PERFORMANCE AND HANDLING
Squadron aircraft were operated at an all-up weight between 35000 lbs and
38000 lbs. Mission lengths meant that it was seldom necessary to operate with full tanks, and this normally enabled the Squadron to use take-off weights at the lower end of this scale. At this weight, all maneuvers not forbidden in the Operations Manual were accomplished without difficulty, as well as some that fell into the former category, and thus tempted the more adventurous pilots to stretch the limits 'of the "envelope" on occasion. The 2000 yard runway at Biferno was adequate and the odd "runaway prop" or engine malfunction was handled without difficulty, using the established procedures. (Author: As one such incident from my own flight log book reports - March 26th, 1945 in HD 610, "Gloomy Sunday" - brought back safely.)
Take-off techniques varied from pilot to pilot. At 48/49" of boost and 2700 rpm, the length of the Biferno runway would allow the nose wheel to be lifted off, and the aircraft would fly-off (something that the earlier models, without the canted wing of the F and G models, would not do). Some pilots would hold the aircraft down with the nose wheel off, until the speed was much more than needed, and then fly off. The extra boost available -"through the gate - of 51/52" was added comfort, available if needed.
Climbing rate at full combat weight was never rapid, 200 feet per minute, at 165/170 mph indicated airspeed, meant that 35 minutes to 10,000 feet was the norm. A faster climb was not vital, and made initial formatting that much easier, with top of the climb coming well before coasting in over the Yugoslav mainland.
Top of climb to target IP at 180 mph indicated (2400 rpm), then
210 mph indicated (245 mph true airspeed) at 2700 rpm to Target until clear of target area, then back to 170 mph lAS for the run home.
Approaching Base and descending, 2700 rpm again for the low or medium level flyover, then reducing to 2000-2200 rpm and throttle back for the final descent and landing. Actual techniques varied from pilot to pilot, from the low power on
approach to recommended higher power off version.
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