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Old 26th November 2008, 21:16
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Juha Juha is offline
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FC rotation system?

Hello, now and then it seems that not all remember that British system of fighter pilot rotation was different than that of USAAF. Maybe one of RAF specialists would like to write a short overview on British system.
IIRC sometimes in 1941 RAF established a rotation system. IIRC before that it was up to sqn CO, F/Lt, sqn MO or the pilot himself to suggest/order/ask reposting. IIRC one reason of the change of system was that some MOs complained to upper hierarchy that sometimes battle fatigue was noticed too late.
IIRC I have come across info that at least a couple RAF fighter pilots flew appr. 300 combat sorties, so I guess that those RAF/RAAF etc fighter pilots who achieved highest numbers flew more or less same number of combat sorties as those Finns (Juutilainen, Luukkanen ja Pyötsiä)who flew most, i.e. a bit under 450 combat sorties.

And I don’t know or at least cannot recall the number of combat sorties Johnnie Johnson flew. At least the number should be rather high. Can anybody help on this?

Juha
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Old 27th November 2008, 16:43
Franek Grabowski Franek Grabowski is offline
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Re: FC rotation system?

Juha, I am not sure what your question is exactly about. Usually, squadrons were rotated between south and north for a general rest. Sometimes fresh pilots were transfered at the time to replacing units. Quite often squadrons at rest served as training units and air defense units at remote areas. Pilots were treated separately, and if a one accumulated enough flying, he was send for a rest, either ground post or operational training, sometimes other duties like aircraft delivery, etc. Usually, after pilot finished his first tour, he could seek other job.
IIRC Polish record holder is Skalski with about 320-350 missions between 1939 and 1944, then Pniak with about 300 between 1939 and 1940. Possibly there were RAF pilots with more missions, nonetheless not that many. I expect 250 being a good average.
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Old 27th November 2008, 16:52
Graham Boak Graham Boak is offline
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Re: FC rotation system?

In one "fictionalised" account, a Typhoon pilot in 2 TAF late 1944 was tapped on the shoulder and told he was going home, which suggests that even then there was no set number but that judgement was used. Doubtless, as you suggest, under the eye of the unit MO.

I recall that Al Deere left the airforce because of the need to balance his near-continuous front-line service with a long series of staff jobs, and he hated the idea of being away from flying. This suggests him as a likely contender for one of the record holders in this matter. I believe that a rule of thumb is 100 or so sorties per tour, which suggests that many of the late-war Wing Leaders would be around the three hundred figure.
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Old 27th November 2008, 18:36
Franek Grabowski Franek Grabowski is offline
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Re: FC rotation system?

Less, 50 to 70.
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Old 27th November 2008, 21:43
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Re: FC rotation system?

Thank You for your answers, Franek and Graham.
Franek, my question was on combat tour, how many sorties made one tour and how many tours one could make. And the max number of sorties RAF/RAAF etc fighter jockeys achieved during WWII. IIRC from “Wing Leader” Johnson succeeded cut short at least one of his rest periods. So, combat tour was 50-70 sorties? With that one can estimate number of sorties of those who began their operational flying in 42 (or maybe in late 41) or later. For those who began earlier one should know how many sorties they flew before they were rested first time.

And thanks for the Al Deere tip, Graham. BTW, do you know a book which gives a good account on Kingaby’s career? I don’t think that he flew extraordinary number of sorties but he rose in ranks rapidly and seemed to have been effective fighter pilot. So I just want to know more about him.

Juha
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Old 27th November 2008, 22:19
Six Nifty .50s Six Nifty .50s is offline
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Re: FC rotation system?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Juha View Post
Hello, now and then it seems that not all remember that British system of fighter pilot rotation was different than that of USAAF. Maybe one of RAF specialists would like to write a short overview on British system.
IIRC sometimes in 1941 RAF established a rotation system. IIRC before that it was up to sqn CO, F/Lt, sqn MO or the pilot himself to suggest/order/ask reposting. IIRC one reason of the change of system was that some MOs complained to upper hierarchy that sometimes battle fatigue was noticed too late.
IIRC I have come across info that at least a couple RAF fighter pilots flew appr. 300 combat sorties, so I guess that those RAF/RAAF etc fighter pilots who achieved highest numbers flew more or less same number of combat sorties as those Finns (Juutilainen, Luukkanen ja Pyötsiä)who flew most, i.e. a bit under 450 combat sorties.

And I don’t know or at least cannot recall the number of combat sorties Johnnie Johnson flew. At least the number should be rather high. Can anybody help on this?

Juha

The clocked time at the controls was also a factor in evaluating a pilot's need for rest.

In his book WING LEADER, Johnson wrote that in April 1945 he parted with a battered Spitfire that in the previous year had carried him on nearly 200 sorties. If Johnson had been leading one of the Mustang units during that period his total hours in flight probably would have been much higher.
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Old 28th November 2008, 02:20
Franek Grabowski Franek Grabowski is offline
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Re: FC rotation system?

Juha
I believe that the system worked on flighttime accumulated, and it was approx. 50-70 sorties on Spitfire to make a tour. Flight limits may have changed in time, I am not sure of this. I would say that one tour with rest period took about a year, so I expect your pilot to fly about 150-200 missions. I have somewhere data calculated on Skalski, giving number of sorties and flighttime.
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Old 28th November 2008, 10:09
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Re: FC rotation system?

Thanks, Nifty and Franek!
so RAF system was more similar to that of USAAF than I remembered. I had forgot the stick time factor.
And Nifty, thanks for the Johnson info, I remember now reading that and then trying to estimate the number of sorties he flew but I cannot recall my conclusion.

Johnson seems to have been able to cut at least one of his rest tour short by pulling right strings. In FAF Luukkanen was first lentueenpäällikkö (StaKa) and then laivueenkomentaja (GruppenKom), and he had decided to fly as many missions as possible and his position allowed him to do that. Juutilanen and Pyötsiä were both pre-war regular sotilasmestareita (W/Os) and at least Juutilainen did his best to be able to fly max number of sorties. His aim was to become/ stay as the top ace of FAF. And because he seems to have had exceptional situation awareness and because he was a good team player in spite of his eagerness to get more kills patrol leaders were eager to accept his offers to fly with them. Somehow I have got an impression that Johnson also tried to fly as many mission as possible in order to become/to stay as the top ace of RAF. And based on his memoirs it seems that tour system or not, he managed to accumulate higher number of combat sorties than would have been possible by strictly following the regulations. Probably there were also others who did the same.

Juha
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Old 28th November 2008, 10:13
VoyTech VoyTech is offline
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Re: FC rotation system?

How about this?
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  #10  
Old 28th November 2008, 10:44
Chris Thomas Chris Thomas is offline
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Re: FC rotation system?

Interesting topic. I've not seen any definitive document or correspondence on this, other than occasional references. I do not know about earlier in the war but by 1943 I am sure an operational tour was reckoned to be 200 sorties. In 2nd TAF this was reduced to 150 for Typhoon pilots in 1944 and then in the winter of 44/45 progressively to 120 and 100, with 'screening' taking place after 90 sorties.

For Wing Leaders the situation is more obscure as some would not record all their ops in order to keep on flying. Wg Cdr J.R.Baldwin was stopped flying operationally in October 1944 after '170 ops' in 4 months (146 Wing ORB), or '150+' (one of the sqn ORBs) but his log records 110 ops in that period. He had flown a lengthy tour with 609/198 Sqns before that.

Grp Capt Denys Gillam when interviewed for 'Typhoon and Tempest Story' claimed he carried out 2000 operational flights, which he confirmed when challenged. We did not have his logs to check then and published this total in the foreword to the book. Beamont had a fit when he read it! In fact in Norman Franks' 'Scramble to Victory', Gillam is quoted as having flown nearly 2000 hours 'about a third of which were operational' He had flown operationally from 1940 to '45. Oops, egg on our face ...

Beamont, who was operational over a similar period to Gillam, records 441 ops in his logs, plus 'about 50' recorded in a logbook that was lost during the evacuation from France in 1940.
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