PDA

View Full Version : Fighter Pilot Burn Injuries BoB...Luftwaffe v RAF.



MB_Avro_UK
12-30-2006, 04:34 PM
Hi all,

The Spitfire and Hurricane had a fuel tank in front of the pilot. The Me(Bf)109 had a fuel tank behind the pilot's seat.

There were many cases of RAF pilots who suffered severe facial burns in combat. I was wondering if the same applied to LW pilots where the fuselage fuel tank was behind the pilot's seat?

Death was not always quick and painless for all sides. Something that perhaps we should always consider.

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

Blottogg
12-30-2006, 05:15 PM
I remember reading Geoffrey Page's book "Tale of a Guinea Pig" about his time flying the Hurricane, and the burn injuries he suffered due to bomber defensive fire hitting the fuselage tank.

From a survivability standpoint, the German fuel tank arrangements were generally better. The motivation for putting the tank in front of the pilot is to minimize CoG changes as fuel burns off. I don't remember fuel tank fires being as deadly a problem in German fighters as in the Allies. OTOH, there's usually an oil tank between the pilot and the engine too, which could cause some nasty burns if punctured, even if not set on fire. The Brits tended to do better there, putting it under the "chin" of the engine, while U.S. and German oil tanks were more often mounted just in front of the top of the firewall.<div class="ev_tpc_signature">

Blotto

"A poor plan, violently executed, is better than no plan at all." - "Sledge"

MB_Avro_UK
12-30-2006, 06:01 PM
Hi all,

Here's an interesting report:RAF pilots who suffered serious burns became members of the 'Guinea Club'.

The Guinea Pigs were just that: young pilots whose hands, limbs and faces were reconstructed using untested, extraordinary plastic surgery techniques that doctors hoped would salvage something from their otherwise hideous injuries.
Without such treatment, pilot Geoffrey Page's future might have been very different after enemy bullets ripped through his aircraft in 1940, igniting gallons of fuel and sending white-hot flames roaring into his cockpit.

'My cockpit became an inferno,' said Page. 'Fear became blind terror, then agonised horror as the bare skin of my hands shrivelled up like burnt parchment in the blast furnace temperature.'

He escaped and parachuted towards the sea: 'It was then I noticed the smell. The odour of my burnt flesh was so loathsome I wanted to vomit.'

At the main RAF hospital, at Halton in Cheshire, Page realised the extent of his injuries. 'My last conscious memory was seeing, in the reflection of the overhanging light, the hideous mass of swollen, burnt flesh that had once been my face,' he said.

Yet Page was fortunate: as the first of the Guinea Pigs, he endured more than a dozen operations at the burns unit at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, West Sussex, run by Archibald McIndoe, then one of only four full-time plastic surgeons working in Britain.

Victims of severe burns rarely survived before 1940, more than half of them dying within 24 hours. Then with the RAF at the front line of the war, hospitals began filling up with young men whose faces and bodies had been melted by a new form of liquid torture: petrol flames, known by the pilots as hell's brew and orange death.

Jack Toper, a wireless operator, was returning from a raid in 1943 when his Wellington bomber was hit by anti-aircraft fire and it was forced to crash land.

As the 19-year-old struggled to help a comrade out of the aircraft, oxygen bottles exploded. His face and hands took the full force of the blast. 'I badly burnt my fingers,' Toper said. 'I lost my nose, my upper eyelids, the top of my right ear, my upper lip, my chin and my right cheek - otherwise I was normal.'

With increasing numbers of men suffering such burns, it was imperative to find new treatment. McIndoe, a civilian consultant plastic surgeon working for the RAF, had no time to wait for technology to evolve. Setting up in a cottage hospital in East Grinstead, he carried out operations so innovative that he made them up as he went along.

McIndoe's successes inclu-ded Tony Fletcher, a teenage RAF engineer who had lost his fingers through frostbite.

It seemed Fletcher would never work as an engineer again - until McIndoe managed to cut into his knuckle joints to create small stumps that would act as fingers.

Toper's treatment was just as incredible: McIndoe used skin from his stomach to make a new nose. For months the young man had to live with what looked like an elephant's trunk of skin stretching from his face down his body. This was a technique that McIndoe used to keep the skin alive as he grafted it on in a series of operations.

The loop of skin, called a pedicle, provided a blood supply from its original source to keep the area viable but continued, for the rest of the patient's life, to behave like the chest skin it had once been. 'My stomach isn't all that hairy, but it still means that every two or three days I have to shave my nose,' said Toper, joking truthfully.

The injuries of McIndoe's patients were so extreme that they stayed at East Grinstead for at least four years, having in excess of 50 operations each. But as incredible as his surgical successes were, it was the pioneer's brilliant understanding of psychology that was the key to his remarkable success.

'McIndoe determined that the social environment in which the medical treatment took place was crucial in the success of the repair,' said historian Emily Mayhew, whose book, The Reconstruction of Warriors, is to be published next month to coincide with what could be the final meeting of the club.

McIndoe sought the help of local people and he encouraged the severely disfigured men to go out into the town. It was not easy for them: 'Those first sorties into the world outside the hospital were painful,' said former patient Bill Simpson. 'Without hands, for instance, it was impossible to do anything without assistance.

'It was embarrassing to have someone pouring beer down your throat, wiping your mouth. It was even more embarrassing to have to make for the gentlemen's cloakroom in pairs,' he added.

McIndoe persisted and the men soon lost their self-consciousness. 'Chaps would go out and come back at two or three in the morning,' recalled Toper. 'This was not a hospital: it was a country club.'

Black humour was rife among the patients: the first club treasurer was chosen because he was wheelchair-bound, and could not run off with the funds.

McIndoe believed in having as many women as possible around the male patients, to encourage them to be confident and not retreat into their shells as a result of their changed appearance.

'Nurses were employed on the basis of their qualifications. Above all, they needed to be able to cope,' said Mayhew. McIndoe recruited wealthy local women as ambassadors to prepare the people of East Grinstead for his patients' visits. Mabel Osbourne was a young waitress at the Whitehall restaurant in the town when the first group arrived. '[We thought] let's look at them - look at them full in the eyes and just see them and treat them as if we don't see it. And that's what we did. We got so used to it we never took any notice after that.'

Affection grew between the patients and townspeople, with the cinema and dance halls issuing open invitations to Guinea Pig Club members. Some married local girls, and East Grinstead was called the 'town that didn't stare'. McIndoe, who was knighted for his work, died in 1960.

'It will be terrifically sad when the club moves into history,' said Mayhew, whose grandmother nursed at the hospital. 'But it was a lifeline to its members for so long that it will be remembered and honoured for ever.'


To be very badly scarred for life...


Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

Airmail109
12-30-2006, 06:13 PM
There are a number of different people who are truly heroes to me:

1) Veterans
2) Doctors, Nurses, Surgeons and Orthadontists

Im not saying that I know what its like to go through what these guys went through, but ive been close.

I had a very assymetric, underdeveloped jaw with a 12-mm overbite and teeth that stuck out at funny angles.

Thanks to orthodontists and surgeons i now have a well developed, strong, ungoofy jaw. That is perfectly normal. I look completely different to when i was 13-14. I used to have the micky taken a lot when i was young, even by my so called best friends, now i get more girlfriends than they do.

There are lots of unsung heroes in this world. But Doctors, Surgeons, Nurses and Orthodontits i think, dont get the credit they deserve. I owe what i am now, to them. Im lucky.<div class="ev_tpc_signature">

Megile : "Hey it's not technically spamming if its on different forums right?"

Hanglands
12-30-2006, 06:16 PM
A surgical technique in use today, all this peduncle and flap stuff. More common for head and neck tumours these days, but Im sure not exclusively so. Many instruments we use are named after McIndoe himself. Every day of my working life I hear someone say "McIndoes please" meaning "give me the scissors please".

The name lives on in medical/surgical circles. And we still teach they story of McIndoe.<div class="ev_tpc_signature">

http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m203/ChickenHawk_2006/logoHH.jpg (http://www.geocities.com/hanglands/)

MB_Avro_UK
12-30-2006, 06:28 PM
Hi hanglands,

McIndoe was a true medical hero.

And to Aimail101...that was a fantastic post http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

Burns must be the worst injuries to suffer IMO.

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

Hanglands
12-30-2006, 06:39 PM
I can ask a maxillo-facial surgeon to give a brief account of the vakue of McIndoes work today if you like.

I say I can ASK. That depends on me sobering up,going to work, remembering to ask, him listening, then writing something, emailing it to me, and me posting.

Good thread MB_Avro, very noble

Edited : I am off work until the second week of Jan, but wil try.<div class="ev_tpc_signature">

http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m203/ChickenHawk_2006/logoHH.jpg (http://www.geocities.com/hanglands/)

Rudeljaeger
12-30-2006, 06:51 PM
A saw once in a movie that the cockpit of a Spitfire got nearly flooded by fuel. If this "fuel sea" would have been set on fire...

MB_Avro_UK
12-30-2006, 06:58 PM
hi Hanglands,

Yes please!!

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

TAW_Oilburner
12-30-2006, 10:25 PM
Originally posted by Rudeljaeger:
A saw once in a movie that the cockpit of a Spitfire got nearly flooded by fuel. If this "fuel sea" would have been set on fire... I remember that scene, I believe it was in "Dark Blue Sky". Very unnerving scene I might add.

Hanglands
12-31-2006, 09:29 AM
If you want a good book on the subject, try this one McIndoe's Army by Edward Bishop. (http://www.amazon.co.uk/McIndoes-Army-Guinea-Indomitable-Members/dp/1902304934/sr=8-2/qid=1167581349/ref=sr_1_2/202-7927762-2562233?ie=UTF8&s=books)
Ive not actually read it myself, but a friend 'in the trade' has and he recommended it to me a while back.

Another chap you might be interested in is Harold Gillies, who is a New Zealander like McIndoe. Gillies spent the war period setting up centres around the country for burns victims. Gillies was the man who really made plastic surgery a medical specialty.<div class="ev_tpc_signature">

http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m203/ChickenHawk_2006/logoHH.jpg (http://www.geocities.com/hanglands/)

AWL_Spinner
12-31-2006, 09:39 AM
Also The Last Enemy (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Enemy-Richard-Hillary/dp/071267344X/sr=8-1/qid=1167582985/ref=pd_ka_1/026-8618401-4730041?ie=UTF8&s=books) by Richard Hillary, a stunning memoir of a terribly burned Battle of Britain pilot first published in 1942.<div class="ev_tpc_signature">

Cheers, Spinner

<hr class="ev_code_hr" />
o Squads! Take a look at the ADW War (http://adwwar.com/en/#), it's fantastic!
o Spinner has been alive in ADW for a maximum of: 3hrs 38mins!

MB_Avro_UK
12-31-2006, 01:21 PM
Originally posted by AWL_Spinner:
Also The Last Enemy (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Enemy-Richard-Hillary/dp/071267344X/sr=8-1/qid=1167582985/ref=pd_ka_1/026-8618401-4730041?ie=UTF8&s=books) by Richard Hillary, a stunning memoir of a terribly burned Battle of Britain pilot first published in 1942.

I've read that book and the amazing thing is that on a subsequent visit to the USA he dated a high-society beauty despite his severe facial disfigurement from burns.

He insisted on returning to flying and was killed in a Blenheim.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Hillary

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

VF-17_Jolly
12-31-2006, 02:19 PM
Who is the burned up pilot in the movie "The Battle of Britain" i thought that it was Geoffrey Page, but can`t find any reference about the character

berg417448
12-31-2006, 02:57 PM
Originally posted by VF-17_Jolly:
Who is the burned up pilot in the movie "The Battle of Britain" i thought that it was Geoffrey Page, but can`t find any reference about the character

William Foxley:

http://www.denbeste.nu/cd_log_entries/2004/05/Thepriceofheroism.shtml

VF-17_Jolly
12-31-2006, 03:06 PM
@berg417448 Thanks. You learn something new every day http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

MB_Avro_UK
12-31-2006, 03:37 PM
Thanks berg http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

Good post.

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

Capt.England
01-01-2007, 08:26 AM
That must be one of the most horrible ways to die!
Thanks for a thoughtful informotive post MB_Avro_UK http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif<div class="ev_tpc_signature">

Why do joysticks break when you need them the most?

MB_Avro_UK
01-01-2007, 01:51 PM
Going back to my original post....

Is it possible that 109 pilots suffered less burns as their fuselage fuel tank was <span class="ev_code_RED">BEHIND</span>the cockpit rather than in front as with the Hurricane and Spitfire??

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

BillyTheKid_22
01-01-2007, 02:00 PM
Howdy!!! MB_Avro_UK, http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif I did read it!!! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/inlove.gif<div class="ev_tpc_signature">

http://members.cox.net/bkid/pacificfighters/p39.jpg

.................................................. ..............

"All I got was a bellyful of English Channel."

Kurfurst__
01-01-2007, 02:21 PM
Originally posted by MB_Avro_UK:
Going back to my original post....

Is it possible that 109 pilots suffered less burns as their fuselage fuel tank was <span class="ev_code_RED">BEHIND</span>the cockpit rather than in front as with the Hurricane and Spitfire??

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

Perhaps, but I don't think anyone made such statistics... IMHO it's related to how big the fire was, rather when where it started. Fighters are very compact machines, and every item is very close to the pilot, so does it really matter if the fuel tank is half meter to the right in wing, half meter below, or half meter in front? But, it seems to me that having the fuel tank behind is more safer once it gets on fire, since the flames tend to be trailed after the aircraft, slipstream etc. ie. blowing towards the rear. At the minimum, you don't get that much burning fuel in your face from the engine cowling when you try to leave the plane. But there were quite a few Bf 109 pilots badly burned, as I'd imagine was the case with other fighters. Fighters seem to be the keyword here.

OTOH as hits came generally from behind putting it to the rear made it more in harms way. This could, and was compensated by the fact that the 109E armor plate was placed behind the fuel tank, while later versions did have 2 plates of armor between which the fuel tank was sandwiched between. (BTW, the oil tank was moved to the spinner in the later versions)

Putting it near the engine doesn't sound too safe to me either, as if it gets hot, it's neccesarily too close to hot surfaces and sparks. But, it gets some protection from frontal hits from the engine, and from dead-on rear hits from the pilots armor.

IMHO the placement itself was not that important, as opposed to the fact that the Spitfire's had two fuel tanks, and the lower one was not-self sealing due to space issues. Fuel filling up your cocpit or spraying around next to the engine certainly asks for trouble.

But, in any case, the fuel tank needs to be put in somewhere in the plane, and given the fact it's contents decrease and it's several hundred lbs worth is disappearing it makes choices limited because of the huge altering of CoG and stability otherwise (and the aircraft would soon become uncontrollable).<div class="ev_tpc_signature">

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/42333000/jpg/_42333631_puskasbudapest_ap203b.jpg
In memoriam Puskás Ferenc,2 April 1927 - 17 November 2006.
Nyugodjon Békében - May he rest in Peace.

http://kurfurst.allaboutwarfare.com/
Kurfürst - Your Resource for Messerschmitt Bf 109 Performance!

"The Me 109 was exceptional in turning combat. If there is a fighter plane built for turning combat , it has to be the Messer! Speedy, maneuverable (especially in the vertical) and extremely dynamic."
- Major Kozhemyako, Soviet fighter pilot of the VVS

Ignored Posters : AKA_Tagert, Wurkeri, Gibbage, LStarosta, Sergio_101.

MB_Avro_UK
01-01-2007, 03:23 PM
Good post Kurfurst http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

Do you have any links or information regarding LW pilot burns? Or maybe such information does not exist...

Perhaps this is not the side of airwarfare that we want to see, but in my opinion it is important.

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

blakduk
01-01-2007, 03:34 PM
Originally posted by MB_Avro_UK:
Going back to my original post....

Is it possible that 109 pilots suffered less burns as their fuselage fuel tank was <span class="ev_code_RED">BEHIND</span>the cockpit rather than in front as with the Hurricane and Spitfire??

I would suggest that the lack a significant number of horror stories of LW fighter pilots suffering burns would suggest that the design lessened the likelihood of it happening. The belief before the war among the British aircraft designers was that the fuel tank would be protected by the engine- they even neglected to put in the lining to make that fuel tank self-sealing in the early model Hurricanes and Spitfires. Bitter experience forced them to change their thinking but to move the fuel tank was too great a design change to make.

On the subject of burns i recall reading an account by a WW1 allied soldier who captured a wounded German soldier on the Western front. It was obvious to the allied guy that the German had suffered terrible facial burns some time before as his face had significant scarring. He eventually managed to get the prisoner's story- he'd been wounded by a shell that caused a fire in his trench that had set alight their cooking stove. He'd also been shot twice (in different engagements) and he'd spent about 18 months in hospital in total.
The allied soldier recorded that at first he was full of admiration for the German doctors for the excellent medical skill they had shown in keeping this man alive and healthy. Then it dawned on him that those same medical people had sent him back to the front line http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/51.gif<div class="ev_tpc_signature">

"He who fights and runs away,
lives to fight another day"
Family Motto

Kurfurst__
01-01-2007, 04:18 PM
Originally posted by MB_Avro_UK:
Good post Kurfurst http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

Do you have any links or information regarding LW pilot burns? Or maybe such information does not exist...

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

Not much, I doubt anyone did a study on that.. medical records would be probably the best place look at, if anyone interested seriously. I only have some accounts from the Hungarian 101st Fighter Regiment, from the book of it's veteran fighter pilot Tobak Tibor - probably the best book from any fighter pilot in the war I might add, excellently written! Tobak was wounded several times IIRC, once from Russian cannon shell fragments in his arm and leg, the second time I believe he burned because he was sent to a hospital in Germany and had to return to his unit in the fall of 1944 in Hungary, which was quite an adventure in itself, though I may mix up these and it could happened towards the end of the war IIRC, when he was shot down in his G-10 over Austria, and burnt then, but not too badly I'd believe (met him for a brief moment).

There's a mention in Punka's book from one Hungarian pilot who states they liked the 109 amongst others for it rarely started to burn at crash/belly landings.

The other case I recall was from Karácsonyi Mihály's description of his fight over Hungary, he jumped out from the 109 but was badly burned, landing on a field amongst peasants who initially leaned towards lynching him (thinking he's american). Then he was taken to hospital in great pain, and suffered from the results for long. For years he was unable to close his eyelids, even for sleep, until he had a surgery in Germany, years after the war ended.

I guess these are stories nobody really wants to hear, or to portait. Its' too horrific.. .
Disfigured, noseless mummies with their skin seemingly melt on their face. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_eek.gif<div class="ev_tpc_signature">

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/42333000/jpg/_42333631_puskasbudapest_ap203b.jpg
In memoriam Puskás Ferenc,2 April 1927 - 17 November 2006.
Nyugodjon Békében - May he rest in Peace.

http://kurfurst.allaboutwarfare.com/
Kurfürst - Your Resource for Messerschmitt Bf 109 Performance!

"The Me 109 was exceptional in turning combat. If there is a fighter plane built for turning combat , it has to be the Messer! Speedy, maneuverable (especially in the vertical) and extremely dynamic."
- Major Kozhemyako, Soviet fighter pilot of the VVS

Ignored Posters : AKA_Tagert, Wurkeri, Gibbage, LStarosta, Sergio_101.

Airmail109
01-01-2007, 08:26 PM
Originally posted by Kurfurst__:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by MB_Avro_UK:
Good post Kurfurst http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

Do you have any links or information regarding LW pilot burns? Or maybe such information does not exist...

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

Not much, I doubt anyone did a study on that.. medical records would be probably the best place look at, if anyone interested seriously. I only have some accounts from the Hungarian 101st Fighter Regiment, from the book of it's veteran fighter pilot Tobak Tibor - probably the best book from any fighter pilot in the war I might add, excellently written! Tobak was wounded several times IIRC, once from Russian cannon shell fragments in his arm and leg, the second time I believe he burned because he was sent to a hospital in Germany and had to return to his unit in the fall of 1944 in Hungary, which was quite an adventure in itself, though I may mix up these and it could happened towards the end of the war IIRC, when he was shot down in his G-10 over Austria, and burnt then, but not too badly I'd believe (met him for a brief moment).

There's a mention in Punka's book from one Hungarian pilot who states they liked the 109 amongst others for it rarely started to burn at crash/belly landings.

The other case I recall was from Karácsonyi Mihály's description of his fight over Hungary, he jumped out from the 109 but was badly burned, landing on a field amongst peasants who initially leaned towards lynching him (thinking he's american). Then he was taken to hospital in great pain, and suffered from the results for long. For years he was unable to close his eyelids, even for sleep, until he had a surgery in Germany, years after the war ended.

I guess these are stories nobody really wants to hear, or to portait. Its' too horrific.. .
Disfigured, noseless mummies with their skin seemingly melt on their face. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_eek.gif </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Wasnt there any fire ******ent clothing they could have worn then? I mean didnt the royal navy equip their servicemen with a sort of fire ******ant balaclava? Hell why not equip them with a sort of fast acting sprinkler system in the cockpit....which sort of exploded foam everywhere.<div class="ev_tpc_signature">

Megile : "Hey it's not technically spamming if its on different forums right?"

Wurkeri
01-02-2007, 02:52 AM
Originally posted by Kurfurst__:
IMHO the placement itself was not that important, as opposed to the fact that the Spitfire's had two fuel tanks, and the lower one was not-self sealing due to space issues. Fuel filling up your cocpit or spraying around next to the engine certainly asks for trouble.


Hm... Some early model Spitfires had self sealing lower tank (see the manual below) and non protected upper tank, in the later models both tanks were protected (self sealing).

http://www.zenoswarbirdvideos.com/Images/spit/Spit2Manual.pdf