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Thread: Interwar and post war squadron training

  1. #1
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    Default Interwar and post war squadron training

    I am trying to get some detail about the training programme / schedule for bomber squadrons post WWII.

    My understanding is that prior to the war, training, in principle, consisted of individual training during Autumn / Winter months (presumably much of it ground based) followed by squadron exercises during Spring and Summer. Did this form of training return after the war? If it did, when did the change from wartime training occur?

    If anyone has any training programmes / schedules (inter-war and/or post war) that would help my understanding of this subject please contact me.

    Any help would be much appreciated.

    Regards

    Pete
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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    Pete, Hi

    I can only tell you what I found when I joined a BC, 3 Gp, Sta, equipped with Lincolns, in the early 50’s.

    The Sqn did ‘Continuation Training’ on a daily basis. This was the usual ‘circuit bashing’ and Navex’s (did some of those as supernumerary crew). There seemed to very little ‘Station’ flying training. Most of the Exercises (Bombing, Nav, etc) were done on a Group basis – the quarterly Bombing Competitions, Air/Ground Firing Competitions, etc. Don’t know if there were any training/competitions for the Sqn ground trades. Possibly not. I can’t remember when a/c servicing, etc, changed from being Sqn orientated to being Sta orientated.

    All this routine ‘training’ could be interrupted by the occasional Operational deployment – departure to bomb insurgents in some far flung part of The Empire, or looking for some fighter pilot who’d decided it was all too difficult and come down in the N Sea by parachute (a number of these fighter boys subsequently became CAS’s – which was a bit of a mystery!). Sometimes ‘Boffins’ would arrive and fit some new bit of kit to the a/c – and then fly around to see if the average Sqn crew could work it (as opposed to the Farnborough/Boscombe lot!).

    Remember, that in the early 50’s, we’d still got too many airframes, too many aircrew, and too many aerodromes - and not enough (a) to occupy them, and (b) to afford them! The busiest people were the Scribblies in Air Min/MoS/MPBW/PSA, etc, who were trying to get rid of them!

    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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    Thanks Peter

    Your comments re "group" exercises tie in with the training approach in the inter-war ORB's that I have. Annual camps (eg bombing / gunnery) also appeared to be part of the regime. I am assuming that squadron's reverted back to this approach as and when the OTU / HCU's closed down during 1944 / 1945.

    I am also assuming that individuals were trained in their respective trade and then posted to a squadron for "on the job" training. Did individuals still "crew up" on arrival at a squadron or did crews become more flexible?

    Regards

    Pete
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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    Hi Pete

    OTUs were replaced by OCU, after WW2 so the crewing up and operational training was carried out there prior to posting to a squadron.

    However, crews were generally not considered combat ready on arrival and would certainly have carried out further continuation training on the squadron.

    Malcolm

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    Thanks Malcolm

    Based on yours and Peter's feedback, "Continuation Training" appears to be standard terminology for the period so I will see if I can find any detail on that matter and follow up on OCU's

    Regards

    Pete
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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    Continuation training was also sometimes noted in aircrew log books as "MCT", for Monthly Continuation Training. In the Postwar RAF, under 'normal' conditions (and I imagine that this is how the RAF's overall flying programme is administered more or less to this day) each flying unit, including schools and transport units, is allocated a monthly table of flying hours, to be adhered to closely, except in the case of a national emergency or a sudden unplanned deployment. Any unit which grossly exceeds its monthly allocation would come under close scrutiny, although theoretically this should not be able to happen in the first place. The monthly allocation will include known monthly commitments (tasks), plus an allowance for unscheduled tasks, plus a small allowance for contination training to keep all aircrew on strength up to date in the various flying skills to keep them operationally effective and 'safe'. The total of these three categories constitutes the monthly allocation, and the CO has some discretion to carry out all scheduled and unscheduled tasks, as well as maintain the flying proficiency of all his crews (or pilots as the case may be). Out-of-practice aircrew are usually rightly regarded as a questionable asset, so all attempts are made to keep them all 'current' in all major skills and procedures.
    The postwar RAF made a genuine attempt to become a true, all weather force, day and night, which demanded a much higher standard of pure flying under all conditions than could be maintained under the extraordinary conditions of WW2, although this was also enabled by more advanced equipment and longer, more thorough training, and more careful selection of personnel entering the flying trades, a luxury not available to planners of the emergency wartime training programmes. Thus most of the flying proficiencies to be maintained centred on instrument flying generally, take off and landings (with great emphasis on approaches and landings in conditions of poor visibility), single engine flying (for multis only), including engine failure on take off, and deeper technical knowledge of the operation of the aircraft and its systems under all conditions. Actual operation of weapons systems was on top of all this, but the pure flying aspects were probably paramount. I have certain copies of the prewar and postwar RAF Flying Manuals (AP 129 various issues, also AP 2095, Pilots' Notes General), and these make very clear the thrust of the training and the emphasis on the maintenance of the core flying skills, including the all-weather/conditions aspects. Commercial pilots generally maintain these skill levels on normal route flying, as they have to maintain normal schedules under all weather conditons, but as military pilots generally do not maintain such an intensity of flying, the MCT helps to keep up these skill levels. Modern flight simulators of course can replace much of this training, and does.
    David D
    Last edited by David Duxbury; 19th April 2014 at 23:30.

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    David

    Thanks for spending the time and effort responding; a wealth of information for me to digest.

    Regards

    Pete
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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