Observers And Navigators:- And Other Non-Pilot Aircrew in the RFC, RNAS and RAF
Part I traces the rise and fall of the first generation of non-pilot aircrew, the observers, aerial gunners / gunlayers and kite balloon observers who flew with the RFC, RNAS and latterly the RAF between 1914 and 1919. Part II examines the way in which the peacetime RAF rapidly dispensed with its observer officers and spent the next fifteen years attempting to make do by misemploying airmen as air gunners on a part time basis. This inadequate practice is contrasted with the very positive attitude towards non-pilots which prevailed within the Royal Navy.
The story continues with the reinstatement of observers in 1934, albeit still as part-time corporals until 1939. Wartime experience soon revealed that the omnipotence of pilots was a myth and by the summer of 1940 all observers and gunners were at least sergeants and increasing numbers were being commissioned. Part III covers the rest of the century, including the last two years of WWII and the ill-conceived '1946 Aircrew Scheme'. Following the latter's demise in 1950, the RAF adopted an all-officer policy for its pilots and navigators. The author examines the way in which this policy of equality has actually been applied while continuing to trace the rises and falls in the fortunes of all non-pilot categories to date.
AEROPLANE 'BOOK OF THE MONTH' March 2002Any self-respecting student of British military aviation ought to have this tome within reach. - AEROPLANE
. . .the author has produced a work which should be mandatory reading for present-day aircrew (including pilots) and recommended reading for those who served in the RAF and are now retired. - AIR PICTORIAL