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Aircraft flown by these RFC training squadrons


Tim Bowler
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Hi there

I wonder if any members could help me work out the types of aircraft that these RFC home training establishments might have used.

I am interested in:

Hendon school of flying, 1917

RFC Harlaxton, Lincolnshire - and in particular 20,53 and 64 (Training) Squadrons RFC, and later 40 Training Depot Station in 1917-18.
Looking at the accident records
20TS seems to fly DH6s,
53TS - RE8s and Avro 504s,
64TS - RE8s
40 TDS - RE8s

and
RFC/RAF Spittlegate, Lincolnshire - and in particular 39 Training Depot Station, later 39 Training Squadron/Station 1918-19.
I have a record of it using RE8s.

I wonder if these units also trained on BE2s, FK8s or other two-seaters?

If any others much better-informed than me could shed any light - or reference books which would list types flown or recommend files at TNA or Hendon, I would be very grateful.

Best wishes

Tim

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Looking at "The Aeroplanes of the Royal Flying Corps

20,53 and 64 (Training) Squadrons RFC 40 Training Depot Station all flew Dh6s at some time

20,53 and 64 (Training) Squadrons RFC also flew Avro 504s at some time

None of these are listed a having flown FK8s but 20 and 53 are shown as having flown FK3 s at one time

20,53 and 64 also flew BE2s (2e,2f or 2g)

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Centurion, thank you for checking on 20,53 and 64 training squadrons.

Checking my man's personnel records - they show his machines flown as RE8 and Bristol Fighters (along with Avro 504s) - but these are marked in entries from 1919 onwards - details before April 1918 seem very sparse.

I have assumed that the School of Instruction at Hendon would still have been using Shorthorns and Longhorns throughout the war, but maybe it used other types too.

Best

Tim

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Looking at the lists of units using the Longhorn (Mechanical Cow) and the Shorthorn SoI Hendon does not appear SoI Reading are listed as Shorthorn users

18th Wing SoI Hendon are shown as users of Beatty Pushers from the Beatty Flying School which was attached to SoI Hendon and some appear in SoI Hendon accident reports. The main type used by SoI Hendon appears to have been the Graham White XV These were very similar to the MF Shorthorn in appearance and were an alternative trainer. Hendon was still using them in 1918

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There's precious little in the NA with regard to training units, compared with the SRBs etc for units that served operationally with the BEF. Most of what I have is drawn from trawling logbooks and 39/40 TDS haven't featured much. All the units you're looking at were for the training of Corps-Recce pilots. BFs are given against the autumn 1918 establishment of 39 TDS because the plan was for Arab-engined F2Bs to replace RE8s - something that was beginning to happen by the time of the Armistice.

20 RESERVE/TRAINING SQUADRON RFC/RAF

Bases

Formed in 6th Wing at Dover 1.2.1916 with nucleus from 27 Squadron. To Wye 24.7.1916. Designated as a Higher Reserve Squadron and establishment set 23.12.1916 at 6 BE2 + 6 RE8 + 6 Avro. To Wyton and 26th Wing 1.6.1917. To Spittlegate and 24th Wing 15.9.1917. To Harlaxton 27.11.1917 and disbanded into 40 TDS at that station 15.7.1918.

Commanding Officer Representative Aeroplanes

AMC DH2 5921.

AMC DH6 A9588, A9590, A9591, A9592, A9593, A9594, A9637, A9697, B2632, B2633, B2634, B2636, B2715, B2806, B2807, C9388.

Avro 504A 2903, 4741.

AW FK3 A8092, B9526, B9570.

Curtiss JN4 B1943.

RAF BE2c 1657, 2596, 2661, 2710, 2711, 4094, 4111, 4123, 4142, 4199, 4590, 4723, 5616.

RAF BE2d 5806.

RAF BE2e 7194, A1316, B429, B4430, B4440.

RAF BE12 6168, 6667.

RAF BE12a A590, A611.

RAF RE8 A3552, A3567, A3726, A3728, A3738, A4429, A4564, A4578, B4067, B6637, C2385.

Unit Marking

A white solid diamond aft of fuselage cockade.

53 RESERVE/TRAINING SQUADRON RFC/RAF

Bases

Formed in 7th Wing at Sedgeford 1.2.1917 with nucleus from 64 Squadron. Intended as a Higher Reserve Squadron and establishment had been set 23.12.1916 at 6 BE2/AW + 12 RE8. To Narborough 14.2.1917. To Harlaxton and 24th Wing 6.12.1917. Disbanded into 40 TDS at Harlaxton 15.8.1918.

Commanding Officer Representative Aeroplanes

AMC DH6 A9607, A9608, A9610, A9669, A9733, A9754, B2634, B2667, B2668, B2669, B2763, C2020, C6806.

Avro 504B A9975.

Avro 504A/J A8520, B957, D8832.

RAF BE2e A1275, A1276, A1812, A1813, A1814, A1816, A1851, A2794, A2793, A2794, A2832, A2969, A2974, A3057, A3115, B4442, B4571, B9998.

RAF RE8 A3189, A3641, A3879, A3881, A4546, B6669, D4724.

64 RESERVE/TRAINING SQUADRON RFC/RAF

Bases

Formed in 6th Wing at Dover 7.4.1917 with nucleus from 13 RS. To Narborough and 7th Wing 14.4.1917. To Harlaxton and 24th Wing 12.12.1917. Disbanded into 27 TDS Crail 15.8.1918.

Commanding Officer

Major CV Parr by 7.1917.

Representative Aeroplanes AMC DH6 A9346, B2673, B2875, B2876, C9346, C9348, C9597, C9606, C9607, C9626, C9760. Avro 504A A8546, A8547, A8556, A8557, A8558, B981, B982

MF Se.11 A2238.

RAF BE2c 2504, 2628, 4167.

RAF BE2e 6277, 6316, 7186, A1351, A2752, A2828, A2940, A2955, A3051, A3120, B3688, B4022, B4447, B4458, B4523, B4526, C6911.

RAF RE8 A3501, A3502, A3503, A3504, A3543, A3580, A3850, A3874, A3883, A3894, A4205, A4235, A4493, A4505, B6665, B6666, B7728, B7729, B7730, C2243, C2278.

39 TRAINING DEPOT STATION RAF

Bases

Formed in 24th Wing at Spittlegate 15.8.1918 ex 15 and 37 TS plus 24th Wing Specialist Section. Autumn 1918 establishment set at 36 BF + 36 Avro. Re-designated 39 Training Squadron 14.3.1919.

Commanding Officers

Representative Aeroplanes

Avro 504A/J F2268.

AW FK3 B9548, B9560.

AW FK8 C3572, D5017.

Bristol F2B E1911.

RAF BE2e B4437, C6913.

40 TRAINING DEPOT STATION RAF

Bases

Formed in 24th Wing at Harlaxton 15.8.1918 ex 20 and 53 TS. Autumn 1918 establishment set at 36 RE8 + 36 Avro. Disbanded 8.5.1919.

Commanding Officers

Representative Aeroplanes

AMC DH6 C9434.

Avro 504A/J

AW FK3 B9608.

RAF RE8 A3543, B845, D1552, D4874.

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Centurion and Mick

Thank you very much for the information about SoI Hendon and about Reading and about the aircraft flown by those training units. Great photo!

Leslie Spinney was at SoI Reading from 29 Aug-09 Oct 1917, and is then at SoI Hendon from 09 Oct 1917-30 Jan 1918. So five weeks at Reading and then what looks like 16 weeks at Hendon. I don't know whether this was a long time or not to learn to fly - or whether the time at Hendon includes further training to fit him for the role of instructor.

The other thing that is puzzling me is the number fo flying hours he has at his death. He crashed on 24 Feb 1921 at Farnborough with 4 Squadron while teaching one of the unit's observers how to fly in an Avro 504K. His Hendon accident card says his total flying hours were 120. Which does not seem a lot.

29 Aug 1917 to 24 Feb 1921 is 41 months. I now he was ill for a month and a half in 1918 and wasn't flying, and was on the unemployed list for a year between 1919-20, but that still leaves 28-29 months of service as a flying officer with the RFC and then RAF and if that 120 hours total at death is correct, it seems low for an instructor.

The accidnet form does not list the number of hours on the aircraft type which crashed - that is blank.

Maybe his RAF log book only dates from his return to service in 1920 - or it includes all his flying and he really did only have 120 hours in his log book at death.

Maybe as an instructor, he spent a lot of time on the ground. I am sure you've gone through more accident reports than me, do you have a feeling for how much/little some instructors/pilots actually flew in home establisments?

Best wishes Tim

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Reading was not a flying establishment. The RFC (and later RAF) used Wantage Hall as the home for a succession of units that provided ground training - theory and some 'hands on' experience with GI airframes. I School of Instruction opened on 20.12.1915, was re-designated 1 School of Military Aeronautics on 20.10.1916 and then 1 School of Aeronautics on the formation of the RAF on 1.4.1918. 9 School of Aeronautics opened there on 23.9.1918, in preparation for a move to its permanent home at Marlborough House, Cheltenham on 26.10.1918. 1 SoA disbanded on 24.1.1919. The school had used Coley Park for the ground running of engines on its GI airframes and that site was used as an occasional landing ground for machines bringing visitors.

I'd suggest that Spinney's extended time at Hendon may have been due to the time of years and, hence, the weather conditions. The 18th Wing SoI at Hendon was for basic training only, with the unit taking up, it would seem, trainees for whom there were no places available in the elementary Training Squadrons.

I have F/O WLG Spinney as dying in the crash of Avro 504K, spinning in 1/2 mile NW of Farnborough on 24.2.1921. His passenger, P/O A Hesketh was unhurt. The Avro had seen wartime service - with a 100hp Mono engine, it was on the strength of 1 TS at Beaulieu by 5.1918.

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Reading was not a flying establishment. The RFC (and later RAF) used Wantage Hall as the home for a succession of units that provided ground training - theory and some 'hands on' experience with GI airframes. I School of Instruction opened on 20.12.1915, was re-designated 1 School of Military Aeronautics on 20.10.1916 and then 1 School of Aeronautics on the formation of the RAF on 1.4.1918. 9 School of Aeronautics opened there on 23.9.1918, in preparation for a move to its permanent home at Marlborough House, Cheltenham on 26.10.1918. 1 SoA disbanded on 24.1.1919. The school had used Coley Park for the ground running of engines on its GI airframes and that site was used as an occasional landing ground for machines bringing visitors.

I'd suggest that Spinney's extended time at Hendon may have been due to the time of years and, hence, the weather conditions. The 18th Wing SoI at Hendon was for basic training only, with the unit taking up, it would seem, trainees for whom there were no places available in the elementary Training Squadrons.

I have F/O WLG Spinney as dying in the crash of Avro 504K, spinning in 1/2 mile NW of Farnborough on 24.2.1921. His passenger, P/O A Hesketh was unhurt. The Avro had seen wartime service - with a 100hp Mono engine, it was on the strength of 1 TS at Beaulieu by 5.1918.

The Shorthorn appears to have been used for taxying training for prospective pilots before they went on for flying instruction elsewhere. However in addition the IWM have a copy of Captain R T Humphries Watson's notebook while at No 1 RFC School of Instruction, Reading, concerning the technical details of the Maurice Farman "Short Horn", the Lewis Gun, the Beardmore 120 HP engine, the Renault 70 HP engine, and the Gnome 80 HP engine. so the airframe may have been used for other purposes. as well

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Unlikely - all the training aspects you quote were to teach the theoretic knowledge expected of prospective pilots - airframes, engines and armament; obviously with reference to examples on charge. I've seen a pic of a wing-less DH5 at Reading (Coley Park) with its engine running and trainees in attendance - suspect instruction in prop swinging.

Been looking at 18th Wing SoI - formed to incorporate the civilian schools in 1916 existence at Hendon; the GW School, the L&P school, the Beatty school and the Ruffy-Baumann school. Each of the former schools retained some identity but had an RFC captain in charge - e.g. the L&P element was under Capt R Oxspring by 4.1918, the GW element under Capt RO Clinch (?) with Major M Ellam Lane (?) running the 18th Wing SoI. The machines used by L&P were Caudrons while the GW element used GW XVs - obviously. At least one of the GW XVs was an ex RNAS machine deleted from that service's use. Machines were marking with local numbers - e.g. 2Lt RB Manning from Caudrons 23, 26 & 28 with the L&P element, while 2Lt F Kay flew GW XVs 311 & 312 with GW.

The 2 logbooks I've had time to look at both show the trainee passing to a higher Training Squadron after the 18th Wing SoI course - 2Lt RB Manning was with L&P from 30.3.1918 until 16.4.1918, when he progressed to 27TS, and 2Lt F Kay went on to 40 TS after being with GW from 6.5.1918 until 13.6.1918, with 9hr 20min behind him.

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According to the Museum of Berkshire Aviation the taxy training took place on playing fields alongside Elmhurst Road " It is believed that the main aircraft in use was the Avro 504, but Martinsyde S1 biplanes and various Farman Longhorns and Shorthorns were also reported at Reading."

This is supported by entries in "Aircraft of the Royal Flying Corps Military Wing"

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The Schools of (Military) Aeronautics dedicated to giving initial training to prospective pilots held GI airframes, most in a semi-stripped state and engine-less - as this pic taken at 2 SMA shows. They were used to demonstrate aeroplane construction.

post-13730-0-80946000-1379955953_thumb.j

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They may well have done but SoI Reading also had some aircraft used for taxy training. These were shared with SoTT (men) also at Reading until it moved to Halton in 1917 but are recorded as on SoI Reading's books. Both schools also shared a small airfield used for Advanced Training at Coley next to a jam factory. This continued in use after SoTT (men) moved to Halton but seemingly was only then used for senior RFC (and later RAF) officers flying in to visit the remaining school. See Military airfields of the Central South and South-East by Chris Ashworth

It's also possible that some instructors at Reading also had access to aircraft for use as personal hacks.

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You've gone from 'The Shorthorn appears to have been used...' to 'SoI Reading also had some aircraft used for taxy training'. Is their any documentary evidence for this? All I know is that I've never seen taxiing as part of the SoI/SMA/SoA syllabus. Also what was the nature of the Advanced Training you mention for Coley Park? Are you suggesting that a flying unit was based there? Is there any evidence of a Reading instructor having a machine for personal use - something I've never heard of but would be grateful for details of.

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Mick I quoted you two sourcesboth local that say they had aircraft including shorthorns for taxy training - what more do you want - what is your problem with this? I've also quoted a source that show shorthorns listed as on their books.

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At least one Shorthorn was at Reading, along with other GI airframes. Machines were allocated in the usual manner, to account for their whereabouts on RFC/RAF books. All I like to see are contemporary documents rather than un-referenced statements made in books and on websites.

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