“Towed targets of various simple designs have been used in the Royal Air Force almost since its formation. With the advent of prediction sights, a target having wings and lengths of certain dimensions became essential and has now superseded the low drag sleeve”. This film addresses the assembly and deployment of such a target, augmented by very clear photography, which includes many close-up views of each stage. Examples of the target in use are seen.
Reel one: Film opens with a towed target in flight of appearance and dimensions similar to that of a fighter aircraft, under attack from a Spitfire. Film cuts to a RAF station where two wooden crates have been delivered and opened to reveal the disassembled components of a towed target constructed of thin sheet metal. Ground technicians remove the components and assemble them following clearly marked matching points, the film depicting each stage. The undercarriage, wings, tailplane and towing assembly are fitted and finally the incidence of the wings and tailplane are measured and adjusted to suit the required flight parameters when under tow. Distinctive white bands are painted around the whole airframe.
Reel two: A bridle for ground towing is fitted to the target and is positioned on the runway, the bridle removed and the tug (the towing aircraft) positioned 300 feet ahead of the target. An auxiliary towing cable is attached between tug and target and incorporates a severable cord at the tug end, cut at the end of the exercise to enable the target to land independently of the tug. Film cuts to the tug and target taking off, flying to 600 feet where the tug operator reels out the towing cable to 500 feet and they proceed to the firing range and their prescribed height. Meanwhile the Spitfire taxis out and prepares for the pursuit. Once the Spitfire and target are over the firing range the Spitfire pilot adjusts the guns and gun camera and positions the aircraft for a figure-of-eight attack. The film cuts to an aerial view as the Spitfire intercepts the target, fires into the fuselage, peels off and repeats the manoeuvre before returning to base. The tug and target follow and require the assistance of the ground controller in a mobile cabin adjacent to the runway to land the target. The tug flies over the runway under instructions from the controller who relays the decreasing height of the target to the pilot, and says cut, cut, cut as the target touches down and runs to a stop. The tug circles the runway and lands. The ground controller inspects the target for any damage and arranges for repairs necessary prior to its reuse. The gunnery officer determines the Spitfire pilot’s score by counting the number of bullet holes, those in the fuselage having the ‘highest’ rating.
Due to the thin metal construction the winged target is easily repaired, bullet holes are covered with a patch and a coating of thick paint. The film closes as repairs are completed within an hour and the target takes off for another exercise.