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Falklands war and the Fairey Gannet

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Falklands war and the Fairey Gannet

Old 11th Apr 2010, 09:54
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Falklands war and the Fairey Gannet

A long time ago, not long after the Falklands war, I read a story in an aviation magazine that, apparently, in the run up to the conflict breaking out (ie, while the expeditionary force was en route to the Falklands), people from the MoD visited several aircraft museums in the UK which had Gannets and were seriously looking into the possibility of taking them out of the museums and putting them back into service, because the expeditionary force was so short of ASW capability.

I'm not speaking from a position of great knowledge re the Gannet-I think they had all been withdrawn by 1982, but someone correct me if I'm wrong. So can anyone corroborate this seemingly incredible story?

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Last edited by Proplinerman; 11th Apr 2010 at 10:08. Reason: Decided to add link to photo of Gannet
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 10:43
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Probably false, as I don't think the UK had any platforms that could launch or recover the Gannet at sea.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 11:56
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The RN carriers and "through deck cruisers" by that time all had the ski jump fitted so there was no room for a steam catapult required to get a Gannet into the air.

Anyway, it wasn't so much a shortage of ASW equipment as they had the necessary helicopters but a shortage of AEWR aircraft which the Gannet had fulfilled. It required the fleet to mount standing patrols of aircraft and picket lines of destroyers and frigates to give warning of incoming aircraft, an extremely costly business.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 12:07
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There is a grain of truth in the story, as there often is. It was not the Gannet airframes they were after but the AN/APS 20 AEW search radar. As has been mentioned there was a total lack of AEW equipment in the RN and, just as skips had been rifled for refuelling probes and bombing computers for the Vulcans, someone hit on the idea of retrieving these radars and fitting them to Sea Kings to provide AEW cover.

It never happened of course but the scheme did live on, using the very modern Thorn EMI Searchwater instead we got todays Sea King ASaC.7's from this germ of an idea.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 12:16
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It was not the Gannet airframes they were after but the AN/APS 20 AEW search radar.
I thought the AEW radar in Gannets had already been removed and used in the Shackelton AEW2.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 12:19
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Some, but not all. The AEW Shack's were all in service by 1972, the RN still had AEW Gannets until 1978 when Ark Royal was decomissioned.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 17:41
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There is perhaps some truth in this story. Shortly before the Falklands War I was asked to view an AEW 3 Gannet, which was up for disposal via the MOD tendering system, on behalf of a prospective purchaser.

Although the aircraft hadn't flown for a few years and lacked the radar, it was in good condition. I seem to remember that it had an overhauled engine fitted prior to its final ferry flight.

The chaps bid was successful, but by this time the Falklands conflict had kicked off. The MOD informed him, shortly afterwards, though that the sale had been put on hold, whilst they reviewed their AEW capabilities. Nothing came of it of course and I think the aircraft was released in May 1982.

HMS Bulwark was still around at the time and I understand an inspection was made to see if she could be put back into service, but she was deemed too far gone. Presumably this is what the Gannets would have operated off if they had been returned to service.
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Old 12th Apr 2010, 08:32
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What became of the Gannet which was sitting in the 'Ark Royal' hangar at Leuchars in the mid-80s?

I remember the drone of the Gannet from my childhood days in Somerset - and the noise of the Wyverns before them!
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Old 12th Apr 2010, 09:53
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Have seen 2 Gannets do free take offs from aircraftcarriers!!!!! one steaming into wind, and one at anchor. Not sure if they could get airborne, with a ramp set up, The one steaming into wind was the Victorious. The one at anchor was the Hermes pre ramp
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Old 12th Apr 2010, 11:15
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There was a Gannet in the 705Sqn hangar at Culdrose in 83 just a year after the Falklands conflict. It was being used for noise research (by Dowty??) as there was talk at the time of using unducted contra-rotating fans on commercial aircraft. It flew several times.
That would be XL500. It went to Chatham Dockyard after that, until being bought by Kennet Aviation. It is now at Exeter Airport under restoration to flying condition again.
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Old 12th Apr 2010, 19:26
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The Hermes 'pre-ramp' free take off would have been the COD while we were at anchorage in Langkawi atoll - about Jan 1969 - I think I've got a black & white piccie of it - or am I just suffering a senior moment ??
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Old 12th Apr 2010, 19:39
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Around 1985-90 one of the big engine manufacturers (was it P&W?) acquired access to a Gannet to study the noise characteristics of contra-rotating props. This was to collect data for the UDF (unducted fan) engine.

The 'open rotor' engine is still a candidate for 2025 aircraft so perhaps the Gannet will prove useful again?
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Old 12th Apr 2010, 19:47
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Thanks for all the replies and I think we've got to the bottom of this story, though by all means let's keep the thread going.
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Old 13th Apr 2010, 05:31
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Yes the Free take off was at Lankawi 69, sure would like to see the Pic. The one that was launched from the Vic nearly ended in disaster, as she shifted to port on take off. With her wheel ending up over the 4.5 gun turret. But she had enough lift to clear it The skipper said " we wont be doing that again "
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Old 13th Apr 2010, 06:58
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I used to cycle to White Waltham as a very young lad and watch Gannets take off and land.

ISTR a fence by the Maidenhead road being whacked/wrecked by a departing Gannet on one occasion? Or is my memory playing tricks?

White Waltham was very noisy back then with the Rotodyne test bed running, Rotodyne flying and the tiny Fairey Ultralight tipjet helicopter and Gannets!

The ultralight helicopter was always flown with vigour so I presume it was nice to fly!
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Old 13th Apr 2010, 09:17
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Me too - cycling to White Waltham that is. Even on Sunday mornings it was quite common for Gannets to be ground running outside the big hangar on the far side - the natives must have loved that. Anyone got any photos of Gannets there?
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Old 13th Apr 2010, 09:20
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Around 1985-90 one of the big engine manufacturers (was it P&W?) acquired access to a Gannet to study the noise characteristics of contra-rotating props. This was to collect data for the UDF (unducted fan) engine.
I think that was Hamilton Standard in the US. They used XL482 for a time.

Whatever happened to the one that was being flown back from the US and got stranded in Goose Bay?
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Old 13th Apr 2010, 09:41
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Have seen 2 Gannets do free take offs from aircraftcarriers!!!!! one steaming into wind, and one at anchor. Not sure if they could get airborne, with a ramp set up, The one steaming into wind was the Victorious. The one at anchor was the Hermes pre ramp

I vividly recall doing one free take-off in the COD Gannet whilst VICTORIOUS was at anchor off Dar - and the reason I recall it so well was that there was a remarkable absence of wind over the deck and an even more remarkable presence of wake over the sea as we dipped off the deck and then climbed away!

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Old 13th Apr 2010, 11:13
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Here is my sighting of the one, on the Victorious 66/67 commission The last free take-off on the Vic, when we arrived back in the English channel in 67. The FDO LtCdr Robinson. Did a Free Takeoff with the last AEW Gannet to go ashore. He was lined up aft at the round down for an Axle deck launch. The Aircraft started to roll ok , But at about mid-ships she started to drift to port.
as she passed the point wher the angle deck met the Fwd part of the main deck it was obvious her port wheel was about to go over the deck edge. As the A/C past the Port side Fwd Twin 3.5 Turret the wheel was just about over the edge.
Luckly Robinson had gained enough Fwd speed to keep horizontal and get airborne on reaching the bow.
We had just started to breath again when Commander Air (Promoted to Captain some months before) Piped, "That is the last time we will attempt that".

Last edited by david parry; 15th Apr 2010 at 09:31.
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Old 14th Apr 2010, 19:47
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Culdrose Gannet

Perhaps not very informative...but I well remember accompanying the then FO Plymouth (VAdml SAC Cassels) to Culdrose in 1981 when Roger Dimmock was Captain and seeing a Gannet with wings extended and engines running outside a remote hangar.

I recall the Admiral and the Captain musing on the lack of AEW cover for the fleet and the possible use the Gannet might be in extremis. I seem to remember that the conversation was revived in '82, perhaps because FO Plymouth's SOO was an ex-Gannet pilot.

That was around the time when CAMBRIDGE was presumed to be Devonport's point AAW cover, IIRC.

Anybody care to add detail (contradictory or otherwise!)...?

Goofer

Last edited by goofer; 14th Apr 2010 at 20:21. Reason: Sorry wrong HERMES captain
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