto Persia, and then send to Karachi for training, but diverted to the UK. They were torpedoed on Empress of Canada I think. A very unpleasant experience, with lots of sharks.
Sounds most interesting.

In regard of VV, I guess it was target tug. There were plenty of non standard types operated successfully, including captured ones, so I do not think there was any problem with servicing, especially given a number of USAAF units in the area. I suppose there might have been more photos of the aircraft on the original roll of film.
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Old 7th Sep 2018, 18:53
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Danny, recalling our previous conjectures about HF aerial configurations on various VVs, is it possible that your excrescence is the fairing for a trailing aerial? I know nothing about Targets or their towing, but that tube looks a little on the flimsy side for such use don't you think?

A pity the serial number is not apparent, for it would at least confirm your ID. The (duck egg blue?) band around the rear fuselage isn't apparent in the Auster pic, suggesting more than one VV in Italy at least. As Franek says, most likely use was TT (for the Spits also at Grottaglie?) . If so it was presumably available on a request basis to fighter units in the area (to keep their hand in?). I wonder if there was a local TT Flight for it and its sisters to come from? Presumably it didn't do any dive bombing, for surely we would have heard of that! Nice pic though. Fred Lax was obviously fascinated by it and other one off visitors to Grottaglie, which is fascinating in its own right, given its airship hangars.
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Old 8th Sep 2018, 13:05
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Chugalug (#12252),

Yes, distinctly possible. We had only am American R/T set in our VVs, so no trailing aerials. But what radios they put in the TTs I do not know. Like you, I know nowt about it. Perhaps somebody could give us a lead ?

Danny.
 
Old 8th Sep 2018, 19:11
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Danny, an interesting modellers' site here spells out a difference between the A-31 and A-35 as being an additional intake, offset to port, beneath the cowling of the latter. This appears to be the case of the Grottaglie VV, so perhaps it is a Mk4 after all? Also the radio mast half way back along the upper fuselage appears there too. The model photo below shows an excrescence on the port fuselage to beat any! Looking rather like a clockwork key it is presumably the propeller/rotor for the target winch mechanism. In at least one of the linked pics the "trailing aerial" fairlead is present. It looks as if you are right and I wrong, and it is indeed for the target wire and not a trailing aerial. A pity that Mr Lax didn't shoot it in colour, as the underside may well be yellow rather than duck egg blue. :-

1/72 Frog and Special Hobby Vultee Vengeance by Carmel J Attard

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Old 8th Sep 2018, 20:43
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Chugalug,

Quite a find ! Here we have a model A-35, VV Mk.IV "in full bloom" as a Target Tower. The "clock key" is a stylised version of the windmill "tower": from a vague memory of our 20 Sqn Beau, this was about the size and shape of a traffic cone: I suppose the one fitted to the VV would be much the same.

As for the cable lead-in, it is just guesswork: there is no "right" or "wrong" about it !

There is a lot on "Carmel J. Attard " - who she (he) ? from Google, but "AMC" 's potted history of the VV needs a good rewrite !

So now we have it nailed down: it is a Mk. IV TT that got out of UK somehow to Italy. at war's end. What exactly does the one white band signify ?

Danny.
 
Old 8th Sep 2018, 21:04
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Danny, I suspect the band was in Duck Egg Blue (ie the same colour as Day Fighter undersides) and was merely yet another device to prevent "Blue on Blue" incidents (though it didn't work for Bader ;-). As the TTs worked with day fighters it would seem logical they adopt similar markings. Here is a chart (courtesy Google) about WWII RAF markings:-


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Old 8th Sep 2018, 21:19
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Danny,if you google ``www.alamy.com/stock-photo.vulteevengeance`` you`ll find t`ousands of VV pics from all parts,maybe including `yusself`....!
The white band may be just a local ident/ don`t shoot me ,shoot the flag!!
Also note the shape of the bomb-bay doors,as TTs carried various `targets..
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Old 8th Sep 2018, 21:44
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Franek ref Bruno Szota. I think we are talking of the same man. Like all people of his generation he did not sit down and tell you about his war. But over two and a half years he told you bits of it while you were having a beer.
If I am correct he was a Cpl in the Polish Army, as an anti aircraft gunner., When the Germans invaded in 1939 he was captured by the Germans but escaped to return home to Eastern Poland where he was imprisoned by the Russians, who had now occupied Eastern Poland. He was sent to a POW camp at Murmansk. He escaped from there skiing south on skis made from bedboards with a few others. They then got on a train to Moscow and on to the Caspian Sea. They survived by selling some blue curtain material they had stolen on a train.
After the Sikorski/Mayski agreeement to reform the Polish Army he rejoined. When there was a call for volunteers for aircrew training he volunteered. He never mentioned training at Karachi, but I know he went via Persia/Iran through the Gulf to South Africa before sailing to UK. I believe that he was one of the few torpedoing victims to survive. !0%??
He always thought that, in comparison, Iggy had had an easy war.
All the Polish people I had the pleasure to fly and serve with were very professional and excellect company.
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Old 9th Sep 2018, 13:09
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sycamore (#12257),

Thanks ! But there are no more than about 15 VV pics, most of them well known and none remarkable in any way. But you have dozens of "Valiants" (US BT-13), of evil memory .....

From my Page 119, #2367:
The BT-13 was very awkward in the air. You started a turn to the left with a bit of left stick and ease back. The thing skidded and you had to use rudder to bring the nose round. Then the nose would drop, and you had to take off bank to avoid losing height. It left you with crossed controls (left rudder and right stick), crabbing round uncomfortably. And in right turns, vice versa. This aircraft should never have gone into production. I have never flown anything with worse harmonised controls. It had a lot of dihedral and a big fin, so it was stable enough. Straight and level flight was fine. Turns were the problem.
 
Old 9th Sep 2018, 16:31
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Ref the rear fuselage band on the Grottaglie VV, your question was answered in 2012 by Franek of all people, Danny. Scary how all our ramblings can be retrieved by the search engines now! It seems it was (or should have been) Duck Egg blue (ie Sky type S, as were the day fighter undersides) and was mostly removed in early 1945 from 2nd TAF a/c when good ground camouflage was deemed more vital than possible mis-ident, in progressively Luftwaffe free skies (that had one last trick up its sleeve of course). Interestingly it persevered in Italy, though on a varying basis. Like all paint schemes it was always liable to local mod.

Aviation historians may ponder in future about red triangles appearing on the fins of FEAF Hastings in place of the standard red diamonds of that fleet. They appeared because armed with brushes and red paint we were sent down to the 48Sqn first line by the boss. To enable the mod we borrowed a set of giraffe steps and worked our way down the flight line of the Changi Western Dispersal extending the one shape into the other. The Red Triangle was of course the 48 Squadron Badge, aka the Bass symbol.

Franek:-
The band was introduced to avoid friendly fire incidents and improve air to air recognition, it was remo0ved or not applied where it could compromise the aircraft on the ground.
White band on rear fuselage
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Old 9th Sep 2018, 16:49
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Chugalug,
Scary how all our ramblings can be retrieved by the search engines now!
If only ! If my experience is anything to go by, "Search this Thread" is a forlorn hope, once in a while it turns something up for me, but not very often.

Sometimes "Google" gets it when Pprune can't. Probably just me !

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 9th Sep 2018 at 16:59. Reason: Gone off at half-cock
 

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