Lancaster Cable Cutters

Discussion in 'Technical Requests' started by Graeme, Aug 29, 2007.

  1. Graeme

    Graeme Well-Known Member

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    Italian drawn cutaway of a Lancaster Mk 1 showing the cable cutting mechanism. Appears that there were eight cutters spread out along the leading edge.

    -How many bombers of WWII utilised similar devices?
    -As bombing tactics changed, did the need cease to exist?
    -With this particular method, what powered the cold chisels(?) cutting action, and what happened if the cable was not severed with the first impact?

    That'll do, thanks!

    [​IMG]
     
  2. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    Wiki has this to say about (barrage balloon) cable cutters…

    “They proved to be mildly effective against the V-1 flying bomb, which usuallyflew at 2,000 feet (600 m) or lower but had wire-cutters on its wings to counter balloon barrages. Two hundred and thirty-one V-1s are officially claimed to have been destroyed by balloons.

    Many bombers were equipped with devices to cut barrage balloon cables. Britain used large numbers of balloons, so Germany developed the most capable cable-cutters. Their systems consisted of small C-shaped devices attached to the leading edge of the wing. When a cable entered the device after sliding down the wing, it triggered a small explosive charge that drove a blade through the cable. British bombers were also equipped with cable-cutters although the Germans used few barrage balloons.”

    Charles
     
  3. Graeme

    Graeme Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Charles.

    Hmm..Heinkel H-8 with a grotesque looking balloon-cable 'fender' employed during the Battle over Britain.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Peter Garwood

    Peter Garwood New Member

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    The cable cutter on the Lancaster and other aircraft was developed by Martin Baker of ejector seat fame. It was powered by the cable entering a groove in the wing and then the cable would force a safety catch over and then as the cable moved further into the device a explosive cartridge went off forcing the chisel to cut the cable. All this took fractions of a second. Hitting a cable was like adding between 3 and 6 tons of drag to the aircraft so a stall was highly likely unless the cable was cut almost instantly. If the cable did not get cut then the cable was designed so it had two explosive links attached one invariably above the aircraft near the balloon and one below the aircraft. These would explode and sever the cable in two places. This resulted in the cable leaving its normal vertical plane and the next event was one of two: At severance the cable would deploy two drogue parachutes at either end. One above and one below the wing. The forward motion of the aircraft would cause the upper parachute and cable to be dragged over the top of the wing. At the same time the lower part of the cable had a similar parachute open.This would cause massive drag on the aircraft and cause a stall. Often the cable would cut its way through part of the wing. The second option was more dramatic, at the lower half of the cable the parachute was replaced by a No 4 bomb. As the upper parchute dragged the cable over the wing the parachute would move behind the aircrafts position and draw the bomb up to the underside of the wing and on contact would blow the wing off. I have searched in vain to find an example of a cutter and was surprised to find that there are absolutely none on aircraft on display at Duxford. I can only surmise that with the end of the war it was decided to simplify the aircraft and the item was declared redundant (as balloons had effectively dissapeared) and removed to reduce weight and complications when servicing. I would love to get my hands on a WWII cutter (without the cartridges) Martin-Baker do not have an example in their archives!! The fender used on the Heinkel was claimed by the british to be a bad design as due to its extra weight it brought the aircraft down. There is a famous picture of such a Heinkel on the south downs having crash landed. My view is that it had nothing to do with the weight but came down for some other reason but made marvellous propaganda for the war effort!!
     
  5. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    My cutaway of a Halifax shows cable-cutters on the wings.
     
  6. Heinz

    Heinz Active Member

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    The Heinkel had some seriously performance problems with that set up yeah?

    Also I know it wasnt particulary effective.
     
  7. Peter Garwood

    Peter Garwood New Member

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    Sorry which cutaway picture is this one?
    I once talked with a RAF WWII Bomber Pilot who actually hit a cable one night, he said it just came out of the night and the aircraft suddenly slewed around and luckkily the cable seemed to either slip off or part and they had a large gash in the edge of the wing.
    Peter
     
  8. Graeme

    Graeme Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the informative post! So there is no 'back-up' plan should the cutter fail in its first attempt?
     
  9. Peter Garwood

    Peter Garwood New Member

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    If the cable did not enter the slot then it was highly likely that the cable would perform as intended and down the aircraft.No back up plan. Of course once the cartridge had fired it was of no use for any further cable defences.
    British balloons had a squeaker beacon that was supposed to ensure that Uk planes did not fly into the UK cable. It was not THAT good.
     
  10. Peter Garwood

    Peter Garwood New Member

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    It should be borne in mind that the outcome of hitting a balloon cable with the wind behind you was quite different to the likely outcome with the wind against you!! Physics is strange!
     
  11. Meyer777

    Meyer777 New Member

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    Does anyone have a cutaway drawing of the Avro Shackleton Mk1, Mk2 Mk.3? A friend and I want to build a 1:6 scale rc version of each.

    Anyone who can help?
    Thank.
     
  12. Kingscoy

    Kingscoy Member

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    Hi,

    We found this double headed cable cutter during the recovery of a Wellington. One cardridge was fired and you can see the impact on the right hand side anvil.

    Kind regards from Holland,
    Sander
     

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  13. Micdrow

    Micdrow “Archive”
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    Great picture there Sander, many thanks for sharing!!!!
     
  14. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    With Paul - great photo, mate!

    And for Peter, I have a cutaway in a book at home of a halifax showing the cable cutters in place. I've no way to scan and post the pics on the forum, but if you're interested, drop us your postal address in a PM, and I'll send you a photocopy.

    ... as a few of you will know already, the Junkers Ju 88A-6 was originally fitted with cable cutters too, though they were usually removed.
     
  15. ppopsie

    ppopsie Member

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    Great pic! Thanks. I see many of the Lancs later in the war had removed the cutters as evidenced from various pitures.

    In my opinion the cable cutters might've been useful when the bomber returned to bases in England under reduced visibility conditions.
     

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  16. samvandijk

    samvandijk New Member

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    Good morning,
    I have a cable cutter from probably a Lancaster, I believe it came from Holland or Belgium, I got it from my brother who lives in Belgium, in the german speeking part.
     
  17. Micdrow

    Micdrow “Archive”
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    Would love to see some pictures.
     
  18. samvandijk

    samvandijk New Member

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  19. Marcel

    Marcel Well-Known Member

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    Hoi Sam, en welkom op het forum.

    Nice stuff, Sam, where did your brother get this from?
     
  20. samvandijk

    samvandijk New Member

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    Marcel,
    I have already tried to reach him, he has no computer, but I think he bouught it in Maastricht. I also have an Aldis Lamp they used in a Lancaster for signaling puposes on night flights. ??
    I used to owrk for Fokker aircraft.
    I have some very rare fotoos of Fukker aircraft from before the war, I will digitise them and place them on the forum..
    Sam
     
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