Air Heritage Centre receives two Link trainers

  |  Published: Oct 28th 2015
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Two more flight simulators, known as Link Trainers, have been brought from the Netherlands to the James McCudden Flight Heritage Centre (JMFHC) at RAF Halton, most significantly the D2 (ANT 18) which was used by RAF pilots during World War 2.

This D2 Trainer arriving at Halton (Serial Number 11374) was built under licence in World War 2 (1942) at Air Canada Trainers and was acquired for the Royal Air Force by Air Trainers Ltd, when the company was known as JVW Ltd which was formed by Air Commodore Fellowes RAF (Retd) and based in Aston Clinton. In 1946, JVW Ltd was renamed Air Trainers Ltd  and moved to Aylesbury, subsequently employing some 1200 personnel.

The other one is a D4B and was built in Aylesbury by ATL and ironically is Serial No; 001, the prototype on which numerous RAF Link Trainers were based for training  aircrew flying aircraft such as Jet Provost, Gnats, Varsity and Argosy.

The D4 was released from the RAF as surplus and found its way eventually to Charterhouse School Combined Cadet Force (CCF), and then acquired by the Museum of Flight simulation in Someren several years ago through the generosity of Colin Wood who was a former employee of ATL in Aylesbury. Colin formed his own Flight Simulation company near Oxford and has volunteered to assist with the Link Trainers now at Halton.

The Link trainers came into widespread use during World War II when over 10,000 “blue box” trainers were used to improve safety and shorten training time for over 500,000 pilots. The trainers were used as a step preceding actual flight training and as an opportunity for experienced pilots to sharpen their skills.

The two trainers were brought to RAF Halton via Immingham by members of 2 Military Transport Section based at RAF Wittering near Peterborough.  All of the airmen who made the journey were newly trained in the RAF and recently graduated from Recruit Training Squadron at Halton.

A statement from No. 2 Mechanical Transport Squadron said: “Number 2 Mechanical Transport Squadron is the only dedicated heavy-lift haulage unit for the Royal Air Force.  It provides specialist vehicles and manpower at very high readiness to support RAF operations and exercises worldwide.  LAC’s Leavers, Marshall, Mathews and Punter, joined 2 MT Squadron in Summer 15, following their Basic Training at RAF Halton and Trade Training at the Defence School of Transport at Leconfield.  Very few LACs are granted the privilege of Joining 2 MT Squadron, and are selected for suitability on performance and prior experience during trade training.  As part of their induction onto the Squadron they have had to undertake a further eight weeks of Specialist Driver Training (SDT) which qualifies them on most of the squadrons vehicle types.  As part of SDT, drivers are required to complete a live convoy task before they are awarded the Q-ACCSU competency and receive their Squadron Elephant badges.     

“It is fitting that these LAC’s should consolidate their induction training on the squadron in support of RAF Halton where they all started their RAF life not so long ago.  Their task was to drive out in convoy to the Netherlands in order to collect two Links Trainers for the museum at RAF Halton.”

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