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Thread: RAF Pilot Training Hours 1940

  1. #16
    Banned Kurfürst's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by parsifal View Post
    The debate that led to this was a claim in another thread that wartime training was reduced to less than twenty hours.
    Curious, because I can't recall that part of the discussion, or anyone making that claim.. IIRC the training time was reduced to less than 20 hours on the operational types (read: the pilot had that much flying on a Spit, Hurri etc.). Perhaps thats the part where your memory cheats on you.


  2. #17
    Senior Member parsifal's Avatar
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    just so we are clear, what in your opinion was the regulation Training hours for RAF fighter Pilots in the latter half of 1940, and what would be the average or regulation times training time for graduate luftwaffe fighter pilots in that same time frame?

    To help refresh your memory, here is but one of many quotes that could be used to demonstrate your previous position:

    Alll RAF fighter pilots arriving with a mere 6 weeks of training (instead of the orginal, iirc 3 months..), very little flight experience with either general flying or on their operational type to their operational units. How can you fly the Spitfire if you haven't even mastered the Tiger Moth yet..?

    For the record, US pilots in 1943 were graduating after having clocked up about 350 hours of flying time. Their training course lasted about 48 weeks, IIRC. If there is any equivalency in the average flying time per day, your reference to 6 weeks equates to about 35 hours, guesstimating sn sllowsnce for lost time due to poor weather in England
    Last edited by parsifal; 08-14-2010 at 12:19 PM. Reason: additional comment and quoting Kurfursts earlier position
    Fr President Clemenceau’s speech to the AIF 7th July 1918: “ we expected a great deal of (Australians)… We knew that you would fight a real fight, but we did not know that from the beginning you would astonish the whole continent. I shall go back and say to my countrymen “I have seen the Australians, I have looked in their faces …I know that they will fight alongside of us again until the cause for which we are all fighting is safe for us and for our children”.



  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by lesofprimus View Post
    Great post GLider, but the fact remained that many Hurri and Spit pilots went up against the hordes of 109's completely and utterly unprepared for combat against seasoned veterans...

    There are MANY accounts of Spitfire pilots who had never fired their guns while airborne, and yet they went up against the Luftwaffe boys regardless...
    How many is many?

    The Germans had similar problems.

    Steinhilper wrote about one of his replacement pilots:

    High also on the list of losses as the battle wore on were the replacement pilots. They simply didn't have the experience that we pre-war regulars had acquired. In our Gruppe at the beginning of the French Campaign we had thirty-six experienced pilots, none of whom had less than three years flying experience. Now we were getting replacements for the experienced pilots we had lost straight from Jagdfliegerschule (fighter school]. At that time we still tried our best to take care of these fledglings until they could accrue some experience.

    Typical of these youngsters was a young Gefreiter who arrived in late September. His flying time was minimal - he had only fired a few shots at a ground target, had never flown on oxygen and still had no idea how to use his radio. We tried to increase their experience before they actually came along on combat missions by taking them up on patrols between missions. Then we would talk on the radio, climb to altitudes in excess of 8,000 metres (25,000 ft) and make them use oxygen. Of special importance was teaching them how to change the pitch of their propeller to get maxmum pull from the engine at high altitude. A flat pitch would allow the engine to rev up to its maximum so that the super-charger would deliver the maximum volume of air to the cylinders and produce optimum power; changing to a coarser pitch would have that engine power converted into more pull and consequently speed our rate of climb. It was vital they mastered this technique if they were to keep up in a battle-climb or at high altitude.5

    After about ten hours of 'tuition' we would take them out over the Channel to shoot at shadows on the water or cross to Dungeness and shoot at a black medieval tower which stood there (the old Dungeness Lighthouse). Finally when we could not excuse them combat duty any more we would have to take them along with us. This became the case with the Gefreiter and so I took him as my Rottenhund Iwingman]. We began our climb almost immediately after take-off and he was constantly using the radio to ask us to slow down so that he could keep up. It was obvious that he wasn't manipulating the pitch control with the skill of the more seasoned pilots to produce the same power as our machines. We tried to tell him what to do on the radio but to no avail. Eventually, about half-way across the Channel and at 4,000 metres (13,000 ft) Kiihle told him to leave the formation and return to base. He broke away but in his confusion he turned not for home but towards Dover. Kiihle realised what was happening and ordered me to give chase and take him home. I rolled out and soon overhauled him, just before we reached the balloon barrage at Dover. I had tried to raise him on the radio but he was in such a state of anxiety that he wouldn't or couldn't respond. Positioning myself in front of him I rocked my wings, using the signal for him to follow me. He dutifully hung onto my tail and we were soon back at Coquelles. This was one of only two missions I missed during the whole of our time in the Battle of Britain.

    As a result we decided that we would not take any more replacements on high altitude missions until we could give them more, much more, training. They were supposed to be replacements but in the event they were more of a problem for us than reinforcement for the squadron.

  4. #19
    Senior Member lesofprimus's Avatar
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    Great quote Milosh...

    In the one book Im reading right now about the BoB, there were atleast 6 different accounts concerning the lack of flight time in type before actual combat ops...

    The Brits however had a much larger issue concerning replacement jocks than the Germans did... Still wonder "what if" Hitler had not changed over to the bombing of London... Dowding made several statements concerning this being the RAF's closest "scare"...



  5. #20
    Senior Member parsifal's Avatar
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    I do agree Dan that the RAF was suffering from a shortage of Pilots and that their problem was greater than the Germans in the time period we are talking about.

    In my opinion, the majority of the killing in the air is done by a relatively small group of those flying. The rest are up there esentially as targets.....fill, to reduce the risk to the real killers that are up there. The problem was that the Germans had a large number of "Killer" pilots, the RAF had relatively fewer, and those that were about, were not as good at killing as their German counterparts. Conversely, eveery Luftwaffe fighter shot down at that time had a greater chance that the plane contained one of those virtually irreplaceable killer pilots. The new pilots entering the Luftwaffe were little better than those novices entering the RAF, and because the LW were losing, as a percentage of the total, a greater number of experten than the RAF (made worse by the fact that nearly every shoot down for the Luftwaffe was a lost pilot, whereas for the RAF only about 30-50% were being lost permanently, one can begin to appreciate that the Luftwaffes experience advantage was a wasting asset
    Fr President Clemenceau’s speech to the AIF 7th July 1918: “ we expected a great deal of (Australians)… We knew that you would fight a real fight, but we did not know that from the beginning you would astonish the whole continent. I shall go back and say to my countrymen “I have seen the Australians, I have looked in their faces …I know that they will fight alongside of us again until the cause for which we are all fighting is safe for us and for our children”.



  6. #21
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    The papers that I read and the report that I gave explained the lack of time on Spitfires and Hurricanes namely the lack of aircraft in the first months of 1940 available to OTU. I noticed that in the This Day during the BOB’ thread one German was shot down by an emergency flight of Spitfires put together by an OTU so they did seem to be getting on top of the situation
    The second point that seems to being raised is the lack of firing practice in the OTU before being sent to the squadrons. That I didn't really think of going into apart from noting that only gun camera practice was undertaken in the SFTS from April. Next time I go into the NA I will spend more time on this. There is no doubt that the training curriculum designated the OTU as where this should be undertaken.

    Like most of you I have read about trainee pilots who had received little gunnery practice and have no reason to doubt that this happened. However there were a number of OTU training schools and its unlikely that all of them had the same problem. After all a lot of people have motor shunts each year, that doesn't mean that everyone has a shunt.
    I have mentioned that training courses were open to the weather and if it was bad then parts of the course didn't get completed. This could be one explanation but the weather isn't the same all over the UK. Another could be that because of the shortage of aircraft in the SFTS the OTU had to spend time on other aspects of the training, again not all the SFTS schools had the same shortage. The structure was changed in April and changed again in August, it’s quite possible that they had barely got used to one change before the next was dropped on them, confusion was almost inevitable.
    On top of that the RAF were having to gear up from 300 pilots a year in 1935 to 7,000 a year from the second revise, whilst at war and fighting the most intense air battle in history at that time, when the training bases and aircraft were open to attack, of course there were going to be problems.

    I don't know the reason for the individual problems and frankly no one else on the forum knows the reason either.
    The ideas mentioned above are just that, ideas, but ones based on what we know happened, but I also think it unlikely that because some pilots had these experiences, that every pilot had the same experience.

    All I do know is that the course structure allowed for the training to take place.
    Last edited by Glider; 08-14-2010 at 05:40 PM.

  7. #22
    Senior Member renrich's Avatar
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    Interesting info. According to Lundstrom in "The First Team" the USN training syllabus, adopted in 1939 included the following:
    Primary land planes 14 weeks 74 hours
    Basic training(intermediate land planes) 5.5 weeks 45 hours
    Specialised training 6.5 weeks 88 hours
    When the above training was completed, the pilots went to operational training where they actually were introduced to the AC they would fly in combat. That training might include fifty hours of gunnery traning and 30 to 50 hours of team tactics before they became combat ready.

  8. #23
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    Fleet Air Arm training in 1940 was
    8 weeks 50 hours elemenatary training
    16 weeks SFTS training which seems to equate to the USN Basic and Specialised Training before going to OTU which I am afraid I know nothing about re length or number of hours.
    The two combined give 24 weeks to the RN and 26 to the USN which isn't that different. I admit though I cannot see the RN's OTU lasting anywhere near as 80 - 100 hours
    It would be interesting to know what the USN training was once war broke out. After all in 1939 they were working in times of peace.
    Last edited by Glider; 08-15-2010 at 09:50 AM.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by renrich View Post
    Interesting info. According to Lundstrom in "The First Team" the USN training syllabus, adopted in 1939 included the following:
    Primary land planes 14 weeks 74 hours
    Basic training(intermediate land planes) 5.5 weeks 45 hours
    Specialised training 6.5 weeks 88 hours
    When the above training was completed, the pilots went to operational training where they actually were introduced to the AC they would fly in combat. That training might include fifty hours of gunnery traning and 30 to 50 hours of team tactics before they became combat ready.
    Re the period spent by USN Pilots in OTU in 1939 I have found one interesting fact. In 1939 all USN pilots spent a lot of time in OTU as all pilots had to cover all aspects of a carrier pilot. They were all trained in air to air fighting, dive bombing, recce and torpedo dropping. It wan't until May 1941 when the clouds of war were gathering that the USN realised that they needed to streamline pilot training to spead throughput. From that time pilots were assigned future roles and were trained for that role.

    What I have yet to find is any description as to what the amended training was for each role. Clearly the overall time was less than in 1939, but I am still digging.

    If anyone has any clues as to where to look, I am open to any suggestions

  10. #25
    Senior Member renrich's Avatar
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    In Lundstrom and it shows how wartime affected the amount of experience in the USN's fighting squadrons:

    Wings before 1940: 3500 to 1000 flight hours
    Wings 1940: 1000 to 600 flight hours
    Wings 1941: 600 to 300 flight hours
    Wings 1942: about 300 flight hours

    At Coral Sea about 50% of the Fighting Squadrons were composed of pilots trained in 1941
    At Midway about 62% of the Fighting Squadrons were composed of pilots trained in 1941

    When one thinks of it a carrier pilot with between 300 and 600 hours of experience is not exactly a veteran pilot, considering the amount of time needed in learning carrier landings and navigation skills.

  11. #26
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    I'm trying to track down information on pilot training in the USA during 1940. I'm writing a biograpy about a man that was on the course 42E. He left Britian around September 1940 and was on course 42E I believe under the Arnold scheme.

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  13. #28
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    When my father finished "prescribed course of training for naval aviators" in the US in June 1953 he had 350.7 hours on all types. Unlike his later Royal Navy log books the US one does not total by type and It would take a while to work out how many hours he had on what.

    Back in the UK he did 20.4 hours instrument training on Oxfords which must have been a come down after the Hellcats and Bearcats he'd been flying in the States.

    That was followed by 1.40 hours on a Firefly. A note in his log book says this was to familiarise with "handbrake and opposite torque to USN A/C". The Oxford is of course a twin.

    Finally he was let loose on a Sea Fury with a total of over 370 hours on SNJ,F8F-1,F6F-5,Oxford and Firefly.

    Incidentally,despite numerous "aerodrome dummy deck landings" (ADDLs) he had over 450 hours before he actually landed on an RN carrier. It would have been the first time he'd landed on a carrier since he was in the US!

    Steve

  14. #29
    Senior Member VBF-13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stona View Post
    When my father finished "prescribed course of training for naval aviators" in the US in June 1953 he had 350.7 hours on all types. Unlike his later Royal Navy log books the US one does not total by type and It would take a while to work out how many hours he had on what.
    He had enough, Steve, believe me, and in the classroom, too. Where did your Dad train on the F6F-5? Just curious...
    Confucius say, "Young man not know much."

  15. #30
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    His log book is stamped by VF-ATU 100 NAAS Kingsville Texas. Is this an administrative thing?
    There are 6 deck landings on USS Monterey before the entries for the F6F-5 .The F6F-5 entries culminate with 8 landings,also on USS Monterey. I know he was at Pensacola,which is where the USS Monterey was,but don't think he was ever in Texas.
    I have letters sent to my mother from Pensacola but not Kingsville.
    Cheers
    Steve
    Last edited by stona; 04-01-2013 at 04:47 PM.

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