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Thread: Air Bomber training

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    Default Air Bomber training

    Hi All

    Please can anyone give an indication of when the Pilot/Navigator/Bomb-aimer classification came into being?

    I am endeavouring to establish the likely sequence of training and timing for an Air Bomber whose first operational flight was on 21 April 1943 in a Lancaster and I think that they are dependent on that date

    If, as I‘m inclined to think, he was not accepted for aircrew training in the PNB category then my guess is he would have progressed via Air Crew Reception Centre, Initial Training Wing and Bombing & Gunnery School (presumably overseas) to qualify. Thereafter, back to the UK for Operational Training Unit to crew up and Heavy Conversion Unit followed by posting to a Squadron

    On the other hand, if he enlisted as a PNB then his training would have been extended by the inclusion of Grading School after ITW

    Another thing that puzzles me is the fact that he performed his first op as a F/O having been Gazetted as a P/O on 27 April with effect from 2nd March

    I can only think that he achieved a very high pass mark, was then commissioned and was lucky enough to be posted to a squadron where there was an establishment vacancy awaiting him

    I appreciate that, in the absence of a Log Book or Service Record there are grey areas which can only lead to guesswork but, nevertheless I should be very grateful for comment by those who are better informed

    Regards,
    Aubrey

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    Hi Aubrey
    Take a look at rafweb.org where the various aircrew badges are illustrated among much other information.
    The question of Air Bomber is a bit of a minefield when it comes to deciding what role a particular crew member played and what Badge he wore..The "B" badge did not appear until Apr 1942 when the function of the original Observer category was split between Navigator and Bomb aimer both in Apr 1942.In theory the new badges were available from then on,the "N" replacing the "O" of the observer but I have an instance of an Australian Sgt who trained in Oz and qualified with the AG badge but who died as the Air Bomber on a Lancaster in June 1942. During training he went to both Wireless and Gunnery and Bombing and Gunnery Schools in Oz but Errol Martyn, who specialises in NZ Aircrew, pointed out that Bombing and Gunnery Schools were most commonly used to train those who aimed the bombs how to handle the guns in the nose of the larger a/c and my man had probably been trained to aim bombs after he arrived in UK at the behest of his first Sqn. If the "O" brevet became obsolete in 1942 it didn't go away and I flew on a Shackleton in 1958 with a Sqn/Ldr Nav who still wore his and as far as I know always had through the war!!! The knowledge that my man was an "AG" but died as the Air Bomber on his only op came from his Australian Casualty File which was in digital form online.The knowledge of his courses at W&G School and B&G School was also there in his personal file
    Regards
    Dick
    Last edited by Dick; 25th October 2009 at 17:34.

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    Aubrey,

    Jeff Jefford's splendid 'Observers and Navigators - and other non-pilot aircrew in the RFC, RNAS and RAF', pub by Airlife 2001, includes coverage of air bomber training and is recommended.

    And: "Although training for the new specialist aircrew roles of air bomber and navigator began in mid-1942, the new ‘N’ and ‘B’ badges for navigators and air bombers were painfully slow to arrive, the relevant air regulations not being published until 26 March 1943. Those navigators and air bombers who had in the meantime received the observer badge in lieu were instructed to exchange these for the appropriate new badge. In the event, such aircrew were extremely reluctant to give up their perverse attachment to the ‘Flying O’ (to use its more polite nickname) and the directive was honoured more in the breach than in the observance." [Vol Three of my 'For Your tomorrow' trilogy.]

    Errol

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    Default Air Bomber training

    Hi Dick

    Thank you for your response, to which I can at last reply, advising me that the “B” badge appeared in April 1942. On Sunday I was shown two photos of my man wearing that brevet

    I can well understand the reluctance of Observers to update to the new badges of Navigator or Bomb-aimer, regarding their old brevets as indications that they were qualified in both roles rather than specialising in just one

    I had an ex-workmate who, for years, I’d understood to be an Air Bomber until I saw that he was recorded as Observer by the CWGC. Subsequently, Jean Darley (daughter of Don Bruce of 115 Squadron who wrote many articles and raised money for the RAF Benevolent Fund with his “Roll of Honour “) told me that “Frank was the Bomb Aimer on that mission not the Observer.”

    Meanwhile, the ORBs listed their Wellingtons’ crews as Pilot, Navigator, W/T Operator, Front Gunner and Rear Gunner. No prizes for guessing who is named as Front Gunner!

    I appreciate that it’s a case of dual duties but it is confusing

    Regards,
    Aubrey

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    Default Air Bomber training

    Hi Errol

    Thank you for your contribution in this matter, for recommending Jefford’s “Observers and Navigators” and for giving a relevant quotation from your own publication

    If your posting had preceded that from Dick then my reply to you would have been similar to the above

    However, you mentioned that the new badges were painfully slow to arrive and, as Frank was KIA in August 1942, I reckon that it would be a safe bet that he was wearing the Winged “0"

    Finally, could either of you please comment on my query regarding the fact that my man flew his first op as a F/O?

    Regards,
    Aubrey

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