Striking by Night

Crew - Pilot

Personal particulars

Height - Heavy bombers 1943- 5ft 7in tall
Other - inside leg of 41in

A combination of alertness and steadiness – promptness in decision – imagination , sense of humour – punctuality - attention to detail – power of observation good education and all round interests in mechanical bent and a love of flying. Strong personal and a gift for leadership.


He generally had about 200 hours of flying before he took command.

Physical position and conditions in plane

Location of pilot

Location of pilot

He had a high – backed seat on the LHS of cockpit. His parachute pack served as a hard cushion.

Only piece of armour protection is behind the pilot, protecting his head.

In front:

  • Panel instruments for monitoring flight
  • Controls and switches
  • Dials, switches and markings glowed with radial paint to overcome problem of darkness
  • The controls for the elevator and ailerons.
  • Pedals for rudder control were on the floor in front of him.
  • No power assistance!

On his right:

  • Four throttle levers
  • Propeller speed control levers


He had dual responsibility…flying and leader of crew/regardless of rank. Example was key to confidence….therefore essence of leader. Authority and /discipline were essential in air…had to maintain authority on ground, too.

In flight duties

Along with engineer -

  • Started engines
  • Cockpit checks: set altimeters, check instrument vacuum settings, check temp ad pressure settings, bomb doors closed, radiator shutters opened, auto-pilot off, check hydraulic pressure, set compass, set trim settings, propeller pitch fully fine, set fuel selection, booster pumps on, set flaps for takeoff.
  • Taxi along runway – difficult in itself! Balancing between the correct power settings and brakes pressure made it very difficult to keep plane on runway.


A typical uniform consisted of a helmet, oxygen mask, parachute, boots, shirt, trousers, tie, gloves, a whistle and an escape kit.