Wednesday, 8 January 2003

8th Jan 1943 - Campbeltown Loch

8 Jan
Between 0943 and 0950 flew off 11 of 12 Martlets ranged on deck, (the twelfth would not start and was struck down) to Machrihanish about 12 miles away. All arrived safely.

Landed on one training Swordfish from Machrihanish with 3 Martlet ferry pilots as passengers. The aircraft was flown off again at once.

A/c Crew Time on Wire Wind Run out Time off
S'Fish V4490 7 Lt Williams (3 pass)1001 3 35 46'6" 1003

1005 Piped 12 remaining Martlets to range
1105 Range completed, started up
Between 1125 and 1136 flew off. All arrived safely.

Considerable anxiety was caused by the behaviour of many Martlets taking off. In particular one, flown by Lieut Cosh, sank so much after taking off that his tail wheel actually hit the sea. (This pilot subsequently returned on board and said that he appeared to get into a down draught, his engine seemed perfectly all right and he at no time went through the gate). Two others sank after taking off and appeared to have great difficulty in gaining height. The wind speed over the deck was between 35 and 38 knots. The foremost aircraft of the first range had a run of 290 feet available, and of the second 266 feet. All aircraft had a full war load, but even at this weight 7700 lbs, according to the official figures a take off run of 290 feet should need only 20 knots wind speed over the deck.

Many of the engines appeared to be running roughly as they passed the bridge and were emitting intermittent flames from the exhausts. This may have been due to the fact that owing to rough weather on passage and congestion in the hangar some engines had only been run once and the majority only twice since embarking exactly a month ago.

It was most noticeable however that the aircraft flown by Lieut Sleigh, CO 890, (not incidentally his own), was airbourne before it reached the island and then climbed steeply off the deck. It seemed to be travelling much faster than the others and no flames came out of the exhaust. Lieut Sleigh was far the most experienced pilot on board. He was stated by Lieut Cosh to have taken off through the gate, whereas few of the others including himself had, believing this practice to be harmful to their engines.

It would appear that, whatever the wind speed over the deck, pilots should use the full boost allowed by the makers for deck take-off, as distinct from aerodrome take-off.

The ship proceeded to Campbeltown Loch and anchored at 1430. Between 1445 and 1830 the personnel, stores, and baggage of all three squadrons were disembarked using one drifter and two motor launches, each of the latter doing two trips. Intended to sail to Liverpool, but remained weatherbound in the loch.

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