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Nairobi, Kenya
I an ex member of both 7 and 8 Squadron's of the Rhodesian war spending most of my operational time on Seven Squadron as a K Car gunner. I was credited for shooting down a fixed wing aircraft from a K Car on the 9 August 1979. This blog is from articles for research on a book which I HAVE HANDED THIS MANUSCRIPT OVER TO MIMI CAWOOD WHO WILL BE HANDLING THE PUBLICATION OF THE BOOK OF WHICH THERE WILL BE VERY LIMITED COPIES AVAILABLE Contact her on yebomimi@gmail.com The latest news is that the Editing is now done and we can expect to start sales and deliveries by the end of April 2011

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

FIELD MAINTENANCE

Grand Reef 1976 Beaver Shaw carrying out field maintenance on G Car -this was prior to the hardstanding being tarred at the FAF and a permanent refuelling arrangement put in place.
1977 Johnny Jacobs refuelling G Car en-route to Honde Valley
Brian Booth and Beaver Shaw carrying out engine change on G Car in the field at Elephant Walk Hotel owned by Matt Heany, the hotel was attacked and razed to the ground a few days later, you can just see the Kariba road in the background.



Technicians in the field would be kept pretty busy maintaining their helicopters in the field.
The Alouette required constant lubrication of the drive train, especially the tail rotor which had oilite bearings that required oiling every five flying hours.
The Alouette helicopter Artouste3B Engine was also dogged by debris erosion of the compressor and turbine so the Rhodesian Air Force fitted "Elephant Ear" sand filters. These filters were very successful but we had to monitor the EGT of the engine and ensure that the filters were cleaned at every oppourtunity. It was not uncommon to see an Alouette land and the technician pull the filters and tap them against the nearest hard object to clean the dust and debris out.
We also had regular inspections to do as and to monitor component lives on our charges. The serviceability on Seven Squadron was second to none and our logistical support excellent. If we went AOG we could expect a replacement part in 24 hours or even sooner.

Most of the larger FAFs had a Technical Officer who would chase up parts and keep an eye on the serviceability of the fleet in his charge. The Tech Officer's never really got in our way or interfered with us, it was always in my opinion a great team effort, and many of the techniques that I learned on Seven Squadron have remained with me to this day.
An engine change on an Alouette would be done in three hours with everyone mucking in. On operations we would sometimes fly eight hours a day and then spend two to three hours cleaning and maintaining our charges. We also did all the maintenance on our aircraft weapons, there were not normally any armourers around to assist. When we were to leave on Rand R we had to make sure the helicopter was in a spotless condition for the next man in, obviously due to operational commitments this was not always possible. We used petrol driven refuelling units in the early days known as putt putts which also required maintenance, these units were a pain to use as they were bulky and sometimes unreliable so the RHAF went for electrically driven lightweight pumps which assisted us tremendously.
As I mentioned in an earlier musing we technicians also had to roll drums to refuel our helicopters, sometimes for long distances over rough terrain in all weathers, not pleasant after you have been flying for a long time and are hot and tired. My back suffers to this day. We always seemed to get things done though and the best reward was those ice cold beers in the pub afterwards.


Beaver Shaw carrying out maintenance on G Car at Grand Reef 1976, you can clearly see the South African designed Mk 1 anti strela shroud and the Elephant ear sand filter



1 comment:

  1. The old saying is that "an Army marches on it's stomach" but a strake Technician or Armorer are the real "Men of God" for any outfit. The terms "thank God" quickly followed by "for the Technician/Armorer" are worth more than a hot meal to many.

    ReplyDelete

I welcome comments from everyone on my book Choppertech.
I am interested especially on hearing from former ZANLA and ZIPRA combatants who also have thier story to tell.