Sunday, 22 December 2013

Miscellaneous Discussion Points - SAR Interior

Chapter 3 – Miscellaneous Discussion Points
Equipment/baggage storage

Most people not familiar with the inside of a CH-113 considered the interior of a Labrador or Voyageur as large, however space and weight allowances were at a premium once SAR equipment, aircraft equipment, survival equipment and crew equipment were stowed.  It was common to have to unload some kit to deal with the specific circumstance of a particular mission.  For example when a mission was over water and near the aircraft’s limits, any equipment not necessary to complete that one mission would be off loaded and stored at a safe prearranged location at an airport, oil rig, lighthouse or some other suitable and secure location.  When the mission was over the helicopter would return for the gear before continuing on to home base.

Generally, from unit to unit, inventoried equipment for a SAR standby helicopter was the same with only minor variations.  The same goes for crew, survival and aircraft equipment, although not everyone used the same type of bag or case for their personnel overnight bag.  Where there was a difference, was in the storage of some of the equipment.   Where one unit would store the Billy Pugh rescue net over the left side SAR Tech position, another unit would store it on the right side just ahead of the stokes litter.  As time passed, one unit might store the horse collar on the left side radio rack, but for a variety of reasons move the horse collar to the right side behind the right side SAR Tech seat. The modeler has a great deal of latitude here, because as personnel rotated from unit to unit, so did their ideas as to where equipment should be stowed. Many minor power struggles were started over what storage location was better.

Ron Langevin checking one of the equipment boxes. There are many things to note in this Pat Martin photo. At the end of the box is a black and yellow handle cutaway knife used to cutaway hung-up jumper. Labradors and Voyageurs were used occasionally as a jump platform. The black and yellow handled straight hydraulic pump handle use to build pressure in a hydraulically operated ramp. Note the blue Xylene (?) fire extinguisher on the starboard aft fuselage wall. The Stokes Litter on the starboard fuselage ceiling is not painted.

In all but a few scenarios, it was standard practice, to use the back two litter positions on the left hand side.  The top litter was used for SAR Tech personal operational equipment (Dive, B-25 and overnight) bags, while the lower litter was used to store the B-25 (personal cold weather kit) and overnight bags for the remainder of the crew. As mentioned above everyone made their own choice of overnight bag, you would see suitcases of all sizes, shapes and colours; kit bags, parachute bags, locally manufactured clothing bags and so on, so if you have not already gotten the drift, these two litters were anything but standard and varied from one crew mix to another, never mind unit-to-unit.

Photo credit - Mo Egan/Carole Smith - 18 Jun 04 - Note - no floor rails. This aircraft was serving with 424 when the picture was taken. The Stokes Litter has been moved to support a training flight for CASARA spotter training and as was often the case to reduce weight...the litter would not have been removed if the trip were Operational. The silver water can at the end of the equipment box would not normally be stowed here on any of the units I had served with. The yellow wood chocks hanging on the end of the top port litter were common and the storage location was fairly typical. The hydraulic pump handle on this aircraft is not straight as in the previous picture and is gray.

The forward two litter positions may or may not have been used.  When not in use the forward upper litter would often be stowed against the airframe while the forward bottom litter was, more often than not, left up and open. Underneath the bottom rear, litter was survival equipment and aircraft equipment.  Under the bottom, forward litter was survival equipment and additional SAR Tech medical equipment.

For the modeler who wishes to leave the ramp/aft hatch and/or front doors open, it could be said there is no wrong answer.  While the aircraft was full when SAR configured, it could be virtually empty for a transport or maintenance flight.  With respect to the pre-SARCUP Voyageur, SAR configured aircraft used only the last two litters as the SAR Tech seats were positioned at the second blister from the front.  Equipment that was normally stored on the forward litters was either tied down on the floor ahead of the rubber fuel bladder or on the box seats behind the left side SAR Tech seat.

The next post will look more closely at SAR equipment and the various storage locations.

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