Flittering around the internet - found this reference!!!!
On 24 May 1939, the RAF handed over RAF Worthy Down to the RN and RNAS Worthy down established with HMS KESTREL as its parent ship. It ceased to be used as a base for squadrons of the FAA in 1942 due to the orientation of the runway. The aircraft manufacturer Supermarine used the airfield in the development of the Spitfire from December 1940 to March 1944.
(For two weeks on 1.4.48 KESTREL very briefly changed to General Service Establishment HMS CICERO when CICERO moved there from Braintree Essex. It reverted to KESTREL on 19.4.48.)
HMS KESTREL became HMS ARIEL on 1.7.52 when ARIEL moved to Worthy Down from Risley (also called Culcheth), Warrington, Lancs.
Cheers for that HMAS Sydney it is ....still can't work out the K. The only two Aussie air stations are Nowara and Albatross ISC maybe K for the Korean ocampaign?? Just found out that HMAS Sydney had the deck letter code K:wink:
Deck letter codes from the internet The deck letter system was introduced around the end of WW2 when for the first time RN carriers began to operate together in numbers as part of the BPF. Previously the carriers had rarely seen each other in service as they were spread out in different theatres as required. The Illustrious/Implacable classes looked a lot alike from the air, and the first four Colossus class light fleets were just joining the BPF too in 1945 (not forgetting the numerous CVEs also), so some form of deck recognition code system was inevitable. The USN had used the hull numbers on the decks of their carriers since the start of the war, but the RN opted for what were initially random deck letters, not associated with the ship's name other than by coincidence. Hence Formidable had the deck code R in 1945. Codes could be moved around as well postwar, as ships were passed into reserve or put up for disposal (R was reallocated to HMS Glory for example after Formidable paid off in 1947). Theseus had the deck letter T, Triumph had P, Vengeance had Q, Illustrious had D, Victorious had S and Y, Indomitable had A, Implacable C, Ocean O, and Unicorn Y. The French, Australian and Dutch Navies were also part of this system postwar, though the Canadians opted out and followed US practice (their three carriers were HMCS Warrior CVL20 with deck code 20, HMCS Magnificent CVL21 with deck code 21 and HMCS Bonaventure VL22 with, surprise surprise deck code 22). The Dutch MNLMS Karel Doorman had deck code D, the Australian HMAS Sydney had deck code K, Melbourne started off with deck code Y then in the early 60s changed to M. The French Arromanches had deck code H in the 50s, Clemenceau had U and Foch F.
In the mid 50s, with rapidly reducing numbers of carriers in service a degree of rationalisation was introduced to align where possible the deck codes with the ship's name, as the code was also carried on the tails of the aircraft carried. Eagle had entered service in 1951 with deck code J, but in 1956 she changed to E, with the J code going to the newly refitted Warrior. Ark Royal was commissioned in 1955 with code O (as HMS Ocean was now just a training ship with no air group) but by 1958 had changed to R, as A had already been taken by Albion which had previously carried code Z. Bulwark had B from the start fortunately, but Centaur had been completed with an axial deck and ran trials with the deck code L. On acceptance she was immediately refitted with an angled deck and had her code changed to C, so perhaps this gives an indication of when the policy change began. Hermes was comissioned with code H in 1959, and Victorious emerged from her mammoth rebuild in 58 with deck code V.
The three Invincibles were originally planned to all have 'I' names, Invincible, Illustrious and Indomitable, so deck code I would have been a problem as well as the fact that I is not very distinctive on a flight deck covered in markings, so each ship gained a deck code based on the second letter of their names. One assumes the had Indomitable not had her name changed to Ark Royal in 78 she would have had deck code D as Invincible already had N. Lusty of course got L. The next large flight deck in service was Argus, but as she is an RFA she was moved into the two letter code system of escorts and auxilliaries, becoming AS. Since then only the LPH HMS Ocean has been commissioned and recieved the obvious code O. Artists impressions of the two new CVFs show they will get the pennant numbers R08 for HMS Queen Elizabeth (deck code Q) and R09 for HMS Prince of Wales (deck code P), indicating a logical progression in allocations rather than random assignment as in the past.