Naval fighter pilot training

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Dave 1, May 18, 2011.

  1. Dave 1

    Dave 1 New Member

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    Greetings gents,

    New to the forum. Looking for a little info.

    Does anyone know where naval and marine fighter pilots received training in air combat maneuvers during ww2? ESPECIALLY 1941-1942 Was that training before or after they received their "gold wings?"

    Also which aircraft were used as trainers for this purpose? Was it the SNJ?

    I know that primary training happened in many locations around the country. Let me stress I am trying to find out exactly which bases taught ACMs.

    If at all possible please cite a source. Any stories of mock fights would be greatly appreciated as well.

    THANKS

    Dave
     
  2. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    #2 Glider, May 18, 2011
    Last edited: May 18, 2011
    This might be of assistance

    http://www.history.navy.mil/avh-1910/APP01.PDF

    There were four stages of training for the USN.

    Training in light aircraft often Piper Cubs at 92 colleges and civilian flight schools where most of the washout took place. 8 - 12 weeks and 35-40 hours

    Primary Training normally in a Stearman at the N Carolina, Iowa, Georgia and California flight schools (sorry don't have exact place names). 11 - 14 weeks 90 - 100 hours.

    Intermediate Training at Pensicola or Corpus Christie on Vultee Valient, Texan, Kingfisher or Catalina depending on branch selected. 14 - 18 weeks 160 hours. All carrier pilots were on the Texan

    Operational Training at 17 stations (don't have exact list) on operational aircraft for 2 months and approx 100 hours. Front line aircraft were used at this point Wildcat, Hellcat, Corsair, Dauntless, Helldiver, Avenger ect.
    After deck qualifying on the Wolverine or Sable or the escort carrier Charger which was sometimes used they were posted to operational squadrons.

    What is interesting is that gunnery training only started at the Operational training stage. As a result the USN aircrew had no more training in Gunnery than the USAAF and in the latter part of the war less than the RAF or FAA. This goes against the normal understanding that they had more training in air to air combat.
    I am still trying to nail this down beyond doubt, but all the current indicators seem to be supporting that position.

    Hope this helps
     
  3. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    I remember long ago, in a land far away, seeing SNJs pulling targets flying out of Sherman field in Pensacola. This was post war in the 50s.
     
  4. Dave 1

    Dave 1 New Member

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    Thanks for the replies guys.

    Glider, I found some info that kind-of supported what you posted, but I still don't have definitive info yet and now more thoroughly confused, lol.

    I have never seen the term "operational" used for the final stage. I have seen "advanced" used many times so I am left wondering, is your operational stage the same as the advanced stage or is the operational what I have usually read as a "transition to fighters?"

    What you described must be the same as the "transition" I am familiar with, but that would mean that fighter pilots did not learn ACM until they got their hands on a front line fighter!?

    Interesting statement on gunnery as well. Again, I am more confused. I had some information that at least some times gunnery was taught using 30 caliber guns on the SNJ.

    Anyhow, I think I can simplify my original question a little and ask, did fighter pilots learn and practice air combat out of Pensacola in 1942?
     
  5. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    #5 Glider, May 20, 2011
    Last edited: May 20, 2011
    I must make clear that this is something that is still a work in progress so keep that in mind. However when comparing the USN with USAAF and RAF training the terminology is different.

    What the RAF call OCU Operational Conversion Unit seems to equal the USAAF Transition Training and the USN Operational Training, in that here the Students are introduced to the front line aircraft.

    Combat manoeuvres were taught as well as increased skills in navigation, formation and instrument flying were taught in the USAAF and RAF Advanced training schools and the USN Intermediate Training schools.

    When firing practice started differs, The USAAF started in the Advanced Schools, in the USN it seems to start in the Operational training which isn't as bad as it seems as USN Operational Training covers 100 hours but the USAAF covers about 50 hours but you should remember that deck training would take up some of the difference.

    As to Pensicola it doesn't look as if Operational Training took place there so combat manoeuvres did take place but not firing practice.
     
  6. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    If you can get your hands on "The First Team" by John Lundstrom, go to Appendix 1 and there is a complete discussion of Navy pilot training prior to and during WW2. I can't reproduce it because it is lengthy and my typing skills are poor. I will try to give a highly condensed version.

    Interestingly, by law, only naval aviators could command carriers, seaplane tenders and NASs. In 1934, the USN obtained permission to increase pilot strength by 2000. Regulars could not supply all the numbers needed so Aviation Cadets were utilised as well as enlisted men, NAPs. In 1939, new regulations allowed continued expansion and the ability to retain pilots. In 1941 there were about 6500 Naval pilots and around half were reservists.

    In 1935, the training syllabus outlined a one year course involving 465 hours of ground school and 300 hours of flight school. In 1939 the training syllabus was reduced to seven months, as follows;

    Primary land planes 14 weeks 74 hours
    Basic training(intermediate land planes) 5.5 weeks 45 hours
    Specialized training 6.5 weeks 88 hours

    After this, pilots reported for advanced training of around 85-90 hours in their specialty, for instance carrier duty. Prior to September, 1941, carrier specialists checked out in all three carrier types, VF, VSB and VTs. After that, they spent their advanced training in the the type of airplane they would fly in squadron service. On 28 July, 1941, approval was granted to establish two Advanced Carrier Training Groups, ashore, where pilots received training in day and night carrier landings and individaul training in fixed gunnery and unit tactics. These groups were slow to get going because of lack of qualified instructors and modern aircraft. Because of these deficiencies, the squadrons still bore the bulk of operational training early in the war. John Thach of Fighting Three thought that new pilots required about 50 hours of fixed gunnery training and thirty to fifty hours of team tactics.

    Fighter Pilot's Experience
    Pilots who earned their wings before 1940 had from 3500 to 1000 flight hours.
    Pilots who earned wings in 1940 had from 1000 to 600 flight hours
    Pliots who earned wings in 1941 had from 600 to 300 hours
    At Coral Sea, 1 May, 1942, 27% earned wings before 1940, 23% in 1940, 50% in 1941.

    One can see that a variety of issues affected the expansion that the USN began in the 1930s.
     
  7. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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