892 Naval Air Squadron


892 Naval Air Squadron

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= 892 Naval Air Squadron
dates= 1942-1943, 1945-1968, 1969-1978
country= United Kingdom
branch= Royal Navy
type= Carrier based squadron
role= Offensive Support
command_structure= Fleet Air Arm
garrison= RNAS Yeovilton, RAF Leuchars
equipment=Grumman Wildcat,Grumman Hellcat,de Havilland Sea Venom,de Havilland Sea Vixen,MacDonnell Douglas Phantom II
motto= Strike Unseen

892 Naval Air Squadron was a carrier based fighter squadron of the British Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. It was formed in 1943, flying Grumman Wildcats, and was the only operational Fleet Air Arm squadron to fly the MacDonnell Douglas Phantom II.

History

892 Naval Air Squadron was first formed in July 1942 at Norfolk, Virginia, equipped with Grumman Wildcats. It operated Wildcats from Escort aircraft carriers, flying from the carriers "HMS Battler" and "HMS Archer" cite web |url=http://www.fleetairarmarchive.net/Squadrons/892.html |title=Fleet Air Arm 892 Squadron profile. Squadron Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939-1945 |accessdate=2007-08-04 |format= |work= ] , disbanding in August 1943 when it merged into 819 Naval Air Squadron.

It reformed in April 1945, flying Grumman Hellcats off "HMS Ocean" Cite book |author=Thetford, Owen|title=British Naval Aircraft since 1912 |Edition =Fourth Edition |publisher=Putnam |location= London|year=1994 |id= ISBN 0 85177 861 5.

Post war, it operated de Havilland Sea Venom and de Havilland Sea Vixen fighters , being the first operational fighter squadron to use the Sea Vixen [cite web |url=http://www.thunder-and-lightnings.co.uk/seavixen/history.html |title=DE HAVILLAND SEA VIXEN - HISTORY |accessdate=2007-08-04 |format= |work= ] . In 1968 the squadron operated the widely acclaimed Simon's Sircus ("sic") aerobatic team, led by Lt. Cdr. Simon Idiens, which flew up to six of the large Sea Vixen aircraft in tight formation.

892 Naval Air Squadron was reformed on the 31st March 1969, and was the Royal Navy’s only operational Phantom unit (both 700P and 767 NAS were training squadrons).

In 1964 the Royal Navy had envisaged operating 143 Phantoms with a combined carrier fleet of "HMS Ark Royal", "HMS Eagle", and the new super-carrier CVA-01. However, these plans were significantly curtailed when the government cancelled the CVA-01 in 1966, and, amid further defence cuts, only proceeded to refurbish "HMS Ark Royal" and "HMS Eagle". As a result the number of Phantoms planned to be operated was cut to 134 and then to 110. Eventually only 48 examples were ordered, which was enough for two squadrons of 12 aircraft each for "HMS Ark Royal" and "HMS Eagle", and with additional aircraft for a training squadron and reserves. However as aircraft were beginning to be delivered during 1968 "HMS Eagle"’s refit was cancelled and 20 aircraft were allocated to the RAF.

Against a backdrop of defence cuts 892 Squadron suspected that it would become the last fixed-wing squadron and poignantly adopted a large omega symbol on a white diamond placed on a red fin flash as its squadron symbol.

Despite its (later to be proved) unjustified claim to being the last Royal Naval squadron to operate fixed wing fighters (Sea Harriers began equipping the Fleet Air Arm in April 1980), 892 gained world wide exposure when one of their Phantoms won the Daily Mail's Transatlantic Air Race in May 1969. Lieutenant Commander Brian Davies, and Lieutenant Commander Peter Goddard set a record for flight time from New York to London of 4 hours 46 minutes and 57 seconds.With "HMS Ark Royal" ready Phantoms from 892 NAS were embarked and operations could begin, with additional aircraft from 767 using the carrier for practice. Shortly after 767 NAS was disbanded with the Phantom training passing to the RAF in 1972. 892 was also to move base from RNAS Yeovilton to RAF Leuchars in the same year.

Throughout the 1970’s the unit was involved in a variety of NATO and Royal Navy exercises. However, the complex maintenance of the Phantom was to consistently plague the aircraft, despite crews performed amazingly. These efforts were depicted with the BBC documentary Sailor.

With "HMS Ark Royal" to be paying off in December 1978 it confirmed that there was to be no future for 892 squadron. On the 27th November 1978 XT870/120 became the last aircraft to be catapulted from a British Aircraft carrier. 892 was disbanded on the 15th December 1978 and its Phantom FG Mk Is were transferred to No. 111 Squadron at RAF Leuchars.

Aircraft flown

Aircraft flown by 892 Naval Air Squadron include:

*Grumman Wildcat
*Grumman Hellcat
*de Havilland Sea Venom
*de Havilland Sea Vixen
*MacDonnell Douglas Phantom II

References


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