What aircraft carried by HMS Malaya

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Fatboy Coxy
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What aircraft carried by HMS Malaya

Post by Fatboy Coxy »

Hi all

I understood HMS Malaya was given an aircraft hanger, catapult and two Walrus seaplanes in her refit in 1934. However, reading her involvement in defending convoy SL 67 from the German Battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau , March 7-8 1941, I read this from
https://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Chron ... Malaya.htm

8th - Between 0251 and 0256 hours, 5 merchants in the convoy were torpedoed and sunk by U.105 and U.124.
At 1330 hours 130 miles off Cape Blanco FORESTER, which was well to the west of the convoy, briefly sighted SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU steaming towards the convoy. The German ships were also sighted at the same time by MALAYA’S patrolling Swordfish. Following the sightings MALAYA and FAULKNOR hauled out of the convoy to join FORESTER, and to put themselves between the convoy and the enemy.

Is this a typo, or did Malaya ship a swordfish?
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Fatboy Coxy

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marcelo_malara
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Re: What aircraft carried by HMS Malaya

Post by marcelo_malara »

Hi. There was a floatplane version.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairey_Swordfish#Variants

Swordfish I
Version equipped with floats, for use from catapult-equipped warships.
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wadinga
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Re: What aircraft carried by HMS Malaya

Post by wadinga »

Hi Fatboy Coxy,

From the Swordfish story by Ray Sturtivant I gleaned the following:

After sailing from Freetown, Malaya had her Swordfish up patrolling which gave warning of the two battlecruisers. Lutjens withdrew but the two U boats he sent in had a field day sinking many ships and hitting Malaya twice. The luckless Swordfish crew were left behind as the damaged battleship could not help, and after landing on the sea were fortunate that a radio station in Tenerife picked up their SOS. A Spanish vessel the Cabo de Bueno Esperanza rescued them on the 9th and they eventually made their way back to Gibraltar.

700 Squadron Fleet Air Arm operated catapult aircraft from several capital ships including Barham, Repulse, Warspite, Valiant, Malaya and Resolution . These named all had Swordfish. Malaya initially had four Swordfish in 1937 but dropped to two in 1938.

Perhaps the floatplane Swordfishes greatest success was when Warspite's aircraft, patrolling ahead as the battleship entered Narvik fjord, not only warned of the waiting German destroyers and spotted 15" salvoes on them, but also sank the surfaced U-64 with bombs.

Although the Swordfish was hardly speedy, especially with draggy floats it had more offensive capability than a Walrus. (Not very difficult) :cool:

All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
Fatboy Coxy
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Re: What aircraft carried by HMS Malaya

Post by Fatboy Coxy »

Wow, that's opened my eyes, in my ignorance, I thought only the Walrus was carried. Looking at them both, there's little difference in size and weight, except the Walrus was much taller. With the drag of the float, the performance of the Swordfish may well have dropped closer to the Walrus, leaving me with a thought of which to pick, and why.

So the Swordfish offered a slightly better light attack option, the Walrus, an ability to carry or rescue more people, other than that I'm left with the thought that because the Swordfish had folding wings, more could be carried in a small ships hanger. Having said that, I think the King George V had the ability to carry four Walrus, two presumably in her hanger. So was their choice made on production numbers as much as anything else?

Oh, and lastly, with my Malaya hat on, Did Repulse carry 1-2 Swordfish with her, on her Z Force deployment?
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wadinga
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Re: What aircraft carried by HMS Malaya

Post by wadinga »

Hi Fatboy Coxy,

Stunningly, further investigation suggests the Walrus was slightly faster than the Swordfish :shock: We can all learn something through study :oops: Both aircraft had folding wings.

However overall amongst the component Flights which were amalgamated into the FAA "Catapult" squadron 700 there were always more Walrus than Swordfish not to mention lighter seaplanes like the Seafox. Flight endurance seems to be an advantage for the former, and when HMS Suffolk could not recover her spotter after she was damaged by the Luftwaffe off Stavanger, the Walrus successfully flew back to the UK, spending 5 hours in the air.

Most ships seem to have got Walruses as time went on and a photo of Repulse in Ensign 8 in "late 1941" shows her with a Walrus on her athwartships catapult. It seems almost certain she had Shagbats instead of Stringbags when she was part of Force Z.

Despite the effort put into catapult aircraft it seems to me Captains were loath to use them since the likelihood of losing aircraft in poor sea conditions or navigational error meant a launch might very well condemn the crew to a lonely death. In addition their structure and fuel were fire hazards on the upper deck. PoW dumped her damaged fuel leaking Walrus overside at Denmark Straits.

All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
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