Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939-1945


 


 The Fleet Air Arm in the United States of America (USA)


HMS Saker, RN & USN Naval Base Brunswick (Maine),  USA in WW2



During the expansion of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm in World War 2, many units formed in the United States, where they took delivery of American naval aircraft under the Lend-Lease aid programme to the British Empire. Fleet Air Arm and United States Navy aircraft flew side by side on combat missions over enemy territory and the Royal Navy and US Navy operated together in the Coral Seas, Indian Ocean, Pacific, Mediterranean and Atlantic. Royal Navy crews manned escort carriers built in the US and given to the UK by the American Government under Lend-Lease. 

The Fleet Air Arm accounting base in the USA was at Washington DC,  and it was commissioned in the Royal Navy as HMS Saker on 1 October 1941,  finally being payed off in 1948. The US Navy base at Lewiston, Maine was commissioned under HMS Saker in 1943, and acted as the parent ship for all Fleet Air Arm facilities in the USA until payed off 1945. 




Combined U.S.N. Battle Group of HMS Victorious (foreground) renamed as USS Robin and USS Saratoga, at Noumea, New Caledonia, 1943
 
 

British crews from 856 Avenger sqdn based at Squantum undertaking DLT landing on USS Charger,
Chesapeake Bay, 22 April 1944 (wartime colour image)


U.S.N ships 

Operational Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Naval Air Squadron

 

USS Charger (CVE-30)

845 1943
848 1943
850 1943
851 1943
856 1944
890 1942
896 1943
898 1943
1834 1943
1841 1944
1850 1944
1851 1944
1852 1945
1853 1945

DLT

USS Saratoga (CV-3)
and air group three

804 1943
832 1943
892 1943

These three Fleet Air Arm squadron operated under USN Air Group Three from USS Saratoga for ops in support of USM landings in the Mid Solomons, 27 June-24 July 1943

USS Saratoga her story

USS Wasp (CV-7)

812

812 sqdn operated from USS Wasp in convoy from Gibraltar to UK, Force W of the Home Fleet, April 1942. President, Franklin D Roosevelt had earlier agreed to loan to the Royal Navy the carrier USS Wasp and her crew for a short period for ferry duties. On 15 September 1942 Wasp was sunk in the Pacific.

See USS Wasp association website
see Wasp history

USS Wolverine 

894

DLT on USS Wolverine in October 1942



Wartime colour photograph of a wildcat undergoing deck landing training on USS Charger - the main DLT aircraft carrier avialable and loaned fom the USN for Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm duties.


U.S. Naval Air Station Operational activities

Operational Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Naval Air Squadron

 


NAS Almeda Island, California 

838 1942

(see website)

NAS Floyd Bennett Field, NY 

882

Operation at NAS Floyd Bennett Field July-Sept 1942 on anti-submarine patrols in swordfish

(see Floyd Bennett Field history website and see Floyd Bennett Field-Historic Airfield).



U.S. Naval Command and Chain of Command 1941-1945 

Operational Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Naval Air Squadron

Commander in Chief United States Pacific Fleet

U.S. Pacific Fleet CINCPACFLT

The Pacific Fleet established its headquarters at Pearl Harbor in February, 1941

 

Admiral Husband KIMMEL, USN
February 1941-December 1941 
                                        Fleet Admiral Chester W. NIMITZ, USN
December 1941-November 1945 

US Pacific Fleet 1942 
3rd Fleet (eastern Pacific)

Inception as a fighting force under Admiral "Bull" Halsey on 15 March, 1943

 

 

7th Fleet (western Pacific and Indian Ocean)

  • TF 12
  • TF 14

established on 15 March 15, 1943 when the Southwest Pacific Force was renamed.

In May, 1943, Saratoga  was joined by H.M.S. Victorious-first British carrier to arrive in the Pacific theater, as part of  the US Pacific 7th Fleet, Task Force 14.  This pleasant association was continued throught June and July with an impressive array of battleships, cruisers and destroyers  supplementing the two carriers in patrol operations in enemy territory.

When the Victorious left for a British port in late July, Sara left Noumea and proceeded to Espiritu
Santo
, via Efate. Air Group Twelve replaced Air Group Three, and Captain Henry M. Mullinix, who had been promoted to Rear Admiral, was releved of command by Captiain John H. Cassady.

HMS Victorious in Coral sea - Solomons invasion by USM 1942 (882 and 832) 

 

5th Fleet and the British Pacific Fleet Task Force 57 1945 (January-May  1945)

The BPF effort had extended to nearly 8,000 aircraft sorties with the loss in action of 85 aircraft Half that number
again were lost to kamikaze strikes. 

As TF 57, the BPF was commanded by Vice
Admiral Rawlings under the overall direction of the American Commander-in-Chief Pacific, Admiral Nimitz, but
serving as an element of Admiral Spruance's 5th Fleet. The BPF was centered on four fleet carriers and a couple
of modern battleships and was supported also by six CVEs its main strength equating roughly to a task group
within the US task force.

5th Fleet and the British Pacific Fleet Task Force 38
(May 1945-

 

Restyled TF 37 the BPF joined Admiral McCain's TF 38. which itself had eight fleet and six light carriers )or the final assault against the Japanese homeland. This occupied the last month of the war with continuous activity against a still-lively enemy who, fortunately, had apparently run out of kamikazes.


 

U.S. Naval Air Stations for front line squadrons working up to operational status

Front Line Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm
Naval Air Squadron

 

NAS Almeda Island, California

838

 

NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii

882 1943
845
846
848
896 1943
898 1943

(see armed forcesWebsite and official NAS website)

NAS Bar Harbor

1831
1841
1842
1843
1945
1848
1849
1850
1851
1852
1853

 

Blissville

845

 

NAS Brunswick, Maine 

848 1943
898 1943
1820 1944
1831 1943
1833 1943
1834 1943
1835 1943, 1944-1945
1836 1943
1837 1943
1838 1943-1944
1841 1944
1842 1944
1843 1944
1845 1944
1846 1944
1848 1944
1849 1944
1850 1944
1851 1944
1852 1945
1853 1945

(see NAS Brunswick history, also NAS Brunswick Download Installation Booklet)

Cecil Field

800
809
849B
870
892

 

Cherry Point

801

 

Crissy Field, San Francisco

820

 

NAS Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn, NY 

834
836 1942
837 1942
882
1833
1834
1849 1944
1850 1944
1851
1853

(see Floyd Bennett Field history website)

Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

832

 

Fort Lauderdale

809
814

 

Idlewild, New York

806

 

Jacksonville

814
824
826
846
849B

 

Key West

824
870
871

 

Mayport

814
824
849B

 

Miami

840 1942

DLT 894

NAS Norfolk, Virginia 

800
804 
810
814
816
817
824
827
829
831
832
835
845 1943
846 1943
849
849B
848 1943
851 1943
855 1944
880 
882 1943
890 1942
892 1942
893 1942
894 1942
896 1942
898 1942-1943
1820 1944
1830 1943
1831 1943
1833 1943
1834 1943
1836 1943
1837 1944
1838 1944
18411944
1842 1944
1848 1944
1849 1944
1852 1945
1853 1945

(see official NAS website)

Oceania

800
809
892

 

Pensacola

849B

 

Point Mugu

892

 


NAS Quonset Point, North Kingstown, Rhode Island, NY 

825
826
838 1943
840 1943
845 1943
846 1943
848 1943
949 1943
850 1943
894 1942
896 1943
898 1942
1820 1944
1830 1944
1831 1943
1833 1943
1834 1943
1835 1943
1836 1943
1837 1943

(see Quonset Air Museum) and brief history of the NAS

Roosevelt Roads

809
824
892

 

NAS Sanford, Florida 

1830 1943

(see Sanford City Museum and the Sanford Chamber of Commerce to coordinate and set up a museum at the Sanford Airport)

Sea Island (NAS Jacksonville, Sea Island, Georgia?)

850 1943

 


NAS Squantum, Massachusetts 

848 1943
849 1943
850 1943
851 1943
852 1943-1944
853 1943-1944
854 1944
855 1944
856 1944
857 1944
1820 1944

 (see 851 hist web)


La Tontouta air strip, New Caledonia (Noumea)(later French FAA airbase)

832 1943
882 1943
896 1943
898 1943

Noumea, New Caledonia, headquaters of Admiral Halsey (See link to info on later French FAA airbase)

Willow Grove

882

 



U.S. Naval Air Stations for second line training squadrons

Second line training 
Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm
Naval Air Squadron

 

NAS Bar Harbor

732
738

 

NAS Brunswick

732
738

 

NAS Grosse Ile, Michigan

 

Grosse Isle USN air training station in Detriot Michigan (NAS Grosse Ile virtual museum website, and Pages on FAA aircrew killed at this NAS entitled "In Memory of our British Brothers that served at NAS GROSSE ILE, MI)

Lewiston Maine

738 corsair sqdn 1944

 

Norfolk

738

 

NAS Patuxent River, MD

 

history of Patuxent NAS in official NAS web

NAS Quonset Point

738

 


U.S. Naval Air Station NAS PENSACOLA


Evidence of the Royal Navy in Pensacola is still very apparent including the Royal Navy Redoubt (San Carlos de Barrancas), Fort Barrancas, and Battery San Antonio, built 1797-1859, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Pensacola Naval Air Station.In 1781 the Battle for Pensacola is considered to be one of the important Revolutionary War battles. The British relinquished Pensacola to the Spanish. The USN selected the site of Pensacola bay for the Navy in 1826, and the Pensacola Navy Yard became one of the best equipped naval stations in the country.

In October 1913, Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, appointed a board, with Capt. Chambers as chairman, to make a survey of aeronautical needs and to establish a policy to guide future development. One of the board’s most important recommendations was the establishment of an aviation training station in Pensacola.
Upon entry into World War I, Pensacola, still the only naval air station, had 38 naval aviators, 163 enlisted men trained in aviation, and 54 airplanes.

During World War II, the number of pilots trained at NAS Pensacola reached its peak. In 1944, over 12,000 men completed the extensive training and flew a combined total of almost 2 million hours. About 4,000 pilots from Britain and British Commonwealth countries who trained at Pensacola during the war, including Royal Navy and Commonwealth naval aviation personnel.The first British group was in 1941 before the United States entered the war. Their first aircraft included 20 hours on Vultee and then on to the Harvard (SNJ) for another 200 hours. Advanced training continued with several losses to collisions and accidents. 

After receiving their Wings, Air training of crews then included at the Grosse Isle USN air training station in Detriot Michigan, with flight instructions of around 12 hours in the biplane primary trainer Spartan NP-1, before going on to the Stearman. Some of the classes then were sent to Pensacola Florida, and to Miami Florida for advanced training. From Miami they traveled to Lewiston Maine. From Lewiston they move to Brunswick Canada. Here they would finally meet with the aircraft that will take them through the war, the F4U Corsair or other US aircraft, the Avenger, Hellcat, Wildcat. In 1942 the US navy had both the F6F Hellcat and the F4U Corsair in production, Final deck landing practice took place in Chesapeake Bay off Norfolk, Virginia on the USS Charger. Then the squadrons were shipped out by escort carrier to the UK and worldwide.

(ref Ben Heffer of 1833 sqdn and recollections of training at Pensacola )

NAS Pensacola hosts the world renowned National Museum of Naval Aviation.

British Pensacola Veterans L Armstrong, 47 Rutland Road, Wanstead, London, E11 2DY
British veterans recall flight training at Pensacola  By BILL KACZOR  Associated Press
History of NAS Pensacola and Pensacola today
History of Naval AIr Station Pensacola, FL
Ben Heffer of 1833 sqdn and recollections of training at Pensacola



 

FURTHER INFORMATION

 

Official website of the United States Navy

 

British Forces.com website:

  • British and American cooperation including United States Lend-Lease aid to the British Empire 

Navy Bases and Air Stations within the U.S.

Offficial USN website. This is a list of major bases and air stations within the United States. A list of homeports with ships assigned is also available on this web site.

USN Naval Air Stations summary page by ww.vpnavy.com

 

Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995) 

 'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to 1945'  Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1995 ISBN: 0 85130 232 7 

 

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