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Thread: New HCU Crews

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    Default New HCU Crews

    Hi All

    I am trying to figure out what the procedure was with a new training crew or individual sergeants arrived at a HCU. Would it have been sign in at guard house, see orderly sergeant, assigned quarters by the sgt’s mess then report to the adjutant for orders or would they have reported to some sort of training officer. I assume once crewed up they would fall under the command of the flying wing commander and their training officers.

    Anyone know what the correct procedure was please?

    Thanks

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    Default Re: New HCU Crews

    Halibagguru,
    Your man would have to “Arrive” first. This involved taking a blue card (form) round almost every section (Pay Accts, SSQ, Library, Sports Store, etc, etc) on the camp where your details were taken (I’ve forgotten the Form number). It was a total pain, but it at least ensured you knew where every section was actually located. When that form – duly completed – had been received in the Station General Office you were then ready to do whatever you had been posted to that Station for.
    On departure you took the same form round every section to get ‘signed out’ (i.e you had no books, sports gear, etc, etc, belonging to the Station.) That, too, was a total pain!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Default Re: New HCU Crews

    Thanks Peter.

    That does sound a right pain.

    What if you were there for a few weeks only on a course, like being converted to four engined bomber from Wellingtons for example? I am assuming then your pay etc handled by your unit, I am ok with what went on once training its that initial through the door and if a visiting trainee would be dealt with by the adjutant or someone else, and if so who.

    Cheers
    Last edited by Halibagguru; 11th May 2022 at 10:26. Reason: spelling mistake

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    Default Re: New HCU Crews

    Quote Originally Posted by Halibagguru View Post
    Thanks Peter.

    That does sound a right pain.

    What if you were there for a few weeks only on a course, like being converted to four engined bomber from Wellingtons for example? I am assuming then your pay etc handled by your unit, I am ok with what went on once training its that initial through the door and if a visiting trainee would be dealt with by the adjutant or someone else, and if so who.

    Cheers
    In some (most?) cases the conversions were done on the Squadron. On November 15, 1942, 12 Squadron began conversion from Wellingtons to Lancaster I aircraft. They did not go to an HCU. The instructors came to them, and the 12 Squadron ORB’s are a decent record of the process. In 6-Group, conversion from Halifax to Lancaster aircraft was done on the squadron. There was no “Lancaster Finishing School” in 6-Group.

    Jim

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    Default Re: New HCU Crews

    Thanks Jim.

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    Default Re: New HCU Crews

    Jim,

    You can't compare the conversion of a whole Squadron, to the normal training syllabus of a bomber crew. H.C.U. was part of the training path.

    In 1942, some Squadron operated a Conversion Flight, which served to train crews for the whole conversion of the unit, and then convert new arrivals. These Conversion Flights became Conversion units, and later renamed Heavy Conversion Units.

    And in different time frames, from 1943 onwards, standard training process is individual training, up to speciality brevet, Pilots or Observers A.F.U. for pilots, navigators, air bombers, then O.T.U. where the men crew-up, at least the core of it, then HCU where the flight engineer and the second air gunner would join them. I've seen occurences where the two air gunners were already part of the crew in O.T.U.

    And for the Lancaster equiped Groups, there was the Lancaster Finishing School, after H.C.U.

    Joss

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    Default Re: New HCU Crews

    Probably not exactly what you are after but in Murray Pedens lovely autobio 'A Thousand Shall Fall' he does devote a chapter to 'HCU' at Stradishall,by the time Bomber Command was fully set up for 'Heavies' I think it would be fair to say that the vast majority of aircrew coming out of the flying training pipeline would have done a formal Heavy Conversion course.
    Murray started off with a 2 week intensive ground school to learn about Stirling systems etc.
    After completing ground school Murray started flying training,he was at Strad for approx 1 month and he completed 32.5 Hrs flying the Stirling,the rear crew members probably did less flying time as Murray had to 'solo' and get a certain number of hours 'in' before the crew joined him flying the Stirling.
    He does not say anything about the arrival procedure but was very keen on a particular WAAF,it was just pure coincidence that she worked in 'stores' :).
    I doubt they had to do the full post war arrival procedure that Peter described but they certainly would have checked in at the Guardroom/Guardhouse,I know I have read a book where the arrival procedure was described but I cannot remember which one !

    rgds baz

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    Default Re: New HCU Crews

    Quote Originally Posted by jossleclercq View Post
    Jim,

    You can't compare the conversion of a whole Squadron, to the normal training syllabus of a bomber crew. H.C.U. was part of the training path.

    In 1942, some Squadron operated a Conversion Flight, which served to train crews for the whole conversion of the unit, and then convert new arrivals. These Conversion Flights became Conversion units, and later renamed Heavy Conversion Units.

    And in different time frames, from 1943 onwards, standard training process is individual training, up to speciality brevet, Pilots or Observers A.F.U. for pilots, navigators, air bombers, then O.T.U. where the men crew-up, at least the core of it, then HCU where the flight engineer and the second air gunner would join them. I've seen occurences where the two air gunners were already part of the crew in O.T.U.

    And for the Lancaster equiped Groups, there was the Lancaster Finishing School, after H.C.U.

    Joss
    Yes, I’m aware of HCU. Dad went through it. I don’t have his log books right now, but it was about a month. But the OP had asked how an operational crew on Wellingtons, moved up to 4-engine heavies, and the answer is, “It depends”.

    Again, I will emphasize, 6-Group crews did all of their Lancaster training on the operational squadrons, whether the entire squadron was transferring from Halibags, to Lancs, or whether they were new crews. It was all done on operational squadrons. There was no finishing school in 6-Group.

    Edit: Dad was attached to No. 1659 HCU from August 9- September 18, 1944. Flying at HCU was from August 29-September 16, i.e. over 19 days. 20 hours and 20 minutes on Lancasters as first pilot at 419 Squadron prior to first op with his crew (this does not include 1 op as 2nd pilot).

    Jim
    Last edited by JDCAVE; 12th May 2022 at 00:58.

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    Default Re: New HCU Crews

    The HCU phase was to convert from (say) Wellington to 4 engine heavy as the crews came out of the flying training sausage machine,it would be a different story if you were already qualified on Stirling or Halifax a/c - then converting to a Lancaster would be childs play and could be done locally on the sqn.
    The reason I put 'childs play' is that with its overtall ponderous landing gear - the Stirling was definitely the 'King of the Swingers' on take off or landing (apologies to Disney).
    The systems on Lancasters and Halifaxes were also much simpler - engine controls being simple rod and cable operated rather than the engineering madness of 'Exactor' controls on the Stirling.

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