Author Topic: The FAW21 Javelin Triton  (Read 1285 times)

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Offline Rheged

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The FAW21 Javelin Triton
« on: May 25, 2018, 09:29:45 am »
The  Gloster Javelin  FAW21. The Triton
The F(AW)21 Gloster Javelin Triton was an almost totally accidental development. Following the adoption of a dispersal policy for V bombers, the Ministry of Defence began an assessment of the possible dispersal of fighter aircraft. As a point defence interceptor, the English Electric Lightning  then under development was not considered an appropriate subject for this policy but the Gloster Javelin, the early marks of which were already coming into service, was clearly a suitable candidate.
This heavy all-weather fighter needed  reasonably long runways in order to operate  effectively and it was deemed appropriate  to investigate the reduction of take off and landing runs. RATO bottles could considerably shorten the take off run and the airframe had been  designed to accommodate the stress produced. It was found that the aircraft could quickly and cheaply be  upgraded to allow the installation of an arrestor hook. These amendments were made to a pair of development Javelins and successfully tested.  At this point, Captain Eric Brown, who had witnessed the tests, suggested that a hooked Javelin would almost certainly be able to land on an aircraft carrier flight deck. Trials at RAE Bedford proved that this was indeed possible. The question was then raised that if one could land a hooked Javelin on a carrier, was the airframe appropriately built to withstand a catapult launch? Calculations proved this a viable proposition and so on 20th November 1958 Eric Brown flew a development Javelin to HMS Ark Royal in the English Channel and successfully landed on.  Half an hour later he was catapulted off and returned to Farnborough. His report noted that the landing procedure had been well within the capabilities of an average Fleet Air Arm pilot, and that with a small adjustment to the nose wheel a catapult assisted take off could be adopted as a standard technique.
The Javelin’s wing was not compatible with current carrier flight deck lifts, but the deck edge lift included in initial design studies for what became the CVA-01 proposal could overcome this  difficulty.
30 airframes were formally built to FAW21 “Triton” fully navalised standards, with an unknown but large number of RAF Javelins equipped with arrestor hook and catapult strop hardpoints.  An  initial development flight of Tritons was established and attached to 802 squadron Fleet Air Arm to allow them to define the operational parameters of  squadron use. 802 squadron was chosen as its tail symbol was a winged spear. The basic doctrine was that RAF Javelins could be used to augment FAA resources in times of international tension, or moved rapidly anywhere in the world and flown into overseas  bases from carrier decks.
The joint Royal Navy/ US Navy exercise Incursion Warrior  off the coast of Northern Florida in  1963 used Tritons as high level intruders, cross decking with USS Enterprise. To the surprise of many, the Tritons proved themselves superior to most USAF fighters at high altitude. Following a review of the exercise results, a joint USAF/USN development team requested that a number of Tritons be allocated to the US Department of Defense for dissimilar combat training duties. They were considered ideal for this role as they could be flown from USN carriers in the Western Atlantic as high altitude penetrators to be intercepted by USAF fighters. Triton manoeuvrability at high altitudes made this a challenging task. The Javelin programme was partially funded by the US Mutual Aid Program;  the airframes supplied had not been taken on charge by the RAF and by a masterpiece of inspired bureaucratic obfuscation and creative administrative confusion neither had they  been issued with USAF or USN identities. This made them a deniable resource and potentially  available for sundry covert activities. Eight aircraft are believed to have been operated by Fleet Air Arm crews (on secondment or from the reserve) as “1776 Flight, Royal Colonial Flying Corps”. They used a multiplicity of call signs including Kensington, Knightsbridge and Chelsea. As the aircraft were not on any air force inventory, they carried neither US or RAF markings. Eventually, the crews chose to use a red and white Tudor rose as their identifier. The crews were officially contracted to a Crown Agents subsidiary  known as Perfidious Albion PLC. By 1971 the remaining 5 airworthy aircraft were flown to “a secure location” and the grounded aircraft trucked to a “major governmental storage facility”  Unsubstantiated reports of sightings  of delta winged aircraft at extremely high altitude over Nevada in the  1970’s  have never been officially confirmed.
In 1966, FAA Tritons operating from HMS Ark Royal in the Mozambique  Channel participated in the Beira Blockade, in cooperation with RAF Javelin FAW9R aircraft based in Zambia.
By 1969, most Javelins of all marks had been withdrawn with the exception of a few operated as trials and test or drone target airframes. A Javelin Triton trials aircraft fitted with a Bristol Siddeley BS.605 rocket pack and wing extensions  reached a height of 78,673 feet above Boscombe Down in 1974.  It has been officially denied  that this aircraft was later deployed to RAF Laarbruch  with a Vinten camera installation in the navigator’s position.
Retired Javelins were scrapped in the early 1970’s, with the exception of those supplied to museums and used to populate a dummy airstrip on the Spadeadam electronic warfare site. Three Tritons are known to exist among a total of 14 Javelins at Spadeadam, one is in store at the FAA museum at Yeovilton and two are in the Imperial War Museum store at Duxford. A composite airframe is currently being assembled at the Jet Age Museum near Gloucester.
Having been successfully demonstrated by the Javelin FAW21 Triton, the concept of making as many RAF aircraft as possible  carrier capable was adopted by MOD, resulting in the Maritime Jaguar, the “hooked Hawk” and the Sea Typhoon.

This study of the Javelin Triton was initially prompted by the purchase of an Airfix Javelin FAW9R from our colleague Bungle’s stash reduction and further embellished by advice from Thorvic on FAA squadron symbols

I'm quite happy for anyone who wishes to adopt, adapt or improve this backstory looking for a model!
« Last Edit: May 25, 2018, 01:24:32 pm by Rheged »
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