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Table of Contents

RAAF Meteorological Service



Chapter 1: The Weather Factor in Warfare

Chapter 2: Establishing and Developing the RAAF Directorate of Met. Services (D.Met.S)

Chapter 3: Recruiting and Training of Personnel

Chapter 4: Meteorology in Aviation
The RAAF Meteorological Flight
Hazards Galore

Chapter 5: The Met. Retreating

Chapter 6: The Met. Advancing

Chapter 7: The Met With the Army and the Navy

Chapter 8: Divisional Offices of the Bureau of Meteorology During the War

Chapter 9: Research and Instrumental Development

Chapter 10: The End, Aftermath, and Beyond

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Appendix 3

Appendix 4



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Hazards Galore (continued)

Whatever the hazards, the war had to be fought. The provision of reliable forecasts for Allied aircraft was undoubtedly the most onerous single task of D.Met.S. A knowledge of winds for navigation, of visibility and cloud cover for air strikes and landings—and for parachuting troops and supplies—a knowledge of turbulence, icing and other conditions that might endanger the safety of the aircraft and those in it—these were the important factors.

Brian Eaton explained that, like many other pilots, he would break radio/telephone silence when considered necessary to pass back weather information to meteorological sections to assist other squadrons to plan their attacks. He made a purely subjective statement that sometimes forecasters were too optimistic. This reminded me of the remark of another pilot—'I would have placed them as a society of happy optimists'.[37]

Of course, knowledge of weather conditions was always qualified by the number and frequency of reports received. In some areas, these were notably sparse, for example, in the Indian Ocean. US Catalinas based at Geraldton (WA) carried out patrols off the coast and sent weather information to the meteorological section. These patrols usually flew 500 miles due west, 500 miles due south and then diagonally back to base. Met. officers often went along for the ride according to Fight-Lieutenant Bob Birtwistle. 'The American crews on debriefing were allowed free access to alcoholic beverages which compensated for their arduous trips, but undoubtedly coloured their reports'. Birtwistle recalled an occasion when one flight took off, then reported fighter opposition ahead, so ditched their bombs in the sea and returned to base. It was known that there were no Japanese fighter planes in the area at the time. What the pilots actually saw was the first flight of their own squadron returning from a mission![38]

Flight-Lieutenant Reg Shinkfield remembers making a forecast for a US pilot flying from Parafield (SA) to Alice Springs, and giving wind speeds and directions to 20,000 feet. He was briefing on these conditions when the pilot interrupted to advise that he would be following the railway line and not flying so high. Many early pilots were in the habit of doing this, but on this occasion the strategy didn't work. After some time in the air, the pilot found himself flying west towards the Nullabor. He had taken the wrong railway line at the junction north of Port Augusta.[39]

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Directorate of Meteorological Services (D.Met.S)

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Joyce, J. 1993 'The Story of the RAAF Meteorological Service', Metarch Papers, No. 5 October 1993, Bureau of Meteorology

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher