B-17 Nine-O-Nine

Oct 072012

WingsLike pilots, cadets who trained to be bombardiers and navigators were assigned to different air fields for different phases of their training.  They had preflight, gunnery and either bombardier or navigator training, or both.

Here are the phases of bombardier and navigator training as they were in 1944, adapted from The Official Guide to the Army Air Forces (New York:  Pocket Books, Inc., May 1944).

Preflight School: 10 week course. Trainees attend the same preflight school. Both bombardiers and navigators take 48 hours of code; 28 hours of mathematics; 24 hours of maps and charts; 30 hours of aircraft recognition; 12 hours of aero-physics; 9 hours of altitude equipment.

Gunnery School: 6 week course. Because every bomber crew member must be an expert gunner, navigator and bombardier trainees are sent to a flexible gunnery school after preflight school. They learn weapons, ballistics, turret operation and maintenance; gun repairs; air, sea and land recognition; shooting from a moving base and from a turret; firing from the air at ground objects, at tow targets and at other planes with a gun camera. After gunnery school bombardier and navigator trainees separate and each takes a specialized advanced course.

Bombardier School: 20 week course. Following gunnery school, bombardier trainees spend 120 hours in AT-11 training planes on practice bombing runs and 718 hours in ground school. The latter consists of: navigation, 96 hours; bombing, 388 hours; navigation and bombing and related training (code, meteorology, air and sea recognition), 234 hours. At the conclusion of the course trainees are awarded bombardier’s silver wings, appointed flight officers or commissioned 2nd lieutenants, and sent on to unit training.

Navigator School: 20 week course. Following gunnery school navigator trainees spend 104 hours in the air on practical navigation problems, and 782 hours in ground school. The latter includes: pilotage, 8 hours; instruments, 83 hours; dead reckoning, 54 hours; radio, 8 hours; code and recognition, 9 hours each. Upon completing the course, trainees are awarded navigator’s wings, appointed flight officers or commissioned 2nd lieutenants, and advanced to unit training.

Bombardier-Navigator School: 12 week course. Each month a specified number of graduate navigators (180 monthly on March 1, 1944) receive full bombardier’s training, excluding navigation in which they are already proficient. Bombardier-navigator training provides the doubly-trained officers needed for B-29s and for lead planes in medium bomber missions.

  4 Responses to “Bombardier and Navigator Training Requirements”

  1. Mike,
    This information is quite good! With your permission I wouldd like to post it on our CAAF facebook page as it speaks directly to what the Carlsbad Army Air Field was all about.
    Please inform me if it all right to share this great information.
    Bobby Lee Silliman

    We are now up to 87 people who “LIKE” our CAAF FACEBOOK PAGE!

  2. I am reseraching SSGT Gordon E. Worthington Wait Gunner ( Rummans crew mbemer). Do you have the mission report for the 385th Mission 37 on 23rd Nov. 1943 or where could I see/download this ?Also, I cannot access pages 2/3/4 of the Loading list for your published mission above (11th Nov 1943). Please advise and/or email me with any information. Thank you for your help[I sent Mr. McGowan a copy of the part of the Loading List that he needed.]

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