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Thread: Identification via Serials

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    Default Identification via Serials

    Hi all,

    can anybody tell me, whether Coffman starters used in Spitfires or Typhoons had their own serial numbers? And if so, where were they attached or applied?

    Is there a chance to identify a plane with that?

    TIA

    Robert

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    Robert,
    I could not really say whether aircraft engine starters had individual serial numbers or not, but probably they did - they would also have a model number and each component of it may well have possessed a part number (for catalogue or re-ordering purposes), although this may not have been physically present . However whether a record card was maintained for each starter motor is a moot point. As starters only had to start the engine, and thereafter had no further use until the next flight under normal circumstances, it had questionable effect on the airworthiness of the aircraft once airborne, so perhaps no record card was maintained. If it failed to start the engine and was therefore deemed ready for a good clean out and general recondition, it could be removed and replaced by another starter from stock. A record of modifications could still be stamped on a special plate attached to the unit. Components requiring periodic inspections would require a record card of some kind, with the component's serial number used as the identity. This would include the main airframe of an aircraft (which would include all the major airframe components which would have their own identification numbers, although not necessarilly be subject to record cards of their own), the engine(s), propeller(s), radios and radar, and other equipment requiring periodic servicing, such as oxygen sets, flying suits, parachutes, mae wests, etc. Things like wheels and tyres may or may not have had individual numbers, depending on whether they were likely to cause trouble, although these were probably fairly easy to assess by external visual inspection. Highly stressed items that were subject to fatigue (and were difficult/impossible to easy access for visual inspection) may well have been subject to record card protocol.
    David D
    Last edited by David Duxbury; 19th April 2014 at 23:56.

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    Hello

    I have two Coffman starters, both from Spitfire IIs, but only one still has its identification plate. It reads :
    ENGINE STARTER TYPE NO. L4 SERIAL NO. 1347
    MFRS. ASSY. DWG. No. CK618 377F A(crown)M
    MFD. UNDER COFFMAN U.S. PATS. 1776228.1946309.2005913
    & OTHER U.S. & FOREIGN PATS. & PATS. PENDING
    THE PLESSEY CO. LTD. ILFORD

    So they had their own serial number.

    Now, to link a specific Coffman starter to a specific engine is another point... Many records were kept at the time, and as these were explosion starters, I think they were subjected to specific checks, for cracks, etc... It's probable that the serial number of the engine on which they were fitted, at least in factory line, was also recorded. The fact is that many documents were destroyed after the war, once they didn't have any technical importance.
    I don't know if the Plessey company still exists, but you may try this track.

    Hope this helps

    Joss

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    Hi again,

    thank you both for your help. Not long ago, there was a report at German TV about someone working on the identification of pilots. He mentioned the chance of identifying a machine by the serial of part.

    Joss, where on the starter should the plate be attached? The device is severly covered with corrosion, and I don´t want to treat the complete thing with a hammer.

    Best whishes

    Robert

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    Hello

    I'm very doubtful about the possibility to achieve this kind of identification, through the serial number of an accessory such a starter. I've seen many case of engines number which couldn't be linked to a specific airframe, due to the change of engine during the aircraft's lifespan.

    It's difficult to explain, but the small ID plate is attached to the bottom of the stainless steel part of starter. On this link, http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/z/600984/875 scroll down to the drawing of the Coffman starter. The plate is between the "starter jaws" and the "starter" itself, on the upper left part of the page.

    You can see it on the 2 pictures on this page : http://www.pprune.org/aviation-histo...n-starter.html

    Hope this helps.

    Joss

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    Yes! Yes! Yes!

    Thank you very much. This is it! The plate is still there. I hope I can clean it enough to make it readable. I will do that on the weekend.

    Greetings

    Robert

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    Once more: thanks for your help! Now I can show you the result:
    This is the plate

    the starter looks like that


    So this is at least a slight chance for me to continue.

    Greetings

    Robert

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