Fighter or bomber depending on USAAF pilot size

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by eWildcat, Aug 8, 2012.

  1. eWildcat

    eWildcat Member

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    Hello everyone.

    I've been a member of that forum for quite a long time, reading it very frequently, but it's the first time I write a post.

    I have a question I hope some of you may answer, regarding this article about Bob Hoover that a member of another forum brought to us:

    Airport Journals

    So we wonder if what is described in the article, i.e. you were more likely to be chosen for fighters if you were shorter, is something you were aware of at the time in the USAAF and, if it is true, would someone know what the reasons for it were?
     
  2. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Only so much adjustabilty can be built into a fighter cockpit. You can adjust the pedals back and forth on most, some the seat can be adjusted up and down.
    Just like a car, but usually more adjustments possible. But there are limits, and most bombers would have more excess room.

    I remember in Army WOFT there were a one guy that had to stand a little extra tall, because he didn't actually meet the minimum height requirments, and several that had to slouch, because they were over the maximum. But i'm not positive what either limit was, I think it was 5'4" to 6' 2".

    From the pilots i've know, a few left over WW2 veterans, and pilots I was around in the 60's and 70's, most were not tall.
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    The P-47 was our most numerous WWII era fighter aircraft. From what I understand it had a relatively roomy cockpit.
     
  4. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Yep.Evasive action in a P-47 meant running around the cockpit :).

    Many Luftwaffe fighters had very little adjustment for the seat and none for rudder pedals.They were also very cramped and must have been a squeeze for some of the bigger pilots. There were some fairly tall men flying them,Germans generally are not small.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Me-109 had an adjustable seat and I suspect the Fw-190 did also. However these aircraft (especially Me-109) had a narrow cockpit with little headroom.

    A modern day pilot on the History Channel suggested a P-47 cockpit was as roomy as the F-15 and more roomy then the F-22.
     
  6. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Both those German fighters had adjustable seats. Judging by the position of the adjustment lever on the Fw 190 I doubt it could be adjusted in flight. I remember reading somewhere that the seat on the 109 could only be adjusted on the ground too.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  7. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    The P39 was designed for a 5' 8" pilot.
     
  8. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    When the government request design proposals from manufacturers for a military aircraft there are usually volumes of support documents that specify such things as hardware and material requirements, requirements for exterior lighting, performance requirements for radios, etc., etc., etc. I would bet dollars to donuts that way back in the late 30s, early 40s there were requirements for fighter aircraft cockpit seats and minimum or maximum size they were allowed to be built to. Based on that specification is where I believe the height requirements came about for pilots.

    Just for some Trivia - American Vernon Keogh who flew for the RAF during the BoB was the smalest fighter pilot in the RAF until his death in 1941. He was 4'10"
     
  9. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    I understand he sat on extra cushions under his parachute seatpack to be high enough in the cockpit. But I wonder how he reached the rudder pedals ?
     
  10. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    #10 bobbysocks, Aug 8, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2012
    a very enterprising mechanic probably fashioned him pedal extensions of some sort... ???

    i do recall hearing that a lot of the cadets that washed out of fighter training went to bomber groups...some to fly and some as gunners.
     
  11. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    The pilots who flew the Corsair had an interesting situation. The cockpit was tailored for the chief test pilot who was 6' 4''.
     
  12. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    #12 DerAdlerIstGelandet, Aug 8, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2012
    Actually I think you will find quite the opposite, at least during that time frame.

    The majority of my original uniforms look like they would fit a scrawny teenager...:lol:
     
  13. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    We had a Marine in my pilot training class who was rather large. His helmet stuck up above the canopy breaker mounted on top of the ejection seat in the T-38. I suspect he was very hopeful the canopy would eject normally or his head was going to lead the ejection seat through the canopy, if he had to eject. probably would not be so bad for a Marine! :)
     
  14. R Pope

    R Pope Member

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    Robert Johnson and Dick Bong were both little guys. Johnson used extra cushions in his Jug, but I think the seat adjusted enough for Bong in the Lightning.
     
  15. R Pope

    R Pope Member

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    On the other end of the scale, Red Fiebelkorn was the biggest fighter pilot in the ETO. He shot Nowotny down. Sadly, he was the first US flyer to lose his life in Korea.
     
  16. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    I've always understood those early ejection seats compressed your spinal disc, and you'll be shorter by a inch or so for a few days afterwards. Is that true?

    I was stationed at Lowry AFB in 1965-66, they had a ejection seat trainer that they brought the USAF academy cadets up to give them some training. It was outside, about, 75-100 foot tall, at a slight slant.
    It shot them up, decellerated at the top, and slowly come back down. I watched about 25 take the ride, about 1/3rd needed helped getting out and walking, and not one looked unaffected by the ride.
     
  17. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    probably because most of them were just that or slightly older...
     
  18. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Could be, some of them are later war model uniforms. Some of them are early too.

    I think however that overall, people were smaller back then.
     
  19. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    DSCN1063 (640x480).jpg DSCN1062 (640x480).jpg
    Been there, done that. There certainly is a risk to ejections, airspeed, g loads, and clearances. The last is certainly an issue. Some cockpits are very tight and require airmen to get into the proper position for successful ejection without losing appendages. Something that could be problematic in a damaged gyrating aircraft. Sometimes this is automatic. I sat in the cockpit of an F8U mockup and I was amazed at how cramped it was. You really had to get tucked in to eject.

    Pictures of old man climbing around an airplane!
     
  20. eWildcat

    eWildcat Member

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    Thanks for your posts. :)

    We didn't really get the answer, but interesting stories are always good to take! :)

    Someone suggested to me that taller pilots may have been chosen for bombers because you needed strength to fly them at the time, as their controls were pretty heavy. What do you think of this possible explanation?
     
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