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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Old 19th Apr 2014, 21:57
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Hummingfrog,

Spins, and your trepidation. My only real claim to any type of airmanship comes from 500 hours of solo gliding. The run up to that solo flying involved many dual checks, and annual checks throughout, all culminating in spin recovery. I survived the tests, I have to say, I never, intentionally (nor unintentionally actually) put a glider in to a spin whilst solo. I suppose when learning to fly to fight, and hopefully to survive, a pilot would need to test his own mettle on that front. Respect to your father and his fortitude in "going for it".

Smudge
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Old 20th Apr 2014, 00:08
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Hummingfrog, thank you for making me eat my words. Some posts ago I made the rash statement that Danny42C was probably the last poster qualified to tell his tale IAW the OP title. It is my pleasure (and no doubt Danny's :-) to admit to being utterly and completely wrong!

We now have another contender that fits the bill, able once more to take us back to a time when the fate of the world lay in the balance, a balance that was progressively to be tipped in favour of the Allies thanks in large part to Air Power. That in turn started out in the many fields like Terrell, where young men learned their craft and earned their wings.

We are indebted to your father, not only for the telling of his tale, but for being part of that mighty armada of the air to which we all owe so much. The old saw that those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it was never so true. God forbid that we should have to pay the cost that your father's generation did. The way to prevent that is to learn from history, from those who made it, from those like your father. Thank you for giving us that opportunity.

Danny, you have often urged those who were diffident about posting their story to do so, even as you told yours. The boot is now on the other foot, so please keep the momentum of your story going in our virtual crewroom, which has the advantage that a dozen conversations can all be attended to individually, and added to in the same way. So as MPN11 and others have posted, you are cleared to finals!
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Old 20th Apr 2014, 03:15
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Warmtoast,

Very interesting indeed. Strangely, I have never known until now of the extent of the Bombay-Liverpool smallpox outbreak in early'46. My record of Units at the back of my log shows me at 1340 Flight until 31.3.46, allow ten days for travel and a week at Worli, then at least two weeks on the "Aorangi" back through the Canal to Liverpool, and I cannot have landed back in UK until the end of April at the earliest.

By then it would have been old news, and I suppose that, as we had put our single case ashore in Gibraltar on the way, we were no longer newsworthy.

During my fortnight's quarantine in RAF West Kirkby isolation ward, surely we would have been allowed newspapers in, but I don't remember reading about any earlier episode, or anyone telling me about it later.

"....all the other passengers were injected with anti-smallpox serum...." I wasn't ! Or did they mean "vaccination" ? - which I certainly was. But what a strange phrase for such a well known commonplace procedure !

What I do remember was that the five doctors in "Aorangi" were very frightened men. But what were they afraid of ? (this is where we need a Doctor in the House - any offers ?)....D.

Fareastdriver,

Amen to your #5496 ! (can anyone do this, or must it be whoever put the oversize photo in in the first place ? - or obviously a Moderator)....D.

Hempy,

I cannot click-on to your link, but I know you can find a good deal about the Arnold Scheme from Google, including some interesting statistics, but you need to root around a lot As to the intended extension of the BFTS training to 200 hours in January'42, this should be right up Hummingfrog Senior's street, as he would be going to Terrell about this time....D.

Molemot and gzornenplatz,

I've managed to get onto the Googlebook's free read of the Arnold Scheme book, but it'll take time to go right through and squeeze the pips out of it. I'll come back on it in a later Post - but thanks a lot for putting it out for us all to see !....D.

Hummingfrog,

You're keeping up the good work with your #5500 ! Bit late tonight, will have my two cents' worth tomorrow....D.

Goodnight, everybody. Danny.

PS: Smudge and Chugalug,

Hadn't turned over the last page (p.276), had I ? Never mind, Tomorrow is also a Day....Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 20th Apr 2014 at 03:17. Reason: Correction.
 
Old 20th Apr 2014, 10:57
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Bit late tonight, will have my two cents' worth tomorrow....D.

It certainly was, Danny, at 0315! Happy Easter and I hope you manage a spot of "deckhead surveying" later today.

Jack

PS Happy to help you paddle that dinghy anytime
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Old 20th Apr 2014, 11:49
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Spinning! I used to enjoy spinning, so much so that I would use it as a technique to lose height. My last ever, before I went on to rotary, was in a Chipmunk.

Honington, 1964. Our Valiants were being towed away to be scrapped and to keep us in flying practice whilst they sorted out somewhere to send the aircrew the Squadron was issued with a Chipmunk and I was O/C. There was a surprising reticence to take up this facility by the other pilots so I, virtually, had it to myself.

This was an opputunity to get our ground crew airborne as there had been no chance on the Valiant unless you were the aircraft's crew chief. So I was now running a Squadron AEF. I would take one up for about twenty minutes, they would change over in the back and off we would go again. I would let them have the feel of the controls and if they felt like it show them some aeros, progressivly, staring with an airleron roll to loops etc.

I had this one in the back who was as bright as a sparrow. Loads of enthusiasm. Roll, loops, stall turns, every one a winner. I then demonstrated a spin.

Close the throttle, control stick back and on the stall full left rudder. Give it three tuens to develop and then recover. Full right rudder and the stick forward precisely on the Direction Indicator on the instrument panel.

Nothing happened. It kept spinning.

It was now getting quite serious because we were about 3,500 ft and the altimeter was in overdrive. I applied full Pro-spin control to ensure it was in an upright spin as a guard against the unlikely fact that it had gone inverted. Then I again applied full anti-spin.

Three turns later it grudgingly came out. We levelled at 1,200 ft.

My passanger was still full of beans and he was saddened when I told him his time was up (I didn't tell him how close to fact that statement was) and we landed back at Honington.

It was time for a refuel so I shut it down, climbed onto the wing to assist my passengert. He was struggling to get out of the cockpit; not surpisingly because he must have weighed about twenty stones. I hadn't seen him being loaded on as it was a running change and I was negotiating something with ATC at the time.

We were almost certainly at or beyond the aft CofG limit which it why the aircraft behaved the way it did. In my defence we were not informed of any limit on rear passenger weight when I was checked out.

My next spin was in a Puma, but thats another story.
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Old 20th Apr 2014, 12:20
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Hi

I had a chat with Dad last night ref a few questions Danny had posed..

1. As far as American students on courses went there were none on his course - No12 at Terrell - he thinks that there were a few on later courses but not in significant numbers. All the instructors were American though and I believe were "civilians" initially to get round neutrality rules.

2. He is checking his log book to see how many hours he did on the Stearman and then the Harvard.

3. He had a camera with him in Terrell and has lent the original Album to the museum in Terrell - he has a copy and next time I visit I will try and scan some of the Pics as they show not only the flying side but also the social side of life in Terrell.

4. I may have missed it Danny but where did you do your BFTS in the USA as Dad is interested.

5. If any Ppruners know/are ex Terrell Dad would love to know.

next instalment of Dad's experiences to follow shortly!

HF
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Old 20th Apr 2014, 15:55
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Blending of cadets in BFTS

Danny -permission to speak Sir! Re your question in post 5489
"When they graduated, did they receive their silver wings and a 2/Lieut's Commission in the same way as if they'd gone through the US system ?"

My late father graduated in May 1943 from 5BFTS Clewiston Florida on course no 12. This was the first course at Clewiston to have a blend of USAAF/RAF cadets (17 Americans with 83 RAF cadets). In total 125 USAAF cadets started at 5BFTS (16 of them washed-out) on courses 12 - 18 finishing in June 1944 when the US faced a surplus of pilots.

All the US graduates received both Army Air Corps and RAF wings and all were commissioned

Less than 25% of the RAF graduates were commissioned ex BFTS (although many of course attained this later in the war).
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Old 20th Apr 2014, 16:27
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Dad's story continues:-

More advanced exercises were carried out and, slowly but surely, we were moving towards Wings Day.

But of course there were incidents: crosswind landings, ground loops, minor accidents and sadly 2 major accidents (of which later). There was the penalty of not landing the correct way against the huge white T was to be forced to march out to the T in the middle of the airfield and stand in front of the T and salute it x number of times - the number determined by the instructor or Flight Stage Commander. This did not endear us to some who shall remain unnamed!

-o0o-

There were three incidents in particular, namely:

1. My minor incident dipping my port wing as it naughtily sought contact with some Texas earth!

2. The sad events of 20 February 1943 when 4 cadets were killed during a cross country exercise to Miami, Oklahoma - home to 3BFTS.

3. The visit to Terrell of ‘One Armed Mac’, Squadron Leader James Maclachlan.

There were of course many incidents which took place during our flying training but life consisted mostly of the routine and the repetition of all the various exercises carried out day after day, perfecting and honing our skills. However, everyone has their favourite stories of triumph and disaster. The above three are mine. They are as follows.

Incident 1 :- 5 January 1943

It happened on 5th January 1943 when carrying out solo crosswind landings at Tarver field - a long narrow grass field where one could carry out both dual and solo exercises in crosswind and precautionary landings following simulated engine failure. On this particular day I was carrying out solo crosswind landings - the wind was strong and gusty so not the best of conditions. I had just crossed the boundary fence when, caught by a gust of wind, my port wing dipped and, although I managed almost to recover, the port wing tip touched the ground - fortunately only momentarily. But it was enough to cause some damage and the outer edge of the port wing received a dent in the metal some 4 inches long, 2 inches wide and possibly 1 inch deep as far as I remember. Fortunately I did not ground loop and was able to taxi to Dispersal. I confessed, with heart in mouth, to Instructor Wakefield (Little Caesar) who had seen it all and had a face like thunder! He was not best pleased to put it mildly!

Our conversation, a somewhat one-sided tirade from him, left me in no doubt that I was the worst pupil he had ever taught and my action would justify a check ride before I could fly again! It took three days of sheer agony at the prospect of being eliminated from the course before the check ride - the three day’s wait was of course part of the ‘sentence’.

I still remember the check ride to this day and very vividly too! Ed Smith was to check me out - a senior instructor, taciturn and a man of few words. Without saying too much he climbed into the rear seat and sat there waiting for me to check the outside of the aeroplane - pitot-head cover off, etc.- which I did after walking around the aeroplane. I climbed onto the wing and into the cockpit and settled down to strap myself in prior to cockpit checks. I connected to Ed. He asked me (knowing full well that I had not) if I had checked the opening panel in the fuselage which one had to check to ensure that it was locked and secure. I had not checked this in my nervousness, I’d completely forgotten! There sat Ed, unsmiling and staring straight ahead whilst I unstrapped myself, out of the cockpit, off the wing and checked the panel was closed and secure, climb back into the cockpit with the feeling that this would surely be my last flight with elimination and return to the UK!! There followed the longest period of my flying life as we landed and taxied back to hear Ed’s verdict. Well, having gained my wings I don’t need to write that I passed the ‘check ride’. Ed even smiled as he informed me!

I can sympathise with Dad as on my Cranwell course 16 students started the course and 8 finished ( of which 2 were killed later in flying accidents). It seemed quite brutal at the time as some seemed fine on the Monday but were gone by the Friday. It all seemed to be about capacity and when you reached that then you couldn't go any further. One or two even admitted to being glad they had been chopped as they felt that they were likely to be involved in an accident and were not enjoying their flying.

HF
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Old 21st Apr 2014, 03:38
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"Talk of Many Things"

Hummingfrog,

Throttle back a bit old chap, please ! Give us time to catch our breath ! (roughly 1200 pairs of keen eyes each day scan your story, quite a few may want to come in with questions or comment). Already I feel like the Sorcerer's Apprentice with the craic we've started - we're "spiralling out of control" * (to use a phrase so beloved of radio and TV newsreaders). Slow down a bit - your stuff's far too good to be rushed out like this !

No pun * intended, but I'll shortly put in my take on the Spinning story.

To answer your Dad:
His No.1: the US "neutrality" was a farce from the outset. It didn't matter that his instructors were civilians (as they also were in the US Primary Schools), when he wore RAF uniform and had RAF officers and NCOs. You can't carry on like that and pretend to be a "neutral".

Of course he would have come in a long time after Pearl Harbor and so we were allies then. For a while I believed that that the BFTS scheme didn't start until early '42, but I've read that they in fact commenced in late '41 (at the same time as the "Arnolds"), when the breach of neutrality would have been glaring (and so I had to travel in my natty grey pin-stripe from Toronto to Florida, and never wore uniform in the States).

His No.2: I was an Arnold Scheme trainee, we had no contact with, and knew little about, the BFTSs, apart from the fact that they existed, and did not suffer the huge "washout" rates of the US Army Air Corps Flight Schools.

They were ingenious out there in the way of fashioning "Cruel and Unusual Punishments" (I've told in my Carlstrom Field Posts how a trainee caught roughly-handling a parachute received condign penance !) Your "Tee" offender seem to get similar treatment. To repeat some old doggerel:

"Neither smoke direction, sock nor Tee
Cut any ice with Philbert McGee,
At last a crash made hin change his mind -
You can't use a field you've left behind !"

The "incident" (your #5508) at Miami, Oklahoma BFTS was (IIRC) also reported by Cliff. And the "Washout" terror hung over us all, like a "Sword of Damocles", all the time - and it is true that, like all manual skills, there is a minority of people who just can't do it however hard they try, and it is no kindness to keep them at it when there is no hope ...D.

Union Jack,

You'd better get in the dinghy quick and start paddling - things are hotting up nicely in the Ukraine, pretty soon the Western Powers may have to "put up or shut up" - and I know which one it'll have to be !....D.

Ian Burgess-Barber,

No "permission to speak" needed in this our old Crewroom in Cyberspace, Sir! It is very interesting that the US contingent formed exactly 20% (just as Cliff [RIP] had said), and I'm surprised that they had a chop-rate of 13%. What was the figure for RAF candidates ? (I'd always thought that the BFTS failure rate was supposed to be insignificant) .....D.

Molemot,

I've been sampling the Mr Guinn's "Arnold Scheme" (your #5498 refers). This is comprehensive, enormously detailed, well researched and I would accept it as authoritative. I can recommend it to Hummingfrog Senior (it includes a lot about the BFTSs, too - start on page 23), and I hope to find there more statistics to add to the one figure I have in a notebook (we sent 7885 pilot candidates out to the Arnold Schools and got 4493 pilots # (57%) back - so 43% were "scrubbed". Most would re-train in Canada as Navs or Wop/AGs, but it is a shocking figure all the same)....D.

Goodnight, all. Danny.

EDIT: # (including 577 "creamed off" QFIs)

Last edited by Danny42C; 21st Apr 2014 at 21:20. Reason: Add Text.
 
Old 21st Apr 2014, 10:36
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Washout Rates

Danny my reference books for the following figures are:

(1) 'RAF Wings over Florida' by Will Largent, Purdue University Press.

(2) 'The Royal Air Force over Florida' by A.M. de Quesada, Arcadia Publishing.

"Of the 6BFTS in the USA, No. 5BFTS Clewiston Florida, received the highest performance rating".

"16 of the 125 US cadets failed to get their wings, a 12.8% washout factor. Among the 582 British cadets on the seven blended courses, there were 121 who washed out (20.8%)."
The low washout rate for the 125 Americans simply confirmed that they were carefully selected for the RAF training on the basis of test scores and personality profiles, college or university credits, they were "the best of the best" among the Army Air Corps cadets.
"But when it came to an even playing field, without preselection of natural talents and experience, the average Army Air Corps washout rate and British BFTS washout rate were almost identical - from 20% to 25%."
The washout rate for RAF cadets in the Arnold plan (40% or more) is probably more to do with demerits for not obeying rules that did not make sense to them and had nothing to do with flying performance.
A former civilian American flight instructor noted: "The British kids had just come from a place where there was real war. They liked the flying and had no problem taking orders. But when it came to chicken-sh*t stuff, they wouldn't keep quiet."

Ian BB
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Old 21st Apr 2014, 15:56
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Crossing the Pond, wartime style.

Most interesting to read Hummingfrog's account of his westward Atlantic crossing, exactly a year before mine. It got off to a good start, leaving Heaton Park on a glorious summer's afternoon so that our journey via the fabled Settle-Carlisle railway proved a treat; the wonderfully wild scenery, almost total absence of life (other than sheep!), even the sulphurous passage of Blea Moor tunnel, it all remains a most vivid memory.

Dark fell as we left Carlisle and we dozed uneasily as the train trundled along heaven knew where, being finally tumbled out in the small hours on to some anonymous platform. Marching off thence in some disorder to an old warehouse filled with bunk beds holding a few dirty blankets apiece, we were told to "get our heads down" for a couple of hours; but it seemed only a minute or two before we were aroused again, given a greasy breakfast and then fell in for the short march to Gourock pier, where American GI's were boarding a train. Out in the Clyde was the means of their arrival, an enormous three-stacker in grey camouflage that could only be the Queen Mary. This was viewed with considerable relief; there were a number of known hell-ships on the North Atlantic run, but the Queens were not of them while their speed guaranteed virtual immunity from submarine attack.

Unlike many other liners converted for the trooping role, they were not stripped bare below decks as a means to slinging the maximum number of hammocks; all cabin furniture had been removed but the cabins themselves remained and were fitted with as many multi-tier bunks as could be squeezed in, while (joy of joys) the bathing and sanitary fittings remained in situ. True, only salt water came out of the hot taps, but that was better than no bath at all. Sharing a tourist class cabin with about twelve others, my companions & I had the run of most of the public parts of the ship, only the bow and stern sections plus the extreme upper decks being off limits.

However there appeared to be no hurry to sail, and we found ourselves allocated to various duties such as "shell door guard". This involved manning any open doors in the ship's side, presumably in order to discourage enemy agents or maybe potential stowaways; it was hardly an onerous duty, and as there were far more of us than doors it did not come round very often, being anyway preferable to menial tasks in the galley. There was plenty of time to admire the local scenery, which indeed was often very beautiful. Cool northwesterly winds gave superb visibility between showers, with staggeringly lovely views of the far hills of Argyll; seen after clearance of rain, they stood out in sharp relief with a pronounced bluish tint. Three good meals a day, cooked by US Army personnel with American victuals, were a welcome improvement over wartime British fare; altogether life looked quite good, and we were happy in our floating hotel.

After a few days of inactivity, things started to happen. Confined to the covered promenade deck with deadlights almost fully raised, it was just possible to discern the masts of a smaller vessel alongside gradually rising in relation to ourselves, indicating that a fuel tender was transferring its load. While this was in progress a rumour circulated to the effect that not only was it oil being loaded, some very important people were boarding as well. After a couple of hours the restrictions were eased, departure plainly imminent; volumes of smoke rolled from the two forward funnels, and for the first time no tenders or other vessels nudged alongside. In a maelstrom of foaming water, the ship turned majestically in its own length without assistance from tugs and began steaming slowly to the west----we were off at last!

The western shore with its mountainous backdrop never looked more beautiful, the ship's tannoy appropriately playing the fifth movement of Beethoven's "Pastorale" while she curved slowly southward down the Clyde estuary. Following the deep water channel, we sailed well into the western shore, thus giving a good view of the clean-looking whitewashed farmhouses and cottages which lay close along the water's edge. So heart-stopping was the scene, that I resolved to return and lodge hereabouts for an away-from-it-all holiday sometime after the war; needless to say I never did, but the emotion and nostalgia of that afternoon remain with me today more than half a century on.

Later there were good views of Arran and Ailsa Craig before the great lady turned to enter the North Channel, accelerating noticeably the while; our last sight of the old country, for at this point we received a belated summons to the evening meal, remaining below decks afterwards.

Slumber came fitfully as mysterious creaks and groans, accompanied by heavy vibration, told of our speedy passage into an increasingly hostile ocean; no doubt about it, the Queen was being driven hard. Our private world heaved and rolled in an unexpected way, so that some failed to partake in an unsteady walk to the first-class dining saloon (now the main mess hall) for breakfast. However, those who did learnt beyond doubt that our fellow passengers were indeed very important: no less than Winston himself, accompanied by several of his Cabinet, the Chiefs of Staff and assorted lesser dignitaries on their way to what the world would know later as the first Quebec Conference, where the Allied Leaders were to make vital decisions concerning the war's future course; we were, most certainly, in illustrious company!

On deck the screaming wind rendered an upright stance almost impossible, the huge rolling waves and masses of flying foam awe-inspiring. I was surprised at the degree to which the ship rolled and pitched, having always imagined that anything so large would be virtually unaffected by sea conditions; even allowing for top-heaviness due to the removal of cabin fittings below and the installation of guns and armour plate topside, she seemed alarmingly unsteady. The crew offered little reassurance, telling us that even in its peacetime rig it had rolled abominably (this was, of course, before the days of stabilisers). We were inclined to disbelieve their tale that the Queen Elizabeth had almost capsized in one bad storm, but indeed it was true; the ship had encountered a tremendous sea coincident with an alteration of heading, and came close to turning right over. Her sister's constant zig-zag course was thus observed with renewed interest.

Five minutes was, as I recall, the maximum period on any one heading, after which the helm was put sharply over for a forty-five degree turn in the direction opposite to the one previous; and, if this turn should coincide with an adverse sea, then so be it. The results could be uncomfortable, but were infinitely preferable to those to be expected from a torpedo; for (supposedly) a rate of 30+ knots, allied to an endless zig-zag, rendered such an attack impossible. All the great liners normally sailed alone using this technique, so it was with some surprise that we saw ourselves to be heavily escorted - a destroyer on either beam, with cruisers further off and (so we were told) flat-tops over the horizon, their planes reconnoitring ahead.

However, our close escorts were having problems. Apparently semi-submerged much of the time, the nearest destroyer was evidently forcing its way through the water rather than along the surface; drenched in foam and spray, with bows dipping & vanishing then re-emerging high into the air only to crash down once more, the conditions on board must have been intolerable. Its signal lamp began to blink; using our newly acquired skills (?) to read the morse, we were not surprised to learn that it would be unable to keep station if required to maintain speed. Nevertheless it did so for a few minutes more, presumably while the Commodore and his staff pondered the situation; then, slowly falling behind, it disappeared from view along with its companion. The heavier ships remained distantly visible for the time being, but plainly our speed was considered a greater safeguard than escorts.


There was little sign of our VIP's other than relatively minor ones such as Orde Wingate or Guy Gibson. On one occasion I observed a pair of sleeves, gold braid from cuff to elbow, resting on the rail of the bridge above which I assumed to belong to the Chief of Naval Staff, Sir Dudley Pound, but the other nabobs remained invisible. Our fellow passengers (the hoi polloi like us, that is) were a motley bunch; several hundred British air cadets, plus more of other European nationalities (mainly French), merchant and RN crews on their way to collect new ships from US yards, and so on. The total passenger complement did not amount to more than about 1500 as compared to the 14,000 odd carried eastbound, when the vast majority were American troops destined for the forthcoming invasion of Europe. We thus lived fairly comfortably, in contrast to the homeward run when sleeping accommodation was reputedly occupied in three 8-hour shifts and only two meals a day provided----a delight to look forward to on completion of our training.

Time passed pleasantly enough, and the weather gradually improved from the second day onward. Although all normal furniture had been removed, many of the interior fittings and fixtures remained in place, with the decor hardly altered; thus it was fairly easy to visualise the comfort and 1930's style elegance of this wonderful ship. The two Queens had suffered considerably less internal reworking in conversion to their wartime role than most other vessels, though whether or not this was due to political clout or other reasons was not clear. The 1st. class Dining Saloon was particularly impressive, with a huge wall chart of the Western Ocean plotting the ship's (peacetime) progress by means of a moveable symbol. Also of interest were the two lines of hinged brass plates that ran transversely right across the decks; on lifting them, one beheld the interesting spectacle of an approx. 2" gap in the deck planking constantly opening and closing as the Mary's 80,000 tons rode the Atlantic swell.

On the afternoon of the third day we formed up on the covered promenade deck for prime ministerial inspection. It was a rather ragged affair, for even the Queen Mary was not large enough to accommodate all of us parade-ground style so the rear ranks tended to degenerate into a disorderly rabble. It did not matter, for the purpose of the exercise was to enable us to see the great man rather than the other way round. He duly appeared dressed in a vaguely nautical outfit, escorted by a dazzling bevy of brass such as most of us had never before set eyes on. Walking quickly along the front two ranks he took most interest in the adjacent squad of Frenchmen, pausing to speak now and again. This exercise terminated rather abrubtly after one of them stated, in answer to the PM's query, that he had crossed to UK "in ze boat, M'sieur"; on being asked when, he replied "in 1938". The PM evidently decided that he had lost enough face for one day, and strode inside.

The following day the sea was benign, and in late morning a smudge of coastline appeared while behind us trailed a veritable armada of warships of all shapes and sizes. Our escort again, although whether or not it was the original one or a reception committee we never did discover. As the coast drew closer we saw that it was rocky but well-wooded and that we were entering a long tapering inlet, which the crew announced to be the entrance to Halifax harbour. A pilot-boat approached and lowered a pinnace, which received derisive cheers when it broke down about a hundred yards off our beam; after some frantic activity its engine spluttered back to life, the pilot transferred to the accompaniment of further jeers, and we steamed up the narrow channel to our destination.

OK not much of aviation interest here, but that of course came later!
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Old 21st Apr 2014, 16:07
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harrym - fascinating stuff. More please!
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Old 21st Apr 2014, 21:09
  #5513 (permalink)  
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harrym,

So now we have you, Hummingfrog and I, and it's just like old days (like the No.9 bus, too - you wait for half an hour and then three turn up at once). Joking apart, Welcome aboard this best of Threads - you're among friends.

Although PPRuNe doesn't make you reveal your age (although I think it should - it helps to be able to place a Pruner in the time frame), I would guess you to be a year or so younger than Hummingfrog Senior and me). And what a wonderful debut ! You clearly have the Gift of the Gab, and can put it down on paper too (and that doesn't always go together). Are you an Irishman, by any chance ?

Let's hear plenty more. Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 21st Apr 2014 at 21:12. Reason: Error.
 
Old 22nd Apr 2014, 18:04
  #5514 (permalink)  
 
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Crossing the Pond

Thanks Danny & Ricardian for your welcome, although I am a returnee rather than a newbie – a lazy one I fear, as my last contribution to this thread can be measured in years gone rather than months.

Re age, I enlisted in August 1942 just short of my 18th birthday so you can do the maths! As for ethnic origin I have always considered myself English, but my (paternal) grandfather was born & brought up in Edinburgh while grandmother was of Irish descent; she came from the clan Tandy, being (very) distantly related to that somewhat suspect character Napper Tandy – consult Google for further info as to his disloyal activities.

More in due course, but don't hold your breath!
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Old 22nd Apr 2014, 21:22
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harrym, the scene setting of your journey north and subsequent embarkation was nothing short of poetic, and we are clearly in for a marvelous treat. Welcome back it seems is the appropriate salutation, and perhaps a round of applause for your Irish Grandmother, to whom I suspect we are much indebted!

As Danny says, we are truly spoiled, and this thread promises to climb to yet new heights of excellence. So full power on all three, please gentlemen. Per Adua Ad Astra!
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Old 22nd Apr 2014, 21:38
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Spot on Chug,

Max chat now has a new meaning gentlemen. Away you go please.

Smudge
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Old 22nd Apr 2014, 23:02
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New(ish) Boy in Town !

Amen to all the foregoing (now I can rest on my oars for a bit !)

Danny.
 
Old 22nd Apr 2014, 23:35
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Look on this Picture - and on This.

Ian Burgess-Barber,

Your # 5510 refers. There is a whole mass of information available on Google. Try "British Flying Training in USA in WW2" and "Arnold Scheme" (and there is plenty more).

PPRuNe Forums > Misc. Forums > Aviation History and Nostalgia:

WW2 RAF pilot training numbers info? - PPRuNe Forums (www.pprune.org/aviation.../292203-ww2-
raf-pilot-training-numbers-info. html‎Cached)

Are there reliable stats on how many trained where? ... There were at least 14 civilian contracted flight schools in the US which ... The RAF output from all American schemes (Arnold, Towers, Pan-American & BFTS) was:

Pilots - 13,673
Navigators - 1715
Wireless Ops/Air Gunners - 662
(Source: Public Records Office, Kew as mentioned by Jack Currie in Wings Over Georgia).

Knowing that 4493 pilots came back from the Arnold Scheme, it follows that 9180 must be the output of the combined BFTS Schools. But what was the BFTS washout total ? (I found it once on Google a year or so ago, but cannot find it now. I cannot remember what it was, but it was nothing like the 20-25% quoted). And even that would not square with the near 50% Arnold figure.

On the general question of an explanation of that enormous failure rate, my analysis (as an old Arnold alumnus) of the circumstances differs radically from yours (I quote):

"But when it came to an even playing field, without preselection of natural talents and experience, the average Army Air Corps washout rate and British BFTS washout rate were almost identical - from 20% to 25%."

The washout rate for RAF cadets in the Arnold plan (40% or more) is probably more to do with demerits for not obeying rules that did not make sense to them and had nothing to do with flying performance.

A former civilian American flight instructor noted: "The British kids had just come from a place where there was real war. They liked the flying and had no problem taking orders. But when it came to chicken-sh*t stuff, they wouldn't keep quiet."

I can assure you that such a supposed "bolshie" attitude played no part whatsoever - had it done so, you would have expected more or less equal loss rates at each of the three stages (whereas they were limited almost exclusively to the very beginning).

My reading of the story runs something like this:

(I've never been a QFI) - but I would guess that most would agree, broadly, that of any intake of (say) 100 pilot trainees, 10 will be the "Naturals", who take to it like ducks to water (and who are likely to be "creamed off" as QFIs on graduation). At the other end will be 10 "no hopers" who will never be pilots no matter how hard they try.

That leaves 80, who can be taught to fly to an acceptable standard given time.

"Here's the Rub !" Time is the currency of War. Give them 400 hours - you might get 75 pilots. 300 ? - say 65. 200 ? say 55.

How much time can you afford ? At what point do you stop ? Where's the balance ? The US Army Air Corps at that period had, as far as I could see, a virtually limitless supply of Flight School Cadets. Why not recruit far more than the later stages of training could possibly absorb, and then select the most promising to go on and discard the rest at Primary level ?

This way you get the numbers you want, and the best quality, too.

They seem to have set the bar at the 200hr/55 pilot stage. When the British cadets came in, they saw no need to alter the system. It's as simple as that.

That still leaves the question hanging: how was it that the BFTSs, with half (your figure) of the Arnold loss rate and in the same time, produced pilots which our OTUs found to be of indistinguishable quality (I discount the strange story brought to our notice by millerscourt [#2394 p.120], for which no support has come forward).

And (most intriguing question of all): what was the American experience with their own pilots from the BFTSs vis-a-vis the Air Corps product ? That I would like to know !

Danny.
 
Old 23rd Apr 2014, 01:43
  #5519 (permalink)  
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Air War in East Africa 1940/41

Apologies for thread drift (again), but I've posted previous links to Tinus le Roux's work, here is his latest

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbYVJlzY0Zs

PZU - Out of Africa (Retired)
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Old 23rd Apr 2014, 10:43
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Don't shoot the messenger!

Danny, I gave you my sources. I, of course, wasn't there. I offered the figures in good faith but they are not "my" figures.

(1) 'RAF Wings over Florida' by Will Largent, Purdue University Press.
This book is a collection of of interviews with cadets and instructors from both Arcadia and Clewiston

(2) 'The Royal Air Force over Florida' by A.M. de Quesada, Arcadia Publishing.
This is a pictorial record of life at Carlstrom and Riddle Fields. Happily it contains a picture of my late father and a couple of other gents whom I have since had the privilege of "interviewing".

You, of course, were there, and tell us of no 'indiscipline' on 42C.

This RAF cadet (name given) on 42F said:
"We followed the same "Mickey Mouse" guidelines and rules set down for new U.S. cadets. It was mostly nonsense and new to us. In fact, several in my class were eliminated because they had too many demerits for not obeying rules that didn't make sense to them. Some of the cadets who were eliminated went to Canada and continued their training there. Great Britain had been at war for two years and desperately needed pilots. The United States, still in a position to pick and choose, could enforce stringent rules that had nothing to do with flying performance. A high washout rate was not as alarming to the United States as it was to the British."

Jim Cousins, U.S. civilian instructor, became a flight commander and later squadron commander at 5BFTS, retired 1977 as an Eastern Air Lines captain said:
"As a matter of fact, the British were miles ahead of us in training techniques and we (American civilian instructors) were happy to train the RAF cadets strictly under the British system.
The concept of the BFTS program targeted one primary goal: to turn out pilots by concentrated training within the proper allocated time. The Arnold Scheme didn't zero in on the real needs of the British.
To begin with, the Army Air Corps did all of those ridiculous things like hazing underclassmen and making them eat at the mess while sitting at attention. Stuff not connected in any way with flying. It's no wonder that the washout rate in the Arnold Plan was so much greater than that of the BFTS. Some of the boys who washed out at Carlstrom got a second chance and were reassigned to Riddle. Several of them completed our course with no problem and went on to become great pilots".

Danny, those of us who weren't there can only read what is written. Your contribution to our knowledge on this thread has been enormous, and long may you continue to entertain and enlighten us.
If the recollections and figures that I have republished here in my genuine enthusiasm to engage with your open question do not mirror your own experiences then I am sorry. I wasn't there - you were.

mea culpa
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