Portsmouth News: "Royal Navy flyers Land On Pitching Postage Stamp Deck | Nostalgia"

soleil

War Hero
"Mike Mcbride tells of events on board HMS Tartar…‘I wasn’t a WAFU – a general service nickname for a member of the Fleet Air Arm.

My primary job on HMS Tartar (1976-1978) was the maintenance of internal communication systems.

This included the helicopter Telebriefing system, which plugged into the helicopter on the flight deck and allowed direct communication between the FDO and pilot.

Working on HMS Queen Elizabeth while in build at Rosyth Dockyard was awe-inspiring, the size and complexity of the behemoth always impressed.

The flight deck, with space for three football pitches, gives the pilots of F-35 Lightning jets and helicopters a vast platform to operate from.

The size of modern RN flight decks are thought-provoking. Their technological advances with communications and landing equipment are a quantum leap from early helicopter operations at sea.

Designed during the 1950s, the Tribal Class frigates were the first RN class to be designed to operate a helicopter.

The postage stamp-sized flight deck/hangar was sandwiched between the after 4.5in Mark 5 gun and the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Limbo Mortar Mark 10, and presented the pilot with a challenging deck landing.

The Westland Wasp helicopter was a small 1960s British turbine-powered, anti-submarine helicopter. It fulfilled the RN requirement for a helicopter small enough to land on frigates, carrying two homing torpedoes. It was crewed by a pilot and a missile aimer.

It had a unique four-wheeled undercarriage that allowed the aircraft to be manoeuvred on small, pitching flight decks.

The Wasp achieved negative pitch from the rotor-blades which enabled it to adhere to the deck until the lashings were attached. The tail boom and main rotor blades were foldable to allow stowage in the hangar below the flight deck.

The increasing speed and attack range of the submarine threat, and the increased range at which this threat could be detected, led to a RN requirement for a Manned Torpedo Carrying Helicopter (MATCH).

Contemporary shipboard weapons did not have the necessary range; therefore MATCH was in essence a stand-off weapon with the helicopter carrying the torpedo or other weapon to the target and being instructed where to launch.

The Wasp carried no SONAR and worked in partnership with its parent ship or other ASW units. On Tribals, SONAR Type 177 (maximum 20,000 yards) was used for target range and bearing information.’"

 

Waspie

War Hero
Did two tours on Tartar and one on Ashanti. Landing on the Tribals flight deck was always 'interesting'.
The whole thing was an experience. Putting the Wasp to bed. Lowering it into the hangar which was under the flight deck. Then placing 13 huge heavy covers over the top of the void that was now the hangar. The covers now the hangar roof!!!! All part of the joys of being a Tribal Waspie.

A read of this and you too will become a 'Waspie'.

-The Mighty Wasp

I even contributed a few pages in the book.
 
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Waspie

War Hero
Good lookin bunch of blokes, is that you Waspie on the port side of the cab?
Wondered where they went to 'sleep', not much room in the hangar then..
I'm the short git by the 7 in 477. Ian Georgeson, pilot is by the 4!!
And yes, it was tight getting it into the hangar. The big and I mean BIG problem was the heavy covers that formed the hangar roof. (Especially in roughers). The guy Fwd, carrying the cover had to walk like a penguin as there was less than a four inch ledge to balance along once one or two covers had been put into position!!!!!

Just as an aside. The frail looking chap bottom right. Davey Crapper. Was the grandson or maybe great grandson of the chap who invented the flushing toilet!!!! (Wonder how some things get their names!!!!!!)
 
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Wightsparker

War Hero
I'm by short git by the 7 in 477. Ian Georgeson, pilot is by the 4!!
And yes, it was tight getting it into the hangar. The big and I mean BIG problem was the heavy covers that formed the hangar roof. (Especially in roughers). The guy Fwd, carrying the cover had to walk like a penguin as there was less than a four inch ledge to balance along once one or two covers had been put into position!!!!!

Just as an aside. The frail looking chap bottom right. Davey Crapper. Was the grandson or maybe great grandson of the chap who invented the flushing toilet!!!! (Wonder how some things get their names!!!!!!)
Talking of names, didn't they call the Tartar "Ratrat"?
 

Ballistic

War Hero
@Waspie
How were the weapons loaded?
What I mean is, how did they get to the flight deck? Was there a separate lift?
Where was the Air Weapons magazine?
 

Waspie

War Hero
@Waspie
How were the weapons loaded?
What I mean is, how did they get to the flight deck? Was there a separate lift?
Where was the Air Weapons magazine?
From a mag by the mortars. To the hangar then up on the lift. I think!! DC's were kept in the Mortar mag and Torpedoes were in a magazine on the port side of the hangar!! Prepared to be corrected on that as it was 1980 the last time I saw a Tribal!!

AS 12’s were in a gun mag, (possible fwd) - remembered by dripping gunners moaning about lugging them out of the mag.) Then man handled to the flight deck!!!
 
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Ballistic

War Hero
From a mag by the mortars. To the hangar then up on the lift. I think!! DC's were kept in the Mortar mag and Torpedoes were in a magazine on the port side of the hangar!! Prepared to be corrected on that as it was 1980 the last time I saw a Tribal!!

AS 12’s were in a gun mag, (possible fwd) - remembered by dripping gunners moaning about lugging them out of the mag.) Then man handled to the flight deck!!!
Thanks for that, just curious.
So the torpedoes and DCs came up with the helo, is that what you mean?
 

Waspie

War Hero
Thanks for that, just curious.
So the torpedoes and DCs came up with the helo, is that what you mean?
Usually. I remember having a nightmare flight once!! I knew we were doing practice weapon loads after flying. However, the weapons weren't ready prior to getting the help on the flight deck. That meant lowering the lift to collect them after we got airborne!!!
All I could think about was the lift breaking in the down position and having to ditch next to the ship on our return!!!!
Mind you, when I was a mechanic. I thought of a way of utilising the lift to carry out oleo or wheel changing.
Normally that would entail jacking up the aircraft. (A harbour job). However!!!!
I came up with a way of carrying out the job at sea in sea states up to six(ish). Position the dodgy wheel over the lift. Put a jack on the non moving part of the flight deck. Tie the aircraft down with bottles and chains. Lower the lift to a working height, wheel free of the deck. Carry out the work. raise the lift- bOb's yer uncle!!!!! Pat on back mention in despatches!!! Well - mention in squadron dits!!!!
 
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