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2. The Use of Inertia Links on Very Low Altitude Barrage Balloons 

                

Inertia links were special links that were designed to cut the cable when impacted by an aircraft. This meant that any sudden jerk on the cable would cause a blank cartridge inside it to fire off and causing the link to break free from the flying wire. This meant that the balloon had to be let up and hauled down on the cable very smoothly. Accidental severing from the cable was always a problem. 

Essentially they were metal cylinders measuring 7/8 of an inch (22.23 mm) and 4 inches (114 mm) long . 

They were of two types:

1. Double Acting.

If the links used were double acting , they were fitted to the flying wire with the weak caps toward each other. That is that the weak cap of the upper link points downward toward the winch. The weak cap of the bottom link points upward toward the balloon. 

Above - Double Acting Inertia Link

Above - Functioning of Double Acting V.L.A. inertia link

Single Acting

If the links used were single acting, they were fitted to the flying wire with the weak caps set up pointing away from each other. That is that the weak cap of the upper link points upward toward the balloon. The weak cap of the bottom link points downward toward the winch.

Above - Functioning of the single acting V.L.A. Inertia link

Above - Here are the component parts of an Inertia Link

However, there was realisation that the cable could be made more lethal by placing an explosive charge on it. Much experimentation took place to refine this concept. 

In September 1939 the Royal Aircraft Establishment moved this research work from Sussex to Exeter and opened a research unit at Pawlett, Somerset. Here tests were made on the efficiency of balloon cables at cutting into aircraft and refining of the use of ex plosive charges on the balloon cable. This resulted in a number of variations where lessons were learnt from the outcomes of collisions of both allied and enemy aircraft in the first 3 years of the war. By 1943 the system was considered to be as best as it could be. The cables were fitted with two explosive inertia links that activated a cable cutting device when activated by a cable strike. On the cable being cut it would make a V shape over the aircraft wing and the smaller stabilising parachute with its bomb at the top would be pulled away from the main flying cable and open and the larger medium duty parachute at the bottom would also pull away from the flying cable and open.

This produced the Bomb and Parachute Arming Scheme

 

 

  Click Here to See 3. The Bomb and Parachute Arming Scheme

 

 

 Click Here to Return to 1.The Armament of the Cable on Low Altitude Balloons

 

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