The RAF At War

The RAF At War The Unseen Films 1941-42 1 of 7 The First Thing

During the early years of World War II, Royal Air Force training underwent significant changes and adaptations to meet the demands of the conflict. RAF training was essential to produce skilled pilots, navigators, and other aircrew personnel to support the war effort. Here’s an overview of RAF training during the early years of the war:

  1. Recruitment and Selection: Potential candidates for RAF training were often volunteers, but conscription was also implemented later in the war. Candidates had to meet certain physical and educational requirements. They underwent medical examinations and aptitude tests to determine their suitability for various roles within the RAF.
  2. Initial Training: Once selected, recruits underwent basic training, which included physical fitness, drill, and military discipline. They learned about the RAF’s structure and organization and received a uniform.
  3. Elementary Flying Training (EFT): This was the next step for those selected as pilot candidates. EFT included ground school instruction on basic aviation principles and initial flight training on light aircraft, such as the de Havilland Tiger Moth. Trainees learned to handle the aircraft and perform basic maneuvers.
  4. Service Flying Training (SFT): After successfully completing EFT, pilot candidates moved on to SFT, where they flew more advanced training aircraft like the North American Harvard. This stage focused on developing their flying skills, including navigation, aerobatics, and instrument flying.
  5. Operational Training Units (OTUs): After graduating from SFT, aspiring pilots were assigned to OTUs. Here, they would gain experience on the specific type of aircraft they would fly in combat. OTUs simulated combat conditions and provided intensive training to prepare pilots for the realities of aerial warfare.
  6. Navigator and Aircrew Training: Those training to be navigators or other aircrew members underwent specialized training. Navigators learned celestial navigation, map reading, and radio navigation, while air gunners and bombardiers received instruction in their respective roles.
  7. Ground Crew Training: The RAF also needed ground crew members to maintain and service aircraft. This training was provided in technical schools, where individuals learned skills like aircraft maintenance, engine repair, and armament.
  8. Advanced Training: As the war progressed, the training curriculum evolved to keep pace with new technologies and tactics. Advanced training programs were introduced for specialized roles, such as night fighter pilots, bomber crews, and fighter pilots.
  9. Operational Squadrons: After completing their training, aircrew members and ground personnel were assigned to operational squadrons, where they participated in combat missions. This was where they gained practical experience and contributed to the war effort.

The RAF’s training program was designed to produce competent and adaptable personnel to serve in various roles within the Royal Air Force. Training methods and curricula continued to evolve throughout the war as new challenges arose and technological advancements were made, ensuring that the RAF remained an effective force in the conflict.

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