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V-force emergency communications?

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V-force emergency communications?

Old 23rd Nov 2022, 16:35
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V-force emergency communications?

I’ve been a licensed radio amateur for a long time. Back in the early 1980s when I was involved with the development of linear amplifiers and their power supplies, I repaired one for a gentleman who had been (or said he had been) a Vulcan AEO. He wouldn’t give his callsign “…for security reasons”.

In passing he said that if they lost all other communications, the V-force were authorised to try contacting radio amateurs using CW (Morse) in our 7MHz band. I made polite noises but rather doubted this tale. In fact I rather thought he was what nowadays we’d call a Walt. For a variety of reasons involving the terms of the amateur licence and the fact that most amateurs called by someone with an unusual callsign simply wouldn’t answer, it seemed highly unlikely.

I’d more or less forgotten this little story but hearing an oddball callsign the other day on 7MHz brought it back to mind. But was there anything in it? Any ex-V-force AEOs out there who’d know?
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Old 23rd Nov 2022, 17:10
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One person here that might know (although he doesn't seem to have been around here lately) is Pontius Navigator Pontius Navigator he was a V force nav I believe. If he doesn't respond to a PM here, you might want to try "the other place", a.k.a. https://ops-normal.org/ but you will have to be quick as they have turned that place into a paid subscription only site (which I strongly suspect will be its death knoll, unfortunately) and it closes to non-subscribers at the end of this month.

Last edited by Senior Pilot; 23rd Nov 2022 at 21:02. Reason: Add hyperlink
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Old 23rd Nov 2022, 19:19
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Many thanks. I'll drop him a line.
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Old 23rd Nov 2022, 19:46
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Most V-force AEOs were up to speed on CW, although voice on HF/SSB was preferred.

That said, whilst flying at low level over the US, it was mightily tempting to select 27.185 MHz AM and announce to the truckers that you were a "Southbound 18-wheeler with the hammer down!".
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Old 23rd Nov 2022, 20:26
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Mike Rondot has a cockpit for sale on the Flypast forums btw..
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Old 23rd Nov 2022, 20:35
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ACW599. Not a retired AEO (but I flew on the Vulcan fleet for some years in another capacity) and certainly all the AEO's I knew were up to speed in morse! I would also question his reluctance to provide his callsign! All sorties used a different c/s every time!
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Old 23rd Nov 2022, 20:36
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I am an ex Vulcan AEO, from the late 70s and early 80s, and I certainly don’t recall any such procedure. We were all morse trained and needed to take broadcasts. In the event there was nothing to come back to, common sense said that we would try to contact, by any means anyone who may be able to help us. We did have some procedures, but this is not the place to discuss them.
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Old 23rd Nov 2022, 21:14
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Originally Posted by Bill Macgillivray View Post
ACW599. Not a retired AEO (but I flew on the Vulcan fleet for some years in another capacity) and certainly all the AEO's I knew were up to speed in morse! I would also question his reluctance to provide his callsign! All sorties used a different c/s every time!
I think ACW might have meant his handle.

On speed there was one AEO, his name will come to me in a few hours time, could do about 35 words per minute, faster than the radio ops on the ground. (Dave....)

On competitions crews would game the systems. Points were awarded for the speed in responding to a coded message from Command. The message had to be decoded, the answer encoded, and transmitted back. The question for each aircraft would be slightly different.

Questions might be ETA at Force Dispersal Point/Group Dispersal Point /Station Entry Point or estimated fuel. Crews would encode all the possible answers. As the message came in the Nav Plotter would decode it from the AEO's log. As he wrote out the question the Nav Rad would select the appropriate set of answers. When the precise answer would be passed to the AEO who would send out the answer in seconds.

One crew were blisteringly fast but the Nav Rad had fumbled and passed the wrong one over.

Got it - Dave Aram
​​​​​​

​​​​​
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Old 23rd Nov 2022, 21:32
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I was an ex V Force AEO
In the 60s and 70s we communicated with HQ Bomber/Strike Command which had the call sign NRU74 - none of us had their own callsigns.
Also, if you needed to use first class Morse it was from MLM which was at Uxbridge.
Pontius N I think 35 wpm is a tad fast - probably 25 wpm max(ish)
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Old 23rd Nov 2022, 23:30
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Originally Posted by Bill Macgillivray View Post
I would also question his reluctance to provide his callsign! All sorties used a different c/s every time!
Sorry, bad drafting on my part. I meant his Home Office-allocated amateur callsign. In principle his name and address could have been obtained from that so perhaps he was concerned about PERSEC.

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Old 23rd Nov 2022, 23:38
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I can believe it....
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Old 24th Nov 2022, 00:14
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A close friend who just passed away....once told me his Morse reading speed was limited by his typing speed and he was no slouch at that.

He was a US Navy Crypto Intercept specialist and dealt with some very interesting work.

He had friends aboard the USS Pueblo which was attacked and seized by the North Koreans and its crew held captive for a period of time and were handled very roughly by the North Koreans.

Our collective Class test scores improved as we began to master Morse even at a snail like pace.....until one of the Monitors tweaked to the onset of pencil tapping.
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Old 24th Nov 2022, 03:26
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PN
I don't remember the procedure you describe in paragraph 4 of your #8.
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Old 24th Nov 2022, 13:21
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Originally Posted by BEagle View Post
That said, whilst flying at low level over the US, it was mightily tempting to select 27.185 MHz AM and announce to the truckers that you were a "Southbound 18-wheeler with the hammer down!".
There's a story that when Rockwell were developing a 30kW frequency-agile HF transmitter and large log-periodic antenna system for the US DOD, the test technicians used to amuse themselves at lunchtime by doing something similar.

And before it was demolished the Cobra Mist array at Orfordness was used at least twice by one of the resident amateurs on the staff for something similar, allegedly...
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Old 24th Nov 2022, 13:43
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Originally Posted by NRU74 View Post
Pontius N I think 35 wpm is a tad fast - probably 25 wpm max(ish)
What keys were V force aircrew using? The best I can manage with a WT-8A straight key is about 18 wpm. Did aircrew ever use bugs or paddles?
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Old 24th Nov 2022, 13:51
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Originally Posted by Barksdale Boy View Post
PN
I don't remember the procedure you describe in paragraph 4 of your #8.
Probably before your time, this was in '65 and things like FDP, GDP and SEP were hang overs from high level and the route from SEP to the base followed Gee lines. Cottesmore SEP was over the Lake District.

As for the HF Coding exercise, as I said, it was a game.

NRU74, I concede I may have got the figure wrong but Dave A was known to be very fast. I see that 35 is not exceptionally fast though.
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Old 24th Nov 2022, 14:45
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I was taught morse by Mr Mason at Topcliffe in the early 70s. The standard required was 25wpm. Mr Mason would tell us he could do 30 wpm. after an hour of morse with him we would be looking forward to finishing the session. His favourite words would be “just another little bit”.

one of the guys on our course who had trouble with morse, claimed he had morse wrist. He even went sick with it! It was hardly worthit

I would be surprised if anyone could do 35wpm. If they could the ground station operator would be unlikely to be able to write that quickly.
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Old 24th Nov 2022, 15:09
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Originally Posted by Shadwell the old View Post
I would be surprised if anyone could do 35wpm. If they could the ground station operator would be unlikely to be able to write that quickly.
Radio amateurs who still use CW can and do, but seldom on straight keys. Most of us use some form of el-bug or paddle keyer. I doubt I could manage even 25wpm on a straight key nowadays.
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Old 24th Nov 2022, 16:02
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Originally Posted by Shadwell the old View Post
I would be surprised if anyone could do 35wpm. If they could the ground station operator would be unlikely to be able to write that quickly.
There are quite few amateur radio operators who "rag chew" at over 40 wpm. I'm not one of them. CW contest speeds are typically in the range 25-30 wpm but some stations will run at closer to 40 wpm. It's all keyboard sending and keyboard copy.


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Old 24th Nov 2022, 16:07
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