Fighter Catapult Armed ship  Auxillary Ship

CAM ship with Hurricane on catapult


HMS Maplin was a Catapult Armed ship or Fighter Catapult ship. It was a representative of the Pegasus Class consisting of Ariguani, Maplin, Patia, Pegasus and Springbank with FAA aircraft. Each of these merchantmen were equipped with one Fleet Air Arm or RAF fighter and a temporary catapult. When threatened by enemy planes, the fighter took off. When it was done, it ditched, and the pilot was (theoretically) picked up by the merchant ship's convoy.
As an interim measure until more escort carriers could be made, selected British or Dominion merchant ships were fitted with an obsolescent Hawker Hurricane fighter to protect the ship convoys against air attack or reconnaisance overflights. The pilot was the only Fleet Air Arm or RAF crew member on board, and had little to do unless the plane was needed. If an emergency arose, the aircraft would be catapulted off to do combate, then the pilot had to ditch and be fished out of the water. Though the aircraft could only be used once, they even had their landing gear deleted to save weight, they could save a convoy from air attack.

The first catapult launch from a moving ship was by Lt.Cmdr. H.H. Mustin in a Curtiss AB-3 flying boat on 16 July, 1916, launched from the USS North Carolina (ACR-12). In the second world War the first FAA pilot shot from a catapult ship was by Lt Birrell in 1941.

Photograph of example of catapult launched aircraft - Kingfisher
Pegasus was converted to become a catapult ship in 1940, saw war service in the Atlantic 1940, and became a training ship from 1941-1944, and put into reserve from September 1944 and subsequently relegated to being an accomodation ship.

Sea hurricane catapult launch

Maplin's wartime history was focused on Atlantic convoys, and she is written into history when her aircrfat shot down an enemy aircraft. The first 'Hurricat' kill was achieved from an Hawker "Sea Hurricane" Mk IA aircraft flown by Robert W. H. Everett catapult-launched from the Maplin, scoring a Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor in August 1941. Another 5 kills were made before the end of the year.

Cam Ship with Hurricane Fighter on the Catapult .. Atlantic Convoy 1942

Battle Honours
Atlantic 1941

No information on Captains.

Squadrons and Aircraft
1 single Hawker "Sea Hurricane" Mk IA

Associations and Reunions
No information

Ship name Maplin
Class Pegasus
Type Fighter Catapult ship with FAA aircraft 
Ships in Class Ariguani, Maplin, Patia, Pegasus, Springbank
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Aircraft carrier pages of  
World Aircraft Carrier Lists and Photo Gallery - from 1913 to 2000. Naval History Information Center, Haze Gray & Underway  
Sturtivant, R & Ballance, T  (1994). 'The Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm' Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1994 ISBN: 0 85130 223 8

The World’s Warships 1941 by Francis E. McMurtrie (1944). Janes London 1941 1st ed. 

Jane's Fighting Ships of World War II by Francis E. McMurtrie (Editor)(1984). 320 pages. Crescent Books; ISBN: 0517679639

        Last Modified: 23-2-2001


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