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Grumman Martlet landing on a carrier

Grumman Martlet landing on a carrier

Grumman Martlet landing on a carrier

Picture of a Grumman Martlet landing on a carrier

Taken from Fleet Air Arm, HMSO, published 1943, p.33

Wildcat Aces of World War 2, Barrett Tillman. Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 3. A well balanced look at the combat service of the Grumman F4F Wildcat, the most important Allied naval fighter for most of the Second World War, looking at its service with the US Navy from Pearl Harbor to the end of the war, and its role with the Fleet Air Arm. [see more]


Grumman F4F Wildcat

In 1931 a very young American aviation manufacturing company - Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation - received its first contract from the US Navy for a carrier-based fighter of biplane configuration. Under the designation FF (fighter) or SF (scout), they marked the beginning of an association which seems certain of remaining unbroken for at least a half-century. In that period some remarkable naval aircraft have originated from Grumman, earning the trust and respect of those who have flown them in peace and war.

The company's first carrier-based fighter of monoplane configuration was designed to meet a US Navy requirement which originated in 1935, but it was not until July 1936 that the Navy ordered this aircraft, under the designation XF4F-2. In its developed service form it was to prove an outstanding naval fighter of World War II, but when first evaluated against a competing design from the Brewster Aeronautical Corporation, it failed to be selected for production, despite being some 16km/h faster than the Brewster design.

To overcome the shortcomings of the XF4F-2, a new prototype was built with a more powerful two-stage supercharged engine, and airframe revisions which increased wing span and brought changes to wingtips and tail surfaces. In this form the XF4F-3 flew for the first time on 12 February 1939.

The Wildcat was first ordered by the US Navy in 1939 and the F4F-3, F4F-4 and F4F-7 (a special long-range photographic-reconnaissance version of the F4F-4) were all built by the Grumman company. Concurrently the British Martlet (later renamed Wildcat) Mk I to IV were Grumman-built.

In 1942 the manufacture of the Wildcat was transferred to the Eastern Aircraft Division of the General Motors Corporation. The first FM-1 Wildcat, assembled from parts supplied by Grumman, flew on 1 September 1942. By 11 April 1944 the Eastern Aircraft Division had produced its 2,500th Wildcat. The FM-1, fitted with a Pratt & Whitney R-1830-86 engine, was virtually the same as the F4F-4 (Wildcat IV). The FM-2 (Wildcat VI), which went into production in 1943, was fitted with a Wright R-1820-56 engine of greater power but lower weight than the previous unit, had a redesigned tail unit with a taller fin and rudder and had the oil coolers removed from the under surface of the centre-section to the cowling, which was revised in shape. The removal of the oil coolers permitted the installation of universal racks under the inner wings for bombs or auxiliary fuel tanks.

Altogether nearly 8,000 Wildcats were built, three-quarters by the Eastern Division. These were used operationally by the US Navy on a wide scale in the Pacific (FM-2 in particular serving as light escort carrier fighters), participating in the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, and were used extensively in the attack on Guadalcanal. Although somewhat inferior to the Japanese Zero, the rugged Wildcat proved invaluable in the early stages of the war in the Pacific, until gradually replaced by more effective fighters from 1943, although the type remained in first-line service until the end of the war. British Martlets initially replaced Sea Gladiators and, like their US Navy counterparts, remained operational until the end of the war.

I've no experience of flying, I'm too young to even have ever seen one of these fly. But I love military aircraft, and have read up on them all my life.
So I ask this. All the records and accounts I have read about this plane previously have listed the F4 as a real dog of a plane. Sure it was comfortable to probably fly, and it worked well of a carrier, but as a combat aircraft it was poor compared to it's peers of the time it was no match. Or am I remembering a completely different aircraft.
I seem to remember the F6 being a huge upgrade and one of the elements that helped swing the carrier /naval air combat back towards the Allies?


[2] WILCAT VARIANTS: F4F-3 / MARTLET I,III,II / F3F-3A

* As the F4F-3 emerged, it was a stubby, barrel-like aircraft, with mid-mounted square-tipped wings and a sliding frame-style canopy. There was also a small window on each side of the floor of the cockpit to give a pilot better downward visibility -- though in practice, the belly windows proved nearly useless. Cockpit armor was added after the first few production aircraft. An inflatable life raft was carried in the fuselage behind the cockpit and could be ejected on ditching, but it was later deleted in favor of a raft in the pilot's survival pack. Inflatable flotation bags were fitted under the wings for ditching at sea, but after the bags spontaneously inflated in flight a few times, leading to crashes, they were abandoned. Electronics included a radio and, at least eventually, a radio direction finder and an identification friend or foe (IFF) unit.

Two 12.7-millimeter M2 Browning machine guns were mounted on each wing, for a total of four guns. The guns were mounted inboard, close together on each wing, with the inner gun staggered forward slightly. Ammunition capacity was 450 rounds per gun. The first two production machines had twin 7.62-millimeter Brownings in the engine cowling and a single 12.7-millimeter M2 Browning in each wing as per the prototypes, but that armament was seen as too light, and no full production Wildcat had cowling guns. The Browning guns would prove prone to jamming when the Wildcat finally found itself in combat, even though such problems hadn't been observed during trials. As it turned out, the trials hadn't been conducted with full ammunition loads, and when a full supply of ammunition was provided the ammo belts would shift around in their ammo cases during combat maneuvers, leading to jams. Spacers were quickly fabricated and inserted into the ammo cases, solving the problem.

Early production aircraft had a 1930s telescopic-style gunsight, but in 1941 production shifted to a deflection-type sight. An armor glass windscreen and self-sealing fuel tanks were also added later. The self-sealing tanks led to some problems early on, since they could shed particles of their lining, leading to clogged fuel lines and aircraft losses. There was a stores rack under each outer wing for a 45-kilogram (100-pound) bomb.

Early production aircraft used a P&W R-1830-76 Twin Wasp with a two-stage supercharger, while later production used the R-1830-86 Twin Wasp, which was much the same but had some modifications to improve reliability. Fit of the later engine variant was accompanied by a modified cowling, which eliminated an air scoop in the upper lip, and replaced one wide cowling flap on the upper rear of each side of the cowling with a set of three flaps near the top and a single flap near the bottom -- in sum, replacing two flaps with eight. The Twin Wasp engine drove a three-blade variable-pitch Curtiss Electric propeller. Engine cooling problems during evaluation led to the fit of "cuffs" at the base of the propeller blades to increase airflow to the engine, with production aircraft retaining the cuffs.

The square-tipped wings were fixed and could not be folded. The flight surface arrangement was conventional, with ailerons outboard on each wing, a one-piece wide-span flap under each inner wing, and a tail assembly with elevators and rudder. The main landing gear retracted into the fuselage, and a stinger-type arresting hook extended backward from the tail. The landing gear was manually retracted, with the pilot turning a crank 29 times to tuck the gear into the fuselage. As a result, Wildcats tended to wobble on take-off, since it was hard for a pilot to keep a steady grip on the stick with one hand while spinning the crank with the other.

Pilots were not enthusiastic about the manual landing gear. It was not only laborious -- but if a pilot's hand slipped off the crank it would spin around wildly, possibly injuring the pilot's wrist in the process. The narrow "roller skate" track of the main landing gear was also a problem. It generally didn't cause too much trouble on carrier landings since the arresting cable caught the aircraft before it could wander far, but ground looping was common when landing on airstrips. Pilots were also not happy with the cramped cockpit, which provided poor visibility, and were very unhappy at the lack of a simple mechanism for discarding the canopy so they could get out in a hurry when things got difficult. However, the F4F-3 was rugged and had good performance. The USN liked the F4F-3, ultimately buying a total of 285.

* The subject of Wildcat variants is confusing, since most Wildcat models looked much alike, and the changes followed an odd pattern. Even before the Wildcat had reached formal US Navy service, both the French Navy and the British Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm (FAA) had ordered the Wildcat, specifying their own unique configurations:

    The French variant was the Grumman "G-36A", to be fitted with the Wright R-1820-G205A Cyclone 9-cylinder single-row radial engine with 750 kW (1,000 HP), driving an uncuffed Hamilton Standard propeller. The G-36A was fitted with a shortened cowling, with an inlet in the upper lip but no flaps in the rear. It was to have fixed wings and six 7.5-millimeter Darne machine guns, with two in the nose cowling and two in each wing. The guns and other French kit, such as radio and gunsight, were to be installed after delivery. The French ordered 81, plus 10 complete sets of spares.

That was the plan, but wasn't exactly how things turned out. Trials of the French G-36A began on 11 May 1940, but France fell to the Nazis that month and the French never saw these machines. The British took over the order and the machines were delivered to the FAA beginning in late July 1940 under the designation of "Martlet Mark I" -- a "martlet" being a legendary bird, like a swallow but without feet, that never came out of the sky to roost. The ten spares sets were actually provided as finished aircraft ten of the Martlet Is were lost when the freighter carrying them was torpedoed, and so the FAA received a total of 81. They were delivered with four 12.7-millimeter Browning guns in the wings.

The FAA had originally expected to obtain their G-36Bs with fixed wings, but Grumman was working on a wing-folding scheme at the time, which would allow a carrier to handle a substantially larger complement of aircraft. The British amended the contract to specify the folding wings, but the first ten of the order had already been built with fixed wings, arriving in the UK beginning in April 1941. Deliveries of the folding-wing G-36Bs began in August, with 36 shipped to Britain and 54 shipped to the Far East they were designated "Martlet Mark II", with the ten fixed-wing aircraft then designated "Martlet Mark III".

The ten Martlet IIIs were apparently later refitted with folding wings it is unclear if they were then redesignated Martlet Mark IIs. They are informally referred to here with the designation "Martlet III(A)" for convenience, since there would be another set of machines with a different configuration that were also known as Martlet IIIs. Nobody actually used the "(A)" suffix in practice, however.

* In the meantime, the Navy was concerned with engine development, worrying that the P&W R-1830-76 engine with a two-stage supercharger might run into development problems. Grumman built two "XF4F-5" test prototypes with the Wright R-1820-40 Cyclone radial as something of an "insurance policy" the Navy also took out another "insurance policy" by ordering one more test prototype, the "XF4F-6", powered by a P&W R-1830-90 Twin Wasp with a single-stage two-speed supercharger. All three of these prototypes were evaluated in late 1940. Not surprisingly, the XF4F-6 suffered a loss of power at higher altitudes, but the Navy still ordered 95 of them under the designation of "F4F-3A". Except for the engine, the F4F-3A was effectively identical to the early production F4F-3, using the cowling with the air scoop and twin cowling flaps, and the cuffed Curtiss Electric propeller.

30 F4F-3As were to be provided to the Greeks and were being shipped when the Nazis overran Greece. They were taken over by the British in Gibraltar, to also be given the designation of "Martlet Mark III". They are informally referred to here as "Martlet Mark III(B)" to distinguish them from the fixed-wing G-36B Martlet Mark III(A) machines.

In summary, the tangle of deliveries of early mark Martlets ran like this:

    Martlet I: Originally G-36As for France, with fixed wings and Wright Cyclone engine, 81 delivered to the FAA not counting ten lost en route.

The FAA would become an enthusiastic user of the Wildcat, with the type ultimately equipping a total of eleven squadrons.


The untold story of the Royal Navy's struggle to invent carrier warfare

Great Britain was breaking new ground with the first fleet to deploy carrier air power in a high-intensity war in 1939.
Captains, crews, pilots and admirals were making things up as they went along.
And the world was watching.

Anti-submarine hunter-killer groups? Costly failure.
Surprise strikes against major harbours? Resounding success.
Close escorts for convoys running the gauntlet to Malta?

It was the ultimate test of doctrines determined during the disruptive 1920s and 30s.
So why have the experiments, endeavours and endurance of the Royal Navy’s carrier operations seemingly been lost to history?

This website seeks to give you a detailed account of the actions in which Britain's radical armoured carriers sustained damage, what that damage was, and how well these ships met both design requirements and unexpected adaptations.

SCROLL DOWN FOR:

Doctrine Determined - The thinking behind the armoured carrier designs

Baptism of Fire - Battle and damage overvews for actions in the Mediterranean

Damage Detailed - Original damage report documents, diagrams, photos

Firestorm in the East - Battle reports for the Indian and Pacific Oceans

Between Ice & Fire- Battle and damage reports for the British Pacific Fleet

Fire in the Sky - Understanding the key aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm


Grumman F4F Wildcat

In 1931 a very young American aviation manufacturing company - Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation - received its first contract from the US Navy for a carrier-based fighter of biplane configuration. Under the designation FF (fighter) or SF (scout), they marked the beginning of an association which seems certain of remaining unbroken for at least a half-century. In that period some remarkable naval aircraft have originated from Grumman, earning the trust and respect of those who have flown them in peace and war.

The company's first carrier-based fighter of monoplane configuration was designed to meet a US Navy requirement which originated in 1935, but it was not until July 1936 that the Navy ordered this aircraft, under the designation XF4F-2. In its developed service form it was to prove an outstanding naval fighter of World War II, but when first evaluated against a competing design from the Brewster Aeronautical Corporation, it failed to be selected for production, despite being some 16km/h faster than the Brewster design.

To overcome the shortcomings of the XF4F-2, a new prototype was built with a more powerful two-stage supercharged engine, and airframe revisions which increased wing span and brought changes to wingtips and tail surfaces. In this form the XF4F-3 flew for the first time on 12 February 1939.

The Wildcat was first ordered by the US Navy in 1939 and the F4F-3, F4F-4 and F4F-7 (a special long-range photographic-reconnaissance version of the F4F-4) were all built by the Grumman company. Concurrently the British Martlet (later renamed Wildcat) Mk I to IV were Grumman-built.

In 1942 the manufacture of the Wildcat was transferred to the Eastern Aircraft Division of the General Motors Corporation. The first FM-1 Wildcat, assembled from parts supplied by Grumman, flew on 1 September 1942. By 11 April 1944 the Eastern Aircraft Division had produced its 2,500th Wildcat. The FM-1, fitted with a Pratt & Whitney R-1830-86 engine, was virtually the same as the F4F-4 (Wildcat IV). The FM-2 (Wildcat VI), which went into production in 1943, was fitted with a Wright R-1820-56 engine of greater power but lower weight than the previous unit, had a redesigned tail unit with a taller fin and rudder and had the oil coolers removed from the under surface of the centre-section to the cowling, which was revised in shape. The removal of the oil coolers permitted the installation of universal racks under the inner wings for bombs or auxiliary fuel tanks.

Altogether nearly 8,000 Wildcats were built, three-quarters by the Eastern Division. These were used operationally by the US Navy on a wide scale in the Pacific (FM-2 in particular serving as light escort carrier fighters), participating in the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, and were used extensively in the attack on Guadalcanal. Although somewhat inferior to the Japanese Zero, the rugged Wildcat proved invaluable in the early stages of the war in the Pacific, until gradually replaced by more effective fighters from 1943, although the type remained in first-line service until the end of the war. British Martlets initially replaced Sea Gladiators and, like their US Navy counterparts, remained operational until the end of the war.

It's amazing that both sides produced this class of obsolete fighters till the end of WW2. The A6M and Ki 43 were like the Wildcat that way. Furthermore, the claims were still higher than expected for the FM-2. Reminds me of the under-gunned Oscar garnering over 50% of all the claims by Japanese fighters. The anemic firepower 4x12.7mm armed FM-2 did quite well too. All 3 were armored in late-war models and were very slow for 1944-45 fighters. Acceleration had suffered from weight gain. Especially for the 5 gun Zeros.

To correct my post for the roll rate of the F4F-3,
the fast roll should be 62 deg /sec @ 340 mph.
The NACA REPORT No. 868 has a number of fighters' roll in deg /sec per mph in a chart on page 40.

I remember my father telling me that right before he joined the Navy during WW2, he would see these airplanes being taxied across route 1&9 from the Linden,NJ General Motors factory over to Linden airport. There they were flown to various destinations. I beleive the GM wildcats were designated F4M, and had a better top speed and a larger verticle stabilizer. Tough airplane.

I will add that the Zero pilots held the F4F in high respect during the Solomons fighting. At the time other Allied fighters were P-39, P-40, Buffalo, and later early model F4Us and P-38s. To the experinced pilots then piloting the Zeros, the faster but heavier Army fighters could be evaded, if watched properly, but the F4Fs could match them in dog fihgts on nearly even terms. And it shows on combat records. During the fighting in the Solomons, both sides claimed to be victorious to each other, but actual scores are very close to being even.

hold on tight because many wrists were injured by letting it freefall. But what a fun airplane to fly,the narrow landing gear made landing tricky.Thanks for the memories FWP

Phil Earl,
Grumman had a plant in St. Augustine, Florida, which is still being used by Northrop Grumman for building the E-2D Hawkeye.

Ross,
The F4F had a floating seat which allowed the pilot to momentarily move and use the lower windows for downward vision much like the F2A Buffalo.

can anyone explain the window in the floor?

On December 1944,our squardon FF46 was station at Ponam Island Admiralty, just , on the island of Manus tey had a repair outfit, ad we had to furnish pilotto test there plane after repairs, I was assinged and flew the Wildcat one time

Everything said so far is true so I don't have much to add but some stats. In an USN report titled TAIC REPORT NO. 17 dated November 17 a combat evaluation of a ZEKE 52 (A6M5) pitted against an F4U-1D, F6F-5 and FM-2 the following was reported:
The best climb of the ZEKE was about 400 fpm. less than the
FM-2 at S.L. The FM-2 was progressively slower than the ZEKE above 5,000 ft. but at S.L. the FM-2 was 6 mph. faster.
Rolls were equal up to 160 mph. then the high control forces of the A6m5 took its toll.
Turns of the two were very similar. The ZEKE could gain one turn in eight at 10,000 ft.
SURPRISE: The Zeke was slightly superior to the FM-2 in initial acceleration, then equal.
MANEUVERABILITY: ZEKE slightly superior below 175 kts. FM-2 has the advantage above 200 kts.

Sorry, when I said SUPRISE I forgot to mention: when diving.

at 15 years of age,my Dad,a Navy Lt. got me on the Coral Sea for three days when the mid shipmen were on manuevers in the caribbean.Watched all kinds of planes leaving and returning for the duration I was aboard.A fond memory I still cherish to this day.

The F4F-3 could dive at a velocity of 480 mph. It needed some advance warning to climb to altitude in order to capitalize on this dive advantage. Initial climb was 2265 f /m 1950 f /m for the F4F-4 (but it dove faster).
The General Motors FM-1 of 1943, reverted back to the 4 guns of the F4F-3 with the longer lasting ammo (and the lighter weight of less guns).
The 7487 lb FM-2 had a more powerful yet lighter 1350 hp Wright Cyclone engine and taller tail-fin. The FM-1 and -2 had initial climbs of 3300 f /m and 3650 f /m respectively. The 332 mph FM-2 was still in production till the end of WW 2! Too bad they didn't get it right earlier. By now the 487 mph P-51H was in service (if not combat) and the agile new Grumman F8F Bearcat was working up in the Navy carrier squadrons for goodness sakes. The GM lines should have accelerated F8F production instead of stringing along the FM Wildcats if you ask me.

The roll rate of the F4F-3 caught up to that of the A6M2 Zero 21 : 56 d /s @ 154 mph and peaked at 69 d /s @ 240 mph vs 55 d /s for the A6M2 [email protected] 240 mph. At 380 mph (limit), Roll for the F4F-3 was 65 d /s vs 42 d /s for the A6M2 model 21 Zero.
Thus the well informed US pilot could outperform the Zero in some ways (rolling dive). The A6M2 was inferior in the dive to the F4F by over 100 mph! Of course the initial climb of the Zero was about double that of the Wildcat. So climb only after diving. Same goes for turns. The A6M2 is perhaps in the 11 seconds / 360 turn range at slow speeds (180 turn in 5+ seconds).

Seems the US pilots liked the 4 gun F4F-3 with over 30 seconds of ammo than the F4F-4 with 6 guns and only 20 seconds for the same total ammo load spread thinner. The extra guns also reduced agility and climb further. But the British navy liked the extra firepower against the Luftwaffe.
This wasn't really necessary against the Japanese planes in 1942. Initial climb fell under 2,000 fpm for the extra weight of the F4F-4. In FM form it was produced even after the F6F replaced it on the main carriers.
Still, the Wildcat ended the war with a kill ratio in it's favor of about 7 to 1!

As much as I disdain the cartoon looks of the F4F, I have to respect it's record. The Navy dropped the Buffalo like a hot potato in favor of the Wildcat and it didn't hit a brick wall above 15,000' like the Army P-39 and P-40 Allison powered contemporaries. It was no less vulnerable than they were and turned better. Of course, it's slow turn and climb were not as good as the enemy Zeke and Oscar but it could dive their pants off.

Where in Florida did Grumman have Aircraft plants in Florida? Jacksonville was one, were there any others?

Military report on water injection tests of Model FM-2 No.16169 (TED No.PTR 0416). U.S. Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Maryland, May 31, 1944:
Test weight: 7418 lbs. Engine: Wright R-1820-56. Horse Power: 1,475 at 57.8 inches of boost. Initial Climb Rate: 3670 fpm. Max. Speed: 312.5mph /SL. 329.5mph /15,300ft. An accompanying graph chart shows that at War Emergency power speed could be boosted to 334mph /14,000ft.
In another report PROJECT TED NO. PTR-1115, where a Kawasaki ki.61-1 (Tony I type 3) was tested against an FM-2, F6F-5, F4U-1D, F4U-4, F7F-3 and F8F, the following were listed as advantages of the FM-2: A.Superior in rate of climb at all altitudes. B.Superior high speed roll. C.Equal or slightly smaller turning radius.
The report lists the disadvantages as: A.Slower speed at all altitudes. B.Inferior in acceleration.

The F4F has been maligned largely due to fighter pilots' dissatisfaction at not having something better. No pilot likes to see another plane out-perform his in any respect. Many an F4F pilot witnessed an A6M Zero performing better aerobatically and did not like it.

In fact, aerobatic performance isn't everything. Wildcats carried better radios, permitting their pilots to employ better tactics. They were more rugged, dove faster, and packed more fire-power of a fighter-killing nature. By comparison, the A6M climbed faster and performed better aerobatics, and had slightly better level speed, but the pilots lacked the ability to coordinate by radio (at least in early models and while Japanese pilots chose to begrudge the weight to attain more aerobatic performance) and suffered from poor armament--machine-guns too light and too few to bring down a fighter effectively, and slow-firing, low-velocity cannon with limited ammunition more suitable to attacking bombers.

The fact that so many F4F pilots lived to gripe about the plane's inadequacies is a testament to its strengths. And its combat record against the vaunted Zero was hardly one of a "dog" of a plane dominated by a "stallion." It was essentially a one-for-one exchange between very different aircraft built to meet different requirements.

Apparently, Christian, you have not read any of Eric "Winkle" Brown's books. World record for most different aircraft types flown (457) and most carrier deck landings as well as first twin ( mosquito) and first Jet (Vampire) on a deck. When Britain didn't have a carrier fighter, the Wildcat (Martlet) was there. In production. The fact that the zero outperformed the Wildcat is explained by the fact that Japan required it as a pre-requisite of going to war. The fact that the Wildcat was a superb naval fighter is shown by the fact that it served as FM-2, right to the end as an Escort Carrier fighter. It's ONLY peer was the Zeke, an aircraft which didn't protect it's pilot, and burned readily. I'm sure Grumman and the USN would not, and did not make that sacrifice.


Contents

Hannover Edit

Hannover was a 5,537 GRT cargo liner built by Bremer Vulkan Schiff- und Maschinenbau, Vegesack and launched on 29 March 1939. [2] She was owned by Norddeutscher Lloyd and plied between Germany and the West Indies on the banana run. [3] Hannover ' s port of registry was Bremen. [4] When World War II began, Hannover sought refuge in Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles. In March 1940, [3] Hannover attempted to return to Germany as a blockade runner. She was sighted between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico on the night of 7/8 March by the light cruiser Dunedin and the Canadian destroyer HMCS Assiniboine. Hannover was ordered to stop, but ignored the order and tried to reach the neutral waters of the Dominican Republic. When Dunedin and Assiniboine intercepted Hannover, Captain Wahnschaff ordered the seacocks opened and the ship set on fire. A boarding party from Dunedin closed the sea cocks and Hannover was taken under tow. However, it took four days for the salvage crew to put out the fire. [5] Hannover was then towed to Jamaica, arriving on 11 March. [3] Acting Lieutenant A. W. Hughes of Dunedin was mentioned in despatches for his part in securing Hannover. Damage was mainly confined to her electrical system. [5]

Sinbad Edit

Hannover was renamed Sinbad, given a UK Official Number and assigned new Code Letters. Her port of registry was changed to Kingston, Jamaica, under the British flag. [6] Her cargo included 29 barrels of pickled sheep pelts, which were offered for sale by tender in August 1940 as a result of being declared as prize. [5]

Empire Audacity Edit

Sinbad was renamed Empire Audacity as one of the Empire ships of the Ministry of War Transport and was commissioned as an "Ocean Boarding Vessel" [3] on 11 November. Her port of registry was changed to London. She was placed under the management of Cunard White Star Line Ltd. [7] On 22 January 1941, [2] she was sent to Blyth Dry Docks & Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Blyth to be rebuilt as an escort carrier. Britain did not have enough aircraft carriers and shipping was vulnerable to attacks by U-boats in the Mid-Atlantic Gap, where there was no air cover. The Admiralty decided that small carriers were part of the solution and had a number of merchantmen, including Empire Audacity, converted. Empire Audacity was the largest ship handled at Blyth, which was more used to ships of 300 ft (91 m) length. The townsfolk of Blyth wondered why the superstructure of a perfectly good ship was being scrapped at a time when Britain was desperately short of ships. [3] Empire Audacity was commissioned on 17 June 1941. [8] She was the Royal Navy's first escort carrier. [3]

HMS Empire Audacity Edit

HMS Empire Audacity worked up in the Clyde. The first deck landing was by a Grumman Martlet of 802 Naval Air Squadron (FAA) on 10 July. A detachment of aircraft were based on Empire Audacity from 19–21 July. All her aircraft had to be stored on the flight deck, as the hasty conversion into an escort carrier did not include a hangar deck. [8] The Admiralty disliked her merchant name, [3] and HMS Empire Audacity was renamed HMS Audacity on 31 July 1941. [8]

HMS Audacity Edit

Audacity was put into full service, embarking eight Martlets of No. 802 Squadron FAA. The use of only fighters was a major departure from later practice, where the main component was anti-submarine patrol aircraft, but she was used to support Gibraltar convoys and the only perceived threat was the German long-range Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor reconnaissance/bomber aircraft. [8]

Audacity participated in four convoys during her short career.

Convoy OG 74 sailed from Britain on 13 September 1941. A week later on 21 September the convoy was attacked by a German Condor bomber, whose bombs struck the convoy rescue ship Walmer Castle. A fighter from Audacity was able to shoot down the bomber. The damage to Walmer Castle was extensive, and she had to be sunk by an escorting corvette. [8]

Convoy HG 74 sailed from Gibraltar on 2 October and arrived at the Clyde on 17 October. The trip was uneventful. [8]

Convoy OG 76 sailed on 28 October bound for Gibraltar. During the voyage, Martlets from Audacity shot down four Condors, one being the first aerial victory for Eric "Winkle" Brown. One Martlet was lost. [8]

Convoy HG 76 sailed from Gibraltar on 14 December. Audacity had only four Martlet aircraft serviceable. The convoy came under attack from 12 U-boats. Martlets from Audacity shot down two Condors U-131 was attacked on 17 December. [8] U-131 shot down a Martlet, but was unable to dive after the attack, and was scuttled by her crew, who were taken prisoner. [9]

As Audacity left the convoy on the night of 21 December, [10] one of the merchantmen fired a "snowflake" flare which revealed her in silhouette to the German U-boats. The submarines had been given specific orders to sink her as she had caused a lot of trouble for the Germans both at sea and in the air. [3] The first torpedo fired by U-751 under Kapitänleutnant Gerhard Bigalk [9] hit her in the engine room and she began to settle by the stern. The next two torpedoes caused an explosion of the aviation fuel [11] blowing off her bow. Audacity sank some 500 mi (430 nmi 800 km) west of Cape Finisterre at 43°45′N 19°54′W  /  43.750°N 19.900°W  / 43.750 -19.900 . [3] She sank in 70 minutes. 73 of her crew were killed. [12] Her survivors were picked up by the corvettes Convolvulus, Marigold and Pentstemon, [13] one of the survivors being pilot Eric Brown. [14] The German commander had confused her with a 23,000 long tons (23,000 t) Illustrious-class aircraft carrier, the sinking of which was announced by Nazi propaganda sources. In reality Audacity was an escort carrier of 11,000 long tons (11,000 t). [15]


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Heading home

Victorious/Robin’s first sojourn into the campaign to defeat Japan ended in August 1943 when she departed for Hawaii several months earlier than planned. Two new Essex-class carriers – USS Essex (CV-9) and USS Yorktown (CV-10) were en route to Hawaii and would be operational by the end of the year, much earlier than originally thought.

By Sept. 1, 1943, Victorious/Robin was back in Norfolk where the U.S. cryptographic equipment was replaced by Royal Navy equipment and a new SG radar installed. The air wing was re-equipped with new Martlets and Avengers.

Victorious returned to home waters on Sept. 26, 1943 and was put in drydock for a complete refit that lasted until March 4, 1944. The carrier would return to the Pacific as part of the Royal Navy’s contingent supporting the U.S. Navy during the Okinawa campaign.


Grumman F4F Wildcat

In 1931 a very young American aviation manufacturing company - Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation - received its first contract from the US Navy for a carrier-based fighter of biplane configuration. Under the designation FF (fighter) or SF (scout), they marked the beginning of an association which seems certain of remaining unbroken for at least a half-century. In that period some remarkable naval aircraft have originated from Grumman, earning the trust and respect of those who have flown them in peace and war.

The company's first carrier-based fighter of monoplane configuration was designed to meet a US Navy requirement which originated in 1935, but it was not until July 1936 that the Navy ordered this aircraft, under the designation XF4F-2. In its developed service form it was to prove an outstanding naval fighter of World War II, but when first evaluated against a competing design from the Brewster Aeronautical Corporation, it failed to be selected for production, despite being some 16km/h faster than the Brewster design.

To overcome the shortcomings of the XF4F-2, a new prototype was built with a more powerful two-stage supercharged engine, and airframe revisions which increased wing span and brought changes to wingtips and tail surfaces. In this form the XF4F-3 flew for the first time on 12 February 1939.

The Wildcat was first ordered by the US Navy in 1939 and the F4F-3, F4F-4 and F4F-7 (a special long-range photographic-reconnaissance version of the F4F-4) were all built by the Grumman company. Concurrently the British Martlet (later renamed Wildcat) Mk I to IV were Grumman-built.

In 1942 the manufacture of the Wildcat was transferred to the Eastern Aircraft Division of the General Motors Corporation. The first FM-1 Wildcat, assembled from parts supplied by Grumman, flew on 1 September 1942. By 11 April 1944 the Eastern Aircraft Division had produced its 2,500th Wildcat. The FM-1, fitted with a Pratt & Whitney R-1830-86 engine, was virtually the same as the F4F-4 (Wildcat IV). The FM-2 (Wildcat VI), which went into production in 1943, was fitted with a Wright R-1820-56 engine of greater power but lower weight than the previous unit, had a redesigned tail unit with a taller fin and rudder and had the oil coolers removed from the under surface of the centre-section to the cowling, which was revised in shape. The removal of the oil coolers permitted the installation of universal racks under the inner wings for bombs or auxiliary fuel tanks.

Altogether nearly 8,000 Wildcats were built, three-quarters by the Eastern Division. These were used operationally by the US Navy on a wide scale in the Pacific (FM-2 in particular serving as light escort carrier fighters), participating in the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, and were used extensively in the attack on Guadalcanal. Although somewhat inferior to the Japanese Zero, the rugged Wildcat proved invaluable in the early stages of the war in the Pacific, until gradually replaced by more effective fighters from 1943, although the type remained in first-line service until the end of the war. British Martlets initially replaced Sea Gladiators and, like their US Navy counterparts, remained operational until the end of the war.

It's amazing that both sides produced this class of obsolete fighters till the end of WW2. The A6M and Ki 43 were like the Wildcat that way. Furthermore, the claims were still higher than expected for the FM-2. Reminds me of the under-gunned Oscar garnering over 50% of all the claims by Japanese fighters. The anemic firepower 4x12.7mm armed FM-2 did quite well too. All 3 were armored in late-war models and were very slow for 1944-45 fighters. Acceleration had suffered from weight gain. Especially for the 5 gun Zeros.

To correct my post for the roll rate of the F4F-3,
the fast roll should be 62 deg /sec @ 340 mph.
The NACA REPORT No. 868 has a number of fighters' roll in deg /sec per mph in a chart on page 40.

I remember my father telling me that right before he joined the Navy during WW2, he would see these airplanes being taxied across route 1&9 from the Linden,NJ General Motors factory over to Linden airport. There they were flown to various destinations. I beleive the GM wildcats were designated F4M, and had a better top speed and a larger verticle stabilizer. Tough airplane.

I will add that the Zero pilots held the F4F in high respect during the Solomons fighting. At the time other Allied fighters were P-39, P-40, Buffalo, and later early model F4Us and P-38s. To the experinced pilots then piloting the Zeros, the faster but heavier Army fighters could be evaded, if watched properly, but the F4Fs could match them in dog fihgts on nearly even terms. And it shows on combat records. During the fighting in the Solomons, both sides claimed to be victorious to each other, but actual scores are very close to being even.

hold on tight because many wrists were injured by letting it freefall. But what a fun airplane to fly,the narrow landing gear made landing tricky.Thanks for the memories FWP

Phil Earl,
Grumman had a plant in St. Augustine, Florida, which is still being used by Northrop Grumman for building the E-2D Hawkeye.

Ross,
The F4F had a floating seat which allowed the pilot to momentarily move and use the lower windows for downward vision much like the F2A Buffalo.

can anyone explain the window in the floor?

On December 1944,our squardon FF46 was station at Ponam Island Admiralty, just , on the island of Manus tey had a repair outfit, ad we had to furnish pilotto test there plane after repairs, I was assinged and flew the Wildcat one time

Everything said so far is true so I don't have much to add but some stats. In an USN report titled TAIC REPORT NO. 17 dated November 17 a combat evaluation of a ZEKE 52 (A6M5) pitted against an F4U-1D, F6F-5 and FM-2 the following was reported:
The best climb of the ZEKE was about 400 fpm. less than the
FM-2 at S.L. The FM-2 was progressively slower than the ZEKE above 5,000 ft. but at S.L. the FM-2 was 6 mph. faster.
Rolls were equal up to 160 mph. then the high control forces of the A6m5 took its toll.
Turns of the two were very similar. The ZEKE could gain one turn in eight at 10,000 ft.
SURPRISE: The Zeke was slightly superior to the FM-2 in initial acceleration, then equal.
MANEUVERABILITY: ZEKE slightly superior below 175 kts. FM-2 has the advantage above 200 kts.

Sorry, when I said SUPRISE I forgot to mention: when diving.

at 15 years of age,my Dad,a Navy Lt. got me on the Coral Sea for three days when the mid shipmen were on manuevers in the caribbean.Watched all kinds of planes leaving and returning for the duration I was aboard.A fond memory I still cherish to this day.

The F4F-3 could dive at a velocity of 480 mph. It needed some advance warning to climb to altitude in order to capitalize on this dive advantage. Initial climb was 2265 f /m 1950 f /m for the F4F-4 (but it dove faster).
The General Motors FM-1 of 1943, reverted back to the 4 guns of the F4F-3 with the longer lasting ammo (and the lighter weight of less guns).
The 7487 lb FM-2 had a more powerful yet lighter 1350 hp Wright Cyclone engine and taller tail-fin. The FM-1 and -2 had initial climbs of 3300 f /m and 3650 f /m respectively. The 332 mph FM-2 was still in production till the end of WW 2! Too bad they didn't get it right earlier. By now the 487 mph P-51H was in service (if not combat) and the agile new Grumman F8F Bearcat was working up in the Navy carrier squadrons for goodness sakes. The GM lines should have accelerated F8F production instead of stringing along the FM Wildcats if you ask me.

The roll rate of the F4F-3 caught up to that of the A6M2 Zero 21 : 56 d /s @ 154 mph and peaked at 69 d /s @ 240 mph vs 55 d /s for the A6M2 [email protected] 240 mph. At 380 mph (limit), Roll for the F4F-3 was 65 d /s vs 42 d /s for the A6M2 model 21 Zero.
Thus the well informed US pilot could outperform the Zero in some ways (rolling dive). The A6M2 was inferior in the dive to the F4F by over 100 mph! Of course the initial climb of the Zero was about double that of the Wildcat. So climb only after diving. Same goes for turns. The A6M2 is perhaps in the 11 seconds / 360 turn range at slow speeds (180 turn in 5+ seconds).

Seems the US pilots liked the 4 gun F4F-3 with over 30 seconds of ammo than the F4F-4 with 6 guns and only 20 seconds for the same total ammo load spread thinner. The extra guns also reduced agility and climb further. But the British navy liked the extra firepower against the Luftwaffe.
This wasn't really necessary against the Japanese planes in 1942. Initial climb fell under 2,000 fpm for the extra weight of the F4F-4. In FM form it was produced even after the F6F replaced it on the main carriers.
Still, the Wildcat ended the war with a kill ratio in it's favor of about 7 to 1!

As much as I disdain the cartoon looks of the F4F, I have to respect it's record. The Navy dropped the Buffalo like a hot potato in favor of the Wildcat and it didn't hit a brick wall above 15,000' like the Army P-39 and P-40 Allison powered contemporaries. It was no less vulnerable than they were and turned better. Of course, it's slow turn and climb were not as good as the enemy Zeke and Oscar but it could dive their pants off.

Where in Florida did Grumman have Aircraft plants in Florida? Jacksonville was one, were there any others?

Military report on water injection tests of Model FM-2 No.16169 (TED No.PTR 0416). U.S. Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Maryland, May 31, 1944:
Test weight: 7418 lbs. Engine: Wright R-1820-56. Horse Power: 1,475 at 57.8 inches of boost. Initial Climb Rate: 3670 fpm. Max. Speed: 312.5mph /SL. 329.5mph /15,300ft. An accompanying graph chart shows that at War Emergency power speed could be boosted to 334mph /14,000ft.
In another report PROJECT TED NO. PTR-1115, where a Kawasaki ki.61-1 (Tony I type 3) was tested against an FM-2, F6F-5, F4U-1D, F4U-4, F7F-3 and F8F, the following were listed as advantages of the FM-2: A.Superior in rate of climb at all altitudes. B.Superior high speed roll. C.Equal or slightly smaller turning radius.
The report lists the disadvantages as: A.Slower speed at all altitudes. B.Inferior in acceleration.

The F4F has been maligned largely due to fighter pilots' dissatisfaction at not having something better. No pilot likes to see another plane out-perform his in any respect. Many an F4F pilot witnessed an A6M Zero performing better aerobatically and did not like it.

In fact, aerobatic performance isn't everything. Wildcats carried better radios, permitting their pilots to employ better tactics. They were more rugged, dove faster, and packed more fire-power of a fighter-killing nature. By comparison, the A6M climbed faster and performed better aerobatics, and had slightly better level speed, but the pilots lacked the ability to coordinate by radio (at least in early models and while Japanese pilots chose to begrudge the weight to attain more aerobatic performance) and suffered from poor armament--machine-guns too light and too few to bring down a fighter effectively, and slow-firing, low-velocity cannon with limited ammunition more suitable to attacking bombers.

The fact that so many F4F pilots lived to gripe about the plane's inadequacies is a testament to its strengths. And its combat record against the vaunted Zero was hardly one of a "dog" of a plane dominated by a "stallion." It was essentially a one-for-one exchange between very different aircraft built to meet different requirements.

Apparently, Christian, you have not read any of Eric "Winkle" Brown's books. World record for most different aircraft types flown (457) and most carrier deck landings as well as first twin ( mosquito) and first Jet (Vampire) on a deck. When Britain didn't have a carrier fighter, the Wildcat (Martlet) was there. In production. The fact that the zero outperformed the Wildcat is explained by the fact that Japan required it as a pre-requisite of going to war. The fact that the Wildcat was a superb naval fighter is shown by the fact that it served as FM-2, right to the end as an Escort Carrier fighter. It's ONLY peer was the Zeke, an aircraft which didn't protect it's pilot, and burned readily. I'm sure Grumman and the USN would not, and did not make that sacrifice.


HMS Audacity (D10)

Authored By: JR Potts, AUS 173d AB | Last Edited: 07/14/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The British navy has always produced ships that were on the leading edge of naval technology - HMS Victory and HMS Dreadnought being such two. Another became HMS Audacity, the first escort aircraft carrier. The escort supplied replacement aircraft for the larger fleet carriers to cover their losses in combat. This allowed the mission to continue without having the fleet carrier return to a land base to receive needed aircraft and pilots. This World War II solution of an aircraft-and-pilot supply ship for fleet carriers evolved into air cover and strike operations for convoys and amphibious landings, reducing the need for building larger and more expensive fleet carriers.

Audacity was originally built and launched as a German 5,537 ton merchant ship known as the MV Hannover by the German company Bremer Vulkan, Vegesack, and launched in 1939. As a cargo ship, Hanover was first used in the West Indies as a fruit carrier. With her port of registry being Bremen, Germany, she was allowed to be sunk when war was declared. Hannover was ordered to steam to the natural port of Netherlands Antilles and, in early 1940, Hannover's Captain Wahnschaff received orders to return to Germany. She was sighted close to Puerto Rico and was ordered to stop by the light cruiser HMS Dunedin and the destroyer HMCS Assiniboine. Hanover chose to try and escape to the neutral port of the Dominican Republic. The escape was cut off by the British war ships so Capitan Wahnschaff instructed the sea cocks be opened and to set the ship on fire. Boarding parties from HMS Dunedin captured the crew and were able to close the sea cocks. Hannover was towed into international waters and it took four days to bring the fire under control. Taken as a war prize, the Hannover was towed to Jamaica on March 11, 1940.

Now under British control, Hannover was renamed Sinbad and given a United Kingdom Official Number and code letters. Her port of registry was changed to Kingston, Jamaica, under the British flag. In late 1940, Sinbad was renamed Empire Audacity by the Ministry of War Transport. Her port of registry was changed from Jamaica to London and was placed under the management of the White Star Line Ltd.

The Royal Navy had recognized a need for defense carriers in the 1930s but no action was taken at that time. When the war broke out, the Admiralty needing carriers to protect valuable cargo ships en route to British bases around the world and decided the escort carrier concept needed to be acted upon. In January 1941, she was sent to Blyth shipbuilding docks to be rebuilt as an escort carrier. Empire Audacity was the largest ship ever handled at Blyth and the shipwrights wondered why the superstructure was being removed at a time when Britain was short of ships. Empire Audacity was commissioned on June 17, 1941, and was the first escort carrier of the Royal Navy. Being pressed for time, the new carrier was not fitted with an elevator to bring aircraft below to a hanger deck. This forced all repairs of the aircraft to be done top side and reduced the overall amount of space for additional aircraft. They were typically half the length and one-third the displacement of the larger fleet carriers. While they were slower, less well-armed and armored and carried fewer planes, they were still much less expensive to produce.

HMS Empire Audacity's first Squadron was the 802 FAA comprised of Grumman Martlet fighter aircraft and the first landing on her deck was on July10, 1941. The Martlet was the F4F Wildcat in British Royal Navy service, Grumman's first monoplane and one of the outstanding Naval fighters of World War 2 (particularly in the Pacific Theater). This American fighter was called the Martlet by the Royal Navy until March 1944 when it reverted back to its US name Wildcat. The Admiralty disliked her merchant name and HMS Empire Audacity was renamed HMS Audacity (D-10).

No major problems were found during sea trials and with her need to be on station being so great, Audacity was put into full service. Three arrestor wires for deck landings were used as was the case on all carriers (even to this day). A small conning tower was built on the starboard side and for air defense 8 x AA (anti-aircraft) guns were mounted. Radar Type 79B air warning radar was installed for two reasons, the first being to find inbound threat aircraft and the second to track her own aircraft within 75 miles. The major air threat was expected to be the German Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor long-range reconnaissance aircraft. Hurricanes were proposed to be used on the ship but they were not available while the Grumman Martlet, being specifically designed for carrier operations and were proven, became the mount of choice for Audacity. She embarked with six or eight Grumman Martlets assigned to No. 802 Squadron FAA (Fleet Air Arm). Audacity was assigned to support convoys from England to Gibraltar. She commenced her war service when she sailed with her first convoy - OG 74 (Out to Gibraltar) - in September of 1941 to Gibraltar as a guard for the convoy. During the voyage the convoy was attacked by Condors and one was shot down by a Martlet. Her next convoy - HG 74 (Homeward from Gibraltar) - she lost one of her aircraft but shot down 4 x Condors.

Her fourth and last convoy was HG 76. Many felt the carrier should be in the center of the convoy with the warships on the outside perimeter. This would provide maximum protection for the unarmored carrier against torpedo attack. This was tried but was found to be impractical due to the large area need to maneuver and launch/recover aircraft into the wind. As such, the carrier had to operate outside the protective ring of these ships.

HG 76 was comprised of 36 merchant ships and a very strong escort of 17 warships. The 36th escort group was under the command of Captain Walker, comprised of 2 sloops (Stork and Deptford) and 7 corvettes (Convulvulus, Gardenia, Marigold, Penstemon, Rhodedendron, Samphire and Vetch). For this voyage, additional forces were assigned to Walker's group. There was the carrier Audacity along with her destroyers, the Blanckney, Stanley and Exmoor II as well as 2 additional sloops-of-war - the Black Swan and Fowey - and corvettes Carnation and La Malouine. Attacking the convoy was a German Wolfpack consisting of U-boats U-67, U-107, U-108, U-131, U-434 and U-574.

When the convoy sailed, German spies stationed in Spain across the bay notified U-boat command of the time the ships sailed out and their overall strength. The U-boat line was south of Cape St Vincent but did not come in contact with the convoy until she was spotted by a Condor on December 16th to which U- 108 was contacted. The boat started shadowing the convoy and by the next morning four U-boats were in position to attack. Regular air patrols from Audacity located U-131 and notified the escort group. U-131 was attacked by the sloops Stork and Penstemon and destroyers Blanckney, Stanley and Exmoor II. The destroyer's depth charged U-131 and forced her to the surface and her deck crew shot down a Martlet before she was sunk. On the 18th, U-434 was discovered by the destroyer Blankney to which she attacked and rammed the U-boat. The battle caused the escorts to use large amounts of fuel so Corvettes Carnation and La Malouine returned to Gibraltar to re-fuel along with the damaged Blankney, the latter now needing repairs, and all were escorted by Exmoor II. The sloops Black Swan , Fowey, left for Gibraltar soon after to also receive fuel.

On the night of the 19th, U-574 attacked but was torpedoed and sunk. Stork and Samphire sighted and attacked (and destroyed) U-574. During the night, U-108 attacked the Ruckinge and sank her. On the 19th, the convoy was attacked by five Condors to which two were shot down and another damaged by the Martlets air cover as provided by Audacity. Also that day, the German Wolfpack was joined by U-751,U-71 and U-567 captained by U-boat ace KL Endrass. Over the next few days, the 3 remaining boats - U-67, U-107 and U-108 - arrived and attacked without any result. On the 21st, the three boats from Bordeaux arrived and the U-boats prepared to attack.

Captain Walker had Deptford move way off from the convoy and shoot star shells to attract the U-boats. However some of the merchant ships became confused by the action also fired star-shells, effectively giving away their position. U-567 was able to sink the merchant ship Annavore while U-751 sighted Audacity behind the convoy without her escort. He fired 3 torpedoes and Audacity was sunk. Marigold, Vetch and Samphire saw the attack and counter-attackedU-751 but did not sink her. Later, Deptford spotted a U-boat and attacked using depth-charges to no avail. However, after the war, German records indicated that she had sunk U-567.

On December 22nd an additional three U-boats arrived along with the British destroyers Vanquisher and Witch. The next day, Admiral Donitz, shaken by his U-boat losses and the lack of ships sunk, called off the attack so all remaining German boats returned to bases in France. Despite the loss of Audacity and the three other ships, the safe arrival of thirty ships and the destruction of three U-boats (U-127 was not included and U-567 not confirmed until after the war) was a victory. Also, the loss of U-boat ace Endrass was a major blow to Germany. The British lost the carrier HMS Audacity and the destroyer HMS Stanley along with cargo ships Ruckinge and Annavore with a loss of thirty-six merchantmen. Germany lost four U-Boats (U-131, U-434, U-567, and U-574) with some 76 men lost.

Allied escort carriers were typically around 500ft (150m) long - not much more than half the length of the-almost 900ft (300m) fleet carriers of the same era but actually less than one-third of the weight. A typical escort carrier displaced about 8,000 tons as compared to almost 30,000 tons for a full-size fleet carrier. The island on these ships was small and cramped and located well forward of the funnels unlike on a normal-sized carrier where the funnels were integrated into the island. Although the first British escort carriers featured no aircraft elevator, two elevators - one fore and one aft - quickly became standard along with the aircraft catapult. The carriers employed the same system of arresting cables and tail hooks as on the big carriers and procedures for launch and recovery were identical. Of the 151 aircraft carriers built in the United States during World War 2, one hundred twenty-two were of the escort carrier type. Of these, six were British conversions of merchant ships: HMS Audacity (D10), Nairana (D05), Campania (D48), Activity (D94), Pretoria Castle F61) and Vindex (D15).

HMS Audacity (D10) started as the Hannover, an inglorious fruit carrier, and was given four names between the German Navy and the Royal Navy and ended her short career as the first escort aircraft carrier. She was launched on June 17, 1941 and sunk on December 21, 1941.


Watch the video: Grumman Martlet aircraft lands on British aircraft carrier, 1942. Archive film 98977 (January 2022).