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WW2 RAF Air Gunners Manual (1944) | Compass Library

WW2 RAF Air Gunners Manual (1944)

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Issued by Chief of Naval Operations,
U.S. Navy


‘Get the Fighter, Before he Gets You’

A rare WW2 Air Gunners manual, published by the US Navy in 1944. It includes an original, handwritten poem, added to the blank notes pages by an RAF gunner. This book was specifically intended for the use of Allied Air Gunners, and was concerned with how to deal with attacks by enemy fighters. It would have been very useful for all front, mid-upper and rear gunners in understanding the best way to counteract fighter attacks. The manual covers the theory and practice of making sure the bomber’s defensive fire would hit the mark, looking at various methods of allowing for deflection and the relative closing speeds of both aircraft. All the various attacks are dealt with: head on, side, rear, above and below. Very well illustrated and clearly written, this would have been an essential bit of kit for all Allied Air Gunners.

The book comes with an original poem, written in pencil on the notes pages at the rear. The author appears to be an RAF air gunner, ‘Sgt Oaks’, who describes shooting down a ‘dammed hun’:

‘Down he goes in Smoke,
To the Devil,
I hope he Chokes’

[I have found details of one RAF airman who might possibly be the same Sergeant Oaks: Trevor Walter Oaks volunteered for aircrew duties in October 1939 and began training as an air gunner. In March 1940 he remustered as an Airman u/t Observer. Oaks underwent training at the Air Gunners and Observers School, Ohakea, New Zealand, and was awarded his observer badge and promoted to Sergeant on 28th May. He sailed for the UK on 7th June in the RMS Rangitata. In July 1940 Oaks was posted to 17 OTU Upwood and after converting to Blenheims joined 106 Squadron at Finningley on 3rd October. He went on to serve with 235 Squadron at Bircham Newton, 69 Squadron in Malta in 1941 for general reconnaissance duties over the Mediterranean, 294 Squadron in 1943 on ASR duties, and later that year with 76 OTU Aquir, Palestine, as an instructor. Commissioned in 1944, he returned to New Zealand in November and was released from the RNZAF on 6th February 1945 as a Flying Officer].


In good condition. The card cover is in good condition, with minor signs of use and some marks. The stapled binding is good and secure. The text and illustrations are in very good condition.

Published: 1944
Illustrated with line drawings (coloured)
Dimensions: 95mm x 170mm
Pages: 48