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Thread: Non-pilot recorded as captain.

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Thanked 34 Times in 34 Posts


    Just to add a little history to this interesting thread.

    An excerpt from - Fit For Purpose? An Analysis of Operational Training in Bomber Command 1934 - 1944 P54

    As pilots emerged from this new training scheme and were sent to their Service squadrons
    to conduct conversion to type and operational flying training, another change was made
    to the composition of bomber crews in 1937 when the CAS, Air Chief Marshal Sir Cyril
    Newall, stated that the bomber should now contain two pilots. The junior pilot would be
    responsible for navigation. Unable to expand training resources, the flying training course
    was subsequently reduced to six months to accommodate the need for extra pilots and it
    was during this period that discussions were held to provide an extra three-month course
    for pilots destined for bomber and maritime roles that concentrated on navigation and night
    flying. One of the reasons for this change can be seen in the RAF’s Flying Training Manual of
    the time which stated:
    Flying uninterruptedly for very long periods, even under good conditions, imposes
    considerable physical and nervous strain upon a pilot, and, without his being conscious
    of it, his judgement in flying is apt to become impaired.
    This ‘physical and nervous strain’ was probably due to the pilot being responsible for piloting
    the aircraft, its navigation and bombing, a point that was only being recognised in January
    1936 with the opening of the first Air Observer School. The observer school taught gunnery
    and bombing during an eight-week course but there was a reluctance to take navigation away
    from the pilot
    and this only became policy in May 1939 when direct-entry sergeant observers
    were introduced. To be appointed as sergeants after qualifying as observers, the navigation
    training initially received by these men was confined to dead reckoning and map reading
    but later included a 10 week specialist navigation course on a Service Air Observers Course.
    The AOC-in-C Bomber Command, Air Chief Marshal Sir Edgar Ludlow Hewitt, referred to these
    sergeants as ‘counterfeit NCOs’ and ‘half-baked sergeant observers’. In a letter to the Under
    Secretary of State for Air written in May 1939, the AOC-in-C pointed out that:
    The idea that is getting about from Air Ministry sources that the air observer is to be
    regarded as the navigator of the aircraft is already undermining the principle, which
    has long been fully accepted and established in the command, that efficient navigation
    can only be realised in (sic) the Captain of the Aircraft himself [who] is fully capable of
    navigating his aircraft.
    Although Ludlow-Hewitt showed orthodoxy towards the RAF’s ‘pilot-centric’ approach to
    aircrew, the question of specialist aircrew to undertake the discrete function of navigation was
    gaining traction. It was becoming increasingly clear to the RAF that the ability of crews to
    navigate to distant targets in all weathers was extremely limited.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post


    Peter, it is not my fault! :)
    An explanation is needed here, I think, about observers. Those were highly qualified airmen trained in navigation, including celestial navigation, bomb aiming, often basic pilot training and w/t/r/t. During the war it was found, that the training takes too much time, so a reduced skill navigator appeared, and a separate bomb aimer, often trained as a co pilot. Some new navigators considered themselves better than observers, with the knowledge of nav aids and other technical tricks. They regarded the latter just mindless people capable of use of Baedeker or Michelin guides only. :)

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