Of course it was going to hit the boat!
Sod's law and all that!
The weekend is receding, and Monday lumbers into view. Delay the inevitable with a tale of nautical nonsense from The Register's regular Who, Me? column. This week's confession comes from "Colin", and takes us back a good few years to when the Royal Navy was in the throes of validating the torpedo designs of a favoured …
Pretty much inevitable really.
Many years ago, and before digital photography was even remotely widespread a friend at the time showed the (digital) video of when he and some friends gave their home made rocket powered it's maiden flight. It was large and had to be launched from a height of about six feet therefore was hand launched by a few people carrying it at shoulder height in the quasi-suicidal way that these guys operated. The plane launched successfully, dropped down to near ground height skimming the grass while very slowly gaining height. It was launched on a ranch, with the only things in sight other than grass being some very distant trees and a single, inexplicable, fence post several hundred metres away. Inevitably the plane hit this fence post dead on, not even a glancing blow.
I've tried searching for this video online, but just can't find it, which is a surprise seeing as these guys were pioneers in all things digital :(
> Inevitably the plane hit this fence post dead on, not even a glancing blow.
Back *mumble* years ago at secondary school, we used to play football on some tennis courts, near the back of the school where more truculent pupils would try and sneak off for a ciggy or similar.
One day, someone[*] absolutely hoofed the ball, sending it soaring into the air in a beautifully described arc. And time seemed to almost stop as we all watched it zoom into the air, practically reaching near earth orbit before then unerringly steering itself towards the dinner lady who'd chose that moment to patrol the verges for miscreants.
And then, thanks to one of those million-to-one chances which happen nine times out of ten, the ball came down directly onto the top of her head.
I've never seen anyone topple over like a felled tree before...
Another time at the same school, we had a relatively young and enthusiastic science teacher, who decided that the best way to teach us about something[**] was a practical demonstration with a model rocket powered by a solid-fuel cartridge.
So we all duly trooped outside and stood in the school fields to watch this thing shoot up into the air and then float back down to earth under a little parachute.
But then he decided to go one step further. And so we all stood outside the chain-fence of the tennis courts, as he strapped one of these solid fuel cartridges onto a toy car, which then richochetted across the rough surface of the concrete tennis courts like an amphetamine fueled insect.
Health and Safety officials would have a heart attack at the mere idea these days; I'm not even sure how he got away with it back then!
[*] Not me. I was tall, not particularly sporty and bespectacled, so usually ended up in goal!
[**] Smeg knows; this was a while ago. Might have been rocket science, or it might have just been a sunny day and he wanted to play with a new toy...
When I worked in Swindon we had a nice little jolly out of town. Nice days..... mount up these radio beacons on a trig point (OS Marker) & calibrate them for the known distance between the country & the single radio beacon on the companies roof.
Few hours out in the sunshine..(Near The Grand Tours home I believe) possibly a pub lunch to boot (Didn't happen for me alas).....
Then someone (The Utter Bastard) decided it was more efficient to set up each of the 6 beacons on the roof & send one guy out to the country for a hour
My late father had a Jetex(?) car from his youth, it used solid fuel tablet in a container to power it. I wondered if it was still possible to get some of the fuel tablets and make it work again.
Reading the instructions - went something like
1) Unscrew canister
2) Insert asbestos disk (WTF???)
3) Insert fuel tablet
4) Seal canister
5) Insert wick in hole
6) Light wick - it is recommended to use a cigarette to light the wick instead of a match (sorry, can't remember the reason why)
This was a kid's toy - late 40's / early 50's? Anyway, I sealed the box up and shoved it back in the loft!
As late as the 70s, I had a Mamod steam traction engine, which came with dire (and completely ignored) warnings about the dangers of over or under-filling the boiler before you popped the solid fuel tablet in the firebox. As I recall, you could cause anything from wrecking the boiler to a full-on explosion, with a side effect of blowing the safety valve into the next garden if you interfered with it.
The instructions had some statement along the lines of "suitable for boys* of ages 8 and over"
*Please remember when this was - girls had Sindy, boys had Action Man With Eagle Eyes (TM), and <deity> help anyone who wanted to play on the other side! Lego of course, consisted only of cuboids of various dimensions. Oh, and Commando Comic was completely politically incorrect - I think I learnt most of my (largely non-existant) German from its pages.
"[...] before you popped the solid fuel tablet in the firebox."
My parents bought me one of those in the late 1950s. Unless you could afford various scale tool accessories - then all you could do was power it up and watch the piston and flywheel spin. In those days the fuel was meths (wood alcohol) - with warnings not to replenish the metal burner while it was still hot. My nephew finally sold it to a toy collector shop.
In the UK Bayko was a building "block" toy. You inserted vertical metal rods into a baseboard matrix of holes to form an outline. Then you slid the wall bricks, windows, doors, etc between adjacent rods - finally finished off with a single piece roof. Buildings were its only capability. My set came back to me after two generations of use by my sister's family. It is in a box upstairs as a curiosity to show to modern kids.
My gran had a load of Bayko. I used to love playing with that. When she died, it all went to ours and sat in the loft. I raided some of the metal rods for my Warhammer 40,000 figures, because I needed something for the standard bearers' flags to hang on, and it was hard to find 1mm hardened steel rods.
My son now plays with it occasionally at my folks' place when he visits. Things go around...
"This was a kid's toy - late 40's / early 50's? "
My pal put his Jetex engine into the rear of an Airfix Lanchester car plastic model circa 1962. Not quite sure what we expected to happen - but it promptly became airborne in a not very controlled way. In my memory it was on the road entrance to a local park near my pal's house. Just checked on Google Maps and the entrance is exactly where expected.
The Jetex was also demonstrated (probably in the playground) for the members of the after-school hobbies club - held in the junior woodwork room. The more usual model plane power was either an elastic band or a Frog motor. Every week someone would have one of the latter clamped in a vice - and often a whole session would be spent using a finger on the propeller trying to start it. Occasionally there would be a success and the room would be perfumed with a small of ether - accompanied by an ear-splitting whine. Someone once had a Glo-plug - but that was considered cheating. Battery powered rotation assists were unknown to us.
I made a balsa rib-skeleton dihedral wing-end glider. Memories of the strong pear drop smell of acetone when liberally doping the paper tissue covering.
Thank you for the memory, although it has reminded me just how damn old I am. I constructed a small balsa-wood/doped-tissue glider in ~1960 which actually worked. I was given a Jetex motor as a birthday present and tried it out. Yes, I noticed that the steel casing was nearly red hot after a static test firing - No, I didn't think that suspending the motor from near the glider's midpoint with wire was a "bad idea". Surprisingly it flew reasonably well for a few yards before landing, the wire bent; and of course, it caught fire. It was quite exciting, and might be one reason why my first "proper" job was with HMG as an explosives/propellants chemist...
Ah! The Jetex rocket motor!
A bugger to light successfully - the wick was notoriously fragile, but most impressive when working.
As a small me, I did get one of these, and, not being aware of -
a) The power of the thing
b) The actual SIZE of a model designed to use one
c) The POWER of the thng...
-decided that a suitable vehicle would be
1) A standard size Scaletrix car, sans motor (abou 150cm, 6" long)
2) A balsawood racing type powerboat, with sponsons? on the front. Same size as the car...
In order of success -
2) Flipped over backwards and sank as soon as it was placed in the water.
1a) Internal test run - successful ignition*- In The Kitchen(!!) [Experimental Lab of choice for anything inflammatory...] Zoomed into the corner at 10000000 mph and sat with the motor glowing cherry red. Filled kitchen with noxious gas. Melted car a bit...
1b) External test run- successful ignition* - Outside on flagstone pavement. Hiss! Warp 6! Hit edge of flag - liftoff! Scares dog. Lands. Grass catches fire. Quite successful!
* Ignition after 20-30 attempts and re-fusing each time.
Summary - Awesome!! would buy again ( I still have it somewhere... :> ).
Rumour has it there was a Larger Model that took 3-4 fuel pellets!
This takes me back to when my school friend at the time got a remote control car with some sort of IC engine. This was eons before the age of fast electric things, FM RC and so on.
We were driving it round his garden and either the transmitter or receiver battery started to go flat. This meant it stopped responding to the steering at which point the car made a beeline straight for the pond and promptly sank.
There was an impressive amount of steam from the hot engine. I know it did not work when it was rescued from the pond (about 2ft deep) but have no recollection of it ever working subsequently.
My father used to experiment with fireworks. He decided that those ones with the 4' long stick that looked a bit like a fairy tale castle turret would be good for a 2 stage rocket - the stars coming out would surely light the other one to carry on up for a second shower.
Of course the extra weight slowed the first launch and it only made it a hundred feet or so up and showered everyone my dad with stars. While we were all leaping around as the ground sparkled and cracked beneath our feet and our coats glowed and smoked the second stage, severely wounded by the first dropped to about 6 feet above my dads head before igniting the rocked and payload simultaneously showering everyone but my dad and landing about two feet in from of him like some demented fountain, When it went out and we'd once again patted ourselves out and discovered no one was actually hurt we all burst out laughing till it really did hurt.
I love the smell of fireworks but to this day I can remember the foul foul smell my scorched woollen duffel coat carried for weeks,
Our back yard was a long narrow corridor. On November 5th my father would set the fireworks up in turn at the bottom of the yard. We would crowd outside the back door at the blank wall end of the yard. One year he bought a Roman Candle. After its first shot it fell over - pointing directly up the yard towards us. There was a scramble to get through the door before the succeeding shots hissed up the yard to explode against the blank wall.
Health and Safety officials would have a heart attack at the mere idea these days; I'm not even sure how he got away with it back then!
We have to remember that back then Darwin's Law was still permitted. So, model rockets, bicycles without helments, kids going off the local woods without adults, and other stuff that today would be cause for police action. Have to think of the children, right?
Please remember Dutch kids have been riding their bikes to (and from) school for over a century and most of that time those helmets weren't even invented yet. And the one time I had an accident requiring medical intervention (about 40 years ago, so before helmets), a helmet wouldn't have helped, my eye was saved by my glasses and I only needed a couple of stitches to my eyebrow.
I was taught how to ride my bicycle, not to fall off it. (I was also taught how to land after a fall, but that's another story ... )
Keeping kids wrapped in cotton wool will only get society to ... well, where we are now, afraid of every "what if" scenario, no matter how unlikely, or even ludicrous.
Fuck that. I taught my daughter how I was taught ... how to live for herself, not how to live according to some fuckwit on Capirol Hill who is afraid of their own shadow (or worse, afraid of getting voted out of office by similar fuckwits, intent on telling others how to live because they are too afraid to have lives of their own).
Strangely enough, she has never fallen off her bicycle. Neither have I.
She has fallen of her horses a few times, though. So have I. Is your daughter even allowed to touch a horse? How about riding one? What else is she not allowed to do because you are afraid to attempt it yourself? Poor little kid ...
I tend to drive very defensively on the street. Some might say I'm paranoid, but the idiots really are out to get me. I suspect this has something to do with the fact that I understand the math(s) involved.
My 31 and 32 Fords don't have seat belts. I drive them on the street regularly. They haven't killed me yet. But then, I return the favo(u)r and don't put them into harm's way.
Your daughter is going to have a great future with memories to relate to those that have none because they were buffered from reality and the iron rules derived from thermodynamics. I notice that these comments about childhoods seemed to be activities now frowned upon and in some areas would involve a government official visiting the keeper about the style of rearing the offspring as not suitable.
I also grew up cycling without knowing about cycling helmets. Personal experience has taught me they can be useful.
1) I was cycling along at 10-15km/h, without helmet and the curb suddenly ran out in from of my bike*) and I fell and cracked my eyebrow; 3 stitches and a sore shoulder and hip.
2) I was cycling at approximately 30km/h, with helmet, when a car did not keep back in a roundabout**) and clipped the rear wheel; braked with my shoulder, needed new helmet. Was checked at A&E but just had a sore neck.
I am convinced 2) would have been quite different without helmet, at least resulting in a concussion. Bell gave me new helmet when I sent in the old.
*) I think the bike was drunk.
**) yes, was too fast, but that is not the point.
1) If you are cycling in such a way that you can't maneuver fast enough to avoid an obstacle, you are cycling over your head. No number of personal safety devices will protect you from your own stupidity. Even if the bike ::koff koff:: was drunk.
2) I was taught to stay out of traffic when on my bicycle. To the proverbial thinking man, Newton's laws of motion quite obviously trump the new-age "share the road" bullshit. Simply put, if you play in traffic, you might die. Helmets don't increase those odds as much as you think they do ... worse, in some it makes them feel invulnerable, which compounds the underlying problem.
Smeg knows; this was a while ago. Might have been rocket science, or it might have just been a sunny day and he wanted to play with a new toy...
Best kind of science teacher. Probably in the same mumble of years, I had Mr. Orloff, who gave extra points for the loudest bangs in lab experiments. We were generating hydrogen, capturing it in a small plastic bottle held in tongs, then testing how well we did by passing the mouth of the bottle over a lit bunsen burner (hence the tongs to hold the bottle). It should have just given a loud POP. My lab partner and I did this, and the bottle flew out of the tongs and through a windowpane. We got the highest extra credit.
I'm just picturing Mr. Orloff being all "Well done! Extra credit. And another thing good scientists do is repair their equipment, and own their mistakes. All of you will stay back after school."
And then after the groans of "awwwhhh." When you arrive, Mr. Orloff is dressed in handyman gear with toolboxes and tools set out, and then continues the lesson, "and another thing a lead researcher must be is responsible for the occurrences in his laboratory, even if he did not personally have hands on what went wrong. So come here, I'm going to show you how we repair a broken window!"
Well the 0.0001% of the time things can go sort of right.
I worked in mainframe testing in the early 80's. Some of the guys were into model rockets. We had a few Friday lunchtime launches.
The real memorable one was when the one guy improvised a 2 stage rocket out of a simple 1 stage rocket. He simply put the 1st stage rocket motor on back of the rocket.
Apparently, the fins on a model rocket need to be right on the end of the rocket. Or there was a fault in the first stage motor. Whatever the problem was, the first stage only sent the rocket up about 10-20 feet, although the rocket traveled a considerable distance doing very tight and fast loops.
We all had time to duck behind cars. But that wasn't needed as the second stage miraculously was pointed up when it engaged and the rocket flew out of sight. So at least that part went right.
"[...] and the rocket flew out of sight."
Recommended reading - "October Sky". Autobiography of a young boy in a middle of nowhere coal-mining town who starts making experimental rockets with his friends. There was also a film made from the book.
Better than our torpedo.
When I was a peon working for what is now KPMG on a contract for the (US) Department of the Navy, I learned all sorts of weasel words to attempt to make the Mk-48 anti-submarine torpedo program look good after one prototype sank to the bottom and another floated. The fact that yours hit something should be credited.
My brother was always the lucky one.
While working in the Emirates he mixed with the wealthy and carefree.
One day he was out with one of his 'mates' flying their Tiger Moth styled microlight. Something they did on a regular (almost) daily basis.
This particular day they were up in the air somewhere both of Abu Dhabi and the motor malfunctioned and stopped. They were unable to restart it but thankfully the gliding capabilities of the microlight where quite good so they weren't particularly worried. and looked for somewhere relatively level to land.
A nice stretch of sand came into view and was chosen as the spot and the approach made.
Just as they touched down they hit a car tyre half buried in the sand and tipped over.
He said that looking around afterwards that there was nothing else there. Just the one car tyre.
Well either that, or "The Navy Lark", as per sub heading and picture;
No, I'm not really that old. I just happened to catch it by accident while trying to record re-run episodes of "I'm Sorry I'll Read that Again" at 3am on NZ radio in the 80's. This was an instructive process, because some times I also got to listen to the NZ shipping forecast.
Yes, sadly the Beebotron is no longer with us - it had a useful function called the Beebodge that would (usually) extract the requested radio programme (based on timings and station choices):
"[...] as it had been put back 3 hours or so due to Kennedy being assassinated."
The Navy Lark always conjures up the taste of apple pie and custard as we listened to it during Sunday lunch. A reverse Proustian madeleines moment. IIRC that was the same schedule slot as Round The Horne. I have always doubted that my mother - probably along with many others - understood the innuendo.
I was listening to shortwave Voice of America with headphones on when the JFK assassination was announced. Headphones because my parents were watching a BBC TV programme next to me. Confirmation for them appeared there moments later.
The Navy Lark, Beyond Our Ken, Round the Horne, The Clitheroe Kid and other Sunday lunchtome programmes I listened to (yes, I'm that old) as my parents near chain-smoked and the living room filled with blue smoke. Ah, those were the days - no such thing as secondary smoking then. <cough>
I'm not that old but spent many a happy car journey accompanied by such nautical capers.
This Who, Me? reminds me of the episode where they're testing the new gun targeting mechanism that gets swapped with Pertwee's musical birthday present. ^,^ BOOM right through No. 1's office for the new window!
"A checklist is a type of job aid used to reduce failure by compensating for potential limits of human memory and attention. It helps to ensure consistency and completeness in carrying out a task."
A.k.a. "Yes, of course I've rebuilt it properly. And look at all these parts I've saved!"
Pre late '80s or early '90s Johnson/Evinrude small single cylinder outboards in the 4 to 6.5 hp class (sometimes called sailboat pusher motors) have a copper water line from the waterpump down by the prop up to the powerhead. The connection between engine block and tube is sealed with a simple o-ring. When the engine is run, the o-ring gets wet. When the engine is shut off, the o-ring dries out. Leaving behind anything dissolved in the water. Especially salt, if the motor is run in the ocean.
These deposits build up over time, gradually putting pressure on the o-ring. Either the iron block, or the soft copper has to give. The copper loses, of course. So eventually, the copper pipe is pinched off, and the engine no longer gets fresh water, and so it overheats.
The fix is simple. Remove the copper pipe, heat it up, run a mandrel through it to pop out the pinch, replace the o-ring (a 19 cent part) & Bob's your Auntie.
Unfortunately, R&Ring the pipe involves pulling the entire powerhead, which is just short of a complete engine overhaul. About a 4 hour job. At $165/hr shop rate. Plus any parts that may need to be replaced because they are too worn to be reassembled.
Bottom line: It can cost well over $1,000 to replace a 19 cent o-ring ... on a motor that is worth maybe $500 if it runs well and looks pretty. And that is from an honest shop.
Bloody O rings indeed. This round's on me.
The 1960s radio club had acquired a petrol engine generator for use on field day competitions. It was an Austin 7 engine mounted on a trolley. Somehow it was manhandled up some stairs into the club room where it was started for testing. I don't remember the windows having any opening facilities - so exhaust fumes were a problem. My memory also suggests that cooling was by hoses dipped into a large barrel of water - probably as the car radiator needed an airflow under load.
***This memory seems so improbable that even I am not sure of its accuracy.
I use a test tank, not a dust bin. Less chance of the water pump cavitating and destroying itself with a good amount of water in a properly shaped tank.
Note that in my previous scenario the pisser working isn't necessarily a sign that all is well ... as the tube becomes more and more restricted, it is capable of providing plenty of water to piss, but the amount that actually cools the motor falls off. You can't see the decrease in water flow because the bulk of it exits below the waterline.
 I spent several thousand dollars going to OMC school so I would know when and where to use that technical term.
Another O ring story: I worked for an oilwell service company. The instruments were housed in steel (or titanium) tubes, joined with union nuts. All the instruments had 2 60 mm O-rings to seal the joint, except one joint on one instrument used a 59 mm O-ring.
One day the inevitable happened, the 2 sized were swapped (they are hard to distinguish visually). Everything went fine till about 3 km below the surface. Then the signal disappeared. When retreiving the instruments, they were filled with water and all transistors and relays were completely flattened by the 300 bar pressure.
It wouldn't be the first time - the Huascar in 1879 had the latest infernal device - an automotive torpedo. This was powered by compressed air and rather slow. When discharging this the device slewed through 360 degrees and returned to sender...
Not all was lost - the ships doctor jumped overboard, swam to the torpedo and pushed it away from his ship - in the middle of a battle. Of such stuff are hero's made.
Drachinifel, the Youtube commentator on things Naval has a wonderful entry about the Mk14 torpedo and its unfortunate genesis.
"Today we look at what happens when you mix the Bureau of Ordnance with a cost-cutting Congress and a few people pathologically incapable of admitting to making a mistake, then try and get a working torpedo out of them."
... who knows a lot of rural fishermen, he probably didn't get the Navy Memo. And if he did, it obviously didn't apply to him. All he was doin' was goin' fishin', ain't no Navy in this little bit o' fresh water, they hang out in the ocean. Besides, I always go fishing at this hour.
In Plymouth there's a floating bridge ferry which connects to Torpoint in Cornwall. These things drag themselves across the river on a set of big metal fixed chains.
Anyway, just upstream from the ferry in Devonport is the RN's only nuclear submarine repair and refuelling base. Here's a picture with the ferry on the right.
So, years ago, the Navy let it be known that one of its nuclear boats was coming in for maintenance. The actual date and time was meant to be secret, but anyone popping over to (say) the 'Harbour Lights' for a beer or whatever, was greeted by a big sign saying that the "Torpoint Ferry will be closed this Saturday from 2am to 4am."
I was with the story until the civilian in a fishing boat. Anyone care to chip in with a reason why the Navy wouldn't have cleared the area of non-essential personnel?
Because that civilian wasn't a civilian but a flag rank (probably retired) officer from one of the dry branches.
SNAFU: Situation Normal, Army ...
Anyone care to chip in with a reason why the Navy wouldn't have cleared the area of non-essential personnel?
They did clear the area.
As the tale started, my first thoughts were "I remember that test range, used to stay at the caravan site part way down the loch". I was a bit too young to really get what was going on, but I do recall actually being there when they fired - and my father and older brothers getting excited at seeing the white line whizzing off down the loch. I also recall the PA announcements as they tried to persuade all the camp site users to clear the beach on the headland that jutted out into the loch - presumably "just in case" the guidance went wrong and the torpedo decided it fancied a bit of sub bathing (joke, this was Scotland in Summer !)
Having said that, I used to have a friend who worked at Eskmeals up on the Cumbrian coast. Even though they put out notices, some of the local fishermen were "of a strong opinion" and weren't going to let the authorities tell them when or where they could fish. Apparently, it was not unknown to drop a warning shot in close proximity to try and persuade them to leave.
It reminds me of torpedo trials back in the 70's. My girlfriend's dad was an engineer in the Navy ship design department and involved in final validation of a new torpedo. It was fired from a submarine, shot off forward looking fine but then started to veer off course. It continued in a wide arc for a full 360 degrees, and approached the sub from the rear. Fortunately it wasn't armed and no serious damage was done. The excuse I heard was that its tracking system (sonar) was too sensitive and picked up the sub's own signal. It was sorted and the torpedo entered service but was never trusted - retained a reputation for unreliability and didn't remain in service for long.
I cannot confirm nor deny this [which is the standard response for something that may be classified if confirmed or denied]. But in the movie 'Hunt for Red October' the Alpha captain disabled the safeties on his torpedos so that Capt. Ramius could not go in a semicircle to avoid getting blown to smithereens (and then he was later hoisted by his own petard when they came around and hit HIS sub). If the movie has any accuracy when compared to real life, there ya go.
USS Tang, in October 1944, was sunk by one of its own torpedoes whilst attacking a Japanese convoy. A similar fate befell USS Tullibee in March 1944. The british WW2 cruiser, HMS Trinidad, managed to torpedo herself whilst on Arctic convoy duty in 1942. While that didn't sink her, a subsequent attack by German bombers included a hit where she was previously damaged, and that finished her off.
During WW2 my father was commander of a submarine base in Australia. He had complaints of torpedoes that would do a 360 and "whoosh" over the firing sub. Turned out that it was due to poor training/maintenance which locked the gyro so the torpedo would make a hard right or left rudder after launch. The technical details of the poor maintenance are interesting but too long to report here.
The setup was similar, but without the top brass. The torpedo was launched in a similar fashion for a simple control test. Move the lever forward and the torpedo would set its fins to submerge. Pull the lever back, and up it would come. Now, consider what would happen if the lever was wired the wrong way round. Yes, it dived for the bottom and kept going, until it buried itself in the silt at the bottom of the loch. You can’t just put a few red and white cones round it, so the company had to extract it. Hoping it was a cost-plus contract, a big tug from a foreign country was ordered to come with a big crane and recover it ASAP. It was recovered eventually, but I doubt if anyone in the group got a pay rise that year.
For those on Twitter, may I recommend https://twitter.com/Canocola for more naval stories that end somewhat sub(sic)-optimally
A recent example of his (could be her) style, the start of a thread about the K-class submarines:
If any of you have ever looked at a submarine and thought "If only they'd whacked a couple of funnels on that" then don't worry, the Royal Navy have your back.
I read a book about these steam submarines, they really were useless as however you looked at it, they were full of holes.
Diving was a joke as you had to put the fires out, pull down the funnel , bung up all the holes and hope. I think a crash dive took about half an hour.
When I worked at the Royal Greenwich Observatory we used to send heavy equipment to our observatory on the Canary Islands by freighter. We were very surprised when we were informed that a Harrier jump jet had landed on it.
Many, many years ago I was sent to the Kyle of Lochalsh where they tested torpedoes. I was walking between two sheds and when I got to the end of the sheds there were two squaddies, or whatever they are called in the navy, larking around. One was sitting on top of a torpedo on some form of transport dolly, aka Major Kong riding the bomb in Dr Strangelove, and the other was manoeuvring the dolly around the yard. They crapped themselves when I came into view but quickly recovered when they realised I was a civilian and not an officer.
Once upon a time, many years ago, I worked for <redacted> Police. One Saturday night a patrol vehicle did a check on a car park that was completely deserted except for (a) the patrol vehicle and (b) a single, solitary car parked more or less in the middle.
Do I really need to say what happened?
Well anyway; happen it did, to the merriment of about 3500 people with the certain exception of the Officer who was driving the car at the time.
I heard about this years ago and assumed it was made up.
There was once a single tree in the middle of the Sahara Desert, some 250 miles away from any others. It had survived for 300 years, until a drunk driver happened along.
I heard about this years ago and assumed it was made up.
Quite understandable that, but read on...
On another occasion a highly experienced (Police) Driving Instructor was driving away from <redacted> and failed to take a fairly gentle bend in the road and finished up in a ploughed field.
Thereafter said bend was known locally as <Redacted>'s Corner. I don't know what the outcome of the investigation was although I do know who carried it out.
On yet another occasion there was a disgreement between a Dog Van (no canine occupant at the time) and another vehicle at a clearly marked and properly signed crossroads with clear lines of sight which the driver of the dog van seems to have ignored. Sadly I don't think I can expand on that story because to get the full flavour of it I would have to reveal the location and other factors that add to the overall entertainment value and those would identify the Police Force in question.
Perhaps there used to be more trees once, but the drivers gradually got them all. Once upon a time, whilst in a car full of graduate students heading to Adelaide, but most certainly not one being so careless as to travel faster than the speed limit, a moment's distraction followed by a slight steering error nearly led to a clump of trees on a gradual bend getting countably smaller. Fortunately the corrective swerve only led to a 360+ degree spin in a large cloud of dust, and a knackered suspension; followed by a very much slooooower drive the rest of the way.
ObShout: Hi Steve! Do you by chance read the Register? And would you like an apple? :-)
I was right in guessing the OP's list had missed North Korea. I also guessed India vs China for the earliest one, so right victim, wrong war. It was Pakistan, with the french submarine in the drawing room.
There’s been surprisingly little naval conflict since WWII. Compared to the amount of land and aerial warfare that’s happened.
This reminds me of the story my father loved to recount of when his crew accidentally released a depth charge into Loch Lomond during WWII from their moored PBY5 flying boat. Luckily (for him and probably me too) it either wasn't armed or didn't go deep enough to detonate. Looking through his log book I reckon it was in July 1943 when he was training from Greenock prior to leaving for the Indian Ocean. AFAIK it's still there...
The idea of using a ciggy with the fuse was so that you had a longer escape time before the cigarette burn down and lit the fuse. Cigarettes used to be made so that they would burn completely down either to the end of the cigarette or up to the filter end they didn't go out like the new ones do are supposed to. I believe the change was mostly made to prevent fires with people dropping cigarettes down the back of couches etc. I have it on good word that it works perfectly and setting off a firecracker next door to a crappy neighbor having given the miscreant airport time to get indoors and not be seen.
Murphy... paging Mr. Murphy.
Of coarse the thing went after the only object of note on the lake. Anyone who knows anything about first article tests knows that no matter the projected range of a prototype, assume 360 degrees in any given plan, 10x range and nothing of note in the test area!
a shadow of a doubt that this story is absolutly typical of that un named underwater weapons factory, and that true pTerry style , that the only reason I never say exactly what I got upto working for HM government in regards to the navy is that you would never believe it.
Did I ever mention the torpedo recovery gear made by <redacted> for those torpedo trials...... that had been machined too small to go over the end of said torpedo to recover it.....
But the best one of all was the video we had running on the radar display during a said test, that recorded everything the radar operator said about the captain.
Completely unprintable and very rude, and in true save someone's arse fashion, we were going to copy said video and remove the sound ("mic failed gov.. honest")
Until the senior bods in whitehall demanded said video on pain of death(or at least canceling our expense claims... I would have preferred death myself.. 2 weeks of away from home fun was serious money)
Said video then made its way to whitehall with soundtrack intact.
We never did find out what happened to the rating, but he wasn't there when we took out all our test gear.
Surely every husband of any worth washes the dishes from time to time, With the mixed cutlery in the sink and the tap running to rinse off food remains. And why is there always a spoon lying just where the jet from the tap meets the sink surface. Result, water spraying everywhere and caustic derisory comments from certain other quarters.
Hi, but did you know about the Landrover that was torpedoed?
Those clever scientists down in Weymouth had a torpedo test range in Portland Harbour and one day decided to test a Spearfish heavyweight torpedo in the harbour, with a bit more fuel onboard than usual.
The gallant Spearfish dashed off and just kept going, going, going ........... very fast due West and straight for the the main Weymouth to Portland road, along which an elderly Landrover noisily trundled. Having shot straight across the beach it torpedo said Landrover amidships, but fortunately without casualties.
I guess that this one still beats the lightweight torpedo that having fallen from a naval helicopter attacked the first green on a local golf course. The Macaroni company may have taken a little while to live these two incidents down.
Perhaps, we had better not enquire as to the whereabouts of the Advanced Sea Mine last seen heading for Dorchester!
One time many years ago during 'cold war', I was in Canadian office of a USA pump company when the phones went red hot. Do you have in stock two "O" rings for xx pump. Answer yes and a spare pump. OK, then go immediately to airport with them we will ring police, and airport, a plane will be awaiting you! Thus off to Arctic Lands to replace pump for oil flow to engine which drove generator which supplied a NATO (read US) RADAR installation covering 15 degrees of arc over Russia. Cost of "O ring" about 2 Cda Dollars (at inflated spare parts prices), new oil pump less than Cda $ 300. Cost of personal planes (3 of them, at different airport changes, one a biplane ice lander on sled runners) about Cda $70,000. My salary as a P Eng in charge then was about Cda$2200 for comparison.
Later I understand the small planes carrying me and "O" rings were given flight clearance and stopped commercial flights for about 2 hours. It was a 'hot line' telephone call from USA to Canada. Lesson do not store elastomers in a dry but unheated hut in Arctic at 45 to 50 degrees below!
Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020