15 November 2002


New members joining us this week are:

Derek Clayton from Stafford, UK

Ian Place from Leeds, UK

Reg Tudor from Oxford, UK

Welcome to the OBA!


From:     Brian Spademan, Limassol, Cyprus
Date:      08 Nov 2002 10:03
Subject:  Change of E-Mail

Hi to everyone!

The only time I seem to contact the OBA is to change details, well its that time of my life yet again.

Tina and I have now taken the big step and retired to Cyprus from where we have many happy memories. Any old or new friends on holiday or passing through would be welcome to call in and buy my next bottle of brandy for me.

Keep the briefs coming they are a welcome break from the humdrum life we now have.

Regards to all

Brian Spademan


From:     John Bell, Cairns Qld, Australia
Date:      10 Nov 2002 08:07
Subject:  Dad’s Army

I do not think even HMG is desperate enough to send for a KOS like me if they go for an extended call up of non-reservists! Interesting thought though. I am now an Australian citizen, resident in Oz, (and over 60).

Keep up the excellent work with the OBA mate. I look forward to my weekly read and finding out who is doing what and where.

Found this web site this morning. It has a few nice piccies in it. No AT though:


Of Cairns, Oz.

[Ed:  Hmmm – KOS – I’m guessing here, kindly old soul?]



Your rear is never a factor in a job interview.

Your last name stays put.

The garage is all yours.

Wedding plans take care of themselves.

You never feel compelled to stop a friend from getting laid.

Car mechanics tell you the truth.

You don't give a rat's rear if someone notices your new haircut.

Hot wax never comes near your pubic area.

Same work, more pay.

Wrinkles add character.

You don't have to leave the room to make emergency crotch adjustments.

Wedding Dress $2000; Tux rental $100.

If you retain water, it's in a canteen.

People never glance at your chest when you're talking to them.

New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet.

One mood, ALL the damn time.

Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds.

A five-day vacation requires only 1 suitcase.

You can open all your own jars.

You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.

Your underwear is $10 for a three-pack.

If you are 34 and single, nobody notices.

You can quietly enjoy a car ride from the passenger's seat.

Three pairs of shoes are more than enough.

You can quietly watch a game with your buddy for hours without ever thinking "He must be mad at me."

No maxi-pads.

If another guy shows up at the party in the same outfit, you just might become lifelong friends.

You are not expected to know the names of more than five colours.

You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.

You are unable to see wrinkles in clothes.

The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.

Your belly usually hides your big hips.

One wallet and one pair of shoes, one colour, all seasons.

You can "do" your nails with a pocket-knife.

Christmas shopping can be accomplished for 25 relatives, on December 24th, in 15 minutes.

You do not have to prove a bloody thing.


From:     John I'Anson, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Date:      11 Nov 2002 07:15
Subject:  Mystery Photograph Suggestions

Left to right: Ian Woodward, Dave Cromb, Denny Haigh, John I'Anson (me), Flt Sgt ? (from In Flight Catering  - ran the station Hockey Team),  Unknown,  Don Hazelwood,  Jock Tomb and  Mick McCann.

How many points do I get?

[Ed: All of ‘em John!]


From:     Charles Collier, Marlborough, UK
Date:      11 Nov 2002 16:10
Subject:  Demise of the Valiant B1 Bomber circa 1964

Hello Tony.

A story from my corporal days.

When I left RAF Halton as a 21 year old substantive corporal airframe fitter I was posted to No 60 MU RAF Church Fenton (Near Leeds). I arrived at the station, booked in and made my way to the unit. At the general office they took my details and made arrangements for an interview with the flight commander. This I duly attended and he informed me that the minimum rank accepted for the job which had to be done was junior technician. Consequently, the unit was overburdened with JNCO's. The reason for this was that aircraft repairs were accomplished that were beyond the user unit capacity to perform. No 60 MU was a category 3 repair unit responsible for repairing aircraft at any RAF unit north of a line drawn between Aberystwyth and the Wash. He went on to say that the corporals had their own crew room and that I should go and make my name known to Corporal Tech Dovner in the crew room.

This I did and as I walked in the conversation was in full swing. 'Have you heard, there is some brat from Halton coming here as a full corporal!' 'He's not even an acting corporal, he is a substantive corporal!'

There was nothing I could do to hide the truth so I said 'You're talking about me?' This broke the ice and they welcomed me on board.

Some months later I was detached with a team with a chief  technician in charge and me as his deputy, with 6 junior technicians. We arrived with our equipment at RAF Finningley and proceeded to repair a Valiant B1 bomber. During this process the chief technician was called back to base. I was left in charge! A phone call arrived from base; it was a survey warrant officer and he asked me to make my way to the wing roots of the aircraft and measure any crack emanating from the wing attachment bolts. This I did and to my horror the crack was 1/8th inch wide at the bolt and 6 inches long! This I reported to base and then carried on with the cat 3 repair.

The next day a signal arrived from the Air Ministry grounding the Valiant force of V bombers.

The Valiant bomber had been designed to fly at high level operationally. However, advances in radar detection dictated that low level operations were the way forward from then on. Hence, the airframe was subjected to forces that it had not been designed for and so they were grounded - and I had a part in it!

Many regards


[Ed:  So you was the one wot did it Charles!]


Letters to the Editor, Daily Telegraph, 9th November 2002:


I do not support it’s aims but feel I must congratulate the pacifist movement within the MoD procurement arm on their recent successes. 

We have a rifle that does not shoot, tanks that do not work in the desert, and a Navy with virtually no ships.  Most of us would pause to take breath after such success, but this determined body within the MoD also has a helicopter that apparently shoots itself down if it fires its missiles. 

This can be described only as a tour de force.

Nicholas Beart
London SW11


From:     Phil Clarke, Vienna, Austria
Date:      12 Nov 2002 06:42
Subject:  SA80 and all that

Concerning the Letter to the Editor - the following recollections (my own) may be of interest to those of you who have dispensed with the services of the Lee Enfield 303 and the SLR:

Some years ago I was working with BAe (when I heard these rumours) who you will recollect purchased the Royal Ordnance Factories, the original designers and manufacturers of the SA80.

Apparently the ROF had to make itself attractive for privatization, and decided to use economical systems new to them with the SA80.  The new method was to send the drawings and specs of all the component parts out to lots of manufacturing companies, and invite quotes for the manufacture of those components.  The cheapest tender generally getting the business. 

However, not all subcontractors had sufficient capacity (as you will also recall all 3 services were being re-equipped at about the same time - another first), so a variety of subcontractors were making the same components.  In true MRP fashion, the parts were shipped to the ROF for final assembly. 

So we have two situations:

1)  All subbies need to make a profit, therefore corners are cut, slightly cheaper materials used etc.

2)  If the same component is coming from 2 or more sources - sods law says there will be tiny differences.  Nothing of course that an extra tap with an hammer, or a bit off with a file won't put right.

In lab conditions everything works fine - but we have all heard about bayonets falling off for no reason, and the blade snapping on contact with the ground.  In recent weeks and months we have heard even more disturbing stories, with very senior officers writing to the press defending the weapon after very expensive modifications.

My own view is that if it's not good enough for the current residents of Credenhill, it's not good enough for anyone.

Philip M Clarke

[Ed:  Thanks Phil – maybe you’ve started something, and there again maybe not – next week’s briefs will tell all…]


Ten Things men know for sure about women:
10. They have breasts


From:     Ian Berry, Swindon, UK
Date:      12 Nov 2002 07:09
Subject:  Tom Laport


I've had a request from Darren Steed, son of Mick, to help track down some of his father’s old friends. I've had a 75% success rate, the only one I don't know of is Tom Laport.   Tom was last known as serving in Gibraltar in the 70's. Can anyone help? If you know of his whereabouts please advise Darren at



From:     Alan Matthews, Bristol, UK
Date:      13 Nov 2002 13:01
Subject:  Lyneham and the Berlin Airlift

I see that your History of Lyneham makes no reference to the Berlin Airlift.  

I was with the Royal Flight going on the Royal Tour of Australia when it was cancelled as the King had died.

I was posted to Lyneham when the Berlin Airlift started shortly afterwards.  I was attached to a daily servicing squadron, part of 1333 and half the squadron was at Wunsdorf.  We worked on every aircraft  imagineable; Yorks, Hastings, Tudors, Lancastrians, Dakotas and Seabulls.  The Thesus Lincoln.C54’s came from the USA with welcome fags. 

Lyneham was the number one diversionary airfield, so you can imagine our lives were hectic.  We had quite a good crew, the only fatality was an instrument fitter who fell under an oxygen trailer. I was the section Davey Brown tractor driver and thankfully I was on a long weekend when it happened.

We managed a bit of smuggling, mainly on the Yorks. We used to wire contraband behind  the radios and inverters in the back of the cockpit.  Customs made us take the floor up to check the space and then replace it.  Then we had to remove the inverters. If you gave them a good push, breaking the wire, the goods would fall under the floor, only to be retrieved later.



[Ed:  Many thanks Alan…..   I am hoping some day to gather enough original information on the Berlin Airlift to get an article on the site.]


From:     Melinda Sullentrop, St. Louis MO, USA
Date:      13 Nov 2002 13:38
Subject:  25K Loader

Good Afternoon,

I was reading through your article "At Home 1971" and noticed that a 25K Condec Transfer Loader was a part of this day and was made by Consolidated Diesel Electric Co.  Would you happen to know if this company is still in business or where I could go to find out more about the information in the article??

Please, if you can help me out at all that would be wonderful!!

Have a great day!


[Ed:  This enquiry was passed on to Ian Berry.  As a matter of interest the article Mindy makes reference to was the very first item published on the web site back in March 2000.  I had found the pamphlet that was printed up for the open day in an old shoe box – and it was the only item I had to start the web site rolling…]


From:     Ian Berry, Swindon, UK
To:         Melinda Sullentrop, St. Louis MO, USA
Date:      14 Nov 2002 12:35
Subject:  Re: 25K Loader


I've been asked by Tony to try and answer your enquiry. As far as I am aware the Consolidated Diesel Electric Company has ceased trading. Like all things when the 25k Condec was coming to the end of it's life we wanted to replace it with a similar model which is when we discovered they aren't built any more. The RAF settled for a British built vehicle known as an Atlas.
We procured 16 of the beasts at between £350k and £420k per unit. They can go higher than a 25k and carry more but are too sophisticated really for our needs having an on-board computer and they can be temperamental.

We are now starting to receive the next generation of Atlas known as Atlas 2000. Lessons have been learned and it is more 'user friendly’.

Back on the theme of the good old 25k Condec, several are still 'soldiering on' around the units. With one exception they were all upgraded with diesel engines several years ago. Their final update was quite recent with a change to the braking system. We've had them in-service since 1967 and they are now definitely at the end of their life and no money will be spent on them once they break down.

Incidentally the US Air Force operated a total fleet of 658 25k Condec Loaders or 'K' Loaders as they call them they were built by both Consolidated Diesel Electric Co and a firm called Emerson. Theirs too are wearing out and they have also identified the problem that they cannot reach above 13 feet which was okay for VC10/KC135 type aircraft but not for the now common wide body types. A replacement is required and this will be known as the NGSL Next Generation Small Loader.

An initial requirement for 246 to replace the older 25k was required and 2 firms FMC Corp and Teledyne-Brown put in tenders. FMC Corp have since been awarded the contract. The USAF also operated a fleet of 283 40k Loaders which were envisioned to remain in service for 8 years - 25 years later they soldier on. In the last few years a 60k Loader has appeared and this is known as the 60k Tunner and is to replace the 40k Loader. A total requirement of 318 of these machines exists.

Incidentally an Atlas Transfer Loader was flown to Travis AFB some six or seven years ago now for evaluation against other US and an Australian vehicle as the 25k replacement. Although the vehicle did very well under intensive operations I believe the US adage of 'If it ain't American, don't buy it' was the final outcome.

I hope this has provided some information for you, if you require further info please get back in touch.


Ian Berry

[Ed:  That’s amazing stuff Ian, and I somehow doubt that the history is documented anywhere else.]


From:     Melinda Sullentrop, St. Louis MO, USA
To:          Ian Berry, Swindon, UK
Date:      14 Nov 2002 13:01
Subject:  Re: 25K Loader

Thank you so much for all of your help.  This gives me an idea of where I need to go next and what new options are available. 

Thanks again for all of your time spent on this. 
Have a wonderful day!


From:    Charles Collier, Marlborough, UK
Date:      14 Nov 2002 15:35
Subject:  RAF Nicosia 1962/63

Hello Tony,

This is another tale of me whilst a corporal airframe fitter on No 60 MU RAF Dishforth. During the bad English winter of 1962/63 an English Electric Canberra B.( I ).8 on detachment to the bombing range in Cyprus was returning after exercises to RAF Nicosia. Flying at operational height on nearing the island of Cyprus there was a single large cumulus cloud in the way. The pilot was eager to get back to base as soon as possible and decided to pass through this single cloud instead of going around it which was SOP. He was going to regret this silly decision as this single cloud contained hailstones as big as golf balls! He hit the cloud at a velocity of some 500 mph and it was like hitting a brick wall. His bullet proof offset canopy windscreen cracked; the aircraft then emerged out of cloud and the pilot saw the damage that had been sustained by his ac. The whole of the forward edges of the mainplane, tailplane and fin were stoved in. The aircraft became unstable in flight and the pilot called Nicosia control to allow him to land without the required circuit and have the crash crews ready.

The Canberra made a safe landing, taxied to the dispersal, and a very relieved pilot climbed out. The Cyprus Cat 3 Repair MU surveyed the damage and decided that it could not be repaired and was to be scrapped. However, No 60 MU Dishforth disagreed, and said that they could effect a repair and offered to do it. Hence, yours truly departed with a repair team on a Handley Page Hastings of Transport Command from Lyneham to El Adem and thence to RAF Nicosia. The repair took 3 months and the aircraft went back into operational service.

Some 4 years later when I was serving at RAF Marham I was sent to RAF Catterick on a course. As there were a large number of officers on the course which was beyond the capacity of the mess, we had to double up in single rooms. I shared with a flight lieutenant who turned out to be the very pilot who made that fateful decision  over Cyprus those 4 years previously. He explained that he wasn't thinking straight at the time which could have been disastrous. When he hit the cloud the deceleration was so great that the aircraft seemed to stop. When his windscreen cracked he thought that the canopy was going to shear off whereupon he would have been a goner.

So, it just shows you that you cannot let your mind wander when you are operating machinery, cars or aeroplanes or what ever!

During the 3 months we had been detached we had been billeted with the air movers at Nicosia. That Christmas we were invited to their party which they were having with their officers. It was this that turned my mind from engineering to air movements when I had to make a decision as to what I wanted to be now that a flying commission was denied (see my profile for an explanation).

Until the next story,



[Ed:  Thanks again Charles – methinks you should be writing a book with all this good stuff.  Incidentally, I feel fairly sure that the bad winter was perhaps 1963/64.  I had just joined up, accommodated in a typical Nissan hut at Hereford, toilets outside of course… and everything was frozen solid for weeks on end!]


From:     Reg Tudor, Oxford, UK
Date:      14 Nov 2002 16:53
Subject:  Band

I was in a band based at RAF Lyneham.  We were called Reg and the International Set.  I would like to find members of  the group like Eddie Siddons (rhythm – Clerk Sec), and Graham ?(drums - C130 Captain), Dave Elkin (bass – aircraft fitter) and anyone else who knew me then  especially Dave McLean, last heard of living in Germany.


Left to right: Reg Tudor, Graham ?, Eddie Siddons and Tony Gale

[Ed:  Welcome Reg – it’s been a long time!  Thanks for the photograph. I was the lead guitar in that band – I recall we played the 216 Squadron dance depicted above one evening in 1968 at the officers mess,  at first we were all wearing wigs and had a really tough time getting in the door!]


GANG NAME______________
1. Ramone has an AK-47 with a 30 round clip. He usually misses 6 out of every 10 shots and he uses 13 rounds per drive-by shooting. How many drive-by shootings can Ramone attempt before he has to reload?
2. Jose has 2 ounces of cocaine. If he sells an 8 ball to Antonio for  $320  and 2 grams to Juan for $85 per gram, what is the street value of the rest of his hold?
3. Rufus pimps 3 hoes. If the price is $85 per trick, how many tricks per day must each hoe turn to support Rufus's $800 per day crack habit?
4. Jerome wants to cut the pound of cocaine he bought for 40,000 to make 20% profit. How many ounces will he need?
5. Willie gets $200 for a stolen BMW, $150 for stealing a Corvette, and $100 for a 4x4. If he steals 1 BMW, 2 Corvettes and 3 4x4's, how many more Corvettes must he have to steal to have $900?
6. Raul got 6 years for murder. He also got $10,000 for the hit. If his common-law wife spends $100 per month, how much money will be left when he gets out? Extra credit bonus: how much more time will he get for killing the hoe that spent his money?
7. If an average can of spray paint covers 22 square feet and the average letter is 3 square feet, how many letters can be sprayed with 3 eight ounce cans of spray paint with 20% paint left over?
8. Tyrone knocked up 3 girls in the gang. There are 27 girls in his gang. What is the exact percentage of girls Tyrone knocked up?
9. Bernie is a lookout for the gang. Bernie has a Boa Constrictor that eats 3 small rats per week at a cost of $5 per rat. If Bernie makes $700 a week as a lookout, how many weeks can he feed the Boa on one week's income?
10. Billy steals Joe's skateboard. As Billy skates away at 15 mph, Joe loads his 357 Magnum. If it takes Joe 20 seconds to load his piece, how far away will Billy be when he gets whacked?

[Ed:  Scary stuff – I’m not too far from Detroit!]


Well, that's it for this week

Have a great weekend!

Best regards