Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
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BCATP Stations - No. 8 BGS Lethbridge Albeta

On wht was known as Kenyon Field near Lethbridge Alberta, the Royal Canadian Air Force opened No. 5 Elementary Flying Training School in July 1940. Due to the high prairie winds, the air force determined that it could not continue operating light biplane aircraft for elementary training there and relocated the school to High River Alberta in June of 1941.

In November 1941, the RCAF opened No. 8 Bombing & Gunnery School at this airfield. A major expansion was needed to facilitate bombing and gunnery ranges and 100 square miles of land was leased from the Blood Indian Reserve nearby. No. 8 BGS closed in 1944.

Fairey Battle, Westland Lysander, Avro Anson and Bristol Bolingbroke aircraft were used to provide target towing and gunnery bombing practice. No. 8 Bombing & Gunnery School offered training to Observers (eight weeks), Navigator Bs (eight weeks), Bomb Aimers (eight increased to 12 weeks), Wireless Air Gunners (12 weeks) and Air Gunners (12 weeks)  from the Commonwealth Air Forces. Ground and simulator training was intensive for students who spent the majority of their time at No. 8 BGS at these activities as opposed to those requiring flying time. For example, between 1940 and 1942, an Observer in training could look forward to only 20 hours of practice in an aircraft and air gunners could expect only seven hours. In 1942, the courses were lengthened for all trades.

Bombing students were given instruction in the use and maintenance of bombsights, directing the pilot to fly the bombing run, releasing bombs and recording the results of the bomb run. In air, bombing students were given 5.2 kilogram practice bombs which were released from Fairey Battles, Avro Anson and Bristol Bolingbrokes.

The Gunnery student curriculum included learning to load, aim and clean their 

Flying Officer F.R. Webster
fWebster joking around for the camera - could this be plalying the air guitar 10 years before the creation of Rock & Roll?
 303 machine guns. They started out on the ground-based gun range. Once proficient with rifles and live ammunition, Gunnery students graduated to ground-based aircraft turrets with multiple machine guns. They then took to the air in Fairey Battle aircraft shooting at targets on the ground and at airborne drogues towed by Lysanders.
To graduate, all students had to demonstrate proficiency in aircraft recognition of 72 different types of aircraft. 
No. 8 Bombing & Gunnery School Scenes
Earlier this year, the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum received a donation from our good friend Robert Quirk. It was a photo album collection of photographs which belonged to a F/O Webster who we believe was a staff pilot at that school. Robert acquired the album on e-bay. Here are some aircraft scenes from the album. Click on a picture to see the series.
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