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russ c

Fairey Albacore in Far East Service Questions ?

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russ c    5,146

Hi everyone, feeling in a masochistic mood at the moment and contemplating building Special Hobby`s Albacore, I`ve been Googling and discovered as well as operating from carriers they were also used by 27 and 36 Squadrons at Singapore and Java at the start of the Pacific/Far East Campaign. BUT I can`t find any photo`s or even profiles of them. Has anybody come across any, anywhere ? or have any ?

I presume they`d still be in Royal Navy camo` but no idea what codes, mark/version etc. Or, maybe they were in Green and Earth ?

TIA

Russ

 

PS, I misread a caption regarding 27 Sq, they didn`t use them it appears, stupid me.

 

Edited by russ c
Added PS

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dogsbody    1,095

I could not find any reference to either squadron ever operating Albacores anywhere.

 

 

Chris

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ClaudioN    181

As the Albacore was a torpedo bomber, its use to supplement the strength of RAF torpedo bomber units could make sense. In the Far East these were Nos. 36 and 100 Squadrons, both operating Vildebeests from Singapore, but the latter was receiveing Beauforts to replace them. 'Bloody Shambles', vol. 2 mentions that No. 36 Squadron, RAF on Singapore operated a few Albacores alongside its Vildebeests. Three participated in the second raid on Japanese ships at Endau, on 26 January 1942. Shores gives serials that, however, do not match with those in Air Britain books. I'd suggest they might have been T9133, T9134 and T9135.

 

No. 27 Squadron was a Blenheim unit, operating mainly the Blenheim Mk.If. If an Albacore was ever flown by 27 Sqn. aircrew, I'd think that must have been out of chance or necessity. Could it be instead No. 273 Squadron RAF at China Bay, Ceylon? This squadron also operated a few Vildebeests before 1942.

 

Albacores on Singapore are likely to have come form FAA storage there, so I'd agree with your assumption about naval camouflage.

 

Edit: 'Bloody Shambles' vol. 1 confirms the Albacores came from RN storage on Singapore: 5 were handed over to 36 Sqn by the Royal Navy on 12 December 1941. ...so they might possibly have had time to take up OE squadron codes?

 

HTH

 

Claudio

 

Edited by ClaudioN
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russ c    5,146
32 minutes ago, ClaudioN said:

As the Albacore was a torpedo bomber, its use to supplement the strength of RAF torpedo bomber units could make sense. In the Far East these were Nos. 36 and 100 Squadrons, both operating Vildebeests from Singapore, but the latter was receiveing Beauforts to replace them. 'Bloody Shambles', vol. 2 mentions that No. 36 Squadron, RAF on Singapore operated a few Albacores alongside its Vildebeests. Three participated in the second raid on Japanese ships at Endau, on 26 January 1942. Shores gives serials that, however, do not match with those in Air Britain books. I'd suggest they might have been T9133, T9134 and T9135.

 

No. 27 Squadron was a Blenheim unit, operating mainly the Blenheim Mk.If. If an Albacore was ever flown by 27 Sqn. aircrew, I'd think that must have been out of chance or necessity. Could it be instead No. 273 Squadron RAF at China Bay, Ceylon? This squadron also operated a few Vildebeests before 1942.

 

Albacores on Singapore are likely to have come form FAA storage there, so I'd agree with your assumption about naval camouflage.

 

HTH

 

Claudio

 

Cheers for that Claudio,

 I`ll try looking for those serials, I`ve got the `Bloody Shambles` books and had conflicting references when I was looking up Hurricanes some time ago.

I suppose it`s possible that they didn`t have any codes as some Hurricanes didn`t at that time.

Thanks again,

Russ

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stevehnz    2,866

I'll be keen to see what you come up with for these Russ. having read a couple of books about the debacle in Singapore then, I've long thought the raids on the landings at Endau rated right up there with the attack of 825s Swordfish during the Channel dash.

Steve.

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tonyot    13,455

Hiya Russ,

              I`ve always assumed that they were operated in Fleet Air Arm colours and markings and most likely without codes too. Same goes for the Fulmar`s used by the RAF during the defence of Ceylon.

The Fleet Air Arm did use the type itself in the Far East, first with standard markings, but later they had the blue and white roundels applied.   

Cheers

          Tony 

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russ c    5,146
6 hours ago, tonyot said:

Hiya Russ,

              I`ve always assumed that they were operated in Fleet Air Arm colours and markings and most likely without codes too. Same goes for the Fulmar`s used by the RAF during the defence of Ceylon.

The Fleet Air Arm did use the type itself in the Far East, first with standard markings, but later they had the blue and white roundels applied.   

Cheers

          Tony 

Cheers Tony,

 Thanks, they don`t seem to have been a very photographed type, I might do one with blue and white roundels but I can`t find picks of those either. Plenty of Malta, Madagascar and Western Desert but zip for the Far East.

Russ

 

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Ex-FAAWAFU    10,250

Given the lack of carriers out there in that period, I'm slightly surprised to find that any Albacores made it there at all, but I suppose cobbling anything that could fly together from stores was all they could do in the circumstance, given the date... A bit like the semi-legendary Sea Gladiators in Malta, when that's all you have available, that's what you go with.

 

That being so, it seems unlikely that they'd be taking time out to worry about painting codes.  "Get airborne and attack what you can" would be more likely.  

 

A desperate, desperate time.  The father of one of my friends from university was a Naval engineer who was captured in Singapore.  He didn't talk about it for about 40 years, but when he did eventually open up some of the stories were pretty heart-breaking.

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Graham Boak    2,395

I suspect that they were sent out to act as reserves for any future carrier operations in the area,  as planned for Indomitable, so wouldn't need too much piecing together.    However, given that the Endau operation was nearly two months after the outbreak of hostilities, codes of some kind would seem likelier than not.

 

The further question is one of surprise that the FAA don't seem to have had any reserve fighters at Singapore for such operations.  Indomitable seems to have hoovered up all the spare SH around the Indian Ocean later to convert 800 Sq for Pedestal.

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tonyot    13,455
16 hours ago, russ c said:

Cheers Tony,

 Thanks, they don`t seem to have been a very photographed type, I might do one with blue and white roundels but I can`t find picks of those either. Plenty of Malta, Madagascar and Western Desert but zip for the Far East.

Russ

 

There are a few pics around showing a squadron at Ceylon where some of the Albacore`s have blue and white roundels/fin flash while others have yet to be painted,.....these have appeared in various books but I couldn`t find one on line,......I shall try to dig one out and copy it for you, One of them was codes C1R if I remember correctly,...

Cheers

          Tony  

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mhaselden    846

Photos of Vildebeests in Singapore are rare and we've yet to obtain ANY confirmed details of the camouflage colours.  Photos of Albacores in Singapore are non-existing so we're purely in the realm of speculation as to camouflage and markings.  It would make sense that they carried Type B upperwing roundels, with Type A1 on the fuselage and rectangular Type A fin flashes.  Pretty much any other details are highly debatable, to include whether they had underwing roundels (if they did, most likely Type A) or wore unit codes.  As to camouflage, they could have been repainted to match the Vildebeests or they could have retained FAA camouflage.  Undersides of Vildebeests were originally black but at least some were repainted in a light-toned shade, perhaps similar to Sky Blue like the 27 Sqn Blenheims in that theatre...which means we have at least 2 if not 3 options for the underside colour.

 

Sorry I can't be more help but I'm afraid that's pretty much all we have on Vildebeests in Singapore.  My recommendation would be to use a best-value judgement and hold to the fact that you're building a representation of an aircraft flown by some incredibly courageous men...and leave it at that without striving for a degree of accuracy that's unlikely ever to be confirmed. 

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russ c    5,146
8 hours ago, tonyot said:

There are a few pics around showing a squadron at Ceylon where some of the Albacore`s have blue and white roundels/fin flash while others have yet to be painted,.....these have appeared in various books but I couldn`t find one on line,......I shall try to dig one out and copy it for you, One of them was codes C1R if I remember correctly,...

Cheers

          Tony  

Thanks Tony, it`ll be more to go on than I`ve got now.

Russ

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russ c    5,146
7 hours ago, mhaselden said:

Photos of Vildebeests in Singapore are rare and we've yet to obtain ANY confirmed details of the camouflage colours.  Photos of Albacores in Singapore are non-existing so we're purely in the realm of speculation as to camouflage and markings.  It would make sense that they carried Type B upperwing roundels, with Type A1 on the fuselage and rectangular Type A fin flashes.  Pretty much any other details are highly debatable, to include whether they had underwing roundels (if they did, most likely Type A) or wore unit codes.  As to camouflage, they could have been repainted to match the Vildebeests or they could have retained FAA camouflage.  Undersides of Vildebeests were originally black but at least some were repainted in a light-toned shade, perhaps similar to Sky Blue like the 27 Sqn Blenheims in that theatre...which means we have at least 2 if not 3 options for the underside colour.

 

Sorry I can't be more help but I'm afraid that's pretty much all we have on Vildebeests in Singapore.  My recommendation would be to use a best-value judgement and hold to the fact that you're building a representation of an aircraft flown by some incredibly courageous men...and leave it at that without striving for a degree of accuracy that's unlikely ever to be confirmed. 

Cheers Mark,

 I like speculation ( means I can`t get it wrong ;) ) You may have convinced me to try it.

Thanks Russ

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Seahawk    1,165
8 hours ago, tonyot said:

There are a few pics around showing a squadron at Ceylon where some of the Albacore`s have blue and white roundels/fin flash while others have yet to be painted,.....these have appeared in various books but I couldn`t find one on line,......I shall try to dig one out and copy it for you,

Please do: fascinating!  In a very old copy of Flypast a photo of a Fulmar with blue/white roundels was used as wallpaper over which the article text was printed.  No identification markings visible.  ISTR that my request on here years back for further information drew a nil return.  As elusive as Singapore Sharks apparently. 

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Selwyn    1,308
21 hours ago, Ex-FAAWAFU said:

Given the lack of carriers out there in that period, I'm slightly surprised to find that any Albacores made it there at all, but I suppose cobbling anything that could fly together from stores was all they could do in the circumstance, given the date... A bit like the semi-legendary Sea Gladiators in Malta, when that's all you have available, that's what you go with.

 

That being so, it seems unlikely that they'd be taking time out to worry about painting codes.  "Get airborne and attack what you can" would be more likely.  

 

A desperate, desperate time.  The father of one of my friends from university was a Naval engineer who was captured in Singapore.  He didn't talk about it for about 40 years, but when he did eventually open up some of the stories were pretty heart-breaking.

As these aircraft were from storage (maybe in boxed up condition) they most probably not even painted to the current regulation camoflage schemes, They were more probably finished to the mandated standard  extant when they were manufactured/packed. Normally they would only be repainted to current camoflage standards on issue to squadrons, but due to the emergency and need for these aircraft I would have thought any repainting  or marking would have been pretty low on the "to do" list.

 

Just pure speculation!

 

Selwyn

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ClaudioN    181
On 13/9/2017 at 3:23 PM, Ex-FAAWAFU said:

Given the lack of carriers out there in that period, I'm slightly surprised to find that any Albacores made it there at all, but I suppose cobbling anything that could fly together from stores was all they could do in the circumstance, given the date...

8 hours ago, Selwyn said:

As these aircraft were from storage (maybe in boxed up condition) they most probably not even painted to the current regulation camoflage schemes, They were more probably finished to the mandated standard  extant when they were manufactured/packed. Normally they would only be repainted to current camoflage standards on issue to squadrons, but due to the emergency and need for these aircraft I would have thought any repainting  or marking would have been pretty low on the "to do" list.

AFAIK, building up reserves at major Royal Navy bases around the world, after initial re-equipment of front-line squadrons was completed, was common practice. This had taken place before, e.g., with the Swordfish.

 

In 'Bloody Shambles' vol. 2 Shores lists the serials of the three Albacores that took part in the raid on Endau: one, T9135, is confirmed in Sturtivant's book on FAA serials 1939-1945; the serial of another, T9184, is in a black-out block and might have been T9134. Not yet checked the third. Looking at Albacore serials in Sturtivant's book, one finds a group of three aircraft, T9133-T9135, that went directly from Faireys to a MU that acted as Packing Depot for dispatch overseas. The date was around May 1941 and nothing else is said, neither of T9133, nor of T9134. It is tempting to assume the three did go to Singapore together. Most of the following Albacore serials (around 40) refer to aircraft that were sent to the Mediterranean, where soon they were in action.

 

Thinking of the Albacores in Singapore, we are perhaps too focused on the hectic days of the Japanese attack. Those aircraft were received when Singapore was still in peacetime conditions, with plenty of shiny new Buffalo fighters being assembled, powerful Blenheim bombers and Catalinas to patrol the approaches (everything untested by war, but supported by an amount of robust overconfidence, it seems). In a few months, RAF torpedo-bomber squadrons would be re-equipped with Beauforts. So, into storage the Albacores did go.

'Bloody shambles' vol. 1 gives December 12th, 1941 as the date when 5 Albacores were transferred to the RAF. I would say the FAA were quick to react, as in just four days from the first Japanese attack the Albacores were taken out from storage, possibly uncrated, assembeld, perhaps flight tested and handed over. Probably an experienced Vildebeest pilot could convert to the Albacore in a matter of hours, so the whole thing was fast, but seemingly not hurried.

 

Assuming, as seems logical (but unproven), that standard FAA camouflage was applied, the Albacores' colour scheme would have been the same then in current use, i.e. TSS (EDSG/DSG/Sky), as there were little changes during 1941. Although these were not the mythical 'tropical' sea colours, the scheme arguably offered better concealment over the sea than Dark Green/Dark Earth so, why change? By the way, Coastal Command Beauforts at the start of 1942 were changing from Dark Earth/Dark Green to, exactly, EDSG/DSG.

 

Just my two pence.

 

Claudio

 

 

 

 

Edited by ClaudioN

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mhaselden    846

Claudio,

 

I would agree with your assessment.  Just because the 3 Albacores were transferred to 36 Sqn on 12 Dec 41 does not mean they were sitting in crates until that time.  During 1941 several airfields, including Seletar and Tengah were used as storage parks for aircraft that had been erected by 151 MU but were awaiting allocation to units or being held as a strategic reserve.  That said, the FAA presence in Singapore was pretty minimal, largely centred on the Walruses operating off the larger warships so any usage of the Albacores prior to December would probably be limited to test flights and the occasional comms/transport flight.  

 

I would tend to agree that retaining standard FAA camouflage is the more likely scenario, although any attempt to draw parallels with camouflage schemes from Coastal Command or UK-based aircraft should be treated with extreme caution since overseas theatres had some latitude in how to camouflage and mark their aircraft. 

 

I'll dig out my copy of "Glory in Chaos" which may have some additional nuggets of info about the Albacores not published in other works.  Keep your fingers crossed.

 

Cheers,
Mark

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tonyot    13,455
16 hours ago, Seahawk said:

Please do: fascinating!  In a very old copy of Flypast a photo of a Fulmar with blue/white roundels was used as wallpaper over which the article text was printed.  No identification markings visible.  ISTR that my request on here years back for further information drew a nil return.  As elusive as Singapore Sharks apparently. 

I know which Fulmar you mean, with the small blue and white Eastern Fleet style roundels,.....a rear right quarter view of the aircraft in the air. I have a scanned copy somewhere but have just spent the past hour looking for it, to no avail,....it may be on a CD or external hard drive,....I`ll have another look. I do have a pic from my own collection of a Fulmar in Ceylon which `might' have Eastern Fleet markings......what do you think,....is the fin blue and white or is the red forward section just light,.....or showing through after being overpainted? The same goes for the roundel under the wing;

fulmar-t.otoole collection068

All the best for now,

                               Tony

 

PS,...Haven`t forgotten about the Albacores Russ,....just been really busy today!

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russ c    5,146
6 hours ago, tonyot said:

I know which Fulmar you mean, with the small blue and white Eastern Fleet style roundels,.....a rear right quarter view of the aircraft in the air. I have a scanned copy somewhere but have just spent the past hour looking for it, to no avail,....it may be on a CD or external hard drive,....I`ll have another look. I do have a pic from my own collection of a Fulmar in Ceylon which `might' have Eastern Fleet markings......what do you think,....is the fin blue and white or is the red forward section just light,.....or showing through after being overpainted? The same goes for the roundel under the wing;

fulmar-t.otoole collection068

All the best for now,

                               Tony

 

PS,...Haven`t forgotten about the Albacores Russ,....just been really busy today!

That`s OK Tony, thanks for keeping me in mind. 

I wonder if, like on, some Swordfish and at least one Firefly that the wing roundels were left untouched and only the red on the fuselage and tail were painted out on later aircraft than the Singapore Albacores ( which I very much doubt were touched at all )

Cheers again

Russ

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tonyot    13,455
15 hours ago, russ c said:

That`s OK Tony, thanks for keeping me in mind. 

I wonder if, like on, some Swordfish and at least one Firefly that the wing roundels were left untouched and only the red on the fuselage and tail were painted out on later aircraft than the Singapore Albacores ( which I very much doubt were touched at all )

Cheers again

Russ

Hiya Russ,.....apparently the Fulmar above is from 273 Sqn RAF at China Bay in 1942,.....but personally I feel that it is later and part of a 2nd line unit circa 43/44.  Yes you are right about the roundel/fin flash.....the original incarnations just had the red parts overpainted using white!  

I have not been able to find the Albacore pics and I might even have been mistaken,......so sorry about that. I did however find an old article about RAF Albacore`s in Malaya and I`ve copied it here in case it is of use; 

IMG_20170915_0001IMG_20170915_0002

The RAF Aden Comms Flight flew Albacore`s into 1946 and one of them was painted overall silver! 

 

Hope this helps and all the best

                                             Tony

 

PS,...there is an interesting thread here which might be of interest;

http://rnzaf.proboards.com/thread/20621/infamy-ceylon

 

and although the pics have fallen foul of Photobucket,....here is one of a Vildebeest;

Image result for fulmar ceylon

Edited by tonyot

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russ c    5,146
1 hour ago, tonyot said:

Hiya Russ,.....apparently the Fulmar above is from 273 Sqn RAF at China Bay in 1942,.....but personally I feel that it is later and part of a 2nd line unit circa 43/44.  Yes you are right about the roundel/fin flash.....the original incarnations just had the red parts overpainted using white!  

I have not been able to find the Albacore pics and I might even have been mistaken,......so sorry about that. I did however find an old article about RAF Albacore`s in Malaya and I`ve copied it here in case it is of use; 

IMG_20170915_0001IMG_20170915_0002

The RAF Aden Comms Flight flew Albacore`s into 1946 and one of them was painted overall silver! 

 

Hope this helps and all the best

                                             Tony

 

PS,...there is an interesting thread here which might be of interest;

http://rnzaf.proboards.com/thread/20621/infamy-ceylon

 

and although the pics have fallen foul of Photobucket,....here is one of a Vildebeest;

Image result for fulmar ceylon

Cheers Tony, appreciate your time and effort. 

 I think I`m going to go with an un-coded A/C, dragged from storage and pressed into RAF use. It`s almost like a Luftwaffe `46 subject. Even I can`t get it wrong :) ( fingers crossed )

Thanks again

Russ

 

 

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ClaudioN    181
7 hours ago, tonyot said:

Hiya Russ,.....apparently the Fulmar above is from 273 Sqn RAF at China Bay in 1942,.....but personally I feel that it is later and part of a 2nd line unit circa 43/44.  Yes you are right about the roundel/fin flash.....the original incarnations just had the red parts overpainted using white!  

I have not been able to find the Albacore pics and I might even have been mistaken,......so sorry about that. I did however find an old article about RAF Albacore`s in Malaya and I`ve copied it here in case it is of use;

Tony,

 

thank you for posting, I had never seen the article and it's the most detailed account I've read. Which magazine is it from?

 

About the Fulmar, the image is in the IWM Collections:

large_000000.jpg?action=e&cat=photograph
WITH THE FLEET AIR ARM IN THE TROPICS. JULY 1944, ROYAL NAVAL AIR STATION PUTTALAM AND ROYAL NAVAL AIR STATION CHINA BAY. MEN OF THE FLEET AIR ARM SERVING WITH THE EASTERN FLEET IN THE TROPICS.. © IWM (A 25334)IWM Non Commercial Licence

The caption gives the time as July 1944, which matches your feeling quite well.

 

Cheers

 

Claudio

 

Edited by ClaudioN

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ClaudioN    181

I checked at last the third serial given in 'Bloody Shambles' vol. 2, X9106 that is the same as in the article posted by Tony in post #20

According to Sturtivant 'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to 1945', Albacore X9106 was with No. 822 Squadron from May 1942 and shot down in a raid on La Senia during Operation Torch.

The serial of the 36 Sqn. aircraft would seem misreported, however I found a second group of four Albacores, serials X9024-X9026 and X9028 that went to 82 MU (Packing Depot), like the three before (T9133-T9135), and left for Singapore on 8 October 1941 aboard SS Derrymore. By December they must have just arrived, making a total of seven Albacores available there. Interestingly, the Derrymore was later lost to a Japanese torpedo on 13 February 1942 with 6 crated Hurricanes aboard. 

 

Reading Sturtivant one realises that at the time Albacores were indeed being sent out to lots of places around the world (Alexandria, Nairobi, Piarco, Trincomalee, etc.), providing reserves as the fleet carriers moved around.

 

HTH

Claudio

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russ c    5,146
3 minutes ago, ClaudioN said:

I checked at last the third serial given in 'Bloody Shambles' vol. 2, X9106 that is the same as in the article posted by Tony in post #20

According to Sturtivant 'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to 1945', Albacore X9106 was with No. 822 Squadron from May 1942 and shot down in a raid on La Senia during Operation Torch.

The serial of the 36 Sqn. aircraft would seem misreported, however I found a second group of four Albacores, serials X9024-X9026 and X9028 that went to 82 MU (Packing Depot), like the three before (T9133-T9135), and left for Singapore on 8 October 1941 aboard SS Derrymore. By December they must have just arrived, making a total of seven Albacores available there. Interestingly, the Derrymore was later lost to a Japanese torpedo on 13 February 1942 with 6 crated Hurricanes aboard. 

 

Reading Sturtivant one realises that at the time Albacores were indeed being sent out to lots of places around the world (Alexandria, Nairobi, Piarco, Trincomalee, etc.), providing reserves as the fleet carriers moved around.

 

HTH

Claudio

Thanks Claudio,

 I`ll definately make it with one of the serial no`s you`ve suggested.

Appreciate the info` and your time.

Thanks again, Russ

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Seahawk    1,165
10 hours ago, ClaudioN said:

Tony,

 

thank you for posting, I had never seen the article and it's the most detailed account I've read. Which magazine is it from?

 

About the Fulmar, the image is in the IWM Collections:

large_000000.jpg?action=e&cat=photograph
WITH THE FLEET AIR ARM IN THE TROPICS. JULY 1944, ROYAL NAVAL AIR STATION PUTTALAM AND ROYAL NAVAL AIR STATION CHINA BAY. MEN OF THE FLEET AIR ARM SERVING WITH THE EASTERN FLEET IN THE TROPICS.. © IWM (A 25334)IWM Non Commercial Licence

The caption gives the time as July 1944, which matches your feeling quite well.

 

Cheers

 

Claudio

 

The actual caption narrows the location down to Puttalam.  Ballance: FAA Squadrons and Units lists only 2 2nd-line units being based there: 729 and 757 Squadrons of which only 757 is recorded as operating the Fulmar.  The example given is BP778, in July 1944.  Sturtivant's FAA Aircraft 1939-45 records this aircraft as making a forced landing after suffering engine failure on take-off: result was Cat Z damage ("likely to be struck off charge").  Although the aircraft in the photo has clearly not suffered Cat Z damage, the coincidence with the date inclines me to speculate rpt speculate whether BP778 is shown.  I wouldn't have thought there would have been too many Fulmars hanging around out there by then.

Edited by Seahawk

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