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Old 8th May 2019, 8:57 pm   #1
ChrisC18Mar
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Default RAF WWII "Darkie" System

Has anyone any details of the Darkie system for directing lost pilots with a short-range (10 mile range or so) voice system?
Looking it up on the web gives some sketchy details - use channel D on a crystal-controlled transceiver on the plane. I assume this was a TR1196 - anyone know any different?
The ground stations - where were these ? Was the idea to cover the whole of the country, or just in the vicinity of airfields? Some reference to a TR9 as the equipment used, which would match up in frequency coverage and range to the TR1196.
Is there any RAF AP referring to this system?
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Old 8th May 2019, 9:09 pm   #2
G3VKM_Roger
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Default Re: RAF WWII "Darkie" System

This was discussed recently on one of the VMARS forums, the actual name was "Darky". IIRC, the service was provided by ground stations at most airfields. There's quite a lot of posts on the topic so it would take me some time to re-read them. I don't recall an AP being mentioned.

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Old 9th May 2019, 8:31 am   #3
M0FYA Andy
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Default Re: RAF WWII "Darkie" System

I think there was also an article by Trevor Sanderson in Radio Bygones.

Andy
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Old 9th May 2019, 1:21 pm   #4
jamesinnewcastl
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Default Re: RAF WWII "Darkie" System

Hi

If you are interested in operational use then you will find stuff in the various APs. I have one in mind, I'll look it out if you are interested in that aspect. I'm not sure if it would detail the infrastructure of Darky though


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Old 12th May 2019, 5:57 pm   #5
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Default Re: RAF WWII "Darkie" System

My understanding of it was that it was operated by all kinds of stations including the Observer Corps. using old TR9s. The idea was that the aircraft made a Darky call and if anyone with a crappy radio heard it and replied then they knew roughly where they were because the range was so low. There were also beacons on some mountains in Wales that operated on the same frequency, so if you heard it you must be too close!
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Old 13th May 2019, 7:16 pm   #6
ChrisC18Mar
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Default Re: RAF WWII "Darkie" System

There's a paragraph about it in Google Books:
Despatch on War Operations: 23rd February 1942 to 8th May 1945 by Bomber Harris, which confirmed that it was a common system on 6440 kc/s, using TR9 or TR1196 transceivers. Quite a few references pop up with a google search, particularly from aircrew memories. James - if you come across any AP reference, it would be appreciated.
Chris
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Old 13th May 2019, 7:33 pm   #7
M0FYA Andy
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Default Re: RAF WWII "Darkie" System

There is a question I haven't been able to find an answer to.
A Darky call would normally have been made by the pilot using his RT set - in the early years of the war this would have been a TR9 or TR1196 on HF, so including 6440 kc/s. By the end of the war all the 'heavies' had been fitted with a TR1143 or SCR-522 on VHF in place of the earlier HF set. So was Darky allocated a VHF channel, or did the Wireless Operator tune his T1154/R1155 to 6440 kc/s if requested by the pilot?

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Old 13th May 2019, 9:45 pm   #8
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Default Re: RAF WWII "Darkie" System

No, they used their TR9 or TR1196 set as far as I am aware. They still carried these, unlike fighters that did not have the space.

There were VHF d/f services, but that wasn't Darky.
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Old 13th May 2019, 10:10 pm   #9
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Default Re: RAF WWII "Darkie" System

HI

From AP 3024/3, section 3 Appendix A

Attached (Arrrgh, they loaded backwards even though I loaded them backwards to avoid them reading backwards - good grief)


James
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Old 13th May 2019, 10:18 pm   #10
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Default Re: RAF WWII "Darkie" System

Another - Definitely in the right order....

This is not from an AP rather it is from original standing orders of an airfield - the commnader in charge being a man named R.S. Blucke DFC.

James
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Old 14th May 2019, 8:33 am   #11
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Default Re: RAF WWII "Darkie" System

Trying to limit a range to 10 miles is pretty well nonsense. If one imagines the transmitter had a continuous adjustment of output power (and neither TR9 nor TR1196 do as far as I recall), how could it possibly be set by the user of that transmitter?

When doing this at HF, we have all the complication and uncertainty of skywave propagation to add into the mix.

I suspect the reason for the procedure being little known is that it simply didn't work!


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Old 14th May 2019, 8:38 am   #12
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Default Re: RAF WWII "Darkie" System

Quote:
Originally Posted by GMB View Post
My understanding of it was that it was operated by all kinds of stations including the Observer Corps. using old TR9s. The idea was that the aircraft made a Darky call and if anyone with a crappy radio heard it and replied then they knew roughly where they were because the range was so low. There were also beacons on some mountains in Wales that operated on the same frequency, so if you heard it you must be too close!
I'm afraid HF radio doesn't work like that. I worked a station on a WS19 (with about 2W AM output) in Belfast back in the 1970s (CCF network) using a WS19 myself in Brighton.

That was on 5330kHz. An easy contact as I recall. Skywave of course. My aerial was a dipole cut for the frequency about 20' above the school playground. A clear example of NVIS progagation, which would have been very common during WWII radio contacts, though little recognised at the time.

Richard
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Old 14th May 2019, 9:50 am   #13
M0FYA Andy
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Default Re: RAF WWII "Darkie" System

Quote:
Originally Posted by GMB View Post
No, they used their TR9 or TR1196 set as far as I am aware. They still carried these, unlike fighters that did not have the space.

There were VHF d/f services, but that wasn't Darky.
George,
I simply don't accept that!
I can find no evidence whatsoever of the TR9 or TR1196 being retained in addition to the TR1143 or SCR-522. (There is one specific exception, and that was in the specially modified Lancasters used in the 'Dambusters' raid, so there may have been other specific cases, but I'm talking about the standard fit in the thousands of 'ordinary' aircraft).
I've never seen a single picture showing the pilot's position equipped with two controllers, one for each system, or any wiring diagram showing both fitted. The VHF sets were (in the Lancaster) mounted on the port fuselage wall aft of the W/Op, in the same location as the TR1196, again I've never seen a picture showing two.
The wiring to accommodate two pilot's RT systems would get quite complex, so I'm guessing that in the case of the Dambusters aircraft one system would have been 'standalone', perhaps operated by the W/Op or Navigator, but I have no evidence.

Andy
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Old 14th May 2019, 8:42 pm   #14
ChrisC18Mar
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Default Re: RAF WWII "Darkie" System

Have come across a reference to a US guy training on Darky at Toome in N. Ireland:
http://ww2talk.com/index.php?threads...-system.24240/
Any other reference to USAF use of Darky? No idea if they used Channel D of their SCR-522 VHF set, or tuned in a 'command' set to 6440 kc/s instead. A google search for 'VHF Darky' brought up a Google Book "Isaiah's Eagles Rising: A Generation of Airmen" which seemed to be USAF B17 ferry pilot getting lost near Lavenham after dark and using Darky to locate the aerodrome.

Peter PA0PZD has a Lancaster W/Op and Nav mockup, with a SCR-522 VHF set in it - "It is a 4 channel VHF set for “darky “communication, when the aircraft lost the navigation to the airfield." He includes a pic of the H2S-equipped Lanc showing all the radio kit (attached as below), but it shows a TR1196 !
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