Monthly Archives: June 2017

RAF Aircraft Cigarette Cards Part 5

Tonight we come to the fifth and final post covering the RAF Aircraft cigarette cards published by Players in the late 1930s. I hope you have enjoyed these posts as much as I have, many of these aircraft are virtually forgotten now and I must confess to having a soft spot for the lumbering biplanes of the interwar period!

Card 41- Airspeed Unnamed Radio-Controlled Target Aircraft.

Designed for the Navy and Army Anti-Aircraft Batteries, this aeroplane made its first public appearance at the Royal Air Force Display at Hendon in June 1937. Although still officially unnamed, it is usually referred to as the “Queen Wasp”. The engine is an Armstrong Siddeley “Cheetah” air-cooled 7 clylinder radial. Performance details of this aircraft are still secret. Arrangements are made for the fitting of floats in place of the usual land undercarriage, enabling the aircraft to be used either as a landplane or seaplane.SKM_C45817061407561 - Copy

Card 42- D.H. “Queen Bee” Radio-Controlled Target Aircraft

The “Queen Bee” is virtually a standard D.H. “Tiger Moth” equipped as a radio-controlled pilotless aircraft for use as a gunnery target. Apart from the radio-control equipment, the “Queen Bee” is also fitted with catapulting points and slinging gear, and may be used either as a landplane or seaplane. The engine is a “Gipsy-Major” 4-cylinder inverted air-cooled motor of 130 h.p. Performance details are not available for publication. H.M. The king witnessed a demonstration of “Queen Bee” flying when he visited the Fleet in June, 1938.SKM_C45817061407561 - Copy (2)

Card 43- Airspeed “Oxford” Advanced Training Aircraft

This aircraft, which is designed for training, is a graceful low-wing monoplane, built by Airspeed Ltd., and fitted with two Armstrong Siddeley “Cheetah X” engines of 350 h.p. each. The equipment provides for training in navigation, bomb aiming and wireless operation. The “Oxford” has a wing span of 53 feet 3 inches and a top speed of 187 m.p.h. Its flight endurance is 5 hours. It is finished in bright yellow, the distinguishing colour of trainer aircraft.SKM_C45817061407561 - Copy (3)

Card 44- Avro “Prefect” Navigational Training Aircraft

An adaptation of the well-known Avro “Tutor” specially equipped for navigational training in the Royal Air Force. Full cloud-flying equipment, blind-flying hood, etc., are provided. Except for this specialised equipment the “Prefect” is identical to the “Tutor”. An Armstrong-Siddeley “Lynx” engine of 215 h.p. is fitted. The aircraft has a wing span of 34 feet, a length of 26 feet 6 inches and a height of 9 feet 7 inches.SKM_C45817061407561 - Copy (4)

Card 45- Avro “Tutor” Training Aircraft

A two-seater equal span single-bay training aircraft, used for elementary training. Complete dual control is fitted, and a 215 h.p. Armstrong Siddeley “Lynx” 7-cylinder radial air cooled engine provides a maximum speed of 122 m.p.h. A seaplane version of this aircraft, known as the “Seatutor” is also built, and is almost identical to the landplane apart from having a slightly lower performance. The “Tutor” has a wing span of 34 feet, a length of 26 feet 6 inches and a height of 9 feet 7 inches.SKM_C45817061407561

Card 46- D.H. “Tiger Moth” Training Aircraft

This aeroplane was designed as an efficient elementrary and intermediate training biplane, but in addition it is used in the Service for communication duties. Complete dual control is fitted and, if desired, floats may be employed in lieu of wheels, rendering the aircraft suitable for seaplane training. A D.H. “Gipsy Major” 4-cylinder-in-line inverted air cooled engine is installed, and in the case of the landplane produces a maximum speed of about 109 m.p.h. The “Tiger Moth” has a wing span of 29 feet 4 inches, a length of 23 feet 11 inches and a height of 8 feet 9 ½ inches.SKM_C45817061507530 - Copy

Card 47- Miles “Magister” Training Aircraft

A low wing trainer monoplane built by Phillips & Powis, the Miles “Magister” is fitted with a de Havilland “Gipsy Major” engine of 130 h.p. Its lines are noticeably graceful. The wing span is 33 feet 10 inches and the length 25 feet 3 inches. The cockpits are open and are set tandem fashion. There are full controls and instruments including blind-flying equipment. Like other trainers, the “Magister” is finished in a bright shade of yellow. Trainer aircraft are specially designed and fitted for the highly important functions which they perform.SKM_C45817061507530 - Copy (2)

Card 48- Miles Unnamed Training Aircraft

This low-wing cantilever monoplane is a high speed trainer built by Phillips & Powis. It mounts a Rolls Royce “Kestrel XVI” engine of a maximum output of 745 h.p. The two seats are placed tandem and there are dual controls. The undercarriage is retractable, while a feature of the design is the unusually thick wing. The machine has a top speed of 295 m.p.h. Modern high-speed flying demands a special technique which this aircraft is designed to teach, but it can also be employed as a general purpose type suitable for fighting, light bombing or reconnaissance.SKM_C45817061507530 - Copy (3)

Card 49- Vickers “Virginia” Parachute Training Aircraft

Originally designed as a bomber, this aeroplane is now used for parachute training. An unusual feature of the design is the double set of landing wheels. The aircraft is fitted with two Napier “Lion” 12 cylinder “W” type liquid-cooled engines mounted between the wing stuts. The dimensions of the “Virginia” are imposing- wing span 87 feet 8 inches, length 62 feet 3 inches, heigh 17 feet 9 inches. A comparison of the “Virginia” with more recent types of bomber (e.g. “Battle” and “Wellesley”) shows the rapid advance made in general design.SKM_C45817061507530 - Copy (4)

Card 50- Vickers “Valentia” Troop Carrier

This type is a development of the “Victoria” V and VI bomber transport aeroplanes, and is fitted with two Bristol “Pegasus” II L.3 engines. Provision is made for carrying a spare engine on the bottom inner port plane. The aircraft is 59 feet long, and has a wingspan of 87 feet 7 inches. When used for transport the “Valentia” carries 21 troops besides a crew of 2, including the pilot. It has a range of about 650 miles and has been largely used for moving troops expeditiously over rough country. Most of this type are stationed abroad.SKM_C45817061507530

Desert DPM Bergan Cover

The British Army used a number of different rucksacks and bergans on operations during the ‘War on Terror’. One thing that most had in common though was that they were produced in a woodland green DPM camouflage. This was great in the forests of northern Europe, but not much good in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan where it stood out like the proverbial sore thumb. What the army did not want to do was to issue all its troops two separate bergans in two different camouflage patterns depending on where they were deployed- for one thing bergans are expensive! The answer they came up with was an adjustable cover in desert DPM camouflage that could be fitted over a bergan to hide the green DPM:imageThe cover is made of a poly-cotton printed in desert DPM; a cord is fitted all around the inside edge of the cover. The cover is pulled over the bergan, with the corded side closest to the back, the draw string is then tightened using the plastic tensioner to prevent the cover from slipping off:imageThis is complemented by a set of straps and Fastex clips that also help secure the cover:imageOnce fitted a neat appearance can be achieved:s-l300A stores label is sewn into the inside of the cover:imageThe covers were a common sight being used by troops in the early days of the war on terror, however today they are less common as following the adoption of MTP camouflage, one pattern is now sufficient for both temperate and arid conditions and separate covers are no longer needed for more recent bergans. Older examples are still on issue and an MTP cover has been produced for these but they are starting to be phased out as DPM bergans reach the end of their working lives. Here we see troops wearing the rucksack covers as they exit a Chinook:savas-tamtamlari-yemen-icin-caliyor--474320

Active Service ‘Privilege’ Envelope

Tonight we have a small envelope with an interesting story. From the Great War onwards soldiers were given one free ‘Privilege’ envelope a week. This allowed them to send private correspondence home without being censored. The system worked on trust, and a random selection would be checked to ensure nothing sensitive was being sent out- soldiers losing the right to the envelopes if they divulged sensitive information. As only one envelope was allowed a week, soldiers tended to put multiple letters inside, with the recipient forwarding them on to others. The system continued into the Second World War, with a buff envelope with green lettering marked on it. This envelope however is rather different from the norm:SKM_C45817060611220The ‘privilege’ part of the envelope has been obliterated with a large black stamp:SKM_C45817060611220 - CopyThis suggests that the stock of normal envelopes for mail that would be censored had run out and these were over marked to remove the privilege status. The recipient’s name and address is filled out on the right hand side of the envelope, here to a Private F W Brown:SKM_C45817060611220 - Copy (2)These envelopes remained in use into the 1950s as recalled by one ex-serviceman:

This was all we were allowed to use for about three months in 1956 prior to and during the Suez invasion. Most of the men that I served with still have them as we thought that no letter was better than these things. Mind you some of this could have been our fault as all letters prior to this had to be put into the company office unsealed to be censored. Now on standing orders when this instruction came out it informed us that what we wrote would remain confidential as long it is had no military references in them, and would never be commented on by the officers censoring the mail. Well we had to put all this to the test so we spoke about our platoon officer w#nking himself silly and one of the others being so daft he could not find his back side with both hands. Well as quick as shot they were down in the lines bawling out the men who had written these letters, only to find that complaints were put in against them for breaching Company Orders. So they refused to censor the letters and we got was the Field Post Cards for months on end. Ain’t life fun in the Army

82 Pattern Small Field Pack

Updated Post- My thanks to Ernst-Udo Peters for some more information on this pack that has allowed an update.

The Canadian Army 82 Pattern webbing set was issued with a small haversack, mounted on the rear of the belt that was officially known as a ‘Small Field Pack’ but colloquially got referred to as a ‘butt pack’ due to its position over the wearer’s posterior:imageThis pack was designed to carry a soldiers essential kit to sustain him in the field for small periods of time. It is made of green nylon and is a small squarish shape:imageTwo distinct variants exist, an early example with friction buckles to secure the top flap, and this later example that came into use in around 1986. It has a top flap that is secured on the front by a pair of dark green ‘Fastex’ buckles and adjustable nylon straps:imageThese straps are quite long, so it was common for troops to fit extra items of clothing on the top of the pack, held down by these straps. Under the top flap a draw string is fitted to help keep the contents weather tight:imageWith a plastic friction fastener to secure the draw string tight:imageAgain the earlier variant of the pack has a slightly different cord lock, being made entirely of green plastic up until 1986. The manual provides a nice line drawing of the pack:CaptureThe pack is typically worn on the back of the belt:Capture1To attach it the standard 82 pattern plastic post fasteners are fitted to the rear of the pack:imageThese have the same velcroed tabs as the rest of the 82 pattern items, once the plastic posts have been inserted into the eyelets the two tabs are folded over and secured around the belt for added security:imageAbove these are two further tabs that attach to the Yoke we looked at here:imageThe 82 pattern manual offered two alternative ways of wearing the pack, with the option of attaching a strap into two friction buckles:imageAnd wearing it over the shoulder:Capture2This pack was never big enough, and troops often supplemented it with other larger packs in the field. Typically the inner pocket along the back of the butt-pack carried a melmac plate and other contents included foot powder, spare socks, boot bands, batteries, matches and water purification pills in a Ziploc bag as well as any additional loads they needed.

Royal Navy Boot Brush

One item of militaria that regularly comes up on Huddersfield Market are army boot brushes, indeed they are so common I have restricted myself to pre-war examples and not paying more than a pound each for them. By contrast Air Ministry and Admiralty marked brushes are far rarer and I was very pleased to finally add a Royal Navy example to my collection a couple of weeks ago for the princely sum of 50p:imageUnlike army brushes which are marked with a /|\ stamp, Royal Navy brushes have ‘ADMY’ stamped into them:imageThis particular brush is dated either 1922 or 1923, but the stamp is very indistinct and I cannot make out the last digit very easily:imageThe original owner has marked it up with his surname ‘Hutchinson’:imageOne distinguishing feature of these early brushes is they often have a number of small brass nails visible on the back:imageRoyal Navy ratings were issued two boot brushes and were required to mark them with their name to indicate who they belonged to. On board ship, sailors normally kept their boot brushes in their ‘ditty’ box along with other small ‘necessaries’ and personal items. These brushes were remarkable well made, hence their survival to the present day. One sailor who joined in the 1950s remarks, The boot brushes issued, with your name stamped upon must be strong, mine are still in service, having seen me through a police career of daily polishing after 12 years RN service.

Another sailor who was serving in the 1960s recalls using boot brushes to scrub the deck of his accommodation block during initial training. In this kit layout the brushes can be seen front and centre:15894770_10154830912618428_9167821151663050466_n

WW1 Postcard of Troops outside a Barrack Hut

This week’s postcard is a fine group shot from the Great War of soldiers posing outside a barrack hut:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (2)I suspect that this photograph was taken as part of a training course as the soldiers display a wide variety of cap badges. Three officers are seated in the centre:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (3)Regiments represented include the Royal Berkshires:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (4)Royal Army Medical Corps:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (6)Northumberland Fusiliers:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (5)Machine Gun Corps:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (7)And The Royal West Kent Regiment:SKM_C45817051611140 - CopyThe men display an interesting assortment of belts including leather 1914 pattern examples:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (8)And 2” wide webbing belts:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (9)I particularly like the jack russell dog being held by the chap on the front row:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (10)Other features to note are the duckboards the men at the front are sitting on:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (12)And the corrugated iron used in producing the hut behind them:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (11)Note also the palm frond and large sack leaned up against the hut. The essential role hutted accommodation played in the Great War is often overlooked, but it was the only way to quickly house recruits and men and hutted encampments sprang up all over Britain and France. These huts are largely all gone now, but many have survived as WI Halls, Scout Huts and Community Centres. A dedicated team of volunteers down south has been saving these buildings as they become earmarked for demolition and restoring them to their original splendour. Take a look here for more information on this fantastic project.

20L Osprey Water Jerry Can

Part of the fitness test British Army recruits have to undertake is to carry a pair of full water jerry cans for 120m. The jerry cans used each hold 20 litres of drinking water which combined with the 1kg weight of the can itself gives the recruit a load of 42kg to carry. The jerry cans in question are made of heavy duty black polyurethane plastic and have been in service for many years:imageThey can frequently be seen in the background at Army exercises and operations, quietly providing water for thirsty troops:dscf3787The jerry can has two filling caps on the top, a large one:imageAnd a smaller one:imageBoth of these are secured with a chain to prevent loss. The larger cap allows the can to be easily filled and allows a rapid pour if needed. The smaller one is better for pouring into smaller containers such as personal water bottles. It also acts as an air inlet valve so when you are pouring from the larger opening it doesn’t ‘glug’ as air tries to get in to refill the container.

A large handle is fitted across the top of the can:imageThis has a small tag fitted to it indicating that it has been used for contaminated water at some point and should not be used to carry drinking water any more. The sides of the can have expansion grooves moulded into them, along with a /|\ mark and the words ‘WATER’:imageBelow this is a moulding indicating manufacture date, in this case October 1988, and the NSN stores number for the item. There is also the manufacturer’s name ‘Osprey’ here:imageOsprey also produce individual water bottles, again from the same heavy duty black polyurethane plastic. These jerry cans have been in service for many decades now and have proven to be a reliable and robust design for both carrying water and improving physical fitness! It seems unlikely they will be replaced anytime soon.