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Meteor F.8 target tugs question

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Meteor F.8 target tugs question

Old 7th Oct 2015, 09:32
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Meteor F.8 target tugs question

After a discussion between me and some of my model club cronies, I'm throwing this out as I am sure someone here will know the answer.

A number of Meteor F.8s were modified to tow targets from an attachment fitted to the rear of the centreline tank. That much we know, and that the tank had a pair of vertical plates welded to it. Now, the question is, was the target drogue cable attached directly to those plates, or was there another piece of hardware involved? And were the targets packed and released once the Meteor was airborne, or did it take off with it already streamed?

Any help would be gratefully received, as none of us could come up with an answer.
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Old 7th Oct 2015, 10:10
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From what I remember the drogue and cable, about 1,500ft., was laid out in front of the aircraft on the runway. It could then roll that distance before it passed over the drogue leaving another 1,500 ft. before the drogue was snatched. By that time the aircraft was airborne and in a steep climb so the drogue would be pulled up from the runway minimising wear.

Release was a case of flying slowly beside the runway a dropping it on the grass.

The fins? I've got a feeling they were attached to the aircraft, not the tank.
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Old 7th Oct 2015, 10:11
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Last edited by ORAC; 7th Oct 2015 at 11:34.
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Old 7th Oct 2015, 10:53
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At Chivenor and Brawdy the 'flag' was positioned on the downwind side of the runway with the cable laid out in an 'S' loop. The tow a/c (Hunter/Meteor) then positioned alongside on the upwind side for the hook up. I don't recall the tow aircraft ever being airborne before the flag started moving so there was always an element of dragging the flag on its spreader bar washers.

Dropping was as described above but on the command of the Local controller in ATC
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Old 7th Oct 2015, 11:06
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The take-off required a great deal of care - the initial acceleration to achieve Vmca required a shallow climb, followed by gently pitching to keep between flag limiting speed and Vmca whilst climbing to the assigned target level. Which is why only very experienced pilots were allowed to fly Winston and Clementine at Brawdy - but for those of us lucky enough to go along for a trip in the back of Clementine, flag towing was quite an interesting time.

Although if one of us shot the flag off the back of Winston, 'Puddy' would jettison the cable and come howling back to Brawdy on the blue note in a cloud of condensation!
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Old 7th Oct 2015, 11:19
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As an aside to the topic [please excuse] No 1574 TTF at Changi operated Meteors in the role in the late 60s.

I recall a tale [unsubstantiated] that a TT20 went in for major servicing, after which they had serious difficulty in getting the balance checks right. After considerable work, it was [apparently] determined that its years of flag-pulling had stretched the airframe by several inches.


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Old 7th Oct 2015, 11:22
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According to my friend,an `old` F8 tug-pilot,the cable with drogue `spreader` bar/drogue/flag,was attached to the rear of the ventral by a hook; the cable was then laid-out down the runway in a particular pattern to minimise shock-loading,and away one went..On return the cable plus drogue/flag was dropped alongside the runway.Only one drogue/flag at a time..Same with the Hunter when used as a tug..
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Old 7th Oct 2015, 11:34
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Pilots Notes Meteor T.7

79. 30 ft. banner targets

(a) Line up on the runway centre-line and set 1/3 flap down.
Open up to 11,000 r.p.m. against the brakes, then release
the brakes and open up to full power. The nosewheel
should be lifted at 95 knots and once airborne, the aircraft
should be climbed initially at 125 knots. When the target
is airborne, climb at 200 knots. A speed of 240 knots
should not be exceeded and turns should be restricted to
below Rate 2. A speed of 200 knots at 8,500 r.p.m., with
airbrakes OUT, is recommended for the descent. The
target should be released by operating the camera master
switch and pressing the camera button on the control
column. A speed of 120 knots at 500 feet is recommended
for the release.

(b) If the normal release mechanism fails to operate, the target
can be released by jettisoning the ventral tank.
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Old 7th Oct 2015, 18:41
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Late friend of mine was at Sylt during the 50's and detailed as part of the party to collect the jettisioned drogue as previously mentioned. Fortunately on this particular occasion he was having a craft fag with the runway controller in the caravan when a TT8 appeared a dropped the "goods" wrong. narrowly missed the caravan but made a right mess of the soft top Landrover parked nearby!
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Old 8th Oct 2015, 09:03
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My memories of flag towing on 34 Sqn at Tangmere were of an operation like this. We nominated a "banner party" who took the landrover to the touchdown end of the runway, stretched the banner out beside the runway then towed the towline along the edge being careful to avoid any lights etc. When the tug arrive it taxied down the runway until instructed to stop by one of the banner party who then nipped under the tail and connected the rope to the bomb release mechanism at the rear of the ventral tank. Meanwhile at the other end the banner would be laid out on the runway. When given the thumbs up from that end the aircraft would be marshalled forward to "take up slack" which would pull the towrope onto the runway. When OK at a signal the tug pilot would set 11,000 rpm, release the brakes and make for the wide blue yonder. As for being a tug pilot, any young Bloggs did it. The signal to drop the flag was given by the runway controller.

On one occasion the flag was prepared waiting for the arrival of the tug. The landrover had recovered a just dropped flag and dropping one end of the towrope at the hook up point ready for a future tow slowly drove back to the banner end paying out the towrope, then parked by the runway for a quick fag, as one did in those days. The tug arrived, I signalled it into position, hooked up the towrope, took up slack, the landrover began to move backwards, its door were flung open end two figures leaped out. Wrong towrope !! Oh how I laughed.
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Old 8th Oct 2015, 09:21
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Further to my last, when attached to Nicosia we discovered that there were some glider targets in stores so we had a go. However, the technique for a banner take off did not work as too steep a climb after lift off resulted in the glider stalling and rolling straight in. A shallow climb was needed until the glider was reported as being airborne. There was no way we could land the glider, but in the event they were all damaged beyond repair and jettisoned into the Med.
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Old 8th Oct 2015, 15:34
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During my time on Whirlwinds at Chivenor we used the flown "flags" as volley ball nets but I don't seem to recall any bullet holes in them.
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Old 8th Oct 2015, 15:41
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Thank you one and all for responding to my pleas, and particularly to ORAC for the diagram.

What I like about this site are the replies that follow, with plenty of anecdotes about the subject. Please keep them coming.
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