Training as a flight engineer on Lancasters



Training as a flight engineer on Lancasters


Stanley Archer’s account of his training as one of the first flight engineers for Lancaster operations in 1942. First he attended an air gunnery course then transferred to 97 squadron at RAF Woodhall Spa. He comments on a daylight operation on Augsburg. Training continued for a month at Avro's at Chadderton then Woodford. This was ground based on Lancaster systems, there being no flying training. This was followed by a month at RAF St Athan on Halifaxes. He had previously worked as a fitter on Hurricanes and Spitfires and he considered the course a waste of time.




Temporal Coverage



Two handwritten pages


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[inserted] F/LT STAN W. ARCHER DFM 97 & 467 SQDNs [/inserted]

My association with the Lancaster started in 1942. I was one of the first Flight Engineers to be trained specifically for operational duty on this new bomber which for a while after its introduction carried two pilots.
The training started with an Air Gunnery course, 6 weeks at Walney Island and the flying carried out on Defiants. We were posted from the Gunnery School to our bomber squadrons in my case 97 Sqdn at Woodall Spa. 10 of us. Ten more went to 106 Sqdn at Coningsby and the remaining 10 went to Waddington.
97 Sqdn with 44 Sqdn have just carried out the incredible daylight raid to Ausburg [sic], 6 aircraft from each [deleted] each [/deleted] Squadron. This raid was to bring Sqdn. Ldr. Nettleton the Victoria Cross. [deleted] and [/deleted] We were received with some incredibility and disbelief, but we were soon to go on to our Lancaster Training. This was 2 weeks at Avros [sic] at Chadderton, followed by 2 weeks at Woodford. As I recall, the Instructors went through the various systems of the aeroplane, but of course there was no flying training and no real Engineer training.
This month with Avro’s was followed
[page break]
by a month at [inserted] No 4 S of T.T. [/inserted] St. Athans [sic] where we were instructed by R.A.F Flight Engineers on the Halifax which had only one thing in common with the Lancaster. The Halifax 1 had Merlin Engines. The course was in my case rather a waste of time, as I had worked as a fitter on Merlin Engines fitted to the Hurricane & Spitfires, and as all of the u/t Engineers were Fitter II E’s most of them knew the Merlin.



Stanley Archer, “Training as a flight engineer on Lancasters,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 15, 2024,

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