Replacement Training Units in World War II
In the RTU system, replacement pilots where sent to RTUs or Combat Crew Training Stations (CCTSs) where they were given 12 weeks of training similar to the OTU program. Less time was needed for squadron and group integration, since the pilots were not yet part of a combat unit. Once all training was completed, pilots were drawn from the RTUs to serve in overseas units.
The 327th Fighter Group at Richmond was still producing OTU units in the fall of 1943 when it was directed to supply personnel for the newly created 87th Fighter Group. The new group was designated an RTU. Based at Camp Springs AAF, the 87FG consisted of the 535, 536, and 537 Fighter Squadrons. The 536th and 537th squadrons moved to Millville by convoy on January 7, 1944, leaving the 535th at Camp Springs. Additional personnel, many of whom had been on temporary duty in Millville for several months with the 325FS, were transferred to these squadrons. Each squadron brought its three P-47s to Millville and additional planes were assigned giving each unit a total of 32.
On April 10, 1944, all of the units, including the fighter squadrons were absorbed into the newly created 135th AAF Base Unit. The deactivation and elimination of the squadron’s identity presented morale problems with some former squadron personnel, to counter this, the base used the designations of 536th and 537th Fighter Training Units for the training squadrons until well into 1945. Throughout the war, the training remained relatively the same, except for addition of new and improved aircraft systems.
The 120 flying hour / 12 week program of training was split between the two locations. The P-47 transition training was given at Camp Springs for the new RTU pilots. The balance of the training, or advanced training was finished at Millville. Pilots were not immediately placed in advanced training upon arrival at Millville. They were first given a preflight examination that included radio range, link trainer, cockpit “feel”, landing gear operation, parking, and taxing. After successful completion of the examination, pilots were started in Advanced Fighter Training.