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Thread: Question on Ground Crew for the "Heavies"

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    Default Question on Ground Crew for the "Heavies"

    I often see photos of an air crew with their ground crew all next to their kit. Understanding there were many layers of support and specialty skills to keep a squadron operational. My question is; were a small number of ground crew (about 5 or 6?) dedicated to a single aircraft/aircrew?

    TIA
    Rodger
    In remembrance of the crew of Halifax HR732
    51 Squadron Snaith - All LWT Leipzig 4 December 1943

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    Rodger,
    I imagine the answer would have to be yes. The custom was (I think) for a very small team to be allocated for each aircraft on strength, although this could not always be adhered to strictly for reasons of some aircraft being temporarily u/s, in which cse they would be allocated to another aircraft in need of attention. For instance, a multi-engine aircraft might have a single Fitter IIA or Flight Rigger, a single Fitter IIE or more likely a Flight Mechanic, probably an armourer, and with other trades such as electricians, signals, radar, instruments, and fabric workers (latter particularly important in case of Wellingtons, Warwicks and the like) being represented by having (say) one of each trade allocated to perhaps six aircraft. Other trades were allocated to Flights for normal servicing duties, particularly armourers (for bomb loading, servicing of guns/turrets, loading ammunition for the turrets, all major jobs prior to a big raid), with ACH G/Ds for asssisting with refuelling, cleaning aircraft down, and also for applying anti-icing paste on all leading edges prior to flights likely to encounter icing conditions at certain times of the year. Even manhandling servicing platforms, etc, into position for this work required much manpower. However much of the armourers' labours must have been tied up with assembling and delivering bombs to the waiting aircraft, although these particular personnel might have been on the strength of the station rather than the squadron, along with drivers, meteorologists, etc. Just my ten cents worth. No doubt some of those "Lancaster at War" series of books published many years ago, or others of that ilk, will have some reminisences by groundstaff which may elaborate on my crude efforts.
    David D

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    Thanks David. Can only image the heartache on the ground crew when their boys failed to return
    In remembrance of the crew of Halifax HR732
    51 Squadron Snaith - All LWT Leipzig 4 December 1943

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