Author Topic: Ground crew storybook  (Read 32439 times)

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Offline Sad Sam

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Ground crew storybook
« on: August 27, 2010, 10:15:37 AM »
Hello everybody,

As I suggested on the old forum we would like to get together a bunch of stories about what it was like to maintain and operate the Vulcan during it's service life.

There are hundreds of stories out there from the aircrew relating tales of daring do flying up Welsh valleys etc. but very few about what it took to get mighty tin triangle into the air in the first place.

Before we all become senile (aluminium dust is meant to effect the memory) it would be good to get the stories down on paper.

The idea would be to get them published in a book as a fund raiser.

There are approximately 37 manhours of maintenance to every flying hour so while your tale of changing a mainwheel/ engine/ electrical component on the pan at Waddington at midnight with the rain coming in sideways may not seem that interesting to you believe it or not there are stacks of people out there who would love to know what we went through in defence of this country.

We may stretch this out to include Victor and Valiant stories as well as it is all part of the same tale.

You can e-mail stories either to my self   thunter@vulcantothesky.org   If your typing skills are not up to much (like mine) come up and meet us, I have a little dictaphone thinghy so you can relate your tale and then either my self or Toni can type it up later.

Hope to hear from you all soon.
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Offline Landyman

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2010, 11:13:12 AM »
Great idea Sam.........could be a really good seller.

Put me down for a 1st edition copy, signed of course.  :)

Landyman.
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Offline johnjosh43

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2010, 09:41:07 PM »
There was a guy at one of the shows I did the Vulcan hamlet at who was reminiscing about being at Macrahanish as an airman doing National Service and having to stand guard under a Vulcan on the coldest and wettest night ever when one of Gods favourite triangles had landed there either in an emergency or a deployment, he couldn't remember.
Perhaps them what get onto the VV should try and capture stories like that as well. Vulcan Memories ?
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Offline MikeC

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2010, 10:16:33 PM »
Would it be an idea to have a sign up at the various Vulcan stands at shows, with something along the lines of "were you a Ground Crew member during the Vulcan's service life?  If so we want to hear from you" etc written on it?  It's amazing the number of people who turn up and say they were involved with Vulcans at some stage or at least know someone who was (unless they're just making it all up to impress!).  Maybe it's a daft idea, maybe you'd get a few stories out of it, I don't know...
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Offline Pink Peril

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2010, 11:26:47 PM »
Dont forget the one about  Geordie getting run over by one in the dark  :lol:
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Offline Sad Sam

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2010, 12:26:54 AM »
Quote from: "MikeC"
Would it be an idea to have a sign up at the various Vulcan stands at shows, with something along the lines of "were you a Ground Crew member during the Vulcan's service life?  If so we want to hear from you" etc written on it?  It's amazing the number of people who turn up and say they were involved with Vulcan's at some stage or at least know someone who was (unless they're just making it all up to impress!).  Maybe it's a daft idea, maybe you'd get a few stories out of it, I don't know...

Cracking idea Mike,

The reason so many people seem to have worked on Vulcan's is - there were hundreds of us working on them at anyone time (over 300 of us on the majors at any one time)

Already had another reply to this, thanks Mike.
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Offline Zero One

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2010, 01:11:10 AM »
This sounds exactly like Miriam's Oral History Initiative..... What ever happened to that?
 :twisted:
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Offline dlw

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2010, 10:08:50 AM »
I think you are right Denis. It was one of her (few  :)  )good ideas. It might be the time to re-initiate it, as part of our winter programme. Something in the next newsletter perhaps and then next year the posters etc in the village and a visitors book so we can mailshot them and ask for their memories. Same could be relevant for former aircrew.
Something to add to my portfolio of tasks perhaps. Easily done from home, then past to our excellent team of editors and marketing people....................
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Offline rusty

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2010, 01:50:06 PM »
Quote from: "Zero One"
This sounds exactly like Miriam's Oral History Initiative..... What ever happened to that?
 :twisted:


If I remember rightly Miriam was doing this in association with the National Archive at the Imperial War Museum. I know they provided the equipment and a certain amount of the framework for the interviews , so perhaps a call to them might unearth the interviews she did conduct.

Miriam did I know use the  visitors book we kept in hangar and took to shows as a primary source, it must be pretty full by now . We started that book at a two day ground  crew event we had just before we started. The event was to glean any info,  AP's and experience we could from the guys there were some good story tellers there so it will give you  a lot of good starting points .  8-)
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Offline dlw

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2010, 07:45:02 PM »
I would like to take this on board. It appeals for the reason "Honouring the past. Inspiring the future". I remember listening to my Gran, who came to this country because of the Irish Potato famine around turn of century (1800/2000). Her stories inspired me and I wish I had recorded her conversations.
Please lets not allow the memories of those vital people who kept the peace for over three decades die with them.
I need the stuff Mirium did and will make the relevant calls in the next few days.

[center:1sndeb14]All help gratefully received by the way. Lets make this a team effort please.[/center:1sndeb14]
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Offline johnjosh43

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2010, 08:08:37 PM »
We get quite a few Woodford employees through Manchester RVP. I'll try and gather some phone numbers/email addresses when I can.
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Offline wood2dust

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2010, 10:25:29 AM »
Good idea.
Think there are some stories here:http://www.pprune.org/aviation-history-nostalgia/111797-did-you-fly-vulcan-merged-9.html
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Offline Pujgnie

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2010, 08:40:10 PM »


Off the back of that item - Sam has a new contact and another story to add.

Spread the word please folks. (apologies for the scan slightly tilted  ;) ).

(edited to add.. more stories/contacts heading his way)  :D
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Offline Wizz Kid

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2011, 10:57:51 AM »
Just come across this thread, so I thought I would resurrect some ramblings I posted on the old web site a couple of years ago which new readers may find interesting.  I will dig up some more if there is a response.

Here goes with No1.  :arrow:

Vulcan memories

I suppose my first memory of the mighty Vulcan was when I was in the Air Training Corps.  As a member of 152 City of Hull Squadron we went on summer camp, under canvas, at RAF Conningsby.  This would have been about1963 when the Vulcans were based there, as far as my brain cell can recollect. I suppose they would have been Mk1As.  I’m sure there will be some more knowledgeable members out there who will be able to correct or confirm.  But, with Hull not being on the normal flying routes I did not see many a/c over the city except the occasional Lightening from RAF Leconfield.  

My next encounter would have been RAF Halton as an apprentice.  It was a Wednesday sports afternoon and I was on the rugby field when all sports came to an abrupt halt as a Vulcan flew overhead, did a couple of trial  approaches and then landed on the grass airfield.  No it wasn’t an emergency landing.  It was a new member of the training squadron for we “apprentice” (Halton colloquialism for the plural of apprentice) to train on.  

When we got to the latter stages of our three years of training, I must admit that the Vulcan was my favourite aircraft to work on and had no idea what a major part of my 29 years of service that this beautiful a/c would be.

On graduating, I was posted to RAF Waddington to continue our improver training as Aircraft Technicians (A Tech, later to become A Eng Tech).  For posterity the colleagues I can remember are Mike Arrowsmith, “String” Lawson, Barry Morris (me), “Taff” Jones, Keith Tippet, Geoff Crampton, “Drunken” Duncan Coleville, Pat Govind Alex Cowan, John Fitzimmonds.

We spent two years spending time working and learning about the Vulcan and its equipment, in various servicing bays at second line servicing level.  Bays such as the ejection seat bay, VCCP bay (vapour cycling cooling pack, a refrigeration system for the Electronic Counter Measure [ECM] cans), various electrical and instrument bays in the EEES (Electrical & Electronic Engineering Squadron), airframe modification bay, tank bay and the engine bay.  We also had to attend the various trade courses at the Vulcan Servicing School at RAF Finningley and later at Waddington.  Sessions spent with the various trade desks on the “Line” (1st line operations) were the highlights.  Working on live operational Vulcans was what we had joined for, and being a “Liney”  was the ultimate.  Remember, Waddington only functioned in Squadrons operationally. At that time there was 44, 50 and 101Sqaudrons.  Engineering was carried out on a Centralised Servicing basis.  Linies were a breed apart from the rest of the Station personnel.  We were seen to be scruffy, and the Parkas we were issued with for cold weather were more black bodge tape than material.  Never very popular with the SWO who was to be avoided at all costs.  Not that he knew very much about Linies.  Having dressed down a liney for his appearance, the SWO asked “Where is this Line Squadron anyway?”  Over the other side of the airfield, well out of his way.

After two years, we were promoted to Sergeant much to the disgust of most of the City Fathers in the Sergeants Mess.  We them became fully fledged technicians and could over-sign tradesmen when given the appropriate Q annotations and work unsupervised.  During our improver training overseas detachments were a rarity. We went on took part in Station exercises, and were sent off base during the detachment phases of three days “Micky Finns”.  This involved operating Vulcans on remote airfields around the country such as St Mawgan, Mackrihanish, Wittering and others.  

My first taste of globe trotting was in support of a “Pacific Ranger”.  This was a solo Vulcan exercising a round the world detachment, taking a west-about route via the USA, Pacific. Singapore, and on via Gan, Masirrah, Cyprus and back to the UK.  All the Vulcan had was a full aircrew compliment, two Crew chiefs (ASCs) and a pannier full of spares in the bomb bay. Occasionally, the RAF sent a small number of ground crew as a back-up party, on a Britannia crew trainer which was following the same route at the same time.  I managed to bag one of these just before Christmas in 1969.  Five of us went down to RAF Lyneham the join the Britannia flight.  But, true to form, the Britannia sortie was delayed and eventually cancelled due to a/c unservicability.  With thoughts that my first overseas detachment was about to go “tits up”, we waited for our instructions to RTU (return to unit).  But, to our surprise and delight, we were offered an alternative flight on a Comet 4C of 216 Sqn which was going as far a Guam and then returning back the same route to the UK.  It was primarily tasked to return diplomatic corps personnel back to the UK for Christmas.  So on the trip out, we were the only passengers on board apart from a couple of indulgence passengers flying out on postings.  Stopping overnight at Gander in Newfoundland, staging though Offut AFB, Overnight at Sacramento, we then had to delay the sortie by a day.  This resulted in having to spend two nights at Hickam AFB Hawaii before staging through Wake Island and a night at Guam.  We then returned via the same route but had two nights on New York instead of Newfoundland.  Never saw the Vulcan, not that we were complaining.  

Well, that takes me through my first two years on Vulcans.  I shall add more, if there is a call for it, later.

Wizz Kid
« Last Edit: March 02, 2011, 01:18:16 PM by Wizz Kid »

Offline Wizz Kid

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2011, 11:05:34 AM »
Thought this one would raise a smile.  :)

Detachments

One of the areas of the HQ buildings on the line was the notice board.  Personnel were always on the lookout for the volunteers’ list+ for detachments, particularly those overseas.  Such names as Sunflower (four week West about trip to Singapore and Darwin), Moonflower (East about trip to Singapore and Darwin), Sunspot (three weeks in Malta), Giant Voice, later known as Red Flag (six weeks in the USA for a NATO Bombing Competition) were the most common.  Occasionally, no notice detachments came up which was manned by who was available to go at the time.  My first trip was to HMS Fulmar, RNAS Lossiemouth in 1969.  One of our Vulcans had diverted in there with indicated hydraulic failure.  This was usually a simple task to fix and involved clamping the hydraulic relay valves, bleeding the system and releasing the clamp.

I went in one night shift and by 9pm was on board a Hastings from RAF Lindholme with a small work party including a crew chief, bound for Scotland.  Once we arrived we were allocated our cabin by the quartermaster, fed in the mess hall managed to grab a quick beer before bed.  The next day we fixed the ac, saw it on its way and then had the rest of the day to ourselves before being picked up by the Hastings the following day.

We soon discovered that life on a RNAS is somewhat different to an RAF Unit.  They classed themselves as a Ship.  All grassed areas were seen as water and were strictly off limits.  Though we never saw it happen, if you took a trip across any grassed areas, you were likely to have a lifebelt thrown at you.  One experience we did have was the “Liberty Boat”.  After tea, we decided to catch the bus to Elgin and sample the local hostelries.  We did not have long because the pubs closed at 10 pm in those days.  We arrived at the main gate only to find it closed.  The bus stop was just across the road.  When we asked for the gate to be opened we were told we had to wait for the Liberty Boat to sail; that was due to depart in fifteen minutes.  “What???”  :o  I’ve heard of tradition, but this was ridiculous.  We saw the bus arrive at the stop just across the road, but they duty staff on the gate would not let us through until sailing time.  Not a drop of water to be seen.  I can only presume they were using a hovercraft.  (Not even sure if they had been invented then).  The sailing times were due to coincide with buses arriving from Elgin.  This was presumably so that drunken sailors retuning from shore were not left on the quay side too long and be liable to fall in the water.  :roll:  So we had to wait for the next bus once we were “ashore”.

Other no notice detachments usually were part of exercises, and resulted in two or three days living in a caravan, operating four Vulcan ac from the ORPs on another Unit such as RAF St Mawgan, Macrehanish (very good for fresh scampi I remember), Cottesmore, and even Valley in Anglesey. I’ll talk about those another time.

The exciting ones were to the far flung quarters of the Globe.  I have already related my travels across the USA and Pacific in an earlier forum posting.  I will talk about Malta, Singapore Darwin and Goose Bay in Labrador in future ramblings.  See you all later.

Wizz Kid
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