Monday, May 1, 2017

Your way or...the Royal Navy way





After Juvat's post yesterday over at the Chant, I thought certain Air Force types might find this interesting. It's a long video but well worth it. Chris Bolton is a former "Crab" (RAF) Fighter Pilot who flew Phantom FG.1's from Royal Navy aircraft carriers.

In 1966, you see, the British government cancelled their new carrier, CV-01, and decided to give up fixed wing naval aviation. The Fleet Air Arm stopped training fixed wing pilots. Reality intervened and the RN was tasked with continued fixed wing deployments in ageing carriers and a concurrent pilot shortage. So the RAF were polled for volunteers to make up the shortfall, and quite a few stepped up to the challenge.

These were real glory days for the RN, Fleet Air Arm, and the Crab volunteers. It was just before my time in the US Navy, and I "grew up" hearing a lot of wonderful stories of operating with the Brits.



These images are a hoot, and say a lot about the rivalry and camaraderie that existed between the RN and USN.



 The Marine Corps being part of the Navy for both countries, of course.

7 comments:

  1. Interesting that the first few photos show planes marked both "Royal Navy" and "Colonial Navy" on deck at the same time. Anybody have background on why this would be the case?

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    1. That's the game of "zapping." Those FG.1's spent time at NAS Oceana where US sailors redecorrated them. The Marine Phantom spent a few days on HMS Eagle and emerged with an 892 Squadron tail.

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  2. Love it. Always fun to watch the Brits in action.

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  3. During my exchange tour with the RCN, I was instructed (among much else) in the origin of the term "Crab" when referring to Air Farce types. The full expression is "Crab Fat"--because there is nothing as useless as fat on a crab. Army types are "Pongos"--no explanation needed or offered on that one.

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    1. I have it on reasonably unimpeachable authority (Rick Jolly, "Jackspeak") that the "Crab" and "Crab Fat" monikers go all the way back to April 1, 1918 when by imperial decree all aspects of UK military aviation were lumped together in the new RAF. The colo(u)r of the new RAF unis is said to have come from an overage of light blue cloth which had been ordered by Russia for the Imperial Guard but which the new USSR refused to pay for. The color was also said to be identical to the mercuric oxide jelly then in use for treating body lice, which was called "crabfat."

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    2. Totally cool. Thanks. It is even cooler that the RAF was founded on April Fool's day.

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