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Thread: Manpower allotment to Commands

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    Default Manpower allotment to Commands

    Hi all,

    I was wondering when pilots or navigators were designated for a particular command during their training. I have several fellows who wound up in coastal command or ferry command, instead of bombers or fighters, and I was wondering if there were specific points in the two years it took to train aircrew, when they would be directed into one or the other streams.

    How, for example, was a man picked for flying fighters over bombers? Did he have a say in this? I assume he would have had to demonstrate a certain level of flying ability in the early stages, but when were they separated into one or the other? Were psychological factors taken into consideration?

    And what qualities made a man more suitable for TAF or anti-shipping roles, over bombing from great heights, or a transport role. Or was it just a matter of responding to casualty rates and directing recruits where needed. How was this process handled when it took so long to train someone?

    And, come to think of it, how did one wind up in a particular theatre? A few of my subjects wound up in different places than their neighbours. Was this simply the luck of the draw, depending on where their squadron was assigned? Or were men targeted for assignment to Asia or the Mediterranean during training?
    Last edited by dfuller52; 27th September 2012 at 21:47. Reason: grammar
    David

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    Hi David,

    well I think I am not the right person to answer all your questions but I will try to add my bit.

    Difference between Pilot F(ighter) and Pilot B(omber) as sometimes mentioned in records would be considered during the EFTS training I suppose as the SFTS schools were already different for Fighter and Bomber pilots (single engine x twin engine aircraft).

    But as for the designation for commands are also unknown for me. In our case of Czechoslovak squadrons the process was quite easy - you were trained as a fighter pilot you will be posted to 310 or 312 or 313 Sq - I think depending the loss rate to fulfill the tabular standard. As bomber pilots all were posted to the only one 311 Sq.
    In the matter of already trained or partially trained pilots from Czechoslovakia the selection was done according to the original specialization but with some exceptions when there were not enough bomber pilots.
    Selection of new material was done - I think - after the results in EFTS as all new cadets were posted to pilot training a pilot u/t without any other determination. Some of them failed and returned to their original trade (like WOP/AG), some of them were maybe to tough in aerobatics for example and were determined as bomber pilots?

    Other examples may be the medical reasons - some of the pilots found unfit or to old for fighter service were posted to Coastal Command service. I know also at least one example when a fighter pilot was transferred to Coastal Command service for disciplinary reason. Please not that all these examples were Czechoslovak pilots only.

    As for the theatre I think it depends mostly on the SQ they were posted but again - I do not know the key for the selection.

    Hope this helps a little

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

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    Thanks Pavel, that all makes sense. My own father was "washed out" as a pilot at EFTS and was given the option of flight engineer or wireless operator. When he asked what was the quickest way to get overseas, they said gunner, so that's what he opted for - how keen they were at age 18, eh?

    Another of my subjects (mentioned in an earlier thread) was a pilot in twin-engine a/c and then switched to a Spitfire. The common thread was the role his squadrons had, which was tactical rather than strategic.

    I am interested in your note about early aerobatics training being used as a streaming device for pilots into bombers or fighters. Does anyone else have any knowledge about this process?
    David

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    David, as for my note about early aerobatics training being used as a streaming device for pilots into bombers or fighters - it was only my deduction.
    If you will check the EFTS syllabus there were I think not so much areas which may lead to such decision. From my point of view if you were a good pilot in general but poor in aerobatics you could be a good bomber pilot but in dogfight you will have no chance...
    Important factor was also the age but later only were young cadets were selected for pilots, but there were also some examples who passed the pilot training as some kind of reward for their previous service in another trade - most of them were in their early thirties - too old for the fighter pilot in the second half of the war.

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

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    An intriguing question David with some interesting theories......though I wonder whether mostly it was just the luck of the draw! My father and his friend Max volunteered at the same time, both ended up training in S Rhodesia together at the same EFTS. Max was sent to an SFTS flying twins (Oxfords) whereas Dad went to one flying Harvards. Presumably this meant Max was destined for multi-engined types and Dad singles. Once they earned their wings Max was sent back to England and flew Lancasters with 467 squadron as an F/e, Dad was kept in Rhodesia as a flying instructor. He was never told why, if indeed there was a reason as such, though he was a very patient man with an even temperament so perhaps this had some bearing. He also said he hated doing spins!!

    Max
    Max Williams
    www.ordinarycrew.co.uk
    the story of Lancaster ME453

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    You're right Max, there is always that factor, ol' Lady Luck. In my reading, I have seen several men who were made instructors because of their top standing in the class. I read of one case where the second place recruit went on to fly Spitfires, while the top fellow stayed in Canada as an instructor. Hugh Halliday described the effect this could have on instructors, who sometimes took risks while flying out of frustration at being held back.
    David

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