Fighter Catapult Armed Auxillary Ship

CAM ship with hurricane


HMS Springbank 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

Sea hurricane catapult launch

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

HMS Springbank was one of a new type of Fighter Catapult Ship developed to counter
the threat from land based aircraft. Originally constructed for merchant service in 1926, she
was taken up into RN service in 1940 and converted into an anti-aircraft ship with a
formidable armament including 8-4 inch (100 mm) guns in four twin HA turrets and two sets of quadruple 2 pounder pom-poms. In March 1941 she was fitted with a cordite powered catapult amidships mounted with a Fulmar two seater naval fighter.

Springbank took part in escorting Convoy HG 73 17 September - 1 October 1941. In the course of her duties with HG 73 her Fulmar aircraft was launched on 18 September and the enemy aircraft was attacked but escaped; when the aircraft arrived at Gibraltar it was discovered that faulty ammunition had caused all but one of the guns to jam. HMS Springbank was torpedoed at 0208 on 27 September by U-201. HMS Jasmine went alongside to take off survivors and after unsuccessfully attempting to sink her with depth charges did so by shelling.

Battle Honours
Atlantic 1941

No information on Captains.

Squadrons and Aircraft

Associations and Reunions
No information

Ship name Springbank
Class Pegasus
Type Catapult and Maintenance Trials Ship 
Ships in Class Ariguani, Maplin, Patia, Pegasus, Springbank
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FURTHER INFORMATION Further information about Springbank  
Convoy HG 73 17 September - 1 October 1941  Information about Springbank and about the activities against the U-boats threatening the convoy
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

World Aircraft Carrier Lists and Photo Gallery - from 1913 to 2000. Naval History Information Center, Haze Gray & Underway
        Last Modified: 23-2-2001


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