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Thread: What did WW2 aircrew w/op have to learn?

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    Default What did WW2 aircrew w/op have to learn?

    Can anyone list/describe what an aircrew w/op had to learn for his trade.
    I imagine it was more on operating procedure and morse code than the technicalities of radios. That would be more a technicianís role.

    My thanks
    Paul H

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    Paul H, Hi
    There was no ‘Radio Tech’ at 20,000 ft over Berlin (or similar!). Let it be assumed we are talking about the bog-standard 1154/1155 Tx/Rx set. Your airborne WOP would have to know how it worked – and what to do when it didn’t. He had to know when it was safe to let the trailing aerial out and (possibly more important!) when to wind it in!! The 1155 had a D/F facility – bearings were passed to the Obs/Nav to assist with keeping to planned track. WOPs also had to have all the codes/cyphers, Verey signal colours of the day, and – as such – would be of considerable ‘attention’ by the enemy should they come down in enemy territory! On the way back (assuming they got that far) he would need to know all the frequencies of the emergency facilities (DARKY, etc) and the airfields where they might be expected to lob in. As WW2 progressed the “Wiggly Amps” lot invented more and more bits of kit that warned an aircraft of this/that/other – all installed in the WOP’s station! The CC WOPs also had early A/S radar to learn/operate. Then, at the end of the day, they had to learn the ART (and it was in WW2 an art!) of choosing which HF frequencies to operate on. All this didn’t stop at the end of WW2. We had the same problems with the V-Force!
    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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    Not to forget that a good proportion of British Commonwealth aircrew wireless operators during WW2 were also trained and qualified air gunners, although on the night bombers the majority would not in fact actually man any guns as a normal part of their W/Opr duties. My father was a trained and qualified W/Opr (Group II) tradesman during WW2 in the RNZAF, but he was not aircrew, being purely ground based. However he frequently pointed out that his training covered all the subjects required for airborne W/Oprs, including the ability to diagnose and correct running and tuning faults, including dismantling, replacing wired-in components by soldering, and testing, but was not permitted in normal circumstances to undertake any such work in his normal duties as this was the responsibility of the wireless mechanic trade! So he was definitely technically over-trained, but unlike aircrew W/Ops would be rarely if ever be able to use these additional skills. However this was something he did not really regret as he loved fixing his own radios well into the 1970s as a civilian. Because he was trained in the trade of W/Opr he was qualified to only operate on wireless equipment with the More key - R/T (voice only) equipment was the sphere of the R/T Operator, a trade which had considerable female presence as the female voice was universally agreed to carry and be understood more easily than a man's voice under most circumstances.
    David D

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    Thanks David and Peter for your insight. My father was w/op with 35 squadron pathfinders, but post war he never showed any practical aptitude with electrics.
    I obtained a copy of Air Publications 1762 from 1939/1942 'Electrical and Radio Notes for Wireless Operators' , and whilst its contents are fairly basic It made me wonder how much the training was 'operator' based as opposed to 'technical' based. I think you have probably answered the query.
    I took the exams for my amateur radio licence some years ago, perhaps its in the genes!
    My thanks.
    Paul H

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