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Thread: 409 Sqn - night flying test during the day?

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    Default 409 Sqn - night flying test during the day?

    I have just received the accident report for Mosquito HK512, which crashed near Lille-Vendeville, France on 12 Dec 1944 killing F/Lt. Harry S. Ellis of Toronto (also covered in an earlier thread).

    The report said Ellis and his Wingco were "testing their aircraft for night flying" at 14.25 hours and that Ellis and his navigator, W/O W.D. King (R/154053) were acting as target at the time, flying at 5,000 feet. For the Met crew, the conditions were 10/10 cloud, base 2500 top 4500, wind WNW/10, visibility 6 miles.

    Can anyone describe for me what exactly they were doing?

    ... to finish out the story for those following the earlier thread, the plane's starboard engine caught fire and it appeared that Ellis accidentally hit the control stick putting the plane into a half roll to port as he tried to bale out and out too late getting clear of the a/c. He hit the ground with his parachute almost fully opened. The navigator, King, made it out first and was uninjured.
    David

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    Hi David:

    As I understand it, any crew listed for operations that night would take their designated aircraft up during the day to ensure that all systems were functioning, correctly adjusted, etc.

    So, a test for night-flying, as opposed to a flying test at night.

    Greets to Toronto (my ol' stomping ground) from Sydney (Australia, that is).

    Cheers,

    Mark

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    Thanks Mark, so it was as simple a thing as a shakedown flight and not something specifically to do with testing equipment designed to assist night flying? I was thinking they had some new gizmo from the wizards that they were trying out.

    TO says hi and wish you could send us some real summer - it's been like autumn lately.
    David

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    David,
    They would have been testing the functionality of every bit of the a/c. Engines, airframe, guns, radios, etc, etc, to make sure that it all worked properly before it was flown on its operational mission.
    The Met (for once!!) does not seem to have played a significant part. There was a depression centred over S Denmark. What looks like a cold front ran from there, through central Germany, east Switzerland, to Corsica/Sardinia. So one would have expected the conditions at Lille to have been post-cold front. Bit surprised they still had 10/10 cloud! Havenít got access to the temperatures at 5000 ft. Itís faintly possible that the engine fire was caused by carburettor icing (need a Merlin expert to confirm).
    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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    I think the modern term for this kind of flight would be a shakedown, as David said, or a functional check. The same sort of thing was done regularly by 6 Group from what I've read, and presumably the rest of Bomber Command. It was probably called a night flying test because any systems required for night operations would have received extra attention.

    And summer down here in SW Ontario sucks too.

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    Hi chaps,

    I would like to add only that at night fighter squadron was common that there were on NFT two planes at the time and for a while one was the target and the second the hunter, and then they swapped their roles to test the radar of both planes.


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

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    hello

    Is it an accident report from Canadian archives or the one from the R.A.F. museum Hendon (Form 1180) ? As you know from the previous post about the crash which claimed Ellis' life, he came down in my area and I have some interest in any further details about him.

    Cheers

    Joss

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    Looking through logbooks the terms used appear to change with the Unit served in. One Navigator who did his first tour on Stirlings uses the term "air test" during that tour. All ops for them at that time were at night. Air tests seem to be carried out by the crew on the aircraft they would fly that night on the raid. When he moved to Mosquitos he changes to "NFT" (for night flight test) until they start doing daylight operations in late June 1944 when he changed to "air test". While in the Stirling Squadron they always tested their own aircraft things appear to be different on the Mosquito Squadron. When he joins the squadron as a new crew he and his pilot do almost daily air tests but are only on ops once or twice a week. Towards the end of his 2nd tour he flys 23 operations and yet only logs 3 air tests, so in that Squadron the junior crews were out doing air tests for the more senior crews.
    Dave Wallace

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    Hi Joss,

    I sent you by e-mail earlier this morning more details on the crash report, which was the RAF investigation hearing documents which run to three pages or more. I will scan and send to you when my scanner is working.

    Peter, the cause of the crash was said to be a cracked cylinder in the Merlin XXIII starboard engine, causing a glycol leak, followed by a puff of white smoke, then three black puffs and fire which couldn't be extinguished. The Wingco was the other one participating and he ordered them to bale out.

    The report says something about the newer Merlin engines being "proofed" against this kind of leak because of a double wall design but on investigation they found a crack in the cylinder. The engine had been stripped down and reassembled recently. And the pilot, who had considerable hours on type, had just returned from an illness.

    The files I have received from Ottawa have a wealth of detail in them and I will be posting many questions in the months to come. It's nice to be back.
    David

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