On 24 January 1959 my father took a blurry b&w photograph of two AEW (airborne early warning) Skyraiders flying over Tauranga before they landed. I visited the aerodrome while they were there and watched children little younger than me climbing into the open rear door and playing with, presumably, the radar controls with no aircrew in sight; hopefully a thorough preflight was carried out before the aircraft left!
While I do not remember the markings on the Skyraiders I am fairly sure they were Royal Navy. Unfortunately my father didn't accompany me to the aerodrome with his camera.
I never knew Skyraiders had visited NZ, and RN ones at that!
The first Skyraiders to visit here were probably those on the USS Tarawa. This ship made a port visit to Wellington in 1954 and I was able to stand in the cockpit of one of them for a few minutes when the ship was open to the public. Being 12 at the time I would not have been able to see out if I had sat down. The plane was one of the single-seat " Attack " versions of the Skyraider. A couple of days later, after the Tarawa had sailed, four of her Grumman Cougars came back over the city, one of them making a supersonic dive and breaking a few windows.
Back home in Oz I have a photograph my father took of a formation (approx 7 or 8) of the Skyraiders or Cougars over Wellington. The aircraft which made the supersonic dive broke away from the formation to do so, and my friend's father, the green-keeper at Kilbirnie park, though the aircraft was experiencing engine problems and he proceeded to usher people form the park fearing the aircraft may attempt to land there.
I have managed to access my photograph of the Skyraiders of which the formation consists of 13 aircraft, one clearly having broken off to perform its solo antics. I cannot be sure about the date of this image but think its closer to mid than late fifties.
Post by angelsonefive on Mar 5, 2019 14:16:17 GMT 12
I believe that the letter 'A' on the vertical fins of these AEW-1 Skyraiders identifies them as being from HMS Albion. Looking through profiles and photos of RN aircraft of the period I find that the fin code letter connects to the name of the carrier these individual aircraft operated from. For example, HMS Centaur planes carried 'C', Ark Royal's 'R', Bulwark's 'B', and Eagle's, an 'E'. HMS Albion cruised in the Far East and visited Australia and NZ in 1959/60. On that voyage the ship carried, along with other aircraft, four AEW-1 Skyraiders of D Flight, 849 Sqdn, RN.
Did the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm ever use the Skyraider in action?
And did any Kiwis fly the Skyraider?
In the 1956 Suez operation aircraft from HMS Albion struck key Egyptian airfields and covered para-troop operations. In a hot war situation like that AEW Skyraiders would have been keeping a continuous radar surveillance of their ship.