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Thread: Fairey Battle Balloon Barrage RAE Trials Exeter crash?

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    Default Fairey Battle Balloon Barrage RAE Trials Exeter crash?

    In Britain at War magazine this month there is an article on Barrage Balloons and mentions RAE trials at Exeter. It says a Fairey Battle crashed during trials after deliberaty flying into barrage balloon and at least 1 crewman died. Can anyone suggest a date, serial and crew for this?

    Thanks Paul

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    It doesn't answer your question per se, and the information may have been in the article you mention anyway, but scroll down to "Experimental Detachments" at the link below and there's a bit of background information on the relocation of certain elements of the RAE to Exeter.

    http://www.exeter-airport.co.uk/airport-war-years

    Greg
    "You can take the boy out of Wales,
    But you can't take Wales out of the boy!!"

    Greg Harrison
    100 Squadron and 100 Squadron Association Historian
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    1 Group Researcher 1940 - 1945

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    Paul, on a hunch, I checked some old files and found a serial (I used to live in Exeter and had done some research 20-odd years ago on the units that were there in the war) which might be useful: -

    K7591

    Reference to the Air-Britain Serials register K1000 to K9999, page 62, shows it as being "damaged in experiments with kite balloons at Exeter and SOC 9-11-39". Nothing more than that I'm afraid, and the SOC date wasn't necessarily the date of the accident, but perhaps someone else can add a bit now that there's a serial for you. I do have a set of Battle F1180s on microfilm for 1939, but Pete Tres has got them at the moment for his 35 Squadron researches. You could always ask him to have a look on the films for you when he's next at his local library using their viewer :)

    L/O

    Greg
    "You can take the boy out of Wales,
    But you can't take Wales out of the boy!!"

    Greg Harrison
    100 Squadron and 100 Squadron Association Historian
    100 Squadron Researcher 1917 - present day
    1 Group Researcher 1940 - 1945

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    Hello,

    The only death l know of associated with these trials, was a civilian test observer, Richard Olley Tipple. Tipple was aboard RAE Battle I K9223 which crashed near Bridgwater, Somerset, on 1st October, 1940. The pilot of Battle K9223, which became uncontrollable during aerial mine tests after a tail chute accidentally released, was 24058 S/L Cyril Henry Arthur COLMAN RAF (ex-RAAF), who baled out of the stricken aircraft, and survived (not killed, as in some refs).

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 4th October 2014 at 09:09.

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    Perhaps the following from "UK Flight Testing Accidents 1940-71" by Derek Collier-Webb might help.

    27 August 1940 Battle K7558. Research Dev Flt RAE Farnborough detached to Exeter for balloon cable cutting trials. Engine failure Cat 5. Sqn Ldr Colman (as above) Sub Lt K A Harwood RN and Dr F C Chalklin all safe

    There is a detailed description of the accident to K9223 on 1 Oct 40 and confirmation that Mr Tipple's escape was prejudiced by fouling of the release cable.

    Colin Cummings

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    All the article must refer to K9223 on 1 oct 1940 I will return to this with my thoughts next week but many thanks to all who supplied I info

    Paul

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    Hello Paul

    You might find One of the Few by Gp. Capt J. A. Kent (Johnny Kent) useful who also refers to working with Clouston, see also The Dangerous Skies by Air Commodore A. E. Clouston.

    The company called Washington Singer apparently based at Exeter University were also involved in this research work according to a file at TNA, apparently they had a fire at the university in WW2 and most of their files were apparently destroyed.

    Let me know if you find any Washington Singer stuff for 1940 re friendly collisions, as they also had reports of RAF friendlies brought down, copied to them apparently, hence my interest. Exeter university claimed to have no files when I contacted them a few years back.

    But there were some bale outs apparently, of pilots who managed to get free of the aircraft. They used many types of aircraft.

    Might be worth contacting the Barrage Balloon Reunion Club also, who have a web page.

    Regards Mark
    Last edited by Mark Hood; 8th October 2014 at 12:10.

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    All thanks again for sorting this out

    I believe I have details of at least another one of these incidents


    Battle: K7591 Reference to the Air-Britain Serials register K1000 to K9999, page 62, shows it as being "damaged in experiments with kite balloons at Exeter and SOC 9-11-39".

    This probably refers to ones of these two incidents involving John Alexander Kent


    Ether

    One day a cable wrapped around the elevator and the tail plane and on pushing the control column forward to go down it was jammed. Using all his strength he managed to move the column just an inch or two and he gained some control over the aircraft as it descended toward the aerodrome. The bomber crash landed onto the runway.

    Or

    On another occasion he carried a cable weighing several tons wedged into the wing of his aircraft. This sudden weight change would have sent most bombers to the ground as indeed, this was the intention of the balloon cable. He maintained control and got ready for a landing. He was losing height due to the large drag factor of the cable and as he came into land the dangling cable caught around some high tension electricity wires. The bomber slewed around on one wing and stalled. Sqdn Ldr Kent opened the throttle wide open and using full power managed to pull the bomber around and level. As he did this the aircraft fell onto the runway but the cable became detached from the high tension electricity wires. If this had not happened he would have gone up in flames on landing. He went on to become a highly decorated war ace. Without his expertise, daring and bravery the value of barrage balloons could never have been properly evaluated.


    The Britain At War magazine article says "Johnny Kent carried out the first collision there (Exeter) on 26 Sept against a steel cable at 180 mph. The cable cut into the wing and jammed, forcing him to land at Exeter with 500 ft of the wire in tow." It could on course be referring to either incidents above and Battle: K7591. But I feel confident that Johnny Kent was flying when the incident to Battle: K7591 occurred

    Update: Air Britain Battle File has K7591 'Damaged in balloon cable experiments, Exeter 11.11.39 and SOC 28.1.40, so based on that I assume the two incidents to Kent happened 26.9.39 and 11.11.39 . Though of course in such dangerous business he could have had multiple incidents
    Last edited by paulmcmillan; 13th October 2014 at 11:59.

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    Britain At War has the following

    "Kent was lucky, but some time after he left RAE for operational flying a Fairey Battle crashed after losing a wing to a deliberate cable strike. Both occupants baled out, but was killed when his parachute caught on the tail" - I feel this can only refer to the Colman/Tipple incident to K9223 on 1 Oct 1940, but the details do not match

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