Fighter catapult ships (FCS) also known as Catapult Armed Ships were an attempt by the Royal Navy to provide air cover at sea. Five ships were acquired and commissioned as Naval vessels early in the Second World War, and these were used to accompany convoys. The concept was extended to merchant ships which were also equipped with rocket-assisted launch systems and known as Catapult Aircraft Merchantmen (CAM ships). Both classes could launch a disposable fighter (usually a Hawker Hurricane) to fight off a threat, with the pilot expected to be rescued after either ditching the aircraft or bailing out close to the launching ship.

The ships

There were five fighter catapult ships, collectively known as the Pegasus class. Two, Patia and Springbank, were lost during the war. They were each equipped with a single Fairey Fulmar or "Hurricat" (an adapted Hawker Hurricane Mk.1A).

Ship Launched Converted Notes
Ariguani 1926[1] 1940 Former ocean boarding vessel, converted to a catapult ship in 1940, war service in the Atlantic[2] after being damaged repaired in 1943 and returned to merchant use.
Maplin 1940 Former ocean boarding vessel. Maplin saw war service in the Atlantic in 1940. She was a training ship from 1941 to 1944, in reserve from September 1944 and subsequently an accommodation ship. Maplin's war service was focused on Atlantic convoys and her "Hurricat" was the first to destroy an enemy aircraft, a Focke-Wulf Fw 200 in August 1941. The pilot was Robert W H Everett of 804 Naval Air Squadron.[3][4]
Patia 1922 1941[5] Former ocean boarding vessel. Lost 1941[6][7] Foundered after bombing attack
Pegasus 1914 1940 Commissioned as seaplane carrier HMS Ark Royal in 1914, renamed Pegasus in 1934. Used as seaplane training vessel until converted, returned to training in 1941[8][9]
Springbank 1926 1940 Cargo ship converted to auxiliary anti-aircraft cruiser then to catapult ship. Torpedoed by U-201 on 27 September 1941 and sunk by HMS Jasmine.[6][10][11]

FCS combat launches

Date Ship/convoy Pilot Outcome
18 July 1941 HMS Maplin Lt R. Everett RNVR Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor was shot down by a ship's anti-aircraft guns, just as the Hurricane pilot was about to attack. Everett flew to Northern Ireland and landed at RAF St Angelo.[12]
3 Aug 1941 HMS Maplin / OG 17 Lt R. Everett RNVR Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor shot down; pilot recovered by a destroyer[13]

See also

References

Citations

  1. ^ "HMS Ariguani (F 105) (British Fighter catapult ship) - Ships hit by German U-boats during WWII - uboat.net". www.uboat.net.
  2. ^ "HMS Ariguani". Fleet Air Arm Archive. 23 February 2001. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 26 October 2009.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  3. ^ "HMS Maplin". Fleet Air Arm Archive. 23 February 2001. Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 26 October 2009.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  4. ^ "804 Squadron". Fleet Air Arm Archive. 2001. Archived from the original on 25 September 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2009.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  5. ^ Historic England. "Monument No. 1001497". Research records (formerly PastScape). Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  6. ^ a b Smith, Gordon (8 April 2009). "Major British Warship Losses in World War 2". naval-history.net. Retrieved 27 October 2009.
  7. ^ "HMS Patia". Fleet Air Arm Archive. 23 February 2001. Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 26 October 2009.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  8. ^ "HMS Pegasus". Fleet Air Arm Archive. 23 February 2001. Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 26 October 2009.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  9. ^ Payne, Alan (31 December 1975). "The Catapult Fighters". Retrieved 27 October 2009.
  10. ^ "HMS Springbank". Fleet Air Arm Archive. 23 February 2001. Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 26 October 2009.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  11. ^ Gregory, Mackenzie J (2009) [1984]. "The Development of the Catapult Armed Merchantman ( CAM Ships. ) - HMS Springbank". Ahoy - Mac's Web Log - Naval, Maritime, Australian History and more. The Naval Historical Society of Australia, Inc. Retrieved 27 October 2009.
  12. ^ Barker (2019) p.45
  13. ^ "The first Condor shot down by a Hurricat". World War II Today. Archived from the original on 15 December 2013. Retrieved 25 February 2016.

Sources