Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines

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Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines

Postby BrigitDoon » Sun Dec 21, 2008 9:13 am

Humble apologies if we already have a thread covering this subject.

Now and again we talk of Chinooks and other strange visitors to our skies. Mostly we're blessed with small airliners crawling in and out of Glasgow Airport and I would suppose most of you, like me, hardly notice them.

As a child, I grew up close to the naval air station at Yeovilton in Somerset and my dad used to take me and my brothers to the air show there every year. Some of my earliest memories are of the childish excitememt that precedes such a day out. The Navy have been beating people up for centuries and their end-of-show "battle" is one of life's true delights. Forget bonfire night, these boys and girls really know how to make a statement with pyrotechnics. They have Sea Harriers to play with, too.

Glasgow, like all large cities in the UK, has no military aircraft bases close by, for safety reasons and the need to keep civilian traffic flowing. It's not so far to Leuchars, though.

I've not been there yet, though I know from Google maps that they have an old Lightning parked out the back, well worth looking out in itself, if you're not entranced by the Eurofighter Typhoon.

From the archives then, and let's get this show in the air, a BAC Lightning F6 taking to the skies in a dreadful hurry, late morning, at the International Air Tattoo, 1983. If you were there, you won't forget the determined display that this pilot put on. He pulled off the deck, flipped it, put it back upright and then pulled the stick back before disappearing to the blue yonder, counting off the thousands as he did so. The Lightning is good enough for 77,000 feet. Can't do that in an F-16.

I was only fifteen at the time and still learning how to drive my Olympus OM-10 which is why the imagery doesn't quite match my latest. Nonetheless enjoy a small slice of history. Just wish I could make the noises to go with it. :)

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Re: Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines

Postby Peetabix » Sun Dec 21, 2008 10:59 am

Nice vintage looking shot.

I've been to Leuchars a couple of times. Not too exciting as we weren't allowed air side but the big plane (Lightning you say?) is might impressive.

Can you tell I don't know much about aviation? :D
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Re: Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines

Postby Peetabix » Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:16 am

Just remembered that on my way to Leuchars I saw one of those big AWACS planes with the rotating antenna type thing on its back passing over the Tay Bridge. Imposing big bastard.

Nearly shat myself it was that low. Very very low.
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Re: Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines

Postby BrigitDoon » Sun Dec 21, 2008 12:42 pm

I've never seen an AWACS in flight, so bowels intact...

I'm sure I have a photo from the same Greenham airshow if I can find it. I think it's in darkest Somerset, though.

The one I'm thinking of is a Boeing 707 with a fuck-off-big frisbee on top of it. I'm not sure which bit keeps the whole plot in the air.

The MoD spent a small fortune designing an AER Nimrod, but cancelled after great expense in the early nineties (I think).

What really, truly hurt, was the loss of the old Fairy Gannet. They decommissioned them in 1978 when they retired the old Ark Royal (and transferred the Navy's Phantoms to the RAF at the same time)

This really hit home (literally) in the Falklands in '82. There was no wide ranging air-traffic control to warn of Super-Etendards and Exocets and so we lost the Atlantic Conveyor and all of her Chinooks, the boys had to yomp the length of East Falkland as a result. HMS Sheffield was taken as were Sirs Tristram and Galahad. I'll never forget the utter silence in our dormitory in our school as we learnt the news of Sheffield. War was something that happened in grandad's time. Couldn't happen in our time, no, oh no... We just sat there, thoroughly deflated, filleted, in fact. :cry:

I remember at about the same time, a Kenyan lad declaring his support for the Argentines as thought it were a football tournament. Fortunately, some of the older ones saw wise to this and managed to restrain the murderously incensed crowd before murder was done. The school, for what it's worth, launched Field-Marshall Haig's career. Never a good place to be controversial on military matters.

In the end, the Navy sunk the cruiser Belgrano with the loss of 700 lives, the Veinticinco De Mayo (aircraft carrier and flagship) never ventured from port and the RAF put on a showcase long-distance bombing raid by putting the ageing Vulcan fleet through a 16,000 mile return journey to put a few craters in Port Stanley runway.

I remember it as a mucky business, the last gasp of a military Junta whose motives still defy scrutiny from this quarter. Of course it gave Maggie another four years.

My heart goes to those who lost their lives, those who lost limbs and those who were brought to an unhappy life thereafter. May we remember this every November.

Yeovilton didn't have an airshow that year as they were resurfacing the main runway. They took the opportunity while most of the lads and there machines were down South. They did make it up to the public the following year and fairly everything they'd captured in the South Atlantic was on display. I remember the endless ranks of Argentine munitions, laid out for the length of a football pitch.

The relief was palpable.

Prize exhibit was a Pucara, that bane of the ground troops. They only brought one back, it's canopy shattered. The Sea Harriers had destroyed the rest.

War is always a nasty business. I'll not decry the need for it when all diplomacy has been exhausted and I rest a little easier in knowing that our armed forces are among the best.

[I don't claim this dissertation as authoritative by any means; if you were there please correct me on any point where I'm awry. Military history is a part-time involvement of mine and I like to have things just so. Shame I can't ask grandad about signing with the Somerset Light Infantry and serving with the Royal Engineers.)
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Re: Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines

Postby Peetabix » Sun Dec 21, 2008 1:02 pm

Nimrod, that's the word I was looking for. AWACS, Nimrod, when it comes right down to it it's a big plane with a frisbee on it.
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Re: Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines

Postby cell » Sun Dec 21, 2008 3:59 pm

Anyone have any ideas what these are or where? I believe they were built at Weir’s or Beardmore’s in the 1st WW, the first 3 all look to be the same type with a nice note on No2 saying it was presented by the workers of the Scottish Filling Factory. There are two different hanger forms and a field so it could be a variety of sites.

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Re: Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines

Postby BrigitDoon » Sun Dec 21, 2008 5:44 pm

Sorry, can't help at the moment; I'd need Dad's library, a long evening and a mellow glass to get you the answer. Lovely photos, though. I've seen preserved propellers like those mounted on walls, polished, both brass and wood and a wonderful sight they are too.
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Re: Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines

Postby Doorstop » Tue Dec 23, 2008 7:16 pm

cell wrote:Anyone have any ideas what these are


They appear to be aeroplanes.

cell wrote:or where they are?


They look like they are in their static position of 'down-tiddley-down-down' as opposed to their active state of 'up-tiddley-up-tup'.

Hope that helps. :twisted:
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Re: Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines

Postby Roxburgh » Tue Dec 23, 2008 8:30 pm

No photos .... but .......

Was driving down to the Borders one day. We were going along a road that had a big pretty high grassy bank at the end of it where the road turned right angles and continued parallel and along the bottom of the bank.

Anyway, I'm driving down this road with Mrs Roxburgh minding my own business when a fully laden Harrier appeared at low level, skimming the top of the bank and straight towards us.

As I said to Mrs. Roxburgh when I stopped to change my underwear, I'm glad I didn't crash the car.
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Re: Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines

Postby BrigitDoon » Tue Dec 23, 2008 9:27 pm

Harriers were always sneaking over the rooftops at us.

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Yeovilton Air Day 2005

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Yeovilton Air Day 2005

Yes, I know they look like they don't know whether they are coming or going, but they're actually hovering and engaged in some synchronised flying. Truly remarkable. Can't do that with the Red Arrows.
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Re: Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines

Postby BrigitDoon » Thu Dec 25, 2008 3:20 pm

cell, I've finally had some luck with my researches:

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After a bit of rummaging, I might have the first three sussed. They appear to be examples of the Airco DH9 (an early De Havilland).

See: scran.ac.uk >>

The Airco DH9 was [a] single engined biplane powered by a 6 cylinder ... the munitions workers of the Scottish filling factory" reflects the practice in both ... (from Google, I'd need to subscribe to get the whole text.)

The thumbnail looks suspiciously like your image after a little airbrush retouching.

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As for the other, I'll have to keep searching...
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Re: Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines

Postby BrigitDoon » Thu Dec 25, 2008 4:25 pm

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McDonnell-Douglas F-4J Phantom II VF-114 "Aardvarks", US Navy. 1:72 scale (Italeri)

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McDonnell-Douglas F-15A Eagle, believed Air National Guard markings. 1:72 scale (Airfix)

Built during the summer of '85 during the school holidays. Recently "decommissioned" by Mum who didn't recognise them as art. Intellectual vandalism strikes again :cry:

I've been looking for a miniatures thread: aircraft, railways, ships, cars, dolls' houses, etc. I know there's one here somewhere but I can't remember what it's called.
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Re: Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines

Postby Josef » Fri Dec 26, 2008 8:08 am

BrigitDoon wrote:I've been looking for a miniatures thread: aircraft, railways, ships, cars, dolls' houses, etc. I know there's one here somewhere but I can't remember what it's called.


There's a fake miniatures thread here, if that's what you're thinking of.
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Re: Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines

Postby tombro » Fri Dec 26, 2008 8:47 am

Brigit,

In the late 1950's there used to be an Airshow every year at Abbotsinch, then a Naval Air Base but today part of Glasgow Airport.

Dad (ex-RAF) used to take me and my brother to it every year and I always loved it. There was always a great variety of planes on show, both on the ground and in the air, and yes they always had staged dogfights as the highlight of the day.

My last visit to the Abbotsinch Airshow (prior to emigrating to Australia with my family) would probably have been in 1960 and I think that may have been the year that the Bristol 'Buccaneer' was first introduced to the Fleet Air Arm !

Great memories,
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Re: Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines

Postby BrigitDoon » Fri Dec 26, 2008 9:39 am

My Dad used to tell of Westonzoyland airfield near Bridgwater being a USAF base after the war. His headmaster took him and a few other lads there for an airshow during the early 'fifties and they delighted at a Super Sabre breaking the sound barrier.

Later, after the military gave up the airfield and the various farmers 'round and about bought up the land, we joined a radio-control flying club and used a section of the old runway as a playground. Dad used to build first-world war fighters and very convincing they looked, even close-up. I can't find the photographs, maybe Mum has them, but I remember him asking me to scale up a three-view plan of an Albatross D-V from an image in an encyclopedia no more than three inches wide to 1/6th scale. We didn't have scanners or any suitable photographic aids, so I dismantled my microscope and using one of the lenses with a steel rule, was able to measure each detail to a tenth of a millimetre.

I drew up the plans on the back of an old roll of wallpaper and left him to fill in the gaps. He disappeared into "The Hangar" for the winter, emerging in spring with a completed flying machine. He'd filled in all the gaps from photographs that he'd researched paying particular regard to the construction of the wings, so essential to the success of the project.

Just to complicate matters, he decided to finish it in the "lozenge" scheme favoured by the Germans at that time, an excruciatingly painstaking job in itself.

He came to me for one last job: the manufacturer's nameplate. Having proved my youthful eyesight with accuracy on a 1/10th millimetre scale, and and experienced artist and signwriter, it fell to me to put that finishing touch to his new baby.

The nameplate was to be the size of a postage stamp and so I painted the lettering (in that delightful Gothic typeface) on the gummed side of some gummed paper. The trick is to give it several coats of varnish later and lo-and-behold, one has a water-slide transfer like those one finds in Airfix kits.

So we topped the job out, stood back and admired, took photographs and looked at each other knowing it was highly likely the last time we'd see this work of art in one piece. It was a highly speculative venture. Dad is not an engineer let alone rocket scientist and his understanding of aerodynamic principles and aeronautical construction has been learnt the hard way. Mind you, we did have an ex-Concorde design engineer two doors down...

We took it to Westonzoyland one summer evening for the moment of truth. The sun was low in the western sky and the light just right for photography.

We needn't have worried; it's maiden flight went perfectly, the Albatross proving itself a most benign machine to handle and such was the quality of its production and the manner in which it flew that the only way you could tell it wasn't an original full-size was by the shrill buzz of its little two-stroke engine. Of course, the camera can't hear and the photographs look for all the world like any I've taken at an airshow.

The Albatross was a popular machine on the circuit for quite a few seasons before the inevitable caught up with it. It ran out of airframe time, and like so many much beloved balsa-wood constructions, it was given the time-honoured send-off of a "viking funeral".

(While I'm on the subject of radio-control jargon, I must mention the "round-of-applause". This applies to the less well constructed machines, usually a trainer slung together in a hurry. They are high-wing monoplanes where the wings are secured to the fuselage by means of stout rubber bands. Either the polystyrene or balsa - of which the wings are formed - fails in a tight-G-turn and does so along the fuselage centre-line. The wings fold upwards in the style of a bird and gives forth a clap-slap-clap sound as the machine drops like a stone. Hence, "round-of-applause".)

One final point, tombro, the Buccaneer wasn't a product of my home port's estimable aerospace output. It lacked the delicacy. The Buccaneer was made by Blackburn and the northern folk carved them out of solid non-destructium. It was a rugged machine, ideally suited for high-speed, low-level bombing raids and the RAF took on the Navy's remaining stock when the previous Ark Royal was decommissioned in '78. They used to be a common sight in my native Somerset until the Tornado came into service. For a time there was a brightly coloured example used by the research boys at Boscombe Down and like all their toys it was painted red, white and blue.

Bristol did produce the Brigand, however, whence might arise some piratical confusion.
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