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Examination Questions

As part of their training balloon operators were required to have a firm knowledge of a vast range of aspects relating to the practical flying and maintenance of barrage balloons. This was organised by the Central Trade Testing Board (CTTB) based at RAF Chigwell. Visiting examiners would attend a specific base and carry out exams over a period of days.

In the Royal Air Force,  in WWII, the airman entry was at Aircraftsman Second Class (AC2).

Trade training required passing out levels of:

40% pass to 59.9% = AC2

60% to 79.9% = AC1

80% + = Leading Aircraftsman.

 Corporals and some early promoted Acting Sergeants were required to pass a Sergeants examination prior to confirmation in the promotion.

The WWII Trade Structure consisted of 5 groups:

Group 1 - The Technical specialists (mostly 3 year apprentice trained) Aircraft - Engine - Radio - Wireless - Electrical Instrument, designated fitters. From these trades advancement could be made to all the aircrew categories. Aircraft Apprentices who excelled in all aspects of training were awarded cadetships to the Royal Air Force College. One exception was Storekeepers, where advancement to Equipment Officer was possible.

Group 2 - Lesser specialist trades - mostly the operating aspect of the equipment and systems in use. Boy Entrant entries to wireless operating, photographer and armourer.

This would cover the trade of Balloon Operator

Group 3 - Trades that were more manual than specialised, ie Cooks, MT, and Catering.

This would cover the trade of Fabric Worker (Balloon) and Fabric Worker Rigger (Balloon)

Group 4 - Mostly considered to be a higher grade than 3 - housed all the clerical based trades - Clerks, Clerk Accounting, Clerk Equipment, Store Keepers, Fighter Plotters and R/T Operators.

Group 5 - All the low grade minimal training trades - Police, ACH/GD, RAF Regt, Batmen, Fitters Mate


Set out below are a series of actual questions asked by examiners to grade balloon operators. How many can you answer?

Could you "worm and parcel"? Would you know a "becket" from a "bucket"?

 These show that balloon workers and operators had to know a vast range of practical and very important  amount of information.  



Explanatory Note: AA = Highly marked questions.

A = Important questions but less highly marked, B = Less important questions.

(Memory Tests)



A How does air enter the rudder and fins and how is the internal pressure maintained?


 B At what pressure are pressure relief valves set to open?


A How is the internal pressure of the balloon maintained? A How is a balloon topped up?


A How would you inspect a gas valve for serviceability prior to its fitting to a balloon?


A How would you fit a a gas valve to a balloon? A How is a gas valve packed for transit?


A Describe how you would examine a gas valve for leakage. Give 3 causes why a valve should leak.


AA Describe operation of setting a valve line when balloon is air inflated.


AA What is the required adjustment on valve line when balloon is gas inflated following air setting?


A What knots are used on the internal valve line?


A How is the valve line and the ballonet strop inspected whilst the balloon is gas inflated?


A Describe operation of valve line in a gas inflated balloon.


A What is the object of fitting a Rip panel to a balloon? A Describe method of inspection of flying rigging and crossover.


A At what height should   balloon diaphragm be for the balloon to fly at 4,500 ft?


A Why is a ballonet deflation sleeve fitted to a balloon?


A For what purpose is a tail guy fitted to a balloon?




A Describe briefly the construction of a Kite balloon


A for what purpose are Kite balloons used?


A Why is an earthing mat used around Central Anchorage block?



A Describe fins and rudder and what are their functions?


A Describe function of the ballonet.


A Describe function of air pressure relief valves


A describe briefly the construction of the gas valve.


A Describe construction of standard type of Rip panel.


A How many snatch clips are fitted to a balloon for the Rip line?


A What are inspection ports and for what purposes are they fitted?


A Describe the topping up sleeve: (a) the fixed (b) the extension


A Describe the construction of a ton patch. How is it fitted?



A Describe how you would connect a manometer for taking pressure of a balloon.


A Describe how a purity meter is connected to a balloon.


A What is a leak detector and how is it used?


A What is a purity meter and for what purpose is it?



A What action is taken if a broken strand is found in a balloon flying cable? A What maintenance precautions are taken to avoid rust and corrosion of balloon cables?


B What is the breaking load of a balloon flying cable?


A. What is understood by a cut splice?


A. What do you understand by a becket?


A How do you worm and parcel?


A How would you decide upon the length of wire required to form an eye splice of a given dimension?


A when making an eye splice how many tucks would you make in l inch circ. cable ?



 A How would you make up a handling guy?


A What are the signs of deterioration in rope?


A What is understood by a cut splice?


A What is understood by a becket?


A How do you worm and parcel?


A What precautions are taken to prevent deterioration of rope and cordage when stored?


A what type of cordage is used for (a) picketing lines (b) rip line (c) handling line (d) bridles (e) slips (f) mousing a hook.


B Give breaking strain of the cordage referred to above.


A Where are the following knots used on a balloon (a) swab hitch (b) reef bend (c) bowline (d) rolling or picketing hitch (e) clove hitch (f) Sheet bend (g) larkshead


 A Where is No.4 line used on a balloon?


A Where is No. 1 line used on a balloon?


A How would you repair a tear in a gas inflated balloon?


 A How would you effect a rear to worn stabiliser?


A What type of fabric is used for (a) ivies (b) ballonet diaphragm (c) rip panel, tear off patch (d) main envelop?


A How is fabric treated to render it gas tight?


A Explain the difference between parallel and bias fabric?


 A What is understood by weft warp, gore, panel?


A What are the signs of deterioration in fabric?


A How do you apply rubber solution when itching?

A How do you read the bias of fabric?


A To repair a 4 inch tear, what size stitches would be used and what size patch would you apply?



A Why is it important to keep a balloon properly topped up?


A. Describe the process of topping up.


A What is the object of taking gas purity periodically?


A What is the danger point for purity of hydrogen? State what action you would take when the gas reaches this point?


A If during an inflation fire started in the balloon, what would be the first thing to do?


A How do you treat burns?


A& What are the symptoms of a person gassed by hydrogen and how would you treat them?


A How would you distinguish between H.P. and M.P. bottles?


B Give pressure and capacity of H.P. and M.P. bottles


B How do you determine approximate quantity of hydrogen in a cylinder by pressure gauge?


A What would you do to test bottle for leaks?





A Describe procedure for unpacking and laying out a balloon prior to inflation.


A Describe additional steps to prepare a balloon for a gas inflation.


A How much gas would you need to have available for an initial inflation?


A What examination would you carry out after the balloon has been gas inflated?


B Describe how and where you would mark off the position where the handling guys are bent onto the spider.



B  What is the position of the beckets?


A. What are hand lines and why are they fitted?


A  Describe how hand lines are fitted and adjusted.


B Give lengths of hand lines.


A. To which rigging patches are (a) handling guys (b) picketing lines, attached.


A. For what purpose are beckets fitted to handling guys and picketing lines?


A. What are picketing lines? For what pulse are they fitted?


A. What are handling guys and why are they fitted?


A. How is the flying rigging attached to (a) rigging patch (b) crossover attachment?


A Describe how you would attach a flying cable to the crossover.


B What is the angle below which the cable of a balloon must not be allowed to sag whilst flying?


A What precautions are taken to prevent the winch driver hauling in too far?


A What precautions are taken to prevent the winch driver paying out too far?


A What are the pennant clips attached on the cable when the balloon is flying?


Cradle Bed

A. Describe the layout of a T/7 cradle bed.


A What is the cradle for?


A How is the cradle secured to the central anchorage?


A What type of wire (or rope) is used for making the cradle legs?


AA Why are there splices in No.2 and No.5 cradle legs and when are they used?


A What line is used for the bed slips and what is their length?


A How are the cradle slips secured to the cradle?


A How are the sandbags secured to the tensioning slips and how are these slips secured to the handling guys or picketing lines?

A How many sandbags are needed an how are they arranged around the bed when (a) sandbags only (b) concrete blocks, are used?


A How many ground sheets are used for bedding? Where are they placed?


A What are the distances of beckets on handling guys and picketing lines and how are they measured?


A How are handling guys secured to the ground spider?


A How far should a ballonet scoop be from the ground sheets when a balloon is bedded and how high should the junction of the ballonet and rudder lie above the ground?


A Give the indications that a balloon is not head to wind on its bed.


A Why are there five positions for bollard hauling tackle blocks?


AA How would you storm a balloon?


AA Describe briefly method of bedding down from point of attachment.


AA Describe briefly method of putting balloon from bed to point of attachment.


AA Describe briefly how to turn a balloon on the bed.


AA How is a balloon held down on its bed?


A lf you are detailed as (a) front rank (b) rear rank, of crew for bedding down balloon what would be your jobs?


Interim Closehaul

A What is the object of Interim Closehaul?


AA Describe Interim Closehaul


A How many sandbags are used with this mooring and how are they arranged?


A Are any handling guys used? lf so which ones?


B What is the length of the transverse strop and the running clip?


A Give size of block used for running slip.


AA When the wind changes in force what adjustments are needed to the Interim Closehaul?


Tail Guy Mooring

AA Describe Tail Guy Mooring and method of setting up.


A What is the object of a Tail Guy Mooring?


AA Describe the action taken when wind changes and balloon is on Tail Guy.


A. How are 6 try strops put back on to a 90 a. mooring circle?


A Where are the handling guys when balloon is on tail guy mooring?


A Where is the rip line secured when balloon is on tail guy mooring?


A How is the handling extension secured to the tail guy?


A How is the handling extension secured to the bungee strop?


A. What is a bungee strop and why is it used?


B What is the angle of flight when the balloon is tail guy moored?


A How is the angle obtained?


A What is the tail guy pyramid and how is it made up?


A What are the important points to be watched in regard to the pyramid?


A What line is used for lashing the pyramid tensioning strops?


A How is the balloon secured to the pyramid on tail guy mooring?


A What other method of mooring can be used in place of tai1 guy ?



A What precautions would you take in deflating a balloon in dry weather?


A Describe briefly how a balloon is deflated?


A Describe briefly how a balloon is folded and packed in its valise?



A balloon is losing purity and defective fabric is suspected. What steps would you take to determine the source of the trouble?


AA How would you get a balloon down when the winch is u/s?


AA Describe the main points in the daily inspection of balloons?


A What should a filled sandbag weigh?



A What is the purpose of a rip link and how does it function?


A Where and how is a ripping link fitted?


A How is D.P.L. attached? How would you check that the components had been fitted the right way up?


A Describe the action of D.P.L. when an aircraft impacts the cable.


A D.P.L., what is the function of (a) The shear wire and (b) the split pin?


A How would you recognise a correct pair of D.P.L. wedges?


A What Daily Inspection is carried out on (a) D.P.L's and (b) Rip links?


A. How can you check that cartridges have been changed?



A What are you required to check when doing the D.I on a winch?


Revised Trade Test Ouestions?

A. What is the purpose of a ripping link? How does it function?


A. Where and how is a ripping link fitted?


A, How and under what conditions is ripping link set at (a) safe and (b) live.


A. What is the purpose of the D.P/R link Mark II? How does it function?


A. Where and how is the D.P/R  Mark II link fitted?


A. How and under what conditions is a the D.P./R link set at (a) safe (b) live?


A. How is a D.P.L. unit attached to a flying cable?

(a) as a top unit and (b) as a bottom unit.


A. Describe the action of the following types of armament when the cable is impacted by an aircraft.

(a) cable fitted with bottom D.P.L. unit top D.P.L, unit and ripping link?

(b) cable fitted with bottom D.P.L. unit, D.P/R  link Mark 11?


A What are the functions of the following D.P.L. components? (a) the shear wire (b) the split pin.


 A. How would you satisfy yourself that a D.P.L. was set at live before paying out cable?


 A. How would you recognise a correct pair of D.P.L. wedges? (a) for use with KBSB or C cable (b) for use with KB|85 cable.


AA What daily inspection is carried out on -

(a) D.P.L. equipment

(b) Ripping Links

(c) DT/R Link Mark II


A. What is the correct cordage to use for placing the parachute bag for use the D.P.L. or D.P/R Link Mark II and what is the correct lacing? (give a practical demonstration).


A. How would you recognise the correct cartridge to fit a D.P.L.?


A. How frequently are cartridges of D.P.L's and D.P/R Link Mark II or Ripping Link to be changed and how would you check that this has been done?

A. When servicing a D.P.L. Unit: (a) Would you use oil or grease for internal lubrication and what type. Freely or sparingly?

(b) What treatment would you give to the D.P.L. wedge housing.


AA. D.P.L's may become worn or damaged through use. Quote any 6 particular items that you would check for faults when servicing.


AA. Quote any three similar faults that you would look for in servicing the D.P./R Link Mark II.