A Pictorial History Of The Brown Water War In Vietnam by Riverine

By Riverine

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As with the Spiteful, the centre fuselage was slightly deeper than the standard Spitfire/ Seafire, which allowed the cockpit to be raised in order to improve the pilot’s view over the nose. The result of all these changes was to produce an aircraft that was much more suited to carrier operations than the basic Seafire. Test flights and deck landing trials (aboard HMS Illustrious in May 1947) confirmed that the pilot’s view of the flight deck on approach was very good, the contra-rotating propeller eliminated issues connected with torque on take-off or in the event of a wave off, and the wide track undercarriage with long stroke oleos was much better suited to the carrier environment.

A sterner test came with the outbreak of the Korean War where Theseus and her air group of Seafires and Fireflies were heavily committed from the outbreak of hostilities in June 1950 until the following September. By this time her battered air group had an effective strength of only eleven aircraft. Losses from enemy action were few but attrition and accidents had taken their toll, including overstressing of some Seafire rear fuselages. When Triumph returned to the UK in November 1950, the Seafires were disembarked and the frontline career of the Seafire was ended.

These, and subsequent types, were all designed and built specifically for naval use and incorporated the experience gained by intensive flying operations and exercises over the previous decade. By December 1941, the war in Europe had been raging for almost two years and hostilities with Japan had been anticipated to some degree. With all naval Treaty restrictions now no longer applicable, the US Navy was able to start the construction of a new class of large carriers, which would ultimately form the core of the great naval task forces that were to be the deciding factor in the Pacific War.

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