Canada Trains Them By Tens of Thousands

by Janet R Keith

Billion dollar program operates 154 schools — many double the normal size. And already these schools have sent more than 130.000 air and groundcrew graduates to battle.

Canada has been called the fledgling nest of British flyers, an airdrome of democracy, and a training field of United Nations. To a marked degree she deserves all those titles.

Under the urgency of war she has advanced her flying training from a handful of civilian clubs in 1939 to a country-wide network of schools and flying stations. Her aviation organization takes in the youth of many countries and turns out thousands of highly trained airmen every month. It cost better than $1,000,000,000 to bring it to its recently reached full fruition; it is costing close to $500,000,000 a year to operate.

It has in operation today 154 training schools, many of double normal size. To date 130,000 graduates of the training organization have proceeded from its establishments to duties in the British aerial war machine. Of these, 50,000 were aircrew and 80,000 groundcrew. Included in that number are Englishmen, Australians, New Zealanders, Newfoundlanders, Norwegians, Poles, Czechs, Belgians, Americans, and Canadians.

Canada's Combined Training Organization, or CTO., had its beginning in Oct, 1939. Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada decided to pool portions of their aviation funds to create an air training system for British Empire groundcrew and flyers. As a location for the scheme, Canada had special values. She had great open areas of sparse population; her war record in the last conflict proved her sons eminently suited to aviation; her nearness to the huge production of the United States promised supplies; and mainly, her removal by 3,000 mi from the bases of enemy bombers gave safety.

In the leisurely vein of the war of nerves in 1939 and early 1940, the four participating countries readily adopted a program that would bring the training system to maturity in two and a quarter years. They judged that the training of personnel and the hacking of airfields out of fields and forests would take that long.

But Hitler's power-play advance through France blew their schedule wide open. As invasion of the British Isles seemed imminent, Canada offered to send over her flyers then in training to become instructors. Britain said no. She stated that despite the crisis she would prefer them to come in thousands later rather than 1n tens then. But she asked for acceleration.

Thus, from the summer of 1940 on, acceleration became the keynote. Construction companies, contractors, builders, aircraft producers, executives — all were inspired to hard work by the fall of France and the Battle of Britain. All could see that upon air power rested the fate of the cause. They put forth a truly all-out effort, and as a result the organization reached the status originally planned by mid-1941 — a good year ahead of time.

It has continued to expand and, very recently, it reached what is said to be its ultimate size.

How the CTO has been financed, how it has developed, and what form its future progress will take were discussed recently in the Canadian House of Parliament by Hon C G Power, minister of the air division of the national defense department. Discussing costs, Mr Power's statements can be summarized as follows:

CTO expenditures are running currently at about $10,000,000 monthly. On this basis — with no allowance for further expansion — cash requirements for 1943-44 would be approximately $480,000,000. The amount of cash requirement for 1943-44 is stated as $445,335,845, it being considered that Canada will stand to benefit by United Kingdom contributions to a somewhat greater extent than heretofore because of greater deliveries of aircraft and supplies for British account being expected in 1943- 44 from the United States and Great Britain. Also, capital expenditures are expected to decline in 1943-44.

There is a great difference between the original financing plan and that now in effect. Changes resulted from the air training conference in Ottawa (June, 1942) at which the US government and Air Forces were represented.

Main points of the original agreement signed in 1939 were these:

  1. Canada paid for the recruiting, manning and all RCAF aircrew training up to the stage of advanced training, these same costs being borne by New Zealand and Australia in respect to the aircrews of those dominions, which subsequent to such training were sent to Canada for advanced training;
  2. United Kingdom supplied all twin-engine aircraft, except Anson wings, a certain number of single-engine aircraft, and half the engines for the elementary training aircraft; and
  3. Total costs of the plan excluding (1) and (2) were to be borne by Canada, with 80.64%; Australia, 11.28%; and New Zealand, 8.08%.

Subsequent to these arrangements and owing to the exigencies of war, the United Kingdom was unable to provide all the aircraft and parts called for. Canada, as agent for the United Kingdom, then purchased necessary equipment to a total of $98,000,000, largely from the United States.

In the latter part of 1941 certain RAF schools were established in Canada, the entire cost of which, except land, was to be borne by the United Kingdom. A new agreement was entered into June 5, 1942, to extend activities of the training plan to Mar 31, 1945.

On June 30, 1942, the financial situation under the old agreement was substantially as follows: Total expenditures under the plan, excluding contributions in kind by the United Kingdom, were $500,567,000, of which $43,000,000 was payable by Australia and $35,000,000 by New Zealand. Total monetary obligation of the UK under this arrangement on July 1, 1942, was approximately $279,000,000, of which $66,500,000 has been received and the balance is presently being examined by both governments for final settlement. The value of contributions in kind from the UK to that date probably exceeds $100,000,000.

The present agreement calls for maintaining all RCAF and RAF schools in existence on June 30, 1942, and institution of additional schools, particularly the more advanced training units. The entire cost of training in Canada of RAF, RCAF, RAAF and RNZAF aircrews, including recruiting, manning, and elementary training of RCAF aircrews previously borne exclusively by Canada and operational training previously borne exclusively by the United Kingdom was estimated to cost $1,446,000,000 from July 1, 1942 to Mar 31, 1945. The agreement called for the United Kingdom to assume a liability for half this amount, $723,000,000.

The governments of Australia and New Zealand will pay for training their personnel in Canada on a per capita basis as arranged between the governments of United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. The amounts received for such training will be credited to the UK against her liability to Canada.

Under the present agreement lasting to Mar 31, 1945, Canada is supplying a substantial proportion of the trainees but not the proportion she supplied under the old agreement because of the larger total, and numbers of trainees sent by UK is increased. This includes men from other parts of the Empire and from European members of the United Nations. Complete coordination of air training has been established, with the RAF schools preserving identity but integrated under RCAF control. Canada, as administrator of the plan, determines the nature and quantities of equipment required.

"Quality rather than quantity has become the keynote of the training organization," Minister Power emphasized. "As a more experienced training organization emerges, so the caliber of training improves.

"The first great rush to get people overseas in a hurry is about over," he added. "Subsequent developments have been directed more toward improving the quality of training than increasing the number of air crews graduating. The ever-changing methods of modern warfare require continual revision of training methods and teaching of additional subjects. To meet this condition, greater emphasis is being laid on specialist training in navigation, armament, and instrument flying. Some new schools have been opened and others will be opened, but the period of large expansion is past.

"The objective of the plan," he explained, "was to train thousands of commonwealth aircrews in order (1) to meet and hold the enemy air strength and prevent it from doing too much damage to Great Britain, then the last citadel in Europe as well as the future spring- board for an attack on Hitler; (2) to attain air supremacy; (3) to destroy enemy air power; and (4) to destroy the economic life of Germany and its allies. We can say without false pride that the air training plan has been a mighty factor in the attainment of the first three objectives. It has contributed largely to the local air superiority won in Africa and over the continent of Europe and promises to be an essential element in the realization of the final objective — that of crushing out of existence German economic might."

Minister Power revealed that Canada has trained 50,000 men for aircrew duties.

"That number," he said, "would be more than enough to man 15,000 combat planes. We passed that figure several months ago, and even making allowance for the interruption in training that took place this winter owing to unseasonable weather, there is no slackening in our effort to continue to produce aircrews at a rate more accelerated than heretofore. We have not as yet reached peak production on a monthly basis and will not reach that peak production for several months. When we do, we will continue to produce trained aircrews for the duration of the war, as long as we can find men in Canada and in the United Nations of the caliber, quality, and aptitude to make aircrews."

He pointed out that the air force requires 53,000 recruits during the current year.

"This provides for our aircrews and male groundcrews," he said, "but does not take into consideration enlistments required for the women's division. Almost 12,000 women have been enlisted, and although present enlistments in this category are substantial, existing training facilities would enable us to accept an even larger number than those offered at present. The air training plan is now fairly well stabilized, which means that our aircrew requirements henceforth will be fairly constant, and the number required for groundcrews will dwindle to a point providing only for normal replacements.

"The air force has always been in the fortunate position of having a substantial reserve of aircrew recruits awaiting training. Since the beginning of the year, however, this reserve has been considerably reduced. Potential applicants in the upper age brackets are no longer available in any substantial numbers, and as the war progresses we have to depend more and more upon the group of young men becoming of enlistment age each year."

Construction of units is almost at a standstill, Power revealed.

"New schools, other than those already planned, are not contemplated at the moment," he said. "We are, however, planning for additional accommodation for men and machines at certain types of schools, but brought about largely by new and changing requirements in the aircrew categories and in the methods of training the men.

"With regard to aircraft, the new Combined Training Organization requires, naturally, more than the old. We now have over 10,000 training aircraft. We will need many more before we are through. And we now have the assurance that, largely due to Canadian production — in fact, entirely due to Canadian production — these requirements will be met, insofar as certain categories of training aircraft are concerned. But we need not be complacent about numbers. The airplanes are not always serviceable, and though we did not come to the dead end — which I feared might he possible some 18 mo ago when I pointed out to the House that owing to the hard usage and the shortage of spares we might be in a difficult position — there are times when there are delays, and we still have our days of anxiety. And there are certain types of machines for certain special types of schools which are very difficult to obtain.

"With regard to the number of schools under the original contract to produce the number of graduates then envisioned, there were to have been established in Canada a maximum number of 74 schools and other units. A comparison of the original plan with the actual situation as of Mar 31, 1943, indicates that we almost doubled that. There are actually 154 schools in operation today. In many cases schools have twice the capacity originally planned, so that these figures do not reflect the full development which has taken place."

Minister Power further revealed statistics of distances flown by Canadian planes, operating in the training organization.

"The average miles flown per day in the training plan," he said, "is 2,006,626, a distance equal to 80 times around the earth at the equator. The total miles flown in Mar, 1943, were ($2,205,415, a distance about equal to 260 trips to the moon. The miles flown in the first quarter of 1943 were 162,569,510. The cumulative number of miles flown by the joint air training plan from its inception to Mar, 1943, totaled 6,588,098,593, which is equal to 71 trips to the sun."


This article was originally published in the November, 1943, issue of Aviation magazine, vol 42, no 11, pp 219, 221, 278-279, 281.
The original article includes 4 photos.
2 photos credited to RCAF; 2 photos not credited.