Mission 1

Start of the Museum Tour: Follow the Arrows
Please follow the red floor arrows and note the displays by referring to the station numbers. Above the visitor’s book is the Engbrecht display.  This is a very significant display provided to the Museum by the Engbrecht family of Boissevain and the Ex-Air Gunners Association of Manitoba.  The text and messages explain the reasons why Sgt. Peter Engbrecht earned one of the very few medals of gallantry.

Engbrecht DisplayAir Gunner Engbrecht Medals Display

On your left is a diorama with the caption “Forbidden Thrills.”  Although low flying was generally forbidden, once trainees got far from base they found high flight boring so many took chances to experience the thrill of flying under telephone lines, railway bridges, etc.
Forbidden Thrills Diorama

Starting down toward the air trade displays we begin with station number 1.  This is the navigator’s display. The background of this display represents the night sky and the stars by which celestial navigation is carried out.
(See how many constellations you can pick out in the backdrop!)

Navigator Studying the Star-Studded Night Sky
Tools of the Navigator

The sextant held by the navigator has a leveling bubble which can be seen through the eye piece.  By keeping the sextant level and focusing on a certain known star the angle of the star to the earth is recorded and by referring to an astro chart,  the aircraft longitude or latitude can be determined.  By doing so for three stars at different locations in the sky the place where the lines intersect is the location of the aircraft. Because the plane bounces about, the sextant is wound to run for one minute and  the average over the minute the observed angle should be close to true.

Dead Reckoning Flight ComputerGun Camera
Navigation CompassNavigator's Display

The parallel ruler is attached to the navigator’s desk so it doesn’t bounce around. It has the directional degrees on the axis.  The round aluminum item with dials on it is known as a Dalton computer and is used for navigating calculations.  Among other items, the case contains a navigator’s battle dress tunic.
Parallel RulerDalton Computer

The display case behind you on your left contains a number of aircraft models.  The yellow models are the types of aircraft that were used in the Training Plan.
BCATP Training Aircraft

Above the display of yellow aircraft you will see a Squadron Leader’s uniform  (three stripes on the sleeve) which was worn by Squadron  Leader Coupland.  On the left-hand pocket of the tunic there is a small brass wing with an “O” in the middle.  This indicates that he completed a tour of Operations.  A tour consisted of approximately thirty-two trips over enemy held territory.  You will also notice the two little bars attached to the “O” wing, this indicates that Squadron Leader Coupland completed three tours of Operations.  This means he completed in the neighborhood of 90 sorties against the enemy or missions over enemy territory.  Many men never completed their first tour of operations.  The average life expectancy for a bomber pilot was six weeks.

Squadron Leader Uniform



Bomb Aimer at the Bomb Sight

Behind and to the left is Station No. 2 which is the bomb aimer’s display.  Featured in this display is a bomb sight.  This complicated looking instrument had adjustments for air speed, altitude, temperature and wind.  This allowed the bomb aimer to calculate where the aircraft had to be in order to drop the bomb load on the target.  During training the three small bombs in the case were used in practice.  When the bomb struck the ground, it emitted  coloured smoke.  As there was more then one bomb aimer in the aircraft, observers on the ground would use  the different colours of smoke to determine the accuracy and the identity of the bomb aimer.

Practice Bombs

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Photos by Bill Hillman - Copyrighted 1999/2010