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The FAA Archive undertakes an Annual survey of Fleet Air Arm preserved aircraft types. The year 2000 page was the first year that this had been undertaken online and hopefully will encourage all museums, collections and trusts to fill important gaps in the Fleet Air Arm preservation scene world-wide.

FAA ARCHIVE CAMPAIGN to identify and preserve un-protected Fleet Air Arm aircraft

Please help us to preserve our shared naval aviation heritage.

If you have information about aircraft with Fleet Air Arm history which fills gaps in the preservation scene please contact us. In future editions of the FAA archive NEWS we will keep you informed with out progress to preserve our FAA Heritage.

The leading light in the UK in the Aircraft preservation scene is the the British Aviation Preservation Council, the representative body for UK preservationists and museums and at the European level, the European Aviation Preservation Council.

Two key activities of the BAPC are particularly relevant to the preservation of aircraft types used by the Fleet Air Arm notably:

    • The BAPC Register of Historic Aircraft.
    • The BAPC produced National Aviation Heritage Strategy.

The National Aviation Heritage Strategy

The aim of the National Aviation Heritage Committee of the BAPC, which was formed in 1996, is to produce a national strategy for the preservation of aviation heritage by identifying priorities for preservation, seeking additional resources and promoting improved conservation and training standards. In 1997 a four year programme was started with five key targets:

    • Protecting aviation items, archives and sites.
    • Ensuring the availability of skilled manpower.
    • Raising standards of education, interpretation and customer service.
    • Improving the effectiveness of restoration and conservation.
    • Raising the profile of Britain's Aviation Heritage.

BAPC Register of Historic Aircraft

This was started in the 1980s to identify and record the many aircraft which were never allocated an official military or civil identity. These include hang gliders; such as Percy Pilcher's 1896 Hawk; RAF 'plastic replicas', film replicas, German and Japanese aircraft and homebuilts.

Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939-1945 and FAA aircraft preservation

As a contribution to the Preservation scene the Fleet Air Arm Archive is striving to work within the framework of the National Aviation Heritage Strategy and its five key targets. This site will concentrate at this stage on providing information about the Fleet Air Arm notably towards:

    • Information on Protecting Fleet Air Arm aviation items, archives and sites.
    • Raising standards of internet education, and interpretation about FAA aviation preservation.
    • Providing information to promote improving the effectiveness of restoration and conservation of Fleet Air Arm aircraft and aviation collections.
    • Raising the profile of Britain and the Commonwealth's Naval Aviation Heritage.

The key target within these pages is to concentrate on providing a portway to information about the naval aviation preservation scene, the following pages concentrate on:

    • establishing and maintaining an International Register of Aircraft Types used by the Fleet Air Arm and Commonwealth Naval Air Arms.
    • Promoting specific efforts to promote the effectiveness of restoration and conservation of Fleet Air Arm aircraft and aviation collections. Highlighted campaigns include the efforts to rebuild the only Fairey Barracuda Dive bomber in the world by the Fleet Air Arm Museum.
    • In addition. raising the profile of Britain and the Commonwealth's Naval Aviation Heritage and strengthen the Fleet Air Arm and Naval Aviation profile in the activities of the BAPC and EAPC.


As of the year 2000 the status of preserved aircraft types used by the Fleet Air Arm was fairly healthy with over 71% of all aircraft types being used by the Fleet Air Arm 1939-1945 in some form of preservation, although few individual aircraft (8%) actually had a service history with the Fleet Air Arm itself and were generally represented by aircraft which only served with RAF, USN or Commonwealth Air Forces. Even then 293 individual airframes have known Fleet Air Arm history.



Aircraft types

Total Number

Total number of individual airframes

Total airframes with known Fleet Air Arm history






None of the aircraft types used by the Fleet Air Arm continue to serve in an active military capacity, although the SAAF used the Harvard as recently as the 1990s. However, two aircraft types continue in commercial employ till the present day, notably the DC3 in South America and the USA, and the Avenger which is used as a fire bomber in Canada.

Sadly, 29 types are believed extinct and 28 are critically endangered with between 1-5 known airframes. and the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939-1945 urges museums, trusts and historic collections to locate and preserve any known parts of these aircraft, so as to at least have a partial preservation collection of these types.

Perhaps the naval preservation scene ought look at filling gaps in aircraft which have known FAA or naval aviation history, a profile which is currently extremely low world-wide.

The Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939-1945 also urges the British Aviation Preservation Council, the representative body for UK preservationists and museums as well as the European Aviation Preservation Council to take a serious look to improve the profile and efforts towards the; Fleet Air Arm and naval aviation aircraft preservation scene in general and to strengthen the FAA profile in the BAPC "The National Aviation Heritage Register" and "Aero Engines Exhibited and Stored in the UK and Ireland".



Aircraft are the machines of our recent past. Royal Navy and Fleet Air Arm aircraft were mass-produced in the thousands during World War II. Once plentiful, they are becoming increasingly rare, as their historical significance grows. A number of naval aviation and national aviation museums have been established over the past 20-30 years in the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and USA, and there are many smaller trusts or collections and private owners and commercial companies possessing or operating airworthy naval aircraft sometimes of significant historical value. Particularly those aircraft from World War II known as "Warbirds," are highly prized by museums, collectors and private individuals.

In addition, naval and other military aircraft wrecks, particularly those from World War II, are scattered around the four corners of the world and may represent the sole surviving examples of given types. Aviation wrecks are highly sought after by museums, collectors, and salvors and thus are extremely threatened wreck sites. However, examples of success included the 1999-2000 activities of the FAA Museum to rescue a Fairey Barracuda from remote Scottish islands.

FAA and preserved Naval aircraft

It is difficult to calculate the total number of preserved aircraft used by the Fleet Air Arm, however, happily with the advent of the Internet there are various Aircraft and Museum locators which have significantly simplified the process.

There are currently over 70 aircraft types which are in some form of preservation that were used by the Fleet Air Arm, although individual aircraft histories on the whole are either are unknown to this survey or tended to be relate to the RAF, Commonwealth or US Navy. In terms of actual aircraft numbers this may total a thousand or so, although this would largely be made up of Tiger Moths, Harvards, Dakota, Reliants, Avengers, Corsairs and Spitfire [Note: each aircraft would not necessarily have FAA histories only the type].

Invaluable research in the near future would be to determine exact individual aircraft histories and their link to the Fleet Air Arm, most notably of former naval aircraft which were given to the FAA under Lend-Lease and returned to the US post-war and subsequently put on the US civil register.

Perhaps the most securely protected aircraft which will remain preserved for future generations are the national museums, and the dedicated museums and trusts devoted to naval aviation: The Fleet Air Arm Museum, the Royal Navy Historic Flight, the Shearwater Naval Museum, the Australian Museum of Flight and the US National Naval Aviation Museum which all maintain ownership of their historic aircraft in order to preserve the nation's heritage in naval aviation.

Yet, there is an enormous wealth of naval aircraft types which are not preserved in national collections and a few historic aircraft are still flown by private owners. This in itself does not necessarily threaten the status of Fleet Air Arm aircraft types as is so clearly seen by the safety and heritage records of the Royal Navy Historic Flight, and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, although accidents can happen. Safeguards and registers of aircraft with known Fleet Air Arm history in private ownership would certainly enhance or raise awareness of the historic and heritage of our naval aviation world-wide and hopefully also increase strategic efforts and rationalisation in the preservation and conservation of Fleet Air Arm aircraft world-wide.

FAA and naval aviation wrecks

Given the duties of the Fleet Air Arm and Commonwealth Naval Air Arms were naturally so focused on a maritime or remote island environment, there is every possibility that significant numbers of aircraft still survive as terrestrial or submerged navy aircraft wrecks, not just in the UK but world-wide wherever the Royal Navy operated. The Crown Jewels of Aviation Archaeologists dreams of which is the many hundreds of FAA aircraft which were dumped at sea off Australia from 1945 onwards.

Therefore, it is difficult to calculate the total number of Navy aircraft wrecks, either in the Home waters or world-wide. The UK Public Records Office maintains some Aircraft Crash cards for World War II, as does the equivalent in the US, and further aircraft incident information is identified in the FAA publications of R Sturtivant. However, many crash reports refer to aircraft that were repaired, removed, scrapped for parts or otherwise eliminated. Therefore, each of these records would require detailed scrutiny and further research - and that information may now have long been lost. There is no clear estimate of extant terrestrial and submerged Navy aircraft wrecks either in the UK, or of FAA operations elsewhere in the Commonwealth or world-wide.

The number of surviving wrecks is less due to subsequent destruction by environmental and human factors.

Value of the Resource

Unlike the preservation scene, there is much threat from the intense interest in Navy aircraft by salvors? Pounds, dollars and Euros, real and anticipated, are the principal motive. The Hellcat recovered by Quonset Air Museum (USA), although badly damaged, had an estimated value of US $200,000. Two Lake Michigan Wildcats recovered reported to have been sold for US $250,000 apiece. And the rare TBD was estimated to have a value of one or two million US dollars once restored. Aircraft museums, in the rush to build collections, have been an impetus for recoveries and have been instrumental in creating a market value for historic aircraft.

The International Register of Preserved Fleet Air Arm Aircraft Types was established to evaluate the significance of properties to recognize the accomplishments of all peoples who have made a significant contribution to our FAA and naval aviation history and heritage. The criteria are designed to guide national and local authorities, government agencies, and aviation enthusiast groups in evaluating potential entries in the National Register.

Criteria for Evaluation

The quality of significance in Royal Navy and Commonwealth American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture that:

are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of naval aviation history; or

are associated with the lives of persons significant in naval aviation; or

embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of an aviation manufacturer or aircraft designer, or that possess high historic, experimental or unique prototype values; or

have yielded or may be likely to yield, information important in FAA and Commonwealth history.

Example Threat and Conservation and Categories invented for use by the Fleet Air Arm Archive for this register include:

EXTINCT (EX): An aircraft type is Extinct when there is no reasonable doubt that there is not even a single complete and preserved example anywhere in the world of this type.

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED (CR): An aircraft type is Critically Endangered when there are either extremely few surviving aircraft of between 1-5 of this type in existence, or where there is incomplete examples of the aircraft type such as with only fuselage or cockpits surviving, or where it is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the immediate future, including if it not preserved in public ownership or trusts and/or exists in wrecked in-situ form with no formal, physical or effective legal protection. Additionally, an individual aircraft type with low numbers above 5 would be listed if individual aircraft with known historic record are under threat from destruction or alteration by being used for "spares' to restore other aircraft.

ENDANGERED (EN): An aircraft type is Endangered when it is not Critically Endangered and survives with only low numbers of between 5-15 aircraft, and where it is facing a very high risk of extinction in the unpreserved wrecked or private ownership form in the near future.

VULNERABLE (VU): An aircraft type is Vulnerable when it is not Critically Endangered or Endangered and numbers between 15-30 aircraft but is facing a high risk of extinction in the medium-term future if adequate preservation is not taken into account.

LOWER RISK (LR): An aircraft type is Lower Risk when it has been evaluated, does not satisfy the criteria for any of the categories Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable and numbers between 30-100 aircraft. Aircraft types included in the Lower Risk category can be separated into three sub categories:

Preservation Dependent (pd). Aircraft types which are the focus of a continuing preservation; programme targeted towards the aircraft type in question, the cessation of which would result in the type qualifying for one of the threatened categories above within a period of five years.

Near Threatened (nt). Aircraft Types which do not qualify for Conservation Dependent, but which are close to qualifying for Vulnerable.

Least Concern (lc). Aircraft types which do not qualify for Preservation Dependent or Near Threatened.

DATA DEFICIENT (DD): A aircraft type is Data Deficient when there is inadequate information to make a direct, or indirect, assessment of its risk of extinction. An aircraft type in this category may be well researched, and its history well known, but appropriate data on abundance and/or where and if it is preserved is lacking. Data Deficient is therefore not a category of threat or Lower Risk. Listing of aircraft types in this category indicates that more information is required and acknowledges the possibility that future research will show that threatened classification is appropriate. In many cases great care should be exercised in choosing between DD and threatened status.

NOT EVALUATED (NE): An aircraft type is Not Evaluated when it is has not yet been assessed against the criteria.

NOT THREATENED (NT): An Aircraft type which is of relatively high numbers, whose preservation status is secured in national museums and whose numbers exceed the amount in the lower risk category, which significantly higher numbers than 100 airframes.

In future editions of the Fleet Air Arm Archive the criteria will be applied to the aircraft types and to individual airframes within each type.

Preserved Aircraft Lists A-H
Preserved Aircraft Lists I-Z


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