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

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?

"today's snowflake generation" would include roughly all the infantry on Herrick - maybe ask them and see what happens?
 
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.
Yes, and despite the Seafire and Barracuda being vastly inferior in so many ways to the Corsair, Hellcat, Avenger, the Minister of Supply kept ordering them!
 

Yokel

LE
Yes, and despite the Seafire and Barracuda being vastly inferior in so many ways to the Corsair, Hellcat, Avenger, the Minister of Supply kept ordering them!

Possibly because ordering American aircraft was going to be expensive, even with lend lease, and the production capability of Grumman and Vought was limited - with the US Navy and Marine Corps taking priority.

My previous post tried to make the point that our carriers were busy throughout the War, and that the arrival of the escort carrier made a huge difference in the Atlantic (starting with HMS Audacity in December 1941) and on the Arctic convoys (starting with convoy PQ18 in September 1942 with Avenger operating Sea Hurricanes and Swordfish).

This proves that both fighters and Swordfish type aircraft operated from the escort carriers, in many ways their small size made this remarkable.
 

Yokel

LE
Two interesting links.

From Naval Air History by Matthew Willis: A RECIPE FOR OBSOLESCENCE? BRITISH NAVAL TORPEDO BOMBER DEVELOPMENT IN THE 1930S

I will simply quote the concluding paragraphs:

A combination of complacency and an over-emphasis on practicality and versatility had left the Fleet Air Arm’s torpedo attack capability struggling to catch up with its major rivals in the mid-1930s. When the need for a high-performance replacement for the Swordfish was belatedly recognised, confused requirements, over-ambition in performance and reluctance to sacrifice maid-of-all-work types hampered the development of a new type.

In the meantime, the Swordfish and Albacore had soldiered on. In reality, the role for which all three FAA aircraft had been conceived – striking against an enemy battle fleet – did not fully arise again after the Swordfish’s miraculous night attack on the Italian fleet at Taranto. The first major task the new Barracudas were prepared for was to protect the seaborne invasion of Italy in September 1943 against the threat of the remaining Italian fleet. Ironically, when the fleet surrendered, Barracudas were scrambled to protect the Italian warships en route to Malta from a possible attack by German vessels.


From the same source: THE SPITFIRE’S STRUGGLE TO GO TO SEA

When the Spitfire finally went to sea in late 1942 it was in a great rush. This was all the more surprising since the idea of a carrier-based Spitfire dated back to 1939.

The Seafire, like most of the aircraft operated by the Fleet Air Arm in the Second World War, is tangled up in confusion and politics at the Admiralty and the Air Ministry. The Admiralty consistently proved itself unable to create realistic requirements for naval aircraft, while the Air Ministry consistently failed to prioritise naval aircraft procurement. Until 1940, the Admiralty tried repeatedly to obtain a two-seat long range reconnaissance fighter with an adequate performance. It failed.

The Fleet Air Arm was always impressed by the Spitfire’s performance, and moves to develop the type for carrier use began in earnest in late 1939, with fifty aircraft ordered and a request for an aircraft to be modified with an arrestor hook. First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill cancelled the order in March 1940 in favour of more Fairey Fulmar two-seat fighters – an aircraft even the Admiralty’s Technical Department did not want.

Supermarine tried again in 1940, with the revised Specification N.8/39 for a two-seat and single-seat fighter based on the same design. Supermarine offered an aircraft that was by their own admission a Spitfire modified with folding wing and Rolls Royce Griffon engine. This idea was viewed with some favour, but the Royal Aircraft Establishment doubted Supermarine’s performance figures and the aircraft chosen were the Blackburn Firebrand and Fairey Firefly.

Unfortunately, by this time the Battle of Britain was underway and all priority was given to fighters for the RAF. By early the next year, the emphasis had shifted to Bomber Command, and most other requirements – including naval aircraft – were put on the back burner.

The idea of a Sea Spitfire was revived yet again in the middle of 1941, by which time it was apparent that the Fulmar was not competitive as a fighter. Churchill, having become Prime Minister was now time acutely aware that the Fleet Air Arm was in a dire position when it came to fighters. The aircraft that were supposed to replace the Fulmar, the Firebrand and Firefly, were struggling in development and would be years away from entering service. High hopes had been placed in American aircraft, but with US rearmament and later entry into the war, deliveries were far slower than necessary for the FAA’s needs.


Can anyone spot a common theme?
 
Two interesting links.

From Naval Air History by Matthew Willis: A RECIPE FOR OBSOLESCENCE? BRITISH NAVAL TORPEDO BOMBER DEVELOPMENT IN THE 1930S

I will simply quote the concluding paragraphs:

A combination of complacency and an over-emphasis on practicality and versatility had left the Fleet Air Arm’s torpedo attack capability struggling to catch up with its major rivals in the mid-1930s. When the need for a high-performance replacement for the Swordfish was belatedly recognised, confused requirements, over-ambition in performance and reluctance to sacrifice maid-of-all-work types hampered the development of a new type.

In the meantime, the Swordfish and Albacore had soldiered on. In reality, the role for which all three FAA aircraft had been conceived – striking against an enemy battle fleet – did not fully arise again after the Swordfish’s miraculous night attack on the Italian fleet at Taranto. The first major task the new Barracudas were prepared for was to protect the seaborne invasion of Italy in September 1943 against the threat of the remaining Italian fleet. Ironically, when the fleet surrendered, Barracudas were scrambled to protect the Italian warships en route to Malta from a possible attack by German vessels.
It is difficult to describe the awe with which the arrival of the Barracuda was regarded. We managed to induce a burly American commander into it for a short flight. When he landed I asked him what he thought of it, and I’m sure my many friends at Fairey’s will forgive me for quoting his reply which was ‘Well, there’s only one thing will supersede this, and that’s the aeroplane!’
 

Yokel

LE
It is difficult to describe the awe with which the arrival of the Barracuda was regarded. We managed to induce a burly American commander into it for a short flight. When he landed I asked him what he thought of it, and I’m sure my many friends at Fairey’s will forgive me for quoting his reply which was ‘Well, there’s only one thing will supersede this, and that’s the aeroplane!’

Was the Barracuda ever used in a torpedo attack ? It was a tactic that was pretty much suicidal by 1942, particularly if the enemy had fighter cover? As far as I know they were armed with general purpose and armour piercing bombs when they were used in Operation Tungsten in April 1944 against the Tirpitz,
 
Was the Barracuda ever used in a torpedo attack ? It was a tactic that was pretty much suicidal by 1942, particularly if the enemy had fighter cover? As far as I know they were armed with general purpose and armour piercing bombs when they were used in Operation Tungsten in April 1944 against the Tirpitz,

I am pretty certain that the Barracuda was never used as a Torpedo Bomber as it was designed for, due to a scarcity of targets if nothing else. The Tirpitz was surrounded by Anti-Torpedo Netting in Norwegian Waters which ruled out the use of Torpedoes against her.

The U.S. Navy widely used it's Grumman Avengers in a Torpedo Bomber role until at least March 1945 where they played a key role in the sinking of the Yamato Super Battleship.

Torpedo Bombers needed strong Fighter Escort to be able to go about their business effectively.
 
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Yokel

LE
I am pretty certain that the Barracuda was never used as a Torpedo Bomber as it was designed for, due to a scarcity of targets if nothing else. The Tirpitz was surrounded by Anti-Torpedo Netting in Norwegian Waters which ruled out the use of Torpedoes against her.

The U.S. Navy widely used it's Grumman Avengers in a Torpedo Bomber role until at least March 1945 where they played a key role in the sinking of the Yamato Super Battleship.

Torpedo Bombers needed strong Fighter Escort to be able to go about their business effectively.

I think your last sentence is key. During the Channel Dash, originally the topic of this thread, the Swordfish of 825 NAS had no fighter escort due to a communications mix up. Operation Fuller was very complex with lots of things to go wrong. I am not aware of any enemy fighters being present at Taranto, but the Swordfish were supported by Fulmars - HMS Illustrious carried both. The Italian force at Matapan, and the Bismarck also lacked fighter cover.

The Swordfish (and Albacore) are remembered as torpedo bombers, but for most of the war they did mostly anti U boat operations - often equipped with radar and armed with rockets. I am unaware of the Barracuda being used in this role.
 
I think your last sentence is key. During the Channel Dash, originally the topic of this thread, the Swordfish of 825 NAS had no fighter escort due to a communications mix up. Operation Fuller was very complex with lots of things to go wrong. I am not aware of any enemy fighters being present at Taranto, but the Swordfish were supported by Fulmars - HMS Illustrious carried both. The Italian force at Matapan, and the Bismarck also lacked fighter cover.

The Swordfish (and Albacore) are remembered as torpedo bombers, but for most of the war they did mostly anti U boat operations - often equipped with radar and armed with rockets. I am unaware of the Barracuda being used in this role.
The fate of the Devastaor Torpedo Bombers at Midway is another prime example of what happens to unescorted Torpedo Bombers when there is enemy fighters about. I think just about all types of Carrier Strike Aircraft were vulnerable to enemy fighters.....(towards the end of the Pacific War the U.S. Navy's Hellcats and Corsairs became widely used as Fighter Bombers with great success).

I don't think that the Barracuda ever carried Rockets for either strike missions or A.S.W. patrols but I am fairly sure they did carry Depth Charges on such patrols.
 

diverman

LE
Book Reviewer
I think your last sentence is key. During the Channel Dash, originally the topic of this thread, the Swordfish of 825 NAS had no fighter escort due to a communications mix up. Operation Fuller was very complex with lots of things to go wrong. I am not aware of any enemy fighters being present at Taranto, but the Swordfish were supported by Fulmars - HMS Illustrious carried both. The Italian force at Matapan, and the Bismarck also lacked fighter cover.

The Swordfish (and Albacore) are remembered as torpedo bombers, but for most of the war they did mostly anti U boat operations - often equipped with radar and armed with rockets. I am unaware of the Barracuda being used in this role.
Indeed, neither Taranto nor Bismarck had any form of fighter cover. Taranto was attacked at night and Bismarck attacked far outside the Luftwaffe's fighter range even for the Me110 with ferry tanks. Whereas the Channel dash had plentiful fighter support organised and led by Galland.
 
Greg has another interesting video on torpedo planes. Has lots of good things to say about the Swordfish but eventually picks the Avenger as his pick for best torpedo plane of the war. It's a long video packed with lots of detail.

If you get a error message just refresh the page.

 
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Greg has another interesting video on torpedo planes. Has lots of good things to say about the Swordfish but eventually picks the Avenger as his pick for best torpedo plane of the war. It's a long video packed with lots of detail.


I dare say that the Japanese "Jill" and "Grace" Torpedo Bombers were compatible with the Grumman Avenger but they lacked the skilled Aircrews to fly them effectively, particularly the "Grace" which only appeared about the time of the invasion of Iwo Jima.
 
I dare say that the Japanese "Jill" and "Grace" Torpedo Bombers were compatible with the Grumman Avenger but they lacked the skilled Aircrews to fly them effectively, particularly the "Grace" which only appeared about the time of the invasion of Iwo Jima.
He covers both of them and makes the same point.
 
I couldn't see the video, Friend.

Although the Avenger also frequently carried Bombs and later Rockets, so the Avenger may well have been the best "Weapons Platform" overall.
Try now.

 

Sticky847

Old-Salt

Greg is very good, even if I get lost when he has historical performance graphs on screen and talks about pressure, vacuum, manifold pressure, cooling losses, pumping losses and so on. His delivery is so low key he sounds like he’s lying down.
 

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