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Thread: Struck off charge

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    Default Struck off charge

    Hi first time post

    I was wondering if there would have been a timeframe between when an aircraft went missing to when it would have been recorded as struck off charge on form AM 78?
    eg. ET855 where Air Britain mentions this aircraft was lost "21"-3-1943 on an escort mission to Mareth.

    On the AM 78 it has SOC 22/3/43
    This doesn't seem correct to me

    Any thoughts

    Thanks

    Ash

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    This is just my take on your question. Where aircraft were lost operationally and not witnessed as a total loss, it could be assumed that after fuel ran out then in all probability it could be considered a write off. Confirmation of this would come from PoW and casualty reports some time after the event. When all this filtered through the paperwork channel surely it does not seem odd that a nominal one day after the loss date should be penned in for the write off date ?

    Ian

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    You would be well advised to leave a day - or so - between the event having probably happened and actually taking SOC action.
    Years ago we moved offices on an RAF Station. The Boss stood in doorway of the Old Office with the Inventories (RAF, Barrack Stores, Met Office, etc). His 2 i/c stood in the doorway of the New Office. Every item was Ticked Out, and Ticked In. Except we appeared to have 'lost' a Drawing Board. Loss Action was taken, Forms were filled in, and eventually the Drawing Board was SOC. Then we found the damn thing!!! You have absolutely no idea of the Forms, letters, phone calls, etc, etc, to get it TOC again!! And that was just for a small Drawing Board!! I would think that the problem with respect to an a/c would expand exponentially!!! The Scribblies and Bean Counters were a fearsome lot in Air Min in them days!!!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
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    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    From my experiences with RCAF records of the day (which would have been based on RAF practices) the time between physical loss of an aircraft and the formal "writing off" could range from a few hours to a few weeks. As Peter suggests, extra time would usually be allowed for a missing aircraft, to save the paperwork exercise of "un-striking" it if it became found at a later date.

    I have also seen mass "write offs" for aircraft scrapped or otherwise disposed off. The actual end of a batch of aircraft could extend over several weeks, with all of them being written off on the same date sometime after the physical destruction was completed. A bit of clerical efficiency I guess.

    Last comment: a lot of people (including me sometimes) use the phrases "written off" or "struck off" to describe an aircraft being destroyed, which is not strictly correct. In formal records the write off was a clerical or accounting function, and was a seperate event from the physical destruction. Think of it as the Powers That Be finally recognizing that the aircraft no longer existed.

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    Thanks for the replies

    Got the air 27 for that period and after looking at the previous dates and missions, most aircraft and pilots that had problems their return or crash were reported in the same paragraph so it now makes sense that an aircraft would be soc the next day if no reports came in.
    It just felt like they didnt give the pilot / aircraft much of a chance to return or show up.

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    It basically depends on whether the aircraft was lost on ops, or in the UK in a crash. If the former, the aircraft would not return, and in all cases I have come across the aircraft was SOC the following day, o9nce it had been confirmed that it had not landed away from home.

    If on a UK flight (transit, training, etc) then the SOC date would be pending an inspection. Once the aircraft was inspected it was given a damage category. If totally beyond repair it was given the appropriate category and SOC, which could be a couple of days.

    In the case of three particular Lancaster's I am fortunate in also having the logs of the team that broke them up. They were no longer required, Struck off charge and instructed to be broken up after which took another ten days or so.

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    Thought I should add my ten cents worth here, but being "struck off" did not mean or signify that the aircraft no longer existed as an "aircraft" (that is splattered all over the countryside in UK or Europe, or at the bottom of the sea); if military aircraft were sold for scrap metal reclamation, etc, with very little likelihood of ever flying again, then it would be struck off the books of the Air Ministry, even though still complete aircraft (or nearly so). I imagine that the Air Ministry itself did not actually indulge in the physical scrapping of unwanted aircraft itself - it would call for tenders or otherwise come to some arrangement with commercial enterprises to do the dirty work. Naturally anything of value to the Air Ministry (radar, weapons, even fuel remaining in the tanks) or considered too dangerous or secret to be handled by scap merchants was the responsibility of HM government to remove prior to handing over, either by an RAF unit, or a trusted commercial firm. Which reminds me of a strange story which appeared in newspapers in the UK about 1946 regarding the disposal of a large number of RAF Sunderlands. From memory it may have been anything from 50 to 150 aircraft involved, but the story was that these aircraft, valued as "originally worth XXXX pounds to the taxpayer" were being towed out by boats and sunk in the North Sea because the RAF considered them as "obsolete." This situation seemed to create quite an uproar about Government waste and inefficiency, and was considered a huge scandal, which of course was really what is known these days as a "beat-up". The aircraft when new obviously represented a massive investment by the taxpayer, but these were obsolete machines by this time (I have no records of which actual aircraft were represented but imagine most were the surviving Mk. Is (if any existed by then!), Mk.IIs and Mk.IIIs, all presumably in terrible to poor/fair condition, with most of the newer Mk/Vs reserved for postwar retention. However I cannot understand why they were towed out to sea for sinking when the large amount of aluminium incorporated in their structures should have resulted in at least some money going into Government coffers, whereas sinking them at sea would subtract from same. I think some feeble excuses were put forward by said government at the time, but they did not seem very convincing to me - perhaps the thought of all the paperwork involved in calling for tenders and possible delays in getting the aircraft off the government's hands quickly was the decider, or maybe the scrap alumunium market was suturated at the time. Any comments from Board members?
    David D

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    David is quite right about airworthy aircraft being struck off as well. I have seen lots of RCAF records of aircraft being struck off, then flown away by new owners, or even ferried to the new owners by RCAF crew after the strike off.

    Concerning the sinking of Sunderlands, it may simply reflect the glut on the scrap metal market that the end of the war produced. In Canada the selling of aircraft for scrap began in late 1944 with the draw down of the BCATP schools, and reached epic proportions after VJ day. I have seen a few cases of aircraft being struck off and transferred to civilian government agencies for sale, and then sitting in a field somewhere for several years before being dragged off to the wreckers, or scrapped on site. Piles of rag and tube Ansons were simply burnt and then buried on site by the government in the late 1940s, because nobody wanted to buy them.

    There are several stories from the era of the whole food chain of recycling industries that sprung up around these storage sites for a few years. One could buy several aircraft, then rent space and even mechanics from a local business and make one good airplane out of all the bits. You read of a person buying one good airframe, another aircraft or two for low time engines or tires, and a couple more because they had fuel left in the tanks. With a bit of work you then had one decent airplane with full tanks, plus a pile of parts. The parts could be sold again to a scrap metal dealer on site, or simply burnt (for wood and fabric parts), before you flew away in your new airplane.

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    All to do with Establishment of men and equpment.

    http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?12424-Establishment-Unit

    If the unit had a high damage rate of aircraft due to combat it's daily declaration of effective strength would rule how quickly an airframe was SOC.

    Each unit establisment dictated how many airframes and personnel were for IE (Intial Equipment) and IR (Immediate Reserve).

    Once an airframe was taken out of line for either repair or servicing the unit replaced it with an IR airframe. It was the duty of the unit commander to ensure that the IE was always the uinit effective combat strength.

    see Form G for Bomber Command on this thread
    http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?11862-Forms-Lettered

    An airframe which was still declared TOC could not be replaced from outside the unit unless it was SOC then another airframe could be supplied to make the unit back up to establishment.

    Hence no IR, all losses declared SOC as soon as possible, fuel and reporting permitting. The greater the flying hours, the more the need to remove aircraft for servicing and the greater the damage the quicker the need to get new airframes fron the Command reserve pools.

    A similar situation was imposed on personnel
    http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?12240-Form-449-Monthly-Return-of-Officers-and-Airman-Pilots

    Regards
    Ross
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