Re: RCAF Operational tour of duty length
I am currently researching the subject of Tour Lengths and trying to gather together all Air Ministry letters that were issued on this subject.
An Air Ministry letter dated 8th May 1943, set out the operational tour length for Bomber Command as follows:
• The first operational tour will consist of 30 sorties and the second tour will not normally exceed twenty sorties
• In Pathfinder Squadrons the operational tour will normally consist of a single continuous tour of forty-five sorties, whether these sorties are carried out entirely within a Pathfinder Squadron or partially within a non-Pathfinder Squadron. Crews may, however, be withdrawn from Pathfinder Squadrons at any time after the completion of thirty sorties constituting a first operational tour. Crews thus withdrawn with materially less than forty-five sorties will be eligible, after an O.T.U. tour, for a second operational tour (whether in a Pathfinder squadron or not) and this second tour will not normally exceed twenty sorties, or a total operational life of fifty sorties.
However, there are couple of interesting caveats in the letter which read as follows:
1. It may become necessary to reduce all these maxims if the flow of personnel who have completed a full operational tour is insufficient to fill vacancies at operational training units and to stimulate instruction in other training units
2. In some cases, owing to less robust constitution of an individual or his subjection to special operational strain, earlier relief will be necessary and should be encouraged. Personnel who have completed their operational tour should be posted away from operational duty immediately they reach the datum line.
Prior to 1943, the tour length appeared to be governed by 4th March 1941, Air Ministry letter which stated that "as a general rule and so far as the war situation permits, personnel should be relieved from operational flying after a maximum of 200 hours of flying in one tour of operational duty”. Tour lengths changed again in 1944 and 1945, but I have not found all the relevant letters for these changes at this stage. (Separate tour lengths were also detailed for Fighter Command, Transport Command and Coastal Command)
Background Note: The datum line was aimed at giving an airman a 50/50 chance of survival. The Bomber Command calculation suggested that a tour would probably be 30 sorties of about 6 hours each (ie 180 hours). However, 160 hours was deemed to be the 50 / 50 survival rate of an airman serving in Bomber Command
Last edited by PeteT; 4th August 2020 at 17:32.
Main areas of research:
- CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
- Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
- The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)
[Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]