A Poem from WWII known to some English PRU pilots who first
encountered the Gremlins that caused many problems for flight crews in
the war. (Gremlins were alleged to be mischievous, elf-like beings
that were the "real" cause of engine trouble and other mechanical
This is the tale of the Gremlins
As told by the PRU
At Benson and Wick and St Eval-
And believe me, you slobs, it's true.
When you're seven miles up in the heavens,
(That's a hell of a lonely spot)
And it's fifty degrees below zero,
Which isn't exactly hot.
When you're frozen blue like your Spitfire,
And your scared a Mosquito pink.
When you're thousands of miles from nowhere,
And there's nothing below but the drink.
It's then that you'll see the Gremlins,
Green and gamboge and gold,
Male and female and neuter,
Gremlins both young and old.
It's no good trying to dodge them,
The lessons you learnt on the Link
Won't help you evade a Gremlin,
Though you boost and you dive and you jink.
White ones will wiggle your wing tips,
Male ones will muddle your maps,
Green ones will guzzle your glycol,
Females will flutter your flaps.
Pink ones will perch on your perspex,
And dance pirouettes on your prop,
There's a spherical middle-aged Gremlin,
Who'll spin on your stick like a top.
They'll freeze up your camera shutters,
They'll bite through your aileron wires,
They'll bend and they'll break and they'll batter,
They'll insert toasting forks into your tyres.
And that is the tale of the Gremlins,
As told by the PRU,
(P)retty (R)uddy (U)nlikely to many,
But a fact, none the less, to the few.
Certainly a British manifestation, the first gremlins were allegedly
encountered by photoreconnaisance units (PRUs), whilst flying at very
high altitudes, the above RAF ditty says it all.
A 1943 Looney Tunes Cartoon introduced Americans to the Gremlin. Bugs
Bunny's "Falling Hare" cartoon stars Bugs and a Gremlin in an epic
struggle to prevent the sabotaging of Bug's aircraft. For some reason
or another the aircraft is coloured pink, like the low level PRU
PRU blue (high altitude):
Model of PRU pink (low altitude):
The darker patches on each wing (8 in total) would be the tape that
was put over the machine guns muzzles, of armed Spits, to prevent mud
entering on take off. That is why the wings of Spits returning to base
always seem to have torn parts on them.
The later varients of combat Spits, armed with cannon, had condoms
over their muzzles for the same purpose.
The recce flights had no armour or armanments for their planes, all
were removed to increase endurance. Likewise, the high altitude
flights tended to be very cold as the heat from the engines were re-
routed away from the pilot to the cameras to keep them warm.
No one plane was assigned to one pilot, pilots would often fly a
different Recce Spit each time they took off.
... and this supposedly started the "Gremlins" tale.