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Thread: Did flying boats use floating dock?

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    Default Did flying boats use floating dock?

    Floating dock AFD4 'Derfinger' was moored in the Gareloch, off Helensburgh, during WW11. I understand that the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment (RAF Helensburgh) used this dock to repair and modify large flying boats such as the Sunderland. Do any members have any record of MAEE using Derfinger?

    robin bird

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    Robin, Hi,

    You are talking about floating dock facilities for experimental/trials purposes?

    The SS Manella/Manela (both are Googleable!) was also a flying boat support ship and Ops centre (two Met Men were posted to her in Sullom Voe at the end of Aug 1939 - i.e. well before the outbreak of WW2).

    Also the MV Dumana (Google) was a flying boat support ship in the Med, although we have no record of any Met Men posted to her.

    HTH

    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Peter, thanks for the Manela feedback. MAEE may have used it as the vessel was moored in the Gareloch during May 5 1940. MAEE was setting up its Helensburgh-Rhu base then after moving from Felixstowe and may have used facilities aboard Manela. Bombs were dropped on her during her stay on the Gareloch but they missed. I know MAEE used a facility moored in the Gareloch off Rhu. It could have been Manela, Derfinger or both, the latter used as a repair facility.So waiting to hear from anyone aboard Manela in the Gareloch in April 1940!!!??? Infact anyone who served with MAEE/RAF Helensburgh.
    robin

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    Robin, Hi,

    One of the Met Men posted to SS Manela was William James (Jimmy) Grassick (LG under that name and Commissioned as 140344). Prob not Eng/Wales Reg (Poss Scotland?). The other was a Norman Mitchell Wilson (LG Commissioned under 132226, and still on the Voters Reg in N Ireland in 2011). Don't know if either of them is still with us. Don't know when/if they were posted away from the Manela.

    Best I can do

    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Both the RN and RAF possessed seaplane floating docks of prewar vintage (1920s). AFD4 was RN Pennant.

    The RAF ones were mostly named after ports eg Rangoon and used where slips were in short supply.

    This is an example of a RAF floating dock.
    http://www.photoship.co.uk/JAlbum%20...%20Dock-01.jpg

    I know that in the 1940s two of the RAF ones were located at Pembroke Dock and Gibraltar.

    The docks were part of the war equipment that was transferred to the "remote" war stations in Sept/Oct 1939 from their pre war southern locations.

    AFD4 was not suitable for Sunderlands as it did not have a large uncluttered flat stern area that could have the aircraft winched onto, being more suited to ship/submarine dry docking.

    http://www.tynebuiltships.co.uk/M-Ships/AFD44-1912.jpg

    Incidentally part of Manela still remains on RAF charge to this day in store at Stafford.

    http://www.rafaircraftaccidents.com/IMG_0060.JPG

    Ross
    Last edited by Ross_McNeill; 25th November 2015 at 17:52.
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    Ross, interesting about floating docks unable to take a Sunderland. E.H. Symonds said in his book Trial by Air and Sea that MAEE at Helensburgh used such a facility for repairs. Unfortunately he devotes little space to MAEE's time at Helensburgh in his book. It is MAEE's time at Helensburgh that interests me. The floating dock aspect was to dot the i and cross the t, so to speak. Symonds may have got confused with the flying boat ship but he seemed to know his subject. Thanks for the feedback, robin- researching the story of RAF Helensburgh MAEE 1939-45

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    Hi Robin,

    Got to be careful in defining what repairs were undertaken.

    On water maintenance was either on the upper airframe or from the water in bomb scows, pinnaces etc.

    The RAF floating dry docks could accept the hull of the airframe and lift it out of the water while the hull rested on blocks.

    The Admiralty Floating Dock could be used as a dry platform to work from say under a wing or tail while the hull remained afloat, moored alongside the stern.

    Both type of FD were essential for crainage in onwater engine/float replacements it would only differ where the airframe was located during the lift.

    So I would say smaller seaplanes could be drydocked by AFD4 but not the larger types such as Sunderland/Lerwick/Shetland/Catalina. However AFD4 could be used as a working platform and onwater lifting facility.

    Ross
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    Got it Ross. Floating dock could also have been used to fit secret modifications, too sensitive to be carried out at Rhu.
    Last edited by robin bird; 25th November 2015 at 20:40.

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    My father was a Flight Sergeant on board the Manela for most of 1941. An extensive article about him and his time in various Maintenance Units throughout the war will appear in the October edition of "Britain at War". The Manela and Dumala had flotation tanks on either side of the craft which were flooded to allow the plane to taxi on to the deck to be repaired/maintained. His story covers the sighting of the Bismark by a Short Sunderland of 210 Sqdrn which he maintained.

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    Hello Christopher, and Welcome.

    It was a No.209 Squadron Catalina (AH545), that first sighted the Bismarck. No.210 Squadron was also operating Catalinas at this time.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 13th June 2016 at 16:04.

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