Sunday, 26 February 2012

Floors and Ramps

Floors and Ramps
Throughout this project I have continually looked for things that I might have missed in identifying differences between Labradors and Voyageurs. Every photo or article I came across I scrutinized in search of new info or something that may be revealed in a different light or from a different perspective. More often than not there was nothing new to be found, but I continue to look. This project was in the beginning going to be a book...but then I thought a CD would be the way to go and finally the advantages of doing a blog dawned on a blog it is. It was the creation of this blog that has at last brought me something new about something old...something I had not thought about much.

Shortly after the blog got going, I received what I felt was some positive feedback that prompted me to join IPMS Canada as they intended to do an article on CH-113s. Much to my surprise and pleasure in addition to my first magazine I received with my membership card, a second magazine, which contained a couple of terrific articles on Labs and Voyageurs, but they were not the articles I was anticipating...for they have yet to be written. One of the articles in the magazines I received, was the source of a thought provoking perspective that changed, albeit minutely, the direction of this post.

The article in Volume 34, number 1 of IPMS Canada Random Thoughts written by Mr. Akira Watanabe referenced three variations of ramps and two variations of floors in Labradors and Voyageurs. It was my intent to discuss the floors in this post and not delve into ramps too very much as they were merely extensions of the floors, other than the manner in which they operated that is (hydraulic vs. electric)...that is until I read Mr. Watanabe's article.  I agree entirely with Mr. Akira Watanabe, but thought I would answer my own question about why I did not intend comment on the difference in ramps and on Mr. Watanabe's astute observation that instead of two floor types and two ramp types, there are in fact two floor types, but three ramp types.

A trip through some of the pictures in this blog will reveal that some Labradors have what appears to be Voyageur tails, but without the APU. Those aircraft, 302 and 304 for example sustained damage that required a new aft end. The source of these new rear ends turned out to be the US Marines who where replacing the rear ends of some of their early H-46s as they were prone to snapping off in hard landings in Vietnam. This then is how a third ramp style came to be. I haven't looked into it too much, but it is likely that if a picture of Voyageurs surfaces showing two different ramp styles it is probable that those particular Voyageurs may also have sustained damage that necessitated a tail change as 302 and 304 did. These two helicopters, I believe, do have the Marine tails accounting for the differences in the ramps of these two and perhaps other Labradors.

The text of my original writings on floors started with the comment that Voyageurs were purchased by the Army to move equipment and personnel from rear echelon positions to positions closer to the action.  The distance between the two geographic positions was relatively short so as has been noted Voyageurs were not fitted with long- range fuel tanks.  If greater range was needed internal, fuel bladders could be added a modification that took, as I understand it, about three years to implement.  Operationally, the role of the Voyageur was essentially that of a transport.
The ramp pictured above is, I believe the original Labrador style ramp although with hydraulic ramp actuators, because it is 301. Photo courtesy of Jeff Wilson

 To accommodate expedient loading and unloading the floor of the Voyageur was more robust than that of Labradors.  The center panels of Voyageurs were built to handle heavier loads of vehicles and military pallets.  On either side of the center panels was a row of rollers and outside of the rollers were vehicle tread ways designed to handle rubber-tired (as opposed to tracked) wheel loads.

Rollers were in place the full length of the fuselage and ramp.  The cargo ramp also had two smaller folding ramps that could be positioned at any point along the width of the ramp to accommodate a variety of different sized loads. The construction of the floors as described above extended to the ramps.

While the roller-less tracks inside the cabin are not clear, the tracks on the ramp are. It is worth noting as well that ramp actuators are hydraulically operated kind as opposed to the electrically operated screw jacks. Photo courtesy Scott Hemsley

The floor of Labradors was unlike all other CH-46/KV-107 models in that the construction of the floor was lighter and lacked the rollers.  At some point in their SAR careers rollers were deemed expendable and removed from Voyageurs, although the roller tracks and small ramps extentions remained.!
The picture above is of an H-46, but is as a Voyageur floor and ramp would look.
While the tracks on the cabin floor are barely visible, they can be seen enough to suggest the airframe above is a Voyageur. The third style ramp Mr. Watanabe referred, is probably on Labradors with Marine tails an be similar to the ramp floor above likely only differing in the layout of the anti-slip areas.

A Marine tailed ramp on Labrador 306 perhaps?
I believe this is both a Voyageur. Note the layout of the anti-slip areas. Photo courtesy of Derek Heyes

Labrador 302 with a Marine tail - no APU.

304 Without a tail. The replacement tail will be a Marine tail.
401 without a tail...not sure this one received a Marine tail???
402 Without a tail, I believe this one did receive a Marine tail.
Codlfish Lake - November 1968.

304 Went through a similar self mutilation exercise in the late '70s, but because it had the old metal blades the damage fling wings were tossed about and through the hangars at Comox.
308 In Borden as a training aid.

1 comment:

  1. I always wondered about the difference. Thanks and great job with your blog!