HANG North Symposium 2013 29th August 2013 - Part 2
Photo: Arthur Creighton
A cold war navigator in Bomber Command
Those delegates who’d heard Arthur Creighton talk before knew they were in for an entertaining and amusing talk from Arthur entitled ‘A Cold War Navigator in Bomber Command’ and they were not disappointed. Arthur trained and flew as a Navigator in the RAF after which he trained as a Pilot and flew with Monarch Airlines for 30 years including 25 years as a Captain. Overall, he amassed over 30,000 flying hours. Arthur began by stating that he preferred to have RIN after his name, as the alternative would have been the Royal Institute of Pilots! His illustrated talk comprised a series of anecdotes starting with his time as an air cadet and continuing through his navigator training and into his first tour as a Canberra Navigator/Bomb Aimer at Coningsby very close to where he was standing this afternoon. He then went on to train as a V Force Navigator Radar and completed a tour on the PR Valiant, which included operating in some very interesting places including north of the Artic Circle. Then after spending time at the RAF College of Air warfare, he retired from the service and trained as a civilian pilot.
Dave Pike A WW2 Lancaster Navigator's Logs & Charts Analised
By now the afternoon was beginning to resemble a bowl of alphabet soup with only Ns included, because next to speak was former Vulcan Navigator Radar and Secretary of the East Midlands Branch Dave Pike. Dave’s talk was entitled ‘A Lancaster Navigator’s Logs and Charts Analysed’ in which he recounted how during the HANG North 2012 visit to the RAF Waddington Heritage Museum he had discovered a folder containing almost all the logs and charts completed by Flying Officer D Pybus, a navigator with 463Sqn RAAF of Bomber Command during his tour of 32 operations between September 1944 and April 1945. Dave explained how he had colour photocopied these to prevent further damage during his study of their contents. Their detail provided a rare minute by minute account, in the navigator’s own hand, of how bomber operations were conducted during this final stage of WW2.
As expected, the logs confirm that, compared to the early days, by September 1944 the Force had been moulded into an accurate and deadly killing machine relying heavily upon: saturating the enemy defences by the use of a ‘bomber stream’ held closely together by the use of the hyperbolic aid Gee, and at greater range, by Loran; the use of electronic warfare to confuse enemy radar; and the use of ‘pathfinders’ and a ‘master bomber’ to indicate and control the target area.
The logs also indicated unexpected details including: the total absence of astro navigation; negligible use of visual pinpoints and radio bearings; the crew’s early sorties being anything but gentle introductions; the neatness of the navigator’s printing, even in combat; and the fact that all his logs and charts were marked and commented upon by his Navigation Leader on return.
Dave pointed out that the techniques being taught during his own navigator training in 1967 and 68 had changed little from those being used by Flying Officer Pybus in 1945 despite major changes to the performance of the aircraft and navigation equipment available and the threat and the mission profiles applying.
Final notes: The HANG Special Interest Group and the East Midlands Branch thank the Memorial Flight for their kind attentions during the day, and after the financial account was closed we were able to present BBMF with a cheque for £231, which they assure us will be forwarded to the Bomber Command Memorial Upkeep Fund.
Jeff Hesketh is keen to point out that the BBMF ‘Ambassadors’ are available for presentations away from Coningsby and can be contacted via http://www.raf.mod.uk/bbmf/contacts.cfm