cloud. Special provision had also to be made for decontamination of any aircraft which might become radio-active. In the case of the Dakota aircraft, it was found necessary to add to the normal installation additional fuel and oil tanks so that they might fly west-about to their destination.
It was anticipated that the weather conditions would have a detrimental effect on the aircraft and equipments; this applies particularly to the ground and servicing equipment. To reduce deterioration due to the effects of sand and salt, special precautions, including tropical packaging of spares, were agreed upon. It is hoped that only certain spares will have to be unpacked on arrival, the remainder being preserved in their wrappings until and if required. A constant check and servicing of ground equipment will be necessary.
As all aircraft and the majority of ground equipment servicing will have to be done in the open, a certain number of servicing bays were considered necessary and will be provided as part of the technical support. Due to the unusual conditions prevailing at Christmas Island, possible contamination of the fuel by condensation, evaporation and mixing of Grades had to be seriously considered. Arrangements were made for bulk storage of the main bulk of the fuel, but the
planning staff were of necessity involved in the special problems attendant on the Transportation and Handling of Bulk and packed Stock under these conditions.
During the early stage of the build-up it was learned that insect pests, particularly flies, were causing some concern, making working conditions difficult, besides introducing a hazard to general health. In consequence it was found necessary to prepare an Auster aircraft with insecticide spraying equipment and arrange for this aircraft to be transported inside a Hastings aircraft. This involved partial dismantling and reassembling of the Auster. It was hoped that this would make the island conditions more tolerable.
When considering mechanical transport, the difficulty of transportation and supply had to be balanced against the essential transport requirements of the Task Force. In consequence, vehicles were chosen which would do the job and yet have a reasonable chance of being kept serviceable despite the type of terrain and the conditions under which they would be operated. Their transportation by sea also had to be considered and, besides taking normal transit precautions, it was decided that the main bulk of vehicles would have a technical escort whose task it would be to ensure that the vehicles were maintained serviceable so that they might be driven away on reaching their destination. This procedure proved a success and all vehicles drove off under their own power.
Some form of quick communication between vehicles on the island was found to be necessary and arrangements were made to provide certain vehicles with V.H.F. facilities. This should take a considerable strain off the land line communications and help towards mobility and quick consideration of urgent Task Force requirements.
Thus the Royal Air Force have countered all the difficulties likely to be met, and provided for all the various parts they have to play in support of Operation "Grapple". Never before in tests of this nature has their role been so extensive.