Model Aircraft Target Sytem (MATS)

#1
I wasn’t sure whether this should be posted in Old and Bold, RAC, Aviation, Artillery or Training Wing so I went for the first on the list.

On AFV ranges I remember us firing GPMG at a remote control model aircraft. I’m sure it was called MATS A. (Model Aircraft Target System?)

A flimsy thing with a wingspan of about 2 metres and a small petrol engine which was hand launched down range and then performed various fly-bys while we attempted to shoot it down using co-ax.

It was very hard to hit the thing once airborne but invariably after thousands of rounds someone did manage. (Or it crashed due to the controller trying to do stunts) The proud gunner was awarded a yellow herfy handbag by the OC at the range day de-brief.

I used to think, what a great job, someone has joined the Army and is now flying model planes all day.

Who flew them? I seem to think the two man team were badged RA but I’m not 100% sure?

Can anyone else recall having a crack at shooting them down or indeed has anyone used or flown them?

I tried a quick Google but didn’t come up with much.
 
#2
Yup,I was tasked with going on a "All Arms Low Level Air Defence Instructors Course",at Sennelager in about '83'.

Had a great time trying to shoot the little bastards down with a 'Gimpy',it also involved Aircraft recognition,which was a laugh a minute,I could recognise the enemy (2 tours with Brixmis),but had to work hard at recognising the 'friendlies',a great 5 days anyway! ;-)
 
#3
Had a go at shooting one down at Otterburn using the Comd's GPMG on a 438. Don't think anyone succeeded that day, then had another go at Castlemartin using a GPMG on some kind of pole. Someone hit it, but as there were three of us laying down sheets of rounds nobody justifiably claimed the 'kill'.

If I remember correctly we used over 500 rounds each time. Bloody good fun all the same.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#4
I was squadron leader's driver in Tidworth in 1977. He got wind that Command Troop were having a cabby at firing LMGs at drones from the roof of their Saracen ACVs, so he got me to drive him out to the range somewhere on SPTA (don't ask me: he had the map) and we turned up. I suspect he wanted a cabby. (Not the only time that year he volunteered us for a cabby: see floating CVR(T)s at Ludgershall.)

We turned up quite late into the day (for a range day) amid cheers as somebody brought down the drone. Turned out to be the first hit of the day after converting several gazillion live rounds into empty cases. Everybody was dead chuffed ... until the operator had a go at him for waiting until the drone was out of fuel and gliding back in a straight line.

The drone was trashed and they gave up for the day. I never got a cabby.
 
#5
I flew the Cent target tank on SP. Well, stick changes, stall changes and flying neutrals. Bit like flying, but more complicated.
 

Auld-Yin

ADC
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#6
I flew the Cent target tank on SP. Well, stick changes, stall changes and flying neutrals. Bit like flying, but more complicated.
Careful mate, you will have all the peelots over from the aviation forum throwing a strop if you claim to be flying, but harder than flying :)
 
#7
Had a go at this on Sennelager. The GPMGs had been well oiled up prior to first round down the range, consequently, first round down caused a thick smoke screen and the plane flew backwards and forwards unhindered till the "pilot" had enough and just ditched!
 
#8
We had this little beauty up on Hohne Ranges around '87. My commander, the Tp Sgt, was twattting away from the cupola mounted L37 and my task was to trap him on the shoulder if he went out of arc.

After several, taps, slaps and "Sarge, you way out of Arc!" which was replied with "**** off son, this is great!" I gave up!

PS. No one hit the little bugger either!
 
#9
On converting from the old SLR to the SA80, our BQMS found that there were many thousands of 7.62 rounds that were buckshee. So rather than send them back, our BC decided it would be a good idea for us to gain some AAAD practice. Manorbier was the ideal location as we were on firing camp anyway. Most of the rounds were loose, so had to be banded by hand which was a bastard. The upshot (no pun intended) was that every man due to fire their missiles would also fire Gimpy AAAD at the end of the day. I personally fired some 2000 rounds from a larch pole that day, and didn't hit the twat...Of course it was the MATS operators fault you understand, they would insist on moving the target just as i was about to blow it out of the sky. Seriously my shoulder was wrecked and fingers rather burned from the barrel changes and the weapons cleaning, well less said about that the better...
 
#10
We had a go at one at Sennelager during beat-up training for Granby with HQ 4 Bde using LMGs on scrim poles! Someone did manage what is best described as an 'm' Kill; winged it, it crashed, pretty disappointing really. Obviously if anyone actually hits it the thing should explode in a fire ball and crash into the nearest privately-owned car or building.
 
#11
I think we were told that anyone achieving a K Kill would get the propellor as a souvenir. I didnt. Great fun though. Tracer snaking alles uber der platz.
 
#12
I remember this as I was straight out of basic waiting for my class 3 course. I got sent out on the R Signals Staffies course (as it was) as a gofer/enemy etc. A cold day in Warcop turned into amazement as they put gimpys on a monopod thingy and blatted thousands of rounds at a model aircraft. Good times!
 
#13
Careful mate, you will have all the peelots over from the aviation forum throwing a strop if you claim to be flying, but harder than flying :)
Trust me young man, taking off from Tidders every morning, tracking over to Warminster with the drunken Tom Dooly, swanning around for the Infanteers to chuck Charlie Gs (I think) at us, then following the trail of empties back to base, I don't think peelots could have hacked it. And I've still got a small scar under my eye where something got through a periscope! The horror of it all!
 
#14
"Shooting run, shooting run!". The SMIGs loved us tankies as we didn't need coaching to fire the 50 round bursts.
 
#16
When I was a junior bleeder one of my platoon sergeants was sgt Bott, RA. He also ran the model aeroplane club and once told us that his job in Germany was to fly and maintain these little drones.
Years later, in civvie street, I worked on the guidance system for similar, but automated, surveillance drones for both British Aerospace (fly to a programmed destination and return) and Sperry Gyroscope (fly a circuit round pre-positioned beacons) - both long before satellite navigation!
 
#17
When I was a junior bleeder one of my platoon sergeants was sgt Bott, RA. He also ran the model aeroplane club and once told us that his job in Germany was to fly and maintain these little drones.
Years later, in civvie street, I worked on the guidance system for similar, but automated, surveillance drones for both British Aerospace (fly to a programmed destination and return) and Sperry Gyroscope (fly a circuit round pre-positioned beacons) - both long before satellite navigation!
.
Would one of these be the famous balsa 'Bugger-off' - that DERA used to lose on Salisbury Plain and the Malverns on a regular basis in the early 90's, necessitating a lengthy and fruitless search by highly trained spotters? It was also known as the ETA (airborne entrenching tool) apparently. These trials came up in conversation when I was doing some work for QinetiQ on the Balloon project, amid much hilarity.

I undertsand that the ill fated craft rose from the ashes to become................ 'The Phoenix' -but unhappily the nick-name stuck with it during it's military service, until it finally buggered off into the sunset - never to return.
 
#18
.
Would one of these be the famous balsa 'Bugger-off' - that DERA used to lose on Salisbury Plain and the Malverns on a regular basis in the early 90's, necessitating a lengthy and fruitless search by highly trained spotters? It was also known as the ETA (airborne entrenching tool) apparently. These trials came up in conversation when I was doing some work for QinetiQ on the Balloon project, amid much hilarity.

I undertsand that the ill fated craft rose from the ashes to become................ 'The Phoenix' -but unhappily the nick-name stuck with it during it's military service, until it finally buggered off into the sunset - never to return.
If it was it was after my time, by '85 I was running my own software consultancy.
The BA one was definitely balsa and used a 'I know where I was and where I should be' type of guidance, crude by today's standards but cutting edge at the time.
Sperry's offering was more advanced but limited by the need for beacons - and a lot of development time was spent trying to devise an accurate, airborne delivery system for deploying them. However, it's laser, no moving parts, stable platform was revolutionary!
 
#19
sad as it is, I have been building "toy" planes for years. always used the guts from any MATS we could get our hands on. The engine was a british made merco 10 cc the servos were skyleader (about the best available when the MATS were indroduced) I used them until about 5 years ago. planes flew really quite well , finally threw out the last one I had aquired from the container in Dortmund last year when we moved all the other bits went on Ebay and got really good price for them
 
#20
Personally I only made a lot of empty cases trying, but I saw one shot down c1993 at Warcop. The engine was presented to the guy responsible and was still in the Cpl's Mess trophy cupboard when last I visited. I'm pretty sure the guy who got it was using a pintle mount on a ferret, a lot more flexible than a Fox turret.
 

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