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Thread: Flight Authorisation Books (Form 1575)

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    Default Flight Authorisation Books (Form 1575)

    Are any forumites familiar with the above RAF Form (a very large format book just prewar as well as early in WW2, but in about mid-war reduced substantially in size). The RNZAF also used these books (and no doubt also the RCAF, and RAAF, although perhaps under different Form numbers); in fact Form 1575 is still in use in the present day RNZAF. Their reason for being was/is to serve as a record of the formal legal authorisation for every flight of every aircraft in the relevant air force, so they would make a fantastic supplement to the normal Operations Record Book (Form 540, known as Unit History Sheet since about 1950, as well as Form 541, "Details of Duty carried out"). The Flight Authorisation Book included much of the information also found on Form 541 (date, aircraft type, serial number, captain, names and ranks of all crew members, authorised duty, actual time flight authorised to take off, and expected duration of flight, as well as actual time of take off, and subsequent landing. Most importantly there is a column for the all-important signature of the "authorising officer" (usually a Unit or Flight Commander) and another column for the captain of aircraft to sign. I have been cataloguing these books at the RNZAF Museum for several years, and have also seen one relevant to the "New Zealand Squadron" in the United Kingdom, June 1939 to about February 1940, in which even the aircraft code letters of their Wellingtons, as well as the serial number, have been included, although I hasten to add that these were the original unit aircraft (NZ301 to 305, but NOT NZ300), rather than the later machines.
    I would be interested to hear if these, or similar, forms as still in use elsewhere; I imagine there would have to be such legal authorisation to the present day, as the importance of having somebody sign both the authority for each flight, and somebody else accepting the responsibility for the duty is as great today as it ever was, and probably more so. The great thing about these books was that they were used by ALL flying units, no matter how operational, or not, including all training flights, ferry flights, etc.
    Everybody knows about the pilot signing the Form 700 when accepting the aircraft from the groundcrew prior to each flight, but seldom does one hear of the authorisation book, which was just as vital - at least in the eyes of the relevant legal department! One does always see reference to these books at Courts of Inquiry into aircraft accidents. However I imagine that most air forces destroyed these forms in their tens f thousands as they lost their legal usefulness as soon as the landed safely at the termination of the flight they authorised. However they were probably legally required to be kept for a designated period prior to destruction. Any relevant comments welcome!
    David D

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    Hi David,

    I can not give you a reply if such a form is still in use but I have seen both formats (large and small) here in our archive for one of Czechoslovak RAF squadrons.
    They are really great additional source as there are mentioned ALL flights, not only operational. It is also very interesting to see the signatures, mostly in case when it was the last signature...

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

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    Hi David
    My time in the RAF was 1956-1961 and the Authorisation Book was certainly in use then,at least in Flying Training and Coastal Commands.It didn't just contain the crews of a/c but everybody who was authorised to be on board, which would have included ATC Cadets and Local civilians etc, and Service passengers being given a lift on an a/c in transit.The simple criterion was that if your name wasn't recorded you shouldn't be on board and someone had to authorise your inclusion. It was a process that was transparent to most of those on board but there would be a check for most flights by someone prior to departure and ,if needed, the removal of those not authorised.It appeared a deceptively casual business but it was taken seriously
    Regards
    Dick

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    So these authorisation books could, if you know an airman's posting history, be used to reconstruct a reasonable facsimile of a missing log book in terms of flights taken?
    Interests include Spitfires in Malta 1942 and 460 Sqdn 1943-44 (including Black Thursday)

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    Hi Adrian
    It would seem possible, but you would need to be cautious. Remember, that for many Sqns it was not unusual to operate with detachments at other bases than the main one, even in the UK(perhaps moreso with Coastal Command than with the others) and each detachment would have required an Authorisation process which probably meant a separate Authorisation Book even if the contents were meant to be entered in the Sqn book when the detachment ended. So to re-construct an individual "flying career" from such books might not be as straightforward as it might at first appear
    Regards
    Dick

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    Thanks Dick,

    I appreciate what you are saying. In fact, my grandfather spents some months with 611 Squadron at Drem during 1941, and they had a Section (or Flight, I can't recall right now) detached for a short period of time to Montrose.

    My grandfather went on to serve with 603 and 229 Squadrons in Malta (flying out of Takali) and it is this time that I am more interested in. However, I strongly suspect that either these forms were not completed or kept from this time due to the pressures on the island (ORBs for 603 Sqdn were lost, no gun camera film taken etc).

    Adrian
    Interests include Spitfires in Malta 1942 and 460 Sqdn 1943-44 (including Black Thursday)

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    Thanks for the interest taken in this topic,and confirmation that it was indeed continued well into the postwar era. As suggested, this is not really surprising as this form, or its modern equivalent, must still be required as the legal obligation to keep such a record would still exist.
    As to the question of detached Flights of larger units, yes, as suspected by some of you, any detachment had a commander, and the legal requirement had to be met, so each detachment would be provided with their own Flight Authorisation Book for use when away. In the RNZAF this continues to the present day (well the latest ones I have seen are about 2003 or 2004). Practically all units keep separate books for "normal duties", for operational exercises or for actual operations, and for detachments stationed on a semi-permanent basis at some other location. Those book used for exercises and deployments are often known as "Travelers". and I imagine that this sort of practice would have also been in use during WW2 because there really was no alternative if the system was to work. However I imagine that when the enemy was overunning your own front line and threatening your forward airfields (as in Malaya, 1941, or in many of the desert campaigns), such niceties might well take second place to survival.
    as to the question of recreating the career of a particular member of aircrew, yes this would be theoretically possible, and it has actually been done at Wigram in recent years by a pilot who had lost his own logbook, but this presupposes that all the FA books have survived. This may be true for the RNZAF postwar in NZ (but only for about 1% of WW2 books, if that), and even for the postwar era, only books exist from about 1960 onwards in most cases - I have never seen any for our Sunderland or Mosquito squadrons for instance, although a few exist from the mid 19950s. I imagine that the RAF would have destroyed its wartime FA books after that war, and may well have a policy of systematically destroying such documents within a certain period, as their purpose had been served, and the majority of this sort if information was also supposed to be recorded on the Form 540 and 541s (although only on operational units).
    David D

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