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Ex-FAAWAFU last won the day on April 18

Ex-FAAWAFU had the most liked content!


  • Birthday 12/09/1959

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    Fleet Air Arm & RN, especially WW2 & Cold War.

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  1. Those weird untraceable defects could be utterly bizarre. During my first front line tour (820 NAS, Ark Royal, 86-88) there was one cab that kept on doing odd things with its fuel system. In the Mk.5 Sea King the distribution of the fuel was critical, because by that stage the RN had shoved in so much extra ASW gear in the back of the aircraft since the original design that if the pilots managed the fuel badly it was possible to exceed the CofG limits (and at least in theory run out of control authority, which isn’t exactly recommended). You managed it by turning assorted pumps on and off at various fuel states to make sure the engines were sucking from the right tanks; it wasn’t hard, and provided you did as you were trained it all worked fine. None the less, you had to calculate centre of gravity carefully before every trip - especially if you were getting airborne with a weapon. [This was fixed in the Mk.6, when so much of the passive anti-submarine stuff was rationalised into - gasp - semi-modern electronics to replace the Stone Age stuff in a Mk.5.] Anyway, crew after crew (including mine) flew this aircraft and snagged it on return, saying something about the fuel not doing quite what it was supposed to, but it was hard to pin down. It just didn’t feel quite right. Every time the Grubbers would check it out in the hangar and not be able to find anything, so put it back in the programme as serviceable (“No fault found”). Eventually the AEO (Air Engineering Officer in the Navy - nothing to do with Air Electronics, or whatever it means in Her Majesty’s Crustaceans) decided he’d had enough of the aircrew snagging the same cab for the same fault, but his boys not being able to find anything wrong however hard they looked. So he persuaded the Boss that he nominate a crew who’d annoyed him to do a test flight which did nothing except fuel management. They topped up the aircraft as far as it would go and were briefed to go and burn holes in the sky right down to MLA (minimum landing allowance). That’s about 4 ½ hours of flying when all they had to do was make/break pump switches at set fuel states and monitor the gauges - spine-shatteringly boring; hence the need for a crew who’d p*ssed off the CO. Luckily, in view of what transpired, my crew dodged this one. They also took pity on the poor Aircrewman and left him behind, flying only with 2 Pilots and an Observer (which meant they could carry an extra 200 lbs of gas - yay!). They duly flew round and round (and round and round) Ark Royal at a distance of about 10 miles, trying not to die of boredom, watching the gauges and flipping the pump switches like Ninjas. Needless to say, the system performed flawlessly, exactly as advertised…. ….right up to the moment they came home to Mum with 400 lbs of fuel (MLA - the Sea King uses roughly 1,100 lb/hr, so about 20 mins’ flying). Being confident that there was nothing wrong with the cab, and desperate to get back onboard and end this hideous test flight, they flew a fast approach and then flared very hard to stop alongside the spot. I was on deck manning up a different aircraft, and watched as they checked the flare, levelled the nose… and rapidly disappeared out of sight below the deck edge in a downwards direction, instead of moving over to land. Both engines had flamed out simultaneously and they ditched hard from 90’. Happily all 3 of them got out - not without some difficulty in the Looker’s case. All that was ever recovered of the rapidly sinking Sea King was the tail wheel, which broke off as they hit the sea; the rest is still there somewhere at the bottom of the Atlantic (off Portugal, if you’re thinking of looking for it). After by all accounts a LOT of work in the simulator to reproduce it exactly (in case there was some dangerous fleet-wide problem; double flame-outs in two-engine aircraft can spoil your whole day) they eventually worked out what must have happened. The Sea King fuel system has a float valve - a bit like the ball-cock in your normal WC cistern - which triggers the FUEL LOW warning lights and (in normal, pre-Mk.5 times) powers up the transfer pumps to move fuel around the aircraft. The valve is turned off (& thus the warning lights extinguished and the transfer pumps shut down) when enough fuel has transferred into that tank. This float valve sits inside a kind of tray inside the tanks, designed so that if you are genuinely low on fuel the liquid stays close to the fuel pump suction outlet (as opposed to spreading in a shallow layer right across the bottom of the tank). It transpired that this ball-cock float valve thingy was sometimes sticking. When they were flying around burning holes in the sky, they were pretty much straight and level, and it didn’t stick straight and level. But when they flared to c.30 degrees nose-up to wash off the speed before landing, the float valve stuck… in the closed position, thus doing the exact opposite of what it was meant to do, and simultaneously shutting off fuel flow to both donks. result, one helicopter with the flying characteristics of a bus. The crews who had reported something odd had probably seen that fuel didn’t always quite transfer as advertised… but then it seems to sort itself out. The moral; listen to the aircrew when they say that something’s wrong with the aircraft, even if you can’t find it. The second moral; don’t do extreme manoeuvres just because you are bored rigid.
  2. @Chewbacca is another ex-RN Lynx boy (Looker rather than Trained Monkey like me, but you can’t have everything); and @MarkdipXV711 was an Aircrewman who flew Sea Kings with me in the 90s - though I haven’t seen him post for a while, come to think of it.
  3. You lawyers are supposed to be precise with your wordificatory expertise. Shouldn’t that be c*cks up?
  4. Where does one rent this “goof buggy” of which you speak?
  5. Lots of areas inside warships are indeed white, David, so your mind is not playing tricks. The hangar, however, is grey because essentially it’s open to the elements so needs the same protection as everywhere else that gets a lot of salt water and wind
  6. Exactly! Getting around while I am there isn't the problem; it's getting there in the first place. I think it'lll be OK.
  7. What, you mean in comparison with such land-based beauties as the Overstrand, R.E.8, and so on? Besides, neither of the examples you give above actually entered service. Fake noos.
  8. I have very intention of being there, though only on the Saturday. In my case the critical path is how soon I am allowed to drive, but I am becoming increasingly optimistic on that front; yesterday I was cleared to put weight on my right foot without the boot on (albeit currently under very controlled conditions) for the first time sine July.
  9. H-type thing is probably galley chimney - very similar pipes appear on a lot of RN ships of similar vintage.
  10. The Stringbag was plenty pretty enough as it was, you Heathen!
  11. The cabin struts are a tad impressionistic in the painting, too.
  12. I’m looking forward to seeing a 1/350 QM’s hutch thingy by the brow. With a fully functioning WR In-Out sliding board, too, obvs. She’s looking lovely. [I still cannot bring myself to call a ship “it” - especially such a 60s lady as a Cat Class.]
  13. …and the United States Navy, too. One of my more surreal memories of the Falklands War is of listening to some UK politician frothing at the mouth on the World Service about how “the US had let us down again…” while Fearless was plugged into a USN oil tanker on one side and a US military sealift command vessel on the other, providing fresh water (this was near Ascension and we couldn’t make it fast enough to satisfy the thousands of thirsty people on board and on the island - Fearless was massively over-loaded throughout the war, at least until we got the troops ashore). I understand the Royal Fleet Auxiliary might have had some minor role, too - or are you classing them as 100% Merch for these purposes, Dave?
  14. The Black Buck raids were stunning examples of airmanship & courage, without question. But their contribution to the liberation of the islands was peripheral at best. To say that without Black Buck the entire enterprise would have failed is, frankly, bonkers. And 100% incorrect.
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