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JET AGE MUSEUM AND VULCAN TO THE SKY

FUNDRAISING OPEN DAY

9 APRIL 2011

 

 
 
  On a wet, overcast Easter Monday 9 April 2012 The Jet Age Museum  once again joined forces with the Vulcan To The Sky Club  at The Flying Shack, Bamfurlong Lane, GL51 6SR to celebrate two iconic delta winged British aircraft and also raise vital funds for both organisations.  
 

 

  
 

On a wet, overcast Easter Monday 9 April 2012 The Jet Age Museum  once again joined forces with the Vulcan To The Sky Club  at The Flying Shack, Bamfurlong Lane, GL51 6SR to celebrate two iconic delta winged British aircraft and also raise vital funds for both organisations.

 
 

 

  
  The Gloster E28/39 has great significance as Gloucestershire’s outstanding contribution to world aviation history as the original aircraft, now in London's Science Museum, was the first-ever British and Allied jet. 
 

  As on the Diamond Delta Day of 10 December 2011, the cockpit of Vulcan XM569 was open to visitors while out of the rain both The Jet Age Museum and the Vulcan To The Sky Club had merchandise, raffle tickets and gifts on sale and The Flying Shack itself offered trial flying lessons and vintage pleasure flights. 

New outdoor exhibits for the event included two of the Jet Age Museum's replica aircraft, the Gloster-Whittle E28/39 W4041 and Hawker Hurricane V6799 .

The Gloster E28/39 has great significance as Gloucestershire’s outstanding contribution to world aviation history as the original aircraft, now in London's Science Museum, was the first-ever British and Allied jet.

The idea of jet propulsion came to Flight Cadet Frank Whittle during his studies at RAF Cranwell in 1928. In 1936 he set up a design company, Power Jets Ltd, to investigate the problems involved and Power Jets first experimental turbine – built by British Thomson Houston – first ran on 12 April 1937.

Supported by the British Government, Power Jet's experimental BTH turbine evolved into the 860 lb thrust W1 power plant which drove the Gloster –Whittle E28/39 into the air during its initial flights at Hucclecote on 8 April 1941 and then during its official first flight at Cranwell on 15 May 1941, as recorded on cine film below.

A second E28/39 - W4046 - flew in March 1943 and made the first cross-country jet flight from Edgehill, Oxfordshire, to Hatfield for a special display in front of Winston Churchill, but crashed on 30 July due to jammed ailerons, causing Squadron Leader Douglas Davie to become the first man to bale out of a jet aircraft. W4041 however continued to test ever more powerful jet engines until being retired from flight in 1945.

 
 

 

  
 

In fact the first ever jet-propelled aeroplane to fly was the Heinkel 178 at Marienehe, Germany, on 27 August 1939. This was powered by a 1 100 lb thrust Heinkel HeS3B gas turbine designed by Dr Hans Pabst von Ohain but based on Whittle’s initial work. However, as the German government at the time felt that its conventional piston aircraft were sufficient for its current needs, Heinkel’s jet programme was not greatly encouraged.

 
 

 

  
 

In fact the first ever jet-propelled aeroplane to fly was the Heinkel 178 at Marienehe, Germany, on 27 August 1939. This was powered by a 1 100 lb thrust Heinkel HeS3B gas turbine designed by Dr Hans Pabst von Ohain but based on Whittle’s initial work. However, as the German government at the time felt that its conventional piston aircraft were sufficient for its current needs, Heinkel’s jet programme was not greatly encouraged.

In September 1939, the Air Ministry issued a specification to Gloster for an aircraft to test one of Frank Whittle's turbojet designs in flight. The E.28/39 name comes from the aircraft having been built to the 28th "Experimental" specification issued by the Air Ministry in 1939. The E.28/39 specification had actually required the aircraft to carry two .303 Browning machine guns in each wing, but these were never fitted.

Working closely with Whittle, Gloster's Chief Designer George Carter laid out a small low-wing aircraft of conventional configuration. The jet intake was in the nose, and the tail-fin and elevators were mounted above the jet-pipe. A contract for two prototypes was signed by the Air Ministry on 3 February 1940 and the first of these was completed by April 1941.

 Manufacturing started in Hucclecote near Gloucester, but was later moved to Regent Motors in Cheltenham High St (now the Regent Arcade), considered a location safer from bombing.

 

The Gloster E.28/39, (also referred to as the "Gloster Whittle", "Gloster Pioneer", or "Gloster G.40") was the first British jet engined aircraft to fly. Developed to test the new Whittle jet engine in flight, the test results would influence the development of an operational fighter, the Gloster Meteor.

The Jet Age Museum's E28 is a full-size fibreglass model, assembled from mouldings produced by the Sir Frank Whittle Commemorative Group and paid for by the Reactionaries - former colleagues of Whittle - and a generous grant from Tewkesbury Borough Council. Led by aircraft restoration manager Chris Radford, a dedicated team of volunteers then added a massive amount of detail, including building the undercarriage, fitting out the cockpit and adding panel and rivet lines.

The replica will form the centrepiece of a display on the birth of the jet age when the new Jet Age Museum is built and the fibreglass W4041 featured in a number of events in 2007 to mark the centenary of Whittle’s birth, including a major commemoration at RAF Cranwell.

 
 

 

  
 

 

 
 

 

  
 

The Jet Age Museum Hurricane pictured above is an accurate external replica built at Pinewood Studios for the 1969 film Battle of Britain directed by Guy Hamilton and bears the British Aviation Preservation Council Number of BAPC 72.

 
 

 

  
 

Sydney Camm's Hawker Hurricane was the World's first low-wing eight machine gun monoplane fighter capable of surpassing 300 mph in level flight with a full war load and the RAF's first operational fighter with a retractable undercarriage. 

Despite these advances however, it was built as a metal airframe covered with fabric other than metal panels around the cowling and cockpit - just like the biplane fighters it replaced.  Indeed, this archaic method of building became Britain's salvation in the summer of 1940 as the fabric wings and fuselages of crashed Hurricanes were easily patched up compared to the more modern Supermarine Spitfire.

The prototype Hawker Hurricane flew on 6 November 1935 and production examples began to equip 111 Squadron on 17 December 1937. By the end of 1938, about 200 Hurricanes - including those allocated to 3 and 56 Squadrons - were in service and the RAF had upped the original order of 600 to 1 000 in November, following that September's Munich Crisis.

111 Squadron effectively became the service trials unit, and moving up from the "ladylike" First World War technology Gloster Gauntlet its pilots were impressed by the size of the Hurricane, the noise associated with its engine, and the marked feeling of speed when airborne in comparison with their previous mount.

More Hawker Hurricanes were used in the Battle of Britain than any other RAF fighter type and their pilots claimed 75% of all victories. The Hawker Hurricane continued in use until the end of World War II and its rugged design lent itself to the ground attack role with rockets, bombs and even 40mm tank-busting canon.

The first Gloster built Hawker Hurricane appeared on 27 October 1939 and the 1 000 th example exactly a year later. A total of 2 750 Hurricanes were built at Brockworth up to March 1942, sometimes leaving the factory at the rate of five a day.

By the Spring of 1940 however Hawkers - of which the Gloster Aircraft Company was part - had begun producing the Hurricane with metal wings, and the old "rag wing" fighters either had their wings replaced or were removed from first-line operations by the conclusion of the Battle of Britain in September 1940.

In production, early Hawker Hurricanes with odd serial numbers were given "A" type camouflage paintwork with even numbered machines receiving the mirror-image "B" type.

The Jet Age Museum Hurricane pictured above is an accurate external replica built at Pinewood Studios for the 1969 film Battle of Britain - directed by Guy Hamilton - and bears the British Aviation Preservation Council Number of BAPC 72.

Moreover, BAPC replica 72 celebrates one of the most remarkable Hawker Hurricanes to have been used in the defence of Britain by 501 ( County of Gloucester) Squadron.

501 Squadron was formed at Filton on 14 June 1929 as a Special Reserve Unit and began to fly Avro 504N biplanes until DH9A day bombers arrived in March 1930. These were a stepping stone to the more advanced Westland Wapitis which came on strength during September 1930.

In the meantime the Air Ministry had ordered a development of the Wapiti specifically for the Special Reserves and 501 received the first of this type - the Westland Wallace - in January 1933. 501 remained a Wallace unit until July 1936 when, with the expansion of the RAF and regularisation of the Special Reserve in May, it became part of the Auxiliary Air Force. Its new Hawker Harts then received the gloss black top decking that had been a feature of its Wallaces.

Hawker Hinds arrived in March 1938 and at the end of the year 501 was redesignated as a fighter squadron receiving Hurricanes in March 1939. On the outbreak of World War II, 501 formed the air defence of Bristol, then moved to Tangmere from where it flew defensive patrols until the German attack on France in May 1940. The unit then moved across the Channel to provide fighter cover for the RAF's Advanced Air Striking Force, retiring to Brittany and returning to the UK by way of St Helier, Jersey, to cover the evacuation of Cherbourg when France surrendered.

501 was based in southern England throughout the Battle of Britain, progressing from its first base at Croydon to Middle Wallop, Gravesend and Kenley by December. Until the end of September it was scrambling three or four times a day and by the end of the Battle had claimed 149 enemy aircraft destroyed.

Among its pilots was K.W. Mackenzie who had previously flown two operational tours with 43 Squadron. On 7 October 1940 he made the following combat report for action taken in Hurricane V6799 SD-X:

"..At about 1335 hours I saw 8 Me 109s coming across the coast from the East about 1 800 feet above me. I attacked the three nearest machines in vic formation from beneath and a fourth enemy aircraft doing rear guard flew across the line of fire and he developed a leak in the glycol tank. he rolled and dived towards the coast. I followed him, and his aircraft was only about 200 yards ahead and so was easy to catch. I emptied the rest of my ammunition into him from 200 yards but he still flew on and down to 80 to 100 feet off the sea. I flew around him and signalled him to go down, which had no result. I therefore attempted to ram his tail with my undercarriage but it reduced my speed too low to hit him. So flying alongside I dipped my starboard wing tip onto his port tail plane. The tail plane came off and I lost the tip of my starboard wing. The enemy aircraft spun into the sea and partially sank.."

Ken Mackenzie eventually claimed 7 victories with a further 4 shared and 3 damaged during his time with 501 Squadron and after the attack described above was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

He later joined 247 Squadron flying night fighter Hurricanes and shot down ten enemy aircraft in one year before being shot down himself and taken prisoner until 1944. Ken Mackenzie later rose to the rank of RAF Wing Commander, added an AFC to his DFC and was a patron of the Jet Age Museum until he died on 4 June 2009.

As such, BAPC 72 proudly bears Mac’s signature on the nose, a souvenir of his visit to the museum in the late 1990s.

501 Squadron - motto Nil time / Fear nothing - then moved back to Filton in time for Christmas 1940 and in April 1941 relocated to RAF Colerne and applied its boar's head badge to Spitfire Mark IIAs. Throughout 1941, 501 Squadron flew south coast convoy patrols, "Rhubarb" fighter sweeps over France against ground targets, escorted daylight bombers and attacked enemy shipping.

Similar duties prevailed in 1942 with 501 Squadron now flying Spitfire Vbs - largely on bomber escort work - until October when it moved to Ballyhalbert in Northern Ireland for more shipping patrols.

In April 1943 the squadron returned south to Tangmere for more intensive bomber escort work - some pilots being issued with the Spitfire Mk IXc - and in August 1944 converted to Hawker Tempest Mark Vs at Manston. These Bristol Centaurus powered single seat fighters were almost immediately set the job of catching V1 flying bombs, keeping this task until early 1945. The County of Gloucestershire Squadron - by now specialists at downing the pulse-jet missiles - was moved to Bradwell Bay, Essex, to counter air launched variants - and then Mistel combinations - approaching over the North Sea.

On 30 April 1945 the Squadron disbanded at Hunsdon, only to be reborn in the Auxiliary Air Force at Filton on 10 May 1946. Spitfire LF Mk 16es did not arrive until November 1946 though, and de Havilland Vampire Mark 1 conversion did not start until November 1948. The twin boom jets had been displaced from Fighter Command's Odiham Wing by the arrival of Vampire F Mk 3s. A variety of Vampire marks were used until disbandment on 10 March 1957 with the end of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force fighter squadrons.

In 2010 501 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force is an Operations Support Squadron and part of the UK's Reserve Forces. It is based at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire and is manned by part time volunteers.

 
 

 

  
 

Ken Mackenzie eventually claimed 7 victories with a further 4 shared and 3 damaged during his time with 501 Squadron and after the attack described above was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

 
 

 

  
 

9 April 2012 also marked the first joint Jet Age Museum and Vulcan To The Sky Club event which involved aircraft from the Jet Age Reserve Model Collection. Furthermore, it was the fist time that 1/48 scale models from the Collection had been displayed away from the Jet Age Museum itself and the first appearance under Jet Age ownership of models kindly donated by the family of the late Fred Rudd.

 
 

 

  
  9 April 2012 also marked the first joint Jet Age Museum and Vulcan To The Sky Club event which involved aircraft from the Jet Age Reserve Model Collection. Furthermore, it was the fist time that 1/48 scale models from the Collection had been displayed away from the Jet Age Museum itself and the first appearance under Jet Age ownership of models kindly donated by the family of the late Fred Rudd.

Fred was a leading light of the Gloucester Branch of the International Plastic Modelling Society (IPMS) and as such his modelling was of the highest order. I am therefore very proud to be able to keep his memory alive, not least as on 9 April 2012 it was possible to sit in the briefing room of The Flying Shack and see a Gloster Javelin parked next to a Hawker Hurricane in both 1/48 and 1/1 scales!

Given that one focus of the day was the prospect of a new Jet Age Museum building, the 1/48 scale diorama base hosted Fred's Gloster Gauntlet as well as his Javelin and Hurricanes although it is hoped to display some of his models of other aircraft at future events.

 
 

 

  
 

Developed from the all-metal Gloster Goldfinch, the Brockworth built SS-19B demonstrated a maximum speed of 214 mph at Martlesham Heath in 1933 and was ordered into production as the Gloster Gauntlet I. This was to be the last open-cockpit RAF biplane and served with no less than 14 squadrons. From 1935 to 1937 Gauntlets were the fastest fighters in RAF service, partially replaced by Gloster Gladiators and Hawker Hurricanes in 1938 and finally ousted by Supermarine Spitfires in 1939.

 
 

 

  
  The introduction into RAF service of the high speed Fairey Fox day bomber in August 1926 made the replacement of existing Gloster Gamecock and Armstrong Whitworth Siskin fighters an urgent Air Ministry issue.

It was essential that the replacement fighter be agile, considerably faster than anything then in service and - because increasing speeds meant that both defending and attacking aircraft would be in proximity for shorter periods - be much more heavily armed.

Developed from the all-metal Gloster Goldfinch, the Brockworth built SS-19B demonstrated a maximum speed of 214 mph at Martlesham Heath in 1933 and was ordered into production as the Gloster Gauntlet I. This was to be the last open-cockpit RAF biplane and served with no less than 14 squadrons. From 1935 to 1937 Gauntlets were the fastest fighters in RAF service, partially replaced by Gloster Gladiators and Hawker Hurricanes in 1938 and finally ousted by Supermarine Spitfires in 1939.

Aircraft produced from 1935, after the Gloster Aircraft Company had become a part of Hawkers, were constructed according to Hawker construction methods with changes to wing spar and fuselage specification. These machines were designated Gauntlet II.

In November 1936 three Gloster Gauntlets from 32 squadron intercepted a civil airliner under the guidance of an experimental ground radar installation at Bawdsey Manor, Suffolk - the first radar controlled interception in history.

The Gloster Gauntlet saw combat with Finnish forces during the Winter War of 1939-40 where they were outnumbered by Russian aircraft including the 279 mph Polikarpov I-153 biplane.

Fred's model of Gloster Gauntlet II K7817 is a vacuum form from Aeroclub and painted in the colours of 74 "Tiger" Squadron based at RAF Hornchurch, Essex, in June 1937.

 
 

 

  
 

As discussed above, production Hawker Hurricanes began to equip 111 Squadron in December 1937 and Fred's model with the blue and red insiginia of commanding officer Squadron Leader John Woodburn Gillan on its cockpit side is of L1555, which set a World speed record for land planes and was the first aircraft to exceed 400 mph.

 
 

 

  
  As discussed above, production Hawker Hurricanes began to equip 111 Squadron in December 1937 and Fred's model - from the Classic Airframes kit - with the blue and red insiginia of commanding officer Squadron Leader John Woodburn Gillan on its cockpit side is of L1555, which set a World speed record for land planes and was the first aircraft to exceed 400 mph despite only having a two bladed Watts propeller..

The remarkable journey of L1555 was from RAF Turnhouse ( today's Edinburgh Airport ) to RAF Northolt near London on 10 February 1938, the distance of 327 miles being covered in just 48 minutes at an average speed of 408.75 mph.  However, 30 year old Squadron Leader Gillan did benefit from a following breeze and was thus known as "Downwind"  Gillan for the rest of his career.

John Gillan had been born on 4 July 1907 to the Reverend David Hedley Gillan and his wife Helen ( nee Drummond ) and become an RAF Pilot Officer ( service number 26010 ) by the age of 20.  Awarded the Air Force Cross in 1939, the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1940 and Bar in 1941, he was flying 5 miles north of Dunkirk in Spitfire Vb W3715 of North Weald based 11 Group when he was shot down and killed by Messerschmitt 109s on 29 August 1941. He is buried in Plot 2, Row 2, Grave 41 of Dunkirk Town Cemetery.

111 Squadron continued during and after World War II as a Hurricane, Spitfire and Gloster Meteor unit before converting to Hawker Hunters and finding fame as the "Black Arrows" RAF aerobatic team.  Their current equipment is the Panavia Tornado F3.

 
 

 

  
 

The Hawker Hurricane Mark 1 bearing the number V6879 meanwhile was built from the Hasegawa kit and is painted in the colours used by the Fleet Air Arm at Arbroath, Scotland for fighters earmarked for Catapult Aircraft Merchantmen, making an interesting comparison with contemporary Fairey Fulmars.

 
 

 

  
  The Hawker Hurricane Mark 1 bearing the number V6879 meanwhile was built from the Hasegawa kit and is painted in the colours used by the Fleet Air Arm at Arbroath, Scotland for fighters earmarked for Catapult Aircraft Merchantmen, making an interesting comparison with contemporary Fairey Fulmars.

In early 1941 Britain desperately fighting for survival: isolated from the Continent and relying on the lifeline of merchant convoys across the North Atlantic travelling outside the range of land based fighters but still inside the range of German bombers.

Although harassed by the Heinkel 111s and Junkers 88s familiar from the previous year's Battle of Britain, the convoys were mainly under threat from four engined long-range Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condors, first operating from Norway and later from France. As well as reporting the positions of the lightly defended convoys to marauding wolf-packs of U-boats, bombs dropped from Condors themselves sank 365 000 tons of Allied shipping between June 1940 and February 1941.

 
 

 

  
 

With escorting destroyers and aircraft carriers at a premium in the War as a whole, the spring of 1941 saw a fixed 70' long rail mounted on the bow of 35 merchant ships (including the SS Empire Tide, pictured above) on which ran a sledge powered by fourteen 4” rockets which in turn was attached to one of 50 older model Sea Hurricanes known as Hurricats.

 
 

 

  
 

With escorting destroyers and aircraft carriers at a premium in the War as a whole, the spring of 1941 saw a fixed 70' long rail mounted on the bow of 35 merchant ships (including the SS Empire Tide, pictured above) on which ran a sledge powered by fourteen 4” rockets which in turn was attached to one of 50 older model Sea Hurricanes known as Hurricats.

The first four or five of these ships were taken into Royal Navy service as Auxiliary Fighter Catapult Ships, but later conversions were named Catapult Aircraft Merchantmen (CAM ships) and manned by civilian merchant crews.

The idea was that a CAM ship would rocket-launch its Hurricat to shoot down approaching enemy aircraft before the Rolls Royce Merlin engined fighter ditched in the sea with the pilot waiting to be rescued.

Assuming all the rockets fired, the Hurricat would leave the rail at 70 knots, just enough to keep it in the air - although in early testing one Hurricat disintegrated due to the G-forces of such a launch.  Despite this, more powerful catapults were used after August 1941 to launch heavier Hurricats with long range fuel tanks. 

The Hurricats were usually manned by RAF pilots from the Merchant Ship Fighter Unit, based at RAF Speke in Liverpool, although other "Catapilots" came from 702 and 804 Naval Air Squadrons based at Sydenham, now Belfast City Airport.

Deploying a Hurricat was not a decision taken lightly as once launched it could not be recalled - and with no spare aircraft the CAM ship would be just as vulnerable as any other convoy merchantman for the rest of its voyage.  Despite this, CAM ships proved a useful deterrent against enemy aircraft on Atlantic, Gibraltar and Arctic routes.

The first CAM to deploy in May 1941,  the SS Michael E, was sunk by a torpedo before having a chance to employ her fighter but by the end of the year CAMs and their Hurricats had shot down five Condors.

The first victory was achieved by Lt Everett RNVR who was awarded the DSO for the destruction of an Fw 200 on 3 August 1941. Although his aircraft rapidly sank, he managed to escape at a depth later estimated to be at least 30 feet.

Most pilots realised that the oil-cooler underneath the Hurricat would scoop up water and pitch it up on its nose before sinking although Lt(A) David Wright RNVR of 804 Squadron developed a technique in which he jettisoned the canopy and, crouching with his feet on the seat and his head below the windscreen, gradually slowed the aircraft and turned it into a slow roll.  Then, as the aircraft flew inverted and he fell out, he would kick the control column forward. Pilot and Hurricat would then hit the brine separately.

While escorting convoys in the Atlantic and other oceans, Wright survived twenty-four such perilous sorties. Later he joined 893 Squadron flying Grumman Martlets and Supermarine Seafires from HMS Formidable and took part in Operation Torch, the North African landings in November 1942, Sicily in July 1943, and Salerno in September 1943.

David Wright was also a very talented jazz pianist and song writer and along withLt Derek Stevenson, wrote the 'A25 Song', a lampoon of the tedious accident report form, which began:

'They say in the Air Force a landing's OK,

If the pilot gets out, and can still walk away,

But in the Fleet Air Arm your prospects are dim,

If the landing's piss poor, and the pilot can't swim'

The chorus was 'Cracking show, I'm alive... but I still have to render my A25'

In the two years that CAM ships were in service, twelve were sunk by enemy action and six enemy aircraft shot down with the loss of one RAF pilot.

Interestingly, Fred's IPMS description card for this model states that the decals were "part kit" which might explain why V6879 was the serial allocated to a 605 (County of Warwick) Hurricane Mark 1 which crashed near Adisham, Kent, on 2 November 1940 killing the pilot Squadron Leader Archibald Ashmore McKellar, D.F.C.

 
 

 

  
 

Also built from the Hasegawa kit was Fred's model of Hawker Sea Hurricane Mark 1b VZ751 as flown by 855 Naval Air Squadron from HMS Victorious during Operation Pedestal, designed to relieve the besieged island of Malta in August 1942.

 
 

 

  
  Also built from the Hasegawa kit was Fred's model of Hawker Sea Hurricane Mark 1b VZ751 as flown by 855 Naval Air Squadron from HMS Victorious during Operation Pedestal, designed to relieve the besieged island of Malta in August 1942.

Already awarded the George Cross by King George V on 15 April 1942 for the bravery of its civilians under enemy attack, tiny Malta lay between Fascist Italy and the German Afrika Korps to the north and south but also to the east of Gibraltar and West of Alexandria, both major British naval bases.  If the island were to fall to the Axis powers, General Rommel would have access to unlimited supplies - allowing him to push the British Eighth Army across the Suez Canal into Palestine and capture the oilfields of the Middle East.

However, British military planners knew that Malta would be forced to surrender if fuel, grain and ammunition did not get through to its defenders by the end of August 1942 and that previous convoys had been destroyed, most notably on 13 November 1941 with the loss of the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal.

Operation Pedestal would involve14 merchant vessels guarded by 64 warships but these would have to run the gauntlet of German and Italian air forces based in Sardinia and Sicily.  Indeed, less than 24 hours after convoy WS21S entered the Mediterranean through the Straits of Gibraltar on 10 August 1942,  a U-boat sunk HMS Eagle, one of four aircraft carriers in the formation including HMS Victorious.

Of the merchant vessels the most essential - and most attacked - was the American oil tanker SS Ohio, torpedoed on 12 August and bombed the day afterwards.  However, Ohio did not sink and eventually arrived in Valetta Grand Harbour lashed between two British warships.  Within months of its resupply, the Axis powers gave up trying to take Malta and the way was opened for the Allied offensive following the Battle of El Alamein.

In fact HMS Victorious was to participate in Operation Torch, the Allied landings in North West Africa in November 1942 which were ultimately to seal the fate of Rommel's Afrika Korps, and the Illustrious Class flat top later served in the Pacific on loan to America as the USS Robin. 

Also uniquely among British aircraft carriers of the Second World War, HMS Victorious was heavily rebuilt during the 1950s with an angled flight deck, steam catapults and mirror landing aids to enable it to operate Supermarine Scimitar, de Havilland Sea Vixen and Blackburn Buccaneer aircraft between 1958 and 1967.  In this form HMS Victorious was the subject of a 1959 vintage but still-available 1/600 scale Airfix kit although the real thing was scrapped in 1969 as the result of defence cuts of the time.

 
 

 

  
 

A third Hasegawa kit  with an MDC conversion let Fred create this model of Sea Hurricane Mark IIc NF700 as flown by 835 Naval Air Squadron from HMS Nairana in 1944.  In 1945 NF700 was the last Sea Hurricane operated by the Royal Navy and has also been offered in 1/72 scale by Revell ( Kit 04139 ) and more recently by Airfix ( A02096 )

 
 

 

  
  A third Hasegawa kit  with an MDC conversion let Fred create this model of Sea Hurricane Mark IIc NF700 as flown by 835 Naval Air Squadron from HMS Nairana in 1944.  In 1945 NF700 was the last Sea Hurricane operated by the Royal Navy and has also been offered in 1/72 scale by Revell ( Kit 04139 ) and more recently by Airfix ( A02096 )

835 Naval Air Squadron was formed in February 1942 with Fairey Swordfish but became a composite unit in June 1943 with the addition of six Sea Hurricanes to provide fighter cover. During most of 1944, 835 Squadron was embarked aboard the escort carrier HMS Nairana  as part of a submarine hunter-killer group and on North Atlantic and Gibraltar convoys, during which its Sea Hurricanes shot down three four-engined Junkers Ju-90s over the Bay of Biscay on 26 May.  This represented 10% of the type intended to replace the Fw 200.

August 1944 saw 835 Squadron and HMS Nairana protecting convoys sailing from Scotland to Murmansk during which two U-boats were attacked and white-painted Sea Hurricanes downed four enemy aircraft.  These monoplanes were exchanged for Grumman Wildcats in September 1944 and 835 NAS disbanded on 1 April 1945.

HMS Nairana (D05) was the lead ship of the Royal Navy's Nairana class of escort carriers but was intended as a merchantman when her keel was laid at John Brown's shipyard at Clydebank in 1941.  Completed in 1943, she survived the Second World War and in 1946 became the first Dutch aircraft carrier, Karel Doorman (QH1).  I

In 1948, having been replaced in the Royal Netherlands Navy by the Colossus class fleet carrier HMS Venerable ( then known as Karel Doorman R81 ), D05 was converted to the merchant vessel Port Victor and was scrapped in 1971.

More recently, Karel Doorman R81 was sold to Argentina in 1970 and was in service as the ARA "25 de Mayo" V2 until 1997 when useful parts were sold to the Brazilian Navy for its aircraft carrier Minas Gerais formerly HMS Vengeance R71. ARA "25 de Mayo" V2 was then towed to Alang, India, for scrap in 1999.

The Argentina's first aircraft carrier had been the ARA "Independencia" V1, scrapped in 1971 and also a former Royal Navy Colossus class vessel - HMS Warrior R31.

Back in the Netherlands, the name Karel Doorman was then applied to HNLMS frigate F827 from 1991 to 2005.  A logistics ship due for commissioning in 2014 will be the fourth Karel Doorman of the Dutch Navy.

 
 

 

  
 

August 1944 saw 835 Squadron and HMS Nairana protecting convoys sailing from Scotland to Murmansk during which two U-boats were attacked and white-painted Sea Hurricanes downed four enemy aircraft.  These monoplanes were exchanged for Grumman Wildcats in September 1944 and 835 NAS disbanded on 1 April 1945.

 
 

 

  
 

A personal favourite of mine among Fred's collection  is Gloster Javelin FAW 9 XH721, built from the Dynavector vacuum formed kit and finished as XH721 in the markings of 60 Squadron based at Hong Kong in June 1967 after moving there from Tengah, Singapore, the previous autumn. The "MHM" markings indicate that the aircraft, delivered as an FAW7 on 29 July 1958, was flown by Wing Commander Michael H. Miller.

 
 

 

  
  A personal favourite of mine among Fred's collection  is Gloster Javelin FAW 9 XH721, built from the Dynavector vacuum formed kit and finished as XH721 in the markings of 60 Squadron based at Hong Kong in June 1967 after moving there from Tengah, Singapore, the previous autumn. The "MHM" markings indicate that the aircraft, delivered as an FAW7 on 29 July 1958, was flown by Wing Commander Michael H. Miller. 

XH721 had first served with 33 Squadron at RAF Middleton Saint George with the tail letter W, was converted to FAW9 standard in January 1961 and began 60 Squadron service as "H" in September 1961.

XH721 was struck off charge on 20 July 1967 at 389 MU Seletar, Singapore and scrapped while the disbandment of 60 squadron RAF in 1968 saw the end of the Javelin's front line service.  This unit had a long association with the Far East, having flown Bristol Blenheims and Hawker Hurricanes against the Japanese and later tackled communist guerillas in Malaya and Indonesia with Spitfire F18s, de Havilland Vampires ( from 1950 ), Venoms  (from 1955), Meteor Night Fighters from 1959 and Javelins from 1961.

60 Squadron currently flies Bell 412EP Griffin HT1 helicopters at RAF Shawbury.