Aircrew Positions

Joined: May 8th, 2016, 10:06 pm

February 1st, 2017, 9:20 pm #1

Hi Guys,

My name is Caleb,I'm 15 and from Australia. I found this forum on the RAF/Commonwealth Air Forces reenactment forum.
I really like the Halifax (MKIIIB), and wanted to know about the Wireless op. Wikipedia says that the wireless op manned the front single Browning. I thought that would be the Bomb Aimers responsibility, since he hasn't much else to do on the way to the target, but help the navigator.
Also does anyone have info on Halifax Pathfinder Squadrons?

Thank you.

Kind regards,
Caleb
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: January 1st, 2013, 9:37 pm

February 2nd, 2017, 11:01 am #2

Caleb

I can't answer your initial question, but I may be able to help with information on Halifax Pathfinder Squadrons as I am in the process of researching the history of one of them, No. 35 Squadron.

Regards

Pete
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: March 8th, 2016, 9:17 pm

June 26th, 2018, 11:40 pm #3

Prune1942 wrote: Hi Guys,

My name is Caleb,I'm 15 and from Australia. I found this forum on the RAF/Commonwealth Air Forces reenactment forum.
I really like the Halifax (MKIIIB), and wanted to know about the Wireless op. Wikipedia says that the wireless op manned the front single Browning. I thought that would be the Bomb Aimers responsibility, since he hasn't much else to do on the way to the target, but help the navigator.
Also does anyone have info on Halifax Pathfinder Squadrons?

Thank you.

Kind regards,
Caleb
Hi Caleb

The crew positions in the Halifax MkIII, with the exception of the air gunners whose positions were self-explanatory.

Walking forward from the entry hatch on the port side the first was the flight engineers space directly behind the pilot. Then there were three small steps down to the wireless op's desk. Just in front of the wireless op was the navigator's desk and then lying down in front of him was the bomb aimer in the Perspex fairing.
I say the "flight engineer's space" because unlike the others in the crew, the F/E had to be able to move about in the fuselage to undertake any in-flight repairs or other emergencies such as fire fighting which might have become necessary.

The single machine gun in the nose was fitted on the MkIII onwards after the front turret was removed, but in the later years of the war head-on attacks by fighters weren't that effective, preferring to attack from behind and below instead so the forward facing gun tended not to be used that much, or if it was it was thought of as more of a frightener rather than an effective weapon.
Operation of the forward facing machine gun was usually the responsibility of the bomb aimer.
 
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: March 9th, 2004, 5:14 pm

June 28th, 2018, 9:24 pm #4

Hey Caleb,

My dad was a WAG (Wireless Air Gunner) in WWII. He explained to me that his primary job was the Wireless and stood in as a spare gunner if needed. Brian is right in that the belly of the Halifax was it’s vulnerability. Many crews eventually took out the radar, cut a slot in the dome and put a board across to act as a seat and hold a gun. Surprised a lot of Germans that way....
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: March 8th, 2016, 9:17 pm

June 28th, 2018, 9:52 pm #5

Regarding the duty of the W/AG, as the electronics became more complex within the aircraft, more complex radio, radar (H2S) for the bomb aimer and the navigator, GEE and later OBOE on some aircraft, etc. the wireless op was reclassified to "Signaller", wearing the "S" brevet. On some squadrons, especially those of 100 Group they even became airborne electronics specialists.

On the subject of other members of the crew being expected to become a stand-in air gunner, that applied to almost every other crewman, be they flight engineer, bomb aimer or wireless op., as I've shown in the picture of the "List of Flight Engineer's Duties, Extract from A.M.O. A.538/1943" which you can find in my little booklet about my father's RAF service.
Quote
Like
Share

d53
Joined: August 4th, 2018, 7:04 pm

August 4th, 2018, 7:08 pm #6

Could the WAG sub for the mid upper or tail gunner if necessary?
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: March 8th, 2016, 9:17 pm

August 4th, 2018, 7:49 pm #7

Regarding the rear gunner, the main problem there would have been getting an injured crewman out of his position in the rear turret while in flight. The mid upper gunner could have been replaced a little more easily, but even that wasn't as straightforward.
The crewman who could move about in the fuselage most easily was the flight engineer and it was written up in his "List of Duties" that he was expected to act as an air gunner if it became necessary.
I believe that the Wireless operators job on the four engine "heavies" was more complex than that of the earlier Wop/AG on the two engine medium bombers, apart from which it was quite difficult for him to get out from his operating position to any of the air gunner's positions.
Quote
Like
Share

Confirmation of reply: