Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Inspiration for Formidable

So, with Formidable now out in internet land for sale, I thought I would post some photos of some elements that gave me inspiration for the plot.  As I say in the author's notes at the end of the book, my father flew from Formidable in 888 Squadron during the war.  The aircraft they flew was the Martlet although the Yanks called it the Wildcat and the RN changed the name back later in the war.  It originally went up against the Brewster Buffalo in a procurement competition before the war.  It lost, apparently because of cooling issues with its radial engine.  The Buffalo went on to be a complete disater when it came up against the Japanese Zero for the first time.  The Wildcat would have fared much better. I believe there may have been some skullduggery between the competing manufacturers during the competition - hard to believe of course!  However, the French had ordered some which by the time they were ready - they no longer had any need for and the FAA got their sticky fingers on them instead.  Not a bad thing at the time as complete neglect of maritime aviation by the RAF in the interwar years meant that the only other fighter available to the FAA was the Blackburn ROC and it only had guns that could fire backwards!!  888 was also unusual as it was commanded by a Royal Marine.  So here are a few photos from my father's album:

888 Squadron.  Lieutenant D M Jeram third left

888 in the air

The Gruman Martlet (Wildcat) painted in US Navy markings but operating from Formidable for operation Torch - the first joint US/UK operation of the war - the North African landings.

The first verse of the first song from the Fleet Air Arm song book:
They say in the Air Force a landings OK,
If the pilot gets out and can still walk away,
But in the Fleet Air Arm the prospects are grim,
If the landing's piss poor and the bastard can't swim.

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