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Thread: Hudson Crew Positions

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    Default Hudson Crew Positions

    Can anyone tell me what the normal number of crew where on a Hudson I, 4 or 5, and what were the crew positions? I assume pilot, navigator, wireless operator and gunner(s).

    Was the observer/navigator also a second pilot.

    Best Regards

    Andy Fletcher
    Per Speculationem Impellor ad Intelligendum

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    Hi Andy,

    The subject of crew positions in multi-seat RAF aircraft during 1939-1940 is of great interest to me for the Eagles over Europe project.
    Some years ago after looking at what sources I could find on the matter I believed a Hudson crew for that period (Hudson Is) was composed of;

    Pilot (aircraft captain)
    Observer/Navigator (2nd pilot)
    2 x Wireless Operator/Air Gunners.

    It was clear when looking at various ORBs the Observer - termed the 'Navigator' by some units - was also a trained pilot and that many pilots and observers switched roles on other sorties. It appeared to me too that many of the WOp/AGs swapped positions on various sorties. Hence I believed both had to be trained WOp/AGs.

    However the more I think about it and the more material I see perhaps a Hudson crew composition for 1939-1940 should be;

    Pilot,
    Observer (or Navigator),
    WOp/AG,
    Air Gunner.

    I doubt the last two personnel changed seats normally during a flight , so their functions were separate for that flight and best described as above.

    I think five crew in 1939-1940 would have been exceptional, maybe to carry a Royal Navy officer as a specialist observer. I cannot recall any such instances however.

    I would welcome any input here, such as official RAF documents on the matter c.1939.

    Regards,

    Martin Gleeson.

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    Hi Martin,

    Thank you for your answer. What you say mirrors my own findings, particularly regards the observer/navigator being a qualified pilot. I think Coastal Command GR pilots were also required to have a certain level of skill as navigators, though I don't know if they were actually qualified navigators in the sense of a seperate aircrew function.

    Best Regards

    Andy Fletcher
    Per Speculationem Impellor ad Intelligendum

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    Picking up on your last point, I have recently read that all pilots were trained to "s/n" level in navigation (but I have yet to establish what the "s/n" stands for).

    An RAF training document that I have shows that in 1938 / 1939 there was a 16 week navigational course "for pilots operating over the sea" with 13 weeks of navigational training and 3 weeks of reconnaissance / ship recognition training. Obviously course timings changed as the war progressed and crew composition changed with the introduction of the "one pilot" policy.

    I don't have further details to hand as I am away for a couple of days (taking in the Fairford airshow) but I am happy to look back through my notes when I return to see if I can help out any further.

    Regards

    Pete
    Last edited by PeteT; 18th July 2015 at 14:33. Reason: Additional information added
    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,

    Thanks for the additional info. Anything further you could add would be much appreciated.

    Enjoy the airshow.

    Best Regards

    Andy Fletcher
    Per Speculationem Impellor ad Intelligendum

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    I'm not sure that a navigator/observer would be a qualified pilot. This seems unlikely. However, during the war many of these would initially have undergone training to be a pilot before being transferred for whatever reason. This would be sufficient to allow them to relieve the pilot on long missions - or indeed as the result of injury.

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    Hudsons operating with squadrons on ops (usually CC ) which landed/crashed in Neutral Ireland had a four man crew, those of ferry flights, three was usual, whilst OTU's would have three or four. Not sure about Navigators/Observers taking the controls but Luftwaffe Beobachters usually could take the controls but not take off and or land (Condors)

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    All pilots trained for the RAF were trained to a certain standard as navigators, and it was not unknown during the war for an experienced pilot to realize that his "new chum" observer/navigator had made a fundamental navigation error and was able to draw this fact (subtly or not) to the attention of his less experienced colleague. Longer practical experience in operational navigation enabled the pilot practitioners to have made many of these elementary mistakes themselves, and these humiliating lessons were not easily forgotten. The reason that qualified pilots were used as observers/navigators in 1939/40 period was simply that the RAF had too few observers and an excess of pilots, so it was easy to see what the interim measures to solve this problem might be. Most pilots for Coastal Command were rotated through the various Schools of General Reconnaissance to both brush up on navigation generally as well as to inculcate them into the world of what was known then as "General Reconnaissance", whether destined for large flying boats or twin-engine machines such as the Anson, Hudson, Beaufort, or even the Botha! The observer shortage equally affected Bomber Command of course, and many Hampdens crews at least comprised two pilots and two W/Op A/Gs, with second pilot stationed in the nose compartment as acting observer. This particular subject has been frequently alluded to on this Board over the years.
    David D

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    Hi Guys,

    Thanks for the input. It seems to me from the ORBs etc I've looked at that in many instances the observer/navigator position was being filled by a pilot during the early war years.

    Thanks again.

    Andy Fletcher
    Per Speculationem Impellor ad Intelligendum

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    I have the course report from 3 G.R. School, Blackpool, of a pilot on posting from the Empire Central Flying School to 131 OTU for Sunderland conversion. He attended Course 104 from 12 Jun 44 to 29 Jul 44, and on completion qualified with a 'Second Class Nav Certificate'. Regards, Terry

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