|Number of Hurricanes ferried to Ceylon by Indomitable||Simon and Gaham,
I think the ORB is mistaken to say that there were 70 Hurricanes. The author may have meant to write 60. There is very little chance that there was more than 60.
Hereís how I think the delivery went. The Hurricane did not have folding wings and could be accommodated only on Indomitableís forward lift, which was larger than the aft lift. (Illustrious, Formidable and Victorious had no lift that could take a Hurricane.) The forward lift served only the upper hangar. There is no way that this hangar had enough room for 58-60 fully assembled Hurricanes, especially since they had to share it with the nine Sea Hurricanes of 880 NAS, which likewise had non-folding wings. (The 12 Albacores of 827 NAS and the one Swordwish on board would have been struck down in the lower hangar.) Even after the first 20 Hurricanes to be assembled were taken to the flight deck after last light on 5 March, there still would not have been room in the upper hangar for the nine Sea Hurricanes and the remaining 38-40 Hurricanes if the latter were fully assembled. I would think that few of these 38-40 Hurricanes could have been fully assembled until the first 20 had flown off. The second range of Hurricanes, presumably consisting of the last six 30 Sqn aircraft and 14 from 261 Sqn, were evidently not flown off until 1600 because it took until then to complete their assembly. The last 18-20 Hurricanes could then be assembled during the night of 6 March and flown off at first light on the 7th. Indomitable left Port Sudan on 27 February. I think we can be pretty sure that the reason why the Hurricanes werenít all assembled until the night of the 6th, instead of the night of the 5th, was due to lack of room and not lack of time.
Two Hurricanes returned to Indomitable. One was Z4961, flown by 261 Sqn COís, S/L Lewis, and Bloody Shambles makes it clear that his aicraft was repaired and he took off again for Ceylon. He probably took off at 1600 on the 6th and then again on the morning of the 7th. The other was Sgt Whittaker. I had inferred that his Hurricane was also repaired and sent off again but actually neither Bloody Shambles nor Flat Out say this, and thanks to your posts it seems clear that it was not. Indomitable was in Bombay in mid-April, so if his Hurricane was unloaded there that might explain why it was on a train in India.
So it would appear from your info that 26 Hurricanes from 30 Squadron took off from Indomitable on 6 March but only 25 arrived. Four days later it had 27 Hurricanes, so presumably two of the other Hurricanes flown off Indomitable had been given to it by then. As 30 Sqn and 261 Sqn had 58 Hurricanes between them on 10 March and Whittakerís aircraft was still on Indomitable, it seems that Indomitable carried 59 Hurricanes from Port Sudan, rather than 58.
Thanks for pointing out that 30 Sqn had 24 aircraft on 29 March. Prior to 6 March, 258 Squadron, which was in the process of being stood-u ....Read More.||Rob Stuart on 9th March 2011 10:30:50|
|Number of Hurricanes ferried to Ceylon by Indomitable||Graham,
There seems to be little doubt that there were 10 Mark Iís. I can account for maybe seven of them:
-258 Sqnís ORB and other sources note that on 5 April it scrambled a flight of nine Mark IIís and a flight of five Mark Iís. The serial numbers of the latter were Z4247, Z4227, Z4372, Z4983 and, supposedly, Z7711, but Halley says the latter was a Blenheim IV.
-261 Sqnís CO, Sqn Ldr Lewis, was flying Z4961 when shot down. One source says this was a Mark 1, another says it was a IIA. If it was a IIA then itís the only one Iíve identified.
-the China Bay station commander flew 261 Sqnís Z4762 to a satellite field on 9 April. This was a Mark I.
As for why some of the 60 Hurricanes were Mk Iís, I agree with what you say about the drawbacks of including them along with the more numerous Mark IIís. From AIR 8/881, which has been kindly provided to me by ďTom from CornwallĒ very recently, from [I]Hurricanes Over the Sands[/I], and from the ORBs, it looks like 30 and 261 squadrons flew their Mark Is to No.108 M.U. before leaving Egypt and were given 36 Mark IIBís, flown overland from Takoradi, when they got to Port Sudan. However, on 17 February Portal told Tedder to get as many Hurricanes on Indomitable as would fit. Apparently there were only another 14 Mark IIís on hand, also flown in from Takoradi I think, so 10 Mark Iís from the Middle East were embarked, since 60 dismantled Hurricanes could be squeezed aboard the carrier. I expect that nothing but Mark IIís would have been sent if 60 of them could have been got to Port Sudan in time but apparently that was not possible. ....Read More.||Rob Stuart on 1st October 2013 10:13:56|
|Number of Hurricanes ferried to Ceylon by Indomitable||Graham and Peter, thanks very much for your responses. Iíve done some more checking and can add the following now:
Last weekend I paid the requisite £3.36 and downloaded a copy of the 258 Sqn ORB Form 540 for March-April Ď42. It says that on 1 April the unit had 10 x Mark II and 7 x Mark I, and that on 3 April it received a further Mark I. (Iím guessing that the latter aircraft might have been from 30 Sqn, since it had 24 Hurricanes on 29 March, lost one in an accident on 3 April and had only 22 on 5 April.) Since Z4961 was a IIA (thanks for confirming this), this means that on 5 April 258 Sqn had eight Mark Iís and 261 Sqn had one (Z4762), leaving just one unaccounted for.
ďZ4983Ē was a typo on my part. The 258 Sqn ORB actually reads ďZ4783Ē. Iím guessing that this was a Mk I converted to a Mk IIA.
I have a theory about ďZ7711Ē, which is that the serial number should read Z5661 in the ORB. According to Halley, Z5661 was ďShot down by A6Ms over Colombo, 5.4.42Ē. If this is true then Z5661 pretty much has to be the aircraft wrongly listed in the ORB as Z7711, since the serial numbers of the other 13 aircraft of 258 Sqn which scrambled are accounted for. Furthermore, the ORB lists P/O RN Neill RAAF as the pilot of ďZ7711Ē and he is known to have been shot down and killed. If Z5661 was a Mk I converted to Mk IIA this would support (but not prove) my theory, since I canít really see an unconverted Mk I being grouped with a flight of Mk IIís. Any other explanation would entail more than just one error, e.g., two errors in Halley: Z5661 was not shot down and Neill was flying an aircraft which is not noted as having been lost on 5 April
Last weekend I also downloaded (for another£3.36) the ORB for 30 Sqn for March-April 1942, AIR 27/344/29. Very much to my frustration, pages 1 and 2 of the Form 540 are missing, so the first entry is for 8 March. Page 2 may well have indicated how many aircraft 30 Sqn flew off Indomitable. (Insert expletive of your choice!)
Graham, which of Masonís books are you referring to?
Rob ....Read More.||Rob Stuart on 10th October 2013 05:32:03|