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Training Plan

Months of hard work were in store for the many men who enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) to serve in the Allied cause. In order to ensure each member was placed in the position best suited to their capabilities and then, properly trained as such, the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) required that recruits pass through multiple levels of testing and schooling before they were posted.

The first step in joining the RCAF was contacting the local recruitment office. After signing up, a recruit was asked to report to a Manning Depot. At a Manning Depot, trainees were given a series of medical tests and issued uniforms. They practiced marching drills and performed guard duty until there was room for them at Initial Training School (ITS).

Designed to be difficult, ITS was used as an introduction to air training, and recruits that were not capable of serving to RCAF standards were quickly eliminated. Trainees were immersed in a five week basic training class that covered air force law, navigation, meteorology, aircraft recognition, the theory of flight, mechanics and, of course, discipline. Nine out of 10 men wanted to be trained as pilots and often a Link Trainer was a definitive moment in that decision.

Aircrew trainees graduated from ITS to a specialized school that matched their capabilities.

At the beginning of World War II, those destined to be air observers graduated from ITS to Air Observer School (AOS)1  for a 12 week course on aerial photography, navigation and reconnaissance. After AOS, trainees would move onto Bombing and Gunnery School (B&GS)2  for 10 weeks and then to Air Navigation School (ANS) 3 for another four weeks. In June 1942, it was decided that these duties were too much for one person and the position of air observer was broken up into two positions: navigator and air bomber.

Navigators could specialize in bombing or as wireless operators. Those training for the former were at Bombing and Gunnery School for eight weeks and then Air Observer School for 12 weeks. These men were qualified as both bomb aimers and navigators. Navigators who trained to specialize in wireless operations spent a great deal of time receiving training—28 weeks at Wireless School followed by 22 weeks at Air Observer School.

Men designated to be wireless operators attended Wireless School for a total of 28 weeks, becoming adept at radio work. They were also trained in air gunnery at B&GS for six weeks.

Recruits going into air bombing were trained not only to drop bombs accurately, but to assist navigators as well. They spent eight to 12 weeks at B&GS and six weeks at an AOS. Air gunners underwent a 12 week program at B&GS that included ground training and air firing practice.


Sgt E.M. Romilly, RCAF, W.H. Betts, RAAF, and J.A. Mahoud, RAF, practicing navigation techniques on board an Anson from the No 1 Air Navigation School, Rivers, Manitoba, 4 June 1941.

SOURCE: National Defence Image Library, PL 3740.

SOURCE: Wings Over Alberta website.

Air Observer Schools
Name Location Dates of Operation
No. 1 AOS Malton, Ontario 27 May 1940-30 April 1945
No. 2 AOS Edmonton, Alberta 5 August 1940-14 July 1944
No. 3 AOS Regina, Saskatchewan 16 Sept ember 1940-1 September 1942
No. 3 AOS Pearce, Alberta 1 September 1942-6 June 1943
No. 4 AOS London, Ontario 25 November 1940-31 December 1944
No. 5 AOS Winnipeg, Manitoba 6 January 1941-30 April 1945
No. 6 AOS Prince Albert, Saskatchewan 17 March 1941-11 November 1942
No. 7 AOS Portage la Prairie, Manitoba 28 April 1941-31 March 1945
No. 8 AOS Ancienne Lorette, Quebec 29 September 1941-30 April 1945
No.9 AOS St. Jean, Quebec 7 July 1941-30 April 1945
No. 10 AOS Chatham, New Brunswick 21 July 1941-30 April 1945

 
Bombing and Gunnery Schools
Name Location Dates of Operation
No. 1 B&GS Jarvis, Ontario 19 August 1940-17 February 1945
No. 2 B&GS Mossbank, Saskatchewan 28 October 1940-15 December 1944
No. 3 B&GS MacDonald, Manitoba 10 March 1941-17 February 1945
No. 4 B&GS Fingal, Ontario 25 November 1940-17 February 1945
No. 5 B&GS Dafoe, Saskatchewan 26 April 1941-17 February 1945
No. 6 B&GS Mountainview, Ontario 23 June 1941-Post War
No. 7 B&GS Paulson, Manitoba 23 June 1941-2 February 1945
No. 8 B&GS Lethbridge, Alberta 13 October 1941-15 December 1944
No. 9 B&GS Mont Joli, Quebec 15 December 1941-14 April 1945
No. 10 B&GS Mount Pleasant, PEI 20 September 1943-6 June 1945
No. 31 B&GS Picton, Ontario 28 April 1941-17 November 1944

 
Air Navigation Schools
Name Location Dates of Operation
No. 1 ANS Trenton, Ontario 1 February 1940-23 November 1940
No. 1 ANS Rivers, MB 23 November 1940-11 May 1942
No. 1 CNS* Rivers, MB 11 May 1942-15 October 1945
No. 2 ANS Pennfield Ridge, New Brunswick 21 July 1941-30 May 1942
No. 2 ANS Charlottetown, PEI 1 February1944-7 July 1945
No. 31 ANS Port Albert, Ontario 18 November 1940-17 February 1945
No. 32 ANS Charlottetown, PEI 18 August 1941-11 September 1942
No. 33 ANS Mount Hope, Ontario 9 June 1941-6 October 1944
*Central Navigation School

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