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Ken Wayman

Is Mike Meech out there?

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Ken Wayman

I have been advised by author Trevor Henshaw to ask a technical question of Mike Meech in respect of contact aircraft at the Battle of Langemarck in 1917. Does anyone know if Mike posts on the GWF and under what name?

 

Thanks

 

Ken

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Waddell

Ken,

 

He posts as MikeMeech and has posted recently.

 

Send him a PM.

 

Scott

Edited by Waddell
Added more.

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MikeMeech
8 hours ago, Ken Wayman said:

I have been advised by author Trevor Henshaw to ask a technical question of Mike Meech in respect of contact aircraft at the Battle of Langemarck in 1917. Does anyone know if Mike posts on the GWF and under what name?

 

Thanks

 

Ken

Hi Ken

Yes, I am here on the GWF.  What is the 'technical' question?  If I have the answer from my research or in my documents then I will give you the information you require.

 

Mike

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Ken Wayman

Hello Mike and sorry to trouble you.

 

I'm researching for a projected book on 56th Division at the Battle of Langemarck 16-18 August 1917. Trevor Henshaw has helped me a great deal on the air cover provided but there is one question on which he suggested I contact yourself.

 

I wrote:

"Contact aeroplanes (identifiable by two black oblong plates fixed at right angles to the rear edge of the lower planes, one on each side of the fuselage and about 3 feet from it) were to fly over the most advanced troops. On 13th August the GOC 8th Division offered the opinion that the rear edge of the planes were not big enough to be sufficiently conspicuous, and the OC No.4 Squadron RFC agreed to have larger, more conspicuous plates made for the contact ‘planes. German aeroplanes flying streamers had called for flares by dropping white lights and sounding Klaxon horns. All ranks will be therefore warned not to show flares except to aeroplanes carrying the proper marks for contact patrol work (copies were sent to the three brigades that might be on 56th Divisional battlefield)."

 

Trevor commented: "(I’ve got to say I am not sure about these “plates” you’ve mentioned – I’m no expert on Contact Patrol methods, but I would think “a plate” would cause handling issues.  Is it more “a panel”?  i.e some material?  I’m sure there are experts on this out there.  Did you spot mention of this in some 4 Sqn work?"

 

The source I used was the War Diary WO95/2934, '56 Division Instructions No.2' that was circulated to brigades on August 12th 1916. Under 'Contact Aeroplanes' is written, "Contact aeroplanes will be distinguished by two black plates fixed to the rear of the plane". On the diagram it shows the 'planes' on the rear of the lower wing a short distance from the fuselage. After the battle there is criticism that the 'plates' were too small to see easily.

 

My question is the same as Trevor's - what would such 'plates' have been made from and would they have affected the performance of the machine in any respect?

 

Thank you for your time (and the rather dramatic request in the title!!)

 

Ken Wayman

 

 

 

6 hours ago, Waddell said:

Ken,

 

He posts as MikeMeech and has posted recently.

 

Send him a PM.

 

Scott

Thank you. When I first looked at my mail this a.m. Mike had replied but thank you for your efforts to help me.

 

Ken

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MikeMeech
7 hours ago, Ken Wayman said:

Hello Mike and sorry to trouble you.

 

I'm researching for a projected book on 56th Division at the Battle of Langemarck 16-18 August 1917. Trevor Henshaw has helped me a great deal on the air cover provided but there is one question on which he suggested I contact yourself.

 

I wrote:

"Contact aeroplanes (identifiable by two black oblong plates fixed at right angles to the rear edge of the lower planes, one on each side of the fuselage and about 3 feet from it) were to fly over the most advanced troops. On 13th August the GOC 8th Division offered the opinion that the rear edge of the planes were not big enough to be sufficiently conspicuous, and the OC No.4 Squadron RFC agreed to have larger, more conspicuous plates made for the contact ‘planes. German aeroplanes flying streamers had called for flares by dropping white lights and sounding Klaxon horns. All ranks will be therefore warned not to show flares except to aeroplanes carrying the proper marks for contact patrol work (copies were sent to the three brigades that might be on 56th Divisional battlefield)."

 

Trevor commented: "(I’ve got to say I am not sure about these “plates” you’ve mentioned – I’m no expert on Contact Patrol methods, but I would think “a plate” would cause handling issues.  Is it more “a panel”?  i.e some material?  I’m sure there are experts on this out there.  Did you spot mention of this in some 4 Sqn work?"

 

The source I used was the War Diary WO95/2934, '56 Division Instructions No.2' that was circulated to brigades on August 12th 1916. Under 'Contact Aeroplanes' is written, "Contact aeroplanes will be distinguished by two black plates fixed to the rear of the plane". On the diagram it shows the 'planes' on the rear of the lower wing a short distance from the fuselage. After the battle there is criticism that the 'plates' were too small to see easily.

 

My question is the same as Trevor's - what would such 'plates' have been made from and would they have affected the performance of the machine in any respect?

 

Thank you for your time (and the rather dramatic request in the title!!)

 

Ken Wayman

 

 

 

Thank you. When I first looked at my mail this a.m. Mike had replied but thank you for your efforts to help me.

 

Ken

Hi

 

A variety of markings were used on aircraft for Contact Patrol (and Counter Attack Patrol) work, this included 3-ply wood of various sizes hinged to the trailing edge from about 1 foot square to 1ft. 3 inches by 2 feet.  Also fabric 'flags' also from the trailing edge.  Streamers could also be attached to the rear inter-plane struts (or even trailing edge) and/or rudder.  Painted (temporary paint) markings could also be applied under the wings and used in conjunction with the other markings.  However, 'orders' describing the markings can be fairly 'loose' in their language, for example: "An oblong black streamer 2 feet by 1-foot wide, made of wood, attached to the rear edge of each bottom plane about midway between the wing tip and the fuselage."  Basically a 'Panel' not 'streamer'.  There are photos of various Corps aeroplanes fitted with these markings, many of which appear in my article ('Markings Worn by RFC/RAF Contact Patrol and Associated Mission Aeroplanes') that appeared in the Summer 2016 edition of 'Cross & Cockade International' (for more info please PM me with your e-mail address and I can send it to you).

 

There are various comments reference size of markings but post war they appear to have been standardised on 1ft by 18 inches hinged on the trailing edge that extended from the painted black stripe under the wing.

 

I have yet to find any mention of the 3-ply panels, of any size, affecting the flying performance of the Corps aeroplanes, there are statements that all the equipment added to these types made them less manoeuvrable than the pilots would have liked.  I have asked a pilot that has flown a reproduction RE.8 if the addition of these panels would have caused a problem and he believed it would be unlikely.  

1137157983_cpgrd634.jpg.ab00227e1c66ebdafc37f7d7311235b7.jpg

Above a well published image of a 16 Sqn. RE.8 fitted with a 3-ply panel, plus a Klaxon Horn sticking out of the underside of the fuselage, for Contact Patrol work during winter 1917/18.

951628334_cpgrd089.jpg.c03f4370bc4a3d223d4d9599effc7168.jpg

A No. 42 Sqn. RE.8 between June and August 1917, with what appears to be two 3-ply panels on the starboard trailing edge, smaller panels than the previous image.

1735705880_cpgrd556.jpg.39f3a708ead4a7675e1e9dc87b00c430.jpg

A No.4 Sqn. RE.8 from 12.5.1918, showing the 'hinge points' to fit the panel.  

 

I hope that is of use, but, please contact me if you wish for more detailed information.

 

Mike

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fetubi

Fascinating information Mike.  It all makes sense to me, now you've explained it.  I love experts!

Trevor

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MikeMeech
20 minutes ago, fetubi said:

Fascinating information Mike.  It all makes sense to me, now you've explained it.  I love experts!

Trevor

Hi

That's very kind of you Trevor, especially as you are 'the expert' as regards British and Commonwealth air fighting casualties.

 

Mike

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Ken Wayman

Wow! That's a superb explanation and clarifies everything for me. I still wonder how the lads on the deck could pick out such relatively small 'markers' in the fog of battle. I am also in awe of how the pilots could fly the machine, watch for the enemy in the sky, observe the lines below, check for the infantry SOS and then communicate accurately the accrued information. Remarkable young men.

Thank you so much, Mike.

Ken 

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MikeMeech
1 hour ago, Ken Wayman said:

Wow! That's a superb explanation and clarifies everything for me. I still wonder how the lads on the deck could pick out such relatively small 'markers' in the fog of battle. I am also in awe of how the pilots could fly the machine, watch for the enemy in the sky, observe the lines below, check for the infantry SOS and then communicate accurately the accrued information. Remarkable young men.

Thank you so much, Mike.

Ken 

Hi

The Infantry also had various opinions and ideas on the equipment they used to show their location to the Contact aeroplane. I covered the majority of these items in an article for The Society for Army Historical Research last year, this was Special Publication No. 18, 'A Long, Long Trail A-Winding - Centenary Perspective on the Great War.'  The orders you have should indicate what the infantry were using on the 'day'.

 

Mike

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Ken Wayman

 

 

Thank you again, Mike.

I believe the infantry were employing red flares on the day, according to the instructions.

Much obliged to you.

 

Ken

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