Follow the Leader
“I hope the guy in front knows where he’s going!”
The pressures of WW2 led to the situation, many times repeated, where relatively untrained navigators were faced with extreme weather conditions and serious difficulty in determining their position. Wartime navigators had only seven months from induction to completing training including initial and advanced navigation courses - (when I trained in the 50’s it took over two years to reach Squadron as a nav). The navigation aids then were very basic and the weather forecasting regime was rudimentary. Many aircraft were lost due to navigation errors and many missions were compromised due to lack of navigation skills. Some USAF units relied on a lead aircraft to undertake all navigation duties for the unit - genuine ‘follow my leader’ technique - which was fine as long as that crew survived the early stages of the mission. The RAF relied on each individual crew to make their own way to the target which generally worked but could go spectacularly wrong - one crew took off to target Keil, northern Germany, and largely through a bad weather forecast ended up bombing (quite accurately) Bassingbourn airfield, just outside Cambridge, and landing at Liverpool! The captain was demoted - there is no mention of the fate of the navigator.
The image, a multiple composite, hopefully affords some idea of the hazards of early flying/navigation in bad weather conditions. My hat off to these pioneering navs.