I've been doing a bit of research regarding B-24 operations over Europe and have come across the rank of 'Flight Officer' in the US Army Air Forces. The two Flight Officers about whom I've read were both Liberator bombardiers.
Can anyone give me a short rundown on the rank of FO? They didn't seem to be commissioned officers nor were they enlisted. Were they similar to today's warrant officers?
After the First World War, enlisted men were no longer eligible to serve as military pilots. Due to the war emergency in 1942, the rapid expansion of the U.S. Army Air Forces made it necessary to accept for training those persons who lacked the previously required college education for certain occupations. Initially given the rank of Staff Sergeant, a solution was sought to bridge the rules regarding non-fraternization between officers and enlisted men performing the same occupations, especially with respect to pilots, navigators, and bombadiers. The adopted solution was to establish the new rank of Flight Officer by Public Law 658 in July 1942 and War Department Circular 366, 7 November 1942. The new rank created a considerable amount of confusion regarding military customs and perogatives. The Flight Officer rank and insignia were adapted from those for a warrant officer. Due to various practical problems, the Flight Officers came to be treated as a virtual Third Lieutenant in many respects. The rank of Flight Officer was abolished at the end of the war in 1945.
U.S. Army Air Forces aviation warrant officer. Equivilent to Warrant Officer, Junior Grade.
Created in 1942 when the rapidly expanding USAAF was still trying to decide what its rank structure should be; especially for navigators and bombardiers.
Also used for NCO and Aviation Cadet pilots who didn't at that time meet the other requirements for a commission.
Largest use was probably for Glider and Liason Pilots.
Mostly phased out later in the war as the requirements for a commission changed. Existing FOs were commissioned and no new ones made.
Insignia was gold bar with rounded ends with blue enamel instead of the red used by ground forces.
In a modern airline situation the FO is the highest ranking officer in the aircraft usually the pilot. IIRC
As the Army Air Corps staffed, or perhaps overstaffed, there were too many flying personnel, officer types, for the authorized allowances. Therefore, the F/O was used to keep the Officers together, but not exceed the allowed staffing numbers. I suspect F/O's were navigators and bombardiers, maybe some copilots. The F/O rank had an advantage. My father was a F/O. Towards the end of the war there were lots of F/Os. He received the same pay as a 2LT, but twice the overseas pay. When he was promoted to 1LT he'd been a 2LT for 6 days.
Gen> Chuck Yeager was an enlisted man who became a flight officer or as some called it, "Flying Sergeants". A little while later he received a commission and became an officer and retired as a Bridider General.
my father was a holder of the blue pickle. when he graduated from flight school in 1945, some guys were made 2nd lt's and some flight o's. He wore the uniform as a 2nd lt and had the same privliges. He was promoted to 1st lt without being a 2nd lt.