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Thread: Lancaster (2nd Air Bomber)

  1. #1
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    Default Lancaster (2nd Air Bomber)

    I am researching an eight-man Lancaster crew that had a 2nd Air Bomber, whom I assume would have been stationed alongside the navigator, operating the navigational equipment associated with bombing.

    It has made me think about his role and whether he would have been trained as an air bomber or as a navigator.

    Can anyone shed any light on this matter please

    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,

    What group was this chap in, this may hold the answer ?

    Cheer

    Smudger
    No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron Association Historian
    No.623 squadron Research

    ~~IN TIME ~~

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    PeteT, Hi,
    Less room, I suspect (but only done supernumerary flights in a Lincoln) for a "spare bod" in a Lanc than on some budget airlines?!!!
    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 for the responses.

    This particular crew was operational with No. 35 Squadron (8 Group) in 1944 / 1945. They were killed in March 1945 and CWGC has the 2nd Air Bomber's trade shown as "Nav" .... so perhaps they were all trained as navigators (but I don't want to make that assumption).

    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,
    The 8th man with my late fathers crew was trained as a navigator and the use of electronic aids. (thus seen as radar navigator.)
    Paul

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    I believe that all gunners had to be trained as navigators too. My relative was the mid upper gunner on a Lancaster but he had trained as a radar navigator.

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    Pete,

    For what it's worth, the 8th man in the Forde crew, 35 Sqn, is described on the back of a crew photo as "Visual bomb aimer". On the ORB, he's described as "2nd air bomber". He joined the crew in June '44. I haven't tried to verify his exact role, but "visual bomb aimer" at this stage of the was doesn't sound quite right.

    Cheers

    David C.

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    Hi annpauline

    Your relative probably trained under the original pattern when all air gunners had to be dual qualified as wireless operators, hence why he would be qualified to operate the H2S radar.

    AGs were not trained as navigators as such and later in the war they did not have to qualify as WOps

    Malcolm

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    Thanks for all the feedback; your input is most welcome as always.

    I am wondering if the use of the term "2nd Air Bomber" to describe this role was peculiar to No. 35 Squadron or perhaps PFF 8 Group. Can anyone confirm whether the term appears in other ORB.

    David's point suggests that the 2nd Air Bomber was used for "visual" identification of the target, which I would have thought was the role of the Air Bomber, with the 2nd Air Bomber being used as and when "Blind" identification was needed. My curiosity has made me add "Establish role of 2nd Air Bomber (and the impact of the role on the Navigator and the Air Bomber)" on my ever expanding "to do list"!

    Regards

    Pete
    Last edited by PeteT; 21st September 2014 at 08:04.
    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,

    I've tried to piece this together before. This much is clear - the Air Bomber's role became primarily concerned with navigation around the start of the Battle of Berlin (Nov '43). The concept of the 'navigation team' was being implemented, which included splitting navigation into the two functions of 'data gathering' and 'plotting'. Data gathering was the Air Bomber's responsibility and included H2S (if fitted), Gee, Astro, map reading and the taking of bearings with the bomb sight. It took a while to implement the concept - earlier policy had been for the W/Op to be trained in Gee (regarded as a radio aid). Also, the Gee set was mounted to the left side of the Nav, so it had to be repositioned on the right (alongside H2S, if fitted) so the Air Bomber could move between Nav and Air Bomber duties more easily. The Air Bomber in Lancasters also had to bundle out the Window and could only hive this off to the F/E when the aircraft was suitably modified.

    In PFF, the Nav and Air Bomber roles were called 'Plotter' and 'Observer/Set Operator'. PFF marking for big raids included a mix of 'blind' and 'visual' techniques, with 'visual' becoming 'blind' if - as was usually the case for Berlin - the target was under cloud. The Plotter was responsible for blind bombing on H2S. This is laid down in the PFF Manual - e.g. I've seen is dated Dec '43.

    Now a bit of guesswork. FWIW, I reckon that through 1944, the 'Observer/Set Operator' role became, in practise, 'Set Operator'. The Plotter would be reliant on the Set Operator over the target as much - or more - than he was en route. Ergo, the Air Bomber ('Observer') role would then need an additional crew member. I hasten to add that I haven't seen anything documented to support this theory as I'm primarily concerned with the Berlin period for my own research!

    HTH,

    Richard
    Last edited by Richard; 21st September 2014 at 10:47.

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