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Flt Sgt Copping's P-40 From The Egyptian Desert

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    Guest

    As Knifedgeturn points out, the section of harness shown in the photo above (thanks for posting the link, Peter!) is one of the lap-straps. It would appear that this one has been unbolted from its fixing rather than cut, and I cannot imagine it has been torn from the mounting. That would have been pretty nigh on impossible and would probably show signs of distortion to the two black steel and square-ish mounting eyes at the end of the strap. Maybe, now, the balance of probability tilts back to the possibility that somebody started to remove this harness a long while ago thinking it might be useful, and not to get the pilot out. Seems unlikely (if not impossible) that anybody would be forraging around in the lower cockpit alongside a dead or disable pilot to undo the bolts!

    I dont think there are clear photos of the other one to see if that is a lap strap or a chest strap, or to be able to see the method of its removal from the P40; ie cut, torn or deliberately unfastened.

    All that is clear is that the main harness strap has seemingly been cut just behind the metal strengthening plate.
    Last edited by Tangmere1940; 13th November 2012, 18:57.

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    • knifeedgeturn
      Is c0ck-up.
      • Sep 2010
      • 534

      If you look at the seat pan in the photo, (post 105) it appears to be the metal end of the harness that bolts through the webbing.
      " A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest"

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      • Guest's Avatar
        Guest

        Do you mean the bit sticking up from the sand?

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        • knifeedgeturn
          Is c0ck-up.
          • Sep 2010
          • 534

          Yes; although the more I look at it the less I see!
          " A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest"

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          • Guest's Avatar
            Guest

            I know what you mean....and I know what you mean!

            Despite familiarity with these items I am struggling to recall exactly what they look like, in detail. Whilst Mark12's picture was helpful this one (albeit a model one!) probably shows these bits a tad better...

            Thinking about it, I'm sure there must have been more than one 'pattern' of Sutton harness - particularly in respect of the anchor points for various a/c.

            And I am not even sure the 'model' version, here, is technically accurate.

            Anyone got a good photo of a complete original harness laid out?
            Last edited by Tangmere1940; 29th November 2012, 17:46.

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            • knifeedgeturn
              Is c0ck-up.
              • Sep 2010
              • 534

              The harness that I have is new old stock, (and very stiff) the section that goes rearward (to the fuselage) is detachable as it passes through the armour plate, to allow the seat to remove; there are brass ends on the webbing to stop fraying, but in turn make it nigh on impossible to get through the brass "buckles", cutting the ends off would allow it slide off.
              " A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest"

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              • ozjag
                Rank 5 Registered User
                • Apr 2007
                • 834

                Just my thoughts on the matter, I don't believe any Bedouin would have bothered to open the canopy (if they knew how), remove and bury the body (if it was inside) and then close the canopy again.

                I do believe however that it could have been possible for a small team of German or Allied combatants during WW2 to have done so but then met their own demise before they had reported the find and location. Or maybe it was reported but it was forgotten about at the time as there were more pressing issues at hand, the Desert Air Force Squadrons were in a full blown retreat after all. Maybe they closed the canopy to protect the contents as they thought someone would be along shortly to recover any useful items.

                This is all assuming that he was fatally injured in the crash, nobody knows for sure. He may even have been severely injured but alive and taken away with whoever got him out of the cockpit.

                Paul
                Facebook: Aussie Cockpits

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                • Rocketeer
                  trying harder
                  • Jan 2005
                  • 5243

                  I did not originally think that was Sutton Harness. But it is. I have dug out a picture of mine. The nearest part of a Harness that it , is one of the lap straps. The end fitting (that fits to the seat pan) is a folded flat steel plate - which is missing from the P40 item.
                  I am surprised that the P40 was fitted with a British Sutton Harness as opposed to the standard USA style fighter harness.
                  Last edited by Rocketeer; 14th November 2012, 03:14. Reason: I am wrong!
                  Tony Dyer
                  https://www.facebook.com/TheAirDefen...homepage_panel

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                  • Rocketeer
                    trying harder
                    • Jan 2005
                    • 5243

                    The folded zinc coated end fitting I mean can be seen on the second pic of my harness on the Hurri. The flat plate part has a single bolt that holds it either to an extender part (as utilised on the Hurricane) or straight to seat pan. This flat plate is missing from the P40 part. I don't like speculating, but nomadic people are well known for making good use of parts.....recycling, those straps may be useful. So maybe it was unbolted?
                    Attached Files
                    Last edited by Rocketeer; 14th November 2012, 03:17.
                    Tony Dyer
                    https://www.facebook.com/TheAirDefen...homepage_panel

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                    • l.garey
                      Rank 5 Registered User
                      • Feb 2006
                      • 1951

                      To all this speculation about whether Dennis's body was removed from his cockpit we might add one more possibility: perhaps he was indeed killed on impact and buried, not 5 km from the site, but under some rocks closer to his aircraft, rather as I described for Owen Watkinson (post 95, above). But that would imply more careful exploration around the site.
                      Laurence

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                      • knifeedgeturn
                        Is c0ck-up.
                        • Sep 2010
                        • 534

                        Originally posted by ozjag View Post
                        Just my thoughts on the matter, I don't believe any Bedouin would have bothered to open the canopy (if they knew how), remove and bury the body (if it was inside) and then close the canopy again.

                        I do believe however that it could have been possible for a small team of German or Allied combatants during WW2 to have done so but then met their own demise before they had reported the find and location. Or maybe it was reported but it was forgotten about at the time as there were more pressing issues at hand, the Desert Air Force Squadrons were in a full blown retreat after all. Maybe they closed the canopy to protect the contents as they thought someone would be along shortly to recover any useful items.

                        This is all assuming that he was fatally injured in the crash, nobody knows for sure. He may even have been severely injured but alive and taken away with whoever got him out of the cockpit.

                        Paul

                        I'm with you on the first, as I too believe it unlikely that anyone other than the pilot would bother to close the canopy, on a largely destroyed A/C.

                        I believe the biggest danger to pilots (in British fighter A/C) is striking the gunsight,whether that is the case in a P40 I'm not sure.
                        " A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest"

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                        • Guest's Avatar
                          Guest

                          Equally, would there have been any point in the pilot closing the canopy either?

                          We don't know by whom, or when, the canopy was closed. It could have been during subsequent visits by unknown persons, but having stayed up shut for the longest period it has just seized up like that in subsequent years. The fact is, we just don't know how many people have visited the aircraft after the crash.

                          I am not sure that Ozjag's suggestion about a visiting group of British or German combatants is likely (unless special forces) because I am pretty sure this is way way off the track from where any such soldiers might have been - but I stand to be corrected on that.

                          Whilst this is all speculation, it is nonetheless intrguing.

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                          • knifeedgeturn
                            Is c0ck-up.
                            • Sep 2010
                            • 534

                            Closing the canopy on your A/C seems like an automatic reponse for a pilot, who is trained to be responsible for said A/C.
                            " A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest"

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                            • Guest's Avatar
                              Guest

                              To an extent, I am sure that is true. But I am not entirely convinced that closing the canopy would have been something that would have crossed Coppings mind on this occasion. Like all else, we just don't know.

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                              • Bruce
                                Independent analyst
                                • Jan 2000
                                • 10222

                                Much as I understand the interest in keeping the whole thing in the public eye, we seem to be finding more and more tenuous ways of doing so.

                                Bearing in mind that we cannot know how the strap came to be cut; it is pointless espousing more and more theories about it. The cut strap tells us absolutely nothing in isolation, as it could have happened at any point in the past 70 years, and may have nothing to do with the accident itself.

                                I have said it before, and will again - no news from MoD or RAFM cannot be taken to mean there is nothing going on - it would seem that they have chosen not to comment, which is entirely in keeping with a normal course of action as far as I can see.


                                Bruce

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                                • knifeedgeturn
                                  Is c0ck-up.
                                  • Sep 2010
                                  • 534

                                  Bruce, is this not exactly how "intelligence" is gathered, dozens of people endlessly looking at dozens of photographs trying to piece together the last few hours/days in order that a better picture of where to look might emerge?

                                  If the MOD knew where to look, a body would already have been recovered.
                                  " A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest"

                                  Comment

                                  • Bruce
                                    Independent analyst
                                    • Jan 2000
                                    • 10222

                                    That may be true to a point, but I think one can be too close to something. The pictures available were taken as a record; nothing else; they were not intended to be over scrutinised; had that been the case, there would have been more of them, and in much better detail.

                                    My point is that much could have happened in 70 years, which makes it impossible to determine with any accuracy any true course of events, and leads to much guesswork and supposition, which cannot be proved at the moment.


                                    Bruce

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                                    • knifeedgeturn
                                      Is c0ck-up.
                                      • Sep 2010
                                      • 534

                                      Agreed, mostly guesswork; when planning DDay, did the MOD not ask for holiday snaps to be sent in, used to help build up a profile of that general area?
                                      " A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest"

                                      Comment

                                      • TonyT
                                        Rank 5 Registered User
                                        • Oct 2006
                                        • 9022

                                        I still cannot believe how you are all coming up with these "conspiracy" theories whilst seemingly ignoring the one tangible fact, there is body remains in the near vicinity, but you all seem to have him buried beside it, dead on impact, abducted by Germans, Allies or Aliens.. None of which is helping his relatives if searching the web for information..

                                        Comment

                                        • knifeedgeturn
                                          Is c0ck-up.
                                          • Sep 2010
                                          • 534

                                          Originally posted by TonyT View Post
                                          I still cannot believe how you are all coming up with these "conspiracy" theories whilst seemingly ignoring the one tangible fact, there is body remains in the near vicinity, but you all seem to have him buried beside it, dead on impact, abducted by Germans, Allies or Aliens.. None of which is helping his relatives if searching the web for information..
                                          Are the remains nearby? I thought it was said 5km away; was it not the MOD that discounted these remains? I am just trying to get a better understanding of what might have happened; we have no control over what is or isn't being done on site.

                                          I personally couldn't make head nor tale of quattara's last post, not his fault, my Italian is non existant, his English is much better.
                                          Last edited by knifeedgeturn; 14th November 2012, 09:55. Reason: additional waffle
                                          " A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest"

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