What is a Remote Contactor?

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A cockpit item - some but not all Spitfires have them. It appears to be a sort of clockwork timer and may be associated with enhancing or confusing the IFF device.

Anybody out there really know the full story?

Thanks.

Mark

Original post

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682al and I discussed this some time ago. If I recall correctly, he told me it was to do with the "Pip-Squeak" IFF device - as you say, it was clockwork, and when the needle was in the red sector it would be broadcasting, when in the white sector it would not be broadcasting.

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It's looks very much like the back end of an old clock housed in a square wooden or Bakalite (?!) box which you wind up and attach to your TR.9. It provides the timing for the pulse for the IFF signal which was every half second...or was it every two seconds...I can never remember.

Anyone able to fill in the gaps that I've forgotten?

Anne

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That would explain this then:

BEAUTY LEADERS R/T LOG
One hour's patrol on Maidstone Line 18.3.41

0916 Beauty Leader to Anteater: Are you receiving me?
Anteater to Beauty Leader: Receiving you loud and clear. Are you receiving me?
B.L. to A. Receiving you loud and clear also. Understand patrol MICA Angels 9.
A. to B.L. Angels 11.
B.L. to A. Understand patrol MICA Angels 11. Is this correct?
A. to B.L. Correct.
0919 A. to B.L. Zero in 10 seconds (given). Pipsqueaker in.
A. to Beauty Pipsqueaker: Zero received. Pip in.
Beauty Pipsqueaker: O.K.
0920 Voice: Put your wheels up.
B.L. to K. How many behind me?
K. to B.L. 3 more coming up.
B.L. to K. Come on Q, get up there!
K. to B.L. Q is weaver.
B.L. to K. What the Hell is he doing on my left then?
0926 B.L. Turning right, go!
B.L. to A. Have you any information for me?
A. to B.L. No, nothing at all. Just cruise around.
B.L. to K. O.K.
0944 A. to B.L. Do not forget to saunter.
B.L. to A. O.K.
0958 B.L. to A. Have you any further information for me?
A. to B.L. No, nothing for you.
B.L. to A. O.K. This is rather boring.
A. to B.L. Your message received rather sympathetically.
1006 Voice: 2 aircraft leaving the formation.
B.L. Who are they?
Voice. One has rejoined, the other is going down; G. I think.
B.L. to G. Why have you left the formation?
G. to B.L. I lost you in the sun.
B.L. to G. You are very stupid. Come up again.
B.L. to Y2. Stop b..g…g about and join formation.
Y2 to B.L. Coming up now; I see you.
1007 B.L. to A. Are you getting the pips O.K.?
A. to B.L. Yes, thank you.
Y2 to B.L. I am now back in formation.
B.L. to Y2. O.K.
B.L. to A. Are you getting a squeak with the pip?
A. to B.L. No, everything O.K.
B.L. to A. Am getting a lot of interference with the pip.
B.L. to Pipsqueaker: Pip out and let someone else pip in.
B.L. to A. Give B2 fresh zero.
1011 A. to B.L. Zero in 50 seconds. (Given). Pip in.
A. to B2. Was my zero received?
A. to B.L. Was that O.K.?
B.L. to A. Say again please.
A. to B.L. I say again: Did B2 receive my zero and P/S?
B2 to A. No, did not receive your zero P/S. Please give another.
1012 A. to B2 O.K., zero in 50 seconds.
1013 A. to B2 Zero in 9 seconds. (Given). P/S in.
B2 to A. Zero received. Pip in.
A. to B2 O.K.
1019 B.L. to A. Have you any information for me?
A. to B.L. Yes, you will be relieved very shortly now.
B.L. to A. Thank Heavens for that!

Beauty Leader would have been S/Ldr Michael Robinson, DSO DFC.

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That is fascinating.

Have you any more of this? Where can i see examples like it?

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Dunno, I may have another one - this one survived I think because of the content!!

I ahve many, many bits and bobs. perhaps a quarter is on my website so far.

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Thanks for that Snapper,

You know, that sounds like a real war: boredom, swearing, bu@@ering about, and not a lot happening. You'd never get an exchange like that in a film... Oh wait a minute who's this?

"...Home for tea!"

PS I thought a remote contractor was a bloke who failed to turn up to fix something in your house?

Cheers

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Master & Remote Controllers

A Master Contactor was a clockwork device used in aircraft such as the Spitfire to send electrical pulses to a Remote Contactor that then controlled a piece of equipment to operate it for 14 seconds in each minute, if required. A common use was for the Pipsqueak system that switched on the aircraft's transmitter for identification purposes. This preceeded IFF proper.
There could be up to 4 Remote Contactors in the aircraft - the operating segments were offset so that one 14-second operating period was separated by 1 second from a second operating period, and so on.

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I agree,broadcasted a radio signal 15 sec out of every minute..And yes they go for a long time...Will have to wind one up and see how long it goes for.

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That is fascinating.

Have you any more of this? Where can i see examples like it?

The Radar Museum at Neatishead has a couple Pipsqueak boxes, plus a model of one of the D/F Ground stations used with the Pipsqueak system and a small replica of a D/F plotting table that was used in a WWII Sector Ops room. The operation of the system is explained as part of an guided tour display on how the Fighter Command integrated command and control system worked during the Battle of Britain.

Museum Web Site Link Here

In fact the actual Pipsqueak display is shown on one of the pages of the web site. Plotting table in front, Model of the D/F Station behind and the aircraft equipment to the left of the D/F station model. Not a big picture I afraid. The women in the photo was (I think) an ex WAAF D/F operator or plotter, while the man is Andy Manning, one of the Museum Volunteers.

http://www.norfolkcoast.co.uk/site/radarmuseumcouk/images/people.jpg

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Wot....Mark 12 doesn't know!!?

Hah....thats the last time we invite you along as the Spitfire guru for the TV cameras, then. Imagine the scene:

Director "Can you tell us what this interesting piece from Douglas Bader's Spitfire is, Mark?"
Mark 12 "Well....um...see...its a wind up clockwork thingy in a wooden boxey kinda thing with a label on the lid thats says "Replace Lid Immediately After Winding" "
Director "What does it do exactly?"
Mark 12 "Well...it ...well...its a sort of a wind up thing"
Director "Oh, I see. Wind up. Is that as in a wind-up Spitfire then?"
Mark 12 "Oh no, much more technical than that. It allowed Dogsdody to tell if any of his pilots had the wind-up" (GROAN!)
As you can tell...I dont have much else to occupy me at the moment! Andy
( PS Mark....see me at Shoreham and I can bore the pants off you with diagrams, AP's and pictures of Master Contactors. Do you want 12 or 24 volt ones?!) :D

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A Master Contactor was a clockwork device used in aircraft such as the Spitfire to send electrical pulses to a Remote Contactor that then controlled a piece of equipment to operate it for 14 seconds in each minute, if required. A common use was for the Pipsqueak system that switched on the aircraft's transmitter for identification purposes. This preceeded IFF proper.
There could be up to 4 Remote Contactors in the aircraft - the operating segments were offset so that one 14-second operating period was separated by 1 second from a second operating period, and so on.

Pipsqueak was used more for location finding than identification, the Type 1 CH and Type 2 CHL radar being unable to track aircraft over land. IFF proper was in use at the start of the war on Bomber aircraft and that worked by boosting the return signal from the CH radar to a leave bigger than you would get from any size of Aircraft formation. If I remember correctly, Pipsqueak was only switched on in the Squadron Commander and his section commander’s aircraft and were synchronised before take off for each aircraft to transmit for 14 seconds in turn. When the aircraft were ordered to use it the D/F stations dotted around the sector (6 stations on average was the figure if I remember) would each take a bearing within the 15 seconds and send to the D/F plotters at the Sector Ops room. The Plotting table had holes in it at the locations of the D/F Stations and a Compass rose markings around the hole. coming out of the hole was a piece of string on a return system with a ring on the free end. As the D/F stations each reported a bearing, the plotter for that station would pull the string out of the hole for her station on the bearing reported. Three or more D/F reports would then give a rapid fix of the Squadron's location as well as their identification.

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Guru

Hah....thats the last time we invite you along as the Spitfire guru for the TV cameras, then. Imagine the scene:

Tang,

You will see that my original first post on this thread was dated March 2004!

You will know that I have many faults, but being wrong isn't one of them.

Spitfire Wizard

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ROFLAO!!!

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Hah....thats the last time we invite you along as the Spitfire guru for the TV cameras, then. Imagine the scene:

Director "Can you tell us what this interesting piece from Douglas Bader's Spitfire is, Mark?"
Mark 12 "Well....um...see...its a wind up clockwork thingy in a wooden boxey kinda thing with a label on the lid thats says "Replace Lid Immediately After Winding" "
Director "What does it do exactly?"
Mark 12 "Well...it ...well...its a sort of a wind up thing"
Director "Oh, I see. Wind up. Is that as in a wind-up Spitfire then?"
Mark 12 "Oh no, much more technical than that. It allowed Dogsdody to tell if any of his pilots had the wind-up" (GROAN!)
As you can tell...I dont have much else to occupy me at the moment! Andy
( PS Mark....see me at Shoreham and I can bore the pants off you with diagrams, AP's and pictures of Master Contactors. Do you want 12 or 24 volt ones?!) :D

Andy , if you are at a real loose end, can you shed any light on this piece, which I believe is from the Tangmere collection, is it in any way relevant to this thread?

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Profile picture for user NewQldSpitty

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I now revive this post from the dead...Woooooo...
Actually was going to ask if anyone has a pic of the clockwork box in place in a Spit..Have the box,need to work out the mounting..Think it sits above the air bottles behind Frame 11...Please?