B-17 Nine-O-Nine

Feb 052013
 
Astro Compass

Astro Compass

The Navigator’s Information File has a description of the Astro Compass (or Astrocompass) .  This device was used by navigators to determine the true heading of the airplane, to steer a true heading, to identify a star, or as a pelorus, a device without magnetic needles used to read bearings.

It is unclear to me if, or how often, this device was actually used.  I ran across an Astro Compass while visiting the United States Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin Air Force Base, near Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

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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).

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Oct 072012
 

WingsMost class books in the collection are from different air fields and training centers.  Pilot training involved pre-flight, primary, basic, advanced, transition and unit training.  After graduating one course, cadets were generally re-assigned to another air field for the next phase of their training.  Interestingly, there seem to be no class books published for transition and unit training programs.

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

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Sep 062012
 
Frederic N. Hernandez

Frederic N. Hernandez
June 6, 1943

Please visit an excellent website, A Tribute to Frederic N. Hernandez, created by Michael Hernandez, the grandson of this decorated World War II Army Air Forces veteran.

2nd Lt. Hernandez served in the 10th Air Force, 7th Bombardment Group, 308th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy).  The site has many fascinating mementos and historical artifacts to see.

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Aug 262012
 
Jack H. Gardner

Jack H. Gardner
circa 1943

There’s something new at the AAF Collection: The Jack H. Gardner Collection. Lt. Jack Gardner enlisted in the Army Air Corps in January 1940 and served until December 1945. He was in the Air Transport Command, and flew all types of aircraft, passengers and cargo throughout the United States and the Pacific Theater. He even flew several secret missions.

Lt. Gardner had a fascinating career in the Army Air Forces during World War II.  His son Bronson Gardner has scanned his father’s collection of service records and papers, and he has graciously contributed them all to the AAF Collection.

This will be an interesting study of one airman’s personal story, as told through vintage photographs, certificates, army orders and paperwork.  A few of these items are available to view now.  I will be adding more items from his collection in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, you can take advantage of the new Collections feature to view the collection.

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Nov 282011
 

Carlsbad AAFI encourage you to visit the Carlsbad Army Air Field community page on Facebook.  It has a great collection of photographs and artifacts.

See it at:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Carlsbad-Army-Airfield/228078510552049

Oct 242011
 

Thieme Crew

I encourage you to visit the Gilbert Malrait and Thieme Crew memorial site at www.2ltmalrait-gilbert.net. It gives an account of a B-24 combat air crew, most of whom were killed in action on April 4, 1944. What makes this site unique is the background and personal history of each crew member. There are lots of photographs and documentation.

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Sep 012011
 

When I started the AAF Collection I was confused over the terms Army Air Corps versus Army Air Forces.  My father often spoke of his service in the Air Corps, but the material I found all seemed to refer to the Air Forces.  I researched the question and uncovered the following history of the Army Air Forces.

Airplanes were a small part of the Signal Corps at the close of World War I. In that war, they were used chiefly for aerial reconnaissance in support of ground troops. A total of 600 American airmen were killed and 340 planes lost. US planes dropped only 138 tons of bombs.1

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Citations

  1. Geoffrey Perret, Winged Victory: The Army Air Forces in World War II. New York: Random House, 1993, pp. 5 and 7.