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WW2 - Sunderlands - My father

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WW2 - Sunderlands - My father

Old 16th Nov 2019, 23:34
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Davidsa
Your #1 above
His squadron was chosen to go to the Far East - I don't know exactly where
FWIW 230 Squadron were in the Far East during WW2 (and afterwards) in Ceylon, Burma and Singapore. These two IWM photos show a 230 Sqn Sunderland at Gan during WW2.







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Old 17th Nov 2019, 11:55
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Many thanks, Warmtoast
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Old 17th Nov 2019, 12:00
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Originally Posted by PlasticCabDriver View Post
230 Sqn has an entry in their wartime F540 about one of their Sunderlands being attacked by some Italian fighters in the Med. They certainly shot at least one down, and one was listed as "flew into the sea unable to cope with the Sunderland's evasive manoeuvres" (or words to that effect) so perhaps some merit in the

" The technique that was being developed was to use a Sunderland to entice an enemy fighter onto its tail, dive steeply towards the sea to pull out at the last minute. The fighter, being much less manoeuvrable than the Sunderland, would plunge into the water. At least that was the theory! "

tactic!
230 would never do that at lunchtime though - it might upset the chef!
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Old 17th Nov 2019, 14:04
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My OC Admin at Watton mid 60s was a chap called Peter Moon. He had been involved with Sunderlands during the war, and received some sort of commendation for saving a moored aircraft when on storm watch. He became an admin wallah an by sheer grit and hard work and despite formal educational qualifications got commissioned and left as gp capt. Many years later when I was Secretary of a large S Coast Yacht Club, he called in to invite me to lunch at Barton on Sea Golf Club where he held some exalted position. He had seen my name in the Lymington Times. Lovely man, but I wished that I knew more of the Sunderland incident..
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Old 18th Nov 2019, 08:35
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An ex-engine fitter told me that once when he was working out on the wing of a Sunderland on a mooring at Pembroke Dock there was a mighty splash and a very worried armourer shouted that an armed depth charge had dropped off its under-wing hook into the water. The depth charge was fused to go off at a depth of thirty feet and the tide was rising. He and the armourer started running up and down the wings waving frantically and shouting at the Marine Craft section for a quick trip ashore.

Eventually a tender started out towards them and as it drew alongside the armourer shouted “Quick, quick, there’s a depth charge below us and it’s likely to explode at any moment”. “Thanks mate” said the coxswain and promptly shot off back to the MCS leaving our two heroes aboard the Sunderland.

Lesson; the timing of a message can be vital.

The eventual fix was to un-moor the flying boat and to let her drift to a tender that was standing off at a respectful distance.
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Old 18th Nov 2019, 21:07
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Originally Posted by Wander00 View Post
My OC Admin at Watton mid 60s was a chap called Peter Moon. He had been involved with Sunderlands during the war, and received some sort of commendation for saving a moored aircraft when on storm watch. He became an admin wallah and by sheer grit and hard work and despite formal educational qualifications got commissioned and left as gp capt. Many years later when I was Secretary of a large S Coast Yacht Club, he called in to invite me to lunch at Barton on Sea Golf Club where he held some exalted position. He had seen my name in the Lymington Times. Lovely man, but I wished that I knew more of the Sunderland incident..
That's surely rather a hard reflection on your eventual branch surely, Wanders! Incidentally, I was a guest in your regal yacht club on many occasions (during your tenure I suspect) and thoroughly enjoyed the ambiance of both the bar and the dining room. Barton on Sea GC isn't too shabby either....

Jack
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Old 18th Nov 2019, 22:54
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The depth charge was fused to go off at a depth of thirty feet
Shackletons carried the same Mk. XI.depthcharge.
It is a mere 55 years since I did the MOTU course, and was taught about them.
The hole which let the water into the pressure capsule which fired the pistol was covered by a screw cap with a rubber seal, which kept the water out. This cap had vanes on it, so that when it fell into the slipstream the cap would unscrew and fall away, uncovering the hole. To prevent this from unscrewing prematurely, the vanes had a length of soft copper wire threaded through them. A loop at the end of this wire sat in the open jaws of the fusing unit. If the aircraft ditched, or the D/C was dropped safe, or as in this case, fell into the ogg, the wire would stay in place, the vanes would not rotate, and the water would not enter the hole. Only if the Nav "fused" the D/C would the fusing unit jaws close, so that the wire would be pulled from the vanes and the cap would unscrew to let the water in.
!. It is amazing what you can remember when you don't need to.
2.I really was paying attention to Pete C+++++y's lecture.
3. Can't remember where I left the car keys.
4. The depth charge couldn't possibly have gone off.
5. I reckon I would have swum half a mile in about 2 minutes in those circumstances.
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Old 19th Nov 2019, 11:04
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Thanks Oxenos

I'm trying to picture the setup!
So the Navigator would fuse the D/C's remotely from within the aircraft, the D/C's being hung under the wing?
And if the cap's screw thread got just a little bit corroded maybe it would stick and not unscrew itself?
David
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Old 19th Nov 2019, 13:30
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Depth charge fusing

Sadly, my father isn’t here to ask. However, on a Sunderland wouldn’t the DC’s be fused just before running the underwing racks out into position?

i was also under the impression that additional DC’s could be loaded onto the (empty) racks from within the fuselage and the racks run out again once the first lot had been dropped.

anybody know for sure?

caramba

pS I’m sure the racks ran in and out. At least, they did on my Airfix model!
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Old 19th Nov 2019, 14:55
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Oxenos’ description of the Mk XI depth charge safety system is undoubtedly correct. In fact now that he mentions it I vaguely recollect being told of it when I first joined Shacks and thinking that it was a jolly good idea in the event of a ditching. But that was in 1952 and must have slipped my mind.
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Old 19th Nov 2019, 17:30
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if the cap's screw thread got just a little bit corroded maybe it would stick and not unscrew itself?
I am sure that the armourers would be most offended at that suggestion. No doubt the cap would periodically be removed and greased.
Navigator would fuse the D/C's remotely from within the aircraft, the D/C's being hung under the wing?
The Depth charges, and any other stores would be attached to Electromagnetic release units, whether in a bomb bay or on a wing. These would be released electrically from the pilots or Navs bomb firing switch. Similarly, the fusing unit was electrically operated. The jaws were spring loaded open, (which meant the safety wire would stay with the D/C,) and were closed electrically to retain the wire so that the D/C would drop live.
On the run up to a drop, the Nav would call "weapons selected and fused" Weapons selected meant that he had made connections between the chosen weapons and the bomb firing switch. Fused meant that he had closed the jaws of the fusing units so that they would drop live.
Some time ago I came across a video on the net of D/Cs being loaded onto a Sunderland. I cannot now find it - if someone does perhaps they could add it to this thread.
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Old 19th Nov 2019, 18:27
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UJ, sorry we (presumably) did not meet. What I wrote was intened as a compliment to the guy concerned, he was a very good egg indeed
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Old 20th Nov 2019, 13:15
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Bob's Sunderland memories

Caramba, like myself you probably have so many questions you could ask only it's too late. You might like to read the memories of my long-gone friend Bob Hume, who trained as a flight engineer at Pembroke Dock in 1943 and perhaps even met your father. By the way, there's an excellent Sunderland museum in the old chapel at Pembroke Dock which you would enjoy visiting. https://www.sunderlandtrust.com/

Bob remembered takeoffs as being exciting, as in calm conditions a Sunderland or Catalina at operational weights could take three miles to get airborne. Usually it was between one and two miles. Wind had most effect of course, but calm water increased suction on the hull due to the Bernoulli effect. In such conditions a couple of launches would zig-zag across the fairway to roughen it up, a task exciting to the boat crews and to the anxious aircrew in the Sunderland thundering towards them at 40 knots or more.

The flying-boats began their run by 'ploughing' through the water with the stick fully back until the nose rose and the bow-wave began moving aft. In calm conditions it helped to pump the stick gently to encourage this. At this stage the stick was eased forward to encourage the hull to rise onto its step and begin planing at around 50 knots, so decreasing the water drag and enabling the craft to attain flying speed. Of course there were no powered controls so pilots had to be pretty fit.

Bob recalled that they would often taxi a couple of miles along Milford Haven before takeoff, while for certain wind conditions they used an area off Angle, several miles away, and were sometimes towed by boat to save fuel, adding an hour or more towage each way to a typical 12 hour sortie.

Bob and his colleagues liked their sturdy Sunderlands although their 965bhp Bristol Pegasus engines sometimes gave trouble because they were consistently overworked and had two-speed VP propellers. The Sunderland V had 1200bhp Twin Wasps and constant-speed props as used in Catalina, Dakota and Liberator, enabling the big boat to maintain height on two engines.

During their long patrols Bob's skipper encouraged his crew to interchange their duties in case of emergencies. Twenty-three years later I took Bob aloft again to make him one of the few pilots to transition to Tiger Moth after 20 hours ab-initio in a Sunderland, and very well he managed it.

Despite hundreds of hours on Atlantic patrol, Bob and his crew saw no action although in early 1944 they did sight a Kurier circling a convoy about 100 miles out from Donegal. “We were all dead keen to have a go, the skipper turned towards it and we opened the Peggies flat-out though we had no chance of catching it, maybe we thought we could sneak up on him. The nav was up in the astrodome giving a running commentary: he's going left, no he's going right, dammit he's turning south, the ------'s running away!

I don't blame him, said the skipper, the first time I saw you lot forming up at OTU I felt like doing the same thing.
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Old 20th Nov 2019, 23:41
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Originally Posted by Wander00 View Post
UJ, sorry we (presumably) did not meet. What I wrote was intened as a compliment to the guy concerned, he was a very good egg indeed
Perfectly understood, Wander00 - I was merely teasing about the lack of "lack of" in your post and I am of course suitably impressed by the achievement of the gentleman concerned. Speaking of gentlemen, my lovely host was Ben R, who very sensibly kept me out of your way.

Jack
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Old 21st Nov 2019, 08:44
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Aah, another fine chap
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Old 21st Nov 2019, 11:15
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Bobs Sunderland Memories

I find it hard to believe calm calm conditions existed at Pembrioke Dock. A night departure from Seletar was usually
flat calm. The Rule was if you are not off by the end of flare path ..... close the throttles and try again. I remember
one night we managed to get off on the third try.
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Old 21st Nov 2019, 12:03
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A fascinating thread about an aircraft and service branch that (to me at least) doesnt get the credit for playing a critical part in WW2 -keeping the Atlantic open.
I was interested to read of the rather demanding takeoff requirements as I have spent alot of time in Bermuda in my carer and the Great Sound, the large inlet running West to East in the centre of the Island was a flying boat base in WW2 . I do not know if Sunderlands operated from there but it must have been a challenge as although it is long enough it is littered with islands and obstacles and very capricious winds as well as having very few takeoffs towards open sea. Bermuda is not exactly mountainous but none of it is flat (except the airport and thats almost all reclaimed) and most take off directions would face some obstacle so it must have been a real challenge in a Sunderland fully armed and fuelled to the brim for an ocean patrol.

On a smaller scale I had an Airfix Sunderland model which when finished was great - had a lot of moveable bits including the run in run our depth charge system. It was also made of white plastic so not much painting. On the downside the high wings and as all modells know you need to make up some form of support to stop them sagging while the glue dried. Thanks for a fascinating thread
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Old 21st Nov 2019, 22:53
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This is all very interesting and in accord with what I remember my father saying. Thanks, everybody!!There are references to "Pegasus" in the lecture notes so that confirms what version of aircraft he was on.

The notes include several diagrams of the VP propeller mechanisms but from what I can see there is no mention of there being just two settings. Maybe there were lots of variations.

I remember Dad talking about it being easier to take off in choppy water than calm, which is counter-intuitive at first sight, and about planing "on the step" and - hopefully - coming "unstuck". Also wasn't "alighting" onto calm water quite difficult? Hard to see the surface and judge when to flare?

I seem to remember that much of the patrolling was flown at 1000 feet - must have been bumpy. You would need a strong stomach to survive particularly if your mates were doing the cooking! Must have been wonderful views though, when there was something other than sea to look at!

Last edited by Davidsa; 21st Nov 2019 at 22:55. Reason: Sorting out paragraphs
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Old 22nd Nov 2019, 14:06
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Possibly 230, the old boys association back in the day consisted of some marvellous ex Sunderland crew.
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Old 24th Nov 2019, 13:29
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Originally Posted by Geriaviator View Post

Bob recalled that they would often taxi a couple of miles along Milford Haven before takeoff, while for certain wind conditions they used an area off Angle, several miles away, and were sometimes towed by boat to save fuel, adding an hour or more towage each way to a typical 12 hour sortie.
.
Just out of curiosity, if desired could a fully fuelled Sunderland make it all the way to NE Canada or Bermuda from Pembroke Dock or Alness?

David


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