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Ex-FAAWAFU

Sink the Bismarck! HMS Ark Royal, 26 May 1941

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2 hours ago, Ex-FAAWAFU said:

But it did have a number of pictures that I’ve never seen before, including some beautifully clear shots of her in dry dock.

Yes I discovered it as it was on right after one of the episodes of "Warship - Life at Sea" following the ship and crew of HMS Duncan.

 

I'm certainly no expert on Ark 3 to any great depth but felt it was indeed a little iffy on facts. As you say though some of the photography was rather good and yes, always good to see a Swordfish or two!

 

Swordfish

 

Sorry just had to post that one!

 

Terry

 

Splendid bridge work by the way, and as Bill just said, this is the place to go for Ark 3 knowledge specifically, and all matters carrier flying!

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2 hours ago, Terry1954 said:

I'm certainly no expert on Ark 3 to any great depth but felt it was indeed a little iffy on facts. As you say though some of the photography was rather good and yes, always good to see a Swordfish or two!

 

The Norway campaign wasn’t mentioned at all, yet the (very) short-lived ‘hunter killer’ experiment which cost the Royal Navy HMS Glorious Courageous [correction] and almost Ark as well got the full 10 minutes between adverts.  And if your knowledge of Naval aviation was based on that programme, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we went direct from Edwin Dunning and Camels on towed lighters to the design of Ark without passing Go.  No Argus, Furious, Glorious, Courageous, Hermes or Eagle, or the hard-won expertise gained during a lot of pioneering experimentation in the 20s & 30s.  You’d also think that the Swordfish’s torpedo was designed to attack U-boats, which is utter nonsense.

 

Also, I have been at pains to emphasise how hideous the weather was for the Bismarck attack, but not even I would claim (as they did) that “no aircraft had ever before taken off from a carrier in conditions as bad as these”.  I doubt the weather off Norway was exactly Harry Flatters, for a start!

 

On the one hand, it’s good that TV shows documentaries like this at all.  On the other, it would be no harder to tell the real story, and Ark’s history was so dramatic that it really doesn’t need ‘sexing up’ for TV... so why the sloppy research and ill-informed editing?

 

Still, it had some great (new to me) photos... even if 2 well-known shots of her entering Grand Harbour were used approximately 8 times each.

Edited by Ex-FAAWAFU

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35 minutes ago, Terry1954 said:

 

Swordfish

Typical Observer: saluting away from the camera.  Not like an Aircrewman to miss an opportunity to pose, though...@MarkdipXV711

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No

 

I can't detect any mate v mate banter here at all

 

Not at all

 

 

None

 

 

OK I still mean none

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ish...

 

 

Regarding Glorious, notwithstanding controversial reports of her demise I am simply very glad that when she took on the Gladiators my dad wasn't allocated to travel with his aircraft from Norway.

 

He was an armourer on the squadron and given a different routing home with several of his mates

 

Phew

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1 hour ago, perdu said:

Regarding Glorious, notwithstanding controversial reports of her demise I am simply very glad that when she took on the Gladiators my dad wasn't allocated to travel with his aircraft from Norway.

 

He was an armourer on the squadron and given a different routing home with several of his mates

 

Phew

Struth!  I didn’t know that; bit of a “Sliding Doors” moment.  
 

Not much controversy about the loss of Glorious any more; even before the files are released in a few years’ time, we know what’s in them.  The Captain was a maniac who didn’t understand how to use an aircraft carrier or (especially) her aircraft.  It is tragic that so many young men had to die because of his obstinacy - but I’m very glad that your Dad wasn’t one of them.

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Thanks Crisp, me too

 

He must have had an interesting war

After Norway came Hawkinge arming Hurricanes and Lysanders.

Time with a Polski squadron helping the armourers 'get' harmonising the interruptor gear on P51s (Allison engined ones with nose guns)

A later session bombing up Stirling's, and falling off the wing whilst deicing it before a raid

And later flying with Coastal from Pembroke Dock

 

And so much we never spoke of in a long war...

 

If you guys have time, talk to your dads

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5 minutes ago, perdu said:

If you guys have time, talk to your dads

Definitely.  My Dad never talked seriously about his war until after I came home from the Falklands [“didn’t think you’d really understand until now”]; I’d heard the odd funny story, like Crab-baiting at RAF Beccles in late-1944 by “sentencing” his TAG to double 3 times round a Barracuda as punishment for some sin to which an officious RAF Shiney-Rs took offence but the Navy found ridiculous.  Or bombing an island off Kintyre with a Bass bottle from a Swordfish, because he thought Oswald Moseley was interned there and his mates had discovered that an empty beer bottle made a satisfactory bomb-like whistle...  but nothing about the real stuff until he opened up in 1982.  Scarily, it is now longer since the end of “my” war than it was in 1982 since the end of “his”.

 

My real regret is that I never got to talk to his pilot, who married Dad’s sister after the War and was thus my Uncle Ted.  Ted died when I was 12, alas.  He was a couple of years older than Dad, and won the DFM for his part in sinking a U-boat from a Stringbag as a Petty Officer Pilot, before being commissioned and crewing up with my Dad on the Barracuda OCU.

 

My Mum is still alive (95 now, though with Dementia), and her stories of life as a Nurse at St Thomas’s Hospital (including when it was hit by a V1) were pretty amazing, too.

 

However, one of my favourite memories of my father (who died in 1999) was from my Wings parade in the 80s.  We got our wings on the same day as our parallel Observers’ course, and after lunch as we retired to the bar I realised that I had lost Dad.  Eventually he was found over on the airfield: 750NAS (the Observers’ training squadron) had a museum of war-time navigation kit in a glass case inside, and Dougie McDonald (a distinguished Vixen & Toom Observer, who was 750’s CO) had persuaded Dad to go over and explain how all this ancient stuff worked.  I found him sitting on the stairs with half a dozen of the Instructors hanging on his every word.  
 

Years later, when I was SPLOT of 819 (which was very proud of being a Taranto squadron - indeed the crest is a heel with an arrow through it, because of Taranto) Dad came to Taranto Night as the guest of honour.  Just as with the 750 instructors 13 years before, he couldn’t understand why all the squadron aircrew were enthralled by his stories about flying in the Swordfish. He reckoned he was just doing his job; we knew better!

 

Bill is right.  Talk to your parents while you still can.

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22 minutes ago, Ex-FAAWAFU said:

Bill is right.  Talk to your parents while you still can.

Absolutely right. I lost my Dad in 2008 at the age of 92. He'd served in the Army during WWII firstly in France/Belgium, returning via Dunkerque, then after a spell on various airfield guard duties, was dispatched to the Far East where he spent 4 years in India and Burma. I wished I'd written down the exploits he did share which were usually the more amusing ones but I know he went through some tough stuff also. I do recall a story where he and a close friend made their escape to the beaches at Dunkerque on the back of a white horse "borrowed" from a farm! This was shortly after their unit had been largely scattered following some fighting around Abbeville. And in the far east a remarkable event occurred towards the end of the war whilst he was on leave (in Rangoon I think but but here my memory is unclear). He was wandering the streets near the waterfront and bumped into his younger brother who he had not seen for over 4 years, who was also on leave and at the time serving in the Royal Navy in the far east. They were able to spend some time together. Totally random event. How remarkable is that?

 

Terry

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I only found out about my uncle's (Stoker, RN) run in with the First Lieutenant (RNVR) of the Porpoise over setting the submarine's ballast for fresh water as they moored at Dundee, when he was in his nineties. We had taken them to the Discovery in Dundee, so it must have set off some memories and I overheard him telling my mother 'I told the First Lieutenat where to stick his medal' and it all came out. Apparently the Captain backed George, so the 1st Lieut was at daggers drawn for the rest of their time together. When Porpoise sailed off to the Far East on its last voyage, he got taken by the Captain to his new P boat, is that a pierhead jump? so had survivor's guilt over all his mates who were lost. He said he regretted not taking the medal home for his father. These things were never discussed in front of small boys.

Don

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OK, tonight’s update.  A few days ago I said I’d explain what those support brackets are for on the inner side of the funnel.  The answer is something called a “flying bridge”.  This is often misinterpreted; perhaps not unreasonably in an aircraft carrier, people think it’s ‘flying’ as in something to do with aircraft, but it’s not; it’s ‘flying’ as in ‘flying buttress’ on a cathedral - something that’s up in the air.  
 

In the early days of carriers (especially of carriers with an island) there was concern that the navigator / Captain would have a large blind spot to port, and that it could be a problem - particularly when manoeuvring in harbour.  So they added a flying bridge which was hinged; kept flat alongside the funnel when out at sea and doing all that aviation malarkey, but swung across the deck in a seamanlike manner (as they would doubtless have put it) when entering harbour or similar.  I have never seen a picture of Ark’s in use, but they carried on fitting them even in the Illustrious class (at least the early ones: Lusty herself, Formid and Victorious definitely had them) before finally realising that it was 1. not necessary & 2. completely bonkers. 
 

Here is a photo of the flying bridge of HMS Glorious in all its Fish-Head glory.  You can even see that there is a compass repeater on the outboard end - I have visions of some poor junior officer being shouted at to double along smartly and get a bearing as this thing wobbled and shook in the wind.  [Edit: note also the way in which it's positioned directly above an aircraft lift, thus ensuring an uninterrupted fall right down into the hangar in the event of trouble.  Quite right too: don’t want any groaning half-dead Snotties (Midshipmen) bleeding all over the flight deck when we’re firing the ceremonial salute as we enter Shanghai] 

48800894851_848c215b34_c.jpg


Anyway.  Ark had one, and Tetra provide us with a lovely wee brass number, which I constructed this evening:

49557599203_13a3d147f0_b.jpg

 

As the Glorious picture shows, for some reason the flying bridge was normally fitted with a dodger (a canvas screen behind the railings), so I built one of those out of a thin piece of lead (the perks of being married to an ex-Dentist is that I have almost limitless supplies of lead sheet left over from taking dental x-rays).

49557599038_a372564447_b.jpg


As those who watched the Channel 5 programme a couple of nights ago know, one of the ways in which they saved weight to keep Ark within her Washington Treaty displacement limits was by using welding instead of rivets for about 60% of her construction; that’s why she had those characteristic “stripes” all over her hull [but, whatever Channel 5 might claim, it was NOT what caused her to sink].  I have been experimenting with options for reinstating these weld seams in places where I have sanded them away while adding scuttles and stuff.  I have some brass ones which were specifically designed to portray 1/350 welds, but they’re relatively short so I’d need a shedload of them (not cheap, either).  Plan A is therefore to use Archer resin raised panel lines, which come as transfers.  So here not only do you see the flying bridge perched in roughly its final position, but also two experimental Archer weld lines.  They are designed to be painted over - and to be honest I’ll only really be able to judge whether they’re worth it once they at least have some primer on them.

49558437906_fe2728c9b4_b.jpg


The splodge of filler on the front of the funnel in that shot above is to smooth over Merit’s holes for the sirens - two square styrene boxes which look 100% unlike a siren.  Later in the evening that had cured and been sanded, so I added the first stage of the replacement sirens, namely the platform on which they sat and a ladder up the front face of the funnel for the poor sod who needed to service them.

 

Here from above (also showing that I have fitted the starboard version of last night’s ladder and railing onto the Flag Deck)...

49558498961_bd972f2aa5_b.jpg


...and here from the front, showing that the island is gradually becoming busier and busier, which is the general idea.

49558499386_92814a1b96_b.jpg


The sirens themselves and the stonking great steam pipes that fed them were very prominent on Ark’s funnel, so worth the effort: you’ve seen this photo more than once before, but this time note all that mundungus on the front of the funnel.

Ark Royal starboard side close-up, 1940

 

I have Friday off and am meeting an old RNLN mate (he did an exchange tour with the RN and was my FDO in Broadsword, so we’ve been friends for 30+ years) to drink too much and tell silly stories, so I’m off home tomorrow evening.  This will thus be about it for this week (though I am taking a few bits home in the hope that I might get half an hour at some point over the weekend to point an airbrush at them).

 

Pip pip

 

Crisp

Edited by Ex-FAAWAFU

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8 minutes ago, Ex-FAAWAFU said:

the island is gradually becoming busier and busier,

Definitely! Just when I thought you couldn't possibly add any more details, you keep perfecting it! :worthy:. :clap:

 

Ciao 

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Quick question. I assume the archer resin lines are the two below the flying bridge in that picture and not around the funnel? They look like they might be very convincing.

 

Enjoy your Dutch courage!

 

Terry

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More lovely, tiny, detailed work Crisp :) 

Have a good beery time!

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12 hours ago, Terry1954 said:

Quick question. I assume the archer resin lines are the two below the flying bridge in that picture and not around the funnel? They look like they might be very convincing.

Sorry, I could have made that clearer.  Yes, the Archer’s ones are the black lines below the flying bridge; the funnel ones are original Merit.

Edited by Ex-FAAWAFU

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9 hours ago, Ex-FAAWAFU said:

 

Ark Royal starboard side close-up, 1940

[I can’t believe I’m going to post this, but I suspect my friends won’t be surprised at all.]

 

As already observed, I have posted this view of Ark’s starboard midships several times, each time to point out something different.  However many times I stare at it, I still keep finding new things.

 

The caption (not mine) says 1940, and I have no reason to doubt that - it is certainly no later, because the configuration around the 2 for’d pom-poms changed in late-40 / early-41.  She is at anchor, which you can tell by the lowered accommodation ladder and the side party visible in the lower right hull opening ready to deal with whatever arrives by boat.

 

But this one for the true spotter / geek (categories in which I proudly belong).  It’s probably taken on a Sunday morning.  Can anyone tell me why I think that?

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27 minutes ago, Ex-FAAWAFU said:

It’s probably taken on a Sunday morning.  Can anyone tell me why I think that?

All sailors out to Church? No wait, there's 5 of them on the lower deck....

 

:coat:

 

 

:D 

 

Ciao

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42 minutes ago, Ex-FAAWAFU said:

spotter / geek (categories in which I proudly belong).  It’s probably taken on a Sunday morning.  Can anyone tell me why I think that?

Signal flag showing church status?

 

Terry

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I never realised the 'flying bridge' actually moved.

I thought it was where the air group commander controlled/observed flying operations from (sort of a pre 'FlyCo') and was so called the 'Flying Bridge'

Terry,

Good call!

I thought the flag flying from the funnel was an ensign and was going to say it was Sunday because of the sailors uniforms.

Tom

Edited by Modelholic
bad spelling

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The church pennant over the "interrogative" flag was alledgedly flown by a "navigationally challenged" US destroyer - when asked the meaning of the flag hoist, she is said to have replied "God, where am I?" - don't you just love apocryphal stories!

Edited by Our Ned

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1 hour ago, Terry1954 said:

Signal flag showing church status?

Give that man a cigar (or suitably healthy modern equivalent: tofu & iguana scrotum smoothie, or similar).  Church Pennant is flying on the back of the funnel.  It basically means “Go away until I take this down, cos we’re all being Holy over here!”

46 minutes ago, Modelholic said:

I never realised the 'flying bridge' actually moved.

I thought it was where the air group commander controlled/observed flying operations from (sort of a pre 'FlyCo') and was so called the 'Flying Bridge'

Terry,

Good call!

I thought the same for a long time, and more than one reference repeats this myth.  It was only when I really started looking hard at the plans for this build that I started to wonder why Wings would try to run the deck from a wobbly platform that swivelled, had no communications, and was away from the compass platform (& thus the Captain).  The short answer is that he wouldn’t & didn’t; Wings / Little F ran the deck from the port side of the compass platform, immediately adjacent to the Captain’s chair & sight - which makes far more sense.  The answer was plain enough when I stopped making assumptions and actually read the sources properly.

 

[Incidentally, even in my era the issue of a blind spot to port when looking from the bridge was occasionally discussed, usually when planning the entry to a tight harbour.  A good Navigator (& no carrier would go to sea without an experienced “Dagger N” [specialist navigator]) can easily plan accordingly.  It would only really be a problem if going alongside port side to (i.e. with the island outboard).  They got round that by using the simple solution of... not going alongside port side to.  Actually I think we did it once during my time in Ark 5, because it gave the engineers easier access to something on the port side - but it was exceedingly unusual, and certainly not worth fitting a nutty swing-bridge for!]

Edited by Ex-FAAWAFU

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Gidday Crisp, you continue to excel yourself. Thanks for the photo of Glorious' island and flying bridge. I knew she had one but was not quite sure why. I would like to build her one day and your photo will be very useful.

     BTW, The German heavy ships of WW2 had them also, both sides of the bridge but much shorter. These also folded back when at sea.     Regards, Jeff.

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In addition to the problem of the port-side blind spot, I suspect the flying bridge was intended to make it easier to keep the ship on the planned track in confined waters.  The inboard end was on the ship's centreline, thus the jackstaff (when rigged) and the stem would be directly ahead of the compass repeat, and it would be easy to see whether the intended headmark was actually directly ahead of the ship, and any planned transit (if there was one) would be easier to follow.  The "angle-off" of the jackstaff or stem when seen from the island could lead to problems in determining the true course of the ship when conning her from there.  The USN, in more recent years, has attempted to deal with a related problem by the installation of the so-called "Belknap Pole" in the flightdeck catwalk directly ahead of the bridge in their carriers (after the incident where USS JOHN F KENNEDY collided with USS BELKNAP).  See, for example, https://bremolympicnlus.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/uss-ronald-reagan-homeward-bound/.

 

It definitely was nothing to do with aviation!  Would anyone want to be on the end of such a platform when aircraft were landing on?

Edited by Our Ned

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Worth noting that German ships were likely to navigate rivers/canals and RN carriers also had a few tight spots to negotiate, eg Suez.

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On 2/20/2020 at 10:11 PM, Our Ned said:

Would anyone want to be on the end of such a platform when aircraft were landing on?

Gidday, maybe 'MUPS' - Men Under Punishment. It could also be a cure for constipation. 🥴

 

Regards, Jeff.

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The fantastic filigreeing continues. Superb.

Beginning to realize just how much more complicated than a cathedral a carrier really is now. You may have already covered this Crisp (in which case ignore) but in the historical moment that you're expressing, will the lifts be flush with the deck or in transit?

 

 

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