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Thread: Accident cause "swung on take off"

  1. #1
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    Default Accident cause "swung on take off"

    Hi all,

    I would like to open discussion on cause I have found several times in Flying Accident Cards as "swung on take off".
    In most cases the pilot has been blamed by the Court of inquiry but from my point of view there might be different factors causing such an accident. Were they taken into account? Or when the aircraft has been destroyed fully by fire and pilot killed, it was just the simplest solution to blame the pilot?

    I would be glad for any opinions and any technical causes which may be contributing factors like:
    - tyre puncture/burst
    - engine failure (twin-engine aircraft)
    - were there any types with the RAF (twin or four-engine) which had a habit to yaw for example when the tail wheel left the ground?
    - ...

    TIA

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    Hi Pavel,

    I believe the Lancaster had a tendency to swing to port on take-off, which the pilot had to correct by using some right rudder. As I recall from talking to my Grandfather a few years ago, this swing was due to the torque produced by the engines. I'm assuming the same was true of other aircraft types too?

    Hope that helps, very best wishes,

    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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    Hi Pavel,

    Main problem for multi-engine aircraft of the time was the torque effect of two or four airscrews at 3,000 rpm when the aircraft is scarcely moving and the controls are unresponsive. Dealing with 'swing' formed a part of the training at OTU and HCU. Thereafter, if a pilot wrecked an aircraft he was held responsible if he hadn't followed the correct drills - commensurately, he was okay if he had. The main teaching was not to let a swing develop - i.e., if it feels like the aircraft is turning, shut the power down. Pilots we told it was okay to have to taxi off the runway to the back of the queue - not sure how pleased the flying control organisation would have been in reality!

    Some references:

    Tee Emm, November 1943: ‘Fit your pedals, Sir?’ – ‘When heavy four-engined aircraft are taking off there is frequently a tendency to swing over to one side owing to the torque effect of the four propellers. The pilot starts at once to correct with coarse opposite rudder, and very often fails or else over-compensates and fails to correct the error as he discovers that his rudder pedals are not properly adjusted.

    One Bomber Group has, therefore, issued an order prohibiting fixed pedals – all pedals are to be left capable of normal adjustment. In addition, it has laid down that on the daily and between flight inspections the rudder pedals are to be moved to the maximum adjustment towards the pilot. Special certificates that this has been done have to be inserted into the F700, the inspection being classed as a special supernumerary, and the pilot has to add the following to his cockpit drill prior to take-off: ‘Adjust rudder pedals to suit length of leg and ensure they are adjusted evenly: also, see that full rudder to port and starboard can be applied from a normal sitting position.’ All but the shortest pilots must, therefore, take a positive action to set the rudder pedals to the appropriate position. Worth trying?’
    1 Group Summary, March 1944: Swings and Burst Tyres: Far too many accidents still occur as a result of swinging on take-off and landing in a cross wind. All concerned must take care in opening the throttles, doing so very gradually. If a swing develops in the initial stages of take-off it is better to throttle back immediately and taxi round for another go rather than to attempt violent corrective action. There is only one method of cross-wind landing and that is laid down in A.P.1732 Ch. 20. Most burst tyres are the result of landing with uncorrected drift.
    [...]
    Log Book Endorsements: 6 in total, with a further 2 still possible pending final recommendations. Taxying, uncontrolled swing and forgetting to lower the undercarriage on landing all feature.
    I have on file (photo only) the minutes from a 'Swinging Conference' held at Waddington in September 1943. Associated correspondence refers to specially strengthened Halifaxes at HCUs, for instructors to demonstrate the correct way to avoid a swing, the correct way to deal with a swing and, 'at slower speed than normal', the wrong way to deal with a swing. It isn't clear whether these training airframes existed or were just an aspiration. Group Summaries and accident reports are littered with references to accidents due to take-off swings - it was clearly a major concern and one where the authorities tended to blame the pilots, as they had been reasonably well prepared to avoid or deal with the problem.

    Hope this helps,

    Richard
    Last edited by Richard; 1st February 2018 at 10:28.

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    The Stirling was known, and disliked, for swing on takeoff:

    "The Short Stirling had particularly challenging flying characteristics on takeoff and landing, even in comparison with other tail-wheeled contemporaries. After a series of serious accidents and total aircraft losses involving uncontrolled ground loops on takeoff, the Royal Air Force implemented a special training and certification program for all prospective Stirling pilots. Proper takeoff technique involved feeding in right engine throttle during the initial 20 seconds of the takeoff run until the rudder became effective for control. If all four throttles were advanced simultaneously, the aircraft would swing to the right, become uncontrollable and often collapse the landing gear which could be disastrous if the aircraft was loaded with bombs and fuel." (Wiki, citing Pederson 1997 Thousands Shall Fall).

    Cheers, Pat.

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    Many thanks to all for your comments and very interesting information - quite interesting how frequent the problem was.
    Anyone has similar information for twin-engines like Wellingtons, Beauforts, Beaufighters, Mosquitoes?

    TIA

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    Pavel,
    And then, of course, the Met Men come along and give you a cross-wind! It might have been with the swing - making life even more difficult! Or against the swing - making life a little easier. In my early days in the Met Office there were very strict limits (for cross-winds) on the take-offs (and landings) of propeller a/c (I only worked with Lincolns). And I suspect there might have been quite a few white-faced and shaken Test Pilots (and a few 'bent' a/c) while they were working out the limits? I was privileged to have witnessed some extreme aircraft handling skills in the early days of the Falklands Unpleasantness in very strong 90-deg across cross-winds.
    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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    Not just twin and multi-engined types but single-engined aircraft too. Particularly a problem when changing types : the Merlin notoriously rotated the "wrong way" so converting was always difficult especially to aircraft with lots of power (eg Typhoon) which were well-known "swingers". Aircraft were usually built with some asymmetry in the structure: usually an offset or aerofoil section fin but differentially rigged wings or even different span wings were used. Not so long ago (ok, maybe quite a while ago now) one of MBB's rebuilt Bf109s was lost to a swing, because the company had failed to note that Hispano had re-engineered the Buchon to cope with the Merlin.

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    H i Pavel
    Towards the end of the war there were versions of the Mosquito that had engines that rotated in opposite directions to minimise the torque effect, and I believe that the DH Hornet fighter derived from the Mosquito had such fitting as standard. Post war .look at the Shackleton which had 4 Griffons of about 1900 HP but used contra-rotating propellers. And all this is before we consider the possible effect on a heavy a/c on a marginal runway where one of the engines "coughed" on take off!
    Regards
    Dick

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    Many thanks to all for additional info.

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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