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RAF Aircrew Parachute 'Cocked' Related Question


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#1 Drew5233

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 07:13 AM

Reading Dunkirk-Hugh Sebag-Montefiore's book in Chap 5 he is writing about the Fairey Battles sortie on the briges across the Albert Canal and mentions that a Air-Gunner in one of the aircraft (Account from AG's diary) does his normal checks then:

'cut[s] through the strings that normally had to be broken when the rip cord was pulled after jumping out of the plane.'


In the booked it is referred to as 'Cocking' the parachute and goes on to say that it probably saved the AG's life as he was knocked out as he bailed out of the aircraft.


Was cocking parachutes common practise?

Anyone know when Pilots/ Air Crew started doing this?

Were parachutes later modified during the war to compensate for this?

Cheers

Edited by Drew5233, 06 April 2010 - 08:39 AM.

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#2 Ranger6

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 08:01 AM

I can only speak from my experiance. ( 58 jumps and a combat jump, all static line)and frankly very lttile has changed as far as equipment and procedures, ID NEVER EVER EVER modify a chute once its packed or rigged. ya fiddle with the bands on it strings it could be disaterous
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#3 Stormbird

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 08:02 AM

Sounds like a modified line-drop to me.
Don't know when adjustable altitude (pressure) releasers were introduced, but they take care of the problem.
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#4 Drew5233

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 08:07 AM

He is a Air Gunner in the RAF flying in Fairey Battles. Nothing to do with static line jumps or the like.

It appears he has 'self-modified' his chute to allow it to open without the need to pull a rip cord once he has exited the aircraft.

The aircraft (A medium bomber) was with other bombing the bridges on the Dyle so 'alltitude chutes' even if available would not be effective due to the heights involved. It's quite a well known raid as two Victoria Crosses were awarded for the raid and they were the first to be awarded in this campaign.

I will mod the title to attract the 'Bryl chaps'.

Cheers
A
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#5 Drew5233

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 08:10 AM

Was cocking parachutes common practise?

Anyone know when Pilots/ Air Crew started doing this?

Were parachutes later modified during the war to compensate for this?


Cheers
A
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#6 Stormbird

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 08:12 AM

He is a Air Gunner in the RAF flying in Fairey Battles. Nothing to do with static line jumps or the like.

It appears he has 'self-modified' his chute to allow it to open without the need to pull a rip cord once he has exited the aircraft.
A


OK. Well THAT sounds risky to me. Agree with Ranger6 ! Have spent some time with the chute packers and that's a rather sobering lesson on why never to tamper with anything.
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#7 Stormbird

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 08:25 AM

BTW, have you read "Jump for it - stories of the caterpillar club" by Gerald Bowman ? It's from the 50s and includes all these hair-raising stories of jumps that should have gone wrong but miraculously didn't.
If not, I can lend it to you. (Yes, I trust you.) It sits on the bookshelf of my residence, which I hope to reach NLT tomorrow.

Edited by Stormbird, 06 April 2010 - 08:44 AM.

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#8 Ranger6

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 08:36 AM

dude was nuts if ya ask me LOL
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#9 Stormbird

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 08:47 AM

Well if it saved his life maybe he wasn't ALL nuts ?
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#10 nicks

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 05:51 PM

I would have thought there was a high risk of the chute snagging part of the airframe, if it partially deployed whilst abandoning the aircraft. I wouldn't have thought this was a common practice at all. I've certainly not heard of it until now.

Would it have meant the chute had to be repacked after every flight, if it wasn't used?
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#11 Ranger6

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 05:54 PM

No ya dont have to repack a chute unless ya use it... but after a wwhile the rubber bands used in the packing do rot, but it could take months or years,
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#12 nicks

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 06:04 PM

No ya dont have to repack a chute unless ya use it... but after a wwhile the rubber bands used in the packing do rot, but it could take months or years,


I was thinking more if had been tampered with in the way that has been suggested in post#1. Not knowing a lot about parachutes I would have thought cutting the strings would have been enough for the chute to become unpacked, even without using it.

Edited by nicks, 07 April 2010 - 06:52 PM.

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#13 Gage

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 06:37 PM

Never heard of it, Andy. Maybe it's about low level flying and it's a way of getting the parachute to deploy very early in case of a hasty exit.
Never heard of it in all the Bomber Command books either. Be nice to know.
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#14 David Layne

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 06:47 PM

No ya dont have to repack a chute unless ya use it... but after a wwhile the rubber bands used in the packing do rot, but it could take months or years,



120 day repack cycle.
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#15 Drew5233

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 07:33 PM

Can I just remind you that we are talking about 1940 aircrews and whilst the principals of parachutes are the same I suspect they have developed considerably in 70 years.

The information comes from the RAF crews own memoires and was discovered as part of the authors research.

Cheers
Andy
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#16 Ranger6

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 07:59 PM

DREW can I remind you parchutes ESP rounds, Not ram air parafoils are almost identical today as they were in the 1940s... and they certinly didnt use ram airs. The harnesses are changed slightly from the mcb-1b and charlie models from the t-10s they used in ww2. ya asked for info on chutes maybe ill find a damm rigger for ya to debate with...
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#17 Ranger6

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 08:13 PM

Futhermore, the harnesses and parachutes used by all allied forces were developed in the UK. as well as the Jump sequences and safety checks, (JUMPMASTER PERSONELL INSPECTIONS) and the the only difference between a static jump and bailing from a plane is use of the static line to deploy the chute, if that main doesnt open or ya have a malfunction. you pull youre reserve.. ya exit the aircraft and count to 4. by then youre chute should deploy. if it does not or you have a blown panel in youre canopy or issues with youre shroud line ya pull the cotter pins on youre main and pull your reserve... The Parachute landing fall ya use for landing is identical. almost everything is Identical. except for ya have 2 chutes and a static line in the airborne, they told us if ya jump below 300 feet above ground level your chute wont have time to fully deploy and youre probably gonna die. YOU ASKED ABOUT CHUTES AND IM giving ya from my experiance i told ya im no expert but i have actually used them a few times
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#18 Drew5233

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 08:23 PM

Just checked The Battle of France Then and Now and it only mentions the following on the sortie:

Sunday 12th May 1940.

12 Squadron, Amifontaine.

Battle L5241.

Petrol tank set alight in attack by Fw Sawallisch of 2/JG27 during sortie to bomb the Vroenhoven Bridge over the Albert Canal 9.35am. Force-Landed at St-Germain-les-Mons.

Pilot Officer T D H Davy unhurt. Sergeant G D Mansell baled out north-east of Maastricht, returning unhurt. AC1 G N Patterson also baled out but hit the tail and slightly injured, landing outside the Hospital des Anglais in Liege where later captured. Aircraft PH-G later burned to prevent capture.

Sebag-Montefiore quotes his source as Patterson, Personal Autobiography, P.69.
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#19 Ranger6

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 08:34 PM

OK did some checking, "cocking" a parchute refers to a mechanical ignitor assmebly...
Igniter assembly actuated by parachute deployment, and flare containing the same - US Patent 6412417 Description
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#20 Drew5233

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 09:37 PM

Could this be the type of chute that was used in 1940 in Bombers or is this one used by fighter pilots?
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Edited by Drew5233, 07 April 2010 - 09:44 PM.

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#21 Harry Ree

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 11:05 PM

Seat Type (Pilot) parachutes were adopted by the likes of fighter pilots.These required the pilot to sit on his parachute which was permanently connected the pilot's harness.

Bomber Command pilots tended to use the Chest Type (Observer) parachute but it was down to personal preference. However B.C pilots made their choice on the fact that a Seat Type (Pilot) was uncomfortable for the backside if one had to sit on the parachute for the usually long duration of a B.C operation.Fighter pilots preferrred the Seat Type simply because it was already available to quickly exit the aircraft and in the tight confines of a fighter cockpit there was little room for ancillary equipment such as a Chest Type parachute.Fighter sorties were of course much shorter in duration than B.C operations.

For multi crewed aircraft such as Bomber Command aircraft, the Chest Type parachute was usually stowed adjacent to the crew members operating station.Flight Engineers usually took care of the pilots parachute stowage.All crew members would wear their harness and when necessary clip their chest type parachute to the harness using two metal snap hooks which were attached to shoulder straps above the quick release box.

The above parachute does not look like the Chest Type parachute of yesteryear.If I remember correctly the rip cord was exposed on the pack making it easy to inadvertently "spring open" the parachute when negotiating a way down the fuselage past a pile of parachutes, usually left for collection after the completion of a flight and access taking place for an "after flight inspection".
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#22 Ranger6

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 11:20 PM

looks real similar to modern day reserrve chutes we wear on our chest
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#23 Drew5233

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 07:37 AM

Seat Type (Pilot) parachutes were adopted by the likes of fighter pilots.These required the pilot to sit on his parachute which was permanently connected the pilot's harness.

Bomber Command pilots tended to use the Chest Type (Observer) parachute but it was down to personal preference. However B.C pilots made their choice on the fact that a Seat Type (Pilot) was uncomfortable for the backside if one had to sit on the parachute for the usually long duration of a B.C operation.Fighter pilots preferrred the Seat Type simply because it was already available to quickly exit the aircraft and in the tight confines of a fighter cockpit there was little room for ancillary equipment such as a Chest Type parachute.Fighter sorties were of course much shorter in duration than B.C operations.

For multi crewed aircraft such as Bomber Command aircraft, the Chest Type parachute was usually stowed adjacent to the crew members operating station.Flight Engineers usually took care of the pilots parachute stowage.All crew members would wear their harness and when necessary clip their chest type parachute to the harness using two metal snap hooks which were attached to shoulder straps above the quick release box.

The above parachute does not look like the Chest Type parachute of yesteryear.If I remember correctly the rip cord was exposed on the pack making it easy to inadvertently "spring open" the parachute when negotiating a way down the fuselage past a pile of parachutes, usually left for collection after the completion of a flight and access taking place for an "after flight inspection".


Cheers Harry,

So would I be correct in assuming then that Fairey Battle crews would most likely use the seat parachutes due to the aircraft being relatively small compaired to the larger aircraft Bomber Command used later in the war?

I can't but think with combat being a relatively new thing for the British forces in 1940 that a lot of their personal equipment was old and very dated and rapidly and radically changed before the end of 1940.

Do you have any pictures by chance?

Cheers
Andy
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#24 Stormbird

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 07:59 AM

Checked with my low-level daredevils today. They had never heard of the practise.

I however also got hold of two of our oldies parachute riggers/packers. Neither of them had heard of it either. But the one guy (93 yrs old) mentioned that Spitfire pilots had a technique of when baling out low-level, eased themselves out of the cockpit in a way so the chute was already starting to deploy when they kicked clear of a/c. But to do so I assume they had to pull the ripcord first.

But netiher provided an answer to your question, did it ? Sorry.

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#25 Ranger6

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 08:24 AM

sounds similer to what todays BASE jumpers use when jumping off a bridge or cliff or a bridge
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#26 Harry Ree

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 09:35 AM

As I said,I cannot recognise it as a Chest Type parachute.However after taking down the details,the item shown appears to be the Seat Type parachute pack 15A/96 which was part of the Mark 2 parachute used on RAF aircraft where the aircrew remained at their station.It appears that this gear was used, postwar, by such people as those whose duties involved flying RAF piston engined trainers and would be similar to the Seat Type Pilot parachutes used on WW2 fighter aircraft,although it has to be said the latter parachute appeared to be more of a baggy or bulk design.

Of course the Chest Type (Observer) type parachute allowed a pilot on a large aircraft a degree of "relaxation" and relief when situations were convenient on a long haul.One luxury was the provision of the Elsan toilet at the rear of the aircraft.There are many stories about mishaps with the Elsan chemical toilet and I have just been reading an account of such an incident.A No 51 Squadron Halifax, homeward bound to Snaith was left in the hands of the Bombe Aimer while the skipper relieved himself at the rear.Unfortunatly both engines on one side of the aircraft were shutdown inadvertently by the Flight Engineer.The Bomb Airmer had no experience of assymetric flying of the aircraft as the aircraft took a sudden dive and stability was only restored after a fight against rudder imbalance. Even then,the crew subsequently found themselves,after the struggle to stablise the aircraft,to be on a course heading back to Germany.Meanwhile the skipper, a Flight Commander, fought his way back to the cockpit in a "rather aggrieved mood" stinking of the contents of the Elsan.Apparently he was particularly upset because he was wearing his best blue,hoping to get a quick exit on leave when he arrived back at Snaith.

Now had he been wearing a Seat Type (Pilot) parachute, he may have had the choice of wearing a rubber tube/ urine bag Heath Robinson device such as those available to fighter pilots on long range escort duties into the German heartland.There are plenty of incidents related to these bags from USAAF fighter pilots when in combat roles over German territory.

Getting back to the use of the Seat Type (Pilot) parachute, there were examples of RAF Bomber Command aircraft which spring to mind,one which you mention being the Battle,the other is the Hampden where it was impossible for the pilot to leave his operating station when airborne and as such the Seat Type (Pilot) parachute was the only option.These aircraft had cramped cockpits with little room for ancillary gear.

Edited by Harry Ree, 08 April 2010 - 12:48 PM.
typo

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#27 Ranger6

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 09:43 AM

LOL man we need a Former RAF pilot who is also a qualified Parachute rigger to settle this conundrum
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#28 Drew5233

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 09:44 AM

Thanks again Harry.

So to summarise:

I think its reasonably safe to assume the Fairey Battle crews used seat parachutes that maybe similiar to the one I posted a picture of.

That still leaves the following though from the original post with a edit here and there:

1, Was cocking parachutes common practise in 1940 before the Battle of Britain?

2, Anyone know when Pilots/ Air Crew started doing this and how did it come about?

3, Were parachutes later modified during the war to compensate for this?

I think the answer to number 3 is most likely a yes from what has been said.

Regards
Andy
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#29 nicks

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 06:57 PM

I think its reasonably safe to assume the Fairey Battle crews used seat parachutes that maybe similiar to the one I posted a picture of.

Possibly not,:D I've just found this in the Flight archive which seems to suggest that the pilot used a seat parachute and the other two crew members wore the chest type (See PDF).

This seems to be confirmed by this photo from the IWM.

Fairey Battle - IWM

It doesn't help answer the original question but hopefully it has narrowed down the type of chute we're looking at.

Nick

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He was a common, unconsidered man, who, for a moment of eternity, held the whole future of mankind in his two sweating hands.

 

And did not let it go.
 

(Excerpt from Fighter Pilot by ACM Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris GCB, OBE,DSO)


#30 nicks

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 07:45 PM

Assuming it was the chest type parachute, would these have been the strings referred to?

'cut[s] through the strings that normally had to be broken when the rip cord was pulled after jumping out of the plane.'

Posted Image
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He was a common, unconsidered man, who, for a moment of eternity, held the whole future of mankind in his two sweating hands.

 

And did not let it go.
 

(Excerpt from Fighter Pilot by ACM Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris GCB, OBE,DSO)





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