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Fleet Air Arm

Discussion in 'Britain at Sea!' started by Andy235, Feb 11, 2018.

  1. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    At the risk of repeating myself, from a couple of previous posts on the topic . . .

    We might do well to remember that all, that’s right, ALL, of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm F4U squadrons received their airplanes and were trained, to include carrier qualifying, by USN aviators, at various naval air stations in the US and on US carriers. All, yes, all of them, all 19 of the FAA F4U squadrons accepted their aircraft and trained in the US for an average of about three months. All of them carrier qualified in US waters on US carriers and all this training was accomplished with USN instructors. The first FAA squadron destined for F4Us, 1830, arrived at NAS Quonset Point in June 1943. The rest began their training:

    1831 in July 1943, NAS Quonset Point
    1834 in July 1943 NAS Quonset Point
    1833 in July 1943, NAS Quonset Point
    1835 in August 1943, NAS Quonset Point
    1836 in August 1943, NAS Quonset Point
    1837 in September 1943, NAS Quonset Point
    1838 in October 1943, NAS Brunswick
    1841 in March 1944, NAS Brunswick
    1842 in April 1944, NAS Brunswick
    1843 in May 1944, NAS Brunswick
    1845 in June 1944, NAS Brunswick
    1846 in July 1944, NAS Brunswick
    1848 in July 1944, NAS Brunswick
    1850 in August 1944, NAS Brunswick
    1849 in August 1944, NAS Brunswick
    1851 in September 1944, NAS Brunswick
    1852 in February 1945, NAS Brunswick
    1853 in April 1945, NAS Brunswick

    Check the FAA records. Most of what these squadrons were doing in the US is available on the internet, for example, see First Line Squadrons Menu Front Line Squadrons Menu, here Front Line Squadrons Menu.

    Most of these F4U RN developed landing practices and the usual follow-on, first to deploy on carriers, tales date from 1960s and 1970s published accounts which the internet, for all the bad things I can say about it, such as repeating these tales as dogma, now lets us see the data, which lets us put a stake in them.

    One US naval aviator of my acquaintance, who after a couple of combat tours, carrier and land based, was director of VF training at ComFAirWest from Sept 1943 to Oct 1944, reported that the “crabbing” approach was the only way to land an F4U on a carrier and still keep the LSO in sight. Quoth: “It was the only way we knew how to do it and the only method that made sense. It was not something we felt needed comment.” He first flew the F4U-1 at San Diego on November 3, 1943, after returning from a tour in the Solomons in VF-11 flying F4Fs (his first F6F flight was at Espiritu Santo on 14 July 1943, in a plane borrowed from VF-33 as the squadrons crossed paths to and from the combat area, some ratting about with F4Us, his adversary was one Ken Walsh . . . another story for later). Upon return to the states he became director of fighter training at ComFAirWest where he was flying at least every other day, F6Fs, FMs, F4Us, even the occasional SBD, and sometimes three or four flights a day. Working from his pilot’s logbook, his first flight in a F4U-1A was on 31 January 1944. After a couple of FCLP flights in the preceding days, his first actual carrier landing in an F4U, a -1A, was on February 24, 1944, aboard the CVE USS Altamaha, this in prep for the March 1944 RATO experiments. He would always say that the way to land the F4U on a carrier was obvious to anyone with any experience (he earned his wings in November 1940 and was already an ace) and had an inkling as to what he was doing and what needed to be done. The shape of the plane, the position of, and view from the cockpit, the need to keep the LSO in sight led one naturally to use wide and side approach, straightening out only at the last few seconds.

    Still another naval aviator of my acquaintance, one of the leaders in VF-12, an early USN F4U squadron (the members of which were outraged when they had to turn their F4Us over to the local CASU and draw F6Fs for the air group’s first deployment), told me pretty much the same thing, the technique was obvious and was what they taught their pilots.

    Also, the minor observation that VF(N)-101 was operating F4U-2s in combat from USN carriers at least four months before the first FAA F4U squadron deployed . . . and at night at that, January 1944 vice April 1944. And earlier, during the November 1943 carrier strikes on Rabaul while the carrier bombers and fighters were off doing their mischief, cover for the carriers was provided by the land-based F4Us of VF-17 all of which landed and launched aboard carriers, some more than once, to refuel and rearm during the course of the operation . . . combat, carriers, F4Us, 1943, no deck crashes. Tommy Blackburn had his squadron performing FCLP when not flying their land-based combat missions just to keep them in practice; obviously it came in handy.

    The original decision to use F6Fs as the primary carrier VF squadron was made in a meeting with Admirals King, Nimitz, and Vice Admiral Towers and was, as noted, a logistics issue and, importantly, a personnel issue. Fighter maintenance personnel aboard carriers were, by 1943, part of the ship's company, not the air group. They were all trained to work on F6Fs, not F4Us. USMC F4U squadrons had their own organic maintenance personnel. When the first wholesale assignment of F4Us to carriers occurred, they were USMC squadrons which brought their own maintenance personnel with them. Later, as more and more USN F4U squadrons worked up their maintenance personnel were trained in the squadrons and at local CASUs. When the USN F4U squadrons started being assigned to carriers, late 1944, those trained personnel were transferred to the various carriers' ships companies supplanting personnel from other types.
     
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  2. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Prior to Pearl Harbor, we had agreed to Lend-Lease the British six escort carriers. One of them was commissioned as HMS Charger, but almost immediately “repossessed” by the USN and used for aircrew training. It had not occurred to me until R Leonard’s post that she would also have had a role training British pilots.
     
  3. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    All them young men had to join the wet diaper club before being carrier qual'd.
     

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