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Thread: "Captain of the aircraft maps"

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    Default "Captain of the aircraft maps"

    I have found a digital image on the web of a pilot's map for the operation to Gelsenkirchen, November 6, 1944. It's pretty clear that it is for this operation as the route shown clearly matches the route I have for this target. There are also notations on the map for the codes names for the Master Bomber (Hamlet) and Deputy (Plato) and main force (Strongbow) as well as airspeeds and heights that match briefing documents for the raid. Note that this is not one of dad's

    In correspondence with the 419 Squadron Historian, dad relates the following:

    "I brought home all mv "captain of the aircraft maps"which showed the routes to all the targets but unfortunately these were ruined when our basement was flooded in Calgary in 1948! If you have any information on the routes flown, for the operations I was on, I would greatly value any or all that you have."

    I queried dad's navigator on this and he does not recall preparing these for dad, (who was the pilot) I presume the navigator would have prepared these but can anyone clarify?

    Jim

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    Default Re: "Captain of the aircraft maps"

    Hi Jim,
    A huge map of Europe was part of the momentos I inherited when my Dad died. I always thought it was something Dad (also a pilot) had done just for his own interest...the map is marked with all the targets and with many of the routes marked (but not all). I having trouble picturing what use a 4x4 map would be for a Lancaster pilot on a night operation?! I always thought the WOP was the sort of "back up" navigator.
    I have Dad's map framed in my den. Message me if you would like a photo, just for interest/comparisons sake.
    Cheers, Clint

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    Default Re: "Captain of the aircraft maps"

    Thanks Clint! That would be nice to have. Terry sent me an image of one of these and on the Title Block on the upper left hand corner is “Captains of Aircraft”. When dad used it in his letter, I didn’t realize that it was an official term.

    Given the details of these, it’s pretty clear these must have been prepared by the navigator, Dr Seale’s memory not withstanding.

    Jim

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    Default Re: "Captain of the aircraft maps"

    Hi Jim,

    I have an Operational Navigation aide memoire issued by Bomber Command in Setember 1943. It includes details for the navigation briefing, which captains, navs and air bombers were to attend. The Captain of Aircraft Map was to be marked up with 'tracks, a copy of the flight plan, colours of the day, beacon characteristics, J beams, SBAs etc.' It doesn't specify who should prepare it but it seems pretty clear that the captain and air bomber were responsible for preparing their own charts. It does note that 'captains and air bombers are to note all the ETAs on their maps, and the captain is to make a copy of the flight plan with courses and times.'

    HTH,

    Richard

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    Default Re: "Captain of the aircraft maps"

    Thanks Richard: Very interesting. As corroboration of your information, I have the following from a memoir by F/O Geoff Marlow, pilot with 434 Squadron:

    "Two nights after this nightmarish trip to Chemnitz, [ March 5, 1945] we were sent to attack another target southwest of Berlin – Dessau [ March 7, 1945]. Before every flight, my navigator and I prepared a map (see next page) showing our route to and from the target that I kept tucked in my flying boot while in the air. I marked on it all vital data such as the course, airspeed, height, and time of arrival at each turning point and at the target. It served as a check against any major error committed by the navigator and helped me identify features on the ground as we passed near them."

    Note: The comment "see next page" There is no map on the next page of this memoir but there is a similar map on an earlier reference to a Captain's map.

    Clint: were you able to corroborate if the hand writing on your father's map is his or by someone else?

    Jim
    Last edited by JDCAVE; 12th May 2020 at 14:43.

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    Default Re: "Captain of the aircraft maps"

    Hi Jim,
    After careful comparison, I am quite sure the notations on my Dad's map are NOT his handwriting. I am still not sure of the purpose of the map....only 5 or so of their 59 ops have routes marked out on it, although all of the targets are notated with a small triangle.
    All the best,
    Clint

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    Default Re: "Captain of the aircraft maps"

    Quote Originally Posted by ClintCoffey View Post
    Hi Jim,
    After careful comparison, I am quite sure the notations on my Dad's map are NOT his handwriting. I am still not sure of the purpose of the map....only 5 or so of their 59 ops have routes marked out on it, although all of the targets are notated with a small triangle.
    All the best,
    Clint
    The plot thickens! Possibly his navigator or bomb aimer was involved.

    Clearly historical navigator charts chronicle the navigator’s efforts during the operation. The notations on the Captain of the Aircraft charts would serve as a record of what the pilot thought was important, including the route, but perhaps included notes recorded after the raid. Dad lost his charts In a flooded basement in 1948. He probably knew there were notations on them that would have helped him as he recorded his memoirs, Sad that these were lost.

    Many thanks to all who have contributed on this thread. The discussion has been most helpful for my understanding of who prepared these, when they were done and what they represent. Terry, Clint and Richard have sent me additional examples that are remarkable records of important detail.

    Jim
    Last edited by JDCAVE; 13th May 2020 at 05:46.

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    Default Re: "Captain of the aircraft maps"

    A quick update on this: I just got off the phone with F/O M.E. Seale and further queried him on this. I says the navigator briefings did not include pilots or Air Bombers and they occurred in the same room as the main briefing and immediately following that briefing. Pilots and air bombers had their own briefings. He says he often got to the aircraft only just prior to take off, going on a transport with other navigators. It was all quite frantic. He does not recall making any maps for dad. On some of the Battle Orders there are records of the times of briefings. For the raid to Munster, November 18, 1944, the "Call" was at 0730, the meal at 0800, Nav Briefing 0830, Main Briefing 0900. The section leaders are also listed. The aircraft took of at 1200, Bombed 1501.5 and landed at 1829.

    Jim

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