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    Default Parachute and Dinghy Drill

    I was hoping someone could provide some details about what was involved in dinghy and parachute drill for Bomber Command aircrew circa 1944?
    My Dad's logbook lists places like Ripon for dingy drill - my understanding is that there was a big pool or pond there , and aircrew would jump in wearing full flying kit and climb into a dinghy?
    But what about dry land dinghy drill?
    And parachute drill? I know aircrew didn't actually practice real parachute jumps, so what did the training involve? Practising exiting a bomber on the ground, or.....?
    Many thanks in advance for any info, links etc !
    Cheers, Clint

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    Clint,
    Last time I did my dinghy drill was when I was doing a lot of offshore gas/oil platform inspections. Full survival suit, jump off 10 metre diving board into the Royal Navy’s swimming pool at HMS Temeraire, inflate one-man dinghy, get in it, bail out, and put cover/hood up. Sounds like not much has changed since 1944?
    That was followed by The Dunker!! You don’t want to know the details, but RN CPOs loved having a junior RAF Officer to “play” with!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
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    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    I would say that dry dinghy drill was the poor cousin of the real thing, just pretending you were in the sea, although you could go through the general motions and understand generally what were the important things to do, and the order they were to be undertaken (and have reasons explained for that). "Wet" dinghy drill was as you state, although still somewhat removed from the ocean swell and waves that could be encountered at sea, but getting into the dinghy was apparently the hardest part. I have also seen photographs of a group of aircrew sitting in a dinghy on the ocean although the latter was suspiciously calm at the time, and modern dinghy drill is often much more rigorous than the wartime drills, including being left in a dinghy some distance from land to get a feel for real life on the ocean, although they were placed there by a launch for convenience rather than jumping from an actual aircraft. "Parachute drill" I would hesitate to comment on, although I remember seeing photographs of people hanging in their harnesses in a hangar to get an idea of the real thing. Learning the drill again would probably be high on the list of things to remember.
    David D

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    For a multi crew a/c drill in a pool or at sea because there was no guarantee that a Dinghy would emerge from it's housing the right way up so on a drill they were thrown in upside down and the first objective was to get it right side up, then climb in. In a 10 man dinghy it "should" emerge from it's housing already almost fully inflated and in a lifejacket it was not easy to climb in as the inflated sides were quite high.
    Peters "dunk" sounds like the technique for getting the 1st man in by pushing him under the water and then releasing him so he bobbed backed back to the surface and using the inertia and timing of a push in the backside to get him over the rim of the dinghy, he could then help the others in. You could get on an uninflated single man dinghy by swimming onto it and then inflating it by a CO2 bottle or your own breath in extremis, even inflated it sat quite low in the water
    Regards
    Dick
    Last edited by Dick; 22nd May 2019 at 11:18.

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    Dick,
    You are right for getting aboard a one-man dinghy. You swam into/on to it. It sat quite low in the water. You then had to revolve yourself through 180 degs so that you get yourself sorted out in a sitting position. This could be tricky as there were cords/ropes/bailers everywhere – and if you weren’t careful you ended up sitting in a semi-submerged dinghy trussed up like an xmas chicken!! Or – when I did mine did the RN CPO Safety Divers make mine do it just for a laugh?
    The Dunker was nothing to do with dinghy drill. That was the pseudo Wessex helicopter cabin you sat in. It was then dropped into the tank, turned upside down (as they do when dropped in the oggin!), and the lights turned out. You had to get out just by ‘feel’ – the Safety Divers made sure you didn’t cheat (or drown!). After 4, or 5, of those (clipped in to different cabin seats, and swallowing a vast amount of water) the CPOs announced that I had passed. And then said “The heads are over there – can we have some of our water back please!!!!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
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    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Thanks fellows, for your info and personal anecdotes! Dinghy training must have been quite the experience.
    I was hoping to find something in the National Archives about parachute training for aircrew, and did come up with AIR 10/3773, but it has not been digitised for download :(

    I am thinking that training at an operational squadron or OTU would likely consist of jumping off a platform to simulate/practice landing, and perhaps mock bail out drills (clipping on 'chute, making one's way to the exit and jumping out...) in a stationary aircraft on the ground.
    Anyone have any thoughts?
    Cheers, Clint

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    Hi Clint,

    Wartime Dinghy Drills here. There's a 1948 publication (AP204) which covers all emergency drills for the Lancaster and Lincoln - I can email if you PM me. There are also Tee Emm articles covering emergency drills from various angles. Extract below is from Feb 44:

    Baling out on ops

    [Account by a Lancaster pilot shot down on Dusseldorf, but evaded capture – ‘back in England after three months, not caring to stay in Germany because he doesn’t really like Germans.] ‘Baling out on ops really starts months before you do it, for every operational crew should practise parachute drill good and hard and often, while safely parked in their own aircraft at dispersal. Know where your parachute is stowed… Memorise your route and any stumbling blocks on the way to the exit…

    The best way to have this kind of thing taped is to have each member of the crew in his allotted station in daylight, complete with full flying clothing and with parachute packs correctly stowed. The captain, after explaining what the form is, next takes his own position with all flying controls unlocked. The intercom should be switched on.

    The captain then calls up ‘Practise, repeat practise, jump jump!’ So that he may know that every man has had his order, it must be acknowledged verbally by each member of the crew starting up front with the air bomber and working by station to the rear gunner at the back. After acknowledging, each man should grab his chute and slip it on, first removing his helmet, intercom lead (snags anything and everything, otherwise!) and oxygen apparatus.

    Parachute harness must fit correctly – on ops, with your escape kit and other things stuffed in your Irving jacket and your Mae West on top, your harness will probably be too tight. Have it properly fitted by the parachute section and always remember to check the release pins of your parachute pack.

    After the crew has got used to this practise in daytime, try it at night so you get used to it without searchlights, flak or fighters to worry you. If one particular member of the crew has difficulties in extricating himself and getting his ‘chute on, let him have several practices of his own whilst you time him. Incidentally, frequent practise ensures that emergency exits work correctly.

    As it takes a few seconds to prepare, it’s essential that warning be given before the executive order ‘Jump! Jump!’, such as, ‘Captain calling, Captain calling, prepare to bale out!’ When crew members acknowledge the executive order to jump, it should mean that they have their ‘chute on and that are ready to move to their escape hatch.

    The Air Bomber, after acknowledging the executive order, should pull up the front hatch and fall out headfirst as if doing an ordinary forward roll in the gym. This way, the slipstream hits him in the back when he is better able to withstand it and the chance of his hitting his head on the hatch surround is much reduced. Exiting feet first often leads to a bang on the head and an unconscious man fails to get the full benefit of his parachute. The rest of the crew follow in appropriate order – the rear door is used only if absolutely necessary, being more dangerous.

    Use the cockpit lights if they are still working – the extra light doesn’t matter if you’re already committed to abandoning. If they are not working, someone at the rear of the crew should train a torch on the escape hatch for those going ahead.

    Once out, if you’re sure of your altitude, delay pulling your ripcord for the full count of five seconds to allow time to slow down. Your Nav should give you altitude and approximate position after the warning order if there’s time.

    Every skipper knows it’s his job to hold the aircraft level while his crew escapes. He may easily have an engine out, in which case his aircraft will be aerodynamically unbalanced. While flying he probably won’t notice this as he can always use his trimming tabs anyway. When it’s his turn to follow, however, he’ll find his aircraft won’t fly straight and level without him. In this case, use George if you have him spinning. If not, try throttling back a good engine on the other side to see if that evens up the drag. Then try and trim your aircraft into a gentle glide, so that you can leave the stick without the aircraft trying to do a neat diving turn of its own while you are trying to get out. There’s no future in that.

    For aircraft with the throttle and pitch controls in the centre of the cockpit, lower your seat and put all pitch controls to fairly coarse. That will greatly aid the exit for your feet.

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    Hello !

    I think that there are some photos of dinghy Drill in the books "Lancaster at War " . Some vétérans told me that it was a "funny time" during their training …

    Alain .

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    There was parachute and dingy drill that was carried out in the A/C and then there was dinghy practice that was carried out in the pool. Dad recorded in his audio memoirs that he and his crew carried out parachute and dinghy drill daily when they were not on ops, much to the displeasure off the rest of the crew. According to my dad’s navigator, quite recently, it resulted in one heated argument between dad and his bomb aimer.

    I have a PDF of a type-written manuscript of parachute and dinghy drill in dad’s papers.

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    ClintCoffey (18th June 2019)

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