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2001 Closed threads from 2001 (read only)

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Old 19 November 2001, 08:34 AM   #1
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I`m very interested in what role pilot training impacted life expectancy for a combat pilot in WW1. Was there that big of a difference between how the allies trained vs. how the Germans and Austrians trained? If so, does anyone know of any specific differences? Also, how much of the training as far as tactics were done at the unit level? I`ve read how von Richtoften would always fly with the new men first to observe them. Finally, can anyone recommend any written works that might be of use to me in researching training methods?
Old 20 November 2001, 11:10 AM   #2
Michael Skeet
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There were plenty of differences between the Allied air forces, much less between Allies and Central Powers. Hell, there were plenty of differences between RFC UK and the RFC in Canada and Australia.

The RFC did an extremely poor job of training aircrew for the first two-plus years of the war, and no doubt the poor training had a great impact on life expectancy. However, the rush to get pilots through training was itself affected by Trenchard's policies of constant offensive and "no empty chairs". When Smith-Barry took over RFC training in mid-1917 he corrected most of the problems, and by early 1918 I would argue that the RAF was doing a better job of training pilots than anyone.

If you can find it (it's out of print), Denis Winter's "First of the Few" has some good bits on training. Or (ahem) I believe there's an article by yours truly on the Aerodrome site. (Click the "Aces" link and look for number 6.)
Old 21 November 2001, 09:01 AM   #3
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That's an excellent article.


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Old 21 November 2001, 11:43 AM   #4
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"There were plenty of differences between RFC UK and the RFC in Canada and Australia."

I cannot comment on Australia, but as for Canada, the RFC (later RAF) training curriculum and methods were essentially those of the RFC in Britain. *The only significant difference was the exclusive use of the JN-4 as a training aircraft (Avro 504 production was just commencing in the autumn of 1918 and only two were built in Canada). *As changes and improvements were made in the methods, accidental deaths declined in Canada as well as in Britain.

The RFC/RAF training program in Canada was essentially a British undertaking, organized by the RFC and the Imperial Munitions Board, and the overwhelming number of officers and instructors at the outset were British veterans who had been sent to Canada. *Local Canadian content consisted mainly of medical staff, pay and administrative staff, etc seconded from the Canadian Militia. *As time passed, the instructional staff was composed increasingly of Canadian veterans of the air war. *For more on this, see S.F. Wise, CANADIAN AIRMEN AND THE FIRST WORLD WAR.
Old 22 November 2001, 12:42 AM   #5
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Training in a Camel,had a effect on life
Old 22 November 2001, 03:13 AM   #6
Michael Skeet
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There were differences enough, it seems to me, between RFC Canada and training in the UK. Most of them seem to be minor, though -- attitudes toward discipline, for example.

I find it hard to believe that something as basic as choice of aircraft could account for the dramatic difference in fatality rates between the two training establishments. Yes, the Jenny was superior in all respects to the Farman. But the UK squadrons didn't use Farmans exclusively. So what else could account for the difference?

I confess I've been unable to learn anything significant on this score (and I've read Wise several times). Any thoughts on this subject? Anyone? Bueller?
Old 29 November 2001, 11:36 AM   #7
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Michael- thanks for pointing me to your article. It is by far the most detailed info I have been able to find to date. My research into this topic has been very enlightning so far, though I have not been able to find much in the way of resources. The French seemed indeed to have a very different attitude towards the training of pilots than the Brits. One can only view British methods as being somewhat callous, if not indeed criminal in the early phases of the war. I would like to contrast this with how the Central powers trained their pilots, but so far all I have been able to find is what von Richthofen has to say on his own training in "The Red Air Fighter". I`ve most recently read from a book titled Hostile Skies that concerns the U.S. experience. I knew that U.S. pilots were trained by the British and French, but did not realize that U.S. pilots were trained by the Italians at a school in Foggia. Their methods seem uninspired at best. If anyone could steer me towards some good info on Central powers pilot training, I would be most appreciative.....


pilot, training, life, expectancy

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