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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 12th Sep 2015, 08:23
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Danny, kudos for your information packed post. It is obviously a preoccupation shared with most of us having obtained those revered RAF wings, whenever and wherever gained, as to how come I succeeded when others didn't? You will clearly have more answers to that conundrum re 42C or indeed the entire Arnold Scheme than others here, yet you pose the question. Might I tentatively suggest that there will be no clear answer for you, and theory and speculation will have to prevail.

For myself I can only contribute the trite observation that pilot training involves those doing the instruction and those being instructed. In your case the first were a peacetime nation now coming to terms with being at war, the second had come to terms and simply needed these skills to strike at a cruel enemy ASAP.

Armed Forces are very conservative institutions in peacetime and are only forced to adjust their ways and means under the pressures of war. Looking at your figures, it strikes me that the Arnold Scheme made that adjustment wef 42E. Whether that was so and where those pressures came from I leave to others to say, but I would guess that the RAF would have been alarmed at the high chop/washout rate from the very start. Inertia and resistance would have accounted for the few months delay while adjustments were made. In the event I am impressed at how short a period that was, but then things move fast in war...
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 09:30
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Danny

Do you have the start dates for the various Arnold Scheme Courses?

Regards

Pete
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 12:17
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Khormaksar Kids meet again

Danny,

Sorry I can shed no further light on the Sea Vixen ball which definitely worked in any attitude, except to say that it was filled with oil (?) or similar as it was heavily damped. I see there's a Vixen flying again, maybe someone could take a look?

Some readers of this thread may remember my ramblings about the Khormaksar Kids, growing up in the Aden of the early 1950s. I have heard from Graham, who owned Abdul the land crab. He (Graham that is, not Abdul who was unclean) has lived in Israel for many years and came across this thread when researching his family history. We are both amazed that Prune should travel so widely, and that our memories of RAF life are still so vivid, especially our attempt to convert the Station to Judaism and thereby avoid the ministrations of Padre Ashe
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 23:54
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Pete,

You might suppose that it would be easy to gather this information, and at first I thought that regle (RIP), who was on 42A, would give the start date for that (first) Arnold Course.

"Search" gave me: "......I can tell you what happened with the first course, 42A, that trained in the Southeast Air Training Center, USA and graduated on Jan. 3rd. 1942...." [regle p.75/#1567]. But he didn't give a start date on this, nor on a few of his other Posts before and after #1567.

But we have that date for 42B:

"...On the 17th July 1941, Allan arrived at Woodward Field, Camden, South Carolina, to attend the "Southern Aviation School" for flight training as part of the "Arnold Scheme". He was a cadet of Class 42B, the second class that attended the school. 42B meant that they should graduate in February 1942 (a 6 month course)...." [WW2 Service Record of RAF Pilot Allan Gent (1079136)].

EDIT: This picture of Sgt-Pilot Allan Gent is interesting: it is the first time I've seen both sets of our wings being (unofficially ) worn together ! And look at the RAF Wings (issued to us in Canada when we went back there after the States). The wings are significantly deeper than the British pattern - and no, it's not a RCAF badge.



And I can give you 42C:

In the States I first flew on 2nd September '41, my recollection is that were put to work as soon as we arrived at Carlstrom Field. Now we know that: ".....and plans were swiftly put in place to send the first contingent of trainees over in time for the June 1941 intake, with subsequent contingents arriving every five weeks until March 1943...." [The Official Website of the Arnold Scheme 1941-1943].

regle says he graduated with 42A on 3rd January '42. I graduated with 42C on 6th March '42, so I seem to be running three months and three days behind him. The three days are not significant, but three months would put the start of 42A as 1st June '41. But Gent says that 42B started on 17th July, which would be more than six weeks after 42A......?

You pays yer penny and yer takes yer choice !

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 14th Sep 2015 at 19:57. Reason: Addn (and a mistake, corrected in Bold))
 
Old 13th Sep 2015, 01:11
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Chugalug,

I think that your: "Might I tentatively suggest that there will be no clear answer for you, and theory and speculation will have to prevail" just about sums it up. It really doesn't matter now, and it was so long ago, and most of those involved will be dead.

But I've often thought that many potentially perfectly good pilots were lost to us among the 931 "scrubbed" from the first four Arnold Courses, at a time when we desperately needed them. As you say, there was always a considerable amount of luck in the "scrubbing" process.

Geriaviator,

Now I really think about it, it dawns on me that, even with a flat, stationary tube, and supposing that tube to be absolutely level, the ball (oil-damped as you say) would take up a position where it is normal to the "fall-line" (that all too apt term from the ski slopes !) So I am (reluctantly) convinced at last. Just shows: "Whereof you know nothing, thereof should you be silent" (Wittgenstein).

Now, anyone who has not already seen that priceless Post of yours (p.178/#3558 - thank you Google, as "Search" proved useless) must look it up now !

Cheers, both, Danny.
 
Old 13th Sep 2015, 12:16
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Grading Schools

Danny, ref your 7379 grading schools certainly did exist - I myself passed through one at Marshalls (Cambridge) in May/June '43. The 'course' was 12 hours in a TM, mostly dual but a bit of solo came your way if good enough though this was not essential to qualify as a u/t pilot. Cannot recall what the pass rate was, but fancy around 65% or so.
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Old 13th Sep 2015, 14:18
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Arnold Scheme

Danny

In an attempt to assist with your conundrum regarding the elimination rates, I am working through the various files I have on Aircrew Training.

I am not sure how much of this you have already, but hopefully it will be of assistance. The following is extracted from AIR41/4 (my comments in italics):

"The first marked difference appeared in August [1941] when the pupils completed the primary stage of instruction. The elimination rate at the Arnold Schools was extremely high varying from 30 to 55% of the total number being trained while the rate of the BFTSs was low, averaging only 10% [The elimination rate at EFTSs in the UK and Canada was about 20%].

The causes were sought and found in the "toughness" of American instruction and the American Army's ruthless weeding out of all but the best on the one hand and in the civilian operators' enthusiastic determination to make BFTS training an outstanding success on the other.

American instructors had no standardised training in how to teach and were not persuasive enough in their methods to get the best out of British pupils. The United States Army could afford to reject all but the most naturally suitable men because it had an abundance of high grade manpower from which to select. British pupils needed time to become acclimatised to American conditions and in any case, compared badly with American pupils in simple common sense over the use of engines and brakes [Please don't shoot the messenger on this aspect!!].

The civilian operators however, added to the financial incentive of having few failures, had a sincere anxiety to help Britain by making the most of British manpower. One of them went so far as to make almost every pupil successful by paying out of his own pocket for whatever extra tuition was wanted.

The disquietingly high elimination rate in Arnold schools had several consequences. It set an awkward problem in disposing of the rejected pupils to other forms of air crew training, it wasted passages across the Atlantic at a time of marked shipping difficulty and it lowered the morale of pupils on their way to later courses in the Arnold Schools.

Arrangements were made for British pupils to have an acclimatisation period of three weeks in the United States at a US Army pre-flight school
[Montgomery] before starting flying training and to get some familiarity with the handling of a motor car during this time". [This was introduced in September / October 1941, presumably increasing the course length from 30 weeks (10 primary, 10 Basic, 10 Advanced) to 33 weeks and possibly improving the elimination rate (hence my interest in the course dates)]

...... more to follow if this is helpful

Regards

Pete

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Old 13th Sep 2015, 18:56
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Gaining an RAF pilots brevet in WW2

Re Grading School----Certainly in March 45 "Pass" or "Fail "for a P categorisation seemed to be a function of whims and/or needs of the service.
All on my 16 EFTS course were ex UAS and 1/2 or more got P category and the rest N----not so I believe for ex PACT and General Entry candidates ---very few of them got categorised as P---not sure how many got N but I think A/G, s were in their mix.
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Old 13th Sep 2015, 19:54
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Danny,


I don't know if this will help your research, but my Uncle's log book shows him initially at 20 EFTS, Yeadon, in Nov 41.


His flying commenced in the USA on Feb 28th 1942, Course 42H, at Carlstrom. From May 1942 he was at Gunter Field then Turner Field until 30th August. Wings ceremony was on 6th September 1942.


Regards
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Old 13th Sep 2015, 23:49
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harrym,

So the Grading Schools in the UK did exist after all ! but by '43 I was living the simple life in a bamboo basha with 110 Sqdn in Burma and wasn't giving much thought to Grading Schools back home. One thing is certain, they may have been a good idea, but it couldn't have produced any "Gradees" any earliee than Oct/Nov '41, which is when the extraordinary improvement in loss rates apparently occurred.

Really, 252 Losses in 42D and only 3 in 42E ! Even with all the explanations which have been put forward, there is no way this could have been achieved apart from "creative accounting" on a grand scale (and Dr.Guinn's 427 discrepancy which I noted in my p.369/#7379 does not inspire confidence in his other statistics).

Although the Arnold Scheme was being run-down at the time you were going through your Grading with Marshall's of Cambridge, it would seem that the loss rates in the BFTS and Canada were still such as to justify continuing with the Grading Scheme up to the end in '45.

DFCP, your dates, and ValMORNA (your Uncle's) tie in nicely with mine, and now, ValMORNA, we have the Grading Course start date (Nov '41 - couldn't have been any earlier). Your uncle seems to have been six months behind me in 42H.

My thanks to all, Cheers, Danny
 
Old 14th Sep 2015, 01:18
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Pete,

I must say I rather like the sound of your: "....The causes were sought and found in the "toughness" of American instruction and the American Army's ruthless weeding out of all but the best..." (Brings a warm glow to the heart, it do). And Reg Levy (RIP) did say somewhere that it was "the finest flying training in the World".

But my experience was that, although my Primary School at Carlstrom Field (like all of them), was now an Army Base, it was still manned by the civilian instructors who had formerly instructed there when it was the "Embry-Riddell School of Aviation". They were all in the "kind and patient" civilian mode (otherwise they'd have had no pupils and wouldn't eat). In particular, I shall always be grateful to Bob Greer (a quiet and unflappable young man from the Carolinas), who guided and encouraged me in my first, faltering attempts to get off the ground and (more importantly) get down again. His is the only one of my instructor's names that I can still immediately recall without reference to my logbook (and that says something !)

Basic and Advanced Schools had always been Army Bases; all instruction was from Army 1st and 2nd Lieutenants, almost to a man "creamed off" from Flight School. Whether this was good for their peace-time careers, I know not, but from Pearl Harbor onwards they had the frustration of seeing their former classmates going off to Europe and glory. while they were kept back in the States until the end of their instructional tour. Needless to say, we felt the difference !

Even so as only 5% of our "scrubs" were at Advanced, 16% at Basic and 79% at Primary, we seemed to have taken this in our stride.

More tomorrow, Danny.
 
Old 14th Sep 2015, 08:30
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Pete,

Your: "...to have an acclimatisation period of three weeks in the United States at a US Army pre-flight school [Montgomery] before starting flying training". [This was introduced in September / October 1941, presumably increasing the course length from 30 weeks (10 primary, 10 Basic, 10 Advanced) to 33 weeks....]"

Not exactly, we had three eight-week sessions, I flew (PT-17s) 2 Sep'41-30 Oct in Primary at Carlstrom, 6 Nov-4 Jan'42 Basic at Gunter (BT-13s) and 13 Jan-4 Mar Advanced (AT-6s) at Craig Fields. The intervening periods were, of course, packing-up, transit and settling in at a new base. They totalled 14 days (which the BFTS avoided as all instruction was in one place).

The three-week "Acclimitisation" Course was just stuck on to the beginning of the flying Courses (as they'd be all classroom, how would you manage to fail ? - but nine of our chaps did !) Did the BFTS have this "Acclimitisation" ? (I would think not).

Gunter Field was at Montgomery, Ala - "The Cradle of the Confederacy" - the very heart of the Deep South. Surely they would have run these Courses there (where they would have us to talk to, and hear the real 'gen' from ?, but we never met any (or in town). Odd, that.

"Hazing" is often put forward as a reason for our perceived poor performance, but it could only affect the first Class (42A), as all the rest would be one RAF Class following another. And 42A's failure rate was 37% - better than the average of 42A-D at 39%.

As for: ".....compared badly with American pupils in simple common sense over the use of engines and brakes [Please don't shoot the messenger on this aspect!!]...", it should be remembered that at that time American teenagers had grown up with, and had much more access to cars, and could get driving licences much younger, than we in the UK, where cars were comparitively scarce luxury items. (I got my first licence a week after my 17th birthday, but that was atypical and may have influenced my selection at RAF Padgate in '40).

Given the same opportunities, our lads would have been just as good on the road, and every bit as handy with a spanner as their transatlantic counterparts, of that I'm certain !

Cheers, Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 14th Sep 2015 at 08:33. Reason: Spelling !
 
Old 14th Sep 2015, 08:34
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Danny, what was the mechanism by which people were "washed out" at the various schools? Did it require a check flight by the CFI? Who "sacked" you? I would suspect that it would not be your own QFI, though of course it would be on his reports that such action was taken.

Looking at your figures, of the mass cull at Primary School level, I suspect that "creative accounting on a grand scale" is the key. Presumably the USAAC had limited provision in accommodation, aircraft, and instructors, at the basic and advanced levels, requiring the thinning out at primary that 42C suffered, being overstocked to ensure a high standard of graduating students. The answer from the British point of view was of course to rapidly increase that limited provision. Indeed that might have been the plan from the very start but the pump was primed at the primary level and capacity expanded to reduce the wastage of competent students that you describe in later courses.

It is all very impersonal and Big Brother of course, but that is how you might rapidly get a pilot training scheme going in a foreign country by a foreign air force. The priority was the output which produced crews in profusion and in short order. That is what we needed to conduct war and that is what we got.

As I said on thread many posts ago. it was an amazing scheme, reproduced world-wide, and should be better promulgated by the media. Cue for a new TV series?
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Old 14th Sep 2015, 09:30
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Arnold Scheme (part 2)

As promised, the following is the remaining text from the AIR41/4 section on Arnold Scheme:

“Another marked difference between Arnold and BFTS training appeared when the Arnold pupils went on to the basic stage and came under US Army discipline.

The American Army schools had a custom of reducing new pupils to order and putting them in their place by a rigid system of “cadet rules” calculated to produce a rather juvenile sense of deference and the “hazeing” of this process infuriated the British pupils to whom it was applied.

The custom was largely relaxed when its unfortunate effects on RAF pupils were realised.

By contrast, BFTS pupils carried on with the basic stage of training at the same “all through” school and there was no disturbance caused by a sudden tightening up of discipline in an uncongenial way.

The higher elimination rate at Arnold Schools persisted.

Over the whole course (ie to the end of advanced training) it was nearly 50%, whereas the BFTS rate was about 20%. Nevertheless, it was considered that the pilots turned out from Arnold Schools were not materially better than those from the BFTSs; they had greater natural aptitude for flying and more manual dexterity, but the BFTS methods of instruction made up for these basic differences.

In December 1941, the length of BFTS courses was increased to 28 weeks (14 weeks primary [91 hours flying] and 14 weeks basic [with 109 hours flying] At about the same time the length of Arnold courses was reduced from 30 weeks to 27 weeks (9 primary, 9 basic and 9 advanced)” [I am not sure if the three week "acclimatisation" period was added to make it back up to 30 weeks in all]

I will add more information from other documents as and when practical

Regards

Pete

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Old 14th Sep 2015, 09:36
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Danny

Re your post #7391

When I originally typed the text relating to the Arnold Scheme I left out part of a sentence as I did not think it relevant. However, your feedback on the motor car put the sentence into context so I have added it into my original posting (in red) and I have added the complete sentence here:

Arrangements were made for British pupils to have an acclimatisation period of three weeks in the United States at a US Army pre-flight school [Montgomery] before starting flying training and to get some familiarity with the handling of a motor car during this time".

Regards

Pete
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Old 14th Sep 2015, 11:05
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Some more facts and figures

The following information is taken from an AHB document on Aircrew Training:

Wastage Rate

"It was soon apparent that the wastage rates were not going to be far short of those planned by USAAC (General Arnold had pointed out that the USAAC wastage rate was nearly 50% of the intake) - 36% during primary training, 8% during basic and 1% during advanced - giving an overall elimination rate of 45% which compared very unfavourably with those at RAF Schools"

Course Dates

Course No 1 commenced on 7th June 1941
Primary School Course No 1 passed out 16th August 1941

Advanced Course at Albany from 5th November 1941 to 3rd January 1942
Advanced Course commenced at ***ham (replacing Albany) on 17th December 1941 [the forum replaces three of the letters with *** for some unknown reason]

Course Intakes

Due to the high wastage rate the primary school intakes had to be increased from 550 to 750 commencing with No 4 Course [Think this should be No 5 Course] starting 4th October 1941

Acclimatisation Problems

British pupils needed time to acclimatise to American conditions. The climate was very hot in summer; the American food, because of its richness compared with the normal RAF diet, tended to make pupils airsick; difficulties were experienced at first in understanding the American instructors whilst flying owing to the minor differences in dialect and the slow southern drawl. British pupils also compared unfavourably with the American cadets (most of whom had already driven cars) in simple common sense over the use of engines and brakes

Acclimatisation Course

The acclimatisation course started with No 5 Course on 4th October 1941 (Replacement Centre, Maxwell Field [then Turner Field with effect from 24th January 1942]. Instruction lasted five weeks and consisted of drill, physical training, customs of the US Army, American History and Geography, American terminology used in flying. Pupils were also given experience in driving motor cars to make up for their short comings in mechanical knowledge. They were subjected to the strictest form of American discipline based on that of the military academy at West Point, and although it had its merits, it was found most irksome by the RAF trainees.

Help to alleviate initial problems

From 1st November, it was arranged that cadets selected for training in the US should be drawn from pupils at EFTS who had completed up to 15 hours of flying and who were reported as likely to be good. The first course to arrive in America with previous flying experience was No 7 Course which started training at the Replacement Centre on 18th December 1941

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Old 14th Sep 2015, 11:58
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AIR41/4

Pete
Am delighted to find in your researches of AIR41/4 part 1 & 2, corroboration of many of the issues that I raised (from page 276 on) in posts 5506 5509 5519 and 5526.

Your - "British pupils needed time to become acclimatised to American conditions and in any case, compared badly with American pupils in simple common sense over the use of engines and brakes." [Please don't shoot the messenger on this aspect!!].

To this, I give you this quote from Doug Moore (a U.S. cadet in Course 18 at Clewiston). " There was a running joke among the U.S. cadets who dealt with the Brits' seeming inability to cope with technical problems. What do you look for when something breaks down? If you are a Yank, you look for a pair of pliers and some wire. If you are a Brit, you look for a telephone". (To call for maintenance).

Re Grading School my post 5647 page 283 refers to my Dad's 12 hours 10 at No. 3 E.F.T.S. before being sent to Florida No. 5 B.F.T.S.

Ian BB
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Old 15th Sep 2015, 00:20
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Chugalug (your #7392),

As far as I could see, in the "normal" case it seemed to depend on how many hours you had clocked up before solo. Eight seemed average, nine - and you were looking shaky, over nine and the Chief Instructor would take you for a "check" ride. In a very few cases he might give you a second chance with a new instructor, but for most people it was the chop. (In the little batch of printed name cards they gave you for your name badge, there were two or three blue (UpperClassman), two or three red (LowerClassman) - or vice versa - and a solitary white (Washout). They thought of everything !)

I must say that, when we moved on to Basic and Advanced Schools, we did not find that there was much spare space on our Courses. Indeed, I would think that, if anything like 100% of the Primary intake had passed through, they would have been hopelessly overcrowded. I have an unworthy suspicion that the final numbers required for graduation had been decided in advance, and "washout" rates tailored to that end. The fact that (as Petet has noted), the fail rate for USAAC Cadets was much the same as ours points in that direction.

Of course, it would make sense from their point of view. They needed (in peacetime) a certain number of new pilots every month; this was a way to skim off the better half from the expected intake and get quality with the required quantity. But I must empathise that that is merely my suspicion, I know of no evidence to support it.

It would be interesting to see a TV series on the subject: I suppose they could get hold of enough old film footage to show Stearmans and AT-6s in numbers (or get hold of two or three, as there are plenty of them still flying, spray them up in WWII training colours, and multiply-up with CGIs). I am prepared to offer my services as technical advisor (only joking !) Who shall we have as the Top Gun ?

And now it is the 15th September, the 75th anniversary of the climacteric day (a Sunday) of the BoB. At the time, it was claimed that the RAF had downed 185 Luftwaffe aircraft on land (plus an unknown number in the sea and others who did not make it back to their bases in N. France). The H.M.S.O. "Battle of Britain" publication referred to "a battered and beaten Armada". In fact, the figures were hopelessly exaggerated (Wiki has a very good entry), but the rest of the world at the time (which had mostly "written off" Britain as a lost cause), suddenly realised that we were still in with a fighting chance.

Predictably, our "meejah" is largely disinterested in a day which ranks with Trafalgar and Waterloo.

Danny.

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Old 15th Sep 2015, 04:50
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Pete,

IMHO, the "bugbear" of different American military discipline is much overstated. As in all Armies, if you try to "buck" the system, it will "buck" you. If you obey reasonable orders (and nearly all were), you'll get along just fine together.

Infractions of Camp rules were rewarded by the award of "Demerits"; when you had accumulated a certain number of these, you had to work them off by hours of punishment drill under the blazing sun ("walking the ramp") outside the Admin Building, where the Officer of the Day and his Master Sergeant could keep an eye on you. At Carlstrom, any careless mistreatment of a parachute seen was rewarded by having to carry it right round the mile-square of the Field (with flying in progress, so you dare not go too far in from the fence, or cut the corners).

Breaches of flying discipline were never tolerated (or refusal to obey an order): the offender would be on the next train back to Canada, his dream of becoming a military pilot dashed for ever.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do ! If they want you to learn their Foot and Arms drill, then learn it. It is just as easy to march to "Hup!-two-three-four" as to "Left-right-left-right!" "To the Rear, March!" turns you round just as well as "About Turn!" (but in a different way).

"Hazing", as I have said, was a problem only for one Class (42A). Admittedly, it was abhorrent to them, and in some cases violently resisted: there are examples quoted in early Posts on this Thread, and I have told the (unsupported) story of the mass riot at Carlstrom (between the last American Course and the first British). I can see the the USAAC point of view, the young American cadet had grown up in much more of a free and independent society than his British counterpart (more disciplined and naturally deferential to authority as we were then).

So they had to break him down in humiliating, pointless and soul-destroying ways before starting to train him up into an effective and disciplined soldier. Hazing was an essential part of that process, for it set senior cadet against junior (with the positions reversed at every stage), so that they had periods of giving orders alternating with others of obeying them. Of course, that would never work with us. Although there was always friendly rivalry between successive Courses and many practical jokes were played, if Higher Authority imposed stupid and unneccessary rules, all students would sink their differences to form an united front against their tormentors.

An interesting feature of the BFTS system was that they were required to take 10%(?) USAAC Cadets (for comparison with the US training system). But the Arnold Schools took no further US Cadets after the last US Class had passed through. I have reported that, at my Advanced School, Craig Field, Selma we had one "creamed off" Pilot Officer posted in as an instructor. I would think that he would have been a "one-off", for the idea was that any such would instruct at a BFTS (where he would be under RAF command) rather than at an Arnold school (a US Army Base). See:

The British Flying Training Schools in the USA 1941-1944 - BBC
www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/17/a7189617.shtml‎CachedSimilar
"Altogether, some 18,000 RAF cadets passed through the BFTS and Arnold Schemes. Another 1,000 USAAF cadets were also trained at the BFTSs".

From this I deduce that the BFTS intake would be 10,000, but the Arnolds only operated June'41-Mar'43, whereas the BFTS worked from June'41- early'45.

More later.

Danny.
 
Old 15th Sep 2015, 15:30
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Pilot Output Numbers

The documents I have do not show intake figures (only pilot output figures) so I can't add anything to the wastage figures.

I have total output figures of:

Refresher: 598
Arnold: 4370
Towers: 1784
BFTS: 6921

The document adds that 558 American Cadets were trained at BFTS (1943/1944) and that 2081 Fleet Air Arm pilots were also trained under Towers.

(Note: I have not included the figures for observers or WOP/AG's trained at PAA or under Towers)

I have a year by year breakdown of these figures if they are of use.

I am not sure if any of this information is helping you solve your conundrum but I hope it is useful input which may enable you to draw conclusions at some stage in the future

Regards

Pete
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