Wednesday, April 25, 2012

He said that he did WHAT?

So the other day I happened to hear of a fellow talking about his exploits in World War Two. Among other things, he claimed to have flown a Spitfire fighter off of the USS Wasp (CV-7).

What say you, folks? Anything wrong with that claim, just on it's face?

19 comments:

  1. The RN did use a navalised Spitfire, it was called the Seafire, had folding wingtips and a reinforced undercarrage. As to the rest I've no clue.

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  2. The famed WWII author,Nicholas Monsaratt,postulated the law of inverse exploits. The longer ago it was the greater the bang.

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  3. Well, on its face, it would appear that it is a ridiculous claim. However, according to Wikipedia, (admittedly, I didn't follow up and check the sources that were cited) there were two missions where the Wasp was ferrying Spits from Malta to Britain, and they did indeed launch from the carrier. Who woulda thunk it?

    SO, given that info, I cannot dismiss it out of hand without knowing more of the man making the claim.

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  4. It's possible - the first RAF planes landed on the Wasp 3 April 1942, and Spitfires were launched from the carrier during operations later that month.

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  5. The flying of Spitfires off the Wasp actually happened.
    As for the story, thats another question.

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  6. Wasp is much newer ship - too new for spitfires.

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  7. Wikipedia has a photo of a Spitfire launching from the Wasp. Apparently, the Wasp was in a task force with the British fleet early in the war. So, it's plausible.

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  8. Well, there was a naval version of the Spit called the Seafire, and the Wasp was in the Atlantic at the start of the war - she didn't go over to the Pacific until we were at it at Guadalcanal, so I suppose it is possible, in theory, that they did some testing, perhaps to be able to make up potential losses in US carrier groups in the Atlantic or Med, since it would be hard to get replacement Wildcats and Dauntlesses to England quickly.

    I've never read anything about it, but that doesn't mean anything. I wonder if there is a Wasp historical website that might have some information?

    Hmmm

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  9. Wikipedia documents ferry missions to Malta from the home islands where Spitfire Mk V's were flown off of Wasp. They even have pictures. Apparently they warmed them up on the hangar deck, brought them up singly, spotted them at the aft edge, and let 'em rip.

    I didn't know this before - very interesting.

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  10. According to DANFS, on 20 March 1942, the Wasp delivered 47 Spitfires to Malta; flying them off. So it was done. Whether or not your friend was one of the pilots....

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  11. Lots of them:

    http://ww2today.com/20th-april-1942-spitfires-for-malta-are-flown-off-uss-wasp

    Necessity is the mother of invention.

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  12. I read a lot of WWII history, to feed my interest in air & naval operations. Never heard of Spitfires on a carrier, but doesn't mean it didn't happen. Hmm - I smell a research project.

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  13. Yep, they did it in 1956. www.navsource.org/archives/02/07.htm

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  14. It did happen a couple of times, link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Bowery

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  15. "The British, faced with the loss of air superiority over the island, requested the use of a carrier to transport planes that could wrest air superiority from the Axis aircraft. Wasp drew ferry duty once again to participate in Operation Calendar, one of many Malta Convoys.
    Having landed her torpedo planes and dive bombers, Wasp loaded 47 Supermarine Spitfire Mk. V fighters of No. 603 Squadron RAF at Glasgow on 13 April, then departed on the 14th. Her screen consisted of Force "W" of the Home Fleet — a group that included the battlecruiser HMS Renown and the anti-aircraft cruisers HMS Cairo and Charybdis. The Madison and Lang also served in Wasp's screen.
    Wasp and her consorts passed through the Straits of Gibraltar under cover of the pre-dawn darkness on 19 April, avoiding the possibility of being discovered by Spanish or Axis agents. At 04:00 on 20 April, Wasp spotted 11 Grumman F4F Wildcat fighters on her deck and quickly launched them to form a combat air patrol (CAP) over Force "W". Meanwhile, the Spitfires were warming up their engines in the hangar deck spaces below. With the Wildcats patrolling overhead, the Spitfires were brought up singly on the after elevator, spotted for launch, and then given the go-ahead to take off. One by one, they roared down the deck and over the forward rounddown, until each Spitfire was aloft and winging toward Malta."

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  16. I apologize if you received duplicate posts from me. I was having a problem with my google account.

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  17. Darn. Smart crowd here. Can't fool you folks. ;-)

    And I got you, Ben. That's one of the reasons that I have this thing set up for moderation. No problem. I'd rather get the same comment 5 times in a row than none at all, so keep 'em coming.

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