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.

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