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Fairy Fulmar 806 NAS Barnes & Sewell


Grey Beema

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I need some help from Fleet Air Arm experts.

 

As you may know by now, I am trying to build a collection of aircraft used to score air to air victories by Fleet Air Arm Pilots.  Two pilots I am trying to focus on at the moment are Lt William Barnes (6 confirmed victories) and S/Lt AJ ‘Jackie’ Sewell (5 or 6 Confirmed victories) who both flew Fairey Fulmars with 806 NAS.

 

I want to join in the “Go Navy” Group Build with at least one Fulmar (Barnes or Sewell) and may build a second in the MTO GB later in the year but to do that I need to identify aircraft flown be Barnes and by Sewell in their air combats.  Previously I turned to Aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm 1939 to 1945 Sturtivant & Burrows - but the air combats I am looking for are in the Unidentified listing against the Fulmar.  

 

Recently, I purchased a kindle edition of a new book 806 Naval Air Squadron.  The FAA’s Top Scoring Squadron of WWII  Brian Cull & Fredrick Galea (2019).  There is an appendix of 806 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) claims which gives me the information I am looking for, dates, claims serial number and aircraft marking (letter).  

 

As you you would expect, I was delighted until I started to compare the information with that in Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 39-45 and I find inconsistencies.  Like; Fulmar N1866 was involved in air combat 3 months after it was written off, N1940 was involved in air combat before it was delivered to 806 NAS.

 

I know that history is dynamic and information is always being discovered and updated and that Fleet Air Arm Aircraft was first published in the 1990s and 806 Naval Air Squadron is a 2019 book.  I also understand that I am looking at secondary references and I don’t have access to the primary references but is there anyone on the forum who can help me identify one of the 806 NAS Fulmars used for a claim for either Lt Barnes or SLt Sewell? @iang, @Seahawk, @Lee Howard, @tonyot

 

Lt WLL ‘Bill’ Barnes

Claim.                                                   Cull & Galea             Sturtivant information

02/09/40 2 x S79 destroyed.         Fulmar N1879 6B.    Unknown.  Deld. 806 NAS 07/40

04/09/40 S79 Shared Destroyed.  Fulmar N1879 6B.   Unknown.

 

17/09/40 Z501 Shared Destroyed  Fulmar N1940 6A.   Unknown.  Deld. 806 NAS 28/10/40

12/10/40 Z501 Shared Destroyed. Fulmar N1940 6A.   Unknown

10/11/40 Z501 Shared Destroyed.  Fulmar N1940 6A.   Unknown

10/01/41 Ju87 Destroyed.               Fulmar N1940 6A.   Serial unknown (6A)

16/01/41 Ju88 Destroyed.               Fulmar N1940 6A.   Unknown

 

19/01/41 2 x Ju87 Destroyed.         Fulmar N1866 6Y.    Not listed.  Deld. 806 NAS 08/40.  Cat Z 06/10/40.

 

 

S/Lt AJ ‘Jackie’ Sewell

04/09/40  2 x S79 Destroyed.         Fulmar N1865 6Q.  Unknown.  Deld. 806 NAS 06/40. Cat Z 10/05/41

12/10/40. Z501 Shared Destroyed.  Fulmar N1865 6Q.  Unknown.

 

01/11/40. Z506 Destroyed.               Fulmar N1866 6Y.   Serial Unknown (6Y).  Deld. 806 08/40.  Cat Z 10/05/41.

 

10/11/40. Z501 Shared Destroyed.   Fulmar N1865 6Q.  Not listed.  See N1865 above.

10/01/41. S79 Shared Destroyed.     Fulmar N1865 6Q.  Serial Unknown (6Q).

 

18/01/41.  Ju87 or Ju88 Destroyed. Fulmar N1881 6F.     Not listed.  Deld. 806 NAS 06/40.  Photo in FAA Camouflage & Marking of N1881 6H.

 

20/04/41. Z1007 Shared Destroyed. Fulmar Unknown.    Unknown

22/04/41. Ju88 Shared Probable.     Fulmar Unknown.    Unknown

25/05/41. He111 Destroyed.               Fulmar Unknown.    Not Listed.

 

Thanks in advance..

 

 

 

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The old Sturtivant book does have a lot of errors in it and it is being totally re written as we speak,...... in fact it has been well over 5 years and still ongoing. I wasn`t aware of the 806 NAS book,.... but I will be looking out for a copy now. Brian and Frederick know their stuff and I would say that they checked the log books and Squadron ORB to come up with serials? I have copies of the diaries written by top scoring Fulmar ace, Sub. Lt. Graham Hogg,... and I`m pretty sure that Brian would have used this as part of his research too as he asked me for a copy a while ago. .... I will have a look through it but I don`t recall any serials being used in it. 

If I find anything I`ll let you know,.... but my gut feeling is to go with the 806 NAS book.

Cheers

           Tony 

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I'd like to know the specific source(s) for Cull and Galea serial/code information.  I have copies of all the 806 Squadron Combat Reports for 1940.  Only two pilots identify the aircraft they were flying by serial number. All the others, including Barnes and Sewell, just provide section colour and position (Red Leader, No.2 Yellow section etc.). So the serial numbers and aircraft identification letters do not come from this source. The ORB survives for 806 Squadron for May/June 1940, while it was based at Worthy Down (and equipped with Skuas and Rocs), but to my knowledge the 806 Squadron Diary does not survive for operations in the Mediterranean.  It is certainly not held at TNA or the FAAM and Hogg's diary does not list serials or aircraft codes. Reports from Illustrious do provide some information that can help identify individual aircraft, but usually just the aircraft code letter. It is possible that the FAAM hold Barnes' and Sewell's Flying Log Books, but FLBs typically list either the serial number or the aircraft ID number, rarely both. Otherwise, it is possible that Cull and Galea have taken the serials/codes from unpublished photographs, but it can be a tricky business reading serials from photographs, and given the number of aircraft fully identified, it would be an amazing collection of photos.

 

Looking at the 806 Squadron Combat Reports, the first one listed for Barnes took place at 1450/2/9/1940,  090 degrees, 15 miles from Delimara point, Malta.  Seven s.79 were engaged, one was shot down in flames and one was damaged according to Barnes. He states he was flying Fulmar Mk 1 of Yellow Section  (no serial or aircraft ID given). Cull and Galea list this as N.1879/6B. However,  Lt Nicholls was flying  Fulmar Mk.1 N.1879 as Red Leader, and engaged 2 x s.79 at 1600/2/9/1940. I'm missing the Reports from illustrious for Operation HATS, so cannot verify how many Fulmars were launched and at what times, but it seems unlikely that Barnes' Fulmar could return to Illustrious, re-arm and re-fuel and return to the same combat zone with Lt. Nicholls between the stated times in the combat Reports of 1450 and 1600. Especially since Barnes filed another Combat Report for 1915/2/9/1940 for the same combat zone (this time 135 degrees, 25 miles from Delimara point) while still flying Fulmar Mk 1 of Yellow Section  (no serial or aircraft ID given). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by iang
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Thank you @iang, I know it must have taken you a while to put that post together.  

 

TBH It’s a bit disappointing, I was hoping that the info for Barnes and Sewell would be good and that I would have the aircraft identified for my project.

 

Hopefully someone will come up with the source info for the book...

 

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Flattering of you to mention me among such august company but I'm afraid I would be working from the same secondary sources as you are.  And I don't even have the 806 Sq book yet.

 

I don't know that the Sturtivant books have a great deal of wrong information in them except where Ray was forced to extrapolate on the basis of incomplete (eg initial letters omitted from serials) or conflicting information and can now be seen to have made the wrong call.  Like many others I can't wait for the new, corrected and no doubt vastly expanded version of FAA Aircraft 1939-45.

Edited by Seahawk
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I have the new 806 book and am carefully checking through it right now to try and identify any bits of information that help with our own revision of 'FAA 39-45'. However, it's hard going unpicking the narrative to compare against records and is therefore taking some time. I would say, however, that over the years we have seen (and extracted information from) a number of the 806 NAS aircrew and it is against these, as well as the aforementioned TNA records, that I'm checking the details. Unfortunately, we haven't seen Barnes' or Sewell's logbooks.

 

I did note that in the 'Selected Bibliography' to the book there was no mention of any of the Air-Britain books, not even 'Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm' or the current 'Squadrons and Units of the Fleet Air Arm' which I found to be a curious omission.

 

I'd repeat my plea to all who think they have identified errors in or omissions from the 1995 edition of the book to make contact with me and let me know. This book is unlikely to get another revision.

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14 minutes ago, Lee Howard said:

I have the new 806 book and am carefully checking through it right now to try and identify any bits of information that help with our own revision of 'FAA 39-45'. However, it's hard going unpicking the narrative to compare against records and is therefore taking some time. I would say, however, that over the years we have seen (and extracted information from) a number of the 806 NAS aircrew and it is against these, as well as the aforementioned TNA records, that I'm checking the details. Unfortunately, we haven't seen Barnes' or Sewell's logbooks.

 

I did note that in the 'Selected Bibliography' to the book there was no mention of any of the Air-Britain books, not even 'Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm' or the current 'Squadrons and Units of the Fleet Air Arm' which I found to be a curious omission.

 

I'd repeat my plea to all who think they have identified errors in or omissions from the 1995 edition of the book to make contact with me and let me know. This book is unlikely to get another revision.

Thanks Lee,

 

I think, to get a Barnes Aircraft in my collection, I will build Fulmar I of 608 NAS 6A based on the photograph on page 127 of “Fleet Air Arm,  Camouflage and Markings 1937-41” but with no Serial Number (Sturtivant suggests he was flying ‘6A’ on 10.01.41).

 

I might do a similar ‘6Y’ without serial for Sewell 01.11.40 (also based on a suggestion from Sturtivant) but use the demarcation of 6B in the same photo.  I just need to decide if the Black/White IFF is required.

 

Edited by Grey Beema
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An extract of 806 Naval Air Squadron.  The FAA’s Top Scoring Squadron of WWII  by Brian Cull & Fredrick Galea can be seen on Amazon and includes a number of photos, of which I reproduce the captions below with my own comments:

 

Caption                                                                                                          Comment

CO’s Skua A (believed L2989)                                                                     Serial L3011 can be read in the same photo as reproduced in FAA Camouflage & Markings

Unusual shot of Skua landing                                                                       Actually, it is taking off

Z.501 – one of 806 Squadron’s frequent opponents                                  The one shown is a Spanish Nationalist aircraft

Z.501 following shoot-down                                                                          Hard to tell, but it looks more like a Z.506?

One of the ubiquitous Z.506Bs displaying its dazzling camouflage         Diagonal red stripes over aluminium were a high visibility scheme.

                                                                                                                         Dark blue-gey camouflage was introduced a few months into the war.

Sea Gladiator (N5513) aboard Illustrious (...)                                              Serial N5549 Serial can be read in the same photo as reproduced in FAA Camouflage & Markings

Fulmar R (N1886) temporarily interned at Crete (…)                                  Camouflage pattern, particularly the light (Sky Grey) rudder is consistent with a VERY early machine.

                                                                                                                         With '6' as the only readable digit, I'd say N1866

Weather-beaten Fulmar K (N1931) resting at Dekheila                               Captioned as 808 Squadron, possibly at North Front, in FAA Camouflage & Markings.

                                                                                                                         Code letter presentation suggests 808 Sqn. IMHO

Lt MacDonald-Hall’s Fulmar Y (N1866)                                                        Identified as N1957 in the Osprey FAA Aces book. I believe N1866 was 'R', see above.

 

Camouflage patterns can be useful to roughly identify the serial range of an early Fulmar, there were a few subtle but telling differences.

 

Claudio

Edited by ClaudioN
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Please note, I am absolutely not being dismissive of the 806 Squadron book. I think I'm going to buy and read it thoroughly.

As Grey Beema said, "history is dynamic and information is always being discovered and updated". In the book preview there are already a couple of Skua pictures I had never seen before, as well as details of the leaping panther badge on Fulmars, so I expect many interesting things are to be found in there.

 

Any book provides references to primary sources together with interpretations by the author(s). I'm always inclined to compare the latter with my own understanding and sometimes I happen to disagree.

That's just part of the fun...!

 

Claudio

 

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24 minutes ago, ClaudioN said:

Any book provides references to primary sources together with interpretations by the author(s). I'm always inclined to compare the latter with my own understanding and sometimes I happen to disagree.

That's just part of the fun...!

 

Claudio

 

TBH I bought the kindle version, which I can share across multiple devices and it is slightly cheaper.  I haven’t read it cover to cover yet, I will once I’ve finished ‘War in a Stringbag’..

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  • 4 years later...
On 09/02/2020 at 17:24, iang said:

I'd like to know the specific source(s) for Cull and Galea serial/code information.  I have copies of all the 806 Squadron Combat Reports for 1940.  Only two pilots identify the aircraft they were flying by serial number. All the others, including Barnes and Sewell, just provide section colour and position (Red Leader, No.2 Yellow section etc.). So the serial numbers and aircraft identification letters do not come from this source. The ORB survives for 806 Squadron for May/June 1940, while it was based at Worthy Down (and equipped with Skuas and Rocs), but to my knowledge the 806 Squadron Diary does not survive for operations in the Mediterranean.  It is certainly not held at TNA or the FAAM and Hogg's diary does not list serials or aircraft codes. Reports from Illustrious do provide some information that can help identify individual aircraft, but usually just the aircraft code letter. It is possible that the FAAM hold Barnes' and Sewell's Flying Log Books, but FLBs typically list either the serial number or the aircraft ID number, rarely both. Otherwise, it is possible that Cull and Galea have taken the serials/codes from unpublished photographs, but it can be a tricky business reading serials from photographs, and given the number of aircraft fully identified, it would be an amazing collection of photos.

 

Looking at the 806 Squadron Combat Reports, the first one listed for Barnes took place at 1450/2/9/1940,  090 degrees, 15 miles from Delimara point, Malta.  Seven s.79 were engaged, one was shot down in flames and one was damaged according to Barnes. He states he was flying Fulmar Mk 1 of Yellow Section  (no serial or aircraft ID given). Cull and Galea list this as N.1879/6B. However,  Lt Nicholls was flying  Fulmar Mk.1 N.1879 as Red Leader, and engaged 2 x s.79 at 1600/2/9/1940. I'm missing the Reports from illustrious for Operation HATS, so cannot verify how many Fulmars were launched and at what times, but it seems unlikely that Barnes' Fulmar could return to Illustrious, re-arm and re-fuel and return to the same combat zone with Lt. Nicholls between the stated times in the combat Reports of 1450 and 1600. Especially since Barnes filed another Combat Report for 1915/2/9/1940 for the same combat zone (this time 135 degrees, 25 miles from Delimara point) while still flying Fulmar Mk 1 of Yellow Section  (no serial or aircraft ID given). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately I don't have any access to records for 806 Squadron or the combat reports, but they do have interaction with RAF Manston on a few days including on 28th May 1940.  I am trying to piece together their activities on that day and their interaction with No. 213 Squadron RAF which left from Manston and where there were apparently friendly fire incidents.  There are a number of fleeting references about including a Roc that crashed on take off, but also reported as being from Manston, when they took off from Detling (so I am not sure if they just moved forward to Manston for the patrol etc). A lot of it sounds a bit like the typical 'facts' we see copied, changed, chopped, then considered as new 'facts', but it would be nice to get some more confirmed information.

 

If anyone can help trying to sort this mixture out, I would be appreciative.

 

Neil

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