Friday, 6 March 2015

Individual Profiles - Airframe 402

Individual Profiles - Airframe 402

After a lengthy absence, I will recommence with discussing individual airframes. Today Labrador 402 in red, white and blue livery is the subject of the blog. While Christmas has passed and the next is still a long way off, I would like to start with this photo of Santa Claus in the door way of 113402. This one of the photos I had sought for the last little while. Starting from the top of the aircraft, we can see that the early rotor blades lacked ISIS indicators. While we can't distinguish the blade root colour indicator, we can at least see that there is a coloured strip on each blade root.

In the photo we can clearly see the heater exhaust on the forward pylon, the double pitot tube configuration slightly behind and above the pilots emergency exit door. Between the forward door and the pilot's position we can see the right side SARAH antenna. On the pilot's emergency exit door, although it is difficult to make out, the latch is red with a silver lock. Below the emergency door are white last three numbers. Aft of the front exit Dutch doors the three SAS ports are clearly visible in the "E" of the right side RESCUE.

The things that I notice to be most striking are: 1) There is no Swedish boom, 2) the lower Dutch door has the typical stair configuration and 3) the cabin wall or SAS bay cover appears to be sheet metal, there are no holes, gauges, map cases or crash axe and the cover appears to be unpainted. The conclusions that this suggests are that Labradors relied on the internal hoist to do center hatch hoisting only until the boom hoist was installed, the Labrador lower Dutch door we have come to expect on the CH-113 Labrador was a later addition and possibly locally made? Lastly, the photo suggests that the SAS bay was an after thought.

Photo via Comox Aviation Museum

Starting at the rear of the aircraft, we can see that 402 still has its original tail section, which has the full size black exhaust strip. The aircraft is equipped with conical shaped engine inlet covers, but does not appear to have any drain covers at the aft of the fuselage. Moving forward along the fuselage, the forward most position is the only one equipped with a search blister. Engaged in a front door pick up of a Para Rescueman, it is still obvious that the lower Dutch door is the SAR version and not the transport version. The aircraft has chin mounted mirrors and has the Air Transport Command title above RESCUE.  While the lower Dutch door has been modified or changed, the helicopter does not yet have a Swedish boom.

For something to no consider for a water diorama, note that the aft upper hatch is open, the lower Dutch door is level, flight suit worn by the Flight Engineer in the door is gray and the Para Rescuemen's wet suit is black, not the red that would eventually become standard. Some last observations on this photo are: there are two fuel tank braces, so from this point on, this is the norm, and the aircraft is pretty much free of any servicing markings such as the fire extinguishers or NATO servicing markings.

In the above 1966 photograph taken in Vernon, British Columbia the aircraft is virtually identical as the previous photo, with the notable exception that it is now equipped with a Swedish boom. A couple of other observations... 1) Like the picture above this one, the aircraft has RESCUE on the right side, SAUVETAGE has yet to appear, the fuel tank dump tubes are second generation and the wheel rims all appear to be aluminum in colour. Another look of the pre-crash landing 402 is below, taken I believe in 1967.

November, 1968 - Coldfish Lake, British Columbia
While the RESCUE title is still prominent on the fuselage, the title above the lightning stripe is no longer Royal Canadian Air Force, but rather Forces Armees Canadiennes. Mid fuselage and on the other side of 402 you can see the tail of a 442 Squadron Albatross that would have delivered technicians, equipment and parts.

Aft and forward pylons, fuel sponsons, wheels and mirrors have all been removed. The aircraft will undergo repair in Boeing's Arnprior facilities.

Back in service after receiving extensive repairs, 402 is seen here with it's new USMC tail section that only lacks the tail mounted auxiliary power unit, but otherwise could easily be confused with a Voyageur. With the new tail section we can see our static discharge cords on the trailing edge. Also new are the drain covers absent in before crash pictures. Not readily noticeable are the black numbers. In this photo, the helo still only has one search blister. The Swedish boom is extended and the lower Dutch door is pinned beneath the fuselage to facilitate hoist operations.

Taken at or about the same time as the previous photo, 402 gives us a good look at the red/orange panel on the underside of the fuselage and the silver panel forward of the nose wheel. the mirrors are red with red/white barber pole supports and black letters.

In the next blog, we will look at aircraft 403, expect to see many more pictures some of which have not been displayed on the blog before.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Some short updates

Sorry folks, but there will be no NEW pictures in this least not yet. My primary aim today is to let you know that the  blog is still  active and that more useful modelling info is coming, just not today. I have seen and am trying to purchase pictures that will perhaps be among the most important presented on the blog to date, at least for those modelers that aim for a high degree of accuracy. Specifically, I am trying to acquire pictures, I have recently seen that show the portable  auxiliary power unit (APU) mounted on the aft ramp of CH-113 Labradors and pictures of operational Labradors that have the very early and perhaps what might logically be considered, first generation fuel dump tubes.

The picture(s) of the ramp mounted APU will be the only one(s) I am aware of that exist? With respect to the dump tube, the unanswered  question is...did these presumably first generation dump tubes (pictured in the new pictures, thus far not in my possession), appear on or before the Labrador was operational? To this point I have felt that the dump tube I consider first generation (side mounted on the tank) had not appeared on operational aircraft, but the new pictures may suggest otherwise? Stay tuned!!!!

In the meantime, I  hope you enjoy some teasers of air frame 402. Answer the question... are the pictures in sequence? Tell me your thoughts on the pictures....

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Phase 2 - Individual Aircraft Profiles - 401

Labrador 401 in Red White and Blue Colours

CH-113 Labrador - Canadian H-46s for the Modeler 
– The Next Phase

And so begins the next phase of my blog, which as an avid modeler recently told me, while a very narrow focus the subject is none-the-less interesting. His observations and comments are in fact the reality for H-46, and variants aficionados and it just occurred to me that the focus might in some ways be getting even narrower while hopefully still having appeal to the less ardent H-46, KV-107 or Labrador/Voyageur fan.

The focus and intent of this phase of the blog will be to deal with individual airframes as they evolved from time of purchase to retirement. Essentially Labradors will be looked at individually while in red, white and blue livery wearing 400 series numbers. The second chapter will discuss Labradors still in red, white and blue, but renumbered with 300 series numbers. The third chapter will move into the era of yellow pre-SARCUP helicopters before finally moving on to the yellow SARCUP era.

Once discussions on Labradors are finished focus will shift to green “ARMY” Voyageurs wearing 400 series numbers, following which there will be some discussion of green Voyageurs with 300 series numbers. As Voyageurs were transferred to Air Force inventory to take up search and rescue duties, still wearing army green albeit with temporary SAR markings so too will the focus of the blog shift somewhat. As with the Labrador chapters, following transition from early liveries and numbering the blog topics will shift to pre-SARCUP yellow aircraft and finally the last chapter in this next phase will deal with SARCUP Voyageurs. That done, the blog will venture into the area of kits.

I must confess that I have used the words “discuss, discussed and discussion” somewhat gratuitously because in fact discussion will simply be statements on my observations of the above subjects based almost entirely on available pictures with a smattering of information about each airframe found on the Internet and in Patrick Martin’s books mixed in with my own personal recollections.

Like all CH-113 Labrador variants, 401 was a model 107-II-9 numbered 9301 at the time of construction. 401 Was TOS (taken on strength) by the Royal Canadian Air Force on September 24, 1963 as 10401 which was ferried to Canada as N6680D were it was received on 11 October 1963 at RCAF Station Trenton, Ontario, home to 102 (KU) Composite Unit.

In their book “Royal Canadian Air Force – Aircraft and Finish and Markings – 1947 to 1968”, Patrick Martin and John Griffin point out that 10401 is the only aircraft to be delivered with no white in the fuselage lighting stripe and as is obvious in the above photograph, fluorescent orange rotor pylons. Fluorescent orange markings were intended as an anti-collision measure. One of the interesting but obscure points Martin and Griffin make that most modelers may miss is that until May 22, 1964 all six rotor tips were yellow. After that date, the three aft rotor tips were painted red. In the photo above the roundels are co-located on the aft fuselage next to the last three serial numbers, which are clearly white in colour. On November 17, 1963, the roundels were relocated to the tanks. It was not until February 26, 1965 that the fluorescent orange was changed to red.

My observations include, over and above antennae located on the nose, underbelly and on the sync shaft tunnel are that there is a fuel dump tube located on the outside and back end of the tanks, something that when this blog was started I was unsure about. The aircraft above also has grey seals around the starboard emergency exit windows and therefore in all probability grey seals around the left side emergency exit and door.  Most notable, however is the lack of engine inlet screens. Even subtler than the foregoing observations is the demarcation of the fluorescent orange and white paint on the very front of the aft rotor pylon. It is difficult to say with any certainty whether or not the picture below is equipped with SARAH aft of the cockpit… if it does not have SARAH the picture would likely have been taken earlier than the picture above. Finally yet significantly is the lack of any fuel tank/sponson braces on the 401 in either the picture above or below.

While it may be hard to say which picture was taken first, it is my assertion that the above photo was taken earlier than the first, based only on the strength of it not having a SARAH antenna and that it lacks a Red Ensign on the aft pylon even though the second picture shows 401 with a better (read newer) paint job. Either way, note the crispness of the Royal Canadian Air Force titles compared with the picture preceding it, the location of the roundel and numbers in three locations (pylon, fuselage and nose). As for subtle points, note the narrow black exhaust strip and the nearness of the front edge of the black strip to the front of the exhaust and of course the even or consistent shape of the leading edge of the black exhaust strip. Again we can see that there are still no tank/sponson braces. In the above photo we can also see that the last three serials have been placed just below the pilot’s cockpit glass door.

The first thing one sees when looking at the above photo of 401 is the inclusion of the Central Experimentation and Proving Establishment (CEPE) crest on the tank. The CEPE bear crest is on both tanks. The side profile gives the modeler a decent look at the antenna placement as the aircraft enters RCAF service. You can also see the placement of the HF antenna starting just above the forward part of the lightning stripe and ending slightly higher up the side of the fuselage and a few inches aft of the engine inlet, which now have FOD (foreign object damage) screens installed to protect the engines from ice and ground debris when landing away from unprepared landing zones, common to the SAR role. Still looking at the rear of the aircraft, note that the opening in the aft pylon is trimmed in silver. The above picture gives a good view of the landing gear, which shows the nose gear wheel to be white or aluminium even though it was not until March 10, 1970 that official drawings were amended to include aluminium wheels and blue struts. The last few observations are that 401 has a SARAH antennae fitted aft of the cockpit greenhouse, the left side fuel dump is clearly visible on the fuel tank/sponson and finally as suggested above, the left side emergency window exit does indeed have a grey seal… however the emergency door exit does not. Different from the previous pictures is the addition of a single tank/sponson brace. The brace does not appear to have a fairing. While the second photo shows the last three serials on the nose, a chronologically accurate photo (the third in this series) shows the numbers off again.

No new info in the above picture, but a reaffirmation of some of earlier comments. The picture gives us a bit of a look at the left side pitot tube located just above and behind the pilot’s glass emergency door. Like the previous picture we can clearly see the three left side static discharge ports. In the previous picture we get a better indication of where the static discharge ports are in relation to the fluorescent orange “R” in RESCUE. Other than the location of the various antennae including SARAH, note the pattern of black exhaust on aft fuselage and for this particular aircraft the peeled paint in and around the forward rotor pylon. Again note the demarcation between the white area around the engine inlets and the fluorescent red paint on the aft rotor pylon. The still single tank brace does still not have a fairing and is barely discernible over the roundel even when the picture is enlarged. Once again, the last three serials are not in place on the nose and the aircraft has to this point retained the fuel dump tubes as installed by Boeing Vertol.

The cover picture for the January/February 1964 edition of Roundel magazine (the Royal Canadian Air Force magazine of the day) offers next to nothing new other than the CEPE official crest aft of the front Dutch door and ahead of the first cabin window. One other thing to note is that the front nose wheel appears to be blue, or at least it is not white or aluminium. It is possible that the left wheel has an aluminium rim whereas the right side wheel has a blue rim? There also appears to be no mirrors at this point.

A few things to note in the picture above, including the change from the Red Ensign to the Canadian flag…the Red Ensign is thought to have remained on some aircraft until 1965. Moving down from the flag we can see that the black exhaust strip covers a larger area, as the white area below the original exhaust strip is now also black. The engine inlet area is black, but I am confident this is a temporary maintenance related state. While the last three white serials remain on the aft fuselage. The roundel, which in this picture has a small maple leaf, is now located on the tank. As previously noted, the roundel was officially moved to the tanks 17 November 1963. It is clear now that the tanks have two sponson braces with fairings. The emergency door seals are blue and finally the door handles on the Dutch door and cockpit glass doors are red with a silver lock. It is difficult to say, but it appears, if you know where to look and at what to look at, the aircraft now has mirrors and that the mirrors are blue. The last three serials are once again on the forward portion of the fuselage.

Still wearing Royal Canadian Air Force titles, 401 has the small leaf on the tank mounted roundel… the last three white serials are on the aft fuselage just above one of the drain vent covers, which we have not previously in any of the presented pictures. The black exhaust area leading edge is straight and goes the full width from the bottom of the red aft rotor pylon to the lightning stripe and we can clearly see the two tank braces with fairings. We can also see in this photo that 401 has the new style dump tubes at the extreme aft end of the tanks/sponsons and that the helo has mirrors on the nose so the pilots can view them through the chin blisters. With the Dutch door open we get a peek into the cabin area at the black and yellow barber poled Swedish boom. Slightly ahead of the Dutch door is the SARAH antenna. Looking at the aft end of the airframe, we can see that 401 has the original tail without the APU. This the first photo that shows the white portion of the aft rotor pylon as being red instead of having the white at the front end.

Like the picture before it, the above photo has 401 still displaying Royal Canadian Air Force titles and the small maple leaf in the tank-mounted roundel. Unlike any of the previous photos, particularly the coloured ones red circles are clearly noticeable around the filler cap on the tanks and around the SAS static discharge ports on the nose. The nose mounted antennal can be seen as can the side mounted HF antenna above the lightning stripe and the SARAH antenna. You should also be able to see the third pitot tube mounted, in the white, above and slightly aft of the pilot’s cockpit glass. Blue mirrors and the two tank braces are also visible in the above picture. New is the black area at the front of the aft rotor pylon clamshell doors. The black exhaust area still has a straight leading edge. As we have come to expect at this stage of its brief service life, 401 has white last three serials on both the aft fuselage and the nose.  Also noticeable is that 401 still has the original Lab tail, engine inlet screens and new style dump tubes. The opening on the aft pylon behind the Canada flag does not have the silver edge and finally the emergency exit seals and wheels like the mirrors are all blue.

While a nice picture, I can see nothing new in the above picture.

The picture below is taken at Arnprior, Ontario, Boeing Vertol’s Canadian overhaul and repair facility. It is difficult to say when the picture was taken as the aircraft is still wearing Royal Canadian Air Force titles, which remained until approximately April 4, 1968. The picture also gives one a reasonable look at the nose-mounted antennae. Given all of the indicators it is likely 401 is at Arnprior for a scheduled overhaul and not for repairs because of damage. We do know that 401 incurred fire damage on 22nd of July 1969 and that it was likely repaired at Arnprior before being returned to service. It is almost a certainty the fire occurred after the picture below was taken as we have already indicated 401 is still wearing Royal Canadian Air Force titles when we know that titles changed to the Canadian Armed Forces asymmetrical titles in April of 1968, a year and a bit before the fire.

On April 4th of the 1968, the Royal Canadian Air Force titles were removed and replaced with Canadian Armed Forces titles. The asymmetrical titles had Canadian Armed Forces on the port side and the French version “Forces Armee Canadienne” on the starboard side. Later in 1968 a squadron crest was added to the left side of the fuselage, which will help us approximate the date of some photos.

  • March 10, 1970 Fluorescent  RESCUE/SAUVETAGE titles
  • May 5, 1970 Fluorescent RESCUE/RESCUE titles
  • August 4, 1971 last three serials changed back to white from black

On 22 July 1969 401 suffered a major fire. The aircraft was sent to Arnprior, repaired and eventually returned to service. Close attention to pictures taken after the above photo of repairs being made at Arnprior should show 401 with a APUless Voyageur tail or more accurately a former USMC tail. The Marine Corps removed tails from their early model H-46s as they were separating on hard landings during combat action in the Vietnam War. Their machines returned to service with beefed up tails while some of the discarded tails were used for repairs of damaged aircraft from at least Canada, but presumably for other countries as well.

For a few months in 1970 (May to November) the fluorescent RESCUE on the starboard side was replaced with SAUVETAGE before reverting to RESCUE. In August of 1971, and again, for a short time the last three serials were changed from white to black and then back to white. The photo of 401 shows the last three serials as black suggesting the photo was taken in mid to late 1971.

Other than the change to asymmetrical titles and black serials, the most notable thing to me is the inclusion of white “hash marks” around the emergency exits.

19 November 1971 (Have also seen this date as 1 Dec 71) CAF Renumbered to 11301.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Some more small details

Some More Small Details
This is the last of the originally planned posts before we move into a new, but perhaps by now a somewhat less obscure and maybe even a familiar direction. I have vacillated somewhat...having stated previously that the next set of blogs will move into discussion and pictures of individual air frames from purchase to retirement, but here in lies my hesitation. I had originally planned to venture into the area of kits, but felt that I did not have the knowledge of the various kits available to be of much use to modelers. Well I have decided to pass along what I do know about the kits that are available even though it may be a somewhat truncated offering. What I do know will, I think, be of use to some modelers, but ... are there enough modelers out there that are looking for some the info to make the effort now ... or later ... or even at all? My second thought is that the information I have to offer with respect to kits is limited so will not result in more than a few posts, so if I were to add kits to the blog, do I do those blogs now because there are only a few, or should they wait until the end. Comments are welcome, but with the blog at hand to be completed, I have some time to think about it and reassess how and when to proceed with what.

When I started writing the last post, I had intended to write about Labrador and Voyageur emergency handles, which were black and yellow from the very beginning and door seals but realized part way into the blog that even this small detail was worth spending more time on ... so I left the door and window seals until today.

At some point, each Labrador or Voyageur sported gray door or emergency exit seals, but for the most part door and emergency exit seals were the same colour as the fuselage for red, white and blue Labradors and all aircraft whether Labrador or Voyageur once the fleet was painted yellow. As is often the case however, there are exceptions to the rule and in the case of the seal colour, there are likely pictures of each airframe with gray seals regardless of variant, as I have said, once the fleet was painted yellow.  As I looked over the pictures, the scarcity of any red, white and blue Labradors or any yellow helicopter with gray seals suggests that the gray seals were for whatever reason, only a temporary occurrence, probably resulting from some event that resulted in unscheduled maintenance?  Interestingly I could find but one picture of a Labrador, 301, with window seals on emergency exits that were gray, however it is my considered opinion that any build could include any number of gray seals as long as they were not all gray while in Air Force inventory. The Army, however seems to use the gray to contrast the green as a rule to identify the exits for emergency use?

401 With grey window seal, but blue emergency exit seal.

401 In squadron service with blue window and emergency exit seal.
403 With a single gray window seal on the middle window only.
403 With grey window seals on both right side windows and what appears to be the Boeing Vertol American registration.
A Voyageur - post retirement with a gray seal.
A 442 Squadron Voyageur with the normal yellow painted seal.

A SAR Voyageur with gray seals at both blistered windows.
318 In Army livery with gray seals on both windows suggesting all emergency window exits may have been gray?
407 With left side gray seals suggesting that the gray seals were the norm. The left side emergency door seal is also gray.

413 In overall green with gray seals. When painted in the two colour variegated livery, the seals were fuselage colours. 


Door - stop blocks

While stationed in Gander in the 1980s, one of my compatriots was unceremoniously dropped to the deck of a Coast Guard ship while conducting a training hoist. Thankfully, he was not seriously injured, but the possibility of injury was not ignored. The fall was a result of a hoist cable that was severed and broke, for reasons that remain unclear. It was following that incident that I first recall hearing about a possible solution for preventing the likelihood of cables becoming entangled in the door hinge and as in this case, cutting the cable. This was of particular concern during boat hoists since the pilots in many of the cases lacked a stable platform to provide hover reference…meaning the helicopter and vessel were out of sync creating a dangerous situation for all, especially those on the hook which frequently included patients or survivors. To prevent the cable from being snagged and possibly breaking during these situations, stop blocks were fitted to the fuselage ahead and behind the front door hinge. This modification occurred sometimes during the SARCUP modification program.

Derek Heyes took this picture of the lower dutch door that reveals the stop blocks ... painted yellow here, but white in colour at other times.
Jeff Wilson supplied the above picture of 301 showing the aft stop block at the bottom of the lower dutch door.
Photo Patrick Martin - Voyageur 312 with stop blocks.
Photo Scott Hemsley
While there is no shortages of pictures showing the stop blocks, the blocks were on SARCUP helicopters only. The next photo shows how the Japanese solved the problem.

Note the stop blocks at the front of the door, the lower part of the one piece door and the fact that the door slides back.

Between 1990 and 1997 it would appear Voyageurs 315 and 316, flying out of Trenton, for a period of time had fuel tanks painted a “candy apple” red rather than the standard red.  The reason for the more decorative paint is unknown.  There is likewise no indication as to whether the tanks were painted the flashy colour once or more than once.


103 Rescue Squadron Crest

While I have not taken a lot of space to discuss crests and logos other than Unit badges that were displayed on Labs and Voyageurs, one additional logo should be mentioned.   On the 1st of March 1997, 103 Rescue Squadron celebrated 50 years of SAR service.  Unlike its’ 400 numbered squadron cousins, 103’s only role has been search and rescue.  To recognize the occasion, (SARCUP) Labradors 301 and 304 were adorned with the commemorative logo.


Fire Extinguisher Symbol

The use of a symbol to identify the location of crash axes and fire extinguishers is common on a lot of aircraft, so it is somewhat interesting to note that the use of either symbol was slow to take hold on the Labrador.  Voyageurs had the fire extinguisher symbol almost from the start, but it remains unclear whether either aircraft displayed the crash axe symbol even though they carried the extrication devices.

Fire extinguisher symbols are used in three general locations on the right rear part of the fuselage. There is some variation on location, but not a great deal.  On the left side of the aircraft, the use of fire extinguisher symbol is used in either one or two locations and interestingly on the left side; the symbols often were displayed in two different sizes.

During the early service life of both variants, the colour of the fire extinguisher symbol was yellow, however as the aircraft were painted yellow, the colour of the symbol was changed to red and by the FIP era the colour changed to black. On at least one aircraft, one symbol was red one black.

The various locations, sizes and colours are depicted in the pictures below.  When looking at the fire extinguisher symbol note that the red extinguisher of the CANADA era while the same in location may differ in the placement of the black symbol on aircraft painted with FIP symbols. In general, the colour of NATO aircraft servicing symbols do not necessarily correspond with the colour of the fire extinguisher symbols.
Unidentified Labrador

Unidentified Voyageur - note "CANADA" title.

Note red extinguisher on Labrador 301 as it sits in retirement. Photo - Jeff Wilson
Voyageur 307 in FIP livery - note black
Voyageur 313 in variegated livery, with no apparent fire extinguisher marking, however it may be that the extinguisher symbol is black and placed on the dark green, making it difficult to see? Other emergency symbols are yellow so it is doubtful that there is any extinguisher symbol?

Note the difference in the orientation of this red extinguisher compared to the previous photo of a red extinguisher, they are reversed.

Note there does not seem to be any NATO standard servicing markings on early Labradors.

Note placement of red fire extinguisher aft of the pilot's emergency exit in a preSARCUP Labrador.

No apparent emergency markings.

The photo above shows a Voyageur in Army green with a yellow extinguisher above the left side emergency exit and black CANADA title.
Voyageur 310 in Army green, early RESCUE markings and a yellow extinguisher placed on the fuselage in a reversed position compared with the previous preSAR photo.
Yellow extinguisher below the "3" in the aircraft serial "315".
The yellow extinguisher on Voyageur 315 appears to be placed in a "standing" position whereas all other extinguishers are laying horizontal.
316 At Arnprior without any indication of an extinguisher logo. Note that all other NATO markings are white and not the usual yellow.
I guess the thing most notable about this last section of the blog is that it is important to select your pictures carefully if accuracy is important to your build, but ultimately there is a great deal of flexibility in the use and placement of the fire extinguisher symbol.!