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Thread: Looking for Air Ministry Order 190/41 and RCAF info

  1. #11
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    I have managed to recover my research files and I have looked through my notes but unfortunately I haven't go those AMO's.

    I have e-mailed the RAF Museum to ask for copies and I will let you know when they respond.

    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]

  2. #12
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    Am in touch with an RAF serviceman who I believe was on the first FE course at St Athan. Would his course dates be helpful?

    Robert

  3. #13
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    Rob

    If your contact has any information / notes etc from his training as a Flight Engineer I would love to see them.

    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]

  4. #14
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    Pete,

    Will see what I can do.

    Robert

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeteT View Post
    I have managed to recover my research files and I have looked through my notes but unfortunately I haven't go those AMO's. I have e-mailed the RAF Museum to ask for copies and I will let you know when they respond. Regards Pete
    That would be outstanding. Thank you for your efforts so far.
    Quote Originally Posted by robstitt View Post
    Pete, Will see what I can do. Robert
    I would also like to see any documentation or even stories he might have. Canada essentially became sovereign and independent in 1931 with the Westminster Statute, but WWII armed forces seem to be rather jumbled as to who controlled what when talking Commonwealth nations. The Army is a little bit more clear cut, but RCAF and RAF seem to be quite a bit more "intertwined". Any first hand accounts (or documents) of how the RAF and RCAF interacted your gent might have would be extremely valuable. And, being an FE myself, I would love to see his notes, documents and stories. Hard to know where you're going if you don't know where you have been.......:) I only check back every few days, so I may not reply right away but I will reply. Cheers
    Last edited by great white; 29th June 2014 at 20:48.

  6. #16
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    Great White.
    Thought I should mention that Flight Engineers have a much longer history in the British armed services than indicated in this thread (and hence the "roots" of this trade within the Commonwealth armed forces generally), back in fact to the Great War and the RNAS. These were the men who attended to the engines of the larger airships (at least those where the engines were accessible to the crew in flight), and possibly some were also cross-trained as air gunners for self-defence. It is possible that some of the larger flying boats also carried such crew members, although the engines of these aircraft were not normally accessible in flight. However large craft such as these sometimes operated away from their main operating base (or were forced to alight while over the sea), so having a skilled engine man or two on board might make the difference between "lost at sea" and a safe return to base. I am not certain if large RFC aircraft (heavier and lighter than air) also carried such flight engineers (no flying boats of course), so will leave that subject to others. And nothing to do with the British services of this era, but larger German aircraft of this era as well as their great airships usually had a full complement of what would certainly be called flight engineers in any language. Some of their largest aircraft (the famous 'R-planes) were designed to have full or at least limited access to their engines in flight, with some having their powerplants actually mounted within the fuselage, with crew men squeezing around them and adjusting valve clearances, or rectifying minor running faults with the engine actually running, as in a submarine.

    In the RAF of the 1920s and 1930s, again large flying boats on extended deployments or on long overwater flights often carried engine and airframe men as supernumerary crew members in case of forced alightings on the open sea, or unserviceablility at any time, to return the aircraft to an airworthy state, as well as assisting with refuelling, and minor inspections. Men of other services assisting with refuelling an aircraft on the water could be a menace, as they were often unware of the fragility of aircraft, so some supervision by experienced air personnel was required. These sort of duties persisited on RAF flying boats during WW2 such as Sunderlands and Catalinas, with the flight engineers also being cross trained as air gunners. Obviously their training was somewhat different to F/Es destined for Bomber and Coastal Commands. The duties of "land-based" F/Es usually ceased at the time the crew exited the aircraft after landing; flying boat men had a lot more work to do till they ceased duty, being involved with the mooring, etc. Do we still have any 'old salts' on this Board who can recall this life style? I think the last RAF Sunderlands were retired in 1959 - some 55 years ago, so perhaps not.
    David D

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    Hi Great White,
    The AHB narrative on Operational Training casts a little light on this. The crunch period is winter '41/'42 and there are two things going on. Firstly, Bomber Command had reached a stage where it couldn't expand because any increase in the training commitment to provide more crews effectively cancelled out the increased output. There had been a failed attempt to reduce the length of training, but the accelerated throughput pushed up the accident rate at OTU's and squadrons, and reduced front-line efficiency. AMT proposed the 'New Deal' as the solution, whereby pre-OTU training was extended. Pilot training (pre-OTU) more than doubled in length, to 210-290 hours (depending on destination) with a 6-fold increase in night-flying. The New Deal was adopted at a conference on 12th February 1942. The second strand, also approved at the 12 Feb conference, was a shift to the 'One Pilot' policy - which then necessitated the creation of the FE role. Bomber Command accepted the 'New Deal' and 'One-Pilot' policies on 27th Feb 1942:
    They did so with some reluctance, however, and made it clear that they would have preferred two-pilot crewing. They accepted one-pilot crews only because of the logistic relation between adequate training, numbers which could be trained, and the possibility of expansion. They stipulated that aircraft should have automatic pilots, that flight engineers should be carried in Stirlings, Liberators, Halifaxes and Lancasters, that one member of the crew should be capable of bringing the aircraft back in an emergency and that provision should be made (by establishing 26 pilots per squadron of 20 aircraft) for pilots to get operational experience before they took charge of aircraft on missions ... [they also proposed] a separate bomb-aimer who could also act as front-gunner ... there was no need for two wireless operators because only one was used on wireless work, the other could be replaced by a straight air gunner. (AHB Operational Training pp751-752)
    AHB gives the reference for the 12 Feb conference as AM File S.77400 - sadly, that may not help because it's difficult to trace original file references in TNA's filing system (eg all Bomber Command stuff in AIR 14).

    The AHB later adds:
    By the beginning of 1943, the training organisation which had been built up with foresight and efficiency - and at considerable cost to the operational effort - was producing sufficient crews to man the front line and, more important, adequately trained crews. The training repercussions of the re-equipment of the front line with heavy bombers had been absorbed and heavy conversion units were now an established part of the bomber training organisation. Emergency measures to produce the new crew members had been successful, and by the spring of 1943 the first intakes of air bombers and flight engineers were coming forward into squadrons. The air bomber training flights which had been converting surplus wireless operators/air gunner to air bombers were disbanded in March 1943, and the following month saw the first intake of direct entry flight engineers at No. 14 ITW. Formerly, flight engineers had been provided by passing fitters II through a special flight engineers' course at St. Athan. (AHB Operational Training p769)
    HTH,
    Richard
    Last edited by Richard; 30th June 2014 at 10:52. Reason: Added page references

  8. #18
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    The plot thickens.

    RCAF was independent of RAF in the it was in operations with, not under the RAF. All stemming back to the RCAF formation as a purely military organization in 1936 and the Westminster stutute (1931) where Canada essentially gained independence and further muddled by the visiting forces act and how it defines "serving together" and "acting in combination with".

    A little digging has revealed that while rcaf and raf servicemen operated together seamlessly in aircrews, a somewhat confrontational atmosphere in administering those airmen existed in higher up RAF/RCAF commands and both governments.

    So while AM order 190/41 might apply to RAF, it appears it might not have governance over RCAF airmen. Although that is even more convoluted with RCAF airmen operating within RAF units and vice versa.

    It looks like a canadian air regulation order dated 23 mar 1943 might have governance over official recognition of an RCAF FE.

    Actually, it appears the order recognizes 5 crew positions other than pilot: bomber, navigator, wireless air runner, air gunner and flight engineer.

    This mostly makes sense as the Canadian FE school opened at Alymer Ontario in 1943 and it seems almost all the RCAF 400 sqns operated with RAF FEs until just after that date. Or at least I can't find any RCAF FEs with operational dates prior to 42/43.

    I currently have a request in the directorate of history and heritage (is: archives) to receive a copy of this order. My current info is a little vague, so its undetermined if this is the recognition of the trade or just recognition of the half wing badges.

    The RCAF certainly operated FE crewed aircraft before 1943. The Canso (41) and HP Halifax (42) are two, with the Lancaster arriving in 42-43 from my understanding.

    What a twisted path for such a simple piece of info.....
    Last edited by great white; 3rd July 2014 at 01:48.

  9. #19
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    My reading of the RCAF WW2 official histories leads me to the view that the state of relations between the RCAF and the RAF was in the realms of a long running war of attrition, with a certain amount of treachery and back stabbing, but mostly a government to government thing, with the Air Ministry wishing it would all just go away! Nothing simple about any of it. All stemming back to Canada's treatment during the Great War so far as I can make out. Perhaps I should keep quiet from now on.
    David D

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Duxbury View Post
    My reading of the RCAF WW2 official histories leads me to the view that the state of relations between the RCAF and the RAF was in the realms of a long running war of attrition, with a certain amount of treachery and back stabbing, but mostly a government to government thing, with the Air Ministry wishing it would all just go away! Nothing simple about any of it. All stemming back to Canada's treatment during the Great War so far as I can make out. Perhaps I should keep quiet from now on.
    David D
    No worries, pretty much my understanding of it also.

    Governments are often funny things. I find them as much about posturing, positioning and squabbling as anything else.

    The servicemen just get on with the job at hand.

    That's probably over simplifying it a bit, but its the impression I get.

    Canada was still struggling with international recognition at that point. We were sovereign, but still seen in the "colonial" light. RCAF was just another area where we struggled for recognition on the international stage as independent. We didn't help ourselves either in that depeartment, often referring even pay and equipemnt to British coffers.

    Its all a pretty big political boondoggle in my opinion.

    The real respect goes to the servicemen and women, not the governments. Hard to believe there was squabbling about who does this and that during a conflict like WWII, but that's the nature of politics I guess....

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