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Landing on, taking off

Catalogue number 40082

Landing on the Béarn

The French aircraft carrier has turned into the wind but the two lifts are up and loaded so the aircraft that took this photograph is not likely to land on.

20.9cm x 15cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 16028

A Levasseur PL4 on approach, late 1920s

The way is clear for this Levasseur PL4 to land on the Béarn. I wonder what the device is fixed to the starboard strut. There is also a hefty fuel tank just behind the pilot’s head. Apparently there is not a batman or anyone to give the pilot information about his approach.

17.4cm x 21.1cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 24023

Trials on the French carrier Béarn, 1930

After initial trials on the unfinished hull of the battleship Béarn, the ship was transformed into a proper aircraft carrier after the First World War but it was only ready until 1928. Here a Levasseur PL-4 bomber is landing on but hasn’t caught the arresting wire. Note the deck crew to the left and right of the stern, probably already there when the aircraft landed. A second aircraft is circling on the upper right.

Verso: “Training exercises on the Marine Nationale aircraft carrier “BEARN”. Toulon. Landing on and taking off exercises took place on the aircraft carrier “Béarn” off Toulon. An arresting system made up of strong elastic cords fixed across the deck of the ship stops the aircraft on landing by way of a hook fixed to the rear of the aircraft and thus providing ample security for the aircrew. Aircraft landing and a view of the elastic cords acting as a break.”

Credit: Wide World Photos

11cm x 6.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 104086

Recovering a Fairey IIIF floatplane, 1935

Although the Fairey IIIF could be catapulted off, the ship had to come almost to a halt to recover the floatplane. This Fairey IIIF serial number S1807 didn’t see much service. Delivered in 1931, it went to H.M.S. Renown in early 1932 (with 716 squadron in 1935, as in this photograph) to be struck off charge as redundant in late 1936.

Recto: “British fleet manoeurvres off Portland” in French and in black ink

16.6cm x 12cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 25021

Operating a Fairey IIID floatplane

This photograph again illustrates the problem of operating a floatplane, it having to be brought aboard using a crane. The Fairey IIID seriel number N9469, one of the earlier aircraft powered by the Rolls-Royce Eagle mk VIII engine, was used in trials to launch floatplanes from H.M.S. Argus in 1922 using a wheeled launching trolley. This aircraft was then on H.M.S. Vindictive from 1925 to 1928, shown here probably on the China station.

Verso: “HMS Vindictive N9460” (sic) FaireyIIID” in pencil

13cm x 8.1cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 16025

A novel way of recovering a seaplane

One way to overcome the problem of recovering a seaplane was to use a Hein mat trailing from the stern of a ship whilst underway. The strengthened canvas apron was paid out from the stern and the seaplane ran onto it. A crane then lifted the seaplane onto the deck.

9.8cm x 6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 58014

Recovering a Loire 130

Another way to recover a seaplane was for it to come up fast alongside the ship whilst a crew member climbed onto the wing and, with the prop just a short distance from his head, catch the crane hook and fix it to the lifting point. The aircraft was then brought on board. Here we can see two crew members forward, one with a gaff to catch the crane hook, the pilot is located behind a small windscreen to port just underneath the engine and another member of the crew is up on the wing holding the lifting strop.

13.8cm x 9.4cm Printed image


Catalogue number 44275

A Walrus taking off from a carrier

Amphibious aircraft like this Vickers Supermarine Walrus could operate from the deck of an aircraft carrier.

Verso: “Walrus aircraft taking off” in blue ink

10.7cm x 7.5cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 24017

Waving off

On a windy day off the South coast of France in the mid-50s, this French Navy Corsair is having difficulty landing on the carrier Lafayette and has been waved off. The batsman is in the shelter on the port quarter

8.7cm x 6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 24017

Taxying on deck

On deck and with the arrester wire released, this Corsair is starting to fold up the wings ready to be stowed away.

8.7cm x 6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 24017

Corsair ready for take off

This Corsair of 15F squadron is on the point of being catapulted off the deck of the French carrier Lafayette during a training exercise in 1956.

8.7cm x 6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 43221

In the air

A Grumman Avenger has just taken off from the French carrier Bois Belleau. From the position of the balanced rudder, we can see that the aircraft is banking away to starboard.

Verso: “Bois Belleau 1960 Bizerte” in pencil

24cm x 18.2cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 109061

Cross-deck operations, 1962

The following three photographs come from a series taken during the NATO exercise Dawn Breeze in March and April 1962. During the exercise, a Sea Vixen and a Fairey Gannet from Royal Navy performed cross-deck operations. Here a Sea Vixen is about to be catapulted off the French carrier Clemenceau. We can clearly see the “dog bone” holdback at the rear of the aircraft and the bridle hooked on to the catapult shuttle forward. The rescue helicopter is in the background just right of the aircraft’s nose.

13.1cm x 7.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 19015

Crusader trials on the carrier Clemenceau

During the NATO exercise, a F8U2N Crusader from the American carrier Saratoga did take off and landing trials on the Clemenceau. France was interested in purchasing this type of aircraft and here we can see one pulling out of an approach.

10.9cm x 8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 19015

Crusader trials, ready for take off

The Crusader piloted by Lieutenant Commander Turner is on the point of beginning catapulted off the Clemenceau, Dawn Breeze 1962.

10.8cm x 8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 24006

The batsman at work, 1955

Landing on was assisted by a landing signal officer or batsman who would use hand signals to guide the pilot for the right angle and height of approach and alignment onto the deck. Whilst approach speeds remained low, the manual control of deck landing was possible but with the coming into service of jet aircraft, a rapid and automatic system became necessary. Here a Short SB6 Seamew XA213 is landing on H.M.S. Bulwark in 1955, the tail hook is down and we can see the arresting wire in the left foreground.

Verso: “Short Brothers & Harland Limited, Queens Island, Belfast. 1 AUG 1955 Photographic Dept.” blue ink stamp.

21.2cm x 15.7cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 107098

The mirror landing aid and the angled flight deck

To port just forward of the horizontal radio antennae, we can see the mirror landing aid introduced to overcome the problems of manual signals to guide jet aircraft during landing on. Also, the development of the angled deck meant that flight operations could take place whilst aircraft were spotted on the forward deck. Also, should the landing aircraft miss the arresting wires, the pilot could accelerate and fly off again. This view shows an aircraft maybe on approach to the carrier Clemenceau although it is not lined up and the landing aid indicates that the aircraft is high on approach.

23.9cm x 18.2cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 98069

Release of the arrester wire

This French Super Etendard has landed on the carrier, caught the arresting wire and come to a halt. With the tension released on the wire, it falls free from the tail hook which is then raised.

15cm x 10cm Colour print


Catalogue number 104076

Cross-deck operations

Prior to this photograph being taken, H.M.S. Ark Royal and U.S.S. Saratoga had taken part in a major NATO naval exercise named Strikeback simulating a Soviet attack. This Skyraider was part of squadron VA-75 on board U.S.S. Saratoga. The exercise took place in September 1957 and involved over 200 ships and 1,500 aircraft.

Verso: “An AD6 Skyraider being arrested in HMS Ark Royal during cross operations with USS Saratoga. The Rescue Guard helicopter is on station on the port side.” in blue ink. Stamped “14 OCT 1957”

20.2cm x 15.7cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 69068

Dummy catapult trials of a Buccaneer, 1959

This photograph shows the Blackburn Buccaneer serial number XK523, fully-navalised with tail hook, catapult bridle hooks, folding outer wings and nose, during catapult trials off an artificial deck catapult at the Royal Aeronautical Establishment, Bedford. The trials took place from 3rd to 20th July 1959 and were part of an extensive series of aerodrome catapult take offs and dummy deck landings that preceded carrier trials.

14cm x 9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 109035

A Blackburn Buccaneer nearing the round down

H.M.S. Victorious is about to receive a Buccaneer, the mirror landing aid to port shows that the aircraft is low on approach (the ball appears to be below the horizontal datum lights).

Verso: “Buccaneer landing on “Victorious” MOD”

Credit: Ministry of Defence

19.2cm x 15.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 19027

A Blackburn Buccaneer caught by the arrester wire

A Buccaneer caught the first arresting wire on H.M.S. Ark Royal during carrier deck trials in the early 1960s. The rescue helicopter is hovering nearby just in case.

Credit: Blackburn Company Ltd.

20.5cm x 15.6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 31016

Hook down and on the round down

This photograph shows a Fleet Air Arm Scimitar about to touch down onto H.M.S. Ark Royal and the tail hook is in position to catch the arresting wire. It is said that the Scimitar was a difficult aircraft to land.

21.4cm x 15.2cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 38001

Waving off, Sea Hawk on H.M.S. Eagle, 1957

This Hawker Sea Hawk has been waved off as it approaches the deck of H.M.S. Eagle, firing two star shells being the signal, whilst four Fairey Gannets make a fly pass. After the 1954-55 refit, Eagle had an angled flight deck and Westland Wyverns with three other Sea Hawks are spotted there.

Verso: “Flying exercises off Lands End. 1.11.57. Carriers of the Royal Navy have been taking part in day and night flying exercises out in the English Channel off Lands End. This picture shows – overshoot procedure: star shells fired from the aircraft carrier H.M.S. EAGLE instruct the pilot.”

Credit: Central Press Photos Ltd.

30.3cm x 22.2cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 91144

Multiple catapult launches on U.S.S. Saratoga

U.S.S. Saratoga was built with an angled flight deck which not only assisted recovery procedures but also speeded up taking off of large numbers of aircraft (Saratoga could carry up to 90 aircraft). Two Grumman F9F-8P Cougars (reconnaissance) are being positioned on the catapults and a Vought F8U-1 Crusader has just left the forward port catapult. At the same time, what may be a McDonnell F3H-2N Demon has left one of the two catapults of the angled flight deck. The photograph was taken prior to the removal of the forward 5-inch sponsons in the late 60s.

27.5cm x 19.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 17008

Landing on, U.S.S. Independence, 1991

Here is an aircraft coming in to land on the U.S.S. Independence in 1991. We can see the optical landing aid on the port side and a Grumman F-14 Tomcat is taxing off onto the spotting area. The advantages of the angled flight deck are clearly apparent with over eleven aircraft and a helicopter spotted on the forward flight deck.

Verso: “CVW-14 16-08-91” in pencil

Credit: U.S. Navy

24cm x 19cm Gelatin silver print

Catalogue number 280022

A perfect approach!

The line up is good and the optical landing system shows a perfect approach as this aircraft comes in over the French carrier Charles de Gaulle, 2002. A helicopter is landing on and the deck landing lights are lit up.

Credit: Marine Nationale, MP F. Peynaud

23.8cm x 17.8cm Colour print