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Thread: Trans-Atlantic ferry flights 1941-1944

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    Default Trans-Atlantic ferry flights 1941-1944

    I'd be grateful for any advice as to the altitude(s) at which aircraft flew direct from Canada/Newfoundland - UK between 1941 and 1944. I'm guessing that most were below 18000 ft initially (10-15000 ft?), but later on this became 18000 - 24000 ft - but I appreciate this depends very much on the aircraft type. I'm trying to get my head around the amount of information made available to meteorological services via debriefs.

    From a meteorological standpoint I'm very much in the dark on this as (a) very few such reports appear on Met Office (and Pentagon) upper air charts and (b) the topic is basically ignored in met history (why am I not surprised?).

    My query refers only to ferry flights, not routine met reconnaissance sorties.

    Brian

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    The few accident reports I have for tran-Atlantic flights don't seem to give definite altitudes, I thought a couple of reports gave altitudes as pressures but these were sea level pressure settings for sections of the journey, the headings were very faint and the in/Hg converted to between 990 and just over 1000mb. There is reference to a minimum safe height for approaching the UK coast (off Scotland) as 5,000ft if that helps (these were USAAF reports).
    Alan Clark

    Peak District Air Accident Research

    http://www.peakdistrictaircrashes.co.uk/

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    Thank you, Alan, but I think the 5000 ft just refers to he let-down stage of a flight. I have at the back of my mind that Hudsons crossed at 10000-12000 ft (but I don't know where that came from), while the B-17s and B-24s tended to fly at 24000 ft; and Mosquitoes at 30000 ft. But that's really just guessing and I don't know where to look.

    Brian

    Edit. Just found one reference to a B-24 crossing at 20000 ft on a ferry flight (http://www.aircrew-saltire.org/lib120.htm).
    Last edited by Lyffe; 11th July 2015 at 22:27.

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    Although it does not mention specific altitudes, from M.J. Hardy's book "The de Havilland Mosquito" it seems the Canadian built Mosquitos were flown quite high. The aircraft must have been into the jet stream on occasion, as several flights from Newfoundland to Prestwick averaged well over 300 mph. One flight mentioned a 70 mph tail wind. A good met man may be able to infer altitude from that. ;)

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    Brian,

    Not sure if this helps. I reviewed my accident reports and Missing Air Crew Reports for USAAF B-24s and B-17s being ferried overseas from Goose Bay and Gander for the years 1943 and 1944. The a/c clearance forms cite flight altitude. Some a/c went direct Goose to the U.K., while others stopped en route in Iceland. Some a/c went direct Gander to U.K. and some Gander to the Azores. I saw no altitude over 13,000. One was at 5,000, but I think that was the exception. The altitudes vary, but all range between 7,000-13,000.

    Darrell

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    Thank you Bill and Darrell. It seems, as I rather suspected in the first place, that I will have to accept there is no simple answer. From the summer of 1943 the Met Office was routinely drawing charts for 10000 and 18000 ft, which by and large is reasonably consistent with everyone's collective advice as being the upper and lower limits between which the crossing was flown.

    I'm not sure where to find a good met man, Bill, but I'll keep looking.

    The relatively low level the USAAF aircraft were flying comes as a bit of a surprise, Darrell, although I was aware a C-54a was used for regular met reconnaissance flights at 8000-9000 ft from Newfoundland to the UK and return. I know of one instance where a 1402 Met Flight Gladiator making an ascent over Aldergrove popped out of cloud at 23000 ft and found a couple of B-17s circling at 25000-26000 ft, totally lost and wondering what to do - which is why I assumed the types crossed at higher levels. (For the record the British and American radios were incompatible, so the Gladiator first led one B-17 down though the cloud to Nutts Corner, then returned to collect the other.)

    Brian

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    If there is an answer, it might be buried somewhere in AIR 38, probably appended to a report.

    I have had a look through more USAAF accident reports for aircraft ferrying via Iceland (in both directions) from 1943 to 1945 and the five I have found altitudes for vary from 8 to 15,000ft. The two aircraft flying at 8,000ft were B-24s which were carrying passengers.
    Alan Clark

    Peak District Air Accident Research

    http://www.peakdistrictaircrashes.co.uk/

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    Thank you for the AIR 38 heads-up, Alan. You've also reminded me that some aircraft were limited in respect of altitude by the fact they were carrying passengers.

    Brian

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    Brian,

    Not sure if the archivist at the Canadian Met Society can help.

    http://cmosarchives.ca/

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    I guess they just flew on an optimal altitude for the type flown, of course depending on weather. There should be an instruction or manual for the ferry crews, anyway, showing routes, etc.

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