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Thread: Forced Landing Flares

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    Default Forced Landing Flares

    A reference in a BPC document to Boeing requests that tubes for Forced Landing Flares be reinstalled in the B-17E (Fortress IIA) as they are a British requirement. I'd not heard of these before. Can anyone tell me more about the fittings and their use on any type?
    Regards:
    Robert

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    Default Forced Landing Flares

    A reference in a BPC document to Boeing requests that tubes for Forced Landing Flares be reinstalled in the B-17E (Fortress IIA) as they are a British requirement. I'd not heard of these before. Can anyone tell me more about the installation and use on any type?
    Regards:
    Robert

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    Robert,
    These flares seemed to have been introduced in the mid-1930s as a replacement for the dreaded underwing night-landing flares known as "Holtz Flares", which were ignited electrically (I think, or was it by Bowden cable?) The forced landing flare was a small parachute flare to be carried in an angled flare chute by aircraft engaged on night flying, usually two parallel tubes containing one flare each. The idea was that if a pilot was caught out by engine failure (or any other kind of emergency at night which necessitated an immediate landing) he would release his first flare to get an idea of the type of country which lay below him (of which he probably had ony a vague idea), and then attempt to locate a likely looking area suitable for a forced landing before the flare burned out. Then he had to deploy the second flare for the actual landing. If he mucked this up, or the presence of a useful emergency field could not be located with any certainty, the safest option would be to bale out (including rest of crew, if any!) However the hope was that a valuable aircaft might be saved by the intelligent use of these flares (with a little bit of luck). One of the earlier types of aircraft to go into production with in-bulit provision for these flares were the Anson, Oxford, and no doubt many other such as Blenheim, Wellington, Whitley, Harrows, etc. I think even such aircraft as early Spitfires and Hurricanes could have provision for forced landing flares. I belive they gardually fell out of favour as the war progressed, probably rendered obsolete by improved electrical systems with greater capacity and more powerful landing lights. From about late 1941 onwards, new Airspeed Oxfords werre delivered to the RAF without these flare tubes. It would seem howevert that they were still considered desirable for operational reasons when the early B-17Cs were ordered for the RAF in 1941.
    David D

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    Thanks, David. Very interesting.
    The correspondence is dated December 1940, around the time the B-17Cs were ordered and several months before they were delivered, although it is headed B-17E.
    Regards:
    Robert

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    Hello David,

    "Holtz Flares"... hmmm.

    Maybe:

    http://www.century-of-flight.freeola.com/Aviation history/airplane at war/nocturnal defence.htm

    Scroll down to chapter on Navigation and blind flying.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 10th January 2011 at 02:46.

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    Hi Robert,

    unfortunately I am not able to help you with the exact device but I know a case in early 1941 when a crew of Stranraer was using normal flares to light up the sea before the ditching during a dark night.

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    Pavel and Robert,
    I do not know if the flares used for forced landing emergencies were any different to those used on operations - it is quite possible that they were one and the same, or there could have been different sizes with differing powers of illumination or alternatively duration. Obviously the requirements for both applications were similar, the greastest illimination for the longest possible time, but perhaps a smaller version might have been considered more sensible for a much smaller aircraft. Somebody wil have to look up the appropriate AP (pyrotechnics, etc) for the late 1930s/early 1940s period for the range of dtandard parachute flares available, and also check AP.1086 for further details, and probably also the armament APs which may provide further information. Incidentally the B-17E model did not go into production until late 1941 (some of the first were those caught on approack to Hawaii on December 7th, and intended to supplement earlier models in use in the Philippines).
    Dave D

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    David:
    In the case of the Fortress document, the "forced landing chutes" (note plural) are differentiated from the standard "4.5 British flare chute' used to drop flame or smoke flares on the ocean surface for calculating drift and marking purposes.
    Regards:
    Robert

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    David,
    According to "British Explosives Ordnance" the "Reconnaisance flares are used as an aid to night reconnaisance,as an aid to night boming and to assist in emergency forced landings " which means reconnaisance flares 4.5" MKs 1-7 were dual purpose. No idea as to which aircraft carried them as standard.

    Alan.

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    Perhaps it was the flare chutes which differentiated "normal" from the Forced landing" flares? So far as I know the latter were normally operated/remote launched by the pilot whereas perhaps "normal" flares could be launched from within the fuselage by other crew members for operational reasons. Remember that only a single forced landing flare was carried in each tube (chute) with no reloads available, whereas the other type could be reloaded in flight by aircrew members, from a nearby rack with perhaps a variety of ordnance available.
    David D

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