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Thread: Air Observers - Bomb Aimers 1942

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    Default Air Observers - Bomb Aimers 1942

    Can anyone direct me to any Air Ministry publications detailing the training structure program at the time when bomb aiming became a dedicated position within flight crew formations please. The transition from Air Observers must have been policy documented but I have been unsuccessful in my efforts to locate, thank you for looking at my post and for any guidance.

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    Colin

    I am pretty sure I have some detail tucked away somewhere .... so bear with me and I will see what I can dig out. Give me a nudge if you don't hear back from me in the next few days, as life is a bit manic at the moment

    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.
    You have again be kind in assisting me unpick these changes of Air Crew Status, I try not to burden the forum too much but it is a location of excellence. T

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    Colin, Some years ago I researched a New Zealand Observer who trained under the Commonwealth Air Training Programme (BCATP) and made extensive use of a three-part RCAF history, part of which covered the BCATP. One of the diagrams covered the training of "Air Bombers" and stated that after completing Initial Training School, the Air Bombers completed the Bombing & Gunnery School and the Air Observer's School before receiving their brevet. If you wanted the syllabus I may be able to prise it out of a log book I have. Regards, Terry

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    Colin,

    Could I recommend C G Jefford's Observers and Navigators and other non-pilot aircrew in the RFC, RNAS and RAF. First published in 2001 and updated in 2014 it is probably the most comprehensive document on the history of non-pilot aircrew. It is remarkably comprehensive and, most important, the sources of each entry (often National Archives references) are always given. My copy covers 1914 to 2000, but I guess the updated version extends the period. Please do not assume, because it literally covers the life-time of the RAF, that it dilutes the story, it doesn't and is well worth reading, if not buying - copies are available on the Internet.

    Brian

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    Terry; I would be interested in a copy of the syllabus if you are able to prise it out of the log book

    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, I thought it would be an easy task until I did some research and found:
    The course laid out for air bombers was not unlike that formerly given to air observers. After ITS they went to a bombing and gunnery school for eight weeks. This was followed by six weeks at an air observer school where they concentrated on map reading. In the air they flew with navigators, practiced map reading, passed information to the navigator as they would on operations and at the end of each trip were given an opportunity to practice bombing. On operations it was found that eight weeks was not long enough to develop adequate skill in bombing and the time spent at bombing and gunnery school was increased to twelve weeks.
    http://www.airmuseum.ca/refs/aerodrome_of_democracy.pdf
    This would be fine until you realize that Observers/Navigators were spending up to 14 weeks at an Air Observer School. It looks like map reading was the main skill taught, which would allow BAs to identify pin points and coast crossing points etc. Regards, Terry

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    Terry, Pete, does it appear that the BAs were being given the skills to act as navigator?
    http://www.filephotoservice.co.uk/
    RESEARCH AT THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES & OTHER UK INSTITUTIONS

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    Quote Originally Posted by bruce dennis View Post
    Terry, Pete, does it appear that the BAs were being given the skills to act as navigator?
    Extracted from Notes on the History of RAF Training 1939-44 (Air Ministry AMT September 1945) - Duties of Air Bomber in 1944.


    Is the "eyes of the navigator" and the map reader, visual information being still an essential despite the introduction of radar aids. He reports the local weather conditions and would do astro-navigation, which, however, is very seldom used now by squadrons based in he UK. He works certain radar apparatus and carries much of the responsibility for tracking the aircraft over the last ten miles to the target. In the target area he must locate the aiming point and guide the aircraft on the bombing run, working closely with the pilot and navigator to do this. He must be familiar with the layout and operation of the bomb gear and satisfy himself that the equipment is in perfect working order. He decides he exact moment of release of the bomb load carried, and must be able to man the front turret in an emergency.


    In short, a very busy man!. In setting out the Navigator's duties it says, "He does not normally look outside the aircraft at all, but is mainly a calculator. He gets much information from other members of the crew."


    Normally staying out of aircraft matters, have no idea if any of this is of use.

    Jim

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    Interesting that Air Ministry suggests that he "would do astro-navigation". In 42/43 this subject wasn't taught at the Air Observer Schools, it was a subject at the Central Navigation Schools. I guess "certain radar apparatus" pertains to Gee H or H2S. It would interesting to know whether this was taught at the training (pre-brevet) stage or at a later stage such as an OTU. I think I am right in saying that at the late stages of the war there were more pilots than needed so some flew as bomb aimers. This doesn't answer the original question. I suspect that the BA could act as a navigator at a pinch and at least get the aircraft back to the UK. Regards, Terry

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