Arming for Accuracy
...RAF Bomb Aimers during the Second World War, from Fonthill Media
Title: Arming for Accuracy
Author: Colin Pateman
Publisher: Fonthill Media
The story of RAF Bomb Aimers during the Second World War, a new 179-page hardback from Fonthill Media. Author Colin Pateman has written some previous books with Fonthill Media and I found this one to be another very enjoyable read.
Spread across 19 chapters there is a lot to discover in this new book, and the depth it goes into but without being over technical is fascinating. It goes over the policies of Bomber Command, including the changes it went through over the course of WW2. Particularly the change from the lighter bombers at the start of the war, through to the larger 4-engined 'Heavies' which did so much of the workload in the second half. Many of us interested in the history of Bomber Command and WW2 will know of the change to night bombing rather than daylight operations and this goes into the challenges that presented, especially in terms of getting the bombs to actually hit their intended targets. There is lots of science behind not only to navigation, but to the operation of a reliable bombsight as well. Bomb aimers needing some specialist training, and for some of the war they were be trained to not only operate the bombsights, but to be able to navigate, to operated a forward turret machine guns as an air-gunner, be an observer and even to have enough skill to fly an aircraft home if the pilot was disabled. When you consider that lot, it required some very capable aircrew to fill the role. Added to this there are the scientists who developed the new sights, a couple of which were killed in air crashes that are described, while testing their work. There is also a good deal on the work of the ground crews in loading the bombs, and the dangers and procedures they experienced while handling the bombs ready for a mission. Add some chapters describing in some detail the experiences of a number of bomb aimers, including some who didn't get home and lucky ones who were made prisoners of war. A section of archive images give some excellent illustrations to support the story.
I've been interested in the history of WW2 and the work of Bomber Command for many years but I learnt a lot more about the work of the RAF bomb aimers, and the others who supported them in terms of designing the sights, the bombs themselves all coupled with the natural hopes and fears of what they had to experience when on operations, facing night-fighters, searchlights and flak on a regular basis. Training and nerve were essential. If you have an interest in the history of Bomber Command crews in WW2 then I'd highly recommend this one.
Thanks to Fonthill Media for our copy.