The fighters, bombers, seaplanes and flying boats, I depicted in "Britain's Warplanes", would be of little avail without one group of planes the trainers in which men become pilots.
The Magisters, the Tiger Moths, all the trainers, are surely as much a part of the pattern of glory stitched by the flying guns of the Royal Air Force as are the Spitfires, the Hurricanes, and the other brave combat planes of Britain's air arm. The high standards of pilot training, maintained by the RAF in the years of peace, have paid a continuingly beautiful dividend combat supremacy over the Luftwaffe.
An RAF recruit becomes a pilot in four stages:. he enters an Initial Training Wing where his nearest approach to flight is in a Link Trainer. He then progresses to an Elementary Flying Training School, through a Service Flying Training School, then to an Operational Training Unit which takes him to the brink of war, and at last to an Operational Squadron.
Fitting tribute to the Flying Training Command was expressed by Capt H H Balfour, Under Secretary of State for Air: "The material we have today is fully worthy of the example handed down by the pilots and crews who so decisively won the Battle of Britain."
The Miles Magister, a two-seat monoplane of wooden construction, is equipped with dual controls for "ab initio" training which means it is the RAF cadet's first introduction to flying. Specifically designed to prepare cadets for "hot" ships in a relatively brief period, it is powered by a Gypsy Major four-cylinder engine, has a maximum speed of 145 mph.
The Miles Master I advanced trainer is 18 powered by 585-hp Kestrel; has ceiling of 28,000 ft.
The Miles Master II, a high-performance trainer, is powered by an air-cooled Bristol Mercury
A twin-engine, three-place-tandem trainer is used at Elementary Flying Training School
Built by Fairey, two-place Battle is used for bombing, gunnery training; has top speed of 257 mph
De Havilland's Tiger Moth is one of RAF's most popular trainers; has top speed of 104 mph
Airspeed's Oxford is a twin-engine advanced trainer. Installation of gun turret amidship is optional
An "ab initio" trainer for night flying; especially useful for teaching tricycle-landing-gear technique
Bristol Bombay, when used as a transport, is fitted to carry twenty-four fully armed troops with equipment. Powered by two supercharged engines, it cruises at a speed of 160 mph, with 2,250 mi range
De Havilland's twenty-place transport, Flamingo, is used mainly by RAF for communications and transport work. Its two 930-hp engines give it a top speed of 239 mph, and a range of over 1.300 miles
Another De Havilland-built transport, the Albatross, has normal accommodations for twenty-two passengers, or sleeper berths for twelve. Powered by four 525-hp engines, it has a maximum speed of 234 mph
Westland-built, this ship is a two-place army cooperation plane largely replaced by North American Mustang. Powered by a Bristol Mercury II engine of 890 hp, its maximum speed is 229 mph at 10,000 ft, service ceiling is 26,000 ft. Armament: three machine guns
Miles Martinet I is a new RAF plane which is being used primarily for towage duties. Firing at a towed target is extremely important part of air-crew training. Future RAF gunners sharpen shooting eye on targets towed behind this ship. It is very maneuverable
Glider pilots are trained under the RAF Flying Training Command although they remain soldiers throughout their instruction. From Elementary Flying Training School, they go to a Glider Training School, where pilot receives his "wings", thence to an Operational Training Unit, and finally are returned to the Army
Shooting at clay pigeons is an ideal way of training air gunners. The gunner enters a mobile turret, a replica of gunner's cockpit in plane, and from this he fires machine gun at clay pigeons released from trap. RAF cadets make it a sporting contest and become efficient, accurate after a little practice
Wireless training of gunner-radiomen is part of RAF elementary training course. Messages are sent to "planes"
Elementary Flying School readies pupils for advanced course. Movies explain effect of airflow on the airplane
Gun and grenade training is given ground staff of RAF. In practice, defenders leap barbed fence to meet foe
Aircraftsmen trainees in Technical Training School wheel a bomber to shed in airdrome procedure practice
Glider-tow-plane pilots, both Canadians, quaff tea between towing tricks at their glider-training school
Hotspur gliders in tow over an Army Cooperation Station where RAF pilots teach glider-pilot students to fly troop-carrying gliders. Ballast is used mainly in early training, rather than a a "live" load. Later, the glider pilot takes airborne troops aloft regularly. Above, two gliders, released from tow planes, peel off preparatory to making spot landings on a practice field
NCO glider pilot of the Glider Regiment has 'chute harness adjusted prior to operational training flight
This pictorial article was originally published in the April, 1943, issue of Skyways magazine, vol 2, no 4, pp 56-63.
The original article includes 25 photos.
Photos are not credited.
This is a companion article to "Britain's Warplanes", Fighters, Bombers, Flying Boats and Seaplanes.