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Thread: Post war - Meteor T.7 target towing?

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    Default Post war - Meteor T.7 target towing?

    Hello everyone

    I've come across a couple of references in the 607 Squadron ORB with regards to them using their Meteor T.7 as a target towing aircraft in 1952. I'm wondering about the practicalities of how the target was actually towed?

    Would they have had an externally-fitted winch like those fitted to the Tempest TT.5, with a drop tank on the opposite wing? Or would they have been towed from a lug attached at the rear of the fuselage tank, as (I think) the TT. Mk. 8 did?

    Thanks

    Simon

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    Squadrons were often "self towing" targets during WW2 using a small PP Target (Preliminary Practice?) and normally dragging them into the air at take off. A simple release mechanism allowed the target to be dropped before landing. The attachments were small and fitted to operational aircraft, both fighters and bombers, the latter chucked the targets out the rear turret whilst in flight. Post war this practice would have probably continued and this may have been the system attached to the T7.

    I suspect the practice stopped as aircraft speeds increased beyond the limits of the target. All this would have been for local practice and was not probably not used at Practice Camps where dedicated target towers were on call. I assume the 1952 reference was for local practice?

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    Thanks for the very detailed reply PNK.

    Yes, the Squadron was using targets over local ranges for air-to-air firing practice. It's first mentioned in August 1952. I assume they'd be using the same areas off the Northumberland coast used by Milfield during WW2? I know Druridge Bay is mentioned for air-to-ground firing practice in the 607 Squadron O.R.B.

    Interesting to know the effect of towing a banner target from take off and to the ranges would have a on the Meteor T.7 performance and handling.

    Regards

    Simon

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    Hi Simon,

    The T.7 pilot notes says for the "30 foot target" ..... "initial climb at 125 kts until the target is airborne then climb at 200 kts. A speed of 240 knots should not be exceeded and turns restricted to below rate 2"....................."the target should be released by operating the camera master switch and pressing camera button on control column" .............and then the give away......"if normal release mechanism fails then target can be released by jettisoning the ventral tank".

    So I guess the T.7 had a towing lug attachment at the rear of the ventral tank as per the F.8

    best wishes Peter

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    Many thanks indeed Peter, just what I was looking for. No barrel rolls then...!

    Regards

    Simon

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    Interesting. The WW2 self tow target was much smaller but this 30ft target sounds like it is dragged into the air in the same way. I believe some targets were hung by a weak line to a washing line type arrangement so the target itself will not be dragged on the ground. Be interesting to know if this was how it was done with the Meteor.

    The range for 607 was likely to be Druridge Bay which was also the Acklington APS and quite heavily used until the mid to late fifties when the bombing and air to ground elements were starting to be closed down. The air to air range is still in use, or at least was in recent decades, but a lot further away from the coast and fully radar controlled. The post 50s era is not something I have researched that much.

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    I never worked on target towing a/c but whilst I was based at Marham in the mid 70's - 100sqn (Tatty Ton/Boneyard) did banner towing with canberra B2's (attached at rear of bomb bay) and I watched the rwy op closely a couple of times - the line was laid out in a neat 'Snake' on the rwy - the a/c then accelerated away and pulled up fairly sharply as soon as a safe speed was attained - this 'snatched the banner off the rwy to shorten the banner ground run.
    We did have a Meteor T7+ and an F8 at Brawdy for TT in the late 70's whilst I was based there - they definitely laid out the banner on the rwy in the same manner but not sure if they did the 'snatch' take off technique.
    I will try to get some info from some of the guys who were based at Brawdy (but it could be a few days)

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    Thanks PNK and bvs.

    'The Long Drag' by Don Evans, page 10 has details of the 30 ft. target mentioned in the Pilot's Notes posted by Peter, a banner target rather than a sleeve target. It mentions a Mk.3 (no dates unfortunately) which could be drag-towed, with removable side wheels, weighing 18kg without wheels and 21kg with them, and it could be towed up to 250 knots.

    It also mentions the method of attaching the target cable to the aircraft, when not using a winch for towing targets:

    'Very little modification is required for preparing an aircraft for towing, the main addition being the fitting of an electro-magnetic release hook.'

    I've also been leafing through my copy of 'RAF Acklington' by Malcolm Fife, and it mentions the Acklington A.P.S. using 32 ft. towed glider targets. It also mentions that Acklington had modified some of their 25 ft. targets so they could be towed at higher speeds. There are a couple of photos of a 25 ft. winged target in the book 'The Long Drag' on pages 19 and 22.

    There is some interesting stuff on the various towed targets in this US manual:

    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...target&f=false

    Regards

    Simon

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    I have a feeling that Druridge Bay was the only location the glider targets were used, although the Fleet Air Arm used them as well. Free flight gliders were tested before WW2, mainly for anti-aircraft gunnery, but they had to be air launched so didn't progress very much.

    I think the mod to the banner targets was a mesh added to the tail end so the the banner didn't fray so easily. By mid WW2 sleeve targets started to be towed narrow end first as they could achieve faster speeds that way and still "inflate" the sleeve. Incidentally, did you know that on sleeve targets the scores were the number of holes divided by two - obvious when you think about it :)

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    Just to add to/finish off my post #7 above.
    The Target Towing Meteors at Brawdy did use a similar technique to the Canberras of 100sqn,but as I suspected, they did not do the 'Sharp' pull up off the rwy to 'snatch' the target flag off the rwy (ie they just did a smooth/normal take off).
    In the event of a crosswind - the Meteor was positioned on the upwind side of the rwy,Flag and Towline were laid out on the downwind side as seen in this lovely pic by Martin Kay (who I knew at Brawdy) - probably taken in the late 70's/early 80's.



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