1. #1
    MB_Avro_UK's Avatar Senior Member
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    Hi all,

    The Spitfire and Hurricane had a fuel tank in front of the pilot. The Me(Bf)109 had a fuel tank behind the pilot's seat.

    There were many cases of RAF pilots who suffered severe facial burns in combat. I was wondering if the same applied to LW pilots where the fuselage fuel tank was behind the pilot's seat?

    Death was not always quick and painless for all sides. Something that perhaps we should always consider.

    Best Regards,
    MB_Avro.
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  2. #2
    I remember reading Geoffrey Page's book "Tale of a Guinea Pig" about his time flying the Hurricane, and the burn injuries he suffered due to bomber defensive fire hitting the fuselage tank.

    From a survivability standpoint, the German fuel tank arrangements were generally better. The motivation for putting the tank in front of the pilot is to minimize CoG changes as fuel burns off. I don't remember fuel tank fires being as deadly a problem in German fighters as in the Allies. OTOH, there's usually an oil tank between the pilot and the engine too, which could cause some nasty burns if punctured, even if not set on fire. The Brits tended to do better there, putting it under the "chin" of the engine, while U.S. and German oil tanks were more often mounted just in front of the top of the firewall.<div class="ev_tpc_signature">

    Blotto

    "A poor plan, violently executed, is better than no plan at all." - "Sledge"
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  3. #3
    MB_Avro_UK's Avatar Senior Member
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    Hi all,

    Here's an interesting report:RAF pilots who suffered serious burns became members of the 'Guinea Club'.

    The Guinea Pigs were just that: young pilots whose hands, limbs and faces were reconstructed using untested, extraordinary plastic surgery techniques that doctors hoped would salvage something from their otherwise hideous injuries.
    Without such treatment, pilot Geoffrey Page's future might have been very different after enemy bullets ripped through his aircraft in 1940, igniting gallons of fuel and sending white-hot flames roaring into his cockpit.

    'My cockpit became an inferno,' said Page. 'Fear became blind terror, then agonised horror as the bare skin of my hands shrivelled up like burnt parchment in the blast furnace temperature.'

    He escaped and parachuted towards the sea: 'It was then I noticed the smell. The odour of my burnt flesh was so loathsome I wanted to vomit.'

    At the main RAF hospital, at Halton in Cheshire, Page realised the extent of his injuries. 'My last conscious memory was seeing, in the reflection of the overhanging light, the hideous mass of swollen, burnt flesh that had once been my face,' he said.

    Yet Page was fortunate: as the first of the Guinea Pigs, he endured more than a dozen operations at the burns unit at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, West Sussex, run by Archibald McIndoe, then one of only four full-time plastic surgeons working in Britain.

    Victims of severe burns rarely survived before 1940, more than half of them dying within 24 hours. Then with the RAF at the front line of the war, hospitals began filling up with young men whose faces and bodies had been melted by a new form of liquid torture: petrol flames, known by the pilots as hell's brew and orange death.

    Jack Toper, a wireless operator, was returning from a raid in 1943 when his Wellington bomber was hit by anti-aircraft fire and it was forced to crash land.

    As the 19-year-old struggled to help a comrade out of the aircraft, oxygen bottles exploded. His face and hands took the full force of the blast. 'I badly burnt my fingers,' Toper said. 'I lost my nose, my upper eyelids, the top of my right ear, my upper lip, my chin and my right cheek - otherwise I was normal.'

    With increasing numbers of men suffering such burns, it was imperative to find new treatment. McIndoe, a civilian consultant plastic surgeon working for the RAF, had no time to wait for technology to evolve. Setting up in a cottage hospital in East Grinstead, he carried out operations so innovative that he made them up as he went along.

    McIndoe's successes inclu-ded Tony Fletcher, a teenage RAF engineer who had lost his fingers through frostbite.

    It seemed Fletcher would never work as an engineer again - until McIndoe managed to cut into his knuckle joints to create small stumps that would act as fingers.

    Toper's treatment was just as incredible: McIndoe used skin from his stomach to make a new nose. For months the young man had to live with what looked like an elephant's trunk of skin stretching from his face down his body. This was a technique that McIndoe used to keep the skin alive as he grafted it on in a series of operations.

    The loop of skin, called a pedicle, provided a blood supply from its original source to keep the area viable but continued, for the rest of the patient's life, to behave like the chest skin it had once been. 'My stomach isn't all that hairy, but it still means that every two or three days I have to shave my nose,' said Toper, joking truthfully.

    The injuries of McIndoe's patients were so extreme that they stayed at East Grinstead for at least four years, having in excess of 50 operations each. But as incredible as his surgical successes were, it was the pioneer's brilliant understanding of psychology that was the key to his remarkable success.

    'McIndoe determined that the social environment in which the medical treatment took place was crucial in the success of the repair,' said historian Emily Mayhew, whose book, The Reconstruction of Warriors, is to be published next month to coincide with what could be the final meeting of the club.

    McIndoe sought the help of local people and he encouraged the severely disfigured men to go out into the town. It was not easy for them: 'Those first sorties into the world outside the hospital were painful,' said former patient Bill Simpson. 'Without hands, for instance, it was impossible to do anything without assistance.

    'It was embarrassing to have someone pouring beer down your throat, wiping your mouth. It was even more embarrassing to have to make for the gentlemen's cloakroom in pairs,' he added.

    McIndoe persisted and the men soon lost their self-consciousness. 'Chaps would go out and come back at two or three in the morning,' recalled Toper. 'This was not a hospital: it was a country club.'

    Black humour was rife among the patients: the first club treasurer was chosen because he was wheelchair-bound, and could not run off with the funds.

    McIndoe believed in having as many women as possible around the male patients, to encourage them to be confident and not retreat into their shells as a result of their changed appearance.

    'Nurses were employed on the basis of their qualifications. Above all, they needed to be able to cope,' said Mayhew. McIndoe recruited wealthy local women as ambassadors to prepare the people of East Grinstead for his patients' visits. Mabel Osbourne was a young waitress at the Whitehall restaurant in the town when the first group arrived. '[We thought] let's look at them - look at them full in the eyes and just see them and treat them as if we don't see it. And that's what we did. We got so used to it we never took any notice after that.'

    Affection grew between the patients and townspeople, with the cinema and dance halls issuing open invitations to Guinea Pig Club members. Some married local girls, and East Grinstead was called the 'town that didn't stare'. McIndoe, who was knighted for his work, died in 1960.

    'It will be terrifically sad when the club moves into history,' said Mayhew, whose grandmother nursed at the hospital. 'But it was a lifeline to its members for so long that it will be remembered and honoured for ever.'


    To be very badly scarred for life...


    Best Regards,
    MB_Avro.
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  4. #4
    Airmail109's Avatar Senior Member
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    There are a number of different people who are truly heroes to me:

    1) Veterans
    2) Doctors, Nurses, Surgeons and Orthadontists

    Im not saying that I know what its like to go through what these guys went through, but ive been close.

    I had a very assymetric, underdeveloped jaw with a 12-mm overbite and teeth that stuck out at funny angles.

    Thanks to orthodontists and surgeons i now have a well developed, strong, ungoofy jaw. That is perfectly normal. I look completely different to when i was 13-14. I used to have the micky taken a lot when i was young, even by my so called best friends, now i get more girlfriends than they do.

    There are lots of unsung heroes in this world. But Doctors, Surgeons, Nurses and Orthodontits i think, dont get the credit they deserve. I owe what i am now, to them. Im lucky.<div class="ev_tpc_signature">

    Megile : "Hey it's not technically spamming if its on different forums right?"
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  5. #5
    Hanglands's Avatar Banned
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    A surgical technique in use today, all this peduncle and flap stuff. More common for head and neck tumours these days, but Im sure not exclusively so. Many instruments we use are named after McIndoe himself. Every day of my working life I hear someone say "McIndoes please" meaning "give me the scissors please".

    The name lives on in medical/surgical circles. And we still teach they story of McIndoe.<div class="ev_tpc_signature">


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  6. #6
    MB_Avro_UK's Avatar Senior Member
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    Hi hanglands,

    McIndoe was a true medical hero.

    And to Aimail101...that was a fantastic post

    Burns must be the worst injuries to suffer IMO.

    Best Regards,
    MB_Avro.
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  7. #7
    Hanglands's Avatar Banned
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    I can ask a maxillo-facial surgeon to give a brief account of the vakue of McIndoes work today if you like.

    I say I can ASK. That depends on me sobering up,going to work, remembering to ask, him listening, then writing something, emailing it to me, and me posting.

    Good thread MB_Avro, very noble

    Edited : I am off work until the second week of Jan, but wil try.<div class="ev_tpc_signature">


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  8. #8
    A saw once in a movie that the cockpit of a Spitfire got nearly flooded by fuel. If this "fuel sea" would have been set on fire...
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  9. #9
    MB_Avro_UK's Avatar Senior Member
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    hi Hanglands,

    Yes please!!

    Best Regards,
    MB_Avro.
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  10. #10
    Originally posted by Rudeljaeger:
    A saw once in a movie that the cockpit of a Spitfire got nearly flooded by fuel. If this "fuel sea" would have been set on fire...
    I remember that scene, I believe it was in "Dark Blue Sky". Very unnerving scene I might add.
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