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Thread: "Captain Navigator"

  1. #1
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    Default "Captain Navigator"

    Looking into the loss of 61sqdn Lancaster W4903 on 8/9th March 43, i note that the ORB wrongly puts down F/O F. Richards as a F/E on board this a/c, captained by Flt/Lt C.A.Giles DFC, RAAF. I also note that Chorley has Richards down, also not as captain. F/O Richards (pilot) was posted to the squadron in Feb 43, and according to a logbook i've seen, did some training flights prior to the 8th March.
    On checking with Alan Storr's list of RAAF aircrew killed flying with the RAF, he has C.A. Giles as "Captain Navigator" of W4903, and Richards as pilot, on the night of it's loss, has anyone heard of this before, as i always believed the pilot was the captain.
    tia......Alan.

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    Alan,

    Giles' DFC Citation makes interesting reading:

    F/Lt Giles has displayed great skills as navigator throughout many sorties. By his great confidence and excellent example, he has raised and maintained squadron navigation to a high level. Recently, as Captain and Navigator, he successfully led two new crews on raids on Munich and Essen. He also participated in a raid on Berlin in January 1943. F/Lt Giles courageous leadership has been beyond praise.

    Col.

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    Hi Alan,

    yes it was the RAF rule that the captain was always the 1st pilot no matter what rank he was
    BUT
    in some European countries like Poland, Czechoslovakia the rule was that the observer was captain and I know that this rule was time to time used during the RAF service too.

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

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    Col/Pavel,
    Thanks for the quick replies, the citation is interesting, and confirms that as a Navigator, Giles was deemed Captain of an aircraft, over the pilot, this is something i have not seen before

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    I always understood that an a/c Captain was the 1st Pilot - similar to a ship. He was responsible for handling the a/c and had command over all on board - regardless of their ranks. What we are, I think, talking about here is what we would know nowadays as a Mission Commander - who need not, necessarily, be a qualified pilot. Some of the large, multi-crew, recce a/c often use(d) this system.
    But I do not know when the term Mission Commander was first used.
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    The documents for Liberator BZ910 of 120 Squadron when lost say that the Captain was F/lt H J Bates, one of the two navigators on board.
    Dennis Burke
    - Dublin

    Foreign Aircrew and Aircraft Ireland 1939-1945
    www.ww2irishaviation.com

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    I've since had some information passed on to me that could explain this situation, and looking at the ORB, the information given to me may be right. F/O Richards did not (according to the ORB) have a chance of a 2nd Dickey trip between joining the squadron, and this, his first operational flight, therefore, Giles could have been placed in the position as captain, because of his experience.

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    I have an example of a Bomber Command rear gunner who had flown on multiple operations being crewed with a new crew from an OTU and being voted captain for their first couple of trips until they, and in particular the pilot, had gained some experience.
    This was unoffocial, of course.
    Ian Macdonald
    Last edited by Ian M Macdonald; 5th October 2011 at 14:28. Reason: spelling corrected

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    Alan,

    To get a handle on this topic, I suggest you take a look at "Jeff" Jefford's, Observers and Navigators. Chapter 23 ties up some loose ends. One sub-section is entitled: Non-Pilots in relation to captaincy and other executive positions. (pp.187-9). Polish and French Air Forces operating with the RAF are also covered in this section.

    It is masterly!

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 5th October 2011 at 14:37.

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    Thanks for the tip Col.

    Just ordered through Amazon, but, OH DEAR!!! i've got my eye on several others shown on Amazon now :-)
    Last edited by AlanW; 5th October 2011 at 18:34.

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