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Thread: 42 Group RAF - Aviation Oxygen

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    Senior Member PETERTHEEATER's Avatar
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    Default 42 Group RAF - Aviation Oxygen

    42 Group RAF who were responsible for the management of RAF munitions during WW2 were also responsible for the supply of aviation fuel and lubricants and aircraft breathing oxygen.

    The first two topics are covered in threads in the forum but little has been discussed on the provision of oxygen.

    It is known that some of the major munitions storage sites had permanent oxygen facilities and others used mobile equipment manned by a 'roving' team of specialists.

    Many thousands of bulk storage cylinders were returned from airfields, filled and put back into the supply chain. At Squadron level these would have been mounted on trollies (carts) equipped with a regulator system and used to charge aircraft installed cylinders via a high pressure flexible hose. Dependent on aircraft type, the aircraft cylinder(s) might be removed and charged 'off aircraft' before being re-installed.

    Little information appears to be available on this topic and posters are invited to comment on my suppositions.

    I do not think that munitions storage sites had their own oxygen production equipment. I think that liquid oxygen (LOX) was bought in from civil contractors (e.g British Oxygen Company) and that it was stored in a tank from which it was converted into gaseous form and pumped to fill the storage cylinders.

    A well known site which did produce LOX was Cardington and I believe that Pulham also had a plant.

    What can you tell me about the role of the munitions storage depots, expecially FADs, in producing oxygen?
    Last edited by PETERTHEEATER; 11-10-2009 at 09:42. Reason: Corrections

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    OTBC Paul Francis's Avatar
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    Default Re: 42 Group RAF - Aviation Oxygen

    The pulham plant was re-fitted at Cardington and was still in use in the mid-1990s, I have no idea what became of it though.

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    Default Re: 42 Group RAF - Aviation Oxygen

    Paul, the original plant was still in use when I did my Operator, Ic and QA courses at Cardington in 1983 prior to going to Goose bay. One of the Cardington plants had gone on a Ro Ro to support the Falklands task force as the on board plants on the 2 carriers could not support the quantity required -- trying hard to remember the name of the Ro Ro ???????? the plant was subsequently installed at Stanley then moved to MPA. I went back to Cardington in 1994 to requalify prior to a tour at MPA by then the new plants were in use. I will see if I can find my notes and then quote the types of plant.
    Does anyone have any photos of the mobile plants please ?

    OFF topic can anyone direct me to publications on airfield buildings. I have most of the Action stations series and the tiny pocket bookNo 1 by Graham Buchan Innes; Vehicles and GSE are my core interest but I have been bitten by the threads talking about Barrack Blocks Hangers etc. Would also be interested to learn more about the A -M schemes and the differences between L & M which I understand was due to the commencement of hostilities ??

    TED

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    SuperMod PNK's Avatar
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    Default Re: 42 Group RAF - Aviation Oxygen

    Ted,

    This one is good though the price is a bit on the high side here. It crops up in e-Bay occasionally at a reasonable-ish price.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/British-Mili.../dp/185260462X



    I suspect the author will comment soon

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    Default Re: 42 Group RAF - Aviation Oxygen

    Quote Originally Posted by ted angus View Post
    OFF topic can anyone direct me to publications on airfield buildings. I have most of the Action stations series and the tiny pocket bookNo 1 by Graham Buchan Innes; Vehicles and GSE are my core interest but I have been bitten by the threads talking about Barrack Blocks Hangers etc. Would also be interested to learn more about the A -M schemes and the differences between L & M which I understand was due to the commencement of hostilities ??

    TED
    The Ken Delve series of books is reasonable too. You'll see loads of reccomendations in the research media part of the forum too.

    Pauls book (the one PNK mentions above) is great and a must have.

    I'd also suggest joining the ARG as there is alot of great stuff that comes out in the Airfield Review Journal 4 times a year.

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    Default Re: 42 Group RAF - Aviation Oxygen

    Gents thanks for the replies best I start saving the pension !
    thank you.

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    Senior Member PETERTHEEATER's Avatar
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    Default Re: 42 Group RAF - Aviation Oxygen

    Help! I'm running out of oxygen..........

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    SuperMod PNK's Avatar
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    Default Re: 42 Group RAF - Aviation Oxygen

    Can't help with this one. All I know is what has been posted so far.

    However, was there a standard building for storing oxygen on each airfield and also was the LOX plant easily identifiable at Pulham/Cardington?

    Oxygen storage must have been similar to explosives I would have thought as it can be a dangerous gas in the wrong circumstances (Appolo 1?).

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    Senior Member PETERTHEEATER's Avatar
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    Default Re: 42 Group RAF - Aviation Oxygen

    Charged and empty oxygen cylinders on airfiled sites were stored by the Supply section (Stores in RAF parlance), usually in a an open secure compound on metal racks so that they could be rolled to faciitate handling. Overhead cover would be provided to keep off the worst of the elements. Oxygen even at high pressures in cylinders is safe to handle but must not come into contact with oil or there is a serious risk of spontaneous fire. Distilled water is used where lubrication of threads is required.

    I recall an incident at Gaydon in the late 50's when a 4 bottle trolley was accidentally struck by the edge of a hangar door (Gaydon type) which was being cranked shut. The massive weight of the door gave unstoppable inertia and the trolley was tipped onto its side and freakishly the valve of one of the cylinders was fractured and sheared off. The trolley took off with a loud bang as if rocket propelled and ended up a 100 yards away. Fortunately, no injuries to personnel.

    I have seen reference to separate oxygen storage areas and even loading/unloading rail platforms on the site plans of some munitions storage sites but on airfield site plans they are probably just part of the Stores.

    I shall browse through some tonight and see if I can find a separate Building number.
    Last edited by PETERTHEEATER; 12-10-2009 at 10:42.

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    SuperMod Carnaby's Avatar
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    Default Re: 42 Group RAF - Aviation Oxygen

    Quote Originally Posted by PETERTHEEATER View Post
    I do not think that munitions storage sites had their own oxygen production equipment.
    Peter, from my notes (almost certainly from AIR2/10710):
    Prior to 1943 FADs would normally receive deliveries of oxygen from British Oxygen Company for delivery to the airfields, but again with rapidly increasing demands many units were equipped with Kentford plants which enabled them to manufacture their own supply. This scheme began in April 1943, the first units being supplied to 202MU Longparish, 36MU Newdigate, 92MU Brafferton, 233MU Market Stainton, 231MU Hockering, 98MU Mawcarse and 96MU Eynsham. Other units followed later.

    As an example of the scale of this operation, 100 MU was refilling some 2,700 bottles per month, during the peak of the bomber offensive, whilst 231 MU filled a record total of 222 cylinders in one day.

    BOC Plants were at Southampton, Greenwich, Wembley, Witham, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Derby, Rotherham, Leeds, Hull, Stockton-on-Tees (Billingham).

    Graham

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