The AAF’s principal source of flying officers and ground officer specialists has been the Aviation Cadet Recruiting Program. This activity, temporarily suspended in March 1944, was open to civilians and enlisted men able to satisfy certain entrance requirements. Successful completion of Aviation Cadet Training qualified men to be commissioned 2nd lieutenants or appointed flight officers. The program comprised aircrew trainees – pilots, bombardiers, and navigators – and men trained in armament, communications, engineering, meteorology and photography.

The following subjects have been found extremely helpful for young men of school age in preparation for flying service with the AAF:

BOMBARDIER – Mathematics through trigonometry; science (properties of materials, heat, gases, forces, frictions, air currents); mechanical drawing; map and blueprint reading and physical training.

Applicants are given a series of psychomotor and placement tests at the Basic Training Center in order to check mental and muscular coordination. Scores made on these tests determine the particular phase of flying – pilot, bombardier or navigator – in which applicants can be best and most quickly trained. Failing to meet the minimum standards for any of these, applicants are eligible to apply for aerial gunnery training.


"Mindful of the secret trust about to be placed in me by my Commander in Chief, the President of the United States, by whose direction I have been chosen for bombardier training...and mindful of the fact that I am to become guardian of one of my country's most priceless military assets, the American bombsight...I do here, in the presence of Almighty God, swear by the Bombardier's Code of Honor to keep inviolate the secrecy of any and all confidential information revealed to me, and further to uphold the honor and integrity of the Army Air Forces, if need be, with my life itself."

This 'picture book' was sent home to my Grandmother. It was intended to give her some idea of what the life of an airman-in-training was like. It contains pictures of daily activities such as physical training, technical training, parade, barracks life, etc..

Pages 1-2 Pages 3-4 Pages 5-6 Pages 7-8 Pages 9-10 Pages 11-12 Pages 13-14 Pages 15-16 Pages 17-18 Pages 19-20 Pages 21-22 Pages 23-24 Pages 25-26 Pages 27-28 Pages 29-30 Back Cover


BOMBARDIER – Directs flight of bomber when approaching and over target; operates bombsight; releases bombs; gunner during attack.

Norden Bombsight

This view of a Norden bombsight shows the front of the device, with the (functional) gyroscope assembly visible through the plexiglass window on the left. The telescope for the bombsight is toward the upper center of the bombsight. To the right are five manual controls for altitude and airspeed. (Credit to U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission)

Location of Norden Bombsight at nose of "The Dragon And His Tail", B-24J Serial Number 44-44052 (Courtesy of The Collings Foundation)

A bombsight is a device that is used to drop bombs accurately from aircraft. The Norden bombsight was a highly secret device used during World War II that allowed bomber crews to carry out daytime strategic bombing. The bombsight allowed a bomb to be dropped at exactly the right time needed to hit the target. It used a mechanical analog computer consisting of a system of gyros, motors, gears, mirrors, levels, and a telescope. The bombardier would provide the computer with the air speed, wind speed and direction, altitude, and angle of drift. With this information, the bombsight would calculate the trajectory of the bomb. As the airplane approached the target, the pilot would turn the plane over to the autopilot that would fly the plane to the precise location and release the bomb over the target. Supposedly, use of the bombsight could place a bomb side a 100-foot (30-meter) circle from four miles (six kilometers) high. The bombsight was so secret that it would be loaded onto the plane under armed guard just before it took off and removed as soon as the plane landed. Crewmembers serving on planes with the bombsight had to take an oath to protect the bombsight with their lives if necessary.

More Bombsight Information (Courtesy of The Air Museum - Chino, California)


AIRCRAFT OBSERVER (bombardier, navigator, radio observer night fighter, radio observer RCM, flight engineer) – Granted upon successful completion of the prescribed course of instruction for such ratings at an authorized AAF special service school. Rating as aircraft observer (bombardier, navigator and radio observer night fighter) is also granted to individuals who have demonstrated in a theater of operations their ability to satisfactorily perform their duties of bombardier, navigator or radio observer night fighter, are certified by their commanding officers as competent to carry out the functions of proper to such ratings, and have flown 50 hours, performing combat missions as bombardier, navigator or radio observer night fighter.

FLIGHT OFFICERS – On July 8, 1942, the grade of flight officer was established. Upon graduation, aviation (flying training) cadets who have not qualified for commissions as 2nd lieutenants may be appointed flight officers with a status equivalent to that of warrant officer, junior grade. Promotion from flight officer to 2nd lieutenant is permitted.


Aviation Cadets – Base pay $75 per month and a subsistence allowance of $1 per day. (As with officers, aviation cadets, after graduation, are granted $250 clothing allowance.)

Officers – Commissioned, warrant and flight.

Flight Officer / 2nd Lieutenant: Yearly pay = $1800; Rent allowance= $60 (with dependents), $45 (single); $42 per month subsistence allowance (with dependents), $21 per month (single)

Flying officers and enlisted men receive an increase of 50% of their base pay when by orders of competent authority they are required to participate regularly and frequently in aerial flights.

The base pay of officers is increased by 10% for any service while on sea duty or duty in any place beyond the continental limits of the U.S. or in Alaska.

FLYING TRAINING – Bombardier Training

Preflight School – 10 weeks’ course: Trainees attend the same preflight school. Both bombardiers and navigators take 48 hours of code; 28 hours of mathematics; 24 hours of maps and charts; 30 hours of aircraft recognition; 12 hours of naval recognition; 12 hours of principles of flight; 20 hours of aero-physics; 9 hours of altitude equipment.

Gunnery School – 6 weeks’ course: Because every bomber crew member must be an expert gunner, navigator and bombardier trainees are sent to a flexible gunnery school after preflight school. They learn weapons, ballistics, turret operation and maintenance; gun repairs; air, sea and land recognition; shooting from a moving base and from a turret; firing from the air at ground objects, at tow targets and at other planes with a gun camera. After gunnery school bombardier and navigator trainees separate and each takes a specialized advance course.

Bombardier School – 20 weeks’ course: Following gunnery school, bombardier trainees spend 120 hours in AT-11 training planes on practice bombing runs and 718 hours in ground school. The latter consists of: navigation, 96 hours; bombing, 388 hours; navigation and bombing and related training (code, meteorology, air and sea recognition), 234 hours. At the conclusion of the course, trainees are awarded bombardier’s silver wings, appointed flight officers or commissioned 2nd lieutenants, and sent on to unit training.

My Grandfather's Bombardier Wings

Click HERE to see what my Grandfather saw as a Bombardier. [May load slowly. Please, be patient.] (Courtesy of

Certified in Rank as a Flight Officer, A.U.S. and rated as an Aircraft Observer, Bombardier.

Certification upon Bombardier qualification and issuance of Bombardier's flight kit.

My Grandfather's phycial health record (including inoculation records) indicating that he was "Qualified for Flights...30,000 Feet"

AIR UNIT TRAINING – Phase Training

Bombardment: Medium, Heavy and Very Heavy – Trainees undergo a 90-day course, divided into three overlapping phases: First, the trainees increase their proficiency in individual skills, learn to work as a team, and become familiar with equipment and techniques. Second, formation flying is stressed. Finally, trainees move to a training area which approximates a battle zone, fly long formation bombing missions by day and night, learn to live, work and fight under combat conditions.

An announcement for the graduation of my Grandfather's Bombardier Class 43-11 at San Angelo (TX) Army Air Field, on 5 August 1943. (Members of this Class can be found HERE)

Views From Above

Moulmein, Burma 1944. Lt. Thomas Glover, Lead Bombardier - Lt. Bernard Piersa, Lead Navigator, 10th AF, 7th BG, 492nd BS, CBI

(Photos courtesy of Thomas Glover)

In flight after an attack on the Youchow railroad yards in August '44.

My grandfather possibly aboard the ship at far left.

Written to my grandmother, the caption notes a "battle with Zeros"

Photo Reconnaissance showing post-mission bomb pattern

(Photo courtesy of Walter Kaestner)

Over Hong Kong (Kowloon Docks) - October 1944

(Photo courtesy of Walter Kaestner)

From Walt's notes: "Bombs hitting target near what looks like a railroad yard. Some bombs behind...Probably factory, shop, warehouse area."

(Photo courtesy of Walter Kaestner)

Part of my Grandfather's war memorabilia. Silken maps with lines of Latitude and Longitude. This is an example of an 'Escape Map'.

Home - Medals - Diary Entries - Planes & Crews - Crew Photos - Nose Art

Short Snorters - 7th BG Personnel - 308th BG Personnel

Cadet Class 43-11 - Crews: Casper to Topeka

Documents - Know These Men? - Document Library

WW II Poster Collection - Great-uncle Henry's Page - In Memoriam

Family Photos - Sights From Overseas - Links - CBI On the Internet