Sail Air Force

Discussion in 'History' started by Crabman, Mar 3, 2008.

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  1. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    The RAF boat service had a base at Lyme Regis for years, they lost two of three of the boats by not securing them to the buoys properly, boats came adrift and were reduced to matchwood on the beach.

    The old barracks is now used to house the boat building school.
  2. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    One of these boats has been parked on the Hamble for many years (visible from the M27), presumably someone has rescued it!
  4. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    After the second or third one they closed the station. Must have been an expensive hobby, beautiful boats fitted with, I believe, two Rolls Royce engines for main drive and a smaller auxilary engine, crying shame to see them reduced to matchwood.
  5. What was the point? I know we have the FAA but thats actually of some use. Why ships in the RAF?
  6. Started as air sea rescue for crabs that fell in the water (I assume they thought that as they tended to ignore the RN the RN would ignore their chaps in the water). They then used them I believe for range safety until they got bored with fast motor boats. The RN used on at Faslane fr many years to take sea riders from the base to the areas, but they consumed so much petrol, and expensive petrol at that that I think they found a helo service from Gannet cheaper.
  7. The Air Sea Rescue started during WWII, the RN had other problems at the time. Resuing downed pilots in the Channel was very entertaining at times, apparently the sqatters on the other side took exception to our boats in "their waters", and reacted accordingly, hence the need for something small and fast.
  8. I always thought the speed was required because life expectancy even in the channel is not that great for even roughy toughy sailors never mind the nice clean living crabs.
  9. If I remember rightly, in the North Sea even in summer survival time is about 15 minutes, so you are right speed is/was essential, even more so when some inconsiderate sodd is firing at you.

    Sometime in the 80s a nav ejected from a Buccaneer near the ranges at Vlieland in January. He was in the water only a very few minutes, but his core temperature sank to a critical level.
  10. As an RAF CCF cadet I went to sea in an RAF Pinnace from Tenby in 1977. I believe the boat section was wound up shortly after that. This vessel was used for range duties, Target and buoy maintenence, not target towing. it was not that fast. The coxon was a WO. Who some what disconcertingy insisted on calling me "Sir" dispite me only being a Cadet WO.
  11. They were also use in Northern Ireland in the 70s/80s.

    Almost the same as the Bird Class.

  12. Mmmm! A dry suit should have done better than that. It was what they were designed for. I would have given him an hour at least.

    Oh, and the more I read about what RAF crews did during the war and how many bomber crews (50 per cent; that is 50,000) were lost the more I respect their sacrifice. Any organisation that tried to rescue them out of the water gets my total admiration.
  13. He was wearing a dry suit, but was't wearing the bunny suit underneath, end result he was dry but freezing cold. According to the doc another 5 minutes at most and the chopper crew needn't have bothered.
  14. Ah! As I thought, he knew better than all the people who had gone to great efforts to design and produce the best gear. We've all met them, *******!
  15. Recommend that you read the book, or try to obtain a copy of the film "The Sea shall not have Them", by John Harris, first published 1953.
    An excellent yarn and a real insight into what the Air Sea Rescue crews did during the war.
    Stirring stuff indeed!

  16. As a former Sailor in the RAF, I can shed a little more light on this topic.

    The RAF Marine Branch was formed in 1918 to provide water-borne support to the flying side of the Service, i.e. Flying Boats.

    The branch developed its Air Sea Rescue role just prior to WW2 & was responsible for the world-wide rescue of thousands of downed Allied Aircrew.

    After the war, the Branch's role changed to include amongst other tasks, Anti- Submarine work, Torpedo & Sonar Buoy recovery, Target Towing, Range Safety & Anti-Terrorist support.

    The Branch shrank rapidly, along with all the armed services, until, in 1986, it was finally disbanded and its work privatised. If anyone is interested, try this site for more information,

    Wierdly enough, my last posting before Demob was at HMS Fulmar, where the RAF provided and manned the Rescue Launch which was based at Lossiemouth.

    RAF Marine Branch personnel were viewed as odd-balls by the "real " RAF & were known as " Web Foots".

    I hope this helps answer the original question.
  17. For those R.N. historians amongst you, I've just done a little bit of looking up & can add that the RAF Marine Branch used several former R.N vessels whilst waiting for the M.O.D. to provide purpose built steel launches for use.

    All of the following vessels were transferred into RAF hands and used for many years :-
    HMS Bridport.
    HMS Bridlington.
    HMS Bottisham.
    HMS Chelsham.
    HMS Halsham.

    They were all reclassified as Her Majesty's Air Force Vessels.

    When the RAF Marine Craft Unit in Gibraltar closed in the early 80's, the launches were transferred into RN service, redesignated as HMS & became part of the Gibraltar Squadron.

    How's that for being really boring?

  18. I could have sworn reading in SROs sometime in the 70s (reading SROs- that IS boring/desparate) that the last of the air sea rescue units had disbanded. Reading your entries I am surprised that the navy element of the RAF lasted so long. Did the Marine Branch have strong representation in the MoD (Air) Mafia?
  19. Crabman, during the Marine Branch's heyday, it was, if my memory serves me correctly, headed by a mere Wing Commander (Marine Branch ) & had only Deputy Directorate status., though it comprised a complete Trade Group, No7.

    However as the Branch contracted during the 70's & early 80's, they appointed a Group Captain to its head who was ordered to organise its winding up & final disbandment in 1986.

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