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RAF / RN Chinagraph Pencils (Cold War era) for Kneeboards

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RAF / RN Chinagraph Pencils (Cold War era) for Kneeboards

Old 21st Sep 2018, 09:00
  #21 (permalink)  
 
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Yes Scott identical. However when I was stopped from flying P1 in 1999 I had been out of the mob for nearly forty years and the flying suit bore extensive evidence to this effect.
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Old 21st Sep 2018, 09:05
  #22 (permalink)  
 
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You rang? A quick rummage in the desk drawers generated the following: 3 chinagraphs and several lifetimes' supply of leads.
I'm certain there are more pens in the Attic ... I carried a set of 3 in different colours in a plastic holder that used to contain small cigars, to avoid staining shirt pockets! There may even be one of the 'unravelling' ones mentioned by unmanned_droid, although that was a rather low-end option!!

Note that the 2 black ones are of a later design, with a more rounded end.

Eastern Radar 1970-1973 and 1976-1979 and some other places too. I'm sure we used the same back in 1965 onwards for writing on Tote Boards and GCA plaques [aka flight strips].

To clean the perspex effectively, use a dab of cigarette ash from the "Tray, Ash, Controllers" ... Tengah ones were made from a taxiway blister light cover [heavy glass] mounted in a locally-made aluminium ring support.

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Old 21st Sep 2018, 09:24
  #23 (permalink)  
 
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Is that a best before or use by date on the top one?, it appears it's not just Humans that have problems with lead in their pencils starting to go soft as they get older...
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Old 21st Sep 2018, 09:26
  #24 (permalink)  
 
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I'm quite certain we had a white or yellow refill in ATC at Marham. There wa a floodlit board and each flight had a peice id perspex written from behind with the skippers name, the airframe no , the fuel load and what the detail was, The writing was about 2 inches high, with a black background and floodlit from behind. On the other side of the airfield in the Self Briefing room in Ops there was copious amounts of propelling chinagraphs but only black or red refills.. I've got one as a keepsake from Shackletons along with the STR HF Radio Tuning tool.(unused)
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Old 21st Sep 2018, 09:36
  #25 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Timelord View Post
Actually, these things were everywhere, aircrew used them for knee pads, controllers on radar screens, ops on tote boards and every ops desk was covered in Perspex so China graph notes, scribbles and doodles were all over them. And if you happened to need to note a phone number in the bar one evening........
And as an ops clerk in the hard at Wildenrath we had to use them to write backwards on the tote boards. They didn't have "lead" in them, it was a hard wax or grease, hence the American name grease pencil. I still have two in my man cave (AKA Shed) one of which has the very rare clip, which saved aircrew having to tie them to whatever in the cockpit/on their flying suits. I did see an article once in Airclues or somewhere on how to drill a small hole in the top in order to use a fine cord or line(fishing?) for the above

A342
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Old 21st Sep 2018, 09:38
  #26 (permalink)  
 
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Brings back the memory, a newly promoted Cpl, on my 1st early shift grasping the chinagraph and allocating the mechanics their a/c for pre-flights.

The chinagraph pencil was a bigger symbol of power than the bright white stripes on my tunic.

I've since used them for years to mark ceramic tiles for cutting.
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Old 21st Sep 2018, 09:45
  #27 (permalink)  
 
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Learning Command insisted that all kneepad chinagraphs were attached to suitable bits of string (usually para cord) so that if dropped, the chinagraph wouldn't become an arse looticle. Neither were students allowed to use the top pencil pockets in case something should fall out during negative 'g' manoeuvres.

The supplier of chinagraph 'leads' changed some time in the '70s and the new ones were dreadful - much softer and greasy.

Personally, after leaving training, I preferred the Staedtler Lumocolor and would buy my own.

A pen torch was also a useful item and I always had one in my top pocket. For some reason the groundcrew hated them, but they were vastly better than the official rubbish.

I still have a collection of various chinagraphs stuffed into a pot somewhere - liberated from sqn ops when the chinagraph and Perspex gave way to whiteboards and dry markers. Then came the infernal IT-based system which was infernally slow and inflexible.
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Old 21st Sep 2018, 09:50
  #28 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by NutLoose View Post
ones we had didn't have the clip on them as it was a fod hazard.
They only came without clips after clips became a fod hazard.

Without a clip they were a loose article . One solution was to drill a hole through the twist too and insert a nylon thread, same as in the dinghy knife. Also adding a ring of self adhesive fathom tape.

Came in various colours. On AEW Shacks we favoured white or yellow for marking contacts on the radar screen.

Some lead was was that could beat be removed with a polish. Some lead could be wiped off with a damp cloth - beware walking to your aircraft in the rain with all your mission brief on a knee pad.
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Old 21st Sep 2018, 09:58
  #29 (permalink)  
 
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Neither were students allowed to use the top pencil pockets in case something should fall out during negative 'g' manoeuvres.
I remember those being locally modified to have a velcro'ed down flap added.
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Old 21st Sep 2018, 10:09
  #30 (permalink)  
 
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MPN11 wrote:

Note that the 2 black ones are of a later design, with a more rounded end.
Possibly a more robust design? I recall that the tapered end of the white example in your photo had a tendency to develop hair-line cracks eventually leading to fatigue failure.
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Old 21st Sep 2018, 10:10
  #31 (permalink)  
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Torches were something that were very slow to evolve and most were commercial. Groundcrew ones were usually waterproof and vapour proof. A common aircrew one was green with either a clear lens or red filter, took 2 U2 (nose D type), and had the light at right angles to the shaft. Worked well, fitted in a nav bag slot but were bulky.

Then an aircrew torch was designed by a committee. It was about 8 inches long, long enough to snap if you sat on it. It was black, the case had ribs for grip. The on/off switch was a push button in the base which had a black securing ribbon and would unscrew to fit 2 AA batteries. The lens was also at right angles, had an integral red filter and cast a subdued rectangular beam several inches. Its most endearing feature was battery life. You were lucky to get more than 5 hours life from the batteries - SWITCHED OFF.

It came into service in the 70s and was replaced in the late 90s I think. I don't think its replacement was a personal issue.

I never had a flying suit with a suitable torch pocket though I had one made up by Flying Clothing.
ribbp
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Old 21st Sep 2018, 10:38
  #32 (permalink)  
 
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White/Yellow for edge-lit boards and radar screen, Black/Red/Blue for writing on plaques/desks. Oh, we were spoilt for choice back then!

Further searching fails to reveal the set of pencils in the cigar packet. I may have been burgled by a Chingraph Collector. Own up ... who was it?

Does anyone here want/need some refill leads? You're welcome to them!

Last edited by MPN11; 21st Sep 2018 at 16:37.
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Old 21st Sep 2018, 10:41
  #33 (permalink)  
 
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The best groundcrew torch in my time was a large aluminium, 'refuelling' torch.
It took 3 U2's (D Cells), had a hexagonal head that unscrewed and a well guarded lens.

It was popular with the RAFP as it doubled as a truncheon.
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Old 21st Sep 2018, 11:48
  #34 (permalink)  
 
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RN Sea King Observers used them on overlays on the radar to plot ships, dip positions, sonobuoy positions, sonar contacts etc as the action plot. I remember it well. Very low tech but reasonably effective. In the tropics the pens were less effective as they tended to melt. Water based felt tip pens worked better but you had to buy them yourself as the Puss was notoriously tight arsed! Happy days!!
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Old 21st Sep 2018, 12:12
  #35 (permalink)  
 
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We had the ‘propelling pencil’ chinagraph from about 1968 onwards with no change that I remember until leaving in 1975; I still have some sitting in my desk drawer both white and yellow plastic. We never had issues requiring holes to be drilled or lines attached, just stuck them into the appropriate pen pocket in the baggy green skin as required.

We only had the goose neck torch which we hung on the D ring on the front of our LSJ or flying ovies so that it shone forward if ever needed in anger. There was much consternation when a new mark of flying suit was issued without the D ring, as its purpose was to secure the O2 hose of a mask and deemed unnecessary for us angry palm tree crew for whom the new suits were issued. We must have been taken seriously because the suits were subsequently fitted with the D rings!
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Old 21st Sep 2018, 12:35
  #36 (permalink)  
 
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Just found four chinagraphs, one red, one yellow, and two black (one with clip), all the same design as the white one in MPN11's photo. All four were service issue from the 1970s, and marked 'Made in USA' on the top of the knurled knob (needed a magnifying glass to read it!). Also a ten pack of Black Wax Leads (seven remaining), marked with the Stationery Office Logo and Code No. 48-364.
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Old 21st Sep 2018, 13:21
  #37 (permalink)  
 
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It is kind of interesting to think about how much pens and pencils are a part of our lives. They are the interface for most of our important decisions, as well as daily life.

Being a structural analyst, I spend plenty of time working out problems and sketching on paper. I have gained a preference for quality 2mm mechanical rapid pro pencils by Rotring.
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Old 21st Sep 2018, 13:42
  #38 (permalink)  
 
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No wonder the RAF no longer use them, it appears we have all of their stock
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Old 21st Sep 2018, 14:24
  #39 (permalink)  
 
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NutLoose ... could be. I've just found a box of 7A/10147 Paper Fasteners, S.O. code 47-11 with a King's Crown ... and ditto 9A/437480 Polished Brass Draughtsmans Drawing Pins code 68-35.

spekesoftly ... (May I call you 'Fellow Squirrel'?) ... I went back into the drawer to check the top of my white chinagraph, and agree your findings! i envy you for having some 48-364 leads, though - wanna swap for some -716 or -720?
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Old 21st Sep 2018, 14:47
  #40 (permalink)  
 
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Were commercially available as Scripto W610. Still around on Ebay.
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