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John

Saunders Roe Salmon

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"With the UK aircraft industry working a full stretch to meet the requirements of the Government's rearmament policy, the Air Ministry were always keen to locate off-the-shelf designs to help bolster front line squadrons.

One perceived shortcoming was in land-based torpedo capability, particularly against hostile warships operating close to the British coastline as the German Fleet had done in the First World War to bombard coastal towns. The Fleet Air Arm had its Swordfish but the RAF’s Beaufort was still some way from service entry, and was in any event a large aircraft. The need was perceived to be for an aircraft in the Swordfish class but of a more modern design. The Barracuda and Supermarine 332 were regarded as medium-term solutions to the problem, but were even further from service entry than the Beaufort.

There was an additional requirement for a light bomber to add to the RAF’s Battle force and specifically to replace the remaining Hawker bi-plane designs still in service which, it was recognised, would not survive in the European theatre. Similarly, there was a longer term requirement to replace Hawker designs in the Middle East and supplement the Wellesley.

The British Purchasing Commission in the USA was given the list of requirements to consider. On surveying the current output of the American aircraft industry, they settled on one design as the most promising.”

More to follow.

John

Edited by John

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"With the requirements outlined by the Air Ministry in hand, the BPC visited Douglas Aircraft and placed an order for 250 TBD Devastators. Early in the contract negotiations a clause which had originally specified that it be adapted to accept the Bristol Taurus engine was dropped and instead the airframes were basically the same as the US Navy version, minus armament and some instrumentation.

The airframes were finished in primer by Douglas and moved by sea to Saunders Roe where they were completed to the requirements of the RAF. The 250 airframes were modified into 3 distinct sub-types, but they all shared the same general characteristics. Firstly, as there was no foreseeable requirement for them to operate from aircraft carriers the wing fold was deleted and the unnecessary parts of the mechanism removed. Also, the arrestor gear was deleted. These changes resulted in a modest weight saving. British instrumentation and radios were fitted, together with a forward firing 0.303 Browning machine gun. Rear defence was to be in the form of a twin Vickers VGO mounting, so racks for ammunition drums had to be installed. The interiors were also painted as it was felt that the Aluminium primer finish applied by the manufacturer could give rise to glare and reflection issues.

The first 100 airframes were finished as the Salmon Mk1, a dedicated torpedo bomber. These were the most like their American cousins, even to the extent of the Air Ministry buying a stock of US torpedoes. They were also fitted for RAF bomb racks or Light Stores Carriers under the wings. The introduction of the Mk1 caused the RAF to rethink Coastal Command's over-water camouflage scheme and, instead of Dark Green and Dark Earth over Night, the Salmon was finished in scheme similar to that used by the FAA, of Dark Sea Grey and Dark Green. The undersides remained Night but the colour demarcation was moved to half way up the fuselage. The Mk1 would equip 5 dedicated patrol and attack squadrons which were based at airfields along the south and east coasts.

The next 100 airframes were finished as the Salmon MkII. This was fitted with British bomb racks to carry a standard RAF 1000lb bomb under the fuselage, or 250lb, 500lb bombs or Light Stores Carriers under the wings. They could also carry smokelaying or chemical weapons tanks. The MkII equipped 5 light bomber squadrons and was finished in the standard RAF scheme of Dark Green and Dark Earth over Night.

The final 50 airframes were finished as tropicalised MkIIIs. These dispensed with the navigator, using the space instead to carry a survival kit. These airframes were otherwise similar to the MkII but were finished in the Tropical scheme of Dark Sand and Dark Red Sand over aluminium. These airframes were ferried to Egypt where most of the tropical equipment was installed and a locally manufactured light blue colour was applied to the undersides.

An example of the Salmon was retained by Saunders Roe for trials with other types of British weaponry. Others were issued to various trials and experimental units. One was sent to Bristol were a Taurus engine was fitted, but it was found to offer no advantage over the P&W powered examples."

Next, the operational history of the Salmon.

John

Edited by John

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Excellent stuff John. Can't wait for Episode III now.

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Not sure if I want you to start building or keep writing! Both?

Dan

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“The first Salmons to be used operationally were the MkIs based in and around the north of Scotland, patrolling the naval bases at Scapa Flow and Invergordon. There were occasional encounters with He111s and Ju88s from Westerland but no loses or claims.

The loss of the Royal Oak to a U-boat attack within Scapa Flow forced Coastal Command to reassess the threats they faced. It was acknowledged that the German navy had only a limited surface capability in the North Sea, but submarines were a much more serious issue. To this end 60 of the original 100 MkIs had their torpedo gear removed and replaced with specially designed racks able to carry 2 450lb depth charges side by side. This became the MkIa, dedicated to patrolling coastal waters looking for U-Boats. They kept their Dark Green and Dark Sea Grey upper camouflage but received a coat of Sky over the Night on their lower surfaces.

The MkII saw its combat debut over the beaches of Dunkirk, carrying out daring but costly low level bombing raids on German armour surrounding the beachhead. Typical loads for these missions were either 2x250lb AP bombs or anti-personnel munitions. For day bomber operations the MkII also received Sky undersurfaces. Following the evacuation from Dunkirk the light bomber force was withdrawn and consolidated. 22 MkIIs had been written off in the campaign and the remainder were grouped into 4 squadrons.

The Salmon next appeared over France in the great daylight raid of August 1st 1940. The previous night Bomber Command had mounted a massive series of raids on German airfields and embarkation ports in Northern France, making the most of the short ranges involved to maximise the loads carried by their Wellingtons, Hampdens and Whitleys. They were followed in the early morning by waves of light bombers capitalising on the chaos caused by the night raids. Salmons, Battles and Blenheims, under a heavy escort of Hurricanes, raided bomber and fighter airfield dropping incendiary and anti-personnel munitions to disrupt repair crews and destroy any aircraft trapped on their airfields by the cratered runways.

At the same time, MkI Salmons escorted by Defiants, swept across the invasion ports at ultra low level dropping 250lb bombs on vessels and harbour installations. Torpedo carrying MkIs used their weapons against the moored barges and also against breakwaters and quay walls to do the maximum amount of structural damage to the port facilities. The results of these concentrated raids forced the Germans to move their air assets back from the coast, giving the RAF more time to muster their defences against the unescorted bombers and allowing the “Big Wing” strategy to be used to its fullest extent. The Bf109 was absent from British skies until a practical drop tank system could be designed to boost its limited range.”

Next, the Salmon in the Middle East

John

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This thread keeps getting better with every post and you've not even started to the model yet :D

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"The Salmon MkIII was distributed throughout the RAF's establishment in the Middle East, serving in Egypt and Iraq. Initially they were involved mostly in coastal patrols around the Nile Delta but the fall of France and Vichy activity in Syria brought them into combat against the Vichy French forces as the British and Free French moved to occupy Syria.

A few Salmons were dispatched to assist the RAF efforts to resist the German invasion of Greece, but they suffered heavily and the survivors, thought to number only in low single figures, were withdrawn to Crete where they were all lost in defence of the island. The aircraft dispatched to Greece are thought to have had dark Green painted over their Dark Red Sand camouflage to give a semblance of the Temperate Land Scheme.

A number of Salmons were also present at Habbaniya in Iraq and were intensively used in operations against the besieging Iraqi forces.

The Salmons based in Egypt were heavily involved against Italian forces in Libya in the early days of the war in North Africa. They played a major role in blunting the Italian efforts to encroach into western Egypt. The arrival in theatre of the new Boulton-Paul Dauntless light bomber and ground attach aircraft gradually saw the Salmon relegated to second line duties but examples could still be found operating as hacks and target tugs until the early post-war years. 6 were refurbished and presented to the Egyptian Air Force in 1946, but it is doubtful if they saw much use. As befitting their area of operations on the more fertile coastal plain, the Egyptian-based Salmons were repainted into a scheme of Light Green and Light Earth over their locally manufactured pale blue undersurfaces. Survivors were repainted into standard the RAF Desert scheme, as were the refurbished examples supplied to the REAF. A few post war examples were stripped of all paint except for a Dark Green anti-glare panel.

The surviving Salmon MkIs were all converted to MkIa standard following the Battle of Britain, and they remained in use as a coastal patrol and anti-submarine aircraft in the UK until 1943, when the last examples were withdrawn from service. The MkII was withdrawn from the light bomber role from late 1940 as the much more capable Dauntless began to arrive in substantial numbers. The MkIIs were mostly sent to OTUs as observer and gunnery trainers, while a number were converted into target tugs as the TT IV. The survivors were mostly scrapped at the end of the war, being completely worn out. In their final years of use the MkIa's were repainted into Extra Dark Sea Grey, Dark Slate Grey and White. The trainers and target tugs carried the appropriate colours and markings.

No examples of the Salmon are known to survive today, although legend has it that the remains of a MkII may lie buried inland of Dunkirk, where it was lost on operations in 1940."

Plenty of colour schemes and plenty of options - which one to build???

John

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John

I might be wrong but i think i saw some large parts of a Salmon in the hanger houseing the reserve collection at Yeovilton in Somerset . When i asked the curator she said it was an almost intact Sea Salmon. :)

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You certainly have created plenty options there John. Good luck with picking one.

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John

I might be wrong but i think i saw some large parts of a Salmon in the hanger houseing the reserve collection at Yeovilton in Somerset . When i asked the curator she said it was an almost intact Sea Salmon. :)

Ah yes, there was the suggestion that one of the trials airframes was sent to the A&AEE to be refitted with catapult and arrestor gear to assess the type's suitability for operations from British carriers in the Far East. Apparently the trial was shelved as more capable types became available and it was always assumed that the airframe was scrapped - but perhaps not completely...!

John

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The basis of this model will, of course, be the venerable Airfix TBD-1 Devastator. This is is kit I first built way back in the dim-and-distant, when it came in a Type 3 box and was moulded in white plastic. The example I'll be using here came in the VJ set released a couple of years ago. It will also need a few extras in the form of contemporary British weaponry, probably either 250lb or 500lb bombs.

I've pretty much settled on doing either a Salmon MkII as it would have looked when rolled out from Saunders Roe in 1939, or a MkIII carrying the special ID markings adopted for the 1941 Syrian campaign.

John

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The basis of this model will, of course, be the venerable Airfix TBD-1 Devastator. This is is kit I first built way back in the dim-and-distant, when it came in a Type 3 box and was moulded in white plastic. The example I'll be using here came in the VJ set released a couple of years ago.

...and on opening the bag it quickly became apparent that there was a bit missing! Not a minor part but the underside of one of the inboard wing sections. The internet was hastily fired up and an example of the most recent boxing was acquired.

I've decided I'm going to do a Salmon MkIII in the campaign markings for the invasion of Syria in 1941. Finish will be Dark Sand and Dark Red Sand over Iraqi Sky with the identification markings adopted to differentiate the type from Italian Ba65s which had been supplied to help bolster the Vichy air force

John.

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The colour scheme sounds very intriguing!

Looking forward to it.

Trevor

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Short update - I've asked Airfix's excellent customer services if they can provide the missing wing part for the kit from the VJ set and I've ordered another Devastator "just in case", so I'll probably end up with two. I'll stick with the Syrian campaign MkIII for the first one but having another opens up the possibility of building a pair. I'm caught between an anti-submarine patrol MkIa and a day bomber MkII.

Mike Starmer recommends Humbrol 110 for the armour colour of Dark Sand and I'm assuming the aircraft colour will be the same. For the Dark Red Sand I'm thinking of Humbrol 160 German Red Brown. For the underside light blue, well anyone reading the marathon Azure Blue thread will know I'm spoiled for choice! I was thinking of something along the lines of "FirstBus Interior Handrail Turquoise" though.

John

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Those wonderful people at Airfix Customer Services have come up trumps once again and supplied the missing wing part. Time to get started!

John

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First of all the obligatory sprue shot:

Hillclimb12.jpg

No box in this one as the kit didn't have one! The replacement lower wing section kindly supplied by Airfix is in the little zip-lok bag. First step will be to assemble and paint the interior, with some minor alterations to represent the tropicalised Salmon MkIII.

John

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Good to see you have all the required parts at last and are able to get started John.

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Hi John, have you had a chance to get started with this one yet? Loved the very comprehensive back story.

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Haven't completely fallen off the twig just yet I'm pleased to say, just had an exceptionally busy few weeks at work. Anyway, back in harness now and work is progressing. The interior is being fitted out at the moment and photos will appear as soon as I can take them in something approaching daylight!

John

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Some catch-up pics:

Salmon1_zpsb94b2cd8.jpg

The interior parts have had a coat of Humbrol 78 to replicate the interior finish applied by Saunders Roe over the original Aluminium primer. The cockpit has also been modified to a 2-seat configuration by adding a piece of plastic card behind the pilot's bulkhead to replicate the storage bin for the desert survival equipment. Pilot and gunner figures will be added so I don't propose to do a lot more to the interior.

Salmon2_zps29329ee5.jpg

Vickers VGO for the rear cockpit. I had hoped to lay hands on an Aeroclub gun in the spares box but I couldn't find one. However on examining the kit gun it seemed a bit small for a .5 Browning, so a magazine was added from one of the number tabs on the kit sprue and a piece of fine microrod was glued under the barrel. Close enough for Government work!

Salmon3_zps7cabcc28.jpg

The wing parts are joined and the sealing plates added by Saunders Roe were fabricated from the thin card that use to come with Airfix 54mm figures, then gently sanded even thinner with a foam-backed sanding stick.

John

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More progress shots.

Basic airframe construction complete and the first coat of paint applied - Xtracrylic RLM61 for the Dark Red Sand and Humbrol 26 Khaki for the Dark Sand. It comes out like a darker and higher contrast version of the DE/MS desert scheme.

Salmon6_zps50bf3ab1.jpg

Salmon4_zps249ee07c.jpg

Salmon5_zpscb1744f3.jpg

John

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This one is taking form very quickly! Close to the deadline but something tells me you might just make it :D

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I wasn't happy with the colour scheme and have gone for a repaint, so I've missed the deadline. I'll post up the completed photos though.

John

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