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Airborne Lifeboats

Catalogue number 31020

Fairey Barracuda with an airborne lifeboat

There had been several occurrences of the crew of a sunken ship being found far out in the sea sailing the ships' cutter back to Britain or another friendly coast. Also, there was concern at the loss of valuable aircrew when downed in the sea. The well-known dingy designer Uffa Fow was approached to come up with an airborne lifeboat that could carry up to ten men with all the necessary emergency equipment and stores to assure their survival and radios to assist a rapid recovery. This photograph shows an airborne lifeboat fixed under a Fairey Barracuda (mk 2 or 3, see ASV radome just aft of the lifeboat). The aircraft, maybe MX613, is on an aircraft carrier - note the arrestor wires - and it would appear to be very cold - mittens, gloves and fur-lined hood are the order of the day.

18.1cm x 13cm Gelatin silver print

Source: Agence Intercontinentale


Catalogue number 30045

A Vickers Warwick adapted for air-sea rescue

The mk 2 lifeboat was usually carried by a Vickers Warwick ASR mk 1 and came into service in the summer of 1943. The strong-hulled lifeboat was dropped by parachutes into the sea and then rockets fired lifelines out from the lifeboat to help ditched airmen reach the boat.

13.3cm x 8.5cm Gelatin silver print

Catalogue number 31021

An Avro Shackleton for marine reconnaissance

This Avro 696 Shackleton MR mk 2 is doing a low flypast with the props of three engines feathered and an airborne lifeboat in the modified bomb bay. When on loan to A.V. Roe & Co. Ltd., WL796 gave a such a demonstration at the 1953 Farnborough air show with a Saunders-Roe aluminium-hulled mk 3 lifeboat fitted. The twin 20 mm cannons can be seen in the nose housing with the flat window of the bomb aimer below. In its maritime reconnaissance role, the Avro Shackleton could stay on station for a considerable number of hours - 18 hours for the mk 3 and up to 24 hours in special circumstances.

20.2cm x 14.8cm Gelatin silver print

Source: A.V. Roe Co. Ltd.