Author Topic: Ground crew storybook  (Read 35942 times)

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Offline brains_mt

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2011, 11:38:03 AM »
Ive emailed Sam
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Offline PMac

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #16 on: March 21, 2011, 02:56:08 PM »
Wizz Kid

Nice story about detachments, but Giant Voice was completely different from Red Flag and it was not a NATO bombing competation.  We were invited to participate in the competition by the USAF and the Vulcan was the only non USAF aircraft to take part.  I was on the 1969 Comp at Fairchild AFB and the 1976 one at Barksdale AFB.  We would form up at Waddo on Charlie Dispersal with 6 aircraft and 6 crews and after a couple of months we would drop 2 aircraft and 2 crews and then depart to the states for the competition.  If memory serves me correctly we won the Fairchild Trophy in 1974 which did not go down well with the Americans.  No competition in 1975 and they had changed the rules from 1976 which made it very difficult to confirm if the scores on the board were correct.
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Offline Wizz Kid

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #17 on: March 22, 2011, 11:00:46 AM »
Thanks for the clarification on the Giant Voice Red Flag differences.  I never went on either detachments and only joined the fleet in April 1969.  Trust the Yanks to change the rules to hide their inadequacies.
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Offline Wizz Kid

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #18 on: June 01, 2011, 01:28:08 PM »
Here are some detachment personel photos of an RAF Waddington Moonflower detacment to Darwin and Singapore in May 1972.  These were taken at Tengah in Singapore.

XM 600 met its demise near Spilsby on 17 Jan 1977 after a bomb bay fire spread to the port wing. As far as I can discover, there were no fatalities

[attachment=0:vnfv28on]Moonflower Tengah May 1972.jpg[/attachment[attachment=0]Moonflower Tengah May 1972  XM600.jpg[/attachment:vnfv28on]

Se if you can recognise any one.
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Offline johnri

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #19 on: June 01, 2011, 02:27:35 PM »
The chap at the back under the tree furthest left looks familiar  :roll:  :D

JR
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Offline deeleyt

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #20 on: June 03, 2011, 06:28:58 PM »
The one on top of the scaffolding tower with the big ears. Think his name was O'Riley. :roll:  :lol:
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Offline Wizz Kid

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #21 on: June 10, 2011, 11:43:24 AM »
Here are a few more details of life with the Vulcan fleet.
 
Exercise Moonflower and Sunflower were both detachments to the Far East and Darwin in the northern tip of Australia.  Moonflowers took the Eastern route through the Mediterranean and the Middle East, whilst the Sunflowers went via the USA and Pacific.  There were usually 4 ac supported by a full compliment of ground support of engineers, supply, catering and admin staff.  My Moonflower was in June 1971.  The first objective was to get the ac out to Darwin and have the support staff in place as soon as possible to facilitate the exercise.  The support teams were split into advanced parties and a main party.  The advanced parties were sent out ahead of the Vulcans to be deployed at the various staging posts along the route.  These were Cyprus, Masirah in the Persian Gulf, Gan in the Maldives and Singapore.  They went out ahead of the Vulcans so that they could stage the ac through.  They would then be picked up by a support ac once the main party had gone through.  Well, that was the theory.  We were at the behest of Support Command to achieve this and it did not always work.

I, for my sins had drawn the shorter straw of the advanced parties and was to be dropped off in the island of Masirah.  The advanced parties boarded a Britannia ac, a four engine turbo prop commonly known as the Whispering Giant, and took off for RAF Akrotiri on the island of Cyprus, to drop the advanced party there, before flying on to Masirah, dropping us off, then on to Gan, Singapore and Darwin.  When we got to Cyprus, the Britannia went U/S and so we had an unscheduled overnight stop.  We boarded the supposedly serviceable Brit the next morning to continue the journey when, surprise surprise, the Brit went U/S again.  We had not even started the engines.  Everybody got off the plane and back to the movements terminal.  In the meantime, the Vulcans came in, refuelled, turned round (TR servicing) and proceeded on their way.  They were now ahead of the advanced parties.  Still, each ac had a couple of crew chiefs on board so were capable of looking after themselves if necessary.  We anticipated just getting back on board the Brit once she was serviceable and flying straight through to Darwin, missing out on our stay on the “glorious” island of Masirah.  We were then told that there was a Hercules about to leave for Masirah in support of a Phantom exercise, so we were put on the passenger list for the flight.  We could at least be in Masirah to see the Vulcans off.  “Can we have our baggage off the Brit please?” we asked expectantly.  Normally that would not have been a problem.  However, a VC10 had just landed and in those days, a VC10 flight had priority over everything short of the Queens Flight.  So there were no movements personnel to get our luggage.  We climbed aboard the Hercules in the clothes we had on when we left UK apart from overnight cabin baggage.  We had already used that in Cyprus.  Landing in Masirah at about 11pm local time, I experienced my first taste of a hot climate.  As I got off the Herc, I walked across the pan thinking there was an ac running its engine just a short distance away.  No!  It was a hot desert wind blowing.  What is it going to be like in the heat of the day?    

We found out where the Vulcans were operating from and helped out as best we could having scrounged some KD to work in.  The Vulcans left a couple of hours after we landed so we had achieved part of our task at least.  After finding some accommodation our next priority was to find our where our luggage was.  A bit like the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow this.  Maybe it will be on the Britannia brining the main party through. No, that went through via Muhrak or Salala.  We were beginning to hum by now, or at least our clothes were.  On our second day there, a Cyprus Vulcan landed on a Ranger exercise.  Good old Vulcan Air. They had managed to locate our baggage and put in the pannier.  This was Wednesday as I remember and we were now stuck there until Saturday when our pick up ac was now due, two days later than planned.  

How troops managed a tour on Masirah, a nine month unaccompanied tour, I will never know.  All there was to do there, other than see transit ac through was to use the bars.  To add to their misery, there was a postal strike on a t home and so mail was not getting through; more reason to drown their sorrows.  After helping the permanent staff to deplete the beer stocks one evening, we decided to go on a turtle hunt  Setting off through the bondu, it was like going on a ramble to seek out the local wild life with no fear for what was out there.  The next thing I remember was looking out over a sand dune at a bunch of native huts in the moonlight.  Best not to be here we thought.  Not quite sure how we found our way back, but we did.  The next day when we told our tale, we were asked if we came across any of the camel spiders, not very friendly creatures, which were there in abundance.  I was even more keen to leave by now.  Fortunately, we had a switched on detachment commander with us.  He had sussed out that there was a Herc coming through on Thursday evening bound for Singapore and he had managed to get us on the manifest.  

So we packed our bags and boarded the Herc mid Thursday afternoon.  With our luggage strapped to the rear freight door we took off for Gan on a virtually empty ac.  It was an uneventful flight until halfway down the descent into Gan when the rear freight door unlocked and dropped a couple of inches.  We were low enough to not have much in the way of decompression, but that was not our main concern.  Our luggage is going for good this time we thought.  Still, we landed safely as did our bags, but the Herc was now U/S.  We booked into the transit Hotel ready for a stay until the scheduled Herc picked us up a couple of days later.  Then we had a stroke of luck.  A VC10 came in with enough seats empty to take us on to Singapore. So, with couple of hours sleep under our belts we had a luxury flight to RAF Tengah. Landing late Friday knowing that we could not leave for Darwin until our scheduled Herc picked us up on Monday morning was a comforting thought.  So we had a relaxing weekend to ourselves in Singapore without the rest of the detachment.  We did our shopping in comfort and cornered the watch market.  Seiko watches usually sold very well in Darwin with a 100% profit.  Hopefully we would be popular when we eventually got there.  

I shall leave it there for now, but the Herc fleet was to give us one more “treat” on the last leg.

More later

Wizz Kid
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Offline wildcard

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #22 on: June 10, 2011, 09:12:07 PM »
An interesting read!  Thanks for posting - looking forward to the next installment!!  :)

Regards,
Mike
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Offline Wizz Kid

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #23 on: June 29, 2011, 09:20:23 AM »
Has it been a couple of weeks since my last submission?  

Last time I posted my memories, I was resting in Singapore in May 1972, waiting for the next leg of our journey to Australia.  Having hitched an early ride to Singapore we finally boarded the Hercules ac which we were originally scheduled to fly in the first place.  Still, better Singapore than Masirah for the weekend.  Once airborne, we reached our cruising altitude en route for  RAAF Darwin  Flying over the Philippines we had some spectacular views of the islands with volcanic activity clearly visible.  At about this point we noticed that the floor of the ac was getting rather warm and the temperature inside the freight hold was getting quite hot.  I went up to the flight deck ladder to be greeted with the aircrew on oxygen masks and the ALM (Air Load master) about to inform us that there was a major under-floor heating problem and the ac was descending to an altitude where the pressurisation could be switched off.  So a slower and more bumpy trip to Darwin followed.  Fortunately, there was a very light payload so we were able to move around quite freely to pass the time.  With a full payload and passenger list, a long Herc flight can be very uncomfortable and boring. 6 or seven hour in a para seat is not to be envied.  One detachment to Malaya, Basatu Padu I think it was called, the ground crew endured a four leg flight from UK to Malaya without a stop over other than refuels.  The two Hercules were packed full of freight and passengers for nearly 30 hours. Animals in transit would be better cared for.

We finally descended into Darwin and taxied into the dispersal.  Before deplaning, the immigration staff came on board and sprayed the cabin with an aerosol insecticide.  We then had to sit for ten minutes breathing in this foul smelling spray before they let us off.

We arrived at the detachment dispersal to see four Vulcans all neatly lined up in the afternoon sunshine.  Having completed their flying programme for the day serviced by the main party who arrived Friday, we were shown to our accommodation.  We were housed underneath some buildings mounted on stilts.  Called Kingstrand Huts, a tarpaulin sheet had been wrapped around the polls and a few rows of camp beds with some lockers were positioned inside.  “Why are the buildings on stilts?”  we asked.  “To keep the snakes out”.  So we were in a snake pit????  Nice.  The huts were right next to the railway line and each morning the freight train bound for Alice Springs, the next stop 1000 miles down the track, blasted its horn as it approached the railway crossing nearby.  Who need an alarm clock?  Other than that we were fine.

The ac presented us with few problems over the next few days and most of the flying programme was fairly uneventful.  The only problem child was XM607, later to be the Black Buck bomber.  She had alternator fluctuations on the no 2 engine which was either the CSDU (constant Speed Drive Unit) or at worst the CSDU drive in the ECU (Engine Change Unit).  We changed the CSDU, not a small task, which improved the alternator performance to some extent and with careful monitoring would be OK.  We did demand a new ECU to be shipped out to Singapore as a precaution just in case.  This later proved to be a wise move as the engine was finally changed a week later on the pan at RAF Tengah.

Darwin was a pretty unique place.  This was prior to the hurricane which flattened the place a few years later.  All the buildings were wooden apart from a new Woolworths which was brick.  The roads were un-tarmaced and there were still hitching poles outside some of the shops to tie your horse on to.  Talk about a time warp.  The night life was either the Mess where we shifted a few tubes of beer, and the Local Esso garage across the railway line which had a chippy for evening snacks.  It was a relief to get back to some sort of civilisation in Singapore a week later.  I’ll pick up the story later.

Wizz Kid
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Offline djrose007

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #24 on: September 11, 2011, 07:47:44 PM »
I don't know if this idea took off but I've found a lot of people come up to the stand and say they were former ground or air crew on Vulcans.
Do we want to collect people names so we can gather their stories and anecdotes?
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Offline Sad Sam

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #25 on: September 12, 2011, 11:03:31 AM »
Quote from: "djrose007"
I don't know if this idea took off but I've found a lot of people come up to the stand and say they were former ground or air crew on Vulcans.
Do we want to collect people names so we can gather their stories and anecdotes?

Yes the idea is still ongoing.  As you say lots of people come up to us on the stand I usually give them my e-mail but there does not seem to be much take up.

I have a little Dictaphone which i thought I could use but I'm having problems translating the interviews into any thing usable.

Pass on my e-mail and we'll see where it goes.
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Offline jangor

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #26 on: September 12, 2011, 11:12:40 AM »
One of the engine drivers on the Lincolnshire wolds railway is an ex RAF Vulcan engineer..................  ;)
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Offline Wizz Kid

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #27 on: September 12, 2011, 04:29:11 PM »
Wow  :D A train driver and a Vulcan engineer.  8-) green with envy.
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Offline jimwilliamson

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #28 on: October 23, 2012, 07:14:54 PM »
Re Darwin. I was there 1956/58 with 542 Sqdn Canberras. You must have been in the same billet we were in for a couple of months. We were moved eventually to the last one on the left on the way out through the main gate. We were upstairs then out of the way of the snakes. I did 14 days jankers whilst there and part of my punnishment was to help the aussies build the patio at the side of the new cinema and wet bar.
    Jim Williamson
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Offline hilco3

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Re: Ground crew storybook
« Reply #29 on: October 23, 2012, 09:31:00 PM »
Sounds like a great idea. one story I remember was in 1962, looking out the crew room window on , I think "D" Dispersal (101 Squadron) at Waddo and seeing a  Vulcan sat on its tail. A "supertech" was refuelling it. My old mate Glenn will be at Waddo tomorrow and when I spoke to him about it, his memory seemed a lot sharper than mine. This visit will be my first since I left in 64 to go an a Blue Steel course at Newton and then Elliott Aviation in Rochester.
Another story involves a rigger who stumbled into the cockpit and fell with 4 outstretched fingers and accidentally set off the fire extinguishers. Must be nigh on impossible.!!!
I was a scruffy liney with one of those bodge tape anoraks,  only store bashers and shinies had decent cold weather kit to wear while sitting in the warm. :D
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Guest »