Left, left, steady....

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Lucky13, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    ....steady skipper, steady....

    Bombs away!!

    Just curious, what decided where you ended up in a bomber crew, gunner, navigator, flight engineer etc...where would I've ended in my early 20's, at 5 '10, 65 kg...slim, does it have to do physique or, I take I that you couldn't be too big, to be a ballturret gunner....
     
  2. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Aptitude once passed through 'basic', and/or requirements due to shortages/losses, in the RAF at least. There were of course other factors, and there was, to a small extent, a choice, but as an example, by early 1945, there was a shortage of glider pilots, especially near the time of planning for 'Varsity' (Rhine crossing).
    So, without a choice, a large number of qualified, operational pilots, mainly bomber types, were transferred, en masse, to the Glider Pilot Regiment, which was not only a very drastic 'sideways' move, but also a change of Service, from RAF to Army!
     
  3. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    As someone with the physique of a badly shaved Gorilla I might have got into a lot of WWII aircraft but I wouldnt be getting out in a hurry. As a time served mechanic I would probably have ended up as a flight engineer or knowing how the services work I would have ended up as a cook whilst a Michelin starred chef would have ended up digging slit trenches.
     
  4. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Glider pilots were expected to fight when they landed so that would be a big shock for an RAF pilot who would probably have only had the most basic infantry and weapons training.
     
  5. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure that the RAF pilots who flew on "Varsity" did change services. The pilots of the Glider Pilot Regiment were indeed expected to fight and were trained to do it. I would need to check but I remember vaguely (everything is vague these days :) ) that the RAF pilots in question retained their RAF ranks whilst seconded to the GPR. Most certainly resumed their RAF careers later. I also vaguely remember a photo of an RAF Sergeant pilot attached to the GPR with RAF wings and RAF stripes on his battledress......I could be wrong though and will happily be corrected.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  6. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    My father had worked at Sikorsky and then Chance-Vought before his aircraft deferment ran out. He then Joined the Marines as they were the largest users of the Corsair and they made him a signalman. :lol:
     
  7. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    You're quite correct Steve. Those who were transferred to the Glider Pilot Regiment retained RAF rank etc,but wore Army BD and badging, and did indeed return to normal flying duties after 'Varsity' - that is, those who weren't so hacked off that they jumped at early demob !
    After landing on the Rhine crossing, and assisting in perimeter defence, without incident, they were returned to the UK within two to four days.
     
  8. pattle

    pattle Member

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    In the RAF flight engineers, navigators and bomb aimers were often failed pilots, sometimes these failed pilots turned navigators etc were able to land damaged aircraft safely after the pilot had been killed or injured. Without going into detail the RAF recruited pilots based on eyesight and aptitude amongst other things, should these recruits not pass their pilot training they were moved to other duties, also sometimes aircrew who were at first not selected as pilots were later trained as pilots. Ground crew were often trained as aircrew in a variety of circumstances, before the war the top ground crew from Halton were trained as cadets on condition they returned to their trade after a period of time. I understand most aircrew were simply selected for the jobs it was felt they were best suited for.
     
  9. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Cheers for the Intel lads! :thumbright:
     
  10. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    A schoolfriend of my Fathers was a premium apprentice for the LMS railway (later British Railways), these were the guys who were expected to go onto be chief engineers and were trained to university degree standard in all aspects of locomotive and rolling stock engineering, given an anvil and enough steel he could probably have built a working steam engine from scratch. After 7 years his apprenticeship ended and he had to do his National Service, you would think he would end up in the Royal Engineers Railway Operating Division. Nope he ended up as a sick bay attendant in the Royal Navy :?:
     
  11. OldSkeptic

    OldSkeptic Active Member

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    Yep the military mind works in strange ways. The amount of people misplaced was amazing. The Germans were, in some ways, the worst, they put qualified physicists into foot soldier regiments.

    National characteristics came into it as well. The British class system was alive and well, though many 'public school' boys went in the front line and got whacked, usually real quick, many managed to find nice cushy jobs well away form the front line.

    The US class system worked hard too. The PBI on the front line usually were the lowest of the low, the smarter and connected ones getting cushy jobs well away from all that 'whizz bang' stuff. Being in COMZ was the gravy train of all time.

    There were, on all sides, great exceptions to that. A young, very sick guy called Kennedy actually used a lot of his rich and connected family influence to get into the front line .. even though he failed his physicals by a long, long way.
     
  12. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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  13. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the clarification, I haven't lost all my marbles quite yet!
    Steve
     
  14. silence

    silence Active Member

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    In the early years (at least) the LW also sent its best pilots in training to bomber training. Don't know how long this went on but it seems counter-intuitive to me - even given LW emphasis on offense.
     
  15. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    That is quite a generalization that perhaps had more to do with Vietnam and the draft system in place then.

    During WWII the draft caught everybody, and few wanted deferments. The OSS was 'staffed' by quite a few Ivy League folks from very wealthy families - to the extent that OSS was slanged as Oh So Social. If you wish to cite one service with a high percentage of well to do men - it might be the Navy. But as you peruse through AAF, First Special Service Force, Airborne and Rangers - all were pretty smart to very smart and many came from privileged backgrounds. In addition there were few folks in America with family names like Rockefeller, Roosevelt, Mellon.

    Having said that most from privileged backgrounds had some or a complete university education and ended up as officers... but America didn't have the same 'class system' as England - and never have. There is neither Royalty or a Ruling Class here.
     
  16. canaanchamp

    canaanchamp New Member

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    To give an idea of how it works in recent times, I enlisted open contract in the USMC in 1988. Open contract means USMC will decide what MOS (job) you will learn based on the needs of the Corps. I think this is very similar to the way the services decided what to do with draftees back in the day. I had good test scores and some college and after boot camp was sent to NAS Memphis to be trained as an electronics tech in aviation. Upon arriving in Memhpis, all new boots are further screened for the needs of the Corps. It just so happened that they needed KC130 navigators at that time. They asked if I would like to volunteer. I said yes and waited at Memphis doing swim quals and PT for a month until the navigator screening board came to give us further testing. After passing that, the selected class was sent to NAS Pensacola for aircrew school and then to Mather AFB in Sacramento for basic navigator training. Any washouts we had that weren't discipline problems were offered the chance to go to loadmaster school in Little Rock. Marine navigators were all enlisted men or warrant officers. There are only a handful left navigating the legacy KC130T models in the reserves. All new J models delete the navigator. I can easily make the case that I was the luckiest open contract Marine to enlist in 1988.
     
  17. silence

    silence Active Member

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    You weren't the one who got Mather on the Superfund list, I hope?!?!?!?!?! If so, for shame!!!! Bad Marine!!!!
     
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