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Thread: No. 15 (Pilots) Advanced Flying School 1942

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    Default No. 15 (Pilots) Advanced Flying School 1942

    Can anyone give me and leads or information on this unit? It is clearly noted as 'No. 15 (P) AFU' several times on a service record I have, but I cant find any reference to it, only No. 15 Advanced Flying Unit.

    Many thanks

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    Airman 1,
    Sturtivant has it formed at Leconfield from 15 SFTS 1 Mar 42. Moved to Andover 15 Dec 42. Seems to have had RLGs all over the place!
    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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    Airman1,

    15 (P)AFU certainly had a presence at Kirmington (North Lincolnshire) from April to October 1942. As Resmoroh indicates it served as a RLG for Leconfield. Fair number of accidents involving Airspeed Oxfords.

    regards,
    Dave.

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    When researching Tern Hill pilot training at Kew records Office I came across an appendix which listed and had group photos of all pilots in No.5 Service flying training Unit (SFTS) This was for single engine flying. In April/May 1942 this training was renamed No.5 (Pilots) AFU. I wonder if No.15 was also changed If flying Oxfords they were destined to be twin engine pilots. If so you may find the records and photos of all the pilots on each course also tucked away in an an appendix at Kew.
    Motherbird

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    As Albion said the pilots' training in Oxford had a fair few crashes... In a letter to my father, George Hugh Cavendish Emmett, learning to fly the Airspeed Oxford, wrote ...'The tame looking Oxfords are not as tame as I imagined and we are having one crash a day and a cadet written off yesterday. It needs two men and a boy to level them out when landing.’
    Harry Dent, at No.12 SFTS Grantham did not enjoying flying Oxfords either....'I’m afraid there is very little chance of my ever arriving at Tern Hill, or even flying SE engines at all. However, I shall keep on trying and if SEs are completely out of the question I shall try hard for day Beaufighters. We have all soloed in Oxfords now, average 6 or 7 hours. As with Masters, they are rather frightening at first, and not only at first. We have rather a lot of low cloud here, which is liable to come down over the aerodrome at any moment. I lost myself in cloud the other day and when I eventually got out I could not find the aerodrome for half an hour. I was scared stiff....
    Not long after Harry Dent was one of the pilots lost in the 1st 1,000 bomber raid on Cologne.
    I]('From Sapper to Spitfire Spy' Pen and Sword Publishing)[/I]
    Motherbird

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    Numbered (P) AFU's existed in the RAF from about February 1942 onwards to "acclimatise" newly arrived pilots from the British Dominions "over the seas" to flying conditions in the UK, and this continued to the end of WW2. For the same reason, (Observer) AFU's were also formed at the same time for the same purpose, although they acclimatised observers and WOAGs. So far as I know, the Airspeed Oxford tended to be the standard aircraft used by these unit. All these aircrew were technically fully qualified and badged, so were strictly speaking not trainees as such, and were actually receiving "advanced" (post-graduate) training. These units were only introduced because so many pilots (and presumably, although to a lesser extent, observers and WOAGs) found the flying conditions in wartime UK airspace were completely different to the safer and generally clearer skies of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. What with so much more cloud, winter fogs, industrial smog, thousands of small villages and hundreds of cities, railway lines and roads everywhere, and barrage balloons and anti-aircraft guns all over the place, as well as thousands of aircraft and hundreds of airfields scattered about every flat bit of ground, the newly arrived aircrew from overseas found the UK flying conditions very foreign and stressful, and accidents were becoming too high. Thus the AFU's came into being to improve their chances of survival before they even reached the OTU's.

    The trouble with Oxfords seems to have largely come about inadvertently because of the rather delayed entry into service of this type, and the consequent emergency introduction of the Anson to carry out the training task for thousands of multi-engine pilots until deliveries of Oxfords caught up with demand. The Ansons just happened to be available because the much more modern and capable Hudson was beginning to take over general reconnaissance duties with Coastal Command. Unfortunately Ansons were comparatively easy and safe aircraft to fly, whereas the Oxford was designed specifically to train pilots for the larger and much more demanding twin and -four engine aircraft coming into service in increasing numbers at this time, so Anson-trained pilots did find the Oxford a handful at first, and if they survived the introduction they were turned into far better multi-engine pilots. I have spoken to several pilots who were trained on (or subsequently converted to) Oxfords, and they were unanimous that the Oxford was the best trainer for the job. One of these pilots actually graduated on Ansons in Canada in mid-1942, then immediately trained as an instructor (on Cessna Cranes), and was finally posted to his first real job as an instructor, flying Oxfords at an RAF SFTS (but still in Canada). He eventually ended up in the UK flying intruder Mosquitos with 23 Sqdn from late 1944 or thereabouts, and said without hesitation that his very survival in WW2 was due to the aircraft types he flew, the sequence of his postings, and the fact that most of his "real training" (that is, as a flying instructor) was on Oxfords, and Cheetah-engine ones at that. After the Oxford, the Mosquito seemed to him just like a big pussycat - the Oxford had taught him to really fly professionally and by the numbers, but with a bit of flare too.
    David D
    Last edited by David Duxbury; 21st June 2015 at 02:14.

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