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Thread: ME59 (SCM Experimental Unit), Italy 1945?

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    Default ME59 (SCM Experimental Unit), Italy 1945?

    I've come across a reference in the 148 (SD) Squadron ORBs to 'ME59 (SCM Experimental Unit)' in Italy in early 1945. Anybody heard of it, or know what the initials stand for? The context is the effectiveness of parachutes used to drop supply containers, so I'm presuming it was something to do with equipment.

    Cheers, Pat.

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    Pat, Hi,
    38 Grp did a considerable amount of experimental work in UK in WW2 on dropping supply containers from low, medium, and high levels. You might get some help from their reports (if you can find them!).
    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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    Thanks Peter, hadn't considered a non-Med angle. There's a theme which runs through the some of the 148 ORBs about parachutes not opening (which appears in the end to have been because they weren't packed properly), and the problem was referred to ME59. Will keep digging.

    Cheers, Pat.

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    Pat, Hi,
    If you're concerned solely about parachute functionality, then you might have a look at the work of the Parachute Test Section/Flight at RAF Henlow. Their records might show if they were involved with the problem - and finding an answer!
    The accurate dropping of 'things' (be it bombs, paratroopers, or stores) from an aircraft has always been a problem. One usually knows where one wants the 'thing' to land. One can - nowadays - get the delivering aircraft into the correct position (in 4 dimensions). The difficulty has always been the bit in between!
    There are 3 main stages. One, the Forward Throw as the 'thing' leaves the aircraft. Two, the Deployment as the 'thing' assumes its ballistic attitude/position. Three, the Drop Phase where the 'thing' is ballistic PLUS the wind effect (MEDW - Mean Equivalent Drop Wind). Met forecast the MEDW - thus my involvement for a significant period of my career.
    If I remember correctly the 38 Grp trials of medium/high level container dropping (they used a radar at Wittering?, and I think the ground Unit(s) were on STANTA? - but the memory fades!) suffered from icing of the parachutes when dropped through some clouds. Certainly, the free-fall parachuting of Spec Forces - post-WW2 - suffered, on at least one occasion, from equipment/parachute failure due to icing when dropping through cloud.
    Normally, most of the Landing Errors in military parachuting (non-steerable 'chutes!) can be attributed to errors in the forecast MEDW. They were when I was involved with 16 Para Bde on SPPTA. Spent days collecting data - and weeks plotting/analysing it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    It was(IS!!!) difficult enough forecasting an accurate MEDW from 1200ft AGL down. In WW2 (when Upper Air meteorology was in its infancy) to try to forecast a MEDW from 20,000ft down was next to impossible - as my colleagues in the first incarnation of 38 Group found out!!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    PS Might ME59 have been Mech Eng 5.9 in Air Ministry??
    Last edited by Resmoroh; 18th December 2017 at 16:37. Reason: Has brilliant after-thought!!!
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    That's very interesting, thanks. I've never really given much consideration to the practicalities of parachute drops - I just assumed that if they opened, the 'thing' was delivered more-or-less below the point of release! In the case of 148 Sqdn, the majority of their drops were low-level (though not all, so MEDW would still be a relevant factor - I think the issue was with equipment functionality, however). There's a little more in the ORBs on the subject, I think, so will go back to them in case there's something useful lurking there.

    As to your brilliant afterthought, that looks plausible indeed. But to the ignorant (and that's definitely me here) it poses another question: what was Mech Eng 5.9?

    Cheers, Pat.

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    Pat, Hi,
    When I was dealing with various bits of Air Ministry, MoD(Air), and MoD, they were divided into a number of Branches. The Engineering Branch was divided into Elec Eng (Electrical Engineering) and Mech Eng (Mechanical Engineering). Elec Eng dealt with communications, etc, aspects (radios and radar, etc), and Mech Eng dealt with mechanical aspects. These Branches (there may well have been more Engineering Branches - memory fade!!) were further divided into sub-Branches which were numbered. Thus when I first read your 'ME59' it didn't, at first, ring any bells. But, later, I thought it might have been an Air Ministry branch of 'Mech Eng 59'! This branch may have consisted of a Sqn Ldr, a couple of Flt Lts, and a Flt Sgt, all crammed into one office. Their job (I am surmising!!) would have consisted of monitoring all matters connected with the mechanical operation of parachute equipment, harnesses, etc, and of providing their Wg Cdr 'boss' (in the next layer of command up) with expert technical advice if he had to write a paper changing the way some bit of parachute kit was operated. He might have had to organise a trial (with representatives of other Air Min Branches, and manufacturing industry) to see if a newly designed 'piece of kit' could be made to work cheaper/quicker/safer/more efficiently.
    That's a potted version of what an Air Min Staff Officer did! Some were good at it, and loved it. Some hated it and couldn't wait to get back to a flying Station!
    Thus, your 'ME59 (SCM Experimental Unit)' translated - for me(!!!) - as 'Mech Eng 59 (Supply Container Medium (or Medium-levels) Experimental Unit'. Just the sort of thing they used to do at Henlow!!
    Here endeth the lesson! (I shall now go and lie down in a dark, cool, room!!).
    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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    And what a lesson - thanks! That really does seem plausible, and given the complete blank I've drawn otherwise I suspect this is as far as I'll ever get. Really appreciate the help, and the insight you provide Peter.

    Cheers, Pat.

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