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D.H. Mosquito; were the parachutes left in the plane?


ErikB
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Hi all,

I know the Mosquito pilots wore seat-pack parachutes and the nav's had clip-on breast chutes that were on the bomber noses stored in the nose and on the FB's stored on a shelf at the front cockpit bulkhead.

Seeing as quite some kits come with seat cushions for the pilot, I wonder if the parachutes were kept stored inside the aircraft? Entering a Mosquito wasn't really a relaxed experience with that parachute on your bum...

I need to know if I have to give my HK Mossie an empty bucket seat or not...

Thanks in advance!

Erik.

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Hi

personal i dont think they were left in the aircraft, they were most likely signed out of stores and on the charge of the airman

and the risk of damage if left in the aircraft.

cheers

jerry

Edited by brewerjerry
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Empty seats when on the ground. Aircrew surrendered their chutes after every flight and the chutes where then unpacked, checked and repacked as it was really important that when needed, they worked. Crews are harder to replace than planes.

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Empty seats when on the ground. Aircrew surrendered their chutes after every flight and the chutes where then unpacked, checked and repacked as it was really important that when needed, they worked. Crews are harder to replace than planes.

They did indeed check them in and out for every flight. They weren't re-packed every time. They were re-packed on a schedule, the parachute being hung up and aired, rigging checked etc before re-packing. It took about 20-30 minutes to re-pack a typical WW2 vintage parachute.

I don't know what the schedule was for the sort of parachute described above, but I have a reference to 'every few weeks' for a chest type to attach to an 'Observer type harness' ( which is admittedly a bit vague).

Cheers

Steve

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I knew there was a schedule, wasn't sure of the interval myself. I only suggested 'after every flight' for chute maintenance following a conversation I had about 19 years ago with one Sgt Kanewski of 305 Polish Sqdn. I met him and a few other Polish survivors of WWII on a research visit to RAF Penrhos, North Wales. He'd been with 305 since its inception and on through the Mitchell and Mosquito years. He was emphatic that chutes were hung, checked and repacked after every flight as a necessity and despite schedules. Aircrew even asked for it. Might just be that one squadron...I never discussed the subject at any other time.

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I if it wasn't easy to get in to an Mosquito how was it to get out in an emergency? How many aircrew did servive in an emergency when they had to use the shutes after flying an Mosquito? I think the same thing goes for Beufighter as well...

/André

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Years ago I knew a Sergeant who was in charge of parachute packing at a bomber squadron. His section policy was every parachute was unpacked, checked and repacked after every flight. His airfield was home to two RAF bomber squadrons. Even lost or visiting crews got their parachutes replaced with fresh ones.

His reasons for this was he didn't know the condition of the bomber when it returned. A parachute could have received a piece of flak and some internal damage. He and ''his'' two dozen WAAFS knew that a man's life might depend on a good parachute and theirs would be reliable and safe.

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The parachute had to be kept bone-dry, since any moisture could cause panels to stick together, and/or the silk start to rot.

Normal practice was to keep parachutes with personal equipment, and, after 4 weeks, they would be returned for opening up, and hanging up for airing. Parachute packing departments were supposed to be kept at no less than 50 degrees (Fahrenheit presumably) to assist with the airing/drying process.

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Thank you all for your replies! Very helpful!!! :thumbsup2:

I if it wasn't easy to get in to an Mosquito how was it to get out in an emergency? How many aircrew did servive in an emergency when they had to use the shutes after flying an Mosquito? I think the same thing goes for Beufighter as well...

/André

Welllll.... On page 32 of "Aeroplane's" special edition "Mosquito; Britain's World War II Wooden Wonder", the PFF / Main Force bomber version's Parachute Drill is published:

PILOT gives order "Prepare to abandon aircraft".

NAV acknowledges, removes nav board and the supporting rod from socket and stows board in the nose

BOTH Ensure that ther helmet chin straps are unclipped and that their K-Dingies are correctly attached unless it has been definetely established that that the aircraft is over land, when the Nav has to disconnect his K-Dingy.

PILOT ensures that bomb doors are closed and turns oxygen to "Emergency"and continues to breathe deeply.

NAV turns oxygen to "Emergency" and commences to breathe deeply; releases safety harness releases hinges and lock of inner escape hatch. Nav stows inner hatch in the nose / Nav releases pressure in cabin and clips to starboard side. passes oxygen tube from right-hand side, under his legs to the left side.

PILOT when abandoning by parachute becomes inevitable, gives order "Jump! Jump!" releases safety harness and lowers seat to the fully down position.

NAV acknowledges, removes parachute pack from stowage in nose and places it on Pilot's knees: jettisons outer escape hatch by pushing jettison pedal and catch with his left foot. He then jettisons inner hatch and nav board throughescape exit, unclipsoxygen tube from his harness and turns left to face aft.

NAV clips on parachute pack, ensuring that oxygen tube is passed outside the pack, removes his helmet, throwing it with oxygen tube into the rear of the aircraft, steps backwards and lowers himself through escape exit.

PILOT as Nav is leaving aircraft , unclips his oxygen tube from his harness and draws his feet backwards. Grabbing the hand-hold (under front coaming) with his right hand, he stands up, lifting his parachute as high as possible to clear seat and side arms, turns half left by pivoting on right toe and brings his left foot over the seat to a position just aft of the escape exit.

PILOT removes his helmet and faces aft, then lowers himself through escape exit.

BOTH will find it a helpto hold the starboard side of the Pilot's seat with the right hand when leaving through escape exit.Should the navigator find it difficult to pass through the exit, the Pilot should assist his egress by giving him a good push with his foot.

Years ago I knew a Sergeant who was in charge of parachute packing at a bomber squadron. His section policy was every parachute was unpacked, checked and repacked after every flight. His airfield was home to two RAF bomber squadrons. Even lost or visiting crews got their parachutes replaced with fresh ones.

His reasons for this was he didn't know the condition of the bomber when it returned. A parachute could have received a piece of flak and some internal damage. He and ''his'' two dozen WAAFS knew that a man's life might depend on a good parachute and theirs would be reliable and safe.

Ah, yes, didn't think of that! Shrapnel in the chute would be hard to spot if the chute wsn't unpacked!

The parachute had to be kept bone-dry, since any moisture could cause panels to stick together, and/or the silk start to rot.
Normal practice was to keep parachutes with personal equipment, and, after 4 weeks, they would be returned for opening up, and hanging up for airing. Parachute packing departments were supposed to be kept at no less than 50 degrees (Fahrenheit presumably) to assist with the airing/drying process.

Logical! Silk is a natural product and therefore prone to rot if not treated carefully. Nylon for parachutes wasn't the norm yet...!

Edited by ErikB
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Trying to imagine carrying out the bailout process in a hurry, in a less than smooth flight, no telling what attitude the aircraft would set itself at, bucking around, possibly in a spin, in the dark with people still shooting at you trying to putvholes in your little pink body, and I can't imagine the noise level!

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I have read accounts of used parachutes being collected and returned for inspection and re-use. Obviously the unfortunate airman would have to come down in friendly territory. Even the handle for the rip cord was supposed to be returned though, few were. One chap remembered 'flinging mine away, probably in jubilation when the 'chute opened and realising that it was of no further use then.'

Cheers

Steve

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Yes, that'd be correct. Silk was a rare enough product during WWII, so you'd want to re-use parachutes as much as possible.

And not necessarily as such...

Civilians were supposed to report/turn in any parachutes that they may find as they would indicate how many aviators had bailed down, from which type, and where. But the silk could be made into frocks and stockings or sold on the black market, and some were willing to risk the wrath of the Germans for that.

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Slight tangent to this question; would the pilot's seat parachute be put into the seat pan before the pilot boarded, or would he clamber up the ladder while wearing it? It's a bit like Bob pilots scrambling, how many of them would actually have found the 'chute in place and strap in with the groundcrews' help and how many would have tried to board with the 'chute dragging on their behind?

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The chute would only be left in readiness aircraft. The Mosquito Nav bailout is very similar to the procedure in the bubble top (and B.I.8) Canberra's, for a crewman sitting in the Rhumbold seat, using the identical chest Parachute. The gen then was to retrieve your chest chute from the bin on the floor, clip it on ensuring the the rip-cord handle was on the correct side for your dexterity, depressurise, then turn the little handle above the door four and a half turns to the left, kick the door, roll into a ball and fall out. Simples, not.

John

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