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Proposed Syllabus for Training Seaplane Pilots, Observers, and Radio Gunners

August 2, 1918.         






     Practice with Batchelor Mirror, object:-

          (a) To practice flying directly into or with the wind.

          (b) To keep aiming at the target without drifting.

          (c) To practice getting sight correctly.


          (a) Pilots must fly directly into or with the wind as  specified.

          (b) Make a long run at the target.

          (c) After reaching target, turn quickly and make another run at target(three runs inall)

          (d) Have specified altitudes.

          (e) Know the air speed of the machines. (fly throttled down).

          (f) Find the velocity of the wind, and thus obtain ground speed.

          (g) Set Sight correctly.

          (h) Give the signal agreed upon when sight comes on target.

          (i) Receive the signal from the target. (a red flag waved once for every 25 feet over or short, direction determined by direction flag is waved; a white and blue flag waved likewise for right or left error).

          (j) Correct sight for next attack .

          (k) Make out record of runs, exact time, height, number of machine, up or down wind and sight settings.


     To carry out this practice a Batchelor mirror1 is required and a detail of two men to operate it. The mirror should be located on a large fixed platform in some convenient and safe spot over the water. The practice could not be carried out by planes going out or returning from Patrol armed with bombs. It would be necessary to use practice planes for this purpose.


     2. This practice should be carried out with sub-caliber dummy bombs in practice machines. The target is a submarine silhouette (about 50 ft. x 12 ft.) placed on land in some safe and convenient location.


     Is to teach pilots to turn quickly towards enemy, get there with all possible speed (by nosing down, unless submarine appears to close). Lose as much altitude as possible to decrease errors, keep the submarine in sight by nosing over, and then resume normal flying line and bombing speed at least 200 yards from point of release.


     Pilot must cruise around the target at 300 meters altitude and a distance of about half a mile, ready to receive signal

     (b) Immediately upon signal from a spotter stationed near target (a red flag) pilot must nose down (unless too close to target) and turn towards target as quickly as possible.

     (c) Fly full speed straight for target (allowing for drift) not nosing over more than 30 degrees and not descending below 150 meters altitude.

     (d) Above all, level out at least 200 yards before the moment of release. Have the sight set correctly for new altitude and correct speed. Be with or against the wind, if practicable.

Note:  This practice will require a detail of two men as spotters. They should be placed so that their line of sight crosses the target at right angles. With “Rakes” they can spot the shots and note the amount of error for Range and line. Five dummy bombs should be dropped during one flight. These bombs can, in most cases be received and repaired.

     3. Bomb dropping practice with live bombs.

     If possible, seaplanes returning from patrol should drop one live bomb into the sea from a height suitable for submarine attack. The number of live bombs dropped should be in proportion to the number of bombs carried on patrol flights.

     It is recommended at English Seaplane stations that the total amount of bombs carried in patrol flights to be dropped for practice monthly by stations should be approximately.

               100 lb. bombs - - - - - - - 10 per cent.

                65 lb. bombs - - - - - - - 10 per cent.2

     The 230 lb. bomb is not to be dropped for practice.

On this basis our seaplane stations should drop.

               100 lb. bomb (English)3

               or E bomb French bombs - - -10 per cent.

               D Bomb (French) - - - - - - 10 per cent.

     These D and E bombs and 100 lb. bombs could be used, as available, at the various stations for this work.

     Each station should lay out a target in the sea located so that there will be no danger to shipping or to the station. Difference machines should be used each day in rotation for the practice.

     4. These practices Nos. 1,2, and 3 should be carried out as often as possible. The number of times per month will depend somewhat upon local conditions and the discretion of the Commanding Officer. A minimum number of practice runs should however be laid down for each month and, if possible exceeded. Number one should be carried out by each team at least eight times per month, this would make 24 runs over the mirror and will serve to keep the team well practiced in getting line and range.Number 2 should be carried out so that each team drops twenty- five sub-caliber bombs per month, that is, makes five runs per month over the target. This amount of work will keep them well trained in the actual proceedure of bombing a submarine.

Number three should be carried out at the descretion of the Commanding Officer along the lines suggested for the practice.


     All practices carried out from a two-seater machine with a Scarff or T.O. 3 mounting and an aerial Lewis Machine Gun fitted with Norman Ring and Wind Vane Sight.4

Practice No. 1.

     Machine flies over a floating raft at a height of 300 to 400 ft. This raft can be either a Submarine Silhouette or a “Head on Aeroplane Silhouette or a Head on Aero gunners fires a double magazine in bursts of ten, watches <bullets> strike the water and corrects his aim. Machine circles target until magazine is finished.

Practice No. 2.

     Gunner goes up with a magazine containing 25 rounds with 5 prepared jambs. He has with him a spare bolt, main spring, cartridge guide spring and ejector. Fires at floating target and clears all jambs.When magazines is empty the gunner strips gun, while in the air, replaces bolt, main spring ejector and cartridge-guide spring with spare parts, assembles gun and comes down. For this practice spare parts are marked so that they can be recognized by Armament Officer.

Practice No. 3.

     Aerial Combat2with Hythe gun camera. Two machines go up opposing each other, and each gunner takes twelve shots at the other from any angle.


     Practice numbers 1 and two should be carried out in practice machines and during a month should be repeated at least ten times by each team which would mean that each gunner fires approximately 1200 rounds in practice per month. Practice number three is excellent practice for works against enemy aircraft, but cannot be carried out unless there is a Photographer and Photographic outfit at each station. It is hardly necessary to carry out this practice unless conditions make it fairly easy to do so.


     At each station a 25 yard and 100 yard target range should be established. It will not only be exceedingly valuable for practice but is necessary for testing guns, ammunition and new sights and devices. All practices should be carried out with a model aeroplane or an aeroplane silhouette as a target, <to> train the gunner to use his Ring Sight properly all shooting should be done from Scarf or T.O. 3 mountings, with Lewis Infantry guns equipped with Ring sights and bead front sights.

Practice No. one.

     Six magazines containing one round each, placed at right of gun. Gunner keeps his eye on target at all times, places on magazine, cocks, fires, changes magazine etc.. Object is to practice aiming, handling gun correctly and change magazines correctly. Magazine must be “streamlined”. Range 25 yards—Target a model aeroplane 1/4 full size with screen 4'6" X 4' 6".

Practice No. 2.

     One magazine of ten rounds two of 20 rounds, fired at same 25 yards target in bursts of ten.object is same as No. one and in addition practice in shooting in bursts of ten and holding gun on target while doing so.

Practice No. 3.

     One double magazine spaced between each five rounds. Range 100 yards—target a screen 4' X 4' with a 1' bulls eye. Object is to practice the gunner in applying immediate action, use a straight line of sight (similar to using windvane and no target deflection) and hold his gun on target while firing in bursts.


     Practices Number one and two and three should be carried out by all gunners at least ten times per month, which will mean that each man fires approximately 1000 rounds per month I practice. These practices both in the air and  on the  ground can be varied or added to as conditions require. The important thing is, to see that the gunners do not become rusty by not handling and shooting their gun through lack of opportunity to do so. After firing practice each gunner should be required to clean and care for his own gun, and see to it that it is always in perfect condition.

     It is recommended that all member of the aeroplane crews pilots, observers, radio gunners and engineers are given the opportunity to carry out all practices equally.

Source Note: D, DLC-MSS, Albert M. Cohen Papers, Box 2.

Footnote 1: A Batchelor mirror was a device used to train pilots to drop bombs accurately. An operator placed the mirror in an open area and then used it to check if the pilot had dropped an imaginary bomb on the right spot (that is, where the operator was). Ruled lines were used to monitor the accuracy of the drop.

Footnote 2: In the right margin someone has written: “Can this be done at a station”?

Footnote 3: In the right margin someone has written: “too many”?

Footnote 4: For photos of a Lewis gun, Scarff mounting, and “Wind Vane Sight,” see: Illustrations for August 1918.

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