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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 24th Mar 2010, 23:16
  #1681 (permalink)  
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12 SFTS Spitalgate. Probably flying Oxfords.
Formed: <= Oct 1938

Redesignated: 1 Apr 1942 to 12(P) AFU

which disbanded: 8 Feb 1945

Unit was based at:

RAF Spitalgate :: Oct 1938 - 8 Feb 1945

Established as 12 Flying Training School, the School was renamed 12 Service Flying Training School in Sep 1939, then renamed again on 1 Apr 1942 to 12 (Pilots) AFU. This name remained to disbandment on 8 Feb 1945.

I was stationed there when I came home from Germany in 1945. The only unit flying was training Turkish pilots to fly Beauforts, which the UK government was selling to Turkey. The station also housed the Dominie which was the AOCs personal aircraft. 5 Group Headquarters was at St Vincents, a large house nearer to Grantham. fredjhh
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Old 25th Mar 2010, 17:54
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Flight Engineers tool kit - Cliff?

One i Think more suitable for cliff....

Was there a specific tool that, having been recovered from a Lanc crash site, could possibly fit with the description ".... like a bent coat hanger with a screw driver end"? The "bending" may have happened at journey end ... I'm told that Packard engined Lancs had a beautiful comprehensive factory supplied tool kit, but that may have been appropriated by the ground crew.

Does anyone recognise what it might have been, if not part of a tool kit (don't think it was a replacement aerial, as you sometimes see on cars)!!


Edit: It's apparently the gun stoppage tool. I'm sure it could be used on the Vulture design team too! The silver lining was that both the Halifax, Stirling and Manchester were redesigned as 4 engined bombers, taking them into heavy bomber status and fame.

Last edited by Icare9; 25th Mar 2010 at 18:33.
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Old 25th Mar 2010, 18:18
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I care9

I was told that there existed a screwdriver for going round the corners of the brain to put the loose screw back in the designer that only put two engines on the Manchester. Sounds as though it was left in a Lanc by mistake. Regle
Old 25th Mar 2010, 20:46
  #1684 (permalink)  
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RAF Spitalgate - Oxfords

Thank you Fredjhh.

Thanks to this forum, I am gradually putting these pieces of my jigsaw together. Since yesterday, I have realised that I have actually been to this base, which is located on the outskirts of Grantham. I accompanied some children from my school there on special sports day that was arranged by HM Forces. I never considered at the time that I was covering territory that was familiar to my Mother and her first husband. Although I was aware that Derek Olver had died in flight somewhere near Grantham: I did not connect this base, which is currently home to the Territorial Army with the RAF. As a foreigner, my local knowledge of Lincolnshire leaves a lot to be desired. However, with the generous assistance of the contributors to this site, it is improving.
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Old 26th Mar 2010, 09:27
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Spitalgate was still in use as an RLG for Cranwell well into the 1950s'. My lot' did all their night circuit and bumps and first solos' off a gooseneck flarepath in Piston Provosts. All went well until the good burgers of Grantham turned out the street lighting at midnight somewhat diminishing the visual cues!
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Old 26th Mar 2010, 12:11
  #1686 (permalink)  
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Spitalgate was still being used for some flying as late as 1978 - the Harrier OCU at Wittering used it for training their new pilots in landing and taking off using grass surfaces. The RAF had left Spitalgate by then, I believe, and it was used by the Army.
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Old 26th Mar 2010, 13:26
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In the sixties Spitalgate was used for WRAF recruit training. There was a dance on alternate Thursdays, known colloquially amongst Lincolnshire's Bomber Command ground staff as "Knicker-Ripping Night". I've no idea why. The NAAFI was surrounded by RAFP during the whole of the proceedings to prevent any trainees from leaving the premises.
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Old 27th Mar 2010, 22:47
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In response to regle's wise prompting to ask our questions whilst they may still be answered, I have a couple -

As a young lad after the war it was quite a thrill for me to have a "ride" in a Fraser-Nash type rear turret (powered but unarmed), but as I recall the response to the 'joystick' control lever was such that, ever since, I have thought it amazing that anyone could successfully engage an attacking aircraft with these. Quite clearly they did from time to time; I know I am asking a lot, but can anyone offer a first hand view as to how crews felt about the effectiveness of the powered turrets, and was there any opinion as to the value of the directly-aimed 0.5s as carried by the B17s?
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Old 28th Mar 2010, 14:55
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Another Gem

I happened across this excellent autobiographic account of WWII RAF training last night. The author served 1943-1947, was a very talented writer, and had a memory that puts most to shame.

home2 (nvquinnell)

Another good example of getting our seniors and even our not so senior to sit down and write or at least tape this priceless history before it fades away.
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Old 28th Mar 2010, 19:43
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StbdD - home2 (nvquinnell)

I found this story interesting because my father was a staff pilot at No 5 B&G school in Dafoe after he finished his tour (coastal command - Turnberry). There are very few pictures of the airbase so was nice to add these to my collection. Like many of the BCATP training schools in Canada it was in the middle of nowhere and the B&G schools were always near a large lake where the practice bombs were dropped. In fact, in recent history, there was a bad drought at Mossbank B&G (Old Wives Lake) revealing a crashed Anson.

The Dafoe website sums it (yes 1980 so probably nothing left today)
To-day, in 1980, there remains but little of what was No. 5 B R G, Dafoe. The buildings, barracks, offices, classrooms, and all except one hangar have been dismantled or moved away. Grass and weeds have asserted their rights. Poles, posts, light standards, and markers are gone. Stillness reigns. Through the process of time, the decay of ages has crumbled the once-active, hustling, bustling station to a few dim scars of roadways and runways. Soon, it will no longer exist not even in the memories of those who knew it.
Dafoe RCAF base - Dafoe Internet Directory, Dafoe,Sask

Last edited by rmventuri; 28th Mar 2010 at 20:00.
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Old 28th Mar 2010, 20:07
  #1691 (permalink)  
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St. Eval Ops


Curious, did your ops at St. Eval count as full or half? Also how many ops did you fly while at St. Eval?
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Old 28th Mar 2010, 22:57
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St Eval

St Eval ops were counted as half. I think ALL Coastal Command ops were considered as half ops on transfer to Bomber Command. I did seven in the three weeks of my attachment. The first few days we spent in the classroom learning ship recognition and estimating speeds and tonnage. I did a flight of one hour and a night landing, and the following day an anti-sub patrol.
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Old 29th Mar 2010, 07:38
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Cliff,on behalf of my uncle who followed a very similar route. What was the exact location of the T I W at Torquay? Thanks.
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Old 29th Mar 2010, 09:04
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When I joined up, No 1 Aircrew Receiving Wing was at Babbacombe, and No 5 ITW was in Torquay. The Wing was composed of several Squadrons, spread over many Hotels. No 4 Squadron, 5 ITW was at the Toorak Hotel. I think No 3 Squadron was at the Regina Hotel, but I cannot remember the others. There may have been a Squadron at the Palace Hotel.
There was another ITW at PAIGNTON, but i have forgotten the number.
Later, No 1 Aircrew Receiving Wing was move to St John's Wood in London, and our Squadron Leader from 5 ITW became the Wing Commander I/C.
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Old 29th Mar 2010, 09:41
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Turrets and Ammunition


Pilots were required to have some knowledge of every aircrew position so, at OTU, when flying as a passengers I took advantage of flying in a rear turret on two occasions in Whitleys, and I had a postwar flight in a Wellington. Whitleys and Wellingtons used Frazer Nash turrets, operated by two handle-bar controls which rotated the turret and elevated or depressed the guns. A firing trigger was on each hand control.
Halifaxes used Boulton Paul turrets, operated by a single stick control in a diamond shaped cut out panel, with a gun button on top, and I tried this type on a ground gunnery trainer. I found both types fairly easy to manipulate. At Abingdon we had an FN turret fitted with a 12 bore shot gun for clay pigeon shooting. After about 100 rounds the barrel had to be re-welded to the turret, because there was no recoil mechanism fitted to the gun.
.303 ammunition was quite inadequate in air defence. The maximum range was about 400 yards, with an alarming ‘drop’ over that distance. The use of .303 for so long was criminal, as the authorities were well aware of its shortcomings.
My first sight of .5 ammunition was when an American B17 landed at St Eval in December 1942. I was amazed at the size of each round, compared with .303, and the huge quantity of ammunition beside each side gun.
In a book written by Arthur A Durand, “Stalag Luft 111, the secret story,” (ISBN 1-85260-248-1), there is an interesting account of American gunners.
The Commanding Officer of a Gunnery School in the USA joined an investigation team to discover why their graduates were not proving well in battle. The Colonel came to the UK and flew with an experienced B17 crew for a bombing operation on the Ruhr. When the German fighters attacked, the Colonel “cursed aloud when the gunners opened up while the fighters were a good two thousand yards away.” He stared in disbelief as the gunners sprayed their bullets across the sky. The urge to “hose down the enemy” was too strong. The trigger happy gunners deluged the FW190s and, in the process, shot up one another.
Unfortunately the Colonel could not report his findings, as they were shot down!
I remember American crews in POW camp saying they were shot down by their “buddies” in the formation. It was, of course, impossible to fit interruptor or baffle plates on free guns. Looking up from a Prisoner of War camp, as the American formations flew over us, it seemed a suicidal way to go to war, - but they got through.
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Old 29th Mar 2010, 10:56
  #1696 (permalink)  
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Mercury Rising

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Cliff,on behalf of my uncle who followed a very similar route. What was the exact location of the T I W at Torquay? Thanks
Mercury I am sorry but I can't remember an H.Q, although I suppose that there was one. I only remember marching from the railway station to the Windermere Hotel ( c/w warm and cold water)where we remained for six months. I don't think we had any contact with any one else. But ?

Beautiful sea views across Torbay.Classes were held in any available building, anywhere in Torquay. P.T , on wet days was held on the town hall sprung dance floor. Swimming in the harbour or sea. Meals in the hotel basement.
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Old 29th Mar 2010, 16:18
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Fred, I remember when I was on an S.B.A. (Standard Beam Approach ) course at Wyton on the 9th. of March, 1943, I met the Captain of a B17 or Flying Fortress as we called it then. He had landed there for some reason or other and I remembered we had trained at the same bases in the U.S.A. He had to do an Air Test before leaving and took me as his second Dicky. He allowed me to take-off and land and I remember that I had never experienced such a "heavy on the controls" aircraft in my life. I had never flown anything heavier than a Boston or Mitchell up to then but even when I flew Halifaxes and Lancasters they were much lighter than the B17 on the controls and especially the Lanc. By the way. a few days earlier , I had flown the "Groupie's," Tiger Moth ,(Nearly all Group Captains commanding an R.A.F. Bomber Station had their own Tiger Moth for getting around in ) also for the first time in my life, as I had trained on the much more powerful Stearman. What a contrast ! I was struck by the armament of the Fortress and had never seen such concentrated power before or since in a WW11 Aircraft. As you say, the .303 was a scandal and had the hitting power of a pea shooter when fitted in two and even one gun positions on the Heavy Bombers of the R.A. F. Regle
Old 29th Mar 2010, 19:20
  #1698 (permalink)  
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Three good books about WW11 RAF Training are

Yellow Belly by John Newton Chance

The Devil Take the Hindmost by Denis Peto- Shepherd

What did you do in the war Daddy by Dennis Berry
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Old 30th Mar 2010, 02:52
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Anti Sub Patrol Logistics


Thanks for the clarification on the St Eval Ops. I would really like to hear a detailed account of one or more of your anti-sub patrols while at St Eval. From some of your prior posts I know these were long 8 to 11 hr ops flying at low altitude. Curious if the gunners on the Whitley were only responsible to defend from enemy aircraft or did you postion them so they could engage the sub? Was the preference to bomb a sub or postion the Whitley so the gunners had the best shot? An entry in Doug's logbook (rear gunner) he states "anti-sub patrol - two sightings - two attacks - 800 rnds"


Last edited by rmventuri; 30th Mar 2010 at 05:34. Reason: clarification
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Old 30th Mar 2010, 08:25
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If I remember these ancient aircraft correctly, the Whitley flew with a nose down attitude, so may have been perfect for scanning the sea!. As Reg has already said, the .303 calibre Browning was fairly useless against aircraft, so bullets would have just bounced off a U boat!!

Principal reason would be to force it to dive, and thereby use its slower electric motors and thereby lose contact with any shipping it might be trying to attack. It could also alert RN ships to the position to hopefully make a successful attack, while the merchantmen carried on. Firing might have "encouraged" any sailors that diving was a better option than staying on the surface to fight (sadly when they did, inevitably the RAF came off worst).
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