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Thread: Too many pilots by 1943?

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    Default Too many pilots by 1943?

    In answering a question on another thread, Ross mentions that there did come a point where it was determined there were too many pilots in the training scheme for RAF purposes. Does anyone have more specifics on when this was decided and how it affected those already in training?

    My father used to say this was the reason he was diverted into other training - a belief he held for 50 years until receiving his file from Ottawa and discovering he had been washed out. (His often-told story about bouncing a Cornell off the runway during landing from 60 feet instead of six should also have been a clue....)

    He was only just 18 at the time, so I suppose his age might have been a factor too.
    David

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    Default KH159 John Johnson

    David
    Did you see my reply re KH159 & John Johnson ? Now on page 3
    Anne

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    Yes, I did. Thanks. Being "siblings" from of the same batch of Liberators, did they go overseas at the same time? Were 104 and 31 Sqns together at any time? All off topic here but didn't want to resurrect the old thread - perhaps a new one is in order?
    David

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    David,

    As early as December 1943 it was apparent that there was then, or soon would be, a surplus of pilots graduating from BCATP schools. On 5th December Air Minister Power announced a "broad program of changes" to aircrew training that would place a new emphasis on bomber crews (other than pilots) and less on fighter pilots.

    On 19 April 1944 Power announced in Parlaiment that the BCATP had produced a surplus of pilots. One of the reasons for the surplus was that casualty rates among pilots had been much lower than expected, another was the reduction in German air activity over the U.K. Those currently under training as pilots would in most cases continue on to graduation, and the future reduced pilot trainee intakes were expected to meet the requirement into 1946.

    (From the Toronto Globe & Mail archives)
    Last edited by Ken MacLean; 9th February 2009 at 19:30.

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    My namesake, Max Venton, qualified as a pilot in 1943 in Rhodesia, however when he returned to Blighty he re-trained as a flight engineer at St Athan simply because he was surplus to requirements as a pilot. His grave in the Reichswald War Cemetery (see my website www.galgos.co.uk ) shows him still classed as a pilot.
    Regards
    Max Williams
    Max Williams
    www.ordinarycrew.co.uk
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    That's great Ken, thanks for the reference, and so quickly!

    I think my Dad's instructor was being kind anyway, and on his file it says he would make a good air gunner, although Dad always said he was given a choice of switching to Flt Engr. or a W/Op but he chose gunner as he thought it was a quicker way to get to Europe.
    David

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    The reduction was not only for those in or about to start training. It also impacted on those that had been fully trained such as Max has outlined.

    Another example was after the high losses of the Glider Pilot Regiment at Arnhem a quantity of new RAF power pilots were diverted to the regiment to fill the gaps for the subsequent Operation Varsity.

    The RAF pilots lacked the ground fighting training that the Regiment needed and so could not be used for defence duties like previous operations.

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    Ross
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    Default Too many pilots

    When I went to the recruiting office or the selection centre in November '42, I was told that the waiting period for pilot training was a year, for a navigator 6 months, for a wireless operator 3 months and I could go straight away for gunner training. I wanted to train as a pilot but I chose to be a wop. I couldn't stand a year walking around my home town explaining to my friends why I wasn't in one of the forces although they would have given me a 'deferred service' badge to wear.

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    Fellow Forumites,
    I believe the wartime RAF suffered its first pilot "glut" in latter half of 1941, when this situation became a serious embarrassment. Apparently it was the inevitable result of the failure of the aircraft industry to produce the numbers of new heavy bombers during this year, which brought about a serious glut of pilots in particular, who were relatively easy to produce in the numbers called for in the programme laid down to build up Bomber Command. The reasons for this industry failure are relatively well known (I think just about every nation involved in WW2 had similar production failures,including the USA, Germany and Japan), so it should not be taken as a cheap shot at the British industry. This glut was mainly concerned with multi-engine pilots, and Bomber and Coastal Commands struggles to absorb the output of the training schools. The "cure" was to try and slow the output at source - the training schools in the UK, Canada, Australia and NZ - by lengthening the various phases of training, which eventually had the desired effect. However further down the track came another pilot shortage, which meant that the taps had to be turned full on again. Interestingly by 1945 (not surprisingly) there was another aircrew surplus, but this was more general, and one expedient seems to have been the deliberate over-supply of crews to Bomber Command squadrons simply to slow down the intensity of operations by existing crews so as to stretch out their tours, which may or may not have been popular. In theory this would also have reduced the exposure of individual crews to the dangers of operational flying. To demonstrate what I mean about this overmanning of BC squadrons, No.75 (NZ) Squadron in 1945, which was one of the relatively rare three-Flight squadrons (50% larger than the average squadron) would have had an establishment of about 30 crews (each of 7 men); however in early 1945 they were up to some 60 crews (420 aircrew in one squadron, and this did not include the additional mid-under gunners!) However I do not know how widespread this practice was throughout the Command - can anybody else offer any ideas on this practice in 1945?
    David D

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