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  #1  
Old 04-14-2012, 02:19 AM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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20 Spitfires buried in Burma!

Apparently the British buried 20 Spitfires in Burma in WW2. And they're still there!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17710598

I wonder in what condition they'll be found? The jungle isn't a kind environment.
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  #2  
Old 04-14-2012, 06:03 AM
casdave casdave is offline
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Apparently they were crated and awaiting assembly.

I would expect that they would have been shipped in preservative greases. There should be a good chance that many components will be in very good condition.

Restoration of WWII aircraft has become such an industry that there would be no problem in replacing any parts that are beyond repair.
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  #3  
Old 04-14-2012, 06:46 AM
Cicero Cicero is offline
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There are (supposedly) quite a number of aircraft crated and buried in Australia. There are also a number supposed to have been dumped off shore still crated. I have no doubt that some do exist but as to the condition- well....

In the 60's I recall as a school child one of those old bull nosed army trucks having sat in a street where one of my friends lived. It was an army truck and no one had bothered to look. Naturally we did. The back part of the truck was full of small calibre ammunition- rifle stuff.

There was a lot of things never accounted for.

And on a different note, I saw a doco the other night that said there was only one Sunderland flying boat still flying.
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Old 04-14-2012, 07:28 AM
Otara Otara is offline
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Ive heard similar stories in NZ about buried planes etc.

Much of it seems to be buried treasure type stories, so until they're actually located, Id keep a pinch of salt handy.

Otara
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  #5  
Old 04-14-2012, 07:39 AM
Ken001 Ken001 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cicero View Post

And on a different note, I saw a doco the other night that said there was only one Sunderland flying boat still flying.
Wouldn't be surprised.

We have 7 Spitfires in NZ but only 2 airworthy - the others are being worked on.

Given how special these fighter planes are, I've often wondered if replicas are built? Anyone know?

Love the sight and sound of a Spitfire diving down under power onto a ground target. There is something primal about the rising pitch of the Merlins and the prop which send shivers down my spine.
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  #6  
Old 04-14-2012, 07:47 AM
Cicero Cicero is offline
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The Sunderland was actually at one stage operated by Ansett out of Brisbane so there is a local connection. The show was on the history channel and I suspect a few years old- if anyone wants a copy dop me a PM.

Otara, I agree- the stories of crated Spitfires seem to surface every few years. One thing I would mention though - and this was back in the 80's- I was talking to one of the heads of Civil Aviation in Qld. he said that in the western part of the state for years civil pilots had reported seeing a Mustang flying near by. It was assumed at the time that some cow cocky had got his hands on one after the War and just took it for joy rides every now and then. There were none registered of course.

It was possibly fiction but he did report it was from several sources. I'd like to believe it was true.
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Old 04-14-2012, 09:57 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Good news, if they find them! You all know that the Spit is my favourite airplane. (Truth be told, though, if I had a choice of a Spit or a Hurricane, I'd take the Hurricane for a few reasons.) The more Spits in the air, the better, I say! Let's hope they are found and are restorable!
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Originally Posted by Ken001 View Post
Given how special these fighter planes are, I've often wondered if replicas are built? Anyone know?
Unlike WWI aircraft, building a replica of a WWII fighter is rather daunting. The only full-scale replicas I can think of are the ME-262s. Hurricanes have a simpler structure than a Spitfire, being bolted steel tubing covered with fabric. I think Hawker Hurricane Restorations, Ltd. have all of the parts to build a Hurricane from scratch, but I don't think they have. The Hurricane was a transitional design; it was between the tube-and-fabric era and the monocoque era. The Spitfire had the more modern monocoque structure, and also was a mass of compound curves. Not a particularly easy thing to build. Of course one could build a replica, but it would be a difficult endeavour. Finding engines might be a problem. I remember when I was a kid people would use them in hydroplane (boat) racing (along with Packard-built Merlins and the similar Allisons), and engines were always blowing up due to the stresses put on them.

Supermarine Aircraft offers 90% scale kits that look really nice. They got the landing gear wrong, but otherwise it's pretty spiffy.
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Old 04-14-2012, 10:04 AM
Cicero Cicero is offline
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Johnny LA, I don't doubt your knowledge on this subject, but could anyone really build a WW1 aircraft?

Who could/ would build a rotary engine? And I would think the stressing of the skin on the plane may be a lost art. Could someone build a Giant these days (irrespective of cost?)

Just to add some fuel to the fire, the specs of the German gun that bombarded Paris in the Great War were destroyed and no one knew how to rebuild it .
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  #9  
Old 04-14-2012, 10:09 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cicero View Post
Johnny LA, I don't doubt your knowledge on this subject, but could anyone really build a WW1 aircraft?
ISTR reading about an accurate SE.5 replica having been built. (Remember that many WWI aircraft did not use rotary engines.) There are some full-scale WWI replicas that use more modern construction and radial engines. I consider those replicas close enough.

EDIT: Also, many WWI fighters were surprisingly tiny. And welding tubes or carving wood would not be that difficult.




.

Last edited by Johnny L.A.; 04-14-2012 at 10:10 AM..
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  #10  
Old 04-14-2012, 10:16 AM
Cicero Cicero is offline
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The planes of WW1 were tiny- I saw them at the Imperial War Museum in London. Against (I think ) a FW.

The other question would be how many pilots would want to fly the damn things? Planes with no brakes and very poor safety records? Those guys were far braver than I would ever be.

(I have read that 50% of the British Air Force- under various names- casualties were in training)
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  #11  
Old 04-14-2012, 10:26 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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I would fly one. (Actually, I found a full-sized Nieuport kit that looks nice. But the Australian radial engine is expensive.) They land slow enough that brakes might not be necessary. Or you could always add them. I think the safety issues came primarily from lack of training. They'd send you up after only a few hours. Also, the rotary engines had a lot of torque that could bite an incautious or inexperienced pilot. True, sometimes wings (or wing fabric, anyway) would rip off; but for recreational flying one would be less prone to exceed the envelope, and modern construction would be stronger.
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  #12  
Old 04-14-2012, 10:31 AM
Cicero Cicero is offline
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But I don't think you could add brakes because of weight. Those planes were so balanced with weight/ power ratio.

A lot has been made of the no parachutes for WW1 but initially it was the weight. It would have slowed the planes so much.
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  #13  
Old 04-14-2012, 10:52 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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I'm going to disagree about the brakes. A replica would probably be lighter than an original, and the engine would likely be lighter and/or more powerful. Also, the undercarriage isn't so far forward of the cg that adding brakes there would be a factor weight-and-balance-wise.

I've always heard that parachutes were discouraged because TPTB thought pilots might bail in a tight situation, costing an expensive aircraft (and possibly, an expensive pilot). I've also heard that parachutes were considered 'cowardly', and that they limited mobility in an already-cramped cockpit. I don't think the actual weight was much of a factor. Of course, I stand to be corrected if I am wrong.
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  #14  
Old 04-14-2012, 11:26 AM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. View Post
Supermarine Aircraft offers 90% scale kits that look really nice. They got the landing gear wrong, but otherwise it's pretty spiffy.
Why on Earth 90% scale? And perhaps you should be glad they got the landing gear wrong: it was a notorious weak point of the original.
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  #15  
Old 04-14-2012, 11:53 AM
ZenBeam ZenBeam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by casdave View Post
Apparently they were crated and awaiting assembly.
How much assembly would be required? Bolt on the wings and the propeller, put on the wheels, then gas it up and fly? Or would they be in many more pieces?
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  #16  
Old 04-14-2012, 11:53 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Originally Posted by Quartz View Post
Why on Earth 90% scale? And perhaps you should be glad they got the landing gear wrong: it was a notorious weak point of the original.
Probably because it's too hard to find a Merlin. 90% allows them to use less power. But yeah, it would be nice to have a 100% scale aircraft. I know there are 100% scale Spitfire kits out there, only they're made of wood. Those use Allison V-12s, and I've read that they can out-perform an original Mk. IX.

The undercarriage looks like it tracks the same as the original, but they fold a bit forward instead of aft. The 'notorious weak point', AFAIK, was that the narrow track made it difficult to handle on landing. This characteristic was shared by the Bf-109.
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  #17  
Old 04-14-2012, 11:59 AM
silenus silenus is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZenBeam View Post
How much assembly would be required? Bolt on the wings and the propeller, put on the wheels, then gas it up and fly? Or would they be in many more pieces?
It's a little bit more involved than that, but not much. At least based on what I remember from reading about the way they shipped US aircraft around.
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  #18  
Old 04-14-2012, 12:13 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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Originally Posted by Cicero View Post

(I have read that 50% of the British Air Force- under various names- casualties were in training)
Bomber Command had a huge attrition rate in WWII, more than 40% deaths. That's in operations, not training - any training regime that killed the trainees that readily would not last long. Also, it is the Royal Air Force although that was the offspring of the Army that was known as the Royal Flying Corps. Changed the name as recently as 1918.
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  #19  
Old 04-14-2012, 08:40 PM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. View Post
(Truth be told, though, if I had a choice of a Spit or a Hurricane, I'd take the Hurricane for a few reasons.)
That sounds like an interesting topic, if you'd care to expand on it.
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  #20  
Old 04-14-2012, 10:18 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Originally Posted by Sailboat View Post
That sounds like an interesting topic, if you'd care to expand on it.
The Spitfire was the most beautiful, elegant fighter ever made. And it was a good one, too. They were a match for the Bf-109s, and starting with the Mk. IXs they were a match for the FW-190s. The beautiful lines, the performance, and their role in the Battle of Britain make it my favourite airplane. But...

Although it is the symbol of the Battle of Britain, the Hurricane accounted for some 55% of German losses compared to 42% to the Spitfire. Most of the RAF squadrons at the time were equipped with the Hurricane. While slower than a Spitfire or a Bf-109, the Hurricane could out-turn both of them. The Spitfire got all of the glory, but it was the Hurricane that was the real workhorse.

So one reason I'd choose to own a Hurricane over a Spitfire is that I feel it 'deserves' some recognition. Another, more practical, reason is that it's easier to fly. Its wider undercarriage makes it easier to land. Its structure makes it easier to maintain. I've read that the Spitfire (that used to belong to Cliff Robertson) at the museum in Seattle needs to be re-skinned to be airworthy. With the Hurricane, re-skinning means doping on some new fabric; and the structure is bolted -- not welded -- together, so it's simpler to replace components. Since I'm not going to fly a plane into battle, the Hurricane makes more sense. Finally, there aren't that many of them. Of more than 14,000 built, only 12 are airworthy -- fewer than one-third the number of flying Spitfires. What can I say? I'm an attention whore.
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  #21  
Old 04-15-2012, 12:11 AM
Cicero Cicero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baron Greenback View Post
Bomber Command had a huge attrition rate in WWII, more than 40% deaths. That's in operations, not training - any training regime that killed the trainees that readily would not last long. Also, it is the Royal Air Force although that was the offspring of the Army that was known as the Royal Flying Corps. Changed the name as recently as 1918.
Possibly that is why I said the Royal Air Force- under various names. Thanks for carefully reading my post.
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  #22  
Old 04-15-2012, 12:15 AM
Cicero Cicero is offline
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[QUOTE=Johnny L.A.;14965736

I've always heard that parachutes were discouraged because TPTB thought pilots might bail in a tight situation, costing an expensive aircraft (and possibly, an expensive pilot). I've also heard that parachutes were considered 'cowardly', and that they limited mobility in an already-cramped cockpit. I don't think the actual weight was much of a factor. Of course, I stand to be corrected if I am wrong.[/QUOTE]

That thinking was certainly present but not the main factor. It was the weight and bulk of the parachute that was crucial. They were issued to balloon observors where this was not so much a problem, and in 1918, the German Air Force did issue them to some pilots. However, they weren't totally efficient and were pretty clumsy.

It is not a myth about making the pilots cowards, but it is probably a half truth.
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  #23  
Old 04-15-2012, 01:02 AM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. View Post
Although it is the symbol of the Battle of Britain, the Hurricane accounted for some 55% of German losses compared to 42% to the Spitfire. Most of the RAF squadrons at the time were equipped with the Hurricane. While slower than a Spitfire or a Bf-109, the Hurricane could out-turn both of them. The Spitfire got all of the glory, but it was the Hurricane that was the real workhorse.
According to the BoB pilot I used to know (he's dead now) it was more of a division of labour than anything else. The Spitfires took on the fighter cover while the Hurricanes took on the bombers.
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  #24  
Old 04-15-2012, 10:59 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Originally Posted by Cicero View Post
That thinking was certainly present but not the main factor. It was the weight and bulk of the parachute that was crucial.
I'd still have to see a citation for that. A Nieuport 17 was about the same size as a Cessna 152, and both had 110 hp engines. The Cessna was a couple-hundred pounds heavier (empty) and had about a 400 pound higher gross weight. The slipperier Cessna was about 16 mph faster than the Nieuport. The Niueport presumably produced greater lift from its two sets of wings. It had a useful load of approximately 407 pounds. Fuel capacity was about 20 gallons, or about 132 pounds. That leaves 275 pounds for the pilot and ammunition. I think that the Nieuport had plenty of capacity for a 40-pound parachute.

Every account of WWI aviation I've read says that pilots were discouraged from wearing parachutes because they might bail from a survivable situation. For example, No Parachute (Arthur Gould Lee, 1968) is cited as saying this. I have absolutely no problem with the bulk issue. I think that the bulk of a parachute in such small cockpits would have been a major factor of a pilot's decision not to wear one. But I'd have to see documentation on the weight issue.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quartz View Post
According to the BoB pilot I used to know (he's dead now) it was more of a division of labour than anything else. The Spitfires took on the fighter cover while the Hurricanes took on the bombers.
This is true. The Hurricanes were better suited for attacking the bombers and the Me-110s than the Bf-109s. But early on, there were more Hurricane squadrons than Spitfire squadrons.
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  #25  
Old 04-15-2012, 11:15 AM
Cicero Cicero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. View Post
I'd still have to see a citation for that. A Nieuport 17 was about the same size as a Cessna 152, and both had 110 hp engines. The Cessna was a couple-hundred pounds heavier (empty) and had about a 400 pound higher gross weight. The slipperier Cessna was about 16 mph faster than the Nieuport. The Niueport presumably produced greater lift from its two sets of wings. It had a useful load of approximately 407 pounds. Fuel capacity was about 20 gallons, or about 132 pounds. That leaves 275 pounds for the pilot and ammunition. I think that the Nieuport had plenty of capacity for a 40-pound parachute.

Every account of WWI aviation I've read says that pilots were discouraged from wearing parachutes because they might bail from a survivable situation. For example, No Parachute (Arthur Gould Lee, 1968) is cited as saying this. I have absolutely no problem with the bulk issue. I think that the bulk of a parachute in such small cockpits would have been a major factor of a pilot's decision not to wear one. But I'd have to see documentation on the weight issue.

.
Fair enough. I'll dig through my books and hopefully get back to you in the next few days. After that I will be interstate so it may be a while.

I am not a pilot or have any aviation training, but I think comparing a Cessna to Niueport is drawing a pretty long bow. The profile of each is totally different.

Without being obstinate, have you ever read "Flying Fury" by James mcCudden (VC). He documents the formative years of the RFC and how he became a pilot- and how he would do as much as he could to achieve an extra few miles per hour in his plane. Weight was critical- not only to speed but also altitude.

However, if I can get the cite which you accept, I would assume you will buy me a six pack if ever I get to LA. (Chances are zilch so you are pretty safe).
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  #26  
Old 04-15-2012, 12:16 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cicero View Post
I am not a pilot or have any aviation training, but I think comparing a Cessna to Niueport is drawing a pretty long bow. The profile of each is totally different.
True enough. the Nieuport was a light airplane designed for maneuverability. The Cessna is a light, though heavier than the Niewport, airplane meant for flight training and personal flying. Still they are of similar size, weight and speed, the same power, and there was an aerobatic version of the Cessna. Looking only at whether a WWI fighter can lift an extra 40 pounds, I think the comparison is close enough.
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Originally Posted by Cicero View Post
However, if I can get the cite which you accept, I would assume you will buy me a six pack if ever I get to LA. (Chances are zilch so you are pretty safe).
Sure! Only I'm no longer in L.A.
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  #27  
Old 04-15-2012, 12:40 PM
Richard Pearse Richard Pearse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cicero View Post
The planes of WW1 were tiny- I saw them at the Imperial War Museum in London. Against (I think ) a FW.

The other question would be how many pilots would want to fly the damn things? Planes with no brakes and very poor safety records? Those guys were far braver than I would ever be.

(I have read that 50% of the British Air Force- under various names- casualties were in training)
There are a few WW1 fighters still flying. A mix of restorations and replicas. In fact there is a significant collection of WW1 aircraft in Omaka, New Zealand, including four Focker DR1 triplanes, a Pfalz D.III, A Nieuport 24, and a de Havilland D.H.5, all airworthy.

As to who wants to fly them, pilots with a sense of history I suppose. Lack of brakes is not unique to WW1 aircraft. The Tiger Moth (1930s-40s trainer) traditionally doesn't have brakes (though there are some that do) and it doesn't cause any great problems, you just need to be mindful that you don't have precise ground handling the way you do in more modern aircraft.

These are aeroplanes that land at less than 55 mph and operated from big grass paddocks that allowed them to take off and land into wind regardless of its direction. They didn't have brakes because they didn't need them. You still don't need them provided you taxi carefully and don't be afraid to get out and turn the machine around by hand if you can't get it pointing in the right direction with the rudder.

http://www.omaka.org.nz/exhibits.htm

Last edited by Richard Pearse; 04-15-2012 at 12:41 PM.. Reason: Added link to the Omaka collection.
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  #28  
Old 04-16-2012, 02:06 AM
Cicero Cicero is offline
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Johnny (no longer in LA), this is the quote/ cite that I was thinking of. Hopefully it may partially settle the matter.

The book is "Aces Falling" (War above the Trenches 1918) written by Peter Hart. Hart is the Oral Historian of the Sound Archive of the Imperial War Museum and is an Honorary Fellow of the Centre for for First World War Studies at Birmingham University. He has written a number of books about the Great War and has appeared on numerous television documentaries.

Enough of that anyway. Here is what he writes (talking about the German pilot Udet date 29 June 1918): "His life was saved by a relatively new innovation recently issued to German scout pilots- the parachute.

....... (snip)

The parachute question has acquired a spurious significance that really reflects our own preconceptions rather than the situation as it was actually perceived in 1918. The Germans had only started selectively issuing parachutes in the spring of 1918 and only about 40 of their scout pilots seemed to have used them- and not all of them survived the experience. The British were a little behind in the sense that parachutes had been used from balloons on many occasions they were not employed in a British service aircraft until Captain Clive Collett made the first jump in 1917. Two things held them back from general issue. The first was a practical matter: the cockpits of their aircraft were tight fitting at bestand there was simply no room for the bulky parachute as then configured. More development needed to be done to make their use more feasible especially for the single seater scouts. Second, the authorities had decided the availability of a parachute might tempt a pilot to abandon his aircraft and parachute to safety before it was strictly necessary instead of continuing the fight. This was a fortunate and tactless position, but they did not stick to it for long. Parachutes were eventually sanctioned before the end of the war intervened and they could be issued in numbers. So a faux controversy was born:'

The weight isn't mentioned- I may be getting confused with another book- but clearly the bulk was a factor for the parachutes of the time.

Hope that does clarify some of the background.
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  #29  
Old 04-16-2012, 04:57 AM
Ken001 Ken001 is offline
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Fascinating discussion chaps, thankyou.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. View Post

Unlike WWI aircraft, building a replica of a WWII fighter is rather daunting. The only full-scale replicas I can think of are the ME-262s. Hurricanes have a simpler structure than a Spitfire, being bolted steel tubing covered with fabric.

Supermarine Aircraft offers 90% scale kits that look really nice. They got the landing gear wrong, but otherwise it's pretty spiffy.
Those relicas look very nice. I suppose as a non-expert all I'd want from a replica would be a machine which looked like the original with a modern motor, materials and avionics. For example the cockpit would need to be bigger to fit 21st century pilots. A 5 (?) bladed prop would give the characteristic snarl.

While on the subject of WWII fighters, I recall watching Spitfires, Hurricane, ME109, Yak, Mustang, and a Sea Fury at the Wanaka Warbirds display. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warbirds_over_Wanaka

I know people drool over the Mustang but for me the Sea Fury was the cream of aviation that day. What an aircraft. Apparently it was the pinnacle of propeller driven fighter development. Curiously, I learned today that Fidel Castro used Sea Furys to confound the Bay of Pigs invasion. So there could be a few Furys still sitting quietly somewhere on Cuba.
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  #30  
Old 04-16-2012, 05:12 AM
Martini Enfield Martini Enfield is offline
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Originally Posted by Cicero View Post
The Sunderland was actually at one stage operated by Ansett out of Brisbane so there is a local connection. The show was on the history channel and I suspect a few years old- if anyone wants a copy dop me a PM.
The Sunderland you're thinking of is now at the Fantasy of Flight museum in Florida, it's not only the last flying Sunderland (even if it's not in the original configuration), it's apparently the last flying four-engined flying boat full stop.

There's a Short Solent at MOTAT in Auckland which is apparently almost in airworthy condition, too.

It's one of "If I Win Lotto" dreams to either find an original or or build a replica of a Solent or a Sunderland, get it airworthy, then fly it. A lot.

It makes me a sad cat that one can't travel anywhere interesting by Flying Boat (or airship, for that matter) nowadays.
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  #31  
Old 04-16-2012, 08:42 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cicero View Post
The weight isn't mentioned- I may be getting confused with another book- but clearly the bulk was a factor for the parachutes of the time.
I completely agree about the bulk. It's the weight that I question.
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  #32  
Old 04-16-2012, 01:08 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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Originally Posted by Cicero View Post
Possibly that is why I said the Royal Air Force- under various names. Thanks for carefully reading my post.
Ach, sorry for being an idiot. *mimes drinking gestures* *points at self*
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