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Thread: eight men crew Stirling?

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    Default eight men crew Stirling?

    Hi guys,

    September 5,1942 Stirling BF337 of 214 squadron crashed near my hometown Zwolle,killing three of the seven men crew.From the squadron ORB I have the info on the 24 missions the crew flew and I noticed that on their first 18 missions (till august 1942)they flew with an eight men crew.After that it became a seven men crew.My question is was it common till august 1942 that Stirlings flew with a eight men crew?Or was there maybe a special reason for it?And what was the position/duty for the eighth man on board?

    Kind regards

    Mike

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    Hi Mike,
    I think the answer to your question lies somewhere in the fact that Stirlings originally had two pilots. In the Spring of 1942 however, because of the shortage of pilots and the length of time it took to train them, it was decreed that RAF heavy bombers in future would have just one pilot. At the same time, it was decided to split the tasks of navigating and bomb aiming, a job heretofore done by the Observer. Thus the new trades of Navigator and Air Bomber were introduced. A little later, the Flight Engineer was added to the crew to look after the various technical and mechanical aspects of the aircraft. It was also thought that the FE could act as a pilot's assistant if he was taught how to fly the aircraft straight and level, perhaps with a few gentle turns thrown in for good measure.
    Obviously these changes could not happen overnight and I suspect that many eight man crews stayed together until completing their tours. There are quite a few references to eight man crews in documents and books concerning the Stirling well after March of '42, so I think it is quite possible that "your" Stirling was operating with two pilots until August of that year.
    214 Squadron only re-equipped with Stirlings in April 1942, so the two pilot crew would seem the most logical explanation, especially as it was a Main Force squadron not, so far as I'm aware, carrying any special equipment which might neccesitate a special operator.
    As always, I stand to be corrected by any forumite who might have more specific information to hand, but I hope this helps.
    Happy New Year,
    Bill.

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    Default

    Bill,

    Thanks a lot for your respond which it is interesting.
    Happy new year to you too and of course too all the members of this forum!

    Mike

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    Default 8 people

    Hi

    You might also find that the 8th person was someone doing work up trips when they first joined the Sqn or were moving from one a/c type to another. Didnt happen so much later in the war as it could be quite expensive in lives cos you would lose 8 rather than 7 on an op.... Could be a combination of that and BillGs answer.

    Dee

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    Thanks Dee,

    Looking at the first 18 missions from 'my crew' it tells me that the first ten missions was the eight man the same person and the following eight the name changed so indeed as you mentioned it could be a combination of the answers of you and Bill.

    Mike

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