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Thread: Aircrew Training, Bomber & Coastal Commands WWII

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    Default Aircrew Training, Bomber & Coastal Commands WWII

    Please could the 'aircrew training experts' run over this list for me showing the 6 different aircrew categories of WWII and ammend/comment as neccessary. It has been compiled from extracts of postings on this forum, hearsay and veterans memories (my father). Thank you
    Norman


    PILOT: [WINGS]
    Recruiting Centre 1-3 day Medical and Aptitude tests
    Initial Training Wing 6 weeks basic training
    Elementary Flying Training School 10 hours flying in a Tiger Moth
    Service Flying School 40 weeks
    Operations Training Unit 24 weeks
    Heavy Conversion Unit 12 weeks
    Operational Squadron 30 operations

    NAVIGATOR: [N]
    Recruiting Centre 1-3 day Medical and Aptitude tests
    Initial Training Wing 6 weeks basic training
    Elementary Air Navigation School including 10 hours flying in a Tiger Moth
    Air Navigation School 40 weeks
    Operational Training Unit 24 weeks
    Conversion Unit 12 weeks
    Operational Squadron 30 operations

    BOMB AIMER/AIR BOMBER: [B]
    Recruiting Centre 1-3 day Medical and Aptitude tests
    Initial training Wing 6 weeks basic training
    Elementary Flying Training School 10 hours flying in a Tiger Moth
    Air Observers School 40 weeks
    Air Gunners School 20 weeks
    Operational Training Unit 24 weeks
    Conversion Unit 12 weeks
    Operational Squadron 30 operations

    FLIGHT ENGINEER [E]
    Recruiting Centre 1-3 day Medical and Aptitude tests
    Initial Training Wing 6 weeks basic training
    Elementary Flying Training School 10 hours flying in a Tiger Moth
    School of Technical Training 20 - 40 weeks
    Conversion Unit 12 weeks - joins crew
    Operational Squadron 30 operations

    WIRELESS OPERATOR [S]
    Recruiting Centre 1-3 day Medical and Aptitude tests
    Initial training Wing 6 weeks basic training
    Elementary Flying Training School 10 hours flying in a Tiger Moth
    Radio School 40 weeks
    Air Gunners School 20 weeks
    Operational Training Unit 24 weeks
    Conversion Unit 12 weeks
    Operational Squadron 30 operations

    AIR GUNNER [AG] Two required for heavy bombers)
    Recruiting Centre 1-3 day Medical and Aptitude tests
    Initial training Wing 6 weeks basic training
    Elementary Flying Training School 10 hours flying in a Tiger Moth
    Air Gunnery School 40 weeks
    Operational Training Unit 24 weeks (one gunner joins crew)
    Heavy Conversion Unit 12 weeks (a further gunner joins crew)
    Operational Squadron 30 operations
    Last edited by namrondooh; 24th June 2009 at 12:49. Reason: ammending third stage of Nav training to Elementary Air Navigation School

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    Norman,
    Just a few quick thoughts here, but some aircrew (and I am particularly thinking here of the Flight Engineer, although it could apply to any of the other categories) did not volunteer for the RAF (more likely RAFVR) in the first instance as aircrew, but could have been any trade in theory before deciding to "have a crack at aircrew" at some subsequent date. This was known as "remustering" to a new trade, and once accepted for aircrew the eager aspirant would be posted to ITW for the mandatory period (early on this would be just four weeks, but later in the war extended to six weeks; when the "PNB" system took over in 1942/43 there would also be a aptitude testing, then an attachment to a type of flying training on Tiger Moths to sort out those most suited to pilot, or other aircrew. Air Gunners were always a little different in that the actual training of air gunners was relatively short (after ITW in the early days it was a short but intensive 4 weeks, then straight to the squadron, later of course they went via OTUs to the squadrons, still later through HCUs, etc). However many of the early A/Gs were primarily Wireless Operators (as WOAGs) who had to complete quite a long course at Wireless School before undertaking the gunnery part. The "ten hours" you have listed for EFTS is way off the beam, and I think this was meant to indicate the approximate number of flying hours at EFTS required to go solo only, as normally the EFTS course required from 8 to 12 weeks, depending on the stage of the war. This would amount to something like 45 - 60 hours total (solo and dual I think), with subsequent SFTS requiring at least twice that amount of flying. In fact I think that later in the war a pilot would have about 200 hours up at the end of SFTS (and award of flying badge). Thereafter there were several further stages as you have noted, so that pilots would probably be approaching 300 hours or so by the time they arrived at their first squadron. However you should consult real log books to get more accurate flying hour figures for the different periods of the war. Incidentally our American cousins usually considered that British Commonwealth Air Training Scheme graduates were still far too inexperienced to be turned loose and in command of a large bomber aircraft (or even a fighter aircraft for that matter) in a front line squadron, but nevertheless the RAF just had to ignore that and they still managed to come out on the winning side in the end (although not without some assistance from Stalin and Uncle Sam after 1941). Earlier in this rambling account I alluded to the case of the Flight Engineers; almost without exception, the RAF obtained these gentlemen by soliciting volunteers from among the more experienced ground staff in the Flight Mechanic and Fitter IIE trades (and perhaps a few others), and they were then sent on a special qualification course to be completed before being awarded their "winged E" badge. Late in WW2 many surplus multi-engined pilots were also invited to apply for F/Eng training, because it was either that, or a transfer to the Reserve, so quite a number of pilots (probably in the hundreds) qualified in this new (and probably unexpected) trade. Because of RAF dress regulations, however, most pilots so qualified, nevertheless retained their pilot's badge as the said regulations specifically did NOT allow more than one aircrew badge to be worn by any individual at the same time, so you can guess which one most chose to display.
    David D

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    David/Namrodooh,
    I'm not trying to hijack this v interesting thread (honest!), but I have a Canadian(RCAF) who arrives as a fully trained Hurricane Sgt Pilot on 247 Sqn at Roborough from 55 OTU on 4 May 1941. Plymouth is being 'blitzed' at the time and for some time after. What I'm trying to do is work out (from David's possible time-tables) when (roughly) my man was where, and when. I am assuming that there were no Hurricane OTUs in Canada? So by deducting his 55 OTU time (and RCAF Reception Center time) from his 247 Sqn Posting-In POR we may get some idea (roughly) of when he crossed from Canada to UK. And, as a consequence, we may be able to back-track from the "depart Canada" date through the various Flying Schools he attended to get his Pilot's Wings right back to his initial Enlistment. This date - using the data currently available - would seem to be at least 71 weeks - it may well be more (leave, etc, etc). This takes us (give or take a month or so) back at least to early 1940 - or even late 1939! The reason for this is to have some idea where to look (and when!!) when I ask Mr Google to find me occurrences of his name - or those of his close colleagues/Intake/Square Bashing Flight, etc, etc. We are looking for a terminus post quem, or a terminus ante quem (as us archaeologists say), by which we may place this guy in (roughyl) the right place(s) and the right times(s).
    TIA
    Peter Davies
    Last edited by Resmoroh; 22nd June 2009 at 13:17. Reason: Digit trouble
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    My uncle trained as a Flight Engineer after having served 3 years as a Fitter 2 (trained at Halton) with Hurricane squadrons in N Africa.

    His FE training on his service records is recorded as follows:

    15.10.43 HE (Home Establishment?); mustering: UT (Undergoing Training) Flt Eng
    07.11.43 to 60 MU (@ Shipton, salvaging spares from crashed aircraft)
    05.01.44 to 4 School of Technical Training (@ St Athan); mustering: UT Flt Eng
    07.01 21.02.44 Att(ended?) 84 F/E Tech Course: 75%
    21.02.44 rank: T Sgt (Temporary Sgt)
    04.03.44 to 1663 CU (Conversion Unit) @ 41 Base (Rufforth at this time)
    31.05.44 to 102 Sqdn at Pocklington

    As you can see his technical training course was 6 weeks in length, not 20 - 40 weeks. Would this have been because he already had a lot of the required knowledge from his prior training (and experience) or because the RAF was "churning out" aircrew as fast as possible, perhaps in preparation for D-Day?
    regards
    Mel

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    Mel,
    I am certain that the comparatively short training course was because of his long experience in a Group I trade; in fact practically ALL Flight Engineers who served with the RAF from 1942 onwards were in the same situation; they were experienced (ground) tradesmen who had merely to complete a short conversion course to train them for their new duties, but there was not very much that would have been totally new to them in the operation of the fuel system of the aircraft they were being trained for. However the later "Pilot/Flight Engineers" that I mentioned in my first post had for this reason to complete a considerably longer course (about 8 or 10 weeks from memory, usually at St. Athan) because they did not have the long technical and practical background of the Group I tradesmen who previously comprised the raw material from which were wrought the "new " flight engineer. In fact the 20 to 40 week course previously mentioned seems to be a myth, although the most likely explanation is that this could relate to the relatively long training course for a flight mechanic of Fitter IIE.
    David D

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    Mel,
    Seems that I have given a rather truncated idea of the duties of a flight engineer in my last post. In fact they had to have a good technical knowledge of the entire aircraft, including fuel and oil systems as well as hydraulic, electrical and pneumatic, as well as the normal aircraft controls, undercarriage, and all the "emergency" procedures to operate these systems should they be damaged in action or fail for some other reason. A good read of the "Pilot's and Flight Engineer's Notes" for an aircraft such as the Lancaster, Stirling, Liberator or Sunderland would be a good place to start.
    David D

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    Peter,
    I should also have mentioned that only trainee pilots were posted to Elementary Flying Training Schools (EFTSs) for a standard course; the only reason that any other crew member would be posted to these schools was that they had originally mustered for pilot training, but for some reason had failed the course in some way and been remustered to Navigator, Air Bomber. etc. So you can cut out that stage of training for all but your pilots! However I am also guessing that the course your notes MAY be referring to was one at the PNB stage (from late 1942 onwards I think) where all PNB trainees were given a brief course (10 - 30 hours depending on progress) as pilot at a Grading School where the first "cut" was made as to pilot, Nav or Air Bomber.
    David D

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