Unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Services 

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Category: Air support

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Empire Training Scheme & British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

10 versions of the BCATP pilot's wings for Australians

2 versions of the BCATP WAG (Wireless/Air gunner) for Australians

These wings were NOT RAAF issue. They were made in Canada and they were only worn in Canada by men who had trained there. Official version wings were worn as soon as pilots went to UK or back to Australia for posting. The last one (in the pilot's wing section) is totally un-official and was not to be worn.
At the start of the Second World War, the British Government looked to the Empire and Dominions for air training help because the United Kingdom did not have the space to accommodate training and operational facilities, and because aerodromes in the United Kingdom were vulnerable to enemy attack. The Agreement was signed by Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand on 17 December 1939, it listed the percentage of trainees each country would send, the percentage of costs each would take on, the training schedule, and the aerodrome opening schedule. 

Between 1940 and 1945, some 151 schools had been established across Canada with a ground organization of 104,113 men and women. By the end of the Second World War, the BCATP (Canada) and the EATS (Australia/NZ) had produced 131,553 aircrew, including pilots, wireless operators, air gunners, and navigators for the Air Forces of Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

During the early war years the RAAF & RNZAF's primary task was to train aircrew for the RAF under the Empire Air Training Scheme, however when Japan entered the War both the RAAF and RNZAF turned their attentions increasingly to the protection of the Pacific and their own shores.

When the BCATP and EATS came to a close on 31 March 1945, the four participating governments had spent CAN $2.2 billion on the training plan, CAN $1.6 billion of which was Canada's proportion. 

Elementary training took approximately eight weeks, which included at least 50 hours of flying. Aircraft commonly used at Elementary Flying Training Schools were de Havilland Tiger Moths, Fleet Finches, and  Fairchild Cornells.  Successful trainees then progressed to Service Flying Training Schools for more advanced instruction. the course length varied from 10 to 16 weeks, and flying time varied from 75 to 100 hours. Potential fighter pilots trained on single-engine North American Harvards while pilots selected for bomber, coastal, and transport operations received training on twin-engine Avro Ansons, Cessna Cranes, or Airspeed Oxfords. 


    Nationality of BCATP Graduates (19401945) 
    Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm (FAA)

    Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)

    Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)
    Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF)





    Royal Air Force (RAF), including: 
    • 448 Poles 
    • 677 Norwegians 
    • 800 Belgian and Dutch
    • 900 Czechs 
    • 2,600 Free French

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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces