History of Aircraft in the ATC


I’m really interested in ATC history and I want to know what all aircraft we flew in the past.


plus the
Tutor (Current)
Bulldog (90s?)



From memory
Oxford, Dominie and Anson in WW2
Slingsby(?) Sedburgh T21 glider
Kirby T3 glider
De Havilland Chipmunk T10(?)
Husky (at 5 AEF)
Then into the modern aircraft that last sod all time, will Tutors still be flying 50 years after coming into service, like the Chippy was. Mind you given the lack of use they use they are getting they should do.

You might want to look at the British Pathe website. I use it for local and family history research, but there are quite a lot of ATC related things on there.


You missed out the tiger moth from ww2


Well it was from memory.

I liked putting up pictures of the gliders I flew in. Not much point now.


Ohhh. And the mighty grasshopper!!!


I don’t know if this counts BUT…
My mates Sqn got a message on Facebook from a cadet from 1943/44, he was telling them about his time on the corps.

Air Nav course they used the Avro Anson the mid-way point was Blackpool tower they had to fly around it!!!

AEF Flying was interesting…
They were near RAF Abbotsinch/ RNAS Sanderling this was used as a maintenance base for various types of aircraft so they got to fly in ANYTHING that was available and was due for a check flight.
Also every few months they went to Machrihanish and got flights there in Fairey Barracudas… the best bit, the Barracudas were being used to train pilots in landing and taking off carriers (apparently there was always a career off the west coast of Scotland for this training and it wasn’t unknown for the cadet to spend a night onboard)


I vaguely remember a similar story from our old padre - he related a story about doing carrier landings whilst a cadet during WW2.


Oh yes, could you imagine the RA for that now, if someone did it with a cadet now HQAC’s heads would spin.

Likewise the stories of rearming, refuelling and repairing aircraft during WW2 and doing guard patrols. Much more fun than today’s just look don’t touch.

Cadets seemed to have much more fun in the early days, bearing in mind they were living through a war.


Well, I was a cadet on one of those squadrons very close to Abbotsinch. It was a few years after the war, but not all that long, 15 years. The memories would have been much fresher and I can honestly say that I never heard anything remotely like what is described. Now given that the originator of said FB message would currently be 87-89 and that it to “my mate’s squadron” I am the just a little sceptical; it comes with age!.

It’s a bit like the Vulcan tales* I have heard regaled over the years. My mate knew someone who etc and then follows some story that I can’t connect with my time on the aircraft, in fact usually bovine ordure! So, knowing just a little about what went on, even back then, I am afraid that I would have to regard it as a tale and no more. If it could be authenticated however I should be really pleased.

These do have a grain of truth, but just that. A good few years back someone doing some research turned up information relating to these activities. In reality it would appear that they were mostly staged for publicity purposes and very much the exception rather that the rule.

  • For anyone interested in real Vulcan, Victor and Valiant stories, V Force Boys by Tony Blackman and Tony Wright is published tomorrow, 7th July. Available from a well known South American river site. Before anyone asks, I did contribute to it.



One of those with a tale of this was one of my uncles’ who was in the ADCC / ATC in London until 1941 when he joined the RAF and some old boys I’ve met who went to stations to help out in a similar fashion most weekends. None of them ever mentioned having pictures taken or just pretending. They all said not sure how effective their patrols would have been, faced with something real, but they also say they probably wouldn’t have been there had that threat been apparent.
The one thing many forget or don’t realise is that the ADCC and ATC originally was only for 16+, who were looking to join the RAF so very much a pre-service training remit and not the youth club of today with all the invented restrictions and rules demanded of youth groups by society.


Our CCF (JTC as it was then) definitely did conduct armed patrols during WW2 looking for invaders/parachutists. This was joint with another school who were evacuated here. All documented and written up by our school archivist about 10 years ago.

Apparently they nearly started an invasion scare one night… someone got a bit twitchy.

A few years ago I dug up a 1941 officer’s whistle in my garden, which at the time would have been just outside the school perimeter; so I guess someone dropped it on patrol. I now use it as my range whistle for snap shoots etc.


I wonder how they dealt with “blue on blue”? I wonder if they even thought of it! Did your school archivist find any links to local Home Guard units?

I’m intrigued that they had arms available as when the invasion threat was greatest the Home Guard were chronically short of weapons.



I’m not in the least surprised that ATC Cadets during WW2 would have sometimes handled weapons whilst helping-out on the Home Front.

Every year takes away a few more of the Cadets that were serving in 1941, but from those I’ve had the honour to speak directly with, they got up to a whole range of authorised (and unauthorised) support activities. This ranged from serving alongside ARP/AFS and ROC personnel, to acting as messengers/couriers at military bases, to sometimes working at operational airfields. During that era, the possession of a badged uniform and some basic form of paper identification, both empowered and obligated the bearer in equal measure.

On the specific point of arms and ammunition not being available for Home Guard units: there were major shortages initially, during the LDV phases, but by mid-1941 these were substantially sorted-out.

Most Royal Observer Corps observation posts had one or two Lee-Enfield rifles wrapped in tacky-brown paper, and as much ammunition as could be blagged (I base this upon direct testimony from my pre-RAuxAF service, with the ROC. In the 1970s I served alongside men who, as part of the RAF’s forgotten Corps, had shot at Heinkels from the hilltops of Britain, and also taken part in the D-Day landings). ATC Cadets frequently worked alongside the wartime ROC- the organisations had many links both then, and also to a lesser extent during later years.


I think we should always remember that cadets in the ADCC and ATC until 1945 ish, started when they were 16 and finished at 18 with the expectation was they enlisted. The training and activities were more directly linked to joining up, so doing some of these things would have been good preparatory work for serving.

I think that during a period like WW2 it was all hands to the pump. My dad when he was 15, used to go out fire watching with my Granddad and was part of the fire watchers at the factory where he was doing his apprenticeship, whether he should or not is another matter.

There are probably many (far too many as they don’t look at/know the Corps’ history) who think Air Cadet in WW2 and immediately think youngsters 13+. Also far, far too many apply today’s BS to what happened then.


Shall looking on said river site in that case, another Tony Blackman to add to the collection!


It will probably be the last one by both Tonys.


It’s a pity that someone hasn’t recorded and collated the type of information you describe. Whilst there are the various “histories”, official and otherwise it is the nitty-gritty of what happened and how that we need to preserve. If I may use V Force Boys as an example, Nigel Baldwin describes the BTR Basic Training Requirements) system and how it actually worked. Norman Bonnor’s chapter on navigation is an excellent account of how it was done in practice. I am aware of his RAF Historical Society (RAFHS) paper on the subject but this reaches a wider audience.

Speaking of which, the RAFHS would be an appropriate forum for a detailed paper on the ADCC\ATC and its interaction with the parent service.

As you said

That’s already a problem with the Cold War. I doubt that there’s anyone under 60 who flew the Vulcan and when you look at specific operations: e.g. Operation Acme*: the number remaining is getting smaller quite rapidly.

All this highlights the need to record things in a timely manner.


*For details of Op Acme see “My Secret Falklands War” by Sidney Edwards. Available from the usual navigable channel.


This isn’t the whole story. During WW2 ATC did permit Cadets under 16 to join, but 16-18yr olds were the priority (along with ‘deferred service’ 18yrs+).

A major clue to the existence of under-16yrs Cadets in 1941 was of course the many ATC School squadrons (in both state and independant schools).

The school leaving age was 14 in 1941, which was increased to 15 in 1944. Cadets that started their ATC career in a school squadron could in principle stay on at that unit until they were called-up, especially if they held rank.

Indications are that Cadets who were edged-out (as opposed to aged-out) from school squadrons, due to the influx of new generations of eligible recruits, would migrate outwards to provide a nucleus for the formation of new squadrons and detached flights.

Another major factor in the whole UK Cadet movement post-WW2 that’s remarkably under-documented was the National Service era, right through to the 1960s.

Young men at school or college joined specific arms of Cadet service (ie Sea, Army or Air) so as to ensure that they were streamed to join the particular branch of the armed services that they (and their parents) wanted them to serve in.

This was obviously based strongly upon traditional Army regimental & corps affiliations to different territorial recruitment areas in the country, and a similar situation applied for ex-ATC Cadets automatically becoming RAF National Service Officers & Airmen (the choice of joining a particular branch of the Cadet Forces was obviously influenced a lot by what branch a young man’s parents and siblings had served in during the war, and also after 1947, what element of the reserves an individual Cadet’s relatives were serving in).


There can always be exceptions, but the sqns that existed in our area and where I have a family connection didn’t have the school sqns. So the experience I have is of 16 - 18. My uncle joined the ADCC when he was at work and had been for around a year. Which I find quite ironic given that now cadets leave when they’ve been in work or FE for about a year.


But this could be said of many things, however at the time no one would recognise the historical significance of what was going on. As those involved don’t necessarily recognise what they were doing was potentially significant, they say/do nothing, which means it become anecdotal.

I have been doing my family history for about 13 years and getting info from family is bad enough.