News Round-up – February 14th 2018

HMS Enterprise H88 Echo-class multi-role Hydrographic and Oceanographic Survey Vessel SVHO south georgia

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.


General Defence News

UK missed 2% defence spending target, report claims
(Financial Times)

Ministry of Defence to let soldiers work part-time in bid to attract new recruits
(Express.co.uk)

Ministry of Defence has spent £100mn in abuse compensation from Iraq and Afghanistan
(The Sun)

NATO chief backs bigger alliance training mission in Iraq
(Reuters)

Nato’s stance and strategy in Europe
(AOL UK)

BAE proposes UK government financing to Malaysia for Typhoon jet deal
(Reuters)

Increase in US jets flying from RAF Lakenheath
(Norfolk Eastern Daily Press)


British Army News

British Troops Undertake ‘Incredibly Important’ Winter Exercise In Estonia
(Forces Network)

Senior Rhyl Army officer leading UK troops in Estonia ‘to counter intensifying aggression’ from Russia
(Daily Post North Wales)

British Army Chief visits Kohima
(United News of India)

Beaten soldier awarded £1 million damages against Ministry of Defence
(St Helens Star)

Mum’s agony over not being able to tell children what happened to their soldier dad as ‘Army refuse to reveal how he died’
(The Sun)

‘We’ll also find traces of the fighting from 1914 and 1917 including the remains of British and German soldiers” Belgian Trench Excavation
(Daily Mail)


Royal Air Force News

Royal Air Force says ‘We love Lossie’ ahead of massive expansion at base
(Press and Journal)

Red Arrows death: Ejection seat failure a ‘once every 115 years’ event
(BBC News)

RAF Typhoon to Get Unparalleled Armaments
(Aviation Today)

Dhadnah event marks 75th anniversary of WWII crash
(Gulf Today)


Royal Navy & Marines News

HMS Queen Elizabeth in maiden Rock call
(Gibraltar Chronicle)

Britain trying to ‘headline grab’ in South China Sea, says state media
(The Guardian)

Royal Navy ship ‘sails within METRES of Russian boat’ during show of force NATO mission
(Daily Star)

London City Airport reopens after World War II bomb removed by Royal Navy
(Independent.ie)

Fascinating pictures show Royal Marines in action aboard navy’s mighty warships during World War Two
(Daily Mail)

Hundreds of mourners salute Royal Navy doctor who saved hundreds of lives in the Falklands War
(Mirror.co.uk)


Disclaimer: All news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them. An effort is made to vary news sources as much as possible to avoid political bias.

 

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Westland N.1B

Westland’s First Warplane

The urgent requirement for aircraft to equip the rapidly expanding Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) saw a number of companies start dabbling in the construction of aircraft under license from their designers. One such company was Petters Limited based in Yeovil, Somerset which undertook the construction of petrol and diesel engines but in 1915, a subdivision was established to handle the manufacture of a dozen Short Type 184 seaplanes. The subdivision was named the Westland Aircraft Works and a steady stream of additional orders kept its staff busy well in to 1916 by which time the management team felt confident enough to use their experience manufacturing aircraft to design their own.

At around the same time, the Royal Naval Air Service was looking for a new fighting scout seaplane issuing a demanding set of requirements. The Admiralty stipulated that the aircraft should be capable of achieving 100mph and have a service ceiling of 20,000ft, ample performance for intercepting the Zeppelins which were still terrorising mainland Britain and the latest version of the Fokker Eindecker which was entering service with the German Luftstreitkräfte as the requirement was drawn up.

Westland Yeovil West Hendford N.1B N16 floatplane fighterWestland was under the leadership of Robert Arthur Bruce, a former Royal Navy officer who had worked with Sopwith before heading the establishment of the Westland factory in West Hendford, Somerset. Bruce had taken 24-year old draughtsman Arthur Davenport from their parent company to help him work on the company’s first aircraft. Together they produced a rather compact, two-bay equal-span biplane of wooden and fabric covering with a relatively deep looking fuselage shape. Like nearly all naval aircraft, the wings were designed to fold to save space when it was stowed onboard ship while the trailing-edge camber could be varied producing an effect similar to basic, plain flaps when the aircraft was landing. The powerplant chosen for the aircraft was the Bentley BR.1 aeroengine, a modified version of the French Clerget 9B manufactured in Britain under license. The BR.1 was a nine cylinder, air-cooled rotary engine that churned out 130hp and was already selected for Sopwith’s latest fighter, the Camel.

For the business of engaging enemy aircraft, Bruce and Davenport adopted the familiar two-gun configuration being used by fighting scouts such as the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5. A single .303 (7.7mm) Vickers machine gun was mounted between the cockpit and the engine with firing being synchronised with the two bladed propeller. This was backed up with a flexibly-mounted .303 (7.7.mm) Lewis gun above the upper wing centre section firing over the propeller arc.

Two prototypes were ordered from Westland and work began at West Hendford. During construction of the airframes, attention was turned towards what kind of float arrangement would best suit the aircraft for landing and taking off from water. To cover all their bases, they decided that both aircraft would have different float configurations in order to test which one was best and thus be adopted on any production aircraft. The first prototype was fitted with two 11 ft (3.35 m) long main floats manufactured by Sopwith and supported by a 5 ft (1.52 m) long tail float which meant it had a nose high stance when floating or taxing on the water. The second prototype dispensed with the tail float and instead incorporated longer 17ft 6in (5.34 m) main floats which kept the tail clear of the water and the airframe more horizontal when stationary.

Collectively, the aircraft were known as Westland N.1B reflecting the navy’s requirement N.1B which outlined their desired specification. Individually, the prototype fitted with the Sopwith floats was given the serial number N16 while the second prototype became N17. Literature at the time sometimes confused matters by describing the two aircraft as individual types becoming the “Westland N16” and “Westland N17”.

Westland Yeovil West Hendford N.1B N17 floatplane fighterN16 was rolled out first and would take to the air for the first time in August 1917 with 28-year old Australian-born test pilot Harry Hawker, who was on loan from Sopwith, at the controls. N17 was completed soon after and in October the two aircraft were transported to the Port Victoria Marine Experimental Aircraft Depot on the Isle of Grain in Kent for evaluation. Westland were well ahead of their competitors for the Admiralty contract with Blackburn’s own N.1B and Supermarine’s Baby – interestingly both were flying boat designs rather than floatplanes – still under construction. The pilots assigned to fly the two aircraft praised them for their sprightly performance but more importantly their excellent handling qualities; something highly sought after at a time when just as many pilots were being lost in accidents as they were in combat.

Unfortunately, developments in naval aviation were conspiring to doom the project. On August 2nd 1917, shortly before N16 was completed, Squadron Commander Edwin Dunning landed Sopwith Pup N6453 aboard HMS Furious and in doing so became the first person to land an aircraft on a moving ship. While Dunning would be killed making another landing soon after, he had nevertheless proven that aircraft carriers were feasible and these offered a number of advantages over floatplanes the most significant of which was that aircraft could be launched and recovered far more quickly than floatplanes which had to be hoisted in and out of the sea by a crane. Floatplanes would remain a significant part of British naval aviation for the remainder of the war but carrier aircraft were the future.

Thus, Westland found themselves waiting for a contract that would ultimately never come. Any thoughts of giving the N.1B aircraft wheels for carrier operations was also folly since the RNAS were looking at Sopwith’s Pup and Camel aircraft for the fighting scout role. The two prototypes would soon-after disappear in to aviation history but they had helped kickstart aircraft development at Westland. Robert Arthur Bruce would go on to work on a number of civil aircraft after the war including the Westland Limousine which won a government competition for a light commercial transport aircraft. Arthur Davenport would have his name attached to a number of more successful Westland designs in the future such as the famed-Lysander, the original Whirlwind twin-engined fighter and the Wyvern.

News Round-up – January 30th 2018

 

HMS Forth 2018 P222 offshore patrol vessel boat opv

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.


General Defence News

How the UK armed forces would look if you started from scratch
(The Guardian)

Your Fitness Tracking App May Have Revealed the Location of Secret Army Bases
(Futurism)

Gavin Williamson anger at Ministry of Defence for flying EU flags despite Brexit vote
(Express)

Russia mocks Gavin Williamson’s attack warning
(BBC News)

Two UK pilots fly F-35 jet following training
(Naval Technology)

Arms deal watchdog to get new teeth to stop defence companies profiteering
(Telegraph)

Ministry of Defence loses up to £4bn on property deal under which it rents 7000 empty homes 
(Telegraph)

More than £1 billion spent on armed forces recruitment
(Daily Mail)


British Army News

Soldier Who Died At Deepcut ‘Needed Constant Watching’
(Forces Network)

Op-Ed: Has the British army gone soft?
(SOFREP)

Ex-Army Head Calls For Better Mental Health Treatment
(Forces Network)

Withdrawal Of Troops From Germany Could Be Halted And “When Not If” For Major UK Cyber-Attack
(Forces Network)

Chester MP joins British troops on border with Russia
(The Chester Standard)

DUP split over ‘amnesty’ for security forces, says Beattie
(Belfast Telegraph)

Inside the British army training programme for Somali soldiers fighting one of the world’s most feared terrorist groups
(Telegraph)

Defence jobs plea over £3bn vehicle contract
(BBC News)


Royal Air Force News

RAF to scrap twin-seat Typhoons
(IHS Jane’s 360)

RAF eyes the skies in Shetland
(Shephard Media)

RAF reveals reason why Coningsby jet declared ’emergency’ mid-air over the North Sea
(Lincolnshire Live)

Investigation into missing Corrie McKeague has cost £2.1m
(Norfolk Eastern Daily Press)

‘Tail spotter’ hobbyists counted on by UK, US militaries to watch for suspicious behavior
(Stars and Stripes)

Canada sends three aircraft to RAF Fairford centenary show
(Swindon Advertiser)


Royal Navy & Marines News

Royal Navy accepts OPV
(Shephard Media)

Royal Navy Helps Out Islanders on Still-Devastated Anguilla
(The Maritime Executive)

Navy’s new £3.1bn aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth hit by flood after mystery sprinkler system sparks flood
(The Sun)

Wanted! A Site For Retired Nuclear Submarine Waste
(Forces Network)

HMS Raleigh offers training for HMS Queen Elizabeth’s new workboats
(Naval Technology)

Royal Navy gets new sonar training facility
(Shephard Media)

Royal Navy museum searching for designer for new exhibition
(Blooloop)

Disclaimer: All news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them. An effort is made to vary news sources as much as possible to avoid political bias.

January 28th 1941 – Italian submarine sinks British steamer Urla west of Ireland

The discussion of Britain’s battle with Italy during World War Two is often confined to the Mediterranean and North African theaters. However, Mussolini’s forces also attacked Britain directly and even committed aircraft to support the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. An even less-known fact is that Italian submarines supported the German Kriegsmarine in their siege of Britain in an effort to strangle her of vital war supplies from across the Atlantic.

One such Italian submarine was the Marconi-class Luigi Torelli which was launched five months before Italy would declare war on Britain and France in support of Germany. After completing its shakedown cruise and the training of its crew the Luigi Torelli sailed for German-occupied Bordeaux to join up with the small Italian submarine flotilla based there. Italian fortunes in the Atlantic didn’t often mirror their German counterparts but the Luigi Torelli would prove an exception when over the course of January 15th-16th 1941, the submarine attacked and sank three ships from a convoy over 400 miles west of Rockall; a British islet west of Scotland and south of Iceland. A fourth ship was attacked but escaped destruction.

Four days before this incident, the 17-year old 5,198-ton steamer Urla departed Halifax in Canada with convoy HX 102 carrying a load of steel and lumber bound for Manchester. The crossing was not an easy one for the 42 men of the Urla which struggled to keep pace with the rest of the convoy. The North Atlantic weather had battered HX 102 and a number of ships had to turn back to Canada to join HX 103 when the weather improved. The Urla pressed on but soon found itself straggling behind the others by the time the convoy approached the British Isles toward the end of the month.

Urla Luigi Torelli north atlantic submarine sinking italian navyOn January 28th, the Urla had the misfortune to stumble across the Luigi Torelli on patrol to the west of Ireland (Right). The Italian submarine fired on the Urla, scoring a direct hit on the ship which soon began to sink but incredibly not before all 42 crewmembers managed to safely launch their lifeboats.

While the war was over for the Urla, it was far from over for the Luigi Torelli. The Italian submarine would be on the receiving end of an attack when on the night of June 3rd 1942, it was bombed by an RAF Vickers Wellington using its powerful Leigh light searchlight 70 miles off the Spanish coast. It suffered considerable damage but managed to reach the port of Avilés in the north of neutral Spain but was damaged again shortly after in an attack by a Royal Australian Air Force Short Sunderland as it attempted to reach Bordeaux forcing it back to Spain for more repairs.

In 1943, the submarine was one of four Italian boats assigned to join a German mission to the Far East to sneak through Allied naval patrols to acquire vital war material from the Japanese in Asia. During the mission, the Italian government joined with the Allies and the submarine was interned by the Japanese. It was then taken on charge by a mixed German-Italian crew to combat the Allies in the Far East under the German flag as U.IT.25. It served the German Navy in the Far East up until Germany’s surrender in 1945 after which the submarine was then taken on by the Japanese as I-504. The submarine and her Italian sister Comandante Cappellini were the only two ships to fly the flags of all three main Axis powers during the course of World War II.

With the war nearly over, the service life of I-504 was relatively short. Based in Kobe, Japan it was damaged in a major air raid on the city by USAAF B-29 Superfortress bombers on July 15th 1945; less than 24 hours after its new Japanese captain had assumed command. The I-504 is credited as probably the last warship of the Axis powers to score a victory over the Allies when in the waning days of the war its deck guns shot down a B-25 Mitchell bomber that was raiding the harbour.

On August 30th, the I-504 was formally surrendered to the Allies ending the submarine’s war for good. On April 16th 1946, the submarine was taken out in to the Kii Channel east of the city of Tokushima and scuttled. A sad end to the story of an incredible warship.

 

News Round-up – January 22nd 2018

RAF Reaper drone UAV

An RAF Reaper Remotely Piloted Vehicle (RPV) (www.raf.mod.uk)

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.


General Defence News

Armed Forces ‘team up for anti-terror super unit’ amid growing fears of imminent attack on UK
(The Sun)

How damaged is the ‘special relationship? An Interview With The US Ambassador To The UK
(Forces Network)

British fleet of F-35 jets to attain IOC this year
(Airforce Technology)

The Complex History Of The MoD’s Capita Recruitment Deal
(Forces Network)

What Does Carillion Do For Defence?
(Forces Network)

British longest serving Afghan military interpreter refused right to live in UK
(The Independent)

Britain can be a power in Asia
(The Interpreter)


British Army News

Army chief to call for investment to keep up with Russia
(BBC News)

Dynamic Security Threats and the British Army
(RUSI)

Pressure mounts on defence chiefs to improve mental healthcare for troops as top brass back Mail on Sunday campaign for Harry’s heroes
(Daily Mail)

British Army hopes criticism around campaign will help attract more diverse recruits
(Marketing Week)

All-female team of British soldiers become first women’s group to cross Antarctica using only muscle power
(The Independent)

Pride and sadness as Lynx bows out at RAF Shawbury
(Shropshire Star)


Royal Air Force News

Watch: Cockpit footage of RAF Typhoons intercepting Russian bombers on Monday
(SOFREP)

Ejector seat firm stands trial over death of Red Arrows pilot who was flung 300ft into the air
(Coventry Telegraph)

RAF bomb ISIS drone operators for the first time
(Express and Star)

MQ-9B demonstrates Launch and Recovery element ahead of RAF acquisition 
(Business Wire)

Lake District Zip Wire Plans Would “Impact Vital Military Training”
(Forces Network)

Goodbye iconic roundel: RAF’s famous logo abandoned in favour of new stealthy design
(Express)

Runner Takes on 100 Marathons To Honour 100 Years Of The RAF
(Forces Network)


Royal Navy & Marines

New submarine completes first dive ahead of move to Faslane
(Helensburgh Advertiser)

Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth begins preparations for rotary wing trials
(Naval Technology)

Royal Navy’s new £6.2billion aircraft carriers have left MoD financially exposed, MPs warn
(The Sun)

Royal Marines Base Chivenor closure is a done deal, says defence minister
(Devon Live)

Leaks about cuts are damaging morale in the Royal Navy (& Marines)
(Plymouth Herald)

Anger at Royal Navy museum’s ‘pro-nuclear’ exhibition
(The Guardian)

How hero Royal Navy doctor saved 1000 lives on both sides during the Falklands War
(Mirror)


Disclaimer: All news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them. An effort is made to vary news sources as much as possible to avoid political bias.

January 18th 1813 – First Battle of Frenchtown

With Great Britain embroiled in war with Napoleon’s France, the Royal Navy enforced a blockade aimed at choking France’s economy and neutral ships were not exempt from interception. This especially angered the United States who declared the blockade illegal and were increasingly concerned with American citizens finding themselves press-ganged into manning the blockade. Both American and British forces in Canada found themselves engaged in brief skirmishes such as one between between HMS Leopard and the USS Chesapeake in 1807 after the Leopard tried to board the American ship to search for British deserters.

On June 18th 1812, the 4th President of the United States, James Madison Jr, bowed to pressure from those in Congress who wanted war with Britain and signed the declaration. While it would last until February 18th 1815, the war is still remembered as the War of 1812. With the majority of British forces committed to fighting Napoleon in mainland Europe, the British had little choice but to initially adopt a defensive strategy against the Americans until they could bolster their numbers with troops from Europe and the enlistment of local native American tribes to carry out a guerrilla-style campaign against American troops.

On August 16th 1812, British Major General Henry Proctor succeeded in forcing the American contingent at Fort Detroit to surrender. This was a major concern for the Americans and so President Madison assigned General William Henry Harrison the task of retaking Fort Detroit during a winter offensive. Harrison split his army into two contingents. The first he commanded personally and marched his men to Upper Sandusky in modern-day Ohio.

The second contingent was led by Brigadier General James Winchester and consisted of 2,000 untrained regulars and volunteers mostly from Kentucky. As his men marched they were met by citizens of nearby Frenchtown which at that time was under occupation by a small British force from the Essex Militia and a native force from the Potawatomi tribe. Disobeying his orders to wait for Harrison and his men, Winchester ordered Lieutenant Colonel William Lewis to lead over 600 American troops to attack the British and their allies at their base across the frozen River Raisin.

Lewis attacked on January 18th and a brisk battle took place before the Americans forced the British and the Potawatomi to retreat. A Canadian militia group counterattacked later in the day but were unable to force Winchester back across the frozen river. During their retreat, the Potawatomi troops fell upon the settlement at Sandy Creek and destroyed it killing two of its inhabitants in the process.

Winchester was pleased with his victory although Harrison was concerned that his force was still outnumbered by British forces in the region. Upon hearing that Frenchtown had been taken, British Brigadier General Henry Procter marched 597 men from the 41st Regiment of Foot and Royal Newfoundland Fencibles along with around 800 native troops from the occupied Fort Detroit. Supported by Canadian artillery, Proctor’s men recaptured Frenchtown after a pitched battle on January 22nd.

The next day, a number of the captured American soldiers were massacred by native troops including a number of wounded soldiers who were burned to death inside the buildings where they were being kept. The native Americans then marched the survivors to Fort Malden in Ontario. Any American who couldn’t keep up was killed at the side of the road. The exact number of prisoners killed is not known but it is believed to be up to 100.

 

Interview with Air Vice-Marshal Don ‘Pathfinder’ Bennett CB CBE DSO

In the fourth of the RAF Centre for Air Power Studies rarely-seen before historic ‘leadership’ themed videos, Air Vice-Marshal Don ‘Pathfinder’ Bennett CB CBE DSO is interviewed by Group Captain (later Air Vice-Marshal) Tony Mason CB CBE DL at the RAF Staff College, Bracknell, December 1980.

During the interview, Air Vice-Marshal Bennett discusses his experiences in the field of aerial navigation which eventually led to the formation of the legendary Pathfinder squadrons during WWII. Air Vice-Marshal Bennett transferred to the RAF from the Royal Australian Air Force in 1931 in order to broaden his flying experience. Although a gifted pilot in single-seat fighters, he had the ambition to fly large aircraft and subsequently transferred to Calshot to fly the Southampton, then the largest aircraft in the RAF.

During his time on the Flying Boats, he developed a passion for navigation, becoming an instructor before leaving the RAF to join Imperial Airways where he helped to develop many of the pioneering techniques that would later become commonplace. He re-joined the RAF in 1941, going on to command 77 Squadron, 10 Squadron and subsequently No. 8 (Pathfinder Force) Group. When he was promoted to Air Vice-Marshal in December 1943 he was the youngest person ever to hold the rank. He was considered by many to be ‘one of the most brilliant technical airmen of his generation: an outstanding pilot, a superb navigator who was also capable of stripping a wireless set or overhauling an engine’.

His book, The Complete Air Navigator: Covering the Syllabus for the Flight Navigator’s Licence, was considered by many to be the seminal text on the subject of aerial navigation when it was published in 1936. Viewers are asked to make allowance for the 1980s video quality as the subject matter is outstanding and adds significantly to the understanding of the history of the RAF.

Source – RAF YouTube site