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During the war, they graduated 1,247 pilots and killed 45 students in accidents.

They were flying tiger moths over flat country with generally good weather.

Why so many fatalities?  The odds of a student being killed were 28 to one.

Contrast this to the Adelaide Soaring Club which has operated more than 50 years with zero fatalities , well zero at Gawler.

Were those military instructors bad pilots or what?

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18 minutes ago, Bruce Tuncks said:

Why so many fatalities?

 

Quite simply: many aircraft, inexperienced pilots, poor traffic control. Also a lot of deaths occurred when inexperienced pilots in high powered machines were practising dangerous, but necessary in war, manoeuvres. 

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This lot were flying Tiger Moths, allegedly.. They were pushing pilots through without many total hours up and failed a fixed %. as a matter of course. The plane is basic and strong (when New) and considered a very safe plane generally. Easy to pull out of a stall and not very fast  and no real vices. Maybe they lost them with night flying etc  Cross country, weather, getting lost etc.  They only have a little over 2 hours flying on a tankful.  Training on twins produced much higher fatality rates. The Instructors wouldn't have considered it a very rewarding job either. Certainly not a promotion from anything and most likely a punishment for a blue sometime/somewhere. Nev

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We bought a near-new Camry in 2014 from a deceased estate. The car was sold by the deceased persons son. The deceased gentlemens name was Gordon Creek. He'd bought the car new, when he was 88.

Over discussions, the seller revealed his father (the Camry owner) had been a tail gunner in a Halifax between the U.K. and Europe, during WW2.

 

Despite doing 40 missions as a tail gunner, his father came home from the War, without a scratch. He lived a long and successful life after WW2, firstly as an accountant, and later as a real estate agent. He died in his 91st year.

Gordon Creek was a West Aussie, and he went to No. 4 Initial Training School, RAAF, at Victor Harbor, for his RAAF training.

 

I found a copy of a group portrait of Gordon Creeks trainee course at No. 4 School, dated ca. July 1942. There are 40 men in the photo. Of that group of 40, only 1 is indicated as being accidentally killed.

Another 11 were KIA, and 1 was "lost on operations" over the U.K. in March 1945. However, it's interesting that in RAAF and RAF air accidents during the War, victims were listed as "KIA", even though no enemy was involved.

Many of these crashes were training accidents, even though the Squadron was wartime operational.

The loss of Wellington BJ909 as described in the 2nd last link, is typical of this. One of the victims in the crash of BJ909 was Sgt Leonard William Cann, a classmate of Gordon Creek.

 

No 4. Initial Training School seemed to have a fairly successful training record, with few training fatalities.

OzAtWar website gives a pretty comprehensive list of all the RAAF aircraft lost in S.A. during WW2.

The worst accident in S.A. was a MAC between 2 Ansons in formation, killing 8 men. Both crashed into the Murray River, one in deep water, and the other on the river bank. These Ansons were based in Mallala.

 

https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1092106

 

https://birtwistlewiki.com.au/wiki/No._4_Initial_Training_School_RAAF

 

https://highgate-rsl.org.au/afcraaf-roll/milne-maxwell-william-437435/

 

https://www.ozatwar.com/crashsa.htm

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I would have called training or any other accident as KIA too so the rellies would be happy.

I read that most aircrew killed north of Australia actually got lost first, and the Japanese had nothing to do with their deaths.

It is easy to imagine doing a detour around a thunderstorm and then getting lost. They should have delayed the war till they all had a gps.

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There was probably a larger-than-expected number of crashes simply due to mechanical failure, too. Remember, a large proportion of WW2 aircraft were manufactured and assembled in haste, inspections were often rushed, many aircraft ground and maintenance crew were still "learning the ropes", and much of the workforce had never worked on aircraft before in their lives.

 

The horror stories of aircraft taking off after assembly with major faults, incorrect assembly, fasteners and clips left loose, ill-fitting parts, etc, are too numerous to dismiss as a small factor.

 

I can recall one Beaufighter test pilot reporting he was struggling with the controls, and fortunately, he managed to land - whereupon it was found a hammer had been left inside a wing! This was in one of the Australian-built Beaufighters.

 

One of the pilots from No. 4 Initial Training School was lost over the Indian Ocean, between Busselton and Rottnest Island, when the Australian-built Bristol Beaufort he was flying, disappeared without trace on a patrolling mission. 4 other RAAF men died as well in that crash. Of course, no investigation was ever launched, and the reason for the crash will never be found, but mechanical failure must rate very high on the list.

 

https://birtwistlewiki.com.au/wiki/Arthur_Matthew_Aitken

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I read that planes built for the war weren't built to last because they were expected to get shot out of the sky. There are a lot of 'fairytales' when it comes to war stories I'm sure.

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Have a read of the RAAF Bristol Beaufort's record, below. This is not a complete list of RAAF Beauforts. Out of the 101 Beauforts listed, "Crash" is recorded 68 times, and "Forced landing" is recorded 11 times. Most forced landings are caused by mechanical faults. 

These figures don't even include what would have been many unreported incidents in service, and problems found by test pilots.

 

http://www.adf-serials.com.au/2a9a.htm

 

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During WW2 everything was done in earnest and training was very intense and short. Aircraft were being pumped off the production line at breakneck speed and testing was minimal if at all. The training here was probably a whole lot better than in the US and even though most Australian troops were withdrawn from North Africa there were many still attached to the RAF By 1945 some 37,000 Australians had been despatched to England to serve with the RAF. 6,500 died in all theatres with 5,400 of those in the European theatre and of those 3,486 died with Bomber Command. I have no statistics of deaths in training or non combat accidents but I am sure it is a heck of a lot less percentage wise than the US.

 

The Statistics for US Aviation fatalities were colossal and make sobering reading.

 

https://www.realclearhistory.com/articles/2019/02/12/staggering_statistics_15000_us_airmen_killed_in_training_in_ww_ii_412.html

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Right up into the jet age the accident rates were confronting on some aircraft types. The USAF lost 889 F-100 Super Sabres to accidents, killing 324 pilots.

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Even after the use of jet-powered military aircraft took over from piston-engined ones into the 1960s, there were some real dogs, and Best in Breed was the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. If the Luftwaffe had been given these before the end of WWII, Lockheed designer C. L. "Kelly" Johnson would have been called an Ace, and his "Skunk Works" would have got a unit citation.  Between 15 and 20 German 104s crashed every year between 1968 and 1972 and continued at a rate of about 10 F-104s per year until it was replaced. The final tally was the loss of 292 of the 916 Starfighters and the death of 115 pilots.

 

It quickly became obvious in the late 1950s that it was not really what the U.S. Air Force wanted, and it was quietly shunted to the sidelines. But at the same time, several NATO nations needed a new fighter to replace their old first-generation jets, and they chose the F-104 under what was called the "Deal of the Century." Most -- more than 900 -- went to Luftwaffe and Navy air force. Lockheed had bribed officials in Germany and other countries in the process of selling the F-104, though the German Starfighter purchase documents had been destroyed in 1962 by the Ministry of Defence.

 

https://www.spangdahlem.af.mil/News/Commentaries/Display/Article/730527/f-104-germanys-widow-maker/

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2 hours ago, willedoo said:

Right up into the jet age the accident rates were confronting on some aircraft types. The USAF lost 889 F-100 Super Sabres to accidents, killing 324 pilots.

Well I suppose the precedent had been set with 15,000 lost in accidents on home soil in WW2 so the high rate continued into the 50s & was probably thought of as normal collateral damage until they really began to think about it.

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Full Motion Simulators  made the big change to safety outcomes. They really are excellent.

    I had a real clown Check Captain make me handle TWO engine failures BOTH on one side ON TAKE OFF  each at critical Vmc (a) for the particular engines all happening below 100 feet. I queried the wisdom and safety of such an action at the time and was told I had to do it or be sacked. Thankfully that sort of Bull$#1t has long gone.

  Jet engine handling is much simplified from Big Pistons. (No props).  Fuel flow equals power (rough enough). The big ones are very high in horsepower equivalents. like 60.000 per engine.. None of them like you pressing the rudder the wrong way if an engine fails. Nev

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  • 2 weeks later...

A relative flew Hurricanes, then Typhoons in 181 squadron, and had 18 months as a night fighter. He died only a few years ago, and he said the RAF couldn't get rid of the Typhoon quick enough once the war was over: it was a very dangerous plane. He came from Victor Harbor in SA, apparently the only one to return of 6 young men from there who became aircrew. He also said the biggest killer of Me109 pilots was the Me109.

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When you look at an ME 109 through the eyes of a Jabiru pilot, you see a frightening thing. High wing loading, narrow u/c, nose blocking forward view at high angles of attack are just the obvious ones.

I'm not surprised at that comment cooperplace.

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