Members of aircraft crews - conditions of entry



Members of aircraft crews - conditions of entry


Part of RAF Air Ministry pamphlet detailing qualifications; selection for training as pilot; selection for advancement to commission; pay during training; remustering, promotion and pay; war pay; dependents allowance; voluntary allotments; and war service grants.



Temporal Coverage





Four page printed document


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6th Edition.


1. Introductory. – During the war the normal method of providing flying personnel for the R.A.F. is by enlistment in the ranks of the R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve for training as a member of an aircraft crew, i.e., in the general air crew category of Pilot, Navigator, Air Bomber. As vacancies occur for commissions in the General Duties branch they will be filled by promotion from the ranks. Direct appointments to commissions for flying duties will be made only in exceptional circumstances.

Towards the completion of the initial course of ground training at an Initial Training Wing a candidate may express a preference for training as a pilot, navigator (any category) or air bomber, and while consideration will be given as far as possible to his preference, he will not be allotted to or continued in training in a category of crew employment for which he is not considered to be suitable, and he will be liable to be allocated for training and to be remustered in any of the categories of crew employment (including wireless operator (air gunner) and air gunner), in accordance with service requirements. If allocated for training as Wireless Operator/Air Gunner or Air Gunner he may be required to undergo an appropriate form of trade training before commencing Air Gunner training. Should he prove unsuitable for every form of crew duty he may be allowed to remuster to any R.A.F trade for which he is qualified and in which there are vacancies, or to aircraft-hand, general duties, with a view to training should the opportunity occur in a trade for which he may be suitable.

2. Qualifications. ─ (i) [italics] Age. [/italics] – Candidates must be not less than 17 years 3 months and must not have reached their 33rd birthday. Training will not commence before a candidate’s 18th birthday. In allocation to training after completion of the I.T.W. course, candidates will not normally be selected for pilot training if they have then attained their 31st birthday.

(ii) [italics] Educational. [/italics] ─ No prescribed educational standards are laid down, except for elementary mathematics. All candidates appearing before selection boards (see (v) below) are given a simple test in elementary mathematics. Those who do not pass (but are otherwise suitable in all respects) can be given instruction to bring them up to the required standard at no expense to themselves. They can, for this purpose, be attested and placed on deferred service and remain in civil life. In their spare time they are required to attend courses of instruction, arranged for them by Local Education Authorities. The educational standard required of navigators (radio) is higher than that of other air crew personnel and candidates who intend to express a preference for these duties should be at least up to matriculation or school certificate standard, preferably with scientific or technical qualifications or hobbies. Candidates with particularly quick mental re-action and who possess a quick and analytical mind may be considered without these qualifications.

(iii) [italics] Medical. [/italics] ─ Candidates must pass a special medical examination.

(iv) [italics] Period of Service. [/italics] ─ The period of service will in all cases be for the duration of the present emergency.

(v) [italics] Selection. [/italics] ─ Candidates must be adjudged suitable by an Aviation Candidates Selection Board.

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Candidates whose ages exceed those stated, but who possess special qualifications may be considered exceptionally if recommended by a selection board.

3. Subsequent Selection for Training as Pilot. ─ After a period of service in an operational unit navigators (all categories) and air bombers, irrespective of rank, may exceptionally be recommended for training in another air crew category.

4. Selection for Advancement to Commissions. ─ A provisional recommendation for selection for a commission will be made by the selection board on acceptance. This recommendation will be confirmed or modified by the commanding officers of the schools at which the airman receives his training, final recommendation for appointment to a commission being made by the commanding officer of the school at which the airman qualifies. Commissions granted at this stage will normally take effect from the day following the date of completion of training. Navigators (Radio), however, will not be commissioned until they have completed a probationary period of 1 month after qualifying.

Airmen who are not recommended for commissions on qualifying may be recommended after a subsequent period of service in a unit.

5. Pay During Training. ─ Candidates selected for training in the general category of pilot, navigator, air bomber, will undergo an initial course of ground training at an Initial Training Wing, during which they will be mustered as aircrafthand, group V, for appropriate training, receiving pay as aircraftman 2nd class at 2s. 0d. a day. On the successful completion of the initial course they will be reclassified leading aircraftman and placed in group II for the purposes of pay (i.e., 5s. 0d. a day). In addition they will receive flying instructional pay at 2s. 0d. a day from the date of commencing training at a school where the syllabus includes flying training. Candidates who prove to be unsuitable for training as pilot, navigator, or air bomber may be allocated for training as wireless operator (air gunner). They will be entered as aircrafthand, group V, for training as wireless operator (air gunner) receiving pay as aircraftman 2nd class at 2s. 0d. a day until they complete their training as wireless operator, when they will be remustered to wireless operator, group II, receiving the daily rate of pay in accordance with the classification attained (i.e., aircraftman (2nd class) 3s. 6d., aircraftman (1st class) 4s. 3d., leading aircraftman, 5s. 0d.); and they will be retained on ground duties until it is possible to absorb them into flying training. On posting for flying training wireless operators (air gunner) in a classification below that of leading aircraftman will be reclassified leading aircraftman for the purpose of pay, and will receive flying instructional pay at the daily rate of 1s. 0d. An airman who, under para. 1 above, is selected for training as an air gunner, will similarly, on posting for flying training, be eligible for the classification of leading aircraftman for the purpose of pay, but in group V (4s. 0d. a day), and for flying instructional pay at the daily rate of 1s. 0d.

6. Remustering, Promotion and Pay. ─ Airmen who successfully complete the prescribed course of training will, unless they are selected for advancement to commissioned rank (see para 4), be remustered to the air crew category for which they have qualified, and will be promoted to the rank of sergeant with effect from the day following the date of completion of training. The promotion of these airmen who are remustered to navigator (radio) will be on probation until they have completed a period of one month’s service at an operational training unit or an operational unit. Promotion of pilots, navigators (all categories) and air bombers to warrant officer and flight sergeant, and of wireless operators (air gunner) and air gunners to flight sergeant, and of wireless operators (air gunner) and air gunners to flight sergeant, is by selection to fill vacancies. To be eligible for consideration airmen must have

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completed six months service in an air crew category in the next lower rank, and be recommended by their commanding officer. The daily rates of pay are as follows:─

[rate of pay table]

7. War Pay. ─ In addition to the rates of pay stated in paras. 5 and 6 above, airmen receive war pay at the rate of 1s. a day, and a further 6d. a day is set aside as a post war credit.

8. Airmen also receive free accommodation, food and clothing (or money allowances instead) and medical attendance.

9. Family Allowance (see King’s Regulations and Air Council Instructions para. 3348, etc.). ─ Family allowance is payable in respect of the wives and children of married airmen, provided the airmen are not separated from their wives by estrangement. The present standard rates of family allowance for a wife only are:-
[family allowance table]

An additional allowance of 3s. 6d. a week is payable to airmen’s families resident in the London Postal Area.

Allowances are payable for children who are below the age of fourteen or who are continuing full time education beyond that age; the standard weekly rates are at present as follows:-

One child – 9s. 6d.
Two children – 18s. 0d.
and 7s. 6d. extra for each additional child.

As a condition of the issue of family allowance, an airman is required to allot a proportion of his pay to his family, and family allowance, together with the allotment, is paid direct to the family. The rate of allotment varies from 6d. to 3s. 6d. a day according to the airman’s rate of pay.

*(The rates of allotment formerly varied from 1s. to 4s. a day, but were reduced on 2nd April 1942, by 6d. a day, the amount of the reduction being made good to the family from public funds.)

Family allowance cannot be paid until the airman obtains from and submits through his Accountant Officer a claim on Form 850 (obtainable at units) which is to be supported wherever possible by the appropriate marriage certificate, and, where there are children, by birth certificates. If certificates or other acceptable evidence in lieu cannot be produced, the claim must still be made at once or the allowance will not be payable till a later date.

Special rates of family allowance may be paid in respect of families residing outside the United Kingdom or Eire.

10. Dependants Allowance. ─ Dependants allowance is payable to the dependants of airmen under conditions which are, broadly, as follows:-
(a) The airman must have made a substantial contribution towards the support of the dependant before his enlistment

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(b) The dependant must be within the following degrees of relationship:-

Grandparent, parent, step-parent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, separated wife* and foster parent.

*Dependants allowance is not payable to a separated wife in whose favour a Court Order for maintenance has been made. In such cases the airman may be placed under stoppages of pay for the benefit of the separated wife.

(c) The airman must make an allotment to the dependant from his R.A.F. pay, as in the case of family allowance.

The standard rates of allowance, including the allotment from the airman’s pay, are 8s. 6d. a week, 14s. a week, 19s. a week, 22s 6d. a week, and 25s. a week the rate payable (if any), being dependent upon the amount of the airman’s contribution to the dependant before enlistment, and the dependants income from other sources.

An unmarried dependant living as a wife, and children who are being brought up as members of the airman’s household, are eligible for a special dependants allowance equal to the family allowance which would be payable if the parties were married, provided it is established that the woman lived with the airman as his wife and was wholly or substantially maintained by him on a permanent domestic basis for a period of not less than six months immediately prior to the airman’s joining up.

Dependants allowance is not payable to any dependant in respect of an airman who is in receipt of family allowance for a wife or child; nor is it payable to more than one dependant in respect of any one airman.

Claims for dependants allowance are made by airmen on R.A.F. Form 1219, which is obtainable at units, and by dependants by letter to the Director of Accounts Air Ministry (Accounts 12), Whittington Road, Worcester.

Dependants allowance will not be payable to dependants resident outside the United Kingdom and Eire, except as may be decided by the Air Ministry. Special rates of allowance may be paid in such cases.

11. Voluntary Allotments. ─ An airman may make a voluntary allotment from his daily pay, in addition to the qualifying allotment referred to in paras. 8 and 10, to the recipient of family or dependants’ allowance. He may also make such a voluntary allotment to one other person, whether he is married or not, but the total amount of voluntary allotment and qualifying allotment must not exceed in the aggregate three-fourths of his pay. Form 1796A, which is obtainable from the Accountant Officer, must be completed by the airman.

12. War Service Grants. ─ The award of special allowances, not exceeding £3 a week, may be authorised by the Ministry of Pensions to ensure that the family income during a married airman’s service will not fall below a reasonable living standard and to benefit airmen or their dependants whose means have been seriously affected by reason of enlistment. Claims are made by airmen on Form W.S.G.21, which is obtainable at units.

In addition, Emergency Grants may be paid to meet within limits, expenses for serious and prolonged illness, or death in the airman’s household.

N.B. ─ The information contained in this leaflet has been prepared to provide prospective candidates with a summary of the emoluments and conditions of entry and service current at the date of issue. Changes are liable to occur in these, and it must be understood that they are subject in all respects to the detailed regulations which have been, or may be, issued from time to time by the Air Council.

October, 1942.

(60785) Wt. 27297/1528. 100,000 10/42. Hw. G.371.



Great Britain. Air Ministry, “Members of aircraft crews - conditions of entry,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 20, 2024,

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