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Thread: picking up messages by hook

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    Default picking up messages by hook

    Gents
    This method, developed during WWI (or earlier) remained in use up to the end of 1930s, but when it was finally abandoned?
    TIA
    Franek
    https://www.facebook.com/Franciszek-Grabowski-241360809684411/

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    Franek, Hi,
    It was definitely used at RAF Stanley in either late 1982, or early 1983.
    The short runway at Stanley Civil Airport had to be torn up to allow the longer/stronger runway (and ancillary equipments) to be built for RAF Stanley.
    During this time v urgent mail from Stanley to UK was picked up "on the hook" by a C-130 from Ascension. It then flew back to Ascension! Lots of AAR!!! Lots of stories how some crews deliberately slowed down when nearly back at Ascension to try to capture the record for the longest time airborne for a C-130!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
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    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    The hook system was used extensively in the China-Burma-India theatre during WW2 by the C-47 squadrons. The mail/message pick-ups were more dangerous than they appeared as the target was attached to a line strung up on a clothes-line-style set of poles and the C-47 passed a few feet above with a hook dangling from the side cargo door. It required training as the danger of fouling the stabilisers was always present and they also could pick up modestly sized cargo, usually a well secured duffel bag, which increased the risk of line failure. The heavy duty version of the gear was attached to the rear of the aircraft and used when they 'snatched' Waco gliders from the ground to evacuate troops and casualties. I understand the system worked very well but when gliders were snatched it was a pretty wild ride and not popular with the occupants.

    Bruce
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    Hmm, I did not expect such answer. Of course, I know of picking up gliders, and later development into Fulton System. When message picking up was discontinued in ETO & MTO then? Did AOP aircraft do that or were they relying on W/T?
    https://www.facebook.com/Franciszek-Grabowski-241360809684411/

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    I do not know anything about the use of the C-47 system in the ETO or MTO, perhaps someone else does? I know the training for both pick up and glider towing/snatching was carried out at the same time and place in the US before the squadrons were sent overseas.

    I believe that SOE and OSS agents in occupied territory of ETO used a 'pick up' system of some type but can't point to the source.
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    Franek (et al),
    The technicalities of the RAF Stanley system must have been the same as WW2, etc?
    From https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/opera...d-raf-stanley/
    In this period [the runway closure], the Hercules maintained a regular service to airdrop supplies and also to collect mail, using the snatch method developed at short notice during June/July at the Joint Air Transport Establishment based at Brize Norton. The equipment in the aircraft comprises a grappling hook trailed on 150 ft (45,6 m) of nylon rope, and a pair of powered winches used to wind the rope, hook and mail bag back onto the aircraft after the snatch. Ground equipment comprises two poles 22 ft (6,7 m) tall and 50 ft (15,2 m) apart, with a loop of nylon rope slung between and the mail bag (up to 100 lb/45 kg in weight) attached to this loop by another 150 ft (45.6 m) length of rope. The poles are set up so that the rope between is at right angles to the wind, and DZ (Drop Zone) markers are set up at 300 ft (91 m) and 600 ft (183 m) distance on the approach. Trailing the grappling hook, the Hercules flies at 50 ft (15.2 in) above ground level to snatch the bag. About 30 snatches were made in this way before sufficient length of runway was again available at Port Stanley,

    Incidentally, the entire article is worth a read. I can vouch for the veracity of the bits that are described when I was there (including the behaviour of some of the PoWs, which was kept out of the UK media).
    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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    RAF Army Co-operation squadrons practised message pickups in the early years of the war and they had a manual which included ground signals for message pickup. This was Air Publication 1632 - RAF Signal Manual Part V - Ground Signal Codes (TNA has one updated to December 1942). There must have been an Army Co-op manual as well. The ground signals were two strips of white fabric panels 8ft 6in by 1ft 4in and a number of circular panels 1ft 4in in diameter. They would have been laid out in a T shape and the circles placed in different points around the T to give a different message. I have seen a number of photos of wartime message pickups and a quick look at Flight Archive showed on example in the desert at the bottom of the page in this link.

    https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarch...0-%200836.html

    https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarch...0-%201512.html

    What happened later in the war I don't know but I suspect the ground signals became less useful when the Lysander was replaced by the Mustang. I also suspect that VHF radio and ALO's had largely replaced most of the message requirement but there must have been a requirement in the Middle East and Far East where radio comms were not as reliable or available and in some cases too risky.

    Not really connected but my mind was drawn to a film (The Green Berets?) during the Vietnam war era of a human pickup by a C-130 of the aerospace recovery type. Fiction?
    Last edited by PNK; 8th April 2018 at 17:11. Reason: Another link

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    No
    MC-130E using the Fulton System was used to rescue downed pilots (they had a helium/hydrogen cyl in their survival kit to inflate a balloon to carry the nylon rope aloft), "Spook", or Hooligan, agents could also be recovered using this system. I gather that the actual lift was quite exciting!!!
    I have to admit that if I was rostered for a 'pick-up mission' I would far rather do it in something with a bit of mass in the air (Herc, etc). I have this mental picture of a Lysander, or AOP 9, attempting a pick-up, and the load snagging the ground and pulling the a/c out of the sky!!!!!! V early arrester gear?!!!!
    Peter Davies
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    One of the Bond films (Thunderball?) had a C-130 'passenger' exraction. The system used for this type of pick up was a set of arms folded along the side of the fuselage until needed and then extended forward in front of the radome. The 'V' formed was then aimed at the cable dangling from a balloon with a 'passenger' attached to the lower end. When the pilot threaded the needle hit the cable with the V the passenger was yanked upwards, the cable was hooked by another gizmo from below the airplane and hauled upwards where a couple of rollers directed the cable upwards to the open cargo ramp. The passenger was then reeled into the cargo bay. Not my idea of fun.
    Last edited by bruce dennis; 8th April 2018 at 17:19. Reason: Peter: posted before I saw your comment
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    And going the other way!
    When I was in 38 Grp, some Recce Sqn (from Coltishall) would go and do their recce(s). The camera film was then automatically re-wound on to a spool. This was attached to a parachute. The a/c flew near/over 'HQ 38 Grp In The Field' and dropped the canister on the parachute. It was retrieved and processed in ATREL (Air Transportable R? Exploitation(?) Laboratory(?)). Mins (or hours!) later wet-printed photo-pix of 'The Battlefield' would be available to the Commanders. Well, that was the theory. I don't know if it really worked on Exercise, let alone Operation(s)?
    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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