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View Full Version : Bailing out in the English Channel during BoB



hmkim
01-24-2006, 03:49 PM
I'm reading a book, "Battle of Britain: The Most Dangerous Enemy." (What a great book!). According to it, a pilot who successfully bailed out in the English Channel could not survive for more than 4 hours. In other words, he had to be rescued within 4 hours in order to have a chance to survive. WHY??? I assume that most pilots wore a life jacket during BoB, so they wouldn't drown.

ImpStarDuece
01-24-2006, 03:59 PM
Becuase the water is FRICKIN' cold. Cross-Channel swimmers used to cover themselves in goosefat to stay warm http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/34.gif .

A pilot in full flying gear is going to get soaked to the bone very quickly. That gear is going to soak up a lot of cold, cold water and weigh the pilot down, even with a Mae West (life vest) on. It's incredibly difficult to swim or even just retain energy in cold water, when your clothes have suddenly increased their weight tenfold.

Low_Flyer_MkII
01-24-2006, 04:00 PM
Too many factors to contemplate for a figure of four hours. Would depend on weather, proximity to coast, wounds...

F19_Olli72
01-24-2006, 04:00 PM
Hypothermia.

It was even worse for the pilots in Norway and North Atlantic. Then its not a question of hours anymore...but minutes.

hmkim
01-24-2006, 04:05 PM
OK. I understand...but the BoB took place in the summer/early fall. The water cannot be too cold, right? Or, am I missing something about the Channel?

MLudner
01-24-2006, 04:05 PM
I would question the quality of the book if did not explain the factors mentioned above by Imperial Star Deuce and F19.

MLudner
01-24-2006, 04:07 PM
Originally posted by hmkim:
OK. I understand...but the BoB took place in the summer/early fall. The water cannot be too cold, right? Or, am I missing something about the Channel?

The water is still cold, just not as cold as it will be in Winter. Also, exhaustion must be considered.

Vortex_79
01-24-2006, 04:11 PM
~S~

The water temps in the channel average 10 degrees C during the summer with a peak of 15 degree C if your lucky! So yep, it's cold!

F19_Olli72
01-24-2006, 04:13 PM
Or go here:
http://www.mustangsurvival.com/resources/documentation/...ypothermia/index.php (http://www.mustangsurvival.com/resources/documentation/articles/hypothermia/index.php)

Excerpt:
"WHAT IS HYPOTHERMIA?
Hypothermia is the lowering of the body core temperature as a result of exposure to a cold environment. The threat of hypothermia exists when a person is immersed in water that is colder than their normal body core temperature of 37? C (98.6? F). Many people do not realize that this threat exists even on warm sunny days.

Examples of average water temperatures are:
Pacific NorthWest 11.6? C (53? F)
Central Atlantic Coast 12.2? C (54? F)
Coastal Miami Beach 25.6? C (78? F)
Great Lakes 12.8? C (55? F)

Mustang Survival has done extensive research to understand cold-water survival. We know that many factors will effect how long you can survive.

The length of time a person can survive in cold water primarily depends on both the water's temperature and the thermal insulation of the victim's protective clothing. Although models and charts can predict approximate survival times there are many variables that ultimately effect survivability.

The Following Factors will decrease survival times :
# Cold waters
# Lack of thermal insulation

# Turbulent waters
(waves, water flushing)
# Body Movement
(spent heat energy from swimming or treading)

# Active winds
# Physiological factors (eg: lean body composition)

# Direct contact with the water
# Consumption of alcohol and/or drugs

# Injury
# Fatigue


Theres several factors, just like MLudner said.

MLudner
01-24-2006, 04:18 PM
Originally posted by Vortex_79:
~S~

The water temps in the channel average 10 degrees C during the summer with a peak of 15 degree C if your lucky! So yep, it's cold!

See? Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr....

AustinPowers_
01-24-2006, 04:20 PM
Many people have swam the English channel.... some twice and three times in the same day.

However... they hadn't just bailed out of an aircraft, and they weren't wearing flying uniforms http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

danjama
01-24-2006, 04:58 PM
Originally posted by hmkim:
OK. I understand...but the BoB took place in the summer/early fall. The water cannot be too cold, right? Or, am I missing something about the Channel?

Youve never been in the Channel have you? Let me tell you man, i sued to frequent it as a boy, and it is COLD!!

Dunkelgrun
01-24-2006, 05:04 PM
Originally posted by danjama:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by hmkim:
OK. I understand...but the BoB took place in the summer/early fall. The water cannot be too cold, right? Or, am I missing something about the Channel?

Youve never been in the Channel have you? Let me tell you man, i sued to frequent it as a boy, and it is COLD!! </div></BLOCKQUOTE>


I grew up where the English Channel meets the Thames Estuary, and I never, ever, went into the sea without it being bloody freezing. Even on the hottest summer day it is impossible to stay in it too long, especially if there is a nice light North-East breeze blowing.

It always amazes me why holiday resorts on the East coast of Britain became so popular - cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey most of the time. Must have been better than living in the industrial towns though.

Cheers!

FluffyDucks
01-24-2006, 05:51 PM
As a diver(amateur) since I was 13 I can tell you guys that in the 70s I used to wear an old style "wet suit" (self made EVO-STIK glue and newspapers for patterns), My dad had the latest and best wetsuit(of course), he could never understand why after an hour in 8c water (Irish Sea similar temps to Channel) I was bloody hypothermic.... and I can confirm once your body temp gets lowered, it is an EFFORT to do the simplest thing even take off masks, fins etc, never mind trying to get in a boat...with full diving gear and hands that won't do what they are told. To be honest 4 hours in those conditions(Channel) would I think be extremely lucky...and BTW the sea temp only rises by a few degrees summer/winter, in fact the sea is warmer in winter than the air temp at times..problem is it sucks heat from your body 25 times faster than the air http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

blakduk
01-24-2006, 07:07 PM
4 hours is a very long time to be in the water- even in relatively warm tropical water many swimmers become exhausted and drown in much shorter time. The waters of the English channel are cold all the time and it must be remembered that water takes a very long time to heat up! A few weeks of hot weather will not raise the temperature of the ocean by very much at all- look at how long a kettle takes to boil water with all the energy being pumped into it.
The other thing that was poorly understood at the time was that the rescue services often pulled people out of the water who had been in for an hour or two, who seemed to be fine- only to have them die soon after.
What wasnt realised until after the war was that people who are chilled in the water if they are removed and warmed too quickly will go into shock. When in cold water the peripheral blood supply will shut down to retain heat in the core of the body and in the major organs. This is further enhanced by the pressure of the water around the body.
Once the person is lifted from the water the pressure is reduced causing blood to flow to the extremities, lowering blood pressure. Additionally, people often make efforts to heat the person quickly which opens the blood vessels in the extremities even more, further lowering blood pressure. Futhermore, the person's blood sugar levels are often low by this point as well as they have been rapidly burning their glucose stores to stay warm (it's a mammal thing we do)- they dont have the sugar levels required for the heart to start beating harder nor for the arteries to contract reflexively to maintain blood pressure. The result is shock.
The other complication is that the peripheral blood supply is slowed down so much in a hypothermic person that the blood cannot transport their metabolic toxins away from their tissues for either metabolism by the liver or excretion by the kidneys- thus once that blood supply is reestablished they are literally being poisoned.

These effects were not well understood at the time and horrific experiments were conducted on concentration camp internees to try and find the answers. Not only were the Nazis vicious thugs, they were also incompetent scientists and never came close to identifying the importance of these mechanisms.

As far as people swimming the channel, the key is they are covered in a substance that provides a layer between them and the water (water is an excellent conducter of heat, far more than the air) such as fat or lard, they keep their muscles moving, and they constantly ingest sugars (such as chocolate, soft drinks etc). Despite these factors there are still many cases of people fainting and having very low blood sugar immediately after getting out of the water.

Xiolablu3
01-25-2006, 04:26 AM
Add to these comments the high waves and incredibly scary thing of being actually in the sea, miles from land.

I remember as a boy I would swim far out to sea (well it seemed quite far http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif), only to have a mild panic attack that I was about to be bitten from below the surface and swim back really fast.

Cold+SHock+Tiredness+Panic = dead very quickly.

TAW_Oilburner
01-25-2006, 04:43 AM
Just finished that book about a month ago, an excellent book. I've come to find out it's considered by many to be the definative book on the BOB.