Info: Fleet Air Arm involment on D-Day

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Info: Fleet Air Arm involment on D-Day

Post by Andy H » 25 Jun 2004 02:26

Given the geography involved in D-day, in that Allied airfields etc were close to the landing grounds, the role played by the FAA is often forgotten.

During the invasion they provided 5 fighter squadrons flying Hellcat I's, Wildcat V & VII's plus Avenger I's.

The FAA Sqns involved were 800 & 804Sqn's on-board HMS Emperor, 881 & 896Sqn's based on-board HMS Pursuer , whilst 846Sqn flew off HMS Tracker.

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Post by Zygmunt » 25 Jun 2004 08:45

The FAA also made use of those airfields - No 886 squadron's Seafires were tasked with spotting for naval gunfire, including the guns of HMS Warspite and the USS Nevada.
They flew from Lee on Solent.

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Post by Andy H » 25 Jun 2004 15:01

Your correct, I was only thinking of those FAA Sqns that were ship based. Again thank you

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R Leonard
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Post by R Leonard » 25 Jun 2004 15:51

At Lee-on-Solent there were five naval gunfire observation squadrons, four FAA and one USN. The four FAA squadrons, Nos. 808 (Lieut. Comdr. JF Rankin, DSC, RN), 897 (Lieut. Comdr. WC Simpson, DSC, RN), 885 (Lieut. Comdr. SL Devonald, RN), and 886 (Lieut. Comdr. PEI Bailey, RN), were assigned Seafire III's. The USN's VCS-7 (Lieut. Comdr. W Denton, Jr., USN) had Spitfire Vb's. The squadrons’ aircraft were pooled to insure maximum availability.

v/r

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Post by Andy H » 25 Jun 2004 16:02

The VCS7 was the only Uinted States Navy Sqn to fly Spitfires

Thank you for your additional information

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Post by Lord Gort » 25 Jun 2004 23:42

Perhaps a stupid question. But why did they fly spitfires?


regards.

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Post by R Leonard » 26 Jun 2004 07:44

For the invasion of European coastlines it was presumed by the US Navy that aerial naval gunfire
spotters would be of value, but that their standard aircraft, the OS2U and the SOC would be too
vulnerable to roving German fighters. To remedy that situation it was decided to train the USN
flyers to perform their spotting missions from high performance fighters.

Four naval aviators from USS Brooklyn’s VCS-8 (Lieut. DA Liane, USN) reported to Berteaux,
Algeria, on 15 January 1944 to begin transition to the P-40. They were joined about a month later
by aviators from USS Philadelphia. Training continued through spring, and in April the entire
group transitioned to P-51's.

On 21 April, the navy flyers were formally attached to the 111th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron,
flying F-6A's and they began to fly missions as they qualified in type. In July, the VCS-8 pilots
received 10 new P-51C's which they flew during the invasion of southern France. By August 30,
with the land operations reaching outside the range of naval gunfire support, the pilots turned
their P-51's over to 111 TRS and returned to their ships.

For naval gunnery spotting for the Normandy invasion, VCS-7 was established on 8 May 1944,
made up of 17 VCS and Battleship Observation (VO) pilots from the battleships Nevada, Arkansas,
and Texas and the cruisers Quincy, Tuscaloosa, and Augusta. The squadron began
training in Spitfire Vb's at Middle Wallop, Hampshire under the direction of Colonel GW Peck of
the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, Ninth Air Force.

The Navy pilots were trained in defensive fighter tactics, aerobatics, combat formation flying and
spotting procedures. Lieut. Comdr. W Denton, Jr., USN, senior aviator from Quincy, took command
on May 28th. The squadron was determined to be fully operational that same day and moved to
Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Lee-on-Solent.

Squadrons, aircraft, and commanders were as noted in previous post.

German aerial opposition was rarely encountered. VCS-7 pilots had four recorded encounters
with German fighters, and suffered no losses, but neither did they reportedly score any
victories (though a photo of a VCS-7 Spitfire, see below, clearly shows a small swastika in the
American style below the cockpit). Losses to anti-aircraft fire were also small, with only one
pilot lost. The VCS-7 after action reports record only this one loss as the total for the operational
period, but other sources report upwards to seven aircraft lost to enemy fire and one operational
loss. It is entirely probably that both are correct except that the VCS-7 reports only the pilot
loss not the loss of aircraft not resulting in a personnel loss. VCS-7 flew approximately 200
combat sorties between 6 and 25 June. On 26 June, as the fighting had moved beyond the
range of naval gunfire, the squadron was disestablished and the pilots returned to their ships.

VCS-8 P-51C USN Photo
Image

VCS-7 Spitfire USN Photo
Image

VCS-7 Spitfire USN Photo
Image

v/r

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Post by Andy H » 28 Jun 2004 00:35

The most sorties made was by Lt (jg=junior grade) Doyle from the USS Arkansas who flew 17.

In a recent article in Fly Past magazine they list the number of sorties flown by VCS-7 as 209, for the loss of 9 planes.

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