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Thread: RCAF Operational tour of duty length

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    Default RCAF Operational tour of duty length

    Hi

    I bet the answer to this is in here somewhere but despite looking I didn't find anything so sorry if this has been asked before.

    What was the number of operations an airman had to do C1943? I believe that the RAF was 30 and USA was 25. Was the RCAF 25 also and if so would it apply even if not in a RCAF squadron? What about RAAF, were they 25 or 30?

    I have a RCAF WOP stopping at 25 so wondering if his tour was up.

    I also have an RAF tail gunner stopping at 23 and don't know why he would as didn't appear to be injured.

    Cheers

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    Default Re: RCAF Operational tour of duty length

    Bob: The tour length would have likely been the same as the RAF, not the USAAF. There could be several reasons for a crewman having an earlier end to operational service, including a "lack of will to carry on", and other medical reasons. I researched a particular aircrewman, who was recorded posted out from 419 Squadron, "w.e.f. 19-2-1945 Posted out to "R" Depot (AMO A945/44 Para. 7)" before the end of his tour. The devil is in the details of "AMO A945/44 Para. 7" of which I have yet to source a copy!

    Jim

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    Default Re: RCAF Operational tour of duty length

    I am currently researching the subject of Tour Lengths and trying to gather together all Air Ministry letters that were issued on this subject.

    An Air Ministry letter dated 8th May 1943, set out the operational tour length for Bomber Command as follows:

    • The first operational tour will consist of 30 sorties and the second tour will not normally exceed twenty sorties

    • In Pathfinder Squadrons the operational tour will normally consist of a single continuous tour of forty-five sorties, whether these sorties are carried out entirely within a Pathfinder Squadron or partially within a non-Pathfinder Squadron. Crews may, however, be withdrawn from Pathfinder Squadrons at any time after the completion of thirty sorties constituting a first operational tour. Crews thus withdrawn with materially less than forty-five sorties will be eligible, after an O.T.U. tour, for a second operational tour (whether in a Pathfinder squadron or not) and this second tour will not normally exceed twenty sorties, or a total operational life of fifty sorties.

    However, there are couple of interesting caveats in the letter which read as follows:

    1. It may become necessary to reduce all these maxims if the flow of personnel who have completed a full operational tour is insufficient to fill vacancies at operational training units and to stimulate instruction in other training units

    2. In some cases, owing to less robust constitution of an individual or his subjection to special operational strain, earlier relief will be necessary and should be encouraged. Personnel who have completed their operational tour should be posted away from operational duty immediately they reach the datum line.

    Prior to 1943, the tour length appeared to be governed by 4th March 1941, Air Ministry letter which stated that "as a general rule and so far as the war situation permits, personnel should be relieved from operational flying after a maximum of 200 hours of flying in one tour of operational duty”. Tour lengths changed again in 1944 and 1945, but I have not found all the relevant letters for these changes at this stage. (Separate tour lengths were also detailed for Fighter Command, Transport Command and Coastal Command)

    Background Note: The datum line was aimed at giving an airman a 50/50 chance of survival. The Bomber Command calculation suggested that a tour would probably be 30 sorties of about 6 hours each (ie 180 hours). However, 160 hours was deemed to be the 50 / 50 survival rate of an airman serving in Bomber Command
    Last edited by PeteT; 4th August 2020 at 16:32.
    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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    Default Re: RCAF Operational tour of duty length

    Thank you Pete. This is interesting: "owing to less robust constitution of an individual or his subjection to special operational strain" Two huge prangs would certainly constitute special operational strain I would say. Especially as the gunner I referred to he last op was his second big crash landing.

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    Default Re: RCAF Operational tour of duty length

    Dad mentioned they were going to move the operational tour limit to 35 ops at the end of December, 1944, but that was rescinded before he reached 30 ops in March 45.

    Jim

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    Default Re: RCAF Operational tour of duty length

    Hi Bob,

    They did increase the number of Ops by only counting the Ops to France/Belgium just before D-Day as 1/3 of an Op but the crews kicked up a stink so they went back to counting them as a full Op.

    Cheers,

    John.

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    Default Re: RCAF Operational tour of duty length

    PeteT, Regarding letters re tour lengths, I have this in the Log Book of a 226 Sqn Navigator, "Certified that two tours of operations have been completed in accordance with '2' Group requirements (Ref. 2G-S8000-P4 dated 24th June 1944.) At that time he had completed 92 sorties, but 83 operations.
    Regards, Terry

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    Default Re: RCAF Operational tour of duty length

    Quote Originally Posted by John Williams View Post
    Hi Bob,

    They did increase the number of Ops by only counting the Ops to France/Belgium just before D-Day as 1/3 of an Op but the crews kicked up a stink so they went back to counting them as a full Op.

    Cheers,

    John.
    John .... At this stage, I can find no official document that sets out the policy of 1/3 sortie counts, but I am still looking. Interestingly, one 6 Group document sets out a points system for each sortie, with targets being assigned 3 or 4 points, depending on complexity, with a tour ending when an airman had accrued 120 points. No-one seems to have come across this policy before but one airman wrote in a letter that thankfully the points system has been abandoned and we have reverted back to sortie count
    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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    Default Re: RCAF Operational tour of duty length

    Thank you everyone for your replies. It seems its not a simple question working out the ops required. My lot were all 1943 and in the Middle East, it might have some bearing why stopped short of 30 ops. A couple of huge prangs too.

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    Default Re: RCAF Operational tour of duty length

    The 630 Squadron forms 540/541 for 10/11 May 1944 make reference to the "third of an Op" re-counting in relation to Ops against targets in France, they even list some crews with the number of Ops counted -in the new system - to that date, including the thirds and two-thirds of an Op.

    This was subsequently re-assessed on 19/20 May 1944 with an updated listing showing the fractions removed and straightforward counting resumed.

    cheers PeteS
    https://630squadron.wordpress.com/

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