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    Default Lancaster Emergency Exits questions

    Hi all,

    I am researching case of crew bale out from Lancaster and I would appreciate help with following questions:

    1. Having only very poor xerox copy of Lancaster Pilot's Notes, may I ask if any member who has the actual or modern copy would be so kind and scan for me diagaram of Emergency Equipment and Exits in a good quality - 300 DPI or more? As far as I know it should be Fig 5 in Avro Lancaster I Pilot's Notes or Fig 4 in Avro Lancaster III Pilot's Notes.

    2. According to the Pilot's Notes the main door should be used only "in extreme emergency". So the the normal bale out procedure for the M/U gunner should be to leave the turret, take his parachute from one of the stowages and procced down the narrow fuselage with several obstacles in full dark, pass the WOP and NAV table, pass the cocpit down to the Air Bomber position to the main parachute exit? The same would be for the rear gunner?

    3. Anybody can suggest what was the distance which the M/U gunner has to get over to reach the front hatch. How long it can take? I cannot imagine making the way in full dark if the aircraft would be not flying straight. If there will be for example failure of several engines and the aicraft will be not under full control it seem to me like a mission impossible.

    Any help and comments will be much appreciated.

    TIA

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

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    Default Re: Lancaster Emergency Exits questions

    Hi Pavel,

    I've sent you a 1948 Air Ministry pamphlet on emergency drills for the Lancaster and Lincoln. I don't think the Lanc drills are much different to wartime, and the illustrations are better in the postwar document. I've seen something giving suggested target times for evacuation, but can't locate it immediately. If I find it later I'll post on.

    All the best,

    Richard

    Edit:

    Extract from Tee Emm, Feb 1944 may be of interest:

    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.
    Last edited by Richard; 2nd January 2021 at 17:19. Reason: Adding Tee Emm article

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    Default Re: Lancaster Emergency Exits questions

    Thank you Richard, both for the materials send and this interesting etract.
    Very useful for my research.

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

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    Default Re: Lancaster Emergency Exits questions

    Peter you are right, thanks to Richard I can now say that it was necessary to roll out from the sitting position when using the main door.

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

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    Default Re: Lancaster Emergency Exits questions

    Pavel,
    The main door is too near the starboard tailplane and rudder. We had a similar problem with paras exiting from a Dakota when practicing for the film “A Bridge Too Far” (OK, they were using Static Line – but the physics are the same!). The moment the man steps out of the door he is under severe deceleration (with respect to the aircraft), but also increasing downward acceleration (due to gravity). The maths/physics of parachute exits are known. I doubt if they are recorded (experimentally!) when exiting from the main door of a Lancaster?
    If I were asked for an opinion, I would have said that stepping out of the main entrance door of a Lancaster in the upright position at anywhere around 100+kts air speed would almost certainly invite collision with the tail (thus the “extreme emergency” caveat!!). If, however, the crewman dived out head first then that might well reduce the possibility of collision? But trying to remember one’s parachute drills on exit from an aircraft that may have been on fire, was being shot at, and coned by searchlights is probably asking a lot!!
    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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    Default Re: Lancaster Emergency Exits questions

    I have my father’s “Notes on abandoning by Parachute.” There were several methods depending on the circumstances. There was a “Normal Method” and an “Emergency Method”.

    With the “Normal Method”, all crew exited by the forward hatch EXCEPT the rear gunner who “leaves aircraft from Rear Turret.” It doesn’t say which way the turret is turned, (i.e. to port or to starboard).

    With the “Emergency Method”, the W/Op, MUG exit via the “main entrance.” MUG: move aft and open entrance door. Leave aircraft diving down head first. W/Op: send emergency signal. Clamp Key. Destroy I.F.F. fit parachute, move aft to entrance door. Stand by to leave aircraft. Leave aircraft facing forward head first. Rear Gunner: Leave aircraft from rear turret.

    “LANCASTER AIRCRAFT WITH MID-UPPER FITTED OVER BOMB BAY STEP”

    The instructions are more detailed.

    The W/Op. leaves via front hatch. The MUG: “Acknowledges order, rotates turret to point guns dead ahead, leaves turret, fits parachute. Plugs in on intercom, at rear door. Opens rear door. Acknowledges order “Mid-Upper Gunner jumping”. Goes off intercom. Sits on step of fuselage door facing AFT with hands clasped around knees and rolls out sideways. Rear Gunner: “Acknowledges order. Rotates Turret on beam. Opens turret doors. Acknowledges order ‘Rear Gunner Jumping’. Goes off intercom. Puts parachute pack on turret ring. Raises knees keeping feet clear of obstructions. Lowers head and rolls out backwards.”

    Record of events on night February 23, 1945 Captain Swales crew, 582 Squadron. The following details of crew abandoning aircraft by parachute:

    At 2,500’-3,000’ the captain ordered the crew to don parachutes again. The B/A removed the front hatch, the R/G received permission to leave his turret and did so. The captain got “OK from everyone on intercom and told them to bale out. The B/C went first at 2300 hrs approximately from 2,200’. He stood on the rear edge of the front hatchway, and rolled forward head first. His Mae West jammed momentarily on the front edge of the hatchway. He saw and heard the A/C crash while he was in cloud. The F/Eng followed the B/A out the front hatch. He sat on the rear edge of the hatchway and dropped straight down. He believes A/C was in a slight dive. He misjudged his height from the ground and landed heavily on head and shoulder. The W/Op dived out of the rear door head first, with the A/C believed in a port bank dive. The R/G followed him. His parachute opened as he left and part of it flew back into the A/C but was immediately thrust out by the M/U/G. The R/G does not believe that he pulled the release handle prematurely. The M/U/G followed by the rear door after plugging into intercom and getting OK from the captain. The Nav plugged into the F/Engineer’s position, the captain said “Hurry up I can’t hold her much longer.” He kept his helmet on but tucked the cords in (He baled out twice-once before and admitted he should have known better). He dived head first from the rear edge of the front hatchway. When the ‘chute opened the shrouds caught on one earpiece and ripped the helmet off. The Nav II was the last to leave and estimates he baled out at 800’. As he went forward, he gave the captain “thumbs up” to indicated that everyone else was safely out and believes he was understood. He sat on the rear edge of the front hatchway and at once lost his flying boots. He had to force himself off against “G” and thinks the A/C was pulling out of a slight dive. He counted five before pulling the rip-cord and the parachute opened without delay, but the A/C had crashed before it opened. He landed on soft ground with his feet together. His feet went in about 18’ and as he rolled over, he slightly sprained his left ankle.

    Interrogation of aircrew returning from allied occupied territory. A/C 582 M PB538 Major Swales, February 23/24, 1945. Report No. 8G/K.4. National Archives AIR 14/3472.

    Edit: I should add that there are probably quite a few other interrogations of aircrew who successfully bailed out which would reveal which procedures they followed.
    Last edited by JDCAVE; 4th January 2021 at 00:58.

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    Default Re: Lancaster Emergency Exits questions

    Pavel: I sent you a decent PDF copy of the Lancaster Pilot’s and Engineer’s notes as well as an “autographed” copy of my father’s Parachute and Dinghy Drill notes. The latter is simply a mimeographed, formerly type written document.

    Edit: one last comment. Dad said his crew practiced parachute and dinghy drill daily. It really pissed-off some of the crew!

    Jim
    Last edited by JDCAVE; 4th January 2021 at 04:58.

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    Default Re: Lancaster Emergency Exits questions

    Jim thank you very much for infomation above + send documents. I really appreciate your help.

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

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