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Thread: Air Gunner training WWII

  1. #1

    Default Air Gunner training WWII

    Would Bomber Command Air Gunners used in heavy bombers as Front, Mid-Upper, Ventral or Rear gun positions receive the same training at Gunnery School or would they specialise in just one of the positions? Also, when on operational squadrons would they change around or remain in same position during their tour of duty?

    Norman
    Last edited by namrondooh; 18th March 2009 at 00:31.

  2. #2
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    Hi Norman,

    as far as I know from Air Gunner of 311 Sq:

    1) training was the same for all of them, position was determine at OTU but they must be able to serve as any gunner in the crew
    2) when they were flying Wellingtons, they were more or less still in the same positions, but several times they were exchaged by CO (for example most experieced AG was flying ar rear gunner with freshman crew), sometimes they change positions spontaneously (official record states that A was front AG, B was rear AG but the plane was shot down and rear AG perished but it was person A not B).
    When flying Liberators (not BC but CC), in most cases rear AG was in his turret but WOP/AG, WOM/AG and beam AGs were changing places approx. after 2 hours of flight.

    Hope this helps a little

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.hyperlink.cz

  3. #3
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    I've often wondered ?
    Were rear gunners the youngest or smallest member of the crew -to fit into the space more easily ?

    At times, in my RAAF father's SAAF sqdn of Liberators, in Italy, the rear gunners seem to have been chosen for each flight or joined an established crew for a number of missions .On my father's last mission the RAF RG was aged 19.

    Anne

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    Hi Anne,

    not necessarily.
    I have an example of Sgt Valach of 311 Sq who was the tallest member of his Wellington crew, also W/O Spitz was pretty tall to get into the turret.

    On the other hand I have already posted to some thread that in period of 1941 Air Ministry requested from Czechoslovak Inspectorate General to send new adepts for AG only to some high as Botha planes used for training at the time had only very limited space for AG... So from this period there are nice photos of Wellington crew with 4 normal man + 2 two very small:-))

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.hyperlink.cz

  5. #5

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    My Dad was a rear gunner in 40 Squadron RAF based in Foggia Italy in 1944. He did 33 ops with the same crew at the time he was 19. As to being the smallest, you can judge, he is on the far right in this picture

    http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y37/DiggerDan/Plane%20Crazy/DadsaircrewcentrePilot2ndLTBayleyBA.jpg

    He did his basic training at Bishops Court NI. all in Avro Anson, so basically from a dorsal turret. It was only when he got to the 76 OTU in Palestine, that someone made the decision to put him in the rear of a Welington.

    After his tour he came back to the UK as a gunner instructor, this time all the training was carried out in Wellington. According to his log book the exercises were done from different positions in the Wimpy. Does anyne know what these abreviation might mean beam (i'm OK with this), G3, G4, QXU.

    One interesting entry 6th June 1945 "Ex Corkscrew G12 D.P.C.O. One member of the crew airsick" ......................... I understand that corkscrews could do that to a man .............. and not a cocktail in sight.
    Last edited by Wimpy; 18th March 2009 at 17:34.

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    Hi,

    I have not seen such abbreviation before, but they may be not official...
    I know that gunnery excercises were numbered at least in one period of WWII so maybe it means Gunnery excercise No. 3, etc.

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.hyperlink.cz

  7. #7
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    Hi,
    My Father trained as W/Op and Air Gunner at No3 B & G School, MacDonald, Manitoba. Duration for AB Initio Gunnery Course 10/11/41 to 8/12/41.
    From his Log Book flying in Fairy Battle he started off with Camera Gun.
    Following this he used Vickers Gas Operated Machine Gun, (V.G.O.)
    G.1. refers to Air to Ground
    G.2. refers to Beam
    G.3. refers to Beam R S
    G.4. refers to Under Tail
    These references taken from his Results Form (R.C.A.F. R.96C.)
    He also did training with the Browning on the rifle range.
    There is also reference to Free Astern and Night neither of these was practised as per his results from the form and they may well have a "G" reference number also.
    Hope this helps.
    Regards,
    Rob Jerram.

  8. #8

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    Keep going Rob, Dad has exercises that go up to G10!!

    DCO?
    DPCO?
    DMCO?
    CCG as opposed to AIR FIRING ALWAYS AT 12 1/2 FT

    Thanks for the info

  9. #9
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    Pavel
    Thanks for your reply !

    Wimpy .
    I looked at the photo by writing it all into the url ,wouldn't work by copy & paste .The 2 men either side of the middle man look more suitable for RG s.

    Note that in many of these wartime "informal" crew photos everyone has a cigarette.I think they needed them to cope with flying in uncertain planes every day. I would expect airsickness was common with corkscrews !

    My very tall RAAF father was an Observer /Bombaimer with 104 RAF & later 31 SAAF based at Foggia Main [104] & Celone Foggia [31 SAAF] 1944.In Wellingtons & Liberators. The lying down space for bombaimers looks limited in Lancasters so I suppose Libs were similar ?

    My father's friend,, Sam M. was in 40 RAF 1944 until a bad injury while crashing on landing ended his flying days .

    Anne

  10. #10

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    Hi there Anne

    Good to hear from you. I tried to put the Jpeg in the post but I don't think this site allows that kind of post. Do these personal albums work on here?

    I would be interested to hear anything about 40 Squadron especially the second half of 1944 when Dad was there. I am waiting for a library copy of Dave Gunby's "Sweeping the Skies" and have been intouch with Dave himself.

    Dad almost ended up in Liberators but when the "cut" came the crew didn't fancy India/Burma so they decided to arrange a wheels up a little too early on take off and were sent back to train a little more ................... so my Dad said .............. but then he could always tell a good story.

    Do you have any photos of the bases around Foggia I only have the one in the post, taken at the end of the 33 ops tour.

    Wimpy

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