Aviation Historian 15
B.Gardner - Foxable Four
"Up a bit... right a bit." The view of the hose and drogue trailing from a Boeing B-29 from the receiver aircraft’s cockpit during trials in 1949-50. During February-March 1949 the USAF undertook a non-stop round-the-world flight using Flight Refuelling Ltd’s "looped hose” system, Boeing B-50A Lucky Lady II flying a distance of 23,018 miles (37,189km) in 94hr 1min with the help of a pair of KB-29 tankers. The looped hose system was found to be unsatisfactory, however, and was replaced by the probe-and-drogue concept, as seen here.
"‘Nearly there..." The view of a KB-29 tanker from the cockpit of a B-29 receiver aircraft, in which the probe extended forward through the upper cockpit glazing panels above the copilot’s head. Fox Able Four demonstrated the viability of air-to-air refuelling, which continues to be an essential part of military planning today.
Colonel David C. Schilling and his wife Georgia in July 1948, two days before the 56th Fighter Group CO led 16 Lockheed F-80s across the Atlantic via Greenland and Iceland for Operation Fox Able, the first transoceanic jet fighter deployment. On June 29, 1949, Schilling flew Meteor EE397 in an aerial refuelling trial.
An F-84 with a refuelling probe in the port wing leading edge noses up to an RAF Avro Lincoln tanker during an East-West transatlantic flight attempt by two F-84s on September 22, 1950. One F-84 completed the trip.
With the fitting of the probe the Thunderjets officially became EF-84Es. The optimum contact and initial refuelling speed when flying with a B-29 was 205 m.p.h. (330km/h) IAS at 25,000ft (7,620m) but as fuel was received and the F-84 became heavier this was reduced to 190 m.p.h. (305km/h).
Under USAF contract, Flight Refuelling fitted a refuelling probe on the port wing leading edge of two Republic F-84Es.
One of the two EF-84Es refuels from Lincoln RA657 during trials. The Lincoln was delivered to FRL from the Metropolitan-Vickers factory at Trafford Park on September 5, 1949, under an MoS contract. Its first post-tanker modification air test was made in June 1950 and it was eventually returned to the RAF in July 1952.
A mock-up of the F-84E’s fuel system was built at Tarrant Rushton to determine the optimum position of the fuel probe. In view of future nose-mounted radar installations, a nose probe was deemed undesirable, and, after considering a tip-mounted probe, the FRL team settled on fitting a 4ft 6in (1.4m)-long probe 128-8in (3.27m) from the fuselage centreline.
Flight Refuelling's Tom Marks holds the company’s snub-nosed Avro Lancaster, wearing B Conditions markings G-33-2, steady over Brownsea Island in Dorset as Pat Hornidge takes on fuel in Gloster Meteor III EE397 on August 7, 1949, when the Meteor remained aloft for 12hr 3min to set a new world endurance record.
Meteor EE397 approaches the drogue during the record endurance flight in August 1949. Pat Hornidge flew a continual orbit over Bristol, Devon and Dungeness in the Meteor, while Tom Marks circled the Isle of Wight in the Lancaster.
Lancaster G-33-2, originally built as Mk III PB972, was one of two operated under B Conditions by FRL, the other being G-33-1, formerly ND648. The reason for the snub-nose is unclear, although it is quite likely that it may have been in order to improve forward visibility from the cockpit during trials which included close formation flying.