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  #11  
Old 22nd January 2021, 16:14
Stig Jarlevik Stig Jarlevik is offline
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Re: Free French No. 344 Wellington crew August 18, 1943

Thanks Jan
Stig
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  #12  
Old 22nd January 2021, 20:12
rof120 rof120 is offline
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Just a detail on Bigo commanding this aircraft

QUOTE:

"The odd thing is that I have a LV Ernest Bigo as the pilot in command of this aircraft on the 18th. He was also among the pilots who arrived at the same time as Chevanton to England. Bigo got his wings on 1 Aug 1940."

In theory it could be Bigot instead of Bigo - I don't know.

I know almost nothing on 1943 French naval aviation BUT 1940 within the French Air Force - the Naval Aviation possibly had the same rule - there was a frequently used title and function aboard a multi-aircrew aircraft: COMMANDANT D'AVION. This was not an extra crew member but the crew member who was responsible for the mission, directed its execution and gave orders, if necessary.

There was often (or always?) a "commandant d'avion" in reconnaissance aircraft for the important thing to do was not just to fly and possibly fight but to avoid combat if possible and to come back with information and photographs. This is why the "commandant d'avion" who led the mission was not the pilot but the observer or possibly a navigator, in most cases a full lieutenant (RAF: Flying Officer). He was in charge of navigation too.

With some reservations (I'm not an expert at bomber crews): In bombers the "commandant d'avion" was mostly the navigator, who knew best where the target was and how to get there. He was the NCA, navigateur-commandant d'avion. It could be the bombardier too.

In all instances the "commandant d'avion" could be the pilot: PCA for pilote-commandant d'avion.

The French naval aviation possibly applied the same rules from 1943 on.

Last edited by rof120; 24th January 2021 at 21:30.
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  #13  
Old 22nd January 2021, 21:57
Stig Jarlevik Stig Jarlevik is offline
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Re: Free French No. 344 Wellington crew August 18, 1943

Well Yves

The name Bigo is quoted everywhere in the book, so I think that was his real name.

The problem is that Bigo was not only a navigator (if that was his primary job). The books is very clear that Bigo also was a pilot.
PM Pierre Chevanton Brevet de volante No 1410 dated 10 Nov 1925
LV Ernest Bigo Brevet de volante No 2812 dated 1 Aug 1940

Cheers
Stig
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  #14  
Old 24th January 2021, 04:40
Laurent Rizzotti Laurent Rizzotti is offline
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Re: Free French No. 344 Wellington crew August 18, 1943

This is not the part of the air war I know the best but I will try to help.

During WWII, French units under RAF command will adopt RAF serials but also keep their French designation. Good examples are the Spitfire units in MTO or England, or the two French squadrons of Bomber Command.

The same applies for Flotilla 2FB/344 Sqn, the unit adopted a RAF surname in November 1943 rather than being formed.

As for Bigo being a pilot and the "aircraft captain" (by the way a title that was also used for USN patrol aircraft in WWII), this was becoming more frequent in later years of WWII (while it was probably never the case in 39-40, at least I don't remember seing a pilot being aircraft captain, as far as I remember i twas always the observer in the cases I saw). Especially in the case of Wellingtons, where you can have two pilots. Chevanton being the first pilot and Big the second and aircraft captain. Then I guess that French readers will so say it was Bigo's aircraft while British ones, used to RAF method, will say it was Chevanton's one.

I just checked Lucien Morareau's books on Aeronavale casualties and for the Wellingtons of 2FB/344 that were lost with the whole crew were the following:
19 Dec 1943: Wellington XIII HZ710. 7 KIA (3 pilots (including the aircraft captain), 1 observer, 1 flight engineer and 2 radios)
2 Feb 1944: Wellington XI HZ359.7 KIA (3 pilots (including the aircraft captain), 1 observer, 1 bomb aimer/air gunner and 2 radios)
23 Aug 1944: Wellington XIII HZ588. 7 KIA (2 pilots, 2 observers (including the aircraft captain), 1 flight engineer and 2 radios)

So it finally seems to me that the Wellingtons had a "normal" 6 crew (2 pilots, 1 observer, 1 flight engineer and 2 radios. A "normal" crew for ASW patrols far away from any Luftwaffe aircraft) and the aircraft captain, that might be qualified as a pilot or a observer, will be a 7th man whose responsability was to commande the aircraft rather than perform the pilot or observer role.

By the way I checked 26 Sqn SAAF that was using Wellingtons for the same mission a little more south on the African coast and the usual crew was 6 men for patrols.

It is a pity that 344 Sqn has no ORB in the British archives (and the ORB of 343 Sqn (the Sunderland unit of French Aeronavale) is listed but with the following comment "Missing at transfer" and there is no file).

I could not find the crew aboard the aircraft on the day of the sinking, but found a picture of the men of the flotilla taken on 6 June 1943 in front of two of their new Wellingtons. Bigo and Chevanton are on it:
https://www.anciens-cols-bleus.net/t...flottille-23-f
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  #15  
Old 24th January 2021, 10:29
Stig Jarlevik Stig Jarlevik is offline
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Re: Free French No. 344 Wellington crew August 18, 1943

Thanks Laurent

Yes, my French friends has basically told me the same thing about pilot/commander in ANF. Unfortunately none seems to have the Ardhan 2 FB book, but with both ORB's (343/344 Sq) missing, there is little hope of finding out the complete crew anyway. Pity.

May I ask what books you refer to with regard to losses? I thought I had all books made by L.M.

Cheers
Stig
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  #16  
Old 24th January 2021, 15:30
AndyMa AndyMa is offline
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Re: Free French No. 344 Wellington crew August 18, 1943

Laurent,
Thanks for the info. I know little about Free French activities.
Can you please re-confirm the serial of the Wellington lost on 2 Feb 44? According to the relevant Air Britain serials book, HZ359 was SOC on 19 Nov 44, ex 547 Sqn.
Thanks,
Andy
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  #17  
Old 24th January 2021, 17:02
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Chris Goss Chris Goss is online now
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Re: Free French No. 344 Wellington crew August 18, 1943

Not sure if this helps:

http://avions-de-la-guerre-d-algerie...112979639.html
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  #18  
Old 24th January 2021, 18:37
AndyMa AndyMa is offline
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Re: Free French No. 344 Wellington crew August 18, 1943

Chris,
Thanks, it does. The correct serial was HZ539.
Andy
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  #19  
Old 25th January 2021, 15:35
Laurent Rizzotti Laurent Rizzotti is offline
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Re: Free French No. 344 Wellington crew August 18, 1943

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stig Jarlevik View Post
May I ask what books you refer to with regard to losses? I thought I had all books made by L.M.
Stig
The book is "Mémorial de l'Aéronautique Navale (1910-2010)", by Lucien Morareau, ISBN 978-2-913344-17-4

Regarding serial HS359/539, the typo is mine, the book says correctly HZ539, sorry.
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  #20  
Old 25th January 2021, 16:05
Stig Jarlevik Stig Jarlevik is offline
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Re: Free French No. 344 Wellington crew August 18, 1943

Thanks Laurent

Must have missed that one

Cheers
Stig
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