Question re: re-armament and maintenence between sorties

Discussion in 'Technical' started by jswalker, Feb 19, 2009.

  1. jswalker

    jswalker New Member

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    Hello everyone

    I had the pleasure of working with two gentlemen who were WW2 era pilots and had brief discussions with them about their service, but unfortunately I was young then and didn't really "get it" about how important their service to us was.

    One of them flew B-17s late in the war as part of the 303rd out of Molesworth, and the other was in the merchant marines during the war and flew P-51's between the wars with I believe the CAP but I'm not 100% on that. My Uncle Gene Walker who raised me was also a veteran of the war (not a combatant but he served in Hawaii from 1941-1946 in the coastal art'y) and he died without my really learning a lot from him either.

    I have read many interesting threads on this site, but I hadn't found anything specific on turnaround times for repairs maintenence and re-arming between sorties.

    I was wondering of there were any threads discussing topics such as how fast turnarounds could be done on fighters and/or bombers, were maintenence schedules as recommended "by the book" followed strictly or not, were planes in certain theatres routinely (if ever) sent back up with minimal repairs and questionable airworthiness due to desparate circumstances, how much damage could airframes sustain before being sent to the boneyard for cannibalization, how long did tires and brakes last, frequency of engine oil changes, were weapons (MGs, cannons) replaced or repaired between missions or simply resupplied, etc. and so on.

    This is really an informative site, and I apologize if the questions are too generic or sophmoric or have been discussed before, I did do a search but perhaps didn't use the correct terms. I read an article in a recent WWII magazine re: the "frankenplanes" on guadalcanal that piqued my curiosity on the subject.

    Thanks in advance for any replies and a special thanks to any and all veterans or their relatives who might read this.

    Jeff Walker
    Frederick MD
     
  2. Micdrow

    Micdrow “Archive”
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    Hi Jeff, very interesting question. As for the turnaround of aircraft Im not sure. Im guessing during The Battle of Britain the turn around was very quickly due to the shortage of aircraft. As for times I have no real data though I wonder if the Australian Archives does.
     
  3. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    SOP for the fighter groups 'turnaround' started as soon as the fighter taxiied to hardstand after a mission.

    The pilot and crew chief filled out flight log and noted any problems encountered (oxygen, rough engine, high engine temps, radios etc.). If nothing required patching up or a trip to hanger or sevice depot (like battle damage, engine change, etc) then preparation for tomorrow's (or afternoon) mission started immediately.

    Engine Cowls and accessory hatches were opened and the coolant lines, radiator, oil cooler and engine were looked at carefully for leaks. Tire tread inspected, control surfaces checked.

    All internal tanks were topped off, new Oxygen replenished with a check for pressure and flow., ammo loaded, radios checked, tarp placed over the canopy.

    The next morning as the pilots were being briefed, the line crews waked or rode bicycles to their ships. Crew chief did a thorough walkaround, the armorer popped the ammo doors and checked guns and the links one more time. He took a look in the empty casing chutes to make sure nothing was jammed there and looked over the wheel well one last time for any obvious hydraulic leaks.

    About this time a couple of trucks made the tour dropping off 75 or 110 gallon wing tanks, depending on the mission. They were mounted and feed lines connected. Fuel truck then made a run to top off external tanks.

    Crew Chief hopped in and ran an engine/mag/oxygen and instrument check to make sure gyro uncaged etc.

    Coomunications sargent made the changes to the crystals for A B and C channel for that mission and some time afterward the pilots would come out loaded onto jeeps or 6x and dropped off.

    Pilot kicks tires - looks at his crew chief and hops in. Crew helps him get situated with parachute, mae west, seat buckles and helps him button it up.

    Star Engine flare cooks and engines turn over with one of the crew handling a fire extingusher as those nasty Merlins started their rough crank/backfire/belch exhaust flame and smoke the roared to life at 1200-1500 rpm.. the Assemly flare lights and the pilots runs it up to higher rpm if he has been idling too long, then rolls out with one of the crew on the wing to help guide him..

    As the Mustangs waddle from the hardstands to the assemply point at the threshold, the Take off flares light and two by two the a/c roll out and take off - flying a climbing circle around the base to let each element cross the circle and attach. About 15 minutes later they are out of sight.

    Crews get breakfast, wash clothes, nap, play poker and when the return home time arrives they drift out to the flight line and look to the east to see who spots them first on the return..waiting with crossed fingers.

    Then the routine starts again as their guy lands and waddles over to the hardstand.

    Hope this helps,

    Bill
     
  4. jswalker

    jswalker New Member

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    Thanks very much for such a detailed response!

    Jeff
     
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