In 2007, we were invited to display at the 50th Anniversary of the Army Air Corps (AAC). This for me was a fantastic opportunity, as I had been attached to the AAC from 1978 to 1988 and had also completed my Aeronautical Engineering apprenticeship at Middle Wallop.
This was a closed to the public event as the AAC Colonel-In-Chief, Prince Charles, was in attendance for the duration of the show.
Our vehicle and display are a recreation of how a small team, and their equipment, would have supported Lynx and Gazelle helicopters, on exercise, in Germany during the 1980s.
The vehicle is a 1983, 12volt GS, Land Rover Lightweight (LWT) with green and black camouflage paintwork, towing a ¾ ton Sankey ‘narrow-track’ trailer. The vehicle is equipped with a removable radio table and cage that carries two Clansman radios. One is a VRC353 VHF/FM radio, with a Digital Master Unit (DMU) mounted on top of the radio. And the second is a PRC344 UHF ‘ground-to-air’ man-pack radio. There is also a Tactical Data Entry Device (TDED) that would have been used with the VRC353.
The radio table and cage is a self-contained unit, which contains its own pair of batteries to supply the 24 volts needed to power the Clansman radio system. This complete unit can be lifted out and transferred from vehicle to vehicle. The unit also carries a pair of sliding side arms that when extended, protrude through the FFR canvass and have an aerial mounted on the ends of the arms.
A 9 x 9 Command tent is usually connected, by snorkel, to the back of the vehicle but for ease of access for the display, we left a space between the vehicle and tent. Inside the tent, at one side, is the folding camp bed with a 58 pattern sleeping bag affectionately known as the ‘green maggot’, and opposite is a folding table where Aircrew, Servicing and Repair manuals for both types of helicopter would have been stored. Also on the table, is a ModF700C, which is an aircraft log book, which has sheets inside to record the current servicing and maintenance activities as well as other important information relevant to the aircraft.
In the tent is a tasking board that details the aircraft tail numbers, pilots name and work to be completed on return from the sortie. There is also a moviegraph peg board that captures the total flying hours of the aircraft and the maintenance tasks that become due when the aircraft reaches certain flying hours.
There are many other items of equipment, tools, lubricants and aircraft spares in the tent and trailer that would have been necessary to keep the aircraft serviceable throughout the exercise. Should something go drastically wrong, such as an engine failure, a Forward Repair Team (FRT) would be sent from the nearest Workshops or AAC Unit, and the engine would be replaced in situ.