CAM Ship Fighters

Discussions on all aspects of the United States of America during the Inter-War era and Second World War. Hosted by Carl Schwamberger.
User avatar
Andy H
Forum Staff
Posts: 15127
Joined: 12 Mar 2002 20:51
Location: UK and USA

CAM Ship Fighters

Post by Andy H » 09 Mar 2003 23:42

Has anyone any figures regarding how many Cam fighters there were in total and how many were lost and how enemy planes did they destroy.

Andy

User avatar
Robert Hurst
Member
Posts: 1192
Joined: 04 Oct 2002 15:11
Location: Worksop, Notts, UK

Post by Robert Hurst » 11 Mar 2003 14:40

Hi Andy

The total number of Hurricanes used for operations from CAM-ships was as follows:

Sea Hurricane Mk 1A

Fifty ex-RAF Hurricane Mk 1s (some ex-Battle of Britain veterans) were fitted with catapult spools to enable them to be fired from catapults mounted on merchant ships. These were later supplemented by fifty Canadian-built Hurricanes. But not all the Canadian-built Hurricanes were used in this role.

Unfortunately I am unable to find out how many enemy aircraft they managed to shoot down before the CAM-ships were replaced by MACs (Merchant Aircraft Carriers) or the American-built Escort Carriers.

Regards

Bob

User avatar
Andy H
Forum Staff
Posts: 15127
Joined: 12 Mar 2002 20:51
Location: UK and USA

Post by Andy H » 12 Mar 2003 02:28

Thanks Robert

Seems a small number of fighters given that they were essentially one flight wonders!.

Were they flown by RNVR/FAA or by RAF?

Andy

User avatar
Robert Hurst
Member
Posts: 1192
Joined: 04 Oct 2002 15:11
Location: Worksop, Notts, UK

Post by Robert Hurst » 12 Mar 2003 14:36

Hi Andy

The first pilots involved with this scheme were from the FAA. Later on RAF pilots were used.

At least two ships carried Fairey Fulmar Mk 1s instead of Hawker Hurricane Mk 1As. These were the FCS (Fighter Catapult Ship) HMS Pegasus (ex-HMS Ark royal) and the CAM (Catapult Armed Merchant) ship Michael E.

Regards

Bob

User avatar
Andy H
Forum Staff
Posts: 15127
Joined: 12 Mar 2002 20:51
Location: UK and USA

Post by Andy H » 16 Mar 2003 03:28

Thanks again Bob

Andy

User avatar
Robert Hurst
Member
Posts: 1192
Joined: 04 Oct 2002 15:11
Location: Worksop, Notts, UK

Post by Robert Hurst » 12 Apr 2005 17:21

Hi Andy

came across these two colour pics of a Sea Hurricane Mk.IA catapult fighter. I hope that you will enjoy them.

Regards

Bob
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

User avatar
Aufklarung
Financial supporter
Posts: 5133
Joined: 17 Mar 2002 04:27
Location: Canada

Post by Aufklarung » 12 Apr 2005 21:39

Hi Andy

A bit more for you:
This Hurricanes Site wrote:...The whole "Catapult Armed Merchantman (CAM)" ship scheme was regarded as recklessly dangerous, but as there was no other option available at the time, it was adopted. The slogan at the time was: "Desperate times give rise to desperate measures." Some sources claim that Winston Churchill himself came up with the idea, which is plausible since it fit his flair for the outrageous, but it appears the idea was thought up by Captain M.S. Slattery of the Royal Navy.

Small numbers of Fairey Fulmars were originally pressed into service as a CAM fighters, and then about 50 Hurricane Is were modified by General Aircraft for catapult launch from a CAM ship, with changes including airframe reinforcement and fit with catapult spools. These aircraft were given the designation "Sea Hurricane IA", though they were more informally referred to as "Hurricats".

A total of 35 merchantmen were configured as CAM ships, with the first Atlantic crossings of such vessels in the spring of 1941. The Royal Navy also operated five "Fighter Catapult Ships (FCS)", based on miscellaneous vessels including seaplane tenders and antiaircraft ships, but they carried the Fulmar.

CAM ships carried two Hurricats, with two pilots for each Hurricat, the pilots alternating on standby at times of risk to make sure a fighter could be launched immediately. The pilots were trained on a ground-based catapult system, with three launches during a two-week cram course.


Statistics for CAM-ship operations are entirely obscure, with only seven confirmed kills, in 1942 and 1943. Some sources indicate there were other kills in 1941. Numbers of launches, numbers of pilots lost, and other details remain unclear. It appears that CAM ship Hurricat launches were generally done only as a last resort, not only because of the risk to the pilot but because the bright flare of the rocket catapult attracted unwanted attention. CAM ships themselves lived hazardous lives, with some sources claiming that a third of them were torpedoed and sent to the bottom.

* Eventually the availability of small escort or "jeep" carriers eliminated the need for the CAM ships, and the CAM ships were out of the Hurricat business by the summer of 1943....


internetmodeler.com wrote:...The first attempt to use Sea Hurricanes to protect convoys started out on May 27, 1941 with the CAM ship SS Michael E. The voyage was uneventful until a U-boat torpedoed the CAM ship and the Sea Hurricane sank to the bottom of the sea along with the SS Michael E. By the end of the first week of July, sixteen CAM ships had sailed and 25 Sea Hurricanes were delivered.
The first Sea Hurricane victory came on August 2, 1941, when Lieutenant R. W. H. Everett slowly intercepted and shot down a Focke Wulf Fw200 Condor. He then proceeded to ditch his Sea Hurricane and was picked up by a destroyer, earning him the DSO. Over the next few weeks the Sea Hurricanes had more encounters with the Fw200 Condor, but no more victories were reported. This was because many of the catapult ships were sunk and the strength and durability of the Fw200. The machineguns of the Sea Hurricane Mk IA were not sufficient to assure a victory over the Fw200...

...The CAM ships operated up until the summer of 1943. Over the two years they were in use, there were only eight operational launches, which resulted in the downing of six enemy aircraft and the loss of only one pilot. This success ratio clearly shows that the CAM ship principle was sound. It was also a great morale booster for the other merchantmen, looking over and seeing the beautiful shape of a Sea Hurricane poised menacingly on its catapult...


BTW Bob, it appears to be 2 different a/c in the above pic. A couple of visable discrepencies apparent. :?

regards
A :)

no4mkit
Member
Posts: 8
Joined: 10 Apr 2009 17:49

Re: CAM Ship Fighters

Post by no4mkit » 10 Apr 2009 17:55

Hello Bob Hurst,

I've been researching Hurricats and Cam Ships for a modelling project for nearly a year now and have never seen such incredible photo's, and in color at that! 8-) Where ever did you find those?

Regards,

Todd

User avatar
phylo_roadking
Member
Posts: 17487
Joined: 30 Apr 2006 23:31
Location: Belfast

Re: CAM Ship Fighters

Post by phylo_roadking » 10 Apr 2009 19:33

First time I've seen this thread...
The first Sea Hurricane victory came on August 2, 1941, when Lieutenant R. W. H. Everett slowly intercepted and shot down a Focke Wulf Fw200 Condor. He then proceeded to ditch his Sea Hurricane and was picked up by a destroyer, earning him the DSO. Over the next few weeks the Sea Hurricanes had more encounters with the Fw200 Condor, but no more victories were reported. This was because many of the catapult ships were sunk and the strength and durability of the Fw200. The machineguns of the Sea Hurricane Mk IA were not sufficient to assure a victory over the Fw200...
THAT sort of discounts Intermodeller as a viable source, then! :lol:

User avatar
Mark McShane
Member
Posts: 324
Joined: 10 Sep 2003 03:00
Location: London

Re: CAM Ship Fighters

Post by Mark McShane » 10 Apr 2009 20:54

Here's a couple of CAM related threads from an excellent merchant navy forum

http://www.mercantilemarine.org/showthread.php?t=2030

http://www.mercantilemarine.org/showthread.php?t=2087

http://www.mercantilemarine.org/showthread.php?t=2088

There are probably more but these are the latest topics to be discussed.

Regards,

Mark

no4mkit
Member
Posts: 8
Joined: 10 Apr 2009 17:49

Re: CAM Ship Fighters

Post by no4mkit » 11 Apr 2009 16:12

great links, thanks Mark/Coldmeter.

no4mkit
Member
Posts: 8
Joined: 10 Apr 2009 17:49

Re: CAM Ship Fighters

Post by no4mkit » 11 Apr 2009 16:26

phylo_roadking wrote:First time I've seen this thread...
and the strength and durability of the Fw200. quote]

THAT sort of discounts Intermodeller as a viable source, then! :lol:
Actually the Condor had quite a reputation for structural weakness. KG40 was always short aircraft because several Fw200's boke up simply due to heavy landings. And there's one account where Royal Navy Martlets (Grumman Wildcats) caught a Condor and one quick burst took the FW's tail off. It was determined that one or two 50cal rounds struck a known weak joint in the aft fuselage causing the whole tail empennage to come away.

User avatar
phylo_roadking
Member
Posts: 17487
Joined: 30 Apr 2006 23:31
Location: Belfast

Re: CAM Ship Fighters

Post by phylo_roadking » 13 Apr 2009 03:23

There are a number of threads in both the Aircraft Section and the What-If Section (threads on German heavy bombers) that have mentioned the Condor.

As well as the weakness in the fuselage mentioned above - there was a second and equally catastrophic failure point in the fuselage immediately aft of the wings. Some time ago I posted a pic on the Forum of a damaged Condor that had broken in BOTH places! This was a very major issue; as early as its use as a transport aircraft in Weserubung in April 1940, 6 out of 8 Condors configured as transports and used in the campaign were incapacitated in Norway by fuselage breakages.

The Fw-200 was a heavy and slow aircraft, and grew heavier at every redesign, as armour for crewmembers, extra crewmembers (defensive gunners) and armaments were installed. It was only up-engined once in its history, and very soon in each design phase its capacity to carry extra weight became marginal as more and more was added, using up any abundance of power...thus greatly reducing the designers' freedom to design in extra bracing and support. At the largest of these, they were able to design in only an extra twenty-nine pounds of extra alloy for strengthening and bracing...

In comparison - the designers at BMW a few years ago had to design in two hundred and fifty pounds' of extra bracing bars when they redesigned the new Mini as a softtop "cabriolet" 8O

One major issue with the Condor throughout its service life was that its main fuel tanks were in the wings - and were unarmoured. The Fw-200 was very vulernable to both AA fire and attacks from below...the main reason why the ventral gondola was designed in, in an attempt to provide gun positions with arcs of fire covering that large vulnerable area.

A further weakness in the Condor was a very poor design of brakes in the main undercarriage wheels; brakes had a habit of locking on when last used, or overnight - and the aircraft could next roll under power with the brakes not fully realeased, leading to overheating and the brake shoe linings bursting into flame...before being raised into the inboard engine nacelles! This bad design of the brake actuating cams meant that they could very easily seize and burn on landing; this happened to Hitler's aircraft when it landed in Finland when he flew there to celebrate Mannerheim's birthday. In surviving newsreel footage of the events, as Hitler is greeted on the apron, you can see smoke billowing from his personal Condor's wheels, and a Luftwaffe "black man" dashing in with a fire extinguisher!

Although only a relatively small number of Condors may have been shot down by Hurricams... I wonder how many on the other launchings were simply chased away??? :wink: A convoy wouldn't worry if a Condor overhead was chased back to Brest OR shot down - just as long as it wasn't there any more!

User avatar
phylo_roadking
Member
Posts: 17487
Joined: 30 Apr 2006 23:31
Location: Belfast

Re: CAM Ship Fighters

Post by phylo_roadking » 14 Apr 2009 02:07

Just on the subject of Hurricams and colour pics, I came across this by accident tonight -

Image

Given the land in the background, I take it this is a test launch???

no4mkit
Member
Posts: 8
Joined: 10 Apr 2009 17:49

Re: CAM Ship Fighters

Post by no4mkit » 14 Apr 2009 05:20

I believe that is one of the early test launches on the Mersey river, Phylo. Interesting that it is in color as I've only ever seen this pic in low grade black and white.

Return to “USA 1919-1945”