Text: Serge Van Heertum - Translation: Marc Arys  © sbap 2016
Pictures: Serge Van Heertum, Anthony Graulus, Marc Arys & Danny Carels
  
Fly Navy
  

The famous Shuttleworth collection organizes a couple of events during the year and also of course some well known and appreciated airshows. Each airshow has its own theme and the one of June 5th was dedicated to the British Naval aviation and simply named "Fly Navy".
This was one of the reasons why the SBAP management decided to cover the event and grasp the opportunity to immortalize some wonderful naval aircraft.
During the first part of the day we saw some arrivals of special aircraft and also witnessed helicopter arrivals with impressive "grass effect" due to the downwash of the rotor blades.
Some planes of the collection could be admired during a walk into the hangars, where you also could find some bargains to enlarge the aeronautical bookshelves.
After the lunch, the airshow got on. The opening of the show was ensured by the amazing De Havilland DH-110 "Sea Vixen" FAW Mk2 of the Fly Navy Heritage Trust together with the local Hawker "Sea Hurricane" Mk1b. After this big noisy aircraft, the "Sea Hurricane" made some passes with the splendid Supermarine "Seafire" LF III owned by Richard Grace. This pair concluded the demonstration with some individual aerobatics. A delight for the photographer.
A visiting aircraft followed this duo, the Hawker Hurricane Mk IIc (the Last of the Many) of the BBMF which performed some fly by's.
The next presentation was made by two transport aircraft used by the Royal Navy, the Avro "Anson" C19 and the De Havilland DH-89A "Dragon Rapide".
After this display, we went back to the "between the wars" period with a trio of biplanes, the Hawker "Demon", the Hawker "Nimrod" Mk1 (562) and the Hawker "Nimrod" Mk2 (573). Three splendid metallic coloured warbirds in a beautiful sunny afternoon at Shuttleworth.
To become a pilot takes many hours of training and this is the same for the Navy pilots, so the next presentation saw a De Havilland DH-82A "Tiger Moth", an Avro 626 "Tutor", the Miles M.14 Magister and finally an aerobatic display of a De Havilland Canada DHC-1 "Chipmunk" T.10.
Then we had two airplanes rarely seen in airshows. The De Havilland DH-60 "Moth" and the recent (since 2013) completely restored Morane-Saulnier MS 317 n° 351 wearing the French Aeronaval markings.
A step further on brought the audience into the Second World War with the Westland Lysander Mk IIIa, some passes of the Supermarine Spitfire Mk LF XVIe owned by the BBMF, the Fairey Swordfish Mk2 presented by the Fly Navy Heritage Trust, the Shuttleworth Collection Gloster Gladiator Mk1 and the North American AT-6D-NT "Texan".
The next presentation was a leap back into the past and more specifically to the First World War. The first airplane presented was the Bristol Scout, a wonderful replica built by David Bremmer. Exactly the same airplane his grandpa was flying years ago. What a wonderful tribute !
The second WWI plane was the Bristol F.2B "Fighter", a big biplane overhead his home base and the third one was the Sopwith "Pup" also a member of the local collection.
The last trio of the day was presented by the Fighter Collection of Duxford. It was simply a delight to see the Grumman FM-2 "Wildcat", the Goodyear FG-1D "Corsair" and the Grumman F8F-2P "Bearcat" during their evolutions bathing in the sun.
To conclude the airshow, as it is done during the Flying Legends in Duxford, we had a little "Balbo" flight.
As you can read, this was again a splendid airshow and it will be difficult to see another one like this in 2016… or maybe next time at Shuttleworth ;-)
Some words now to thank heartly the organizers at Shuttleworth, the pilots and their crews, all the benevolent and especially Mrs Ciara Harper, Media Responsible, for the facilities granted during our stay and the always warm welcome we get at the Old Warden airfield.

 
 

Short history of the Fleet Air Arm

British naval flying started in 1909, with the construction of an airship for naval duties. In 1911 the Royal Navy graduated its first aeroplane pilots at the Royal Aero Club flying ground at Eastchurch, under the tutelage of pioneer aviator George Bertram Cockburn, but in May 1912 naval and army aviation were combined to become the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). The Naval Wing of the RFC lasted until July 1914 when the Royal Navy reformed its air branch, under the Air Department of the Admiralty, naming it the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS).
By the outbreak of the First World War, in August 1914, the RNAS had more aircraft under its control than the remaining RFC. The main roles of the RNAS were fleet reconnaissance, patrolling coasts for enemy ships and submarines, attacking enemy coastal territory and defending Britain from enemy air-raids, along with deployment along the Western Front. In April 1918 the RNAS, which at this time had 67,000 officers and men, 2,949 aircraft, 103 airships and 126 coastal stations, merged with the RFC to form the Royal Air Force.

Fleet Air Arm (FAA)

On 1 April 1924, the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Air Force was formed, encompassing those RAF units that normally embarked on aircraft carriers and fighting ships. 1924 was a significant year for British naval aviation as only weeks before the founding of the Fleet Air Arm, the Royal Navy had commissioned HMS Hermes, the world's first ship to be designed and built as an aircraft carrier. Over the following months RAF Fleet Air Arm Fairey IIID reconnaissance biplanes operated off Hermes, conducting flying trials
On 24 May 1939 the Fleet Air Arm was returned to Admiralty control under the "Inskip Award" (named after the Minister for Co-ordination of Defence who was overseeing Britain's re-armament program) and renamed the Air Branch of the Royal Navy. At the onset of the Second World War, the Fleet Air Arm consisted of 20 squadrons with only 232 aircraft. By the end of the war the worldwide strength of the Fleet Air Arm was 59 aircraft carriers, 3700 aircraft, 72000 officers and men, and 56 Naval air stations.
During the war, the FAA operated fighters, torpedo bombers and reconnaissance aircraft. Following the Dunkirk evacuation and the commencement of the Battle of Britain, the Royal Air Force soon found itself critically short of fighter pilots. In the summer of 1940, the RAF had little more than 800 fighter pilots and as the Battle progressed the RAF personnel shortage worsened. With this desperate situation the RAF was forced to call upon the Admiralty for Fleet Air Arm assistance. As the Battle progressed, many of the unsung heroes of RAF Fighter Command were the Fleet Air Arm crews who served under Fighter Command, either loaned directly to RAF fighter squadrons or as with 804 and 808 naval units, entire squadrons were loaned to RAF Fighter Command, such as No 804 Squadron, which provided dockyard defence during the Battle of Britain with Sea Gladiators.
In the waters around the British Isles and out into the Atlantic Ocean, operations against enemy shipping and submarines in support of the RN were mounted by RAF Coastal Command with large patrol bombers and flying boats and land-based fighter-bombers. The aircraft carrier had replaced the battleship as the Fleet's capital ship and its aircraft were now strike weapons in their own right. The top scoring fighter ace with 17 victories was Commander Stanley Orr, the Royal Marine ace was Ronald Cuthbert Hay with 13 victories

Post-war history

After the war the FAA needed to fly jet aircraft from their carriers. The jet aircraft of the era were considerably less effective at low speeds than propeller aircraft, but propeller aircraft could not effectively fight jets at the high speeds flown by jet aircraft. The FAA took on its first jet, the Sea Vampire, in the late 1940s. The Sea Vampire was the first jet credited with taking off and landing on a carrier. The Air Arm continued with high-powered prop aircraft alongside the new jets resulting in the FAA being woefully out powered during the Korean War. Nevertheless, jets were not yet wholly superior to propeller aircraft and a flight of ground-attack Hawker Sea Furies downed a MiG-15 and damaged others in an engagement.
As jets became larger, more powerful and faster they required more space to take off and land. The US Navy simply built much larger carriers. The Royal Navy had a few large carriers built and completed after the end of the war but another solution was sought. This was partly overcome by the introduction of a Royal Navy idea to angle the flight deck away from the center line so that the aircraft landing had a clear run away from the usual forward deck park. An associated British invention, intended to provide more precise optical guidance to aircraft on final approaching the deck, was the Fresnel lens optical landing aid. Another Royal Navy invention was the use of a steam powered catapult to cater for the larger and heavier aircraft (both systems were adopted by the US Navy).
Defence cuts across the British armed forces during the 1960s and 1970s led to the withdrawal of existing Royal Navy aircraft carriers, transfer of Fleet Air Arm fixed-wing jet strike aircraft such as the F-4K (FG.1) Phantom II and Buccaneer S.2 to the Royal Air Force, and cancellation of large replacement aircraft carriers, including the CVA-01 design. A new series of small carriers, the Invincible class anti-submarine warfare ships (known as "through deck cruisers") were built and equipped with the Sea Harrier a derivative of the Hawker Siddeley Harrier VTOL aircraft. These carriers incorporated an upswept forward section of the flight deck that deflected the aircraft upward on launch and permitted heavier loads to be carried by the Harrier, for example in weaponry, and the system was used extensively in the Falklands war. The Harrier went on to form the basis of the Royal Navy's fixed-wing strike forces.
Two new Queen Elizabeth class carriers able to operate the F-35B short take-off and landing variant of the US Lockheed Martin Lightning II aircraft are under construction. However, with 21st century defence cuts continuing to impact the Ministry of Defence in general, and the Admiralty in particular, it is not certain if both carriers will enter service or what the final number of F-35 aircraft purchased will be.
Helicopters also became important combat vehicles starting in the 1960s. At first they were employed on the carriers alongside the fixed-wing aircraft, but later they were also deployed on smaller ships. Today at least one helicopter is found on all ships of frigate size or larger. Wasps and Sea Harriers played an active part in the 1982 Falkland Islands conflict, while Lynx helicopters played an attack role against Iraqi patrol boats in the 1991 Gulf War and Commando Sea King HC4s as well as the Lynx HMA Mk 8 from HMS Argyll, assisted in suppressing rebel forces in Sierra Leone.
In 2000 the Sea Harrier force was merged with the RAF's Harrier GR7 fleet to form Joint Force Harrier. The Fleet Air Arm began withdrawing the Sea Harrier from service in 2004 with the disbandment of 800 NAS. 801 NAS disbanded on 28 March 2006 at RNAS Yeovilton (HMS Heron). 800 and 801 NAS were then combined to form the Naval Strike Wing, flying ex-RAF Harrier GR7 and GR9s. On 1 April 2010, NSW reverted to the identity of 800 Naval Air Squadron. The Harrier GR7 and GR9 retired from service in December 2010 following the 2010 SDSR. With the introduction of the F-35, the Fleet Air Arm will eventually return to the operation of fixed-wing strike aircraft at sea. As of 2013, an initial cadre of Royal Air Force and Royal Navy pilots and aircraft maintenance personnel were assigned to the U.S. Marine Corps' Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 (VMFAT-501), part of the U.S. Air Force's 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, for training on the F-35B.

  
 Shuttleworth Morning ambiance 
 Boeing N.2S-3 Stearman
(© Serge Van Heertum)
 Helio H-295-1200 Super Courier
(© Serge Van Heertum)
  Westland Scout AH.1
(© Serge Van Heertum)
 Grass effect
(© Serge Van Heertum)
  Westland Wasp HAS1
(© Serge Van Heertum)
 Westland Lynx HMA.8SRU
(© Serge Van Heertum)
  Rolls-Royce Nimbus 101 engine
(© Serge Van Heertum)
 Rolls-Royce Nimbus 503 engine
(© Serge Van Heertum)
  Lewis "K" 7.7mm gun
(© Serge Van Heertum)
 The place to be...
(© Serge Van Heertum)
Avro 504K  (© Danny Carels)
Sopwith Triplane  (© Marc Arys) Bristol Scout  (© Danny Carels)
 Aeronca C.3 Collegian & Hawker Cygnet  (© Danny Carels) Percival Mew Gull & Dehavilland DH.88 "Comet" (© Danny Carels)
 Hawker Demon  (© Marc Arys) North American AT-6D-NT “Texan” (© Marc Arys)
 Westland Wasp HAS1  (© Anthony Graulus) Westland Scout AH.1  (© Anthony Graulus)
 Some vehicles parade  (© Marc Arys)
  Royal Navy Cadet band  (© Serge Van Heertum)  Living today in the past... (© Serge Van Heertum)
  Ready for the afternoon event  (© Serge Van Heertum)  Control also ready...here we go (© Serge Van Heertum)
 
The "Fly Navy" airshow...
 
  (© Serge Van Heertum)
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  (© Serge Van Heertum)  Fly Navy !   (© Serge Van Heertum)
 
This was possible thanks to all of them...and many others ;-)
 
  (© Serge Van Heertum)

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