Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 18 total)
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  • #53023
    Ian
    Participant

    The appearance of a Ranken Dart is easy to research.

    BUT, what was the appearance, size, method of installing on an aircraft, etc, of the 24 dart box they were dispensed from?

    #53503
    Michael
    Participant

    Hi Ian

    There is a photo of a Bristol Scout C of the RNAS (possibly 3034 at Redcar) that is stated in the caption to be fitted with containers for Ranken Darts, two containers visible under the fuselage beneath pilot’s cockpit. This is photo 34 on page 14 of Jack Bruce’s ‘Bristol Scouts’ Windsock Datafile 44, if that is of any use.

    Mike

    #53504
    Michael
    Participant

    Hi

    I should also mention that the above image also appears in Jack Bruce’s article ‘Bristol Fighter Manque’ in ‘Air Enthusiast/32’ with another photo above it of an earlier ‘oblong’ container fitted to the starboard side of the fuselage from the lower rear training edge of the wing to the Union Flag marking.

    Mike

    #53505
    Ian
    Participant

    Thanks Mike,

    Paul Hare has informed me that the ‘storage’ boxes were round, but if they were used to dispense the darts remains a moot point.

    However, I have a copy of the photo of 3034. If you look closely, the boxes – which appear to be partially in the fuselage and set at an angle – look to be rounded.

    I do not have the Air Enthusiast article. Any chance you could scan the photos you mention?

    Cheers
    Ian

    #53506
    Michael
    Participant

    Hi

    Attached are the images from AE 32 showing both the ‘cylinder’ and ‘oblong’ type of containers.

    Mike

    #53507
    Ian
    Participant

    Thanks Mike.
    Mysteriouser and mysteriouser (With apologies to LC)

    #53508
    Ian
    Participant

    Even more Curiouser I have just found a dusty copy of AE32 in a dark forgotten corner of my shelves :-)

    #53509
    Ian
    Participant

    Must have been down the rabbit hole!

    #53510
    Michael
    Participant

    Hi Ian

    Glad it has all worked out. I suspect there must be some technical drawings of containers in archives somewhere?

    Mike

    #53511
    Maurice
    Participant

    Just to add to the confusion here is a pic from Model Aircraft Monthly 2002/07.

    And for an interesting aside gunstar.co.uk has pics and description of a Ranken Dart ammo box – search Ranken (or may be Rankin).

    #53512
    Ian
    Participant

    Thanks for the photo and tip Maurice.

    The Ranken (yes the search was Rankin!)Ammo Box I think I may have stumbled across before.
    It looks very much like a re-supply box. Although since the ‘delivery’ boxes held 24 an ammo box holding 48 would have made more sense. Military mind at work?

    The photo is fascinating. I feel as if I should have seen it before, but I’m not sure. Harry Woodman’s collection is huge and all encompassing.
    But it does show early Bristol Scouts and the one I am particularly interested in is 8953.

    The attached photo is the only one I know of 8953, taken at Filton (?) before delivery – no indication of Ranken armament. I have several others of 8955 and 8979 taken on HMS Vindex – 8955 was the reserve aircraft for 8953, but again no signs of Ranken boxes.

    #53513
    Maurice
    Participant

    The photo of the early scouts appears in Profile 139. Jack Bruce’s caption reads as follows:
    “1246….is fitted with Ranken dart containers, of which the starboard one can be seen at the lower right-hand corner of the Union flag….”
    This is contradicted by Harry Woodman in the photo posted earlier.

    Perhaps the attack is best summed up by Jack Bruce in Flight of 3/10/1958 – (Bristol Scout pt 2).

    When news was received that an attack was expected on August 2, Vindex put out from Harwich. A Zeppelin was sighted, and just before 7 p.m. Fit. Lt. C. T. Freeman took off from Vindex in a Bristol Scout. Whilst seeking his quarry, he saw two other Zeppelins, one ten miles and the other twenty miles away. He flew towards the nearer, succeeded in getting into position 500ft above the airship, and emptied a container of Ranken darts on to it. The darts missed. Freeman again attacked, dropping half a container of darts, which were successfully avoided by the Zeppelin. Although under fire from a machine-gun on top of the airship, Freeman made a third attack with his remaining Ranken darts. At least one of the missiles struck the Zeppelin, which emitted a puff of smoke, dropped 3,000ft, but failed to catch fire. It made off eastwards, and Freeman set course for Vindex. The Bristol’s engine refused to pick up, and Freeman was obliged to come down on the sea near the North Hinder light vessel. His Scout was fitted with air-bags, which kept it afloat, but the weight of the engine gradually pulled the nose down, and Freeman was fortunate to be rescued by a Belgian ship. It is believed that he was flying a Scout D, the development of which will be discussed later, and that his enforced descent was caused by loss of fuel. The Ranken dart was briefly described in Part IV of the history of the Sopwith Tabloid, Schneider and Baby (Flight, November 29, 1957, p. 845). The darts were stowed in canisters which held 24 and could be released three at a time. Those R.N.A.S. Bristol Scouts which were armed with Ranken darts had two canisters mounted directly under the pilot’s seat. Freeman’s experience did nothing to promote confidence in the effectiveness of the Ranken dart as an anti-airship weapon. The immediate consequence of his action was that all the aircraft carried by H.M.S. Vindex were forthwith fitted with machine guns. Of greater significance, however, was Freeman’s proof of the potential usefulness of the carrier-borne aeroplane as an anti Zeppelin weapon. It would not be too much to say that his abortive combat sealed the fates of the Zeppelins L.23 and L.53, shot down on August 21, 1917, and August 11, 1918, respectively, by aeroplanes which took off from seaborne platforms.

    #53514
    Ian
    Participant

    Thanks Maurice,
    Just goes to confirm, yet again, how carefully you have to read stuff! I have a copy of Jack’s Flight article and have read the Freeman comments several times. For some reason the key phrase – “Those R.N.A.S. Bristol Scouts which were armed with Ranken darts had two canisters mounted directly under the pilot’s seat.” – had not registered.

    Thank you for pointing it out.

    Freeman’s report (AIR 1/657/17/122/564) is essentially as Jack had recorded it in the Flight article, with the following added detail:
    On his last attacking run, with only 12 darts remaining, he “dropped the remainder of my darts. One of these apparently hit as I saw a small puff of smoke and the Zeppelin almost immediately dropped to 5,000 feet. I followed her down to 5,000 feet in a steep nose-dive with the intention of heading her off from her Westerly course, and she eventually turned due East.”
    As L17 returned over the UK later that evening clearly the Ranken Darts had been ineffective. Although L17 did return to Nordholz with 127 holes in her gas bags, thought to be from AA ground fire whilst over the UK. But perhaps some of the holes were due to Ranken darts that failed to work.

    #53515
    Ian
    Participant

    Anyone got a copy of Windsock Vol 9 No 6?

    Apparently there is something in that issue concerning Ranken Darts in the Bristol Scout.

    The Windsock Datafile 44 on the Bristol Scout has a notation to that effect on the drawings …

    I don’t wish to start re-inventing the wheel!

    #53516
    Ian
    Participant

    Oh by the way the photos in the Harry Woodman article in IWM Q58422

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