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Thread: Crews sticking together

  1. #1
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    Default Crews sticking together

    Can anyone tell me what the RAF policy was on keeping crews together during their OTU and HCU training? My father's crew were a bit of a Carry On gang, judging by some of the stories he told me. Their training at the HCU was interrupted when one or two of the crew were injured in a mishap with a motorcycle and a gate (obviously after a trip into town for a pint or two). Another time one of them became ill.

    When Dad tried for a transfer to an operational crew, his skipper grabbed him by the lapels and warned him to stick with his crew... "you'll die soon enough."

    He did and they were sent to another HCU. The war ended before they finished.

    If a crew was delayed by injury like that, how often was the man replaced allowing the crew to finish their training?
    David

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    I think the word 'POLICY' is pushing it a bit too hard.

    The initial 'crewing up' was usually done at the OTU and there were various methods. Most reports suggest that at the start of a course, the appropriate number of individuals were assembled and as long as the pilot could produce a list of his crew (usually five by about 1941 - pilot, nav, wireless operator, air bomber, air gunner) before they started the flying phase nobody was much bothered.

    When the crew moved to the HCU after 4 engines were in vogue, they picked up the flight engineer and the second gunner, some of the latter being second tourists.

    Throughout training and operational flying there were always problems with keeping crews together. Illness, wounds, deaths, compassionate issues, poor performance of an individual etc. A serious issue was the pilot. He usually (and sometimes the nav or B/A) flew a couple of familiarisation trips and if he was lost, the rest of the crew had to find another pilot. This might mean they were broken up or it could mean they picked up a pilot who might be coming back after a break and needed a crew.

    There are probably as many variations as there were crews but POLICY there was not.

    Old Duffer

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    Hi I agree with Old Duffer,
    I know both cases from 311 Sq:
    1) in 1941 WOP of Wellington crew in training became ill and the rest of crew was waiting for him with the OTU training
    2) in 1944 while in OTU at Bahamas captain was struck by heavy sea when resting by the see and was replaced by the captain from another crew - they simply swapped places - as the second crew was only at the beginning.

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    It was also common practice to have 'spare bods' available to fill unexpected positions on air crews. They frequently became crew members but may have had a differing service time to the adopted crew, thus leaving as tour expired and creating a place for another to fill and so on.

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    Returning to the Lists on this Thread, station commanders would sometimes fly as 'second pilot' to keep their hand in and several were lost doing this.

    They would also sometimes take a scratch crew and this could lead to an aircraft being crewed largely by the specialist 'leaders' - not a good idea for obvious reasons.

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    Default Crewing up at No.34 OTU

    Another example from my research on No.34 O.T.U., Pennfield Ridge.

    An A/G was crewed up with a New Zealand pilot at No.34 OTU. However one day he went into the pilot's room asking the first person he saw if he could possible go up a "familiarization flight". To his surprise and delight the person he approached was a friendly Aussie who agreed. However during this flight one of the engines overheated forcing them to land in the US where their a/c was subsequently destroyed by fire. This of course lead to an investigation which kept the crew in the US for five days until the investigation was concluded. Upon returning to No.34 OTU the A/Gs immediate concern was to be reunited with his NZ pilot. However the Aussie pilot put his hand on his shoulder and said "You are now a member of my crew, I'm not letting you go." So this A/G was part of his crew for nearly 2 yrs. completing 2 tours of Ops.

    Regards,
    Christian

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