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Thread: Sea Fury Identity

  1. #1
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    Sea Fury Identity

    Good afternoon all,
    I have come across a series of photos on Flickr showing the demise of a Sea Fury of 801 Squadron (I think) and have spent countless hours trying to identify the actual aircraft concerned. All my researches have proved fruitless so I now have to ask the experts on this forum for some help.

    There are many clues in the pictures, the aircraft is in the VX??? series and to me its looks like it is a VX6?? and also is obviously coded 159/R which I assume is 801 Sqdn from HMS Glory. There are some tantalising parts of the carrier visible but nothing that positively identifies it to my untrained eye.

    It does not appear that the aircraft was recovered as I have seen one further picture (not included here) showing it slipping beneath the waves.

    I have gone through all the histories of the VX Sea Fury that I have on file and cannot find a match. The only 159/R that I have been able to locate was WE689 and that appears to have crashed on land.

    Do any of you know the identity of the aircraft, the date of its loss and the fate of the pilot? If so I would be really interested to hear from you if only to put me out of my misery.

    Many thanks in advance for any suggestions.....

    QP.

    The photos are located here;

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/robsue8...n/photostream/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/robsue8...n/photostream/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/robsue8...n/photostream/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/robsue8...n/photostream/

  2. #2
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    QP, the only one i can find that even remotely matches up is VX636 - 801 Sqdn by 8.52 - SOC Glory 26.9.52.

    Sorry i can't help any further.


    Rob
    Wyvern & Sturgeon parts projects
    Bassingbourn Tower Museum Volunteer

    Email wyvernfan@gmail.com

  3. #3
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    Hi QP

    The Sea Fury 'From the Cockpit' book contains these images and suggests VX636 is the likely candidate as well, but after that the trail runs dry, with personnel serving on board who have been contacted not remembering the event. Still a mystery for now I guess

    Chris

  4. #4
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    What numbers (or letters) are painted on the undercarriage door in the second photograph; is it the ‘last-two’ of the serial number? And is this the same number that is repeated on the front-underside of the engine-cowling?

    They look suspiciously like ‘5’ and ‘9’ in the different locations so is this a repeat of part of ‘159’ (although that seems unlikely to me)?
    WA$.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the suggestion of VX636. I have a little history on this particular aircraft but nothing that matches up with the 159/R code or anything else really. Does anyone have a more detailed history that might shed some clues???

    Creaking door, I believe that the numbers you are referring to indeed 59 an abbreviated form of the full 801 Sqn code 159. Hope this helps.

    QP
    Last edited by QuePee; 5th September 2012 at 17:48.

  6. #6
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    I don't think it's 636

    I've been playing with the pictures. Can't find anything that confirms the serial (I had thought the second digit was a seven, but then I realised I was looking at a rocket rail!) I'm sure the numbers on the undecarriage doors are '59', and there's also a '159' painted on the front of the cowling. Doesn't help much, sadly.

    UK Serials Resource Centre
    http://www.ukserials.com/results.php?serial=VX
    lists VX636 as struck off charge 26/9/52 and later scrapped. Somehow I doubt the airframe in those pictures was later presented to a scrapman.

    Cross-referencing their recorded 'written off' dates (they aren't more specific, unfortunately) with dates when 801NAS was on-board HMS Glory (and allowing a little bit of an over-run in case they were a bit slow repainting) seems to narrow it down to three possibilities.

    VX641 Hawker Sea Fury FB11 d/d 02/09/1949, w/o 13/07/1953

    VX662 Hawker Sea Fury FB11 d/d 28/10/1949, w/o 04/05/1953

    VX674 Hawker Sea Fury FB11 d/d 19/12/1949, w/o 08/10/1953

    According to Ray Sturtivant's 'Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm' (Air Britain), 801 were on shore at Lossie when VX641 was w/o, but they did have a detachment on board Illustrious at that time. That might explain why Glory personnel don't remember it - but then I might also be speculating a bit too much...

  7. #7
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    I don't think it is 636 either

    Lazy8,
    I agree with you, the little history we have for VX636 does not seem to tie in with the pictures. Buit thanks are due for taking the time to do some checking for me. We have probably gone through the same exercise in trying to identify possible candidates with somewhat different results.

    Here are my researches on the aircraft you suggested as possible candidates.

    VX641
    13.07.53 VX641 Sea Fury FB11 coded 128/CW of 738 Sqn. Bounced over the arrester wires on HMS Illustrious and crashed into the No 3 barrier and then hit the ships island and burst into flames.

    This description does not sound like it ditched alongside the ship and also the code bears no resemblence to the 159/R.

    VX662
    04.05.53 VX662 Sea Fury FB11 of 802 Sqn. Failed to recover from a dive bombing attack on a railway bridge 6 miles S of Sariwon, Korea. The unknown pilot was killed. An alternative version records that the catapult failed during launch from HMS Theseus and the aircraft ditched ahead of the ship. The pilot was rescued. NB I can not find a record of a RN pilot being killed on this date.

    Neither of these two descriptions seem like they relates to the pictures. The latter seems more likely exceppt for the fact the Sea Fury appeared to me to be landing and not taking off in the pictures and most certainly did not ditch ahead of the ship. Also apparently not 801Sqn.

    VX674
    08.10.53 VX674 Sea Fury FB11 coded 153/T of 804 Sqn. Ditched just outside the entrance to Syra harbour, Greece whilst flying from HMS Theseus after the engine failed. The pilot was rescued.

    Several things raise red flags here. Firstly the engine does not appear to have failed, although it could of course have been turning but not developing significant power (I dont have the photos available to me at work to double check whether the prop appeared to be rotating or not but I am fairly sure it was). Secondly the aircraft code is not even close to the 159/R in the pictures and thirdly the aircraft is reportedly from 804 Sqn and not 801.


    So I guess we are not much further ahead.

    I am still working on another theory and I will post the results if I think it holds any merit, as soon as I am done checking things out.

    Meanwhile I must thanks those that have already made suggestions and ask that if anyone has any additional info to please post it here and help me sleep at night.

    Regards

    QP

  8. #8
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    There is a much better, more reliable printed reference source out there than the internet, you know. Gives full details where known, including pilots names.....

    VX641, VX662 and VX674 can all be discounted; they're all with the wrong unit! The code '159/R' was allocated to 801 Squadron on board HMS Glory at this time. The code is clearly visible on the fuselage and the last two digits repeated on the undercarriage doors. The large 'R' can be made out on the tailfin.

    It could be VX636; certainly it looks to be the only one which fits. Glory was not on station in Korea at this point (didn't take over from Ocean until 8.11.52) and so, although the series of photos appears in John Lansdown's book "With the Carriers in Korea" (pgs 353-353) there is no specific reference to the incident to help with further identification.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Howard View Post
    There is a much better, more reliable printed reference source out there than the internet, you know...
    Doh! I've got that book.....now where is it?
    WA$.

  10. #10
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    Thats where my suggestion came from, but there is very little info on VX636.


    Rob
    Wyvern & Sturgeon parts projects
    Bassingbourn Tower Museum Volunteer

    Email wyvernfan@gmail.com

  11. #11
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    Lee,
    When you say

    "It could be VX636; certainly it looks to be the only one which fits. Glory was not on station in Korea at this point (didn't take over from Ocean until 8.11.52)"

    are you implying that you have a date for the demise depicted in the pictures, if so that would help greatly. I have not seen a date published anywhere.

    QP

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuePee View Post
    Lee,
    When you say

    "It could be VX636; certainly it looks to be the only one which fits. Glory was not on station in Korea at this point (didn't take over from Ocean until 8.11.52)"

    are you implying that you have a date for the demise depicted in the pictures, if so that would help greatly. I have not seen a date published anywhere.

    QP
    "Fleet Air Arm Fixed-Wing Aircraft since 1946", Air-Britain, 2004 (Sturtivant/Howard/Burrow) has VX636 "801 Sqn by 8.52; SOC Glory 26.9.52"

    It was the only VX-serialed airframe to be lost by 801 Sqn during Korea and it's the only one where we don't have confirmation of the code it wore, nor of the reason for it being Struck off Charge by HMS Glory. Therefore almost certainly it is VX636.

  13. #13
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    Lee et al,

    Many thanks for your comments and suggestions. I have pretty much come to the end of the road in searching for the identity of this particular aircraft. I did, however come across one piece of information that may have a bearing on this incident although as always not everything hangs togther.

    801Sqn lost three Sea Fury aircraft on the 5th January 1953. The first one is detailed here and was coded 160/R.

    05.01.53 WF626 Sea Fury FB11 coded 160/R of 801 Sqn. During an operational sortie from HMS Glory over Korea this aircraft was hit by AA fire and caught fire. The pilot baled out but was captured before the rescue helicopter could reach him.

    Two further 801 Sqn Sea Fury aircraft were sent out to search for the downed pilot and both were lost. The first of these two has been identified as WE689 and was coded 159/R.

    05.01.53 WE689 Sea Fury FB11 coded 159/R of 801 Sqn. This aircraft in company with one other 801 Sqn Sea Fury FB11 and a USAF helicopter were launched to search for the pilot lost in the crash mentioned above. Unfortunately this aircraft entered a spin and crashed into the ground killing the pilot.

    So far so good, no connection yet except for the fact that WE689 appeared to have the same code as the aircraft in the picture.

    The third loss on this day has not been identified yet but the circumstances seem to mirror exactly those shown in the photo set ie

    05.01.53 Sea Fury FB11 of 801 Sqn. This aircraft was the second 801 Sqn machine involved in the search for the initial Sea Fury FB11 loss. It failed to land back on the ship and ditched alongside. All three Sea Fury FBlls were from HMS Glory. The pilot was killed.



    I wonder if the unknown aircraft is in fact the VX Sea Fury depicted in the photos but somehow the code from the second loss was incorrectly recorded as 159/R when this really applied to the third loss. Not an inconceiable error to make.

    Of course this would shed some doubt on VX636 being the culprit as it was apparently soc some time before Jan 1953

    If I am barking up completely the wrong tree, and that would not be for the first time, does anyone have an identity for the final 801 Sqn Sea Fury loss?

    I have the names of all three aircrew involved in these accidents but prefer not to post them. I know it was a long time ago but still... If anyone needs this info please pm me.

    What do you think, is this plausible or complete nonsense?????


    QP

  14. #14
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    QP

    Are you gaining your information from a properly-reseaarched source or from the internet?

    On 5.1.53 VX640 [no known code] of 802 NAS had to forced land on the beach at Paengyong-do. On the same date WE689 ('159/R') also of 801 Sqn crashed during the search for 'Pug' Mather who had earlier baled out of WF626 ('160/R'). A second aircraft, for which we have no identity yet, also crashed -this time in a village - during this search and the pilot was killed.

    As I think I stated before, the details for ALL known Sea Fury crashes are in our book (see above) and include names, so it's not a secret. The only aircraft to fit the bill for the photograph of '159/R' is VX636; all other aircraft are accounted for, and the codes have been checked from numerous sources.

    Lee

  15. #15
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    Lee,
    Thanks for your insights.

    I am not sure I like the tone of these discussions so I it's time foe me to bow out and leave the thread to others if anyone wishes to join in.


    QP

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