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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 24th Feb 2010, 10:53
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Thanks Fred, that certainly is some difference from what some of our other posters have written for their wings parade!

Please continue with your operational career, I'm sure there are more out there as interested as I am!

Adam
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Old 24th Feb 2010, 11:13
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Thanks to Johnfairr.

Please continue with your operational career, I'm sure there are more out there as interested as I am!
Amen to that .

So . Johnfairr more please. I am sure we are all interested, and on behalf of all our friends. MANY THANKS.
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Old 24th Feb 2010, 13:16
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Johnfairr.....

Even so long after the event my hackles rise when I read of the disgacefully shabby treatment of your course, Unfortunately there existed that type of Senior Officer who had the power to alter the lives of so many courageous pilots who should have had recourse but were far too young and inexperienced to be able to do anything about it. Please let us have some more of your life with my cherished 51 Squadron . You must have arrived at Snaith a little after me. My first Op with 51 was the eventful Hamburg "Fire Bombing" on the night of July 23rd./24th. 1943. I am proud to see my "Autograph" so close to yours on the title page of "Snaith Days" (Large type of Paperback edition) and I did my last Op on the night of Jan 28th.1944 to Berlin . It was actually counted as being with the newly formed 578 Sqn.(From "C" Flight, 51 Sqdn.) but we were still operating from Snaith and although I went to Burn for a short time I never operated again. We had retained the Sqdn. marking of LK but I think that I speak for all the people that were "pressed" into 578 and who always regarded themselves as still being 51 Sqdn. and that I am sure , included my fellow Arnold scheme trainee but on a later course,and good friend whom I am sure that you must have known, Cyril Barton ,who lost his life saving the small village from the disaster of a Halifax crashing into it but not before he had enabled the rest of his crew to bale out safely. The posthumous V.C. that followed was attrbuted to 578 but everyone at Snaith counted him as a 51 type.

You have evoked many memories and I hope that there are more to come, Thank you, Reg
 
Old 24th Feb 2010, 22:35
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fredjhh

To Regle and Cliffnemo
I am puzzled. Who is Johnfair?
Reg, I was posted to 51 Squadron in April 1943 and I was almost immediatley admitted to hospital for some weeks. I was shot down on 21/22nd June 1943 on Krefeld, two days after the Snaith Bomb Dump blew up. Snaith Days has my story, written in by Keith Ford when I helped him with the book. Fredjhh.
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Old 25th Feb 2010, 12:55
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fredjhh

I believe Regle was referring to another poster, johnfairr, in mistake for you...
I'm sure he'll be along shortly to add some more....
It sounds as if you have a little story to tell about how you managed to evade capture for some months.

it seems to have been quite a rare achievement for all the crew of a Halifax to survive a crash... did you meet up with your crew after the War?

I think one of your crew was betrayed in Antwerp by the same guy who betrayed one of Reg's best friends, I'm sure that will be clarified in due course....

Great writing and look forward to more of your memories.
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Old 25th Feb 2010, 16:49
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FredJhh

Thanks ICare9 (Should be Ilookafterreg) and apologies to you ,Fred . All remarks that I sent to John f.etc. were meant for you. It is not the first time that I have made this type of mistake. I am going to make a sort of "Cast" list and put the pseudonyms with their proper names....and then lose the list !! Thanks ,Kevan, for the Gen on Fred. He has a lot more to give us....evaded , recaptured ..sounds like the mnemonic for Henry V111's wives with "Survived" being Fred's part in it. Come on , Fred, I for one am left "Cliffhanging" each Saturday morning. Cliffhanging ! Now there's a story in that Cliff ! Regle
 
Old 26th Feb 2010, 18:01
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Memoirs of a WW-II Typhoon pilot - part 15

Peter Brett's story continues...

After my first solo on the Typhoon I was expecting perhaps a few hours practice flying and then to start on operations. But no! In the first place, the squadron moved from Harrowbeer to Tangmere on 3rd August and my second flight did not take place until the 8th. From then until the 11th September I accumulated some 17 hours Typhoon time doing things like low level cross-country flights in formation, tail chases, close formation, battle formation flying and air-to-air gunnery practice.
Just as I was expecting once again to start operations the squadron was again posted. On the 18th August we moved to Perranporth in Cornwall. The airfield here was perched on the cliffs above Perranporth and one runway finished at the edge of the cliff overlooking the beach. When landing on this runway, in either direction, there were things to be remembered. If landing from inland towards the beach you had to remember that it would be very unwise to run out of runway on landing since, instead of some rough grass after the end of the runway there was only empty space until you hit the beach some eighty feet below! When landing from the beach end it was well to remember that, if the wind was of any respectable strength, there was a vicious down draft just before you crossed the edge of the cliff (which was also the end of the runway). It was advisable to come in a bit high and fairly steeply. Fortunately the Typhoon had some of the gliding characteristics of a house brick so that with full flap and a closed throttle the angle of descent was quite steep. The aircraft with its very thick wing section lost height very rapidly, even in the normal flying attitude, well before the stalling speed was approached.
Much later I had a vivid demonstration of the difference between the way the aircraft was pointing and the direction it was traveling when doing low level rocket attacks. I remember pulling out of a dive over the river Seine just east of Le-Havre where the river is in a gorge. I had dived on some barges and fired the rockets. I then pulled out with plenty of 'g'. As I did so I looked out right at the gorge side and was able to see that, although I thought I was at least maintaining height, I was in fact still going down! Luckily I was able to climb away again having come within some twenty feet of having wet feet. That however was much later.

Last edited by tow1709; 26th Feb 2010 at 18:15. Reason: correct typos
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Old 26th Feb 2010, 18:15
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Memoirs of a WW-II Typhoon pilot Part 16

Just about this time I did my first, and last, spin in a Typhoon. The pilots' notes on the Typhoon devoted a whole page to spinning and, knowing that most pilots' notes tended to understate things, I was a little worried to read things like: "Spins must be started between 15000 and 20000 feet. Recovery must be started after not more than one turn. Use of the engine may help to recover from spins to the left. At 25000 feet and above, cases have occurred where the spin becomes flat. Recovery from a flat spin is difficult and up to 10000 feet may be lost during recovery. Until proficient pilots should only practice spins to the left"!
None of these remarks was calculated to put me at my ease as I took off for my first spinning practice. I climbed to 22500 feet, just to be on the safe side but still below 25000 ft, and tried a couple of straight stalls. I closed the throttle and eased back on the stick to keep the nose up. Airspeed dropped rapidly and the aircraft began to wallow, at the same time the rate of climb indicator started to move rapidly down below the zero and the altimeter began to unwind. As the speed dropped below 90mph there was a shuddering and suddenly the starboard wing dropped violently, rolling the aircraft to past the vertical. Shoving the stick hard forward and opening the throttle resulted in a couple of seconds of most uncomfortable negative 'g' and then I was heading down, the airspeed was building up and the controls began to feel live again. Remembering the pilots' notes once again I let the speed build up to 250 mph and then pulled out of the dive. I had lost 3000 feet in the stall and recovery so climbed back up again before trying again. Having done a second straight stall with identical results I felt a little more confident and decided that I would have to try the spin, however little I relished the idea.
This time as the shuddering started to warn of the stall I hauled right back on the stick and shoved on full left rudder. I wasn't going to take any chances of going into a right-hand spin. This time the left wing dropped. The aircraft flipped over upside down, the nose fell towards the ground but continued to rotate very fast and in less than two seconds I was in a full left hand spin. I took the appropriate action, stick forward, full opposite rudder and stood ready to open up the throttle. Nothing seemed to happen for about a turn and a half and then the nose pitched down, the rotation stopped, and I was heading vertically earthwards. I had no idea which direction I was heading in as I pulled out of the dive since the manoeuvres were so violent that I was thrown from side to side in the cockpit. I was very glad that I had tightened my straps to an uncomfortable degree before starting. As I regained level flight I saw that this time I had lost over 7000 feet. From that moment I decided that, not only would I never intentionally spin a Typhoon again, but I would take damn good care not to get into a position where I was liable to stall without knowing all about it.

Whilst we were at Perranporth one of the chaps was unfortunate enough to have his engine cut out just after takeoff when very near the end of the runway heading towards the beach. With quick thinking he selected full flap, skimmed the end of the runway and landed on the beach. Luckily the tide was well out at the time and it was just at dawn so there was nobody on the beach. This presented a problem to the salvage crew. Having pulled the aircraft up the beach above the high tide mark using a jeep as the tractor, they then found that there was no way they could either tow it through the soft sand behind the beach or get a heavy transporter down to the beach to load it up. They finally decided that the only way was to repair the engine in situ and fly the aircraft off. Since the beach was not a restricted area the aircraft was cordoned off by a hastily erected barrier and guards were positioned. A set of shear legs were assembled for the heavy lifting and work commenced. It took two days to repair the engine since the cause of the failure was a sheared auxiliary drive shaft. This drove all the things like fuel pumps, superchargers etc, and it necessitated removing the propeller and the front of the engine to replace the shaft. This all provided an extra entertainment for the few holiday makers who frequented the beach. When it came to flying off, practically all the station personnel went down to the beach to clear the area and then line each side of the 'runway' to keep the takeoff clear.
The C.O. decided to do the takeoff himself. Afterwards he said he almost suffered from stage fright! Every eye was on him as he was brought down in a jeep and then carried his parachute over to the aircraft. The original pilot's 'chute having been carefully taken back to the airfield since the parachute silk was a highly prized 'black market' item.
The engine started first cartridge and he taxied slowly down on to the firm sand just below the high water mark. He then taxied as far as he could towards the cliff before turning round to give himself the maximum takeoff length. On opening up for takeoff, the slipstream raised a veritable sandstorm and he roared down the beach followed by a stinging plume of blown sand which made all the spectators cringe as they were blasted by the grit. He took off steeply and then did a couple of 'showoff' beat-up runs along the beach followed by an upward roll before circling round and landing on the airfield.
The squadron stayed at Perranporth until 10th October and during this time it seems, from my log book, that I was acting as 'spare man' on operations. I flew the station Hurricane to Tangmere, and also a Typhoon a couple of times to Tangmere and to Harrowbeer. Then on October 11th I was detached with aircraft HF-B to 10 Group Gunnery Practice Camp at Fairwood Common on the Gower Peninsular on the South Wales Coast. This airfield was later to become, and still remains, Swansea Airport.
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Old 27th Feb 2010, 22:23
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Pilot Training in the UK, WW2

It was not my intention to write any further, - I was just interested to see how the training programmes differed, as I flew with so many different instructors at both EFTS and SFTS. A neighbour in the Cotswolds told me he flew with only one instructor when he trained in Texas. Thirty years later he visited him in the USA and found him still flying.
However, here goes....................
After a one week course of flying ‘under the hood’ at a Beam ApproachTraining Flight, where we flew Oxfords, fitted for the first time with radio, we were posted to 10 OTU at Abingdon. The pre-war station had luxurious accommodation and we were installed in No 2 Sgts Mess. I shared a room with George Cooke, and Don McClelland and Ivan Hazard were next door. We all had bikes, and Ivan’s sister worked in the Ministry of Supply at Merton College, where she made arrangements to park them safely, and their uncle was the Butler at xxxxx College. “Birdie” Harris at the boat station at Folly Bridge taught me how to punt, in return for helping her to park her boats and punts under the first arch of the bridge. Punt poles were very precious and she could not afford to lose them! We spent every day-off on the river, and very often with a nice hamper with a bottle of wine from some mysterious source! The Halycon Days for us, but George and Ivan did not survive the year.

One of the screened pilots at Abingdon, Geoge Abecassis, a well known motor racing driver, looked at my 170 hours and told me flew ‘ops’ on Whitleys, as a second pilot, with only 110 hours.
The famous Group Captain Massey (shortly to become SBO at Stalag Luft 111) greeted us and spoke of the work to be done. Then he stopped, “Where are the officer pilots?” The navigator officers from Jurby were sitting in the front row and the pilots sat behind. There was a silence then one pilot stood up and said, “There no pilots commissioned on our course, Sir.” Massey’s face was as black as thunder. He spoke to some of the screened pilots behind him, then continued with his talk, before we were told to form our own crews.
It was reported that Massey had said to his officers, “We must watch this lot. They must have caused trouble somewhere”
We milled aimlessly around until I was approached by a sergeant with the O wing.
We chatted and he told me he was in the army at Dunkirk, then transferred to the RAF and trained in the USA. Two Canadian wireless operators and a Canadian gunner made up the rest of my initial crew, but it quickly changed.
This may seem an odd crew but, at that time, the Whitley crew had two pilots, one acting as bomb aimer. The two wireless operators shared the radio position and the front gun turret, and the navigator and rear gunner made up the total. In the initial training the screened instructor was the second pilot, operating the undercarriage lever and the flaps. Once a pilot was cleared for solo flying, another pilot flew with him and they alternated at the controls. From OTU, a crew went to a Squadron and split up. The pilot became a second pilot to someone who had done ten ‘ops’ in the right hand seat, and the experienced man was given the new crew as his command. Then “Butch Harris” took over Bomber Command and decided he could not spare two pilots in a crew. My screened instructor, F/Sgt “Dinty” Moore ( later S/Ldr i/c ‘B’ Flight on 51 Squadron,) asked me if I could fly the Whitley without assistance, and it was quite easy.
The Canadian wireless operators were given a Morse and Radio test. The results in order of merit, were ruled off half way down the list. The top half would remain wireless operators. The bottom half would be re-mustered in the new category as Bomb Aimers.
There was a riot, and talk of appealing to the High Commissioner. Then they were told the new post would receive the same pay as the pilots and navigators. So they calmed down, and the other half were up in arms; the better wireless operators remained on the lower pay! It seemed very unfair and I don’t know how it was all settled. There should have been one pay scale for all aircrew,- the risk was the same. fredjhh.

Last edited by fredjhh; 27th Feb 2010 at 22:28. Reason: text errors
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Old 28th Feb 2010, 14:32
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Raw deal, Fred

Talk about "Give a dog a bad name" ! Your course really had one of the worst cases of "Officiousness" going to someone in authority's head that I have heard about. As you have pointed out so graphically, the trouble is that it stays with you and there is very little that you could do about it. I encountered , only once during my whole career a case of blatant anti-semitism in the behaviour of a certain "Colonial" Wing Commander C.G.I at one of the stations where I was a F/Lt. Instructor .. He tried to charge me with "Desertion" when I came back from leave a few hours late. I was lucky in having a Station Commander who threw it out in no uncertain manner but better was to come ! Many years later when I was a Captain ,flying Convairs for Sabena, I happened to walk through the transit lounge at Heathrow on my way back to the aeroplane to take it back to Brussels when I happened to see this same chap sitting amongst a bunch of businessmen. He recognised me straight away as I walked over to him.. "Are you one of my passengers to Brussels with Sabena Flight ... ? I asked him politely . "What a coincidence", he replied "Good to see you again after all these years". I looked at him and said "I am just going to the Sabena Station Manager to tell him that I will not have you on my Flight and I shall tell him why." He was furious but my Station Manager backed me to the hilt as did the Chief pilot Europe and the various other Directors who were contacted by the B.....d . It is true that "revenge is a dish that is best eaten cold.". regle
 
Old 28th Feb 2010, 15:54
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Pilot training in UK, WW2

Well Done, Reg! I would love to have been with you.
I never saw the CGI again and I do not know his name, but it was rumoured that he had been one of the worst type of Public School masters, and he was in his element with his elevated rank. Having left SFTS without a commission you had to remain an NCO, in those days, until you had finished a tour of "Ops". BUT, some weeks after leaving Rissington, two of my fellow sergeants were commissioned, both ex-public school, and one the son of a very well known Amateur Golf champion. They were not on the original list and they did not come onto Bomber Command.
fredjhh.
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Old 28th Feb 2010, 17:25
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Fred

Strange that your "bete noir" should also hold the job of C.G.I. It sounds exactly like the same chap. I had been operating for over a year before I was commissioned and I was told by the Adjutant that the Commisioning Board Chairman was very angry at the slow rate of commissioning and had put in a strong word or two to his Superiors saying that all pilots should be commissioned. He was Air Vice Marshall Carr and a very tough character. When we graduated in the States our American fellow trainees could not understand how we put up with such a system and condemned it out of hand. I am pretty sure that it no longer occurs but am not too certain. The distinction between Decorations that was in force has been stopped and that, too , was a disgusting practice. When you look back on it objectively you can only see the hypocrisy behind it all. Reg
 
Old 1st Mar 2010, 03:13
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This is a side to the story that you don't see discussed too often, gents - it's been rather enlightening.
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Old 1st Mar 2010, 11:26
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Pilot Training in WW2

The navigators were sent to the navigation flight while the pilots did circuits and bumps and local flying exercises, carrying a wireless-operator and a rear gunner. I had three hours of circuits and bumps, overshoots and single engine flying before I was sent solo.
Abingdon still had some Whitley 111s, with radial engines and the dustbin under-turret. I was detailed to fly one of these with F/Sgt Oscar Rees. Oscar said, “Don’t bother to bring a parachute. If you wear one you can’t get in and, if you put one on inside, you can’t get out, and any way,- we are doing low flying!” To get to the cockpit it was necessary to climb into the dust bin turret, under the bar and out again. Impossible with a ‘chute. If you climbed in through front hatch you still had to negotiate the dual controls to get to your seat. Low flying with Oscar meant trying to dip his props in the Thames!
Then all flying stopped and the pilots were told to train the new bomb-aimers on the use of the MK1Xa Course Setting Bomb Sight (CSBS). Each pilot was allocated to two or three trainee B/As, grouped round bombing tables set up with the CSBS, and we went through all the drills we had learned at SFTS. When the pupils were deemed ready, we then took them over to the AML trainer tower to practice bombing.
Meanwhile there was a hive of activity on the airfield but with hardy any flying, in fact I and my fellow pilots had no flying for five weeks. The OTU was preparing for the first 1,000 bomber raid. Old Whitleys were dragged out of the “graveyard” and given a thorough overhaul and air tested by the screened pilots, who were to go on the raid. Of course we did not know what was happening until the day after the raid, but we were aware of the excitement when the station was ‘closed down’ and live bombs were loaded. Group Captain Massey flew on the second 1,000 bomber raid in a Stirling and was shot down to become a prisoner.
I resumed flying in July with a full crew for cross country exercises by day and night.
For a while we were sent to Stanton Harcourt, which had one runway, for night flying. This gave us most days free to ride into Oxford. S/Ldr Gunn was in charge of the station, - a very relaxed type. He tried to get the Tannoy extended to the pub by the ferry, because “that’s where all the chaps will be!” The only announcement I heard him say was, “Attention, chaps. I’ve just heard the Group Captain is on his way over from Abingdon.
Make yourselves scarce!” fredjhh
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Old 1st Mar 2010, 11:29
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A very similar attitude of bastardry from above is mentioned in John Beede's excellent (if rather bitter) book, 'They Hosed Them Out'.

THEY HOSED THEM OUT
John BEEDE

Book Description: AUSTRALASION B.S., Sydney, 1965. HaRD. Book Condition: Good. No Jacket. 14 X22 Cms. THE LIFE EXPECTANCY OF A N AIR GUNNER IN OPERATIOnS AGAINST A WELL DEFENDED TARGET WAS EXTREMELY SHORT AND OFTEN CAME TO A MESSY FINISH --HENCE THE TITLE-- A GRAPHIC AND AUTHENTIC ACCOUNT-- BOOK GOOD SLIGHT YELLOWING TO EDGES- DUSTY TOP BOARDS. WAR. Bookseller Inventory # 000120
Recommended reading.
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Old 1st Mar 2010, 15:30
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fredjhh/regle

re ex Public School RAF

Just wondering whether the fact that ex public school boys in those days all had to join the OTC ie Officers Training Corps meant they had an advantage in being promoted?

Just looking at my father's OTC Certificate dated 1931 which clearly states that in the event of a national emergency he is eligble for consideration for a commission etc etc

Despite this my father who was in the RAF Reserve as Sgt Pilot in 1936 on being mobilised in Oct 1939 as Sgt Pilot took until August 1940 before being granted a commission as Pilot Officer,Aug 41 as F/O, Aug 42 as Flt Lt.

My uncle( also ex public school) however who joined No 1 Squadron RAF Aberystwyth Ninth Course A Flight on 25th Feb 1941 was a Pilot Officer by Jan 1942 when his Wellington ex No 40 Squadron came down in the North Sea on a bombing raid to Wilhelmshaven and spent the rest of the war as a POW. He however transferred to the RAF from the army. How did they manage to do that?? Perhaps he was an officer already in the Army but I never got around to asking him that as he was a 60 a day Senior Service smoker and died of lung cancer before Pprune existed!
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Old 1st Mar 2010, 19:58
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Pilot commissions

I often wondered about discrimination with commissions. My father passed class 42B of the Arnold Scheme, but never got commissioned. He was still a WO in 1946. And yes, he wasn't a public schoolboy.
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Old 1st Mar 2010, 20:53
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Memoirs of a WW-II Typhoon pilot - Part 17

Peter Brett's story continues...

I was two weeks at Fairwood Common and accumulated about 8 hours flying doing camera-gun dummy attacks on other aircraft and live round air-to-air firing against a towed drogue target. Unfortunately, I found that my performance as an air-to-air gunner was abysmal. Later on I was to develop good accuracy at dive bombing and later still became very accurate with rocket projectiles and cannons against ground targets. However my scores on the drogue were very low. Each drogue was used for attacks by four or five different aircraft. Each aircraft had the tips of its cannon ammunition dipped in a different colour paint prior to loading and this left a coloured ring around any holes made in the drogue target to enable the accuracy of each aircraft to be assessed.

Only two things stand out in my memory of this course. The first was our reception by the station commander. We were an assorted crew of new and also some experienced operational pilots flying both Typhoons and Spitfires. We were assembled in the main lecture/briefing room for our introductory lecture. A very smartly turned out officer then marched on to the platform, regarded us with a jaundiced eye and announced. "My name is Vale, Squadron Leader Vale, I am also known as Vale the Bastard!"
I cannot recall anything else about our introductory talk but at least Sqn Ldr Vale got our attention at the beginning!

The second memorable thing was towards the end of the course when I was fed up with getting low scores on the target and decided to really press home my attack. I approached the drogue from the opposite direction, peeled over in a more than vertical bank, came round and judged it just right as the drogue passed across in front of me as I was in a vertical bank to allow me to pull on the correct deflection. I concentrated on the gun site, pulling the dot through the drogue from tail to nose and then pulling the turn tighter to get the dot at the required amount in front of the target. The dot on the gun sight moved ahead of the drogue and then I suddenly realized that the drogue had disappeared under my nose. I was obviously too close. Looking up I could see the towing aircraft at my twelve o'clock position and, since I was still in a vertical bank, this meant that I must have passed the drogue somehow. I quickly straightened up and looked around. There was the drogue gently extending and collapsing like a concertina as it drifted down into the Bristol Channel. I had cut the towing wire with my propeller!

The only effect on my aircraft was a small shiny spot on one of the prop blades. The effect on the towing aircraft however was a very sudden increase in airspeed followed by a loud bang as the released towing wire whipped forward and caught up with the towing machine. Luckily it only caused minor damage to the cable guide at the rear of the aircraft. The towing pilot however had a few nasty moments as he was presented with a perfect head-on view of a Typhoon exactly at his 6 o'clock position, catching him up fast, and not knowing whether this Typhoon was about to open fire! The net result, as far as I was concerned was that my next flight was in a Miles Master doing dual attacks, although this did not seem to have much effect since I never did manage to get a large score on the drogue. Also I noted in my log book that out of ten air-to-air firing missions, in six cases one of the two loaded cannons jammed after a few rounds. Strangely, on operations when all four cannon were loaded I never suffered a jam again. Perhaps the armourers on the operational squadrons were more motivated to make sure the ammunition belts were perfect. All in all this fortnight was somewhat of a waste of time as far as I was concerned since I never again had occasion to fire a deflection shot in anger at another aircraft! However, on the completion the course I did not return to Perranporth but rejoined the squadron at Predannack which was right down on Lizard Point in Cornwall, and it was from here that I, at last, started operational flying.



More soon - TOW
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Old 1st Mar 2010, 23:11
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PILOT TRAINING in UK, WW2

I believe that, in general, most flying schools stuck to the rule of awarding up to one third of pilots and navigators commissions, based on assessment and examination marks. I met some officers who had not been even to Grammar Schools, but had done well on their courses. Some sergeants had been to very good schools, but had not done well in the wings exam, or had been ill at the end of the course. At all events, some seemed to be at the mercy of some strong minded or dominant CGIs or CFIs. I knew one Oxford Graduate and a tutor at the University, who had to receive Maths coaching from an elementary school master on the course, as he could not understand Spherical Trigonometry for Astro Navigation. fredjhh
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Old 2nd Mar 2010, 08:58
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REGLE

Please could you check your PM.

Thanks....
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