THE PROBLEMS OF INSTRUCTOR AND OFFICER PERSONNEL AND OF TRAINING EQUIPMENT
It was natural that in the early stages of the gunnery program instructors should be trained in too brief a time period and in a some what haphazard fashion. They were sometimes obtained from technical schools and at others from the ranks of enlisted mea in the flexible gunnery schools. The procedure may be explained in some detail as applied at Tyndall Field. There, late in January 1942, provision was made for a special short course for instructors. Officers gave instruction to armorers who had just arrived from Lowry Field., After one week the prospective instructors were given a quiz, consulted as to their choice of subjects to teach, and then classified and assigned to the officers for further preparation. This course lasted approximately four weeks. Six weeks after regular student classes began, a policy was put into effect of retaining 10 men from each graduating class to be used as instructors. Though at first this step was taken arbitrarily, later the men were consulted as to their wishes and particular talents.1
During most of the year 1942 there was considerable dissatisfaction among instructors because of low rank, dissatisfaction which was all the
more acute in view of the fact that students graduated as sergeants and staff sergeants, while instructors remained privates and corporals. In August of that year, however, Headquarters, AAF made provision for promoting members of the instructional staff to sergeant or staff sergeant, a step which greatly improved morale.2
During 1942 there was instituted the flight system of instruction, a product of Brooks Field experience, under which each instructor carried his flight or unit through every subject in the course, There were both advantages and disadvantages under such a system. Personal contact with the students on the part of the instructor and logical organization, by him, of the entire course were the main advantages. The most obvious weakness was the instructor's lack of sufficient preparation to conduct every phase of training, Members of the teaching staff varied in respect to ability in mastering subjects, so it was deemed wise after a period of experimentation to assign teaching duties in terms of the respective abilities of those performing them.3 The flight system had failed in practice, despite the apparently sound theory behind it.
The pressing need for more and better prepared instructors and for standardization of procedure in flexible gunnery schools led to the creation late in 1942 of the Central Flexible Gunnery Instructors School at Fort Myers. Objectives in the establishment of the school in addition to the above were gunnery research, preparation and distribution
of data pertaining to flexible gunnery, and the giving of technical advice on that subject.4
Elaborate plans were made in 1943 to expand and improve the school. In directing the establishment of a psychological research unit there to assist in selection and training of instructors, AAF headquarters declared that such selection and training constituted "one of the most critical problems in flexible gunnery training."5 Headquarters impressed upon the Flying Training Command the need for more instructors in the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Air Forces end suggested procedures necessary to meet that need. Students entering flexible gunnery schools were to be screened for the following qualifications: "(a) A minimum GCT of 120 or (b), a minimum GCT of 110, if the student is a college graduate or has had previous teaching experience. (c) At least a high school education. (d) The ability to express himself. The willingness to be an instructor." In addition to these qualifications, in order to enter the instructors school, students would have to graduate in the upper 25 per cent of their class, and would, after admission, be required to pass periodic examinations in order to remain in school. Under this plan the number of instructors was to be increased by 2,000 by 1 June 1944. This number or estimate included 6 the replacing of 1,000 regarded as deficient in training.6 The Training
Command agreed to this proposal in large part, though it did suggest a larger quota from the air forces to the instructors school.7 In January 1944 it was ordered that graduates of the instructors school who were assigned to the training air forces be increased from 45 per cent to 70 per cent of the total, and soon thereafter that the staff of the school be increased.8 The persistency of these efforts at expansion is further explained by the report of a conference on training, held at Fort Worth in January 1944, that there was a need for 6,665 instructors and that it would require 54 weeks to meet that need.9 In the early stages of the program there was no systematic way of securing flexible gunnery officers. They were obtained from various placed, and not because they were especially equipped for the duties they were to assume.10 Those duties consisted mainly of flying on missions with students, handling disciplinary problems, and supervising the work of enlisted men and of instructors, particularly that of the latter.11
In line with the more precise and scientific developments that were taking place in 1942 in respect to the gunnery program, the Training Command in November of that year took steps to establish at the instructors school at Fort Myers a special four week course for the training of gunnery officers.12 Before long the command was requesting
that the gunnery school be located at Laredo, Tex., on the grounds that housing and training facilities at Fort Myers were overtaxed and that instruction for officers was "completely dissimilar to that for enlisted instructors.13 The school was removed to Laredo on 29 May 1944,14 but in the early part of that month the instructors school had teen removed there also.
Headquarters AAF and the report of a training conference held at Fort Worth both stressed early in 1944 the need for approximately 1,500 officers in addition to those available. They were to be assigned after graduation to schools or to the air forces at home or abroad, and their grades, with a few exceptions, would range from lieutenant to major.15
Replying to a communication from the Training Command requesting in formation as to the qualifications and requirements for gunnery officers, General Harper indicated that they must be within the age limits, 23-35, must be graduates of flexible gunnery schools and among the upper 25 percent of their graduating classes, and have high personal efficiency ratings. He designated as follows eight sources from which such officer material might be drawn;16
- 1. TC flexible gunnery officers.
- 2. Training Air Forces flexible gunnery officers.
- 3. Combat forces flexible gunnery officers.
- 4. Officers being returned from combat.
- 5. Officers graduating from AAF Officers Candidate School.
- 6. Enlisted Combat Gunners who are commissioned in combat theaters.
- 7. Officers on duty with the Air Forces who supplied for flying training, passed all tests, and then were banned from such training.
- 8. All other officers on duty with the Air Forces.
In May 1944 the gunnery officers course, which already had been increased to 5 weeks, was extended to 6, and the flow of students was fixed at 30 per week for 6 weeks, and 50 a week thereafter.17 By 3 January 1945 a total of 693 officers had graduated from the gunnery officers school.18
In brief, improvement in instructor personnel was secured by transition from haphazard methods of selection to more scientific methods. Late in 1942 there was established at Fort Myers a Central Flexible Gunnery Instructors School which had as its objectives not only training of instructors end standardization of procedures but also gunnery research, distribution of data pertaining to flexible gunnery, and the giving of technical advice on that subject. Care was exercised in the selection of students for the school. The abandonment of the flight system of instruction, which made inevitable the assigning of too many complex problems to each instructor, was conducive to greater efficiency. Need for more officers with better training led to the creation late in 1943 of an officers gunnery school.
The problems involved in the establishment of a sound program of flexible gunnery training were not only those that had to do with securing and using effectively human materials--students, instructors, and officers--but also those involved in the procurement of necessary equipment, such as planes, trainers, turrets, and other essentials.
In its broader aspects this problem is properly one for treatment under some other phase of AAF history; but insofar as it conditioned vitally the operation of the training program, it deserves treatment here.
Since flexible gunnery was in its infant stages at the advent of World War II, there naturally arose a question as to the utility of potential equipment. Experimentation was one way of determining utility, and a study of the experiences of the RAF was another. In the fall of 1941, Maj. William L. Kennedy, who studied many phases of English gunnery training, made a report to the Chief of the Air Corps on synthetic devices used by the RAF in gunnery training. He discussed the pros and cons of 13 devices, such as panoramic trainers, spotlight trainers, platform tracer trainers, and, though concluding himself that some were desirable and others undesirable, recommended the creation of a board of officers to study and evaluate them.19 Although the board was not created, the Training and Operations Division was given the authority to evaluate and was requested to send its conclusions to the Materiel Division and to the Air Force Combat Command.20 In order to help meet the "primary need" of the time, namely, "training devices for fixed and
flexible gunnery, "arrangements were made by the Materiel and Training and Training and Operations divisions for representatives of Wright Field to visit the flexible gunnery schools being established at Las Vegas, Harlingen, and Panama City.21 In the case of trainers, not infrequently it was necessary to compare them as to utility or to experiment with them for the purposes desired. In the summer of 1942 the Director of Individual Training of the AAF submitted to the Flying Training Command, correspondence in respect to the Turnbull Gunnery Trainer with a request for consideration and recommendations. The reply was that the trainer was not needed in flexible gunnery, because "the present, Spotlight Trainers give sufficient training in turret manipulation for basic instruction, and the Waller and 3A-2 Gunnery Trainers, which will be in operation very shortly, perform the same functions as the Turnbull Trainer in a more satisfactory manner."22 Though the Air Service Command had developed and was "about to procure in quantity" E-5 Gunnery Trainers, AAF Headquarters felt that they were so similar to the product built by P. S. Hurley as to justify a comparison of the merits of the two by the proper personnel at Wright Field.23
After being used for a time, an aerial gunnery device presented by Col. J. H. Graham was discontinued because the Waller
trainer incorporated "all the desirable features proposed in the Fairchild device "with the exception of aircraft identification," which could be accomplished without the necessity of such elaborate equipment.24
During the early stages of the pressing need for flexible gunnery equipment, the Jam Handy products received very favorable consideration, In a letter to General Arnold in September 1942, J. A, Pool, chief designer of the Jam Handy organization, explained at length the adaptability of its devices to the gunnery program. He emphasized especially gun camera equipment, designed to make possible simulated combat operations, and a lead computing sight, claimed to be simple in its operations. It was said of the camera gun that "it allows actual practice of gun firing in aerial combat with built-in means to indicate, accurately and easily on the films, where the point of aim was as well as where it should have been." The computing sight was described as of such a nature that there "will be no lead problem for the gunner in the turret of a bomber when he is being attacked by a pursuit plane. He will simply have to place the attacking plane on the moving spot of light in his sight."25 During the same month the Flying Training Command requested a large number of Jam Handy trainers, and General Arnold expressed great interest in the products of the corporation.26 Illustrative of the pressing need for equipment was the following sentiment in a reply of the West Coast Training Center to a request that Las Vegas supply
the Wendover Army Air Base with four E-1 gunnery trainers; "Las Vegas has forty type E-1 Trainers and requires forty." Since the lack of this apparatus was general in the flexible gunnery schools, the Flying Training Command requested the Air Service Command to meet the need.27 Despite the uncertainty over the continued use of E-5 trainers, by the summer of 1942 the modified type was proving its efficacy, especially since its installation could accommodate the Martin and Bendix upper and the Sperry upper and lower turrets.28 A significant phase of the supply problem was the relationship involved between the Army and the Navy. The latter frequently had contracts of such a character with supply organizations that it was necessary for the Army to negotiate for equipment through the Navy.
This procedure is well illustrated in securing 3A-2 trainers for the flexible gunnery schools. The Jam Handy organization had an agreement to furnish them to the Navy, but arrangements were made to allocate some to Army gunnery-schools, At first one was allocated to Las Vegas for instructional purposes, then 32 were requested, and later in the year, 52, which the Navy agreed to furnish between 1 October and 10 November. Before the first shipment was made to Las Vegas, however, an officer of that school was required by the Navy to go to Detroit and study the "use and maintenance" of the trainer, so that he would be
able to give instruction in its operation. The cost of the trainer with films and other equipment necessary for its use was $2,065.50.29 In May 1942 the Flying Training Command spoke of the urgent need for fixed and flexible gunnery of a range estimation and target identification trainer which had teen developed by the Reflectone Corporation of Stamford, Conn. It stated that 260 were required at once and requested the Air Service Command to arrange with the Navy to supply that number.30 The arrangements were made, under the terms, of which the first unit was to be delivered in approximately five weeks of the date of order and the remainder at the rate of 50 per week. Additional agreements were made, first for 90 more trainers and then for 233, which made a grand total of 563, Of these, 420 were assigned to flexible gunnery schools.31 Steps were taken also to secure first 14 and then eight additional Waller trainers through the Navy Department in 1942.32
Sometimes difficulties in regard to equipment arose because it was not clear as to where the procurement authority resided. When Headquarters
AAF inquired, of the Procurement Services Division the reason for delay in delivery of the parts necessary to install tow target equipment in A-20 and A-29 airplanes, that division replied, that its responsibility ceased when provisions for installing the equipment were made in the production airplanes. Procurement of materiel itself, it was alleged, was a responsibility of the Air Service Command. In fact, ultimate responsibility at this time (1942) for placing contracts and for subsequent administration of them was in the hands of the Materiel Division, Though Supply and Maintenance Services suggested a division of such responsibility with the Air Service Command, Headquarters AAF decided that it should remain in the hands of the Materiel Division.33
A rapidly expanding training program bears a relation to the problem of equipment similar to that which a combat army bears to the problem of supply. In neither case do available numbers have much significance unless there is coordination on the one hand with facilities and on the other with supplies. During 1943 and 1944, especially, the personnel needed for flexible gunnery were greatly increased and therefore gave rise to the vital question as to whether training facilities, for which much ground had been laid in 1942, could keep pace with the number of trainees, Even during 1942 the Director of Individual Training had suggested that the training period be extended to seven days a week, so as to make less acute the shortage in airplanes.34
In August 1943 the Flying Training Command, just after General Arnold had set 140,000 flexible gunnery graduates a year as the goal, gave an estimate of the equipment needed for the forthcoming program as compared with that at hand. The following table shows the wide discrepancy between the two;35
Basis of Issue
1 per 15 students
Trainers E-8, Spotlight E-1
1 per 35 students
Sights, Reflector, 70 Mil.
1 per 5 students
Trainer, Range Estimation
1 per 23 students
Trainer, Turret Trailer E-5
1 per 15 students
Trainer, Waller Gunnery
1 per 329 students
The need of planes continued, to be acute in 1944. Among the recommendations of the training conference held at Fort Worth in January 1944 was one that fighter airplanes for use in flexible gunnery training should."be given higher priority."36 When General Harper requested from the Flying Training Command its reactions to criticism of the flexible gunnery program by Assistant Secretary of War for Air, Robert A. Lovett, the reply emphasized as one of the main difficulties connected with the program the lack of planes. Since 24 February there had been a cancellation of delivery of 50 B-24J's, and information had been given from AAF Headquarters that 50 per cent of currently assigned B-17 planes
would not be available. The fighter aircraft situation was described as "even worse." Much emphasis had been placed upon this type "in order to properly simulate fighter attacks during camera gunnery training,"yet of approximately 260 such planes needed, only 26 were available for flexible gunnery in February 1944. Since this reply was a defense against criticism, one would naturally expect as strong a statement of the command's case as possible.37 One of the main reasons for delay in instituting the B-29 gunnery course was the lack of equipment.38
In March 1944 Maj. Gen. Follett Bradley, at the suggestion of AAF Headquarters, made a report on the flexible gunnery situation. What he has to say of equipment, particularly sights and turrets, is of more than usual significance:39
It is axiomatic that agencies of training should be supplied in first priority with equipment suitable for the instruction of students in the equipment which they will use in combat. For effective gunnery training, gunnery schools, OTU's, RTU's and staging areas must have Poorman trainers and synthetic training devices and all types of computing and compensating sights and turrets which the gunners passing through will use in combat. That it not now the case, Many turrets are worn out. Computing sights are scarce, and the newer compensating sights, K-10 and D-11, are entirely lacking even though hundreds are in warehouses awaiting installation in turrets that will not be available until late summer. It is useless to procure modern, high performance equipment, necessarily delicate, unless the users are thoroughly familiar with it before entering the combat zone. I cannot stress too strongly the necessity for the assignment in first priority of new equipment to the Air Forces Board. and to interested training agencies to permit the development of tactics end the training of personnel, respectively. Because the flexible gunnery program is behind and needs new impetus, ample funds should be made available for such new construction as may be necessary.
It is easier to criticize than to praise, easier to see defects than virtues. Transformation from a peace to a war status, whether in training gunners or in some other phase of the war effort, was a complex and herculean task, the accomplishment of which was not always according to schedule nor without confusion. When one considers then the magnitude of the problem itself and adds to that the experimentation oftentimes necessary before a decision was made in regard to the use of equipment, he can evaluate more fairly the positive achievements in providing facilities for flexible gunnery training. A report on conditions at the Harlingen school in 1942 emphasized the lack of turrets but also the fact that experiments were being conducted with various turret types.40
It can thus be seen that, though the extent of the need of planes, trainers, turrets, and other training essentials varied from time to time, the need was never completely met. Experimentation and a study of the experience of the RAF system helped to determine the character of the equipment desired. Arrangements were made with the Navy to secure range estimation, teller, and other types of trainers. This action was necessary because of the exclusive contracts the Navy had for that equipment. Recommendations by training conferences and the insistence of the Flying Training Command during 1944 upon the need of fighter aircraft for gun camera missions were factors in stimulating increased efforts for assignment of such aircraft to the training agencies.
Notes to Chapter II:
1. History of Tyndall Field FGS, II, 9-10. Early efforts to secure instructors are also described in History of Eastern Flying Training Command, Installment 2, II, 953-55, 957 ff.
2. History of Buckingham Army Air Field, Installment 1, II, 57; History of Las Vegas FGS, 8 Dec, 1941-1 Jan. 1943, 3.
3. History of Buckingham Army Air Field, Installment 1, II, 54, 56-57; History of Las Vegas FGS, 8 Dec. 1941-1 Jan. 1943, 9-13.
4. History of Eastern Flying Training Command, Installment 3, II, 815-16; TC Memo No. 50-13-2 29 July 1953.
5. Brig. Gen. R. W. Harper to CG AFTRC, 20 Aug. 1943, in AAG 353, Gunnery Training.
6. Brig. Gen. R. W. Harper to CG AFTRC, 27 Aug. 1943, in ibid.
7. 1st ind. (Brig. Gen. R. W. Harper to CG AFTRC, 27 Aug. 1943) HQ AFTRC, to AC/AS, Training, 17 Sep. 1943 in ibid.
8. AFTRC Monthly Progress Reports, Jan., Feb. 1944.
9. Report of Training Conference, Hq AFTRC, 10-12 Jan. 1944, 10d.
10. History of Buckingham Army Air Field, Installment 1, II, 61-63; History of Eastern Flying Training Command, Installment 3, II, 851-52.
11. Interview with Lt. Col. W. L. Clark, 9 Jan. 1945.
12. History of Eastern Flying Training Command, Installment 3, II, 852.
13. Hq AFTRC to AC/AS, Training, 5 April 1944, in AAG 353A, Gunnery Training.
14. AFTRC Monthly Progress Reports, May, June 1944.
15. Report of Training Conference, Hq AFTRC, 10-12 Jan. 1944; R&R Brig. Gen. R. W. Harper to AFTPMP, 11 Feb. 1944 in AAG 353, Gunnery Training.
16. 1st ind. (Hq AFTRC to CG AAF, 5 April 1944) Maj. Gen. R. W. Harper to CG AFTRC, 10 May 1944 in AAG 353A, Gunnery Training.
17. Progress Report, April 1944, Hq AFTC, 17 May 1944, 15.
18. Interview with Maj. Thomas V. Bart, Flexible Gunnery Div., 11 Jan. 1945
19. R&R, Maj. William L. Kennedy to C/AC (through Chief, T&O Div.), 9 Oct. 1941, in AAG 413.6A, Miscellaneous Trainers.)
20. R&R, C/AC to Chief, T&O Div., 14 Oct. 1941, in ibid.
21. Inter-office memo, Chief, EE Sec., Materiel Div., Wright Field, to Chief, Materiel Div., OCAC, 22 July 1941; Chief, Armament Br. to Chief EE Sec., Materiel Div., Wright Field, 6 Aug. 1941, in ibid.
22. AFRIT to CG AFFTC, 31 July 1942, and 1st ind., Hq AFFTC to AFRIT, 21 Aug 1942, in AAG 472, Aerial Gunnery Trainers.
23. Hq. Chief, EE Sec., Wright Field, 26 Aug. 1942, in ibid. In September, when E-5 trainers were in use, the Hurley product was being considered as "supplementary" to the E-5.
24. AFRIT to CG AAF, 28 June 1942, in ibid.
25. J. A. Pool to Lt. Gen. H. H. Arnold, 9 Sep. 1942, in ibid.
26. Memo for Lt. Gen. H. H. Arnold by AFRIT, 12 Sept. 1942; Lt. Gen. H. H. Arnold to John A. Pool, 14 Sep. 1942, in ibid.
27. Director of Training, Wendover Field to CG Wendover Field, 6 June 1942; 4th ind., Hq WCAFTC to CG AFFTC, 20 June 1942; 5th ind., Hq AAFTC to CG AAFTC, 30 June 1942, in ibid.
28. AFRIT to CG AFFTC, 21 July 1942, in ibid.; AFRBS to Chief, Field Services, AFASO, 24 Aug. 1942, in 413.6B, Miscellaneous Trainers.
29. For negotiations and agreements see Hq AFFTC to CG AFASC, 2 May 1942; Chief, Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Dept., to CG AAF, 1 June 1942; Hq AAFTC to CG SAS, 10 June 1942; Bureau of Aeronautics to CG AAF, 21 July, 1942; Hq AFFTC to AFRBS, 15 Aug. 1942; Personnel Officer, Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, Navy Dept., to Jam Handy Organization, 31 Aug, 1942, in AAG 472, Aerial Gunnery Trainers.
30. Hq AAFTC to CG AFASC, 29 May 1942, in AAG 413.6B, Miscellaneous Trainers.
31. Chief, Bureau of Aeronautics to CG AAF, 22 July 1942; Chief, Bureau of Aeronautics to AFRBS, 19 Sep. 1942, in ibid.
32. Memo for Chief, Materiel Div., OCAC by Chief, Contract Sec., Wright Field, 18 Feb. 1942; Hq AFFTC to AFRBS, 26 June 1942, and 1st ind., AFRBS to Chief, Field. Services, AFASC, n.d., in AAG 472, Aerial Gunnery Trainers.
33. R&R, Asst. for Supply and Maintenance Services to C/AC, 28 Jan. 1942; C/AC to Asst. Exec. for Technical Planning and Coordination, OCAC, 10 Feb, 1942, in AAG 353.9D1, Training, General.
34. AFRIT to CG AFFTC, 11 Aug. 1942, in AAG 353.9E, Training, General.
35. Hq. AFTRC to AC/AS, MM&D, 21 Aug. 1943, in AAG 353A, Gunnery Training. The above is not the complete table, but is sufficient to illustrate the point under discussion, The estimates are for all flexible gunnery schools, including the instructors school.
36. Report of Training Conference, Hq AFFRC, 10-12 Jan, 1944, 12-d.
37. Brig. Gen, R. W. Harper to CG AFTRC, 1 March 1944, and 1st ind., Hq AFTRC to AC/AS, Training, 19 March 1944, in AAG 353A, Gunnery Training.
38. 1st ind. Maj. Gen, R. W, Harper to CG AFTRC, 17 April 1944, Hq AFTRC to CG AAF 29 April 1944, in ibid.
39. Memo for C/AS by Maj. Gen. Follett Bradley, 28 March 1944 in AAG 353, Gunnery Training.
40. Hq AFAMC to CG AFFTC, inclosing report of Capt. Edward Elliott, Jr., 22 July 1242, supplied to author by Major Elliott, 11 Sep. 1944.