‘This `dit` was sent to me by a young relative. His Uncle, nearly a Century ago, served as an Aircraft Fitter in what was probably a Vought Corsair squadron in HMS Formidable. She and her Squadrons were still heavily involved in the Pacific Theatre, with inevitable losses of aircraft and crews.
The war, now ended in Europe, was still raging in the Pacific as the Japanese fearlessly contested the approach to their Homeland by allied forces.
The tale shows how bonded the Squadrons became, and how the `mend em` men on the deck were loyally aware, even possessive, of the `bend em` boys, the aircrew who flew their machines, and often failed to bring them back to `land back on Mother`.
I think the aircraft in question was probably the Vought Corsair; (my informant was ex RAF and a bit short on the detail in his late Uncle’s yarn), but the story is poignant, and is, I am sure, as common today as it was then.
The Corsair was a large single seat Fighter, rugged and powerful, as most American Carrier aircraft are. The young Fitter noted that the pilots only Dinghy was stowed behind a hatch situated in the fuselage well behind the Cockpit and Wing, towards the tail.
In the event of a `ditching`, the pilot, possibly injured, would have to swim back to open the hatch and obtain access extract and inflate the dinghy. He decided that a release system manually operated from the cockpit would be far safer for the pilot.
He devised a system that involved making a hole from cockpit to the hatch lock. This carried a cable that could be activated by the pilot in or alongside the cockpit.
The finishing touch, I think, shows supreme initiative. He fitted a Lavatory `flushing handle`, possibly, but hopefully not, from the Officers `heads` and fitted it into the cockpit. It was a great success’.
Veteran Brian Allen