The Anniversary of The Channel Dash - 1942 - and the wider RN Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War

Yokel

LE
No, Peter was a senior Dstl analyst that I did a fair bit of work with.

If you can get hold of it, the full original article's rather better - Navweaps have been very selective.

I was referring to the Navyweaps poster with an agenda that you referred to, I am aware of some of Peter Marland's (unclassified) work. I have not looked at the link - yet.

Since you mention Goering telling his crews to avoid British warships due to their AA fire, did he or any of his commanders express a view about the increasing number of RN carriers with fighter aircraft - particularly in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and the Arctic Convoys?
 
Mk 37 was of course made much more effective against dive bombers and torpedo planes with radar and VT, to the point where it by the end of the war it out performing the 40mm, particularly since you had to kill kamikazes rather than just deter them. What is interesting is that the VT fuze was a failure in British Pacific Fleet service due to the inability of their fire control systems to get the round close enough to the target.

I realize this is outside the date range of the thread but it does illustrate how the decisions the RN made regarding AA between the wars handicapped them through out WWII.

If I may but in a bit here.

I've recently been working on British rocketry of WWII, and that's mostly AA weapons, quite often on ships. These rockets had PE proximity fuses developed. The same group responsible for the PE Fuse was also working towards a RDF fuse, when the US navy showed up with a working VT fuse. This means there's a fair old bit on US VT fuses tucked away in documents on differing subjects.

You find stuff like this:

Which is mind boggling.

Anyway, from what I can remember part of the problem was the battery shelf life which was in the order of six months, and the fact that we had to alter the British shells with a smaller HE filler to fit the fuse, or something like that (sorry, I wasn't taking notes on VT stuff as it wasn't relevant).

I was taking notes on British naval AA rocketry though. One of the interesting things was what was said earlier. Forcing the enemy to break off his attack is a victory. This meant that when we fitted Parachute and Cable (PAC) to merchant ships the number of kills was very very low (I don't think I've found a single account yet). But by sticking a wire that will shoot you down up in front of an attacking German it means that he would nearly always veer off and abort. It was so cheap and efficient we were sticking them on just about everything that floats through out the war. For example, they've recently finished restoring LCT7074, that has two different types of PAC launchers on it.
 

Mölders 1

War Hero
If I may but in a bit here.

I've recently been working on British rocketry of WWII, and that's mostly AA weapons, quite often on ships. These rockets had PE proximity fuses developed. The same group responsible for the PE Fuse was also working towards a RDF fuse, when the US navy showed up with a working VT fuse. This means there's a fair old bit on US VT fuses tucked away in documents on differing subjects.

You find stuff like this:

Which is mind boggling.

Anyway, from what I can remember part of the problem was the battery shelf life which was in the order of six months, and the fact that we had to alter the British shells with a smaller HE filler to fit the fuse, or something like that (sorry, I wasn't taking notes on VT stuff as it wasn't relevant).

I was taking notes on British naval AA rocketry though. One of the interesting things was what was said earlier. Forcing the enemy to break off his attack is a victory. This meant that when we fitted Parachute and Cable (PAC) to merchant ships the number of kills was very very low (I don't think I've found a single account yet). But by sticking a wire that will shoot you down up in front of an attacking German it means that he would nearly always veer off and abort. It was so cheap and efficient we were sticking them on just about everything that floats through out the war. For example, they've recently finished restoring LCT7074, that has two different types of PAC launchers on it.
I do believe that the Parachute And Cable device had at least one success at R.A.F. Kenley on August 18th 1940.
 
I do believe that the Parachute And Cable device had at least one success at R.A.F. Kenley on August 18th 1940.

There were two strikes in two separate incidents, but those were the land based system, not the naval type that was whanged onto the bridge wings of just about every merchant ship in the Allied fleet. That's the differentiation I was making, and why I should have said I've yet to see a merchant Navy account of a strike.


As we're talking naval AA firepower we did set up HMS Conqueror (no, not the BB the other one) with a massed battery of AA rockets, and had he sailing up and down the UK coast asking to be attacked by the Luftwaffe to see how effective the rocket salvo's could be.
The Luftwaffe never showed up.
 
If I may but in a bit here.

I've recently been working on British rocketry of WWII, and that's mostly AA weapons, quite often on ships. These rockets had PE proximity fuses developed. The same group responsible for the PE Fuse was also working towards a RDF fuse, when the US navy showed up with a working VT fuse. This means there's a fair old bit on US VT fuses tucked away in documents on differing subjects.

You find stuff like this:

Which is mind boggling.

Anyway, from what I can remember part of the problem was the battery shelf life which was in the order of six months, and the fact that we had to alter the British shells with a smaller HE filler to fit the fuse, or something like that (sorry, I wasn't taking notes on VT stuff as it wasn't relevant).

I was taking notes on British naval AA rocketry though. One of the interesting things was what was said earlier. Forcing the enemy to break off his attack is a victory. This meant that when we fitted Parachute and Cable (PAC) to merchant ships the number of kills was very very low (I don't think I've found a single account yet). But by sticking a wire that will shoot you down up in front of an attacking German it means that he would nearly always veer off and abort. It was so cheap and efficient we were sticking them on just about everything that floats through out the war. For example, they've recently finished restoring LCT7074, that has two different types of PAC launchers on it.
The US Army has always been the traditional enemy of the Navy. ;)However, they were working together effectively on VT fuses by 1942. The Army Air Force did have legitimate concerns about VT being used in the ETO and being captured by the Germans, which is why their use was at first limited to the anti-V1 campaign since the fuses fell into the Channel. Concerns were lessened after the invasion, and ground use was authorized during the Battle of the Bulge.

As to the value of deterrence, USN calculated AA effectiveness by Rounds Per Bird, which increases significantly by 1944. One of the reasons for this was the deliberate tactic of engaging while the enemy was still out of range in order to deter. RPB started to decrease in 1945 due to VT.
 

Helm

MIA
Moderator
Book Reviewer
If I may but in a bit here.

I've recently been working on British rocketry of WWII, and that's mostly AA weapons, quite often on ships. These rockets had PE proximity fuses developed. The same group responsible for the PE Fuse was also working towards a RDF fuse, when the US navy showed up with a working VT fuse. This means there's a fair old bit on US VT fuses tucked away in documents on differing subjects.

You find stuff like this:

Which is mind boggling.

Anyway, from what I can remember part of the problem was the battery shelf life which was in the order of six months, and the fact that we had to alter the British shells with a smaller HE filler to fit the fuse, or something like that (sorry, I wasn't taking notes on VT stuff as it wasn't relevant).

I was taking notes on British naval AA rocketry though. One of the interesting things was what was said earlier. Forcing the enemy to break off his attack is a victory. This meant that when we fitted Parachute and Cable (PAC) to merchant ships the number of kills was very very low (I don't think I've found a single account yet). But by sticking a wire that will shoot you down up in front of an attacking German it means that he would nearly always veer off and abort. It was so cheap and efficient we were sticking them on just about everything that floats through out the war. For example, they've recently finished restoring LCT7074, that has two different types of PAC launchers on it.
Lose as any fule kno, and you a riter too
 

Yokel

LE
Getting away from the issue of anti aircraft fire control systems, I wonder if the reason that the Royal Navy entered the war without a high performance fighter was because when the decisions were taken, there was no naval radar, and therefore it would have been impossible to direct them onto incoming enemy aircraft? Hence the Fulmar was developed with long duration patrols in mind. When carriers and other warships started to get radar which could detect aircraft it changed the game completely.

As to the U boat threat, in the years before the war the Admiralty has expected the U boat to approach and attack underwater, which offered little opportunity for an aircraft to attack. In event they mostly attacked on the surface, which meant that visual and radar detection were possible as was attacking them from the air.

In both cases the attacks against convoys etc could be disrupted without kills. The fighters could cause bombers to take evasive action, and the U boat spotting an aircraft would usually crash dive and break off the attack.
 

Yokel

LE
Getting away from the issue of anti aircraft fire control systems, I wonder if the reason that the Royal Navy entered the war without a high performance fighter was because when the decisions were taken, there was no naval radar, and therefore it would have been impossible to direct them onto incoming enemy aircraft? Hence the Fulmar was developed with long duration patrols in mind. When carriers and other warships started to get radar which could detect aircraft it changed the game completely.

As to the U boat threat, in the years before the war the Admiralty has expected the U boat to approach and attack underwater, which offered little opportunity for an aircraft to attack. In event they mostly attacked on the surface, which meant that visual and radar detection were possible as was attacking them from the air.

In both cases the attacks against convoys etc could be disrupted without kills. The fighters could cause bombers to take evasive action, and the U boat spotting an aircraft would usually crash dive and break off the attack.

Perhaps someone like @Archimedes can help me out? Am I right in thinking that the RAF's Chain Home radar system was developed at the same time as the Hurricane and Spitfire? Therefore the development of naval aircraft like the Fulmar would have been similarly influenced by the fact that it was going to take longer for RN ships got get radar?

Radio Location Goes to Sea - Chapter 2 of Radar and the Fighter Directors

In October 1938 Sheffield reported on Type 79Y sea trials; she was getting detection ranges of thirty miles on airplanes at 3,000 feet, forty-eight miles on planes at 7,000 feet, and fifty-three miles at 10,000 feet. At the same time, the RNSS Valve Section was producing new valves that could produce considerably more power at the seven point five-meter wavelength, and many lessons had been learned from Rodney and Sheffield trials. The new valves and lessons learned were factored into the design of yet another version of the Type 79. This one could output seventy kW as compared to twenty kW for the Type 79Y, and when tested in May 1939, it detected airplanes at 3,000 feet out to forty miles and planes at 10,000 feet were seen at seventy miles. The Admiralty decided the new Type 79 was ready to go to sea, and thirty-nine battleships, battlecruisers, and cruisers were selected for installation. Flagships were excluded, the official reason given was a concern that the RDF equipment would interfere with communications. Others surmised that flag officers did not like the idea of radio location antennas taking top spot on the mast in place of their flags. Aircraft carriers were exempt also, no reason given. It is probable their deployment schedules kept them too busy to come into a yard for fitting. Under tight secrecy, a contract for forty Type 79 sets was awarded to a small London firm, Aeronautical and General Instruments, Ltd (AGI).

In March 1939, Rodney and Sheffield took part in fleet exercises off Gibraltar where they had a chance to use their new radio location sets under realistic conditions. At one time, Rodney, with her Type 79Y transmitter turned off, detected Sheffield’s RDF transmission at a range of 100 miles, and with bearing accuracy of two degrees. This was not good. Senior officers saw that RDF could reveal a ships location; and it would have a dampening effect on future use of radio location. Meanwhile, RNSS had been working on even more design improvements, and in May 1939 completed two more sets, designated Type 79Z. These two were installed in the heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk and the anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Curlew in September. Also in this month AGI commenced deliveries of the first of the forty production sets.

On 10 August 1939 the Admiralty decreed that all major combatant ships were to be fitted with RDF, at highest priority. This included the new-construction aircraft carriers of the Illustrious Class, and all operational carriers at their next shipyard availability. As of Great Britain’s declaration of war on Germany on 3 September 1939, the Royal Navy had two ships fitted with RDF, not counting Saltburn. The first operational use of Royal Navy RDF in combat would be on 26 September 1939 when the battleships HMS Rodney and HMS Nelson in company with the carrier HMS Ark Royal were sent out to escort the submarine HMS Spearfish that had been damaged by German surface ships near Horns Reef in the North Sea, and could not dive. They rescued Spearfish, and while returning to Scapa Flow, Rodney’s RDF picked up a large group of closing German bombers at eighty miles. Rodney notified Ark Royal, but as the bombers seemed to be heading for another group of RN ships further away, the carrier did not launch fighters.

 
Wasnt Fulmar development started mid 30s ie when radar was still an idea and there wernt even prototypes.

With the exception of home chain itself - Im pretty sure the specifications and development for everything that was in UK service before 1940 predated the development of even basic radar.
 

Mölders 1

War Hero
Wasnt Fulmar development started mid 30s ie when radar was still an idea and there wernt even prototypes.

With the exception of home chain itself - Im pretty sure the specifications and development for everything that was in UK service before 1940 predated the development of even basic radar.
The Fulmar was (at least so it appears) to be based on the Fairey Battle so you could well be right.
 

Yokel

LE
Wasnt Fulmar development started mid 30s ie when radar was still an idea and there wernt even prototypes.

With the exception of home chain itself - Im pretty sure the specifications and development for everything that was in UK service before 1940 predated the development of even basic radar.

Work on radar, or Radio Direction Finding as it was called back them, started in the mid 1930s - I have no idea when the design of the Spitfire and Hurricane started but I assume that it was around the same time. This implies that not only was there little time to develop a purpose designed carrier fighter, but that the planners would mot have known about the radar fitted to HM ships within a decade.

I highly recommend Radar and the Fighter Directors by David L. Boslaugh, Capt USN, Retired.

If nothing else it shows that the carrier aircraft relies on shipborne radars and controllers, and that as ever (and as per my mantra) all the value lies in integration.
 
Work on radar, or Radio Direction Finding as it was called back them, started in the mid 1930s -

Thats what I was trying to say

I have no idea when the design of the Spitfire and Hurricane started but I assume that it was around the same time.
Earlier for the Hurricaine ans as above shure that would apply to the fulmar as well.

This implies that not only was there little time to develop a purpose designed carrier fighter, but that the planners would mot have known about the radar fitted to HM ships within a decade.

Exactly my point hence ship armour layouts optimised for closeer ranged duels - since shitty north sea weather meant poor visibility.

Ive said before - The US looks so good compared to the RN because it was optimised for the Pacific where better conditions leant itself to long range engagements as the North az such the advent of radar enhanced their current designs - wheras for the European powers it compromised their designs

I highly recommend Radar and the Fighter Directors by David L. Boslaugh, Capt USN, Retired.

If nothing else it shows that the carrier aircraft relies on shipborne radars and controllers, and that as ever (and as per my mantra) all the value lies in integration.
 

Yokel

LE
Here is another documentary from YouTube:



At about 8.20 the origins of the Sea Hurricane are discussed, including the way the Navy had very little influence of naval pilots, aircraft design, or anything until the late 1930s, and how one of the consequences were that the Admiralty were not up to speed with developments. The in 1940 RAF Hurricanes landed aboard the doomed carrier HMS Glorious during the Norwegian campaign, an d there Hurricanes were put aboard Fighter Catapult Ships (RN manned) and Catapult Armed Merchantmen, before the aircraft was modified with an arrester hook, folding wings, and naval HF radios for carrier operation to defend convoys in the Atlantic.

At 45 minutes three veteran pilots from 880 NAS talk about their participation in Operation Pedestal.
 

Yokel

LE
I assume that the Sea Hurricane was in service before the Seafire - although not by much. On the topic of the Seafire:

Classic WW2-era fighter joins Yeovilton’s growing historic collection - Royal Navy

Charity Navy Wings has bought a vintage Supermarine Seafire – the naval version of Britain’s most famous aircraft, the Spitfire – so it can appear at air displays as a ‘flying memorial’ to past air and ground crew.

Seafire Mk XVII SX336 landed at RNAS Yeovilton – where pilots learned to fly the fighters 80 years ago – to join Navy Wings’ collection of legendary naval aircraft, including the Swordfish, Sea Fury, Sea Vixen and Sea Hawk.

Purchased with a major donation gifted for the specific purpose of adding a Seafire to the collection, Seafire SX336 is the only airworthy Mk XVII – and one of only very few Seafires still flying in the world.

The aircraft has been meticulously and lovingly restored by her former owner.

“SX336 is a magnificent example of the naval story of the Spitfire,” said Navy Wings’ CEO Jock Alexander.

“Few people know that the Spitfire went to sea, and we couldn’t have wished for a more iconic and evocative British fighter to add to the collection.”

Seafires served extensively with the Fleet Air Arm from the second half of World War 2 through to the Korean War a decade later. It particularly distinguished itself grappling with Kamikazes as the British Pacific Fleet helped to defeat Japan in 1944 and 1945.
 

Mölders 1

War Hero
I assume that the Sea Hurricane was in service before the Seafire - although not by much. On the topic of the Seafire:

Classic WW2-era fighter joins Yeovilton’s growing historic collection - Royal Navy

Charity Navy Wings has bought a vintage Supermarine Seafire – the naval version of Britain’s most famous aircraft, the Spitfire – so it can appear at air displays as a ‘flying memorial’ to past air and ground crew.

Seafire Mk XVII SX336 landed at RNAS Yeovilton – where pilots learned to fly the fighters 80 years ago – to join Navy Wings’ collection of legendary naval aircraft, including the Swordfish, Sea Fury, Sea Vixen and Sea Hawk.

Purchased with a major donation gifted for the specific purpose of adding a Seafire to the collection, Seafire SX336 is the only airworthy Mk XVII – and one of only very few Seafires still flying in the world.

The aircraft has been meticulously and lovingly restored by her former owner.

“SX336 is a magnificent example of the naval story of the Spitfire,” said Navy Wings’ CEO Jock Alexander.

“Few people know that the Spitfire went to sea, and we couldn’t have wished for a more iconic and evocative British fighter to add to the collection.”

Seafires served extensively with the Fleet Air Arm from the second half of World War 2 through to the Korean War a decade later. It particularly distinguished itself grappling with Kamikazes as the British Pacific Fleet helped to defeat Japan in 1944 and 1945.

I am pretty sure that the Seafire Mk XVll entered service post WW-ll.
 

Daz

LE

Yokel

LE
From naval-history.net:

CAMPAIGN SUMMARIES OF WORLD WAR 2
AIRCRAFT CARRIER WARFARE

Part 1 0f 3: 1939 - 1941


Part 2 of 3: 1941 - 1943

Part 3 pf 3: 1043 - 1945

The Fleet Air Arm was busy from day one. Nobody expected France to fall, or for convoys to the USSR to need defending, so the roles the carriers played differed from ones predicted before the war. Here is a snippet from Part 2.

December 1941

15th-21st - Battle for Convoy HG76: Closing of the Gibraltar/UK Air-Gap - Gibraltar/UK convoy HG76 (32 ships) was escorted by the 36th Escort Group (Cdr F. J. Walker) with a support group including escort carrier “Audacity”. In advance of the convoy leaving Gibraltar, destroyers of Force H including the Australian “Nestor” located and destroyed “U-127” on the 15th. In the four days from the 17th, four more U-boats were sunk for the loss of two of the escorts and two merchantmen. The battle took place to the far west of Portugal, north of Madeira and the Azores: 17th - “U-131” was sunk by destroyers “Blankney”, “Exmoor” and “Stanley”, corvette “Pentstemon” and sloop “Stork” together with Grumman Martlets flying from “Audacity”. 18th - “U-434” was accounted for by “Blankney” and “Stanley”. 19th - Destroyer “STANLEY” was torpedoed and sunk by “U-574”, but then sent to the bottom, rammed by sloop “Stork”. 21st - The sole escort carrier “AUDACITY” was torpedoed by “U-751” and lost, but in the general counter-attack “U-567” was sunk by corvette “Samphire” and sloop “Deptford”. The sinking of five U-boats in exchange for two merchant ships was a significant victory for the escorts, and proved beyond any doubt the value of escort carrier aircraft against the submarine - as well as the patrolling Focke Wulf Kondors, two of which were shot down.

September 1942

Russian Convoy PQ18 - PQ18
left Loch Ewe in Scotland on the 2nd with over 40 merchantmen. The hard learnt lessons of PQ17 and previous convoys were not forgotten. Close escort was provided by 17 warships plus escort carrier "Avenger" and two destroyers. Two separate forces were in support - close cover by AA cruiser "Scylla" and 16 fleet destroyers under Rear-Adm R L Burnett, and further out three heavy cruisers. More distant cover was by Vice-Adm Sir Bruce Fraser with battleships "Anson" and "Duke of York", a light cruiser and destroyers to the northeast of Iceland. German heavy ships moved to Altenfiord but did not sortie. Instead the attacks were mounted by bombers and torpedo aircraft as well as U-boats. On the 13th, aircraft torpedoed nine ships, but next day "Avenger's" Hurricanes ensured only one more ship was lost to air attack. In total over 40 German aircraft were shot down by the convoy's defences. U-boats sank three merchantmen but lost three of their number to Adm Burnett's forces. Destroyers "Faulknor", "Onslow" and "Impulsive" sank "U-88", "U-589" and "U-457" respectively between the 12th and 16th in the Greenland and Barents Seas. Escort carrier "Avenger's" Swordfish from 825 Squadron helped with the destruction of "Onslow's" U-boat on the 14th. Of the original 40 ships, 27 reached Archangel on the 17th. In late 1941, escort carrier "Audacity" closed the Gibraltar air-gap for the first time. "Avenger" had now done the same for the Russian route. However, further convoys had to be postponed as ships were transferred in preparation for the North African landings.

May 1943

The May 1943 Convoy Battles - Victory of the Escorts

At the beginning of the month over 40 U-boats were deployed in three patrol lines off Greenland and Newfoundland. Another group operated to the far west of the Bay of Biscay. A number were passing through the northern transit area and over 30 on passage between their Biscay bases and the North Atlantic. More still were on patrol in the South Atlantic or passing through. There were numerous Allied convoys crossing the North Atlantic as suitable targets. Only those convoy battles involving escort carriers are summarised:

Slow UK/North America ONS6 - 31 ships escorted by British B6 group and 4th EG with escort carrier "Archer"; no merchant ship losses.

North America/UK HX237 - 46 ships escorted by Canadian C2 group and 5th EG with escort carrier "Biter". Three stragglers sunk in exchange for possibly three U-boats in mid-Atlantic, including: 12th - "U-89" to destroyer "Broadway" and frigate "Lagan", both of C2 group, assisted by Swordfish of 811 Squadron from "Biter".

North America/UK SC129 - 26 ships escorted by British B2 group, with 5th EG (escort carrier "Biter") transferred from HX237 on the 14th. Two merchant ships lost in mid-Atlantic in exchange for two U-boats.

UK/North America ON182 - 56 ships escorted by Canadian C5 group, with 4th EG (carrier "Archer") transferred from ONS6; no merchant ship losses.

UK/NorthAmerica ON184 - 39 ships escorted by Canadian C1 group and US 6th EG with escort carrier "Bogue". No merchant ship losses in exchange for one U-boat: 22nd - "U-569" in mid-Atlantic to Avengers flying from "Bogue".

North America/UK HX239 - 42 ships escorted by British B3 group and 4th EG (carrier "Archer") transferred from ON182 (and before that ONS6). No merchant ship losses in exchange for one more U-boat: 23rd - In the first success with aircraft rockets, "U-752" in mid-Atlantic was badly damaged by "Archer's" Swordfish of 819 Squadron, and scuttled as surface escorts approach.

By the 24th, U-boat losses were so heavy and the attacks so fruitless, Adm Doenitz ordered his captains to leave the North Atlantic battlefield. They either returned home or concentrated on the US/Gibraltar routes. It was some time before the Allies realised the North Atlantic was almost free of U-boats. The air and sea escorts were winning.
 

Mölders 1

War Hero
From naval-history.net:

CAMPAIGN SUMMARIES OF WORLD WAR 2
AIRCRAFT CARRIER WARFARE
Part 1 0f 3: 1939 - 1941

Part 2 of 3: 1941 - 1943

Part 3 pf 3: 1043 - 1945

The Fleet Air Arm was busy from day one. Nobody expected France to fall, or for convoys to the USSR to need defending, so the roles the carriers played differed from ones predicted before the war. Here is a snippet from Part 2.

December 1941

15th-21st - Battle for Convoy HG76: Closing of the Gibraltar/UK Air-Gap - Gibraltar/UK convoy HG76 (32 ships) was escorted by the 36th Escort Group (Cdr F. J. Walker) with a support group including escort carrier “Audacity”. In advance of the convoy leaving Gibraltar, destroyers of Force H including the Australian “Nestor” located and destroyed “U-127” on the 15th. In the four days from the 17th, four more U-boats were sunk for the loss of two of the escorts and two merchantmen. The battle took place to the far west of Portugal, north of Madeira and the Azores: 17th - “U-131” was sunk by destroyers “Blankney”, “Exmoor” and “Stanley”, corvette “Pentstemon” and sloop “Stork” together with Grumman Martlets flying from “Audacity”. 18th - “U-434” was accounted for by “Blankney” and “Stanley”. 19th - Destroyer “STANLEY” was torpedoed and sunk by “U-574”, but then sent to the bottom, rammed by sloop “Stork”. 21st - The sole escort carrier “AUDACITY” was torpedoed by “U-751” and lost, but in the general counter-attack “U-567” was sunk by corvette “Samphire” and sloop “Deptford”. The sinking of five U-boats in exchange for two merchant ships was a significant victory for the escorts, and proved beyond any doubt the value of escort carrier aircraft against the submarine - as well as the patrolling Focke Wulf Kondors, two of which were shot down.

September 1942

Russian Convoy PQ18 - PQ18 left Loch Ewe in Scotland on the 2nd with over 40 merchantmen. The hard learnt lessons of PQ17 and previous convoys were not forgotten. Close escort was provided by 17 warships plus escort carrier "Avenger" and two destroyers. Two separate forces were in support - close cover by AA cruiser "Scylla" and 16 fleet destroyers under Rear-Adm R L Burnett, and further out three heavy cruisers. More distant cover was by Vice-Adm Sir Bruce Fraser with battleships "Anson" and "Duke of York", a light cruiser and destroyers to the northeast of Iceland. German heavy ships moved to Altenfiord but did not sortie. Instead the attacks were mounted by bombers and torpedo aircraft as well as U-boats. On the 13th, aircraft torpedoed nine ships, but next day "Avenger's" Hurricanes ensured only one more ship was lost to air attack. In total over 40 German aircraft were shot down by the convoy's defences. U-boats sank three merchantmen but lost three of their number to Adm Burnett's forces. Destroyers "Faulknor", "Onslow" and "Impulsive" sank "U-88", "U-589" and "U-457" respectively between the 12th and 16th in the Greenland and Barents Seas. Escort carrier "Avenger's" Swordfish from 825 Squadron helped with the destruction of "Onslow's" U-boat on the 14th. Of the original 40 ships, 27 reached Archangel on the 17th. In late 1941, escort carrier "Audacity" closed the Gibraltar air-gap for the first time. "Avenger" had now done the same for the Russian route. However, further convoys had to be postponed as ships were transferred in preparation for the North African landings.

May 1943

The May 1943 Convoy Battles - Victory of the Escorts

At the beginning of the month over 40 U-boats were deployed in three patrol lines off Greenland and Newfoundland. Another group operated to the far west of the Bay of Biscay. A number were passing through the northern transit area and over 30 on passage between their Biscay bases and the North Atlantic. More still were on patrol in the South Atlantic or passing through. There were numerous Allied convoys crossing the North Atlantic as suitable targets. Only those convoy battles involving escort carriers are summarised:

Slow UK/North America ONS6 - 31 ships escorted by British B6 group and 4th EG with escort carrier "Archer"; no merchant ship losses.

North America/UK HX237 - 46 ships escorted by Canadian C2 group and 5th EG with escort carrier "Biter". Three stragglers sunk in exchange for possibly three U-boats in mid-Atlantic, including: 12th - "U-89" to destroyer "Broadway" and frigate "Lagan", both of C2 group, assisted by Swordfish of 811 Squadron from "Biter".

North America/UK SC129 - 26 ships escorted by British B2 group, with 5th EG (escort carrier "Biter") transferred from HX237 on the 14th. Two merchant ships lost in mid-Atlantic in exchange for two U-boats.

UK/North America ON182 - 56 ships escorted by Canadian C5 group, with 4th EG (carrier "Archer") transferred from ONS6; no merchant ship losses.

UK/NorthAmerica ON184 - 39 ships escorted by Canadian C1 group and US 6th EG with escort carrier "Bogue". No merchant ship losses in exchange for one U-boat: 22nd - "U-569" in mid-Atlantic to Avengers flying from "Bogue".

North America/UK HX239 - 42 ships escorted by British B3 group and 4th EG (carrier "Archer") transferred from ON182 (and before that ONS6). No merchant ship losses in exchange for one more U-boat: 23rd - In the first success with aircraft rockets, "U-752" in mid-Atlantic was badly damaged by "Archer's" Swordfish of 819 Squadron, and scuttled as surface escorts approach.

By the 24th, U-boat losses were so heavy and the attacks so fruitless, Adm Doenitz ordered his captains to leave the North Atlantic battlefield. They either returned home or concentrated on the US/Gibraltar routes. It was some time before the Allies realised the North Atlantic was almost free of U-boats. The air and sea escorts were winning.
Few could argue that the Fleet Air Arm excelled itself throughout WW-ll.
Despite starting the war with inadequate/unsuitable Aircraft they still managed with what they had until the first class Carrier Aircraft from the U.S. arrived.
 
From naval-history.net:

CAMPAIGN SUMMARIES OF WORLD WAR 2
AIRCRAFT CARRIER WARFARE
Part 1 0f 3: 1939 - 1941

Part 2 of 3: 1941 - 1943

Part 3 pf 3: 1043 - 1945

The Fleet Air Arm was busy from day one. Nobody expected France to fall, or for convoys to the USSR to need defending, so the roles the carriers played differed from ones predicted before the war. Here is a snippet from Part 2.

December 1941

15th-21st - Battle for Convoy HG76: Closing of the Gibraltar/UK Air-Gap - Gibraltar/UK convoy HG76 (32 ships) was escorted by the 36th Escort Group (Cdr F. J. Walker) with a support group including escort carrier “Audacity”. In advance of the convoy leaving Gibraltar, destroyers of Force H including the Australian “Nestor” located and destroyed “U-127” on the 15th. In the four days from the 17th, four more U-boats were sunk for the loss of two of the escorts and two merchantmen. The battle took place to the far west of Portugal, north of Madeira and the Azores: 17th - “U-131” was sunk by destroyers “Blankney”, “Exmoor” and “Stanley”, corvette “Pentstemon” and sloop “Stork” together with Grumman Martlets flying from “Audacity”. 18th - “U-434” was accounted for by “Blankney” and “Stanley”. 19th - Destroyer “STANLEY” was torpedoed and sunk by “U-574”, but then sent to the bottom, rammed by sloop “Stork”. 21st - The sole escort carrier “AUDACITY” was torpedoed by “U-751” and lost, but in the general counter-attack “U-567” was sunk by corvette “Samphire” and sloop “Deptford”. The sinking of five U-boats in exchange for two merchant ships was a significant victory for the escorts, and proved beyond any doubt the value of escort carrier aircraft against the submarine - as well as the patrolling Focke Wulf Kondors, two of which were shot down.

September 1942

Russian Convoy PQ18 - PQ18 left Loch Ewe in Scotland on the 2nd with over 40 merchantmen. The hard learnt lessons of PQ17 and previous convoys were not forgotten. Close escort was provided by 17 warships plus escort carrier "Avenger" and two destroyers. Two separate forces were in support - close cover by AA cruiser "Scylla" and 16 fleet destroyers under Rear-Adm R L Burnett, and further out three heavy cruisers. More distant cover was by Vice-Adm Sir Bruce Fraser with battleships "Anson" and "Duke of York", a light cruiser and destroyers to the northeast of Iceland. German heavy ships moved to Altenfiord but did not sortie. Instead the attacks were mounted by bombers and torpedo aircraft as well as U-boats. On the 13th, aircraft torpedoed nine ships, but next day "Avenger's" Hurricanes ensured only one more ship was lost to air attack. In total over 40 German aircraft were shot down by the convoy's defences. U-boats sank three merchantmen but lost three of their number to Adm Burnett's forces. Destroyers "Faulknor", "Onslow" and "Impulsive" sank "U-88", "U-589" and "U-457" respectively between the 12th and 16th in the Greenland and Barents Seas. Escort carrier "Avenger's" Swordfish from 825 Squadron helped with the destruction of "Onslow's" U-boat on the 14th. Of the original 40 ships, 27 reached Archangel on the 17th. In late 1941, escort carrier "Audacity" closed the Gibraltar air-gap for the first time. "Avenger" had now done the same for the Russian route. However, further convoys had to be postponed as ships were transferred in preparation for the North African landings.

May 1943

The May 1943 Convoy Battles - Victory of the Escorts

At the beginning of the month over 40 U-boats were deployed in three patrol lines off Greenland and Newfoundland. Another group operated to the far west of the Bay of Biscay. A number were passing through the northern transit area and over 30 on passage between their Biscay bases and the North Atlantic. More still were on patrol in the South Atlantic or passing through. There were numerous Allied convoys crossing the North Atlantic as suitable targets. Only those convoy battles involving escort carriers are summarised:

Slow UK/North America ONS6 - 31 ships escorted by British B6 group and 4th EG with escort carrier "Archer"; no merchant ship losses.

North America/UK HX237 - 46 ships escorted by Canadian C2 group and 5th EG with escort carrier "Biter". Three stragglers sunk in exchange for possibly three U-boats in mid-Atlantic, including: 12th - "U-89" to destroyer "Broadway" and frigate "Lagan", both of C2 group, assisted by Swordfish of 811 Squadron from "Biter".

North America/UK SC129 - 26 ships escorted by British B2 group, with 5th EG (escort carrier "Biter") transferred from HX237 on the 14th. Two merchant ships lost in mid-Atlantic in exchange for two U-boats.

UK/North America ON182 - 56 ships escorted by Canadian C5 group, with 4th EG (carrier "Archer") transferred from ONS6; no merchant ship losses.

UK/NorthAmerica ON184 - 39 ships escorted by Canadian C1 group and US 6th EG with escort carrier "Bogue". No merchant ship losses in exchange for one U-boat: 22nd - "U-569" in mid-Atlantic to Avengers flying from "Bogue".

North America/UK HX239 - 42 ships escorted by British B3 group and 4th EG (carrier "Archer") transferred from ON182 (and before that ONS6). No merchant ship losses in exchange for one more U-boat: 23rd - In the first success with aircraft rockets, "U-752" in mid-Atlantic was badly damaged by "Archer's" Swordfish of 819 Squadron, and scuttled as surface escorts approach.

By the 24th, U-boat losses were so heavy and the attacks so fruitless, Adm Doenitz ordered his captains to leave the North Atlantic battlefield. They either returned home or concentrated on the US/Gibraltar routes. It was some time before the Allies realised the North Atlantic was almost free of U-boats. The air and sea escorts were winning.
Reading these pretty basic accounts rather puts into perspective today's snowflake generation. Why had nobody considered the provision of a "safe place" for those involved in such vital convoys?
 

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