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Naval Aviation. II

Ships converted to early aircraft carriers

Catalogue number 20038

The first Ark Royal aircraft carrier

In 1914, a collier was converted to a seaplane carrier and named H.M.S. Ark Royal. The ship was later renamed H.M.S. Pegasus to free up the name Ark Royal for a new carrier. This carrier lacked the speed for any fleet action, the solution, as we will see below, was to convert the very much fast cross-channel and small passenger ships

Verso: “H.M.S. “Ark. Royal.” Aircraft carrier also in the lower regions carries oil fuel to supply the ships at sea.” in black ink

Credit: Abrahams

12.3cm x 6.7cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 117063

Handling a floatplane on H.M.S. Ark Royal

The limited space on H.M.S. Ark Royal made it difficult to manoeuver a floatplane between the hold and the hanger as well as lifting it in and out of the sea. The Short Admiralty type 166 shown here had folding wings to assist storage in the hangar/hold

Verso: “English aircraft hoisted on board a ship Bay of Salonica 1916” in French and in black ink

20.2cm x 15.1 cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 66028

Launching a floatplane

A Short 166 being lowered from H.M.S. Ark Royal into the sea, 1915. Note the men on deck holding lines to steady the tail and floats.

Credit: Imperial War Museum (IWM Non-Commercial Licence)

20.4cm x 15.3cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 108038

Develpments in launching and recovering aircraft

In 1940, H.M.S. Pegasus (ex-Ark Royal) was converted for trials with a fighter catapult. The catapult was fixed to the raised structure on deck forward of the cranes. We can also see the Hein mat platform that was used in trials to recover a floatplane whilst underway (see catalogue n° 118125 below).

Recto: “H.M.S. Pegasus”

13.4cm x 8.5cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 118125

The Hein mat

This photograph gives a good view of a Hein mat being deployed over the stern of the French cruiser Foch in the mid-1930s. The floatplane would come up from the stern and ride over and onto the floating mat, all whilst the ship was underway. The floatplane would then be hoisted on board by a crane.

14.4cm x 9.5cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 79027

The cross-channel ferry Engadine converted to an aircraft carrier

We can see a floatplane at the entrance to the hangar right aft. The ship is camouflaged.

Credit: Abrahams

13.2 cm x 7.5cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 35275

The second H.M.S. Pegasus

H.M.S. Pegasus was a fast passenger ship converted in 1917 to an aircraft carrier with a large hangar and cranes working over the stern. This H.M.S. Pegasus was sold in 1931 so enabling the name to be transferred to the ex-Ark Royal in 1934.

Recto: “Pegasus” in gold paint

Credit: Real Photographs Co.

14cm x 9 cm Gelatin silver print

Catalogue number 24008

An early flight deck fitted to H.M.S. Pegasus

A forward flight deck was built up to launch wheeled aircraft brought up to the flight deck by lift from the forward hangar. In this photograph, the ship has acquired dazzle camouflage.

Recto: “British Aeroplane ship Part of the Grand Fleet

Credit: Denson

12.9cm x 8cm Gelatin silver print


Japanese aircraft flown by the French Aeronavale

Catalogue number 65058

Japanese bomber examined by the ATAIU

The Asia Technical Air Intelligence Unit (ATAIU) was part of an intelligence network setup to recover and evaluate Japanese aircraft. Technical merits were examined and test flights were made to reveal weak points in the aircraft's performance that could be used by the Allies. Here a crashed Japanese bomber from the Pearl Harbour attack in under study.

16.2cm x 17.3cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 105028

French-flown Nakajima A6M2-N Rufe, 1946

The Rufe was based on the Zero fighter but the addition of floats greatly diminished its performance. This aircraft was recovered in Surabaya and flown by the R.A.F. to Singapore and then on to a base in Malaya for evaluation by the ATAIU. It was then handed over to the French Aeronavale who operated this aircraft in what was then Indochina but it crashed during a mission in 1946. Cat Lai, now in Vietnam, had a base of the French Aeronavale from 1931 to 1953.

Verso: “Nakajima.A6M2.N- Code "Rufe" 1946. Esc. 8S. Cat. Laï” in black ink

Credit: Photo Gamec. Collection Thomé

17cm x 12cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 105029

French-flown Nakajima A6M2-N Rufe, 1946

The French airforce base of Bien Hoa was particularly active from 1946 during the Indochina war and this photograph shows the French Rufe being launched. This was the aircraft in which Enseigne de vaisseau Raymond Hostalier was killed during a trial flight at low altitude, the aircraft going into the river near Ba-sang. Note the insignia "ATAIU on the tail.

Verso: "Bien Hoa beginning 1946. Nakajima A6M2-N Code "Rufe" (Zero floatplane version)" in pencil and in French

17.2cm x 12cm Gelatin silver print

Catalogue number 105030

French-flown Nakajima A6M2-N Rufe, 1946

The 8S squadron of the French aeronavale flew the Japanese aircraft Nakajima A6M2-N Rufe and the Aïchi Jake. This photograph shows a French aeronavale Aichi E13A long-range reconnaissance floatplane flying over the Donai meanders. France operated several Aichi Jake's during the Indochina war.

Verso: "Aïchi-Kokuki Esc 8S Cat Lai 1946 Flying over Donai" in black ink

Credit: Photo Gamec Collection Thomé

17.2cm x 12cm Gelatin silver print