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Research Wessex Hu5 HMS Fearless


Tony Adams
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I'm planning to build the Italeri Wessex HU.5 and I need some help identifying a particular aircraft / squadron that my fathers best mate Lt Cmdr Roy Taylor flew when based on HMS Fearless in the early 1970s.

I remember touring Fearless around 1972 ( when I was 8 /9, it could have been later ) and getting to sit in the cockpit which at the time was a major event for me.

Roy is currently quite ill and I plan to present the model to him once I complete it , any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Ewen Southby-Tailyour's book on HMS Fearless refers to Wessex 5s from B Flight 848 Squadron joining from the ship in the early 70s when it was docked at Malta.

Have you tried contacting the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton in case they can help?

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Richard : good thought on the FAA museum , I be there for the spring show in a few weeks.

Mike, I suspect it was Portsmouth ( I live in Southampton ) but I can't be 100%

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Thanks Tony,

I am just going through the aircraft details, from "Fleet Air Arm Helicopters since 1943" and, so far, only found 3 aircraft detached to Fearless but these are all in late 1974. They are: XT456, XT463, XT470.

I will update you further with any other serials that got detached to Fearless. Just to make you aware, Fearless and Intrepid did not have dedicated sqn's or aircraft on a full two-year commission but would have a small flight, of two or three aircraft, detached from a sqn to the ship for a specific exercise or tour.

Mike

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Mike thanks for the info (so far ), having spoken to my dad it was 1975, when she visited Southampton, apparently at the time Roy was actually grounded due to some operational misdemeanor. He regained operational status short after and went on to fly Wessex 5s at Portland and Culdrose

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Just dug out some squadron info and found the following detachments to HMS Fearless:

845 Squadron

Det4 06 Sep 1971 - 21 Sep 1971

Det4 03 Jan 1972 - 11 Jan 1972 - Norway

Det4 02 Mar 1972 - 14 Mar 1972 - possibly Norway ex Clockwork Orange

Det2 11 May 1972 - 20 July 1972 - Mediterranean

Det2 27 Sep 1974 - 01 Nov 1974 - this is over a weekend could possibly have had an 'Open Day'

846 Squadron

Det3 08 Mar 1971 - 11 Mar 1971

848 Squadron

B Flt 11 Oct 1972 - 29 Nov 1972

These are the only recorded detachments to HMS Fearless that I have been able to find.

cheers

Mike

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Mike, I will quiz my father further , it could have been the late 74 detachment. If I can't track it down I may look at modelling a aircraft from Portland or Culdrose (Yeovilton is also possible)

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Another possibility is that Roy may still have his log book, this would be a record of every flight he made, which aircraft and what date.

Check, if he is well enough to speak to, with him or possibly his family?

Mike

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Mike, trouble is Roy is in Australia so it's a little tricky to contact him!

I would also like to make it a surprise, I may be able to find more from his family.

cheers

Tony

Edited by Tony Adams
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I have been following this with interest. Wondered what might come up.

Getting Off Topic a little, but I am curious. I thought that most aircraft operating from Intrepid and Fearless would be detached flights, not actualy aircraft dedicated to or belonging in any way to the actual ship.

A good indication of 'ownwership' is the ships individual code on the tail of the aircraft, ie 'R' Ark Royal', 'HA' Hampshire.

A bit of a Google kept throwing up a picture of two Wessex .5 on apparently, Intrepid (847, 1968). These are displaying the tailcode 'S' presumably for Intrepid, but unusual as the first letter of the name of the ship is usualy the first of the code. There are always exceptions of course ie. 'L' Illustrious.

Question 1. is 'S' for Intrepid (or Fearless?)

Question 2. I have some info that Fearless' code was 'FS' and Intrepid 'IS'. Is this correct?

Cheers.

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I haven't checked my records but I suspect 'S' is for Simbang, in Singapore. Simbang was the main airbase for the Fleet Air Arm when operating in the Far East and aircraft would dis-embark their parent ship whilst it was in dock for maintenance or repairs etc. As already mentioned, HMS' Fearless and Intrepid did not have any long-term assigned squadrons embarked, but would have had a flight (up to 3 or 4 aircraft from the parent squadron) detached to the ship for short periods such as exercises or temporary operations like the Falklands.

847 Squadron was based at HMS Simbang until 1971, when the squadron was merged with 848 Squadron when that 848 arrived out there on HMS Albion. The combined squadrons remained at HMS Simbang, to cover the withdrawal of British Forces from the Far East however they did re-embark on HMS Albion at various times throughout 1971, to go to Hong Kong, Japan, Philippines and Australia etc., on goodwill visits.

Mike

Edit: The airfield is still in existence and is the home of a fighter squadron/wing of the Singapore armed forces. It can be found on Google Earth at Lat: 1°25'32.66"N Long: 103°48'54.54"E or search on Sembawang Air Base. The little runway running SW to NE alongside the main runway, is/was HMS Simbang's main runway. Directly south of that is the old dispersal area and some of the original hangars remain (Incidently, this accommodation area south of the hangars was the home of 42 Commando RM when they were stationed out in Singapore). To the right of the runway (900 yards) and slightly down is a group of 5 long white buildings (with a square block in centre of each); That is Dieppe Barracks which was the home of 40 Commando RM (my unit) until handed over to the Singapore Armed Forces at the end of 1971.

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Thanks bootneck, I had a funny feeling you might know. Very interesting stuff, cheers. A tailcode for a Fleet Air Arm airstation in the Far East, no wonder I couldn't think of it. How times have changed.

That would make an interesting point of conversation on a model Wessie .5. I will have to remember that one.

Cheers oppo.

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........but unusual as the first letter of the name of the ship is usualy the first of the code. There are always exceptions of course ie. 'L' Illustrious.

Just noticed your other comment, ref the ship codes. "L" was Illustrious because the first of the class, Invincible, had already been allocated "I".

I think you have a great idea in building a Wessex HU.5 of 847 Squadron based at Simbang. I'm sure it would be a real conversation piece. Imagine the rivet counters with that one!

cheers

Mike

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Hi Guys, just strolled into this post. 847 NAS were at RNAS Sembewang (HMS Simbang) 69/70 with a tail code S. We have a facebook page and the few of the lads have posted pics of some of the cabs, Peter 'Bagsy' Baker out in Penang gave me a couple of good pics. Basically we had sand and spinach to start of with but soon transitioned to O/A olive green.

Regarding Fearless, I don't think it would have had any deck letter as all the cabs on board were/wouyld have been detachemnts from squadrons but not actually attached to the ship. So what ever tail code they had was form the parant base/ship.

I think I've got a list somewher of the call signs and codes.

Colin the Wessex

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