transfer, valves and switches?"
all of them."
left and right."
here. All set."
From “A Wing
and a Prayer” by Harry H. Crosby, 100th Bombardment Group.
is interesting to note here that most bombers of World War II had
only one pilot. This was due to a number of factors but most probably
it was due to maximizing the manpower the each country had. This is
one area where the B-17 was somewhat revolutionary in that it used
two pilots instead of one. The main reason for this was the complicated
controls associated with a four engined bomber, but there was more
to it than that. Just as the designers had built in manual backups
for all the hydraulic control systems, so too did they design in a backup
in case of human failure (i.e. a pilot being wounded or killed in combat).
When German fighters began the tactic of making frontal attacks against the B-17 formations, the exposed position of the pilot and co-pilot, as well as their importance to the operation of the aircraft, made them prime targets to attacking fighters.
setup also proved to be very helpful during combat as many times
it would take the strength of both pilots to handle the aircraft.
additional pilot also helped when the aircraft was in formation. The
main pilot couldn't keep an eye on the formation and on his gauges
at the same time, so the co-pilot usually looked over the gauges and
made sure everything was running the way it was supposed to be while
the pilot concentrated on maintaining formation. This arrangement also
allowed the pilots to rotate their duties. Flying formation for eight
and ten hours on end was, to say the least, strenuous. Many times during
the mission, the pilot and co-pilot would swap duties so that not only
did the pilot not wear himself out but this also gave the co-pilot
some much needed formation flying time and prepared him for the day
he would receive his own crew.
people believe that the co-pilot was not as good a pilot as the pilot
himself, but that is not true. Both pilots received the same
training and the only thing that separated the two was chance, which
one got picked to be a pilot and which one was picked to be a co-pilot.
Granted, some co-pilots got their job due to personal differences,
these were the exceptions, not the rule. Co-pilots did receive training
in other areas on occasion. Usually this was either navigation or bombardier
training. This way, there was a backup crew member trained in navigation
or bombing in case one of the crew members responsible for these duties
were unable to fulfill them during the mission.
the lead aircraft would have its regular pilot replaced by a high
ranking officer, such as a Bomb Group, Bomb Wing or even a Bomb Division
Commander who would fly in the pilot's seat to observe the mission
first hand. In these instances, the regular pilot would fly in the
co-pilots' seat and the co-pilot would fly in the tail gunner's position
to relay important formation information up to the pilot/co-pilot.
This helped the Wing and Group commanders to get a better feel for
what the men under their command were up against, what improvements
needed to be made to make the bombers more effective and what tactics
the Germans were using against the bomber formations. It was after
a couple of missions like these when General LeMay came up with his
"Defensive Box" formation that dramatically improved a bomb crews
chances for completing 25 missions.
the most important and challenging role of the pilot was that of
Crew Commander. The nine other crew members on the Flying Fortress
fell under his direct command. The pilot's decisions were final and
good pilots always made sure to keep the wellfare of their crew
as top priority. With bomber crews spending so much time together,
Army's class system of officers and enlisted men broke down and the
crew usually acted more like a family with the pilot in the role
of father. Thus, the co-pilot often time fell into the role of mother.
Many times crew members would default to him with their problems
or concerns if they felt their pilot were too busy, didn't care,
or unavailable at the moment to listen to them. As such, the co-pilot
acted as executive officer to the pilot's role of commander.