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The De Havilland DHC-1 Chipmunk is a delightful aircraft to fly. This Canadian-designed basic trainer (powered by a De H Gipsy Major 10 Mk 2 engine, driving a Fairey Reed metal propeller) was built both in Canada and the U.K., at the Hatfield and Chester factories of De Havilland, and under license in Portugal by OGMA. After the first military prototype, WB549, flew in 1949 it was followed by no less than 735 others (as the T. Mk 10) for the RAF and RAFVR training schools and later the University Air Squadrons and the Air Experience Flights of the Air Cadets.

Needless to say, when these were finally disposed of by the Ministry of Defence, they were much sought after by private pilots and flying schools. There had not been too many new sales of the civil version of the Chipmunk to civilian owners, due to the high initial cost of a machine which was built to an expensive military specification. However, ‘disposal sale’ prices had civilian bidders very interested. Unfortunately, that same ‘high-quality’ official specification now caused problems. The Civil Aviation Authority was not happy with various military aspects of the design (including parts of the fuel system), so it was not until a new model number - the Mk 22 - was allotted by De Havilland, and a series of agreed modifications carried out, that the ex-RAF machines began to appear in private hands in any numbers. Many ex-T.10s were modified as Mk 22A aircraft which had new wings with a 12 gallon tank each side, rather than the original 9 gallon unit.

The aircraft shown here (at Cotswold Airport, Gloucestershire), G-APLO, was built in 1950 for the RAF as WB696. It served with No. 11 Reserve Flying School (carrying the code ‘RCR-C’), based at Scone, near Perth in Scotland, then Aberdeen University Air Squadron from 1951 to 1956. After disposal by the Ministry of Defence, it was bought by Air Service Training Ltd, who used it from their Perth base to train future airline pilots for British European Airways, British Overseas Airways Corporation and British United Airways, amongst others.

A move south meant that G-APLO ended up with the Channel Islands Aero Club on Jersey, painted in a typical all-over silver training scheme as ‘WD379′, coded ‘K’, of Cambridge University Air Squadron. The aircraft is now owned by Lindholme Aircraft Ltd, St. Ouen, Jersey, and is finished in a very reasonable facsimile of one of the two RAF Chipmunks still active (WK518, WG486), both of them with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight at RAF Coningsby. They are used to provide continuation training on ‘tail-dragger’ aircraft for display pilots of the BBMF - this is due to the fact that ALL the other aircraft of the Flight are ‘tail-draggers’.

Unfortunately, the RAF did not take too kindly to WB696 being finished in the BBMF’s ’high-conspicuity’ black scheme, with white bands, which had been chosen for their Chipmunks, as it was claimed that people would be ‘confused’. Actually, since the Ministry of Defence just scrapped or retired a very large proportion of the RAF’s fleet of aircraft, you would think that they would be happy to make potential adversaries think we had an extra Chipmunk!

The owners decided to mollify the authorities by putting large ‘racing numbers’ – a green ’8′ on a white circle – where the RAF roundels would normally go. Thus were the official feathers successfully unruffled. This is a smart aircraft, and I just wish the  Ministry of Defence would allow it to carry a full RAF scheme.

Originally posted to Kossack Air Force on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 04:00 PM PST.

Also republished by History for Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well, look at it this way. (11+ / 0-)

    If the CAF or other private US citizen or group bought one, they could paint it any way they damn well please.  I think I would go with the roundels if I could get my hands on one.

    As I recall, the entertainer and Tonight Show host, Johnny Carson took aerobatic training in one that was owned by one of his band members.  

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 04:19:38 PM PST

  •  Good to see this plane painted in American colors. (6+ / 0-)

    Why do I say that ? Because the eight-ball is black, of course. I've messed about with snooker a time or two and I was always confused, when potting colours colors, by the point values of the balls. The black is worth 8 dammit, not 7.

    The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

    by Azazello on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 04:22:35 PM PST

  •  Let's go flying. (9+ / 0-)

    Yeah I know, the horizon is over there,  now it is up there, now over there again.

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 04:23:23 PM PST

    •  Very nice, took me back.... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Otteray Scribe, ER Doc, subtropolis

      Entry speed on the loop should be around 110mph, IIRC, with 90mph being seen over the top; the stall turn was nice (you get this gentlemanly shudder, as you saw); the roll rate ISN'T like a Xtra 360, BUT, a very precise machine for its time.

      I have some sad news...G-BDDD is no more. It suffered substantial damage at the LAA Rally at Sywell (hit a Rans RV-4 on the ground) and was deemed beyond economic repair!

      A sad end for a lovely machine.

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 05:29:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There is no such thing as beyond economic repair (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shortfinals, ER Doc, subtropolis

        see: Girl, Glacier!!!!!!

        The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

        by Otteray Scribe on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 06:11:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sadly, there is in terms of 'hull insurance' in .. (5+ / 0-)

          ...the U.K. If the insurer ALLOWS you, you may purchase the declared 'wreck' and restore it at your own cost. By the way, good luck in getting insurance for it! (Its NOT a nice system!)

          'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

          by shortfinals on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 06:34:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think most warplane salvage and restoration (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            shortfinals, subtropolis, 43north

            is like that. People are recovering old wrecks that at one time were considered beyond hope.  I had the great privilege of being able to visit Middlesboro, KY a number of times during the restoration of the Glacier Girl P-38.  When they were first getting started, the hangar looked like the aftermath of a big explosion in an airplane parts factory.  As the 30,000+ parts came together, it turned into one beautiful bird.  It was the most authentic WW-II warbird in existence.  They used original mangled metal parts to fabricate perfect copies that were as good or better than any that could have been found on the Lockheed assembly line.  Many years and several million dollars later, it flew.  Of all the days to not be able to make it out of town, it was the day the P-38 flew for the first time since 1943.  Only one of the original pilots from the lost squadron was still living and present. The news video showed the old man with tears streaming down his cheeks.  

            You can get airshow liability insurance, but I don't know about hull insurance.  I have never tried to insure a pricey experimental airplane before.

            The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

            by Otteray Scribe on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 07:15:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Here is the REALLY bad news... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Otteray Scribe, 43north

     the U.K. there is NO 'Experimental' class of aircraft. MUCH tighter regulatory framework, and so costs and insurance goes through any available roof you care to point at!

              'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

              by shortfinals on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 07:33:27 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  What do they do about homebuilts (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                shortfinals, 43north

                or restored warbirds in private hands?

                The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

                by Otteray Scribe on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 07:36:31 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Homebuilts are supervised via the... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Otteray Scribe, 43north

                  ....Light Aircraft Association, who has CAA approved inspectors (they work on a one-to-one, staged approval basis with the builder)

                  Restored warbirds are VERY hard! The CAA has a whole directorate who deal with projects like this, and approvals to work on such aircraft are handed out sparsely, and to a limited number of companies. Those who have such approvals mean BUSINESS....

                  To give you one instance, a VERY well-known warbird owner (with a VERY large fleet) once imported a flying replica of a Fw190 into England. The whole thing dragged on for around 18 months, but because he couldn't PROVE the materials used, and their suitability or show a paper trail, he couldn't get a permit to fly, and the aircraft eventually departed the U.K.!!

                  'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

                  by shortfinals on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 07:48:09 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Glacier Girl (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              shortfinals, Otteray Scribe
              WWII P-38 Lightning marks 20 years since recovery from Greenland glacier

              On July 15, 1942, the Army Air Forces 94th Fighter Force’s six fighters and two bombers were forced to land on the Greenland glacier. The planes were part of Operation Bolero, a massive buildup and movement of Allied aircraft from the United States to Europe. The squadron flew a day earlier from Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada to Sondre Storm on the western coast of Greenland. They were flying over Greenland’s ice-capped mountains and the Denmark Strait and were headed to Reykjavik, Iceland, and eventually to Scotland. But the weather turned foul quickly, with temperatures falling to below minus-10, and the planes had to land on Greenland’s frozen glacier.

              An Army Air Force ski and dogsled team rescued the 25 crew members huddled inside the two B-17 Flying Fortresses three days later, but the eight planes remained for five decades, covered by ice and snow.

              In August 1980, Epps and Taylor heard about the lost squadron in a bar at a remote land strip during a stop on the way home from buzzing around the Arctic in a single-engine plane. Other pilots thought the two were crazy, but Epps, an Air Force veteran and 1998 Gathering of Eagles honoree, and Taylor, a U.S. Army Airborne during the Korean War, are both self-ordained adventurers. They thought nothing of taking a one-engine plane in extreme climates, even going as far as rolling the North Pole.

              All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

              by subtropolis on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 10:25:56 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Pilot seems to be having fun ! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      First time I ever flew was in a Chipmunk!  ATC experience flight.

  •  Your flying chipmunk definitely tops mine. (9+ / 0-)

    Father Time remains undefeated.

    by jwinIL14 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 04:45:56 PM PST

  •  Oh! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shortfinals, Otteray Scribe

    BBMF means Battle of Britain Memorial Flight!
    It's not a Big Bad MuddaFarkin Chipmunk!
    My bad!

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 05:38:06 PM PST

  •  About that Roundel and the RAF... (3+ / 0-)

    It seems like there may be a bit more going on. One of my regular amusements is the weekly serial adventure dealing with the Airship Flying Cloud R-505. It details the adventures of Captain Roland P. Everett and his crew in His Majesty's airship service in an alternate history set (tongue in cheek) in the Pacific/Australia region in the 1930s.

    Now among other things, Paul Gazis the creator has some merchandise associated with the strip, and as you might expect the RAF roundel is used on the R-505. Imagine his surprise when

    On March 28, 2012… a day that will live in incredulity… the Office of the UK Secretary of State for Defense contacted Zazzle and ordered them to remove merchandise from the Flying Cloud Store because it ‘references the Royal Air Force’. Apparently they objected to the tiny WW-I roundels on the airships....
    Gazis has more at the link above, wondering just what was going on. In a subsequent post, he had a bit more information.
    This business with the Office of the UK Secretary of Defense turns out to be stranger than I thought. Esquire found several links, shown below, that shed interesting light on the affair. It appears that red, white, and blue roundels have been a popular fashion accessory in England for quite some time (remember the Mods, the 1960s, and the Who?). Recognizing this, the Office has been making what can only described as an extremely belated attempt to prevent clothing stores from using this emblem. Their website suggests this is intended to protect the dignity of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, but one of their spokesman rather gave the game away when she ‘admitted the MoD was also interested in the commercial potential of owning the trademark.’
    Again, there's more info at the link. The more you know, the less sense it makes. Which come to think of it, sums up a lot of things on this planet where humans are involved.

    I can highly recommend Flying Cloud R-505. Along with a lot of sly humor, satire, and daring exploits, Paul Gazis works in some fun aeronautical bits too. Try for example this chapter where Captain Everett comes to the aid of a commercial airship crew who have come off the worse with some heavy weather.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 05:48:09 PM PST

    •  The chapter about aiding another.. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, ER Doc, subtropolis

      ...airship? Kipling did it decades ago! See, 'With The Night Mail' (I'm a Kipling freak)

      He wrote another airship story, also... 'As Easy As A.B.C.'

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 06:38:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fun! But... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shortfinals, subtropolis

        Gazis is writing about airship technology appropriate to the period, so it's interesting to get details about the intricate trade off between lifting gas and ballast, the finicky details in which even the type of rivets used in the frame were selected to minimize weight, and so on.

        Then he'll throw in something like a transporter, for sending down landing parties.

        "Energize!" ordered Captain Everett.

        The Transporter Room was business-like compartment located forward of the cargo bay. One end was dominated by a hoist platform, a drum of cable, and a massive electric winch. The other held a small control stand. Iwamoto, the ship’s engineer, stood by the controls. At his captain’s command, he threw two switches, advanced a lever, and the winch whirred into operation.

        "Oof!" exclaimed Iverson, as the platform lurched downward.

        "Steady there, Lieutenant," said Everett. As usual, he seemed unperturbed by their situation, precarious though it might have seemed. They hung from a slender steel thread hundreds of feet above the coast. Above them, the airship was receding into space. Below them, lines of breakers swept toward the shore. One slip and they’d fall from the platform to their doom.

        "There must be a better way to do this," squeaked Iverson, face pale.

        "I believe that American fellow, Tesla, is working on a system to transform people into radio waves, transmit them through space, and reconstitute them at their destination," said Jenkins, the ship’s signalman. "It’s supposed to be ready in a year or two."

        "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

        by xaxnar on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 07:37:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Chipmunk? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I guess they ran out of moths.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 06:56:40 PM PST

  •  Thanks SF (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Pretty neat piece of history.  May have to add one to my need to build stash.

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 07:24:28 PM PST

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