Navigation policy of the Royal Air Force



Navigation policy of the Royal Air Force


The document is broken down into Definitions, scope, air warfare, air safety, organisation, Ministry of Supply, Commands, Groups, Stations, Squadrons, Basic and operational training, Post Graduate training, Navigation technique -Policy, Equipment - Policy, Landing aids, short and long range aids, Bombing and search aids, other aids, rescue, long term policy and a Conclusion.



Temporal Coverage



Six typewritten sheets


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[underlined] Definition [/underlined]
1. Navigation is the science of getting to the right place along the right route at the right time.
2. Science or art? Both require special study even if subsidiary to sciences of physics and astronomy. Therefore a science. Also needs application by aircrew in aircraft. The Science of navigation; the art of the navigator.
[underlined] Scope of Navigation [/underlined]
3. All phases implied in definition. Dispersal to dispersal. Immaterial whether information provided by instruments in the air or on the ground. Ground controller is practising navigation.
[underlined] Navigation as a factor in Air Warfare. [/underlined]
4. Among the principles of war are:-
(a) [underlined] Concentration [/underlined]. Importance of accurate timing.
(b) [underlined] Economy of Force [/underlined]. Implies highest efficiency of force and lowest loss-rate.
(c) [underlined] Mobility [/underlined]. Full use of strategic and tactical mobility implies efficient navigation.
(d) Surprise and Security [/underlined]. Accurate route keeping. Main and decoy raids.
5. Accurate navigation essential to these principles. Without it aircraft cannot be used to fullest advantage. Study of operations by Bomber, Coastal, Transport and Fighter Commands in recent war amply supports this view.
[underlined] Navigation as a factor in Air Safety [/underlined]
6. Importance obvious, examples are:-
(a) Avoidance of collision with high ground.
(b) Avoidance of collision with other aircraft.
(c) Knowledge of position of forced landing.
(d) Accurate navigation essential for effective search.
[underlined] Organisation of Navigation Branch [/underlined]
7. [underlined] Air Ministry [/underlined].
(a) Directorate of Navigation. Responsible for Air Staff policy
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on navigation, briefing air traffic control and rescue. Liaison with Meteorological office.
(b) Navigation representation in Directorate of Operational Requirements (D.D.O.R.3.). Responsible for implementing Air Staff navigation policy in respect of airborne equipments [sic] through medium of Ministry of Supply.
(c) Sub-branch of Directorate of Signals (D.D. of S. (N)). Responsible for implementing Air Staff navigation policy in respect of ground signals installations and signals equipment generally.
(d) Navigation representation in Directorate of Flying Training (D.D.T.Nav.). Responsible for implementing Air Staff navigation policy in respect of navigation training.
8. [underlined] Ministry of Supply [/underlined]
(a) Navigation representation on staff of D.R.D. (R.D.Inst.Nav.). Concerned with Ministry of Supply action on navigation instruments other than radio aids and instruments.
(b) No special navigation representation for Radio aids and instruments but close liaison maintained with appropriate Air Staff departments.
9. [underlined] Commands [/underlined]. Navigation branch responsible to S.A.S.O. Intention that this branch responsible for Air Traffic Control and rescue as well as navigation and briefing. Link between operations staff and meteorological offices.
10. [underlined] Groups [/underlined]. One navigation officer. Intention that this officer responsible for air traffic control and rescue as well as navigation and briefing
11. [underlined] Stations [/underlined]. Intention that all flying stations should have Flight Lieutant [sic] Station Navigation Officer. Duties not finally defined but probable that this officer will be responsible for Navigation, briefing, rescue and, possibly, air traffic control.
11. [underlined] Squadrons [/underlined]. Intention that each squadron should have navigation leader who will be borne on aircrew establishment.
[underlined] Basic and Operational Training [/underlined]
12. [underlined] Navigators [/underlined]. Intention 18 months at Air Navigation School
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of which 20 weeks initial training, 24 weeks basic training, 24 weeks applied training. No I.T.W. stage. After A.N.S., C.T.U. for operational training. A.N.S. training higher standard than in the past and will include training on radar equipments [sic] likely to be in general use.
13. [underlined] Pilots [/underlined]. Pilots to be given navigational training at all stages. Standard to be higher than during the war and designed to make pilot competent navigator.
[underlined] Post Graduate Training [/underlined]
14. All to be done at Empire Navigation School. Following courses already started:-
(a) Advanced navigation course (8 weeks navigator, 12 weeks pilot), designed to fit graduates for junior instructional and navigation leader posts.
(b) Specialist navigation course (six months), designed to fit graduates for all staff and instructional posts.
(c) Advanced specialist navigation course (six months, and to be taken immediately after conclusion of specialist N. course), designed to fit graduates for staff and instructional posts in which higher technical qualifications are required.
(d) Refresher course (4 weeks), designed to bring previously qualified specialists up to date and to familiarise non-specialists with latest advances in navigation.
[underlined] Navigation Technique – Policy [/underlined]
15. Not possible to lay down detailed techniques now. Intention to make calculation fully automatic and thus –
(a) allow navigator more time to make and interprete [sic] observations;
(b) reduce number of navigators in crew.
[underlined] Equipment – Policy [/underlined]
16. Provisional 5 year policy issued October 1946. Final policy expected shortly
17. [underlined] Landing aids [/underlined]
(a) Immediate action:-
(i) BABS Mark II for Rebecca fitted aircraft;
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(ii) existing S.R.A. to be retained Flying Training Command;
(iii) existing G.C.A. units to provide common user service.
(b) Subsequent action:-
(i) S.C.S.51 to be considered as replacement for BABS Mark II when British equipment available.
(ii) G.C.A. as primary aid for single seater fighter aircraft and as standby aid for other aircraft fitted with R/T.
(iii) Research into and development of automatic landing.
18. [underlined] Short Range Aids [/underlined]
(a) Immediate action:-
(i) existing GEE installations to be retained;
(ii) Eureka beacons to be adopted for homing;
(iii) V.H.F. D/F to be adopted for homing and air traffic control
(b) Subsequent action:-
(i) GEE facilities provided by Civil Aviation to be utilised;
(ii) Development of GEE to continue;
(iii) Eureka beacons associated with orbit meter to be generally adopted.
(iv) Development of cathode ray V.H.F. D/F;
(v) Development of Spider’s Web;
(vi) V.H.F. rotating voice beacons for use by high-speed aircraft;
(vii) Decca to be investigated.
19. [underlined] Long Range Aids [/underlined]
(a) Immediate action
(i) Civil Consol installations as interim aid;
(ii) Astro.
(b) Subsequent action:-
(i) Use of Loran if Civil Aviation adopt it;
(ii) Development if P.O.PI.;
(iii) High power M/F beacons outside Loran consol cover;
(iv) Development of radio compass;
(v) Development of Astro. Automatic sight taking and reduction.
20. [underlined] Bombing and Search Aids [/underlined]
(a) Immediate action:-
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(i) Oboe, care and maintenance;
(ii) G.H. to be retained;
(iii) H2S to be retained;
(iv) A.S.V. to be retained.
(b) Subsequent action:-
(i) Development of H2S and A.S.V.
(ii) Possible development of centimetre beacons.
21. [underlined] Other Aids [/underlined]
(a) Immediate action
(i) Retention of present automatic dead reckoning instruments;
(ii) Retention of existing visual aids.
(b) Subsequent action
(i) Development of distant reading compass (G.III, G.IVB, G.IVF)
(ii) Development of automatic dead reckoning instruments;
(iii) Development of navigation bombing computor [sic];
(iv) Development of new drift sight;
(v) Investigation of pressure pattern flying;
(vi) Development of terrain clearance and cloud warning device.
22. [underlined] Rescue [/underlined]
(a) L/R C/R D/F fixer network U.K., Azores, Iceland operated by M.C.A.
(b) H/F D/F home and overseas operated by R.A.F.
(c) M/F D/F in U.K. eventually to be operated by Post Office.
(d) V.H.F. D/F home and overseas.
23. [underlined] Long term policy [/underlined]. Not yet in final form; will probably be directed primarily towards:-
(a) Development of means rapid landing of fighter aircraft in poor visibility.
(b) Development of military long range (50 – 2,000 miles) aid suitable for all types of aircraft, possibly non-radio.
(c) Development of rapid and accurate means of effecting fighter interception.
(d) Improvement of target location aids.
(e) Improvement and development of short range aids (0 – 150 miles) with special reference to requirements of Air Traffic Control.
/[underlined] Conclusion [/underlined]
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[underlined] Conclusion [/underlined]
24. Accurate navigation essential to success of air operations. Advent of atomic weapons increases rather than decreases need for accuracy. Must be prepared at [underlined] beginning [/underlined] of any future war. Present methods need improvement. Importance of development work and keeping science of navigation “live.”
[underlined] 8th January, 1947 [/underlined]



Great Britain. Royal Air Force, “Navigation policy of the Royal Air Force,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 25, 2024,

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