Oxford AC070 RAF Chance-Vought Corsair III Fighter - 718 Naval Air Squadron, FAA Ballyhalbert, Northern Ireland, 1945 (1:72 Scale)
"Why should we have a navy at all? There are no enemies for it to fight except apparently the Army Air Force."
- General Carl Spaatz, Commander of the US 8th Army Air Force, after WWII
Its gull-wing shape made it instantly recognizeable. Its characteristic sound while in an attack dive led the Japanese to call it "The Whistling Death." Combined with its high speed, agility and toughness, the Vought F4U Corsair was one of the finest fighters ever built. Originally thought to be too powerful to fly from a carrier, the Corsair weaved a path of destruction in battle after battle during WWII, totally outclassing the much-feared Zero. The last of the great piston-engine fighters, the Corsair went on to become an important component of the US naval air power during the Korean War. Even while it was being replaced by jet aircraft, pilots flying this tough warbird were credited with downing a few MiG-15 jet fighters.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a RAF Chance-Vought Corsair III fighter that was attached to 718 Naval Air Squadron, then deployed to FAA Ballyhalbert, Northern Ireland, during 1945.
Release Date: July 2017
Historical Account: "In Support of the Fleet" - On April 1st, 1924, the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Air Force was formed, encompassing those RAF units that normally embarked on aircraft carriers and fighting ships. 1924 was a significant year for British naval aviation as only weeks before the founding of the Fleet Air Arm, the Royal Navy had commissioned HMS Hermes, the world's first ship to be designed and built as an aircraft carrier. Over the following months RAF Fleet Air Arm Fairey IIID reconnaissance biplanes operated off Hermes, conducting flying trials.
On May 24th, 1939, the Fleet Air Arm was returned to Admiralty control under the "Inskip Award" (named after the Minister for Co-ordination of Defence who was overseeing Britain's re-armament programme) and renamed the Air Branch of the Royal Navy. At the onset of the Second World War, the Fleet Air Arm consisted of 20 squadrons with only 232 aircraft. By the end of the war the worldwide strength of the Fleet Air Arm was 59 aircraft carriers, 3,700 aircraft, 72,000 officers and men, and 56 Naval air stations.
During the war, the FAA operated fighters, torpedo bombers and reconnaissance aircraft. Following the Dunkirk evacuation and the commencement of the Battle of Britain, the Royal Air Force soon found itself critically short of fighter pilots. In the summer of 1940, the RAF had just over 800 fighter pilots and as personnel shortages worsened; the RAF turned to the Admiralty to ask for help from the Fleet Air Arm. Fleet Air Arm crews under RAF Fighter Command were either seconded individually to RAF fighter squadrons or, as with 804 and 808 Naval Air Squadrons, as entire squadrons. The former providing dockyard defense during the Battle of Britain with Sea Gladiators.
In the waters around the British Isles and out into the Atlantic Ocean, operations against enemy shipping and submarines in support of the RN were mounted by RAF Coastal Command with large patrol bombers and flying boats and land-based fighter-bombers. The aircraft carrier had replaced the battleship as the Fleet's capital ship and its aircraft were now strike weapons in their own right. The top scoring fighter ace with 17 victories was Commander Stanley Orr, the Royal Marine ace was Ronald Cuthbert Hay with 13 victories. A number of Royal Marines served as FAA pilots during the war.
Notable Fleet Air Arm operations during the war included the Battle of Taranto, the sinking of the Bismarck, Operation Tungsten against the Tirpitz and Operation Meridian against oil plants in Sumatra.