Monday, 20 February 2012

Operational Differences - Antennae

Section 3
Operational Differences
Operational differences will look at equipment or features of the Labrador and Voyageur from an operational perspective.  Because both of these aircraft served in the search and rescue role for most of their existence the majority of the discussion will focus on SAR.!
It is in all probability doubtful that the antennae on one aircraft matched exactly that of another at any given time as such was the pace of change with radios and navigational equipment.  For this reason alone I will not get too much into the various antennae, save for two notable examples; High frequency (HF) and Search and Rescue homing beacon (SARAH).  It is incumbent on the modeler to check photos carefully if accuracy is your aim with respect to antennae. I will where possible be identifying the various antenna, if the antenna is identifiable.

We can see for sure that when 401 was going through CEPE acceptance trials, it did so with HF radio antennae installed. The shorter front antennae spar is aft of the cockpit glass and almost on the red lightning stripe, while the rear spar is in the white area aft of the intake, but ahead of the exhaust. The aft spar was longer than the front spar.

At the time of the helicopter purchase radios and navigational aides were barely out of infancy compared to what aircraft of the ‘70s, ‘80s and beyond would have.  Perhaps one of the most important pieces of equipment was, and maybe still is, is the High Frequency (HF) radio.  HF gives aircraft crews the ability, under the right conditions, to transmit/receive to and from another station anywhere in the world.  HF radios have been a part of the Labrador’s communications arsenal since the earliest days and continued to be so until retirement. Pictures of HF radio antennae as they changed over the years illustrate changes in HF antenna design and location that are representative of antennae evolution for all radios and navigation aids. One picture in Mr. Pat Martin’s book shows 305 with a blade HF antenna painted green whereas the more common colour was blue. Yet, another picture shows a yellow aircraft carrying the blade antenna on the left side, which became the standard. In Pat Martin’s newest book, “Royal Canadian Air Force – Aircraft Finish and Markings 1947-1968 – Volume 2”, there is a picture of a RWB Labrador with the blade antenna just aft of the front door on the right side of the aircraft…I am of the opinion that this was part of HF trials. To further illustrate my point regarding antenna location, a couple of pictures show Labrador 301 with the final version of the HF antenna in the same location as the HF antenna on Voyageurs. A picture from a later date shows the HF antenna on 301 in the standard location for Labradors. It is unclear why there is a difference in the HF locations on the later date Labs and Voyageurs, but it is a certainty the difference was maintained until retirement.

The reason for showing this picture is not Cpl Langlois, but rather it is the fact that the HF blade antennae on aircraft 405 is green.  Canadian Forces photo
Aircraft 302 with the same blade antenna, however it is blue. Photo courtesy of Dave Marshall
A look at 302's HF antenna from a more forward position. Photo courtesy Derek Heyes
A Couple of things to note in the picture courtesy of Pat Mercer...first preSARCUP version of 305 sports a yellow HF blade antenna and secondly the RESCUE title is black and in english only...not RESCUE Sauvetage on the same side.
Eventually both Labradors and Voyageurs could be seen with what became to be known as the "towel rack" antenna. As you can see in the above photo, the location of the towel rack on the Voyageur is squarely on the lightning stripe. Photo courtesy of Derek Heyes
This photo of 301 shows clearly the location of the towel rack, on Labradors, above the lightning stripe. Photo courtesy of Jeff Wilson
I seriously doubt that even the most ardent of modeler is going to model the instrument panel and console to follow the changes in the various radios and nav aids, indeed it might be impossible in scales smaller than 1:48, however the change in antennae is doable. One of the earliest antennas that present the modeler with a manageable challenge is SARAH. Radios early in their developmental stages were comparatively unsophisticated and of limited function; so much so that it was uncommon for downed aircraft to be able to communicate with searchers. Additionally, searchers lacked any real technological means to locate the downed aircraft. “SARAH”, (search and rescue homing beacon) changed that.

The SARAH antenna on the right side can be seen on the other side of WO Doc Savage and the Swedish boom hoist and ahead of the open door but behind the cockpit greenhouse. Photo Randy Brown collection
A more forward view of the right side SARAH antenna. Photo Randy Brown collection

Unfortunately, I have virtually no information on early Voyageur antennae. This is particularly so for the early years through to the time when Voyageurs were painted yellow and modifications were being undertaken to make them SAR capable.!

Photo Courtesy Scott Hemsley
Photo courtesy Scott Hemsley

No comments:

Post a Comment