Pilot’s controls – Stirling I

Pilot's controls - Stirling I

Air Diagrams such as these were used in training to familiarise RAF pilots with the controls of their aircraft. These sheets were clearly set out to enable the pilot to learn quickly and efficiently, with red print to highlight the emergency operations, and similar types of instruments grouped together.

The heavy bomber pilot had much to learn, therefore this diagram enabled trainees to study the controls without being in the actual aircraft. Similar techniques are still used today.

The Short Stirling was the first of the RAF’s four-engined heavy bombers, but the least successful, as it did not have the range or bomb capacity of the Lancaster or Halifax. The Stirling could lift a 14000lb (6356kg) payload over a range of 500 miles (805km). The first full size prototype flew on 13th May 1939, but it was not until 10th February 1941 that the first Stirling flew operationally to Rotterdam with No.7 Squadron.

Date: February 1942
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Pilot's controls - Stirling I

The long, narrow fuselage bomb bay meant that the Stirling could not compete with the Lancaster and Halifax in terms of bomb load. Therefore, in 1943, the Stirling squadrons took on other duties, including mine-laying, glider towing in the airborne assault on D-Day, and as paratroop transporters.

Two VCs were won by Stirling pilots, both during operations to Turin. The first was awarded to Flt Sgt Rawdon Middleton of No.149 Squadron and the second to Flt Sgt Arthur Aaron of No.218 Squadron. Unfortunately, unlike their more illustrious heavy bomber counterparts, no complete Stirlings survive today.

Date: October 1942
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