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Can you help discover a "barn find" Link Trainer?


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Prior to, and during WWII, the RAAF purchased 140 Link Trainers in order to speed the training of pilots in instrument flying. Under the type identification system, Link Trainers were given the designation A13, despite the traditional fear of the number thirteen. The logic seems to be that since these trainers would never leave the ground, there wasn't much fear of student pilots killing themselves in them. By giving the Link trainer a type number, time spent in simulated flight could be correctly logged as air experience. A list of the A13s can be found here. along with their histories http://www.adf-serials.com.au/2a13.htm

 

At the end of WWII the majority of the RAAF's Link trainers were either dismantled or sold off. A number were removed from RAAF active service, or handed over to Air Training Corps units and other aviation"cadet" type units. Lots of these Link trainers are on display in aviation museums around the country.

 

If we disregard all those in museums and cadet units, there are a lot of these Link trainers to be accounted for. A major purchaser was Kingsford-Smith Aviation around 1947. The unaccounted for trainers have to be somewhere. It would be great to get one and restore it. Maybe we could designate it A13-RecFlying.

 

Who is up to asking around to see if we can find a missing link?

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The general thrust of the sales of the Link Trainers is that they have appeared to have nearly all been sold to air operators - which is understandable, as they have little use otherwise.

Any that were sold to secondhand dealers and private individuals would surely have been mostly unrepairable, and utilised as chook pens or as a childrens plaything. 

 

A13-14 is interesting to me, as the buyer of this unit from the CDC auctions was one Ollie Strang, a secondhand car dealer who operated from Canning Hwy in Como for many decades. He was noted as being pretty sharp.

Ollie Strang passed away in 2014 and his wife Faye passed away in 2016, so there's little chance now, of acquiring first hand info about A13-14 or any other trainers that Ollie may have got his hands on.

 

The fact that A13-14 is still quite intact, and has ended up in the Aviation Heritage Museum at Bullcreek, is indicative that Ollie purchased a working unit, and found a buyer for it in the aviation industry, not your average farmer seeking a cheap chook pen.

 

Edited by onetrack
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There is a working unit at the Nhill aviation museum. The table and tracker is all serviceable and usable. Getting an old Link that hadn't had any maintenance would be a big job to get serviceable. Very old electronics (Valves) and paper bellows for movement is what you are dealing with. I found the Link very similar to a Tiger to fly/manipulate.

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Apart from the electric motor which would drive the air pump, Link trainers don't have much in the way of "electronics". Movement was created through the operation of bellows. Since Link himself was a player piano technician, the design is an application of the operating mechanisms of a player piano. The material for restoring the bellows is quite readily available.

 

There are some valve electronics, but once you got hold of the manuals you could get some electronics genius, like Kyle, to recreate the old valve circuits with modern components. The parts manual is attached.

1943+Parts+Catalog+Link+Trainers+Compressed.pdf

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If I had USD15 I would buy the operator's manual. But let's wait until we can find one gathering dust in the back of an old hangar or shed.

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