First Vertical, the Fleet Air Arm's VTOL initiation

Started by PR19_Kit, December 01, 2008, 01:39:29 PM

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                  First Vertical
    November 1st, 1956. 30,000 feet above the Eastern Mediterranean two
   Fleet Air Arm fighters climb at full throttle toward the South East,
   vectored toward radar echoes seen by the Allied invasion fleet's picket
   ships. The echoes confirm previous intelligence reports that the
   Egyptian Air Force might mount a major attack on the fleet as it
   approached the coast, and on the previous day Hunters based on Cyprus
   had seen off two EAF reconnaissance Tu-16s, hitting one, but failing to
   catch the other high flying Soviet built bomber.

    Lt. Colin 'Hoppalong' Cassidy, flying the lead 806 NAS fighter, turns
   onto the vector he hears on his VHF radio, and powers up his own radar.
   Immediately the small screen in front of him lights up with a veritable
   forest of echoes, and he toggles the gun switches to the 'Arm'
   position. By now the two fast climbing fighters have gained height
   advantage over the enemy bombers and are turning on to an intercept
   course, even though they are not yet within visual range. Cassidy gives
   a hand signal and his wing man veers off to their combat spread
   formation. A glint of sunlight on aluminium off to starboard betrays
   the position of the Egyptian bombers, and the Fleet Air Arm aircraft
   enter a shallow curving dive toward their targets. The two fighters
   split up, picking individual targets from among the thirty or so
   Tupolev Badgers. Cassidy is aiming for the lead Tu-16, and banking hard
   to one side he brings his gunsight to bear on the big bomber.

    As he comes within range, the Badger starts to turn away, and a bright
   twinkling from the tail turret shows the nervous gunner has opened
   fire. Cassidy's fighter is traveling at nearly 600 knots, far too fast
   for the tail gunner to track him with any hope of success, and Cassidy
   opens up in turn, his four wing pod mounted 20mm Hispanos wreaking
   havoc on the big Mikulin engine mounted close against the Tu-16's
   fuselage. With only one engine running, the big Russian bomber yaws
   sharply to starboard, and as Cassidy overshoots, the Egyptian pilot
   kicks in hard port rudder, over correcting and causing a shock stall in
   the thin air. Cassidy twists his fighter around sharply to deliver the
   coup de grace, and follows the Tupolev down as it rolls slowly over on
   to it's back. One more short burst into the tall tail assembly seals
   it's fate, and as the dark grey and pale green fighter turns away from
   the stricken bomber, Cassidy is already scanning his radar to select
   another target.

    Not until the combat reports are checked later does it become evident
   that Cassidy's Badger is the first combat victory scored by the
   Convair-Hawker Osprey F1, a fighter destined to change the course of
   Naval aviation.

    The events that lead up to that historic combat started in 1952 with
   a US Navy requirement for an experimental VTOL research aircraft that
   could possibly be developed into a shipboard fighter. Both Lockheed and
   Convair responded with their XFV-1 and XFY-1 designs. Both aircraft
   reached the build stage, and both of them flew successfully, but only
   the delta winged Convair aircraft took-off vertically, successfully
   transitioned to horizontal flight and back again, and landed vertically
   during the early months of 1954. Powered by the same Allison T40 twin
   turbo-prop, both aircraft had enough power to make a vertical take-off,
   but the Lockheed aircraft only managed to fly with a jury-rigged
   horizontal mode undercarriage.

    It was obvious that an operational fighter would need to be a much
   larger aircraft in order to carry a useful fuel and armament load.
   Although designed to carry cannon in the tip pods, firing outside the
   airscrew arc, they were never fitted to the experimental aircraft.
   Convair were awarded a development contract for four pre-production
   YFY-2s in July '54, while the XFY-1 was still in it's flight test phase
   spending most of it's time testing landing techniques on motion
   platforms at Point Magu and on board the USS Norton Sound, an ex-
   seaplane tender with an aft deck. A development version of the Hughes
   3-axis auto-stabilization system was fitted to the second XFY-1 during
   this period, and proved so successful in aiding the 'over the shoulder'
   landing process of the tailsitting fighters that it was immediately
   retrofitted to Pogo No. 1, and specified for the YFY-2s. The Navy
   intended to fit some of it's Mitscher class destroyers with a somewhat
   smaller aft deck and hanger to carry two of the FY-2 fighters, and the
   XFY-1 trials attempted to reproduce this situation.

    Around this time the Royal Navy also became interested in the concept
   of the VTOL fighter and as no British turbo-prop had anywhere near the
   power of the T40 let alone it's developed version, the T66, there was
   little interest in the project on the part of the UK industry. The only
   option was to turn to the US to supply the requirement, and although
   rather larger than the FAA's needs, the FY-2 looked on paper to have
   all the necessary qualifications for the job.

    The T66 was developing the most prodigious power levels on the bench,
   and it's test bed aircraft, a modified AD-5 Skyraider, reached 550
   knots in level flight during early trials. Allison developed a single
   stage afterburner for the engine, after discovering that the maximum
   torque level of the engine exceeded the capability of the strongest
   gearbox/propeller combination available. The 'burner' enabled the T66
   to use it's maximum power for short bursts, primarily during take-off
   and combat, without overloading the propeller/gearbox combination. The
   tailpipes for this combination were considerably larger than those in
   the Pogo, and therefore the rear fuselage of the FY-2 was much fatter
   than the earlier aircraft.

    With these and other modifications, Convair had now refined the design
   to a state where it was painfully obvious that there was no connection
   whatsoever with the little Pogo, and the US Navy re-designated the
   design as an F3Y-1. The first YF3Y-1, there being no XF3Y-1, was rolled
   out in March '55, and took to the air two months later. Compared with
   the Pogo, the new fighter had a much better performance, and required
   very few changes to become a production model. The proposed US Navy
   version carried two 20mm cannon and 18 FF rockets in each wing tip pod,
   but the FAA had little confidence in the rockets in a combat situation,
   and wanted any British aircraft to have four 20mm guns. This weapon fit
   was soon in hand, together with changes to accommodate the specified
   British radio and radar.

    The radar installation in the F3Y-1 was unique in that the scanner was
   installed inside the spinner, forward of the front element of the big
   contra-rotating, eight bladed propeller. The waveguides and control
   cables passed through a hollow, non-rotating shaft in the centre of the
   propeller assembly. Although unusual, this configuration proved
   remarkably trouble free in service, comparing well with more normal
   installations. The British radar could be fitted in this manner without
   too many problems, and the Commission promptly ordered 36 of the VTOL
   fighters, beating even the official order for the US Navy, although
   that followed quite quickly, and was for a much more substantial 250

    The US Navy chose to name it's version of the F3Y-1 as the Convair
   Defender, and it's use of the aircraft will have to be the subject of
   further articles, but as part of the deal with the British Commission
   was that the final fitting out was to be carried out by Hawker Aircraft
   at Dunsfold, the appropriate Hawker name of Osprey was resurrected for
   the FAA aircraft. The first production Osprey F1, WV110, flew at San
   Diego in February '56 and was immediately shipped to Dunsfold for it's
   equipment fit. The remaining 35 aircraft followed closely behind '110,
   and before mid-summer the first Naval Air Squadron, 811 had been formed
   at Ford in Hampshire and began working up. A number of destroyers and
   cruisers had been fitted with the necessary hangers and decks to carry
   the Ospreys, and training on motion tables and on-board ship were soon
   being intensively practiced.

    The strange appearance of the Osprey, contrasting greatly with it's
   contemporary Sea Hawk cousin, soon became a familiar sight along the
   South Coast, especially so as a second NAS, 807 had formed at Portland.
   It was the first land based squadron to fly from the Dorset air
   station, previous aircraft operations from there being water based. In
   a moment of official madness, the Admiralty commissioned the base as
   HMS Osprey! The two NASs divided their operational Ospreys into flights
   of two aircraft, each flight allocated to a particular ship, and were
   then dispersed across the Oceans wherever the Navy needed to make it's
   presence felt. Both 807 and 811 retained four Ospreys at their shore
   bases as training flights, and the remainder of the order, some 10
   aircraft were put into store at Brawdy. In the fullness of time, as
   more ships had decks and hangers fitted, it was planned to allocate
   these remaining aircraft to 807 or 811 as appropriate.

    This master plan became overtaken by events as the Suez situation came
   to a head during September and October of that year, and it became
   rapidly apparent that the remaining Ospreys would be needed on board,
   especially as it had been found that by removing the lower fin assembly
   three Ospreys could be hangared in the space designed for two. The fin
   had been designed to be jettisoned in the event that the aircraft had
   to make a forced 'flat' landing, and RNAY Fleetlands modified this
   structure joint to their own ends. All the squadron aircraft were
   quickly modified to this later standard, and the remaining 10 Ospreys
   had the 'fin-fix' carried out as they were readied for service. The FAA
   had decided against assigning the new aircraft to the existing
   squadrons, electing instead to form a new unit. They also chose to
   resurrect one of the FAA's more notable squadrons, 806 NAS, whose
   famous 'Ace of Diamonds' insignia had until the previous year been
   carried on the nose of their elegant Sea Hawks, but the unit had
   disbanded in November '55, leaving the number free. 806's motto,
   'Sursam in pugnam' translated from the Latin to 'Up, and to the
   fight!', could hardly have been more appropriate for it's new
   equipment, and the 10 remaining Ospreys were soon flying with the 'Ace
   of Diamonds' on their noses.

    The new 806 formed at Yeovilton, although they hardly needed the long
   runways provided by the big Navy base. To staff the new Squadron, the
   instructors from 807 and 811's training flights were transferred to
   806, together with some more experienced pilots from other FAA units,
   and this staffing enabled 806 to complete it's work-up in record time.
   The 10 Osprey's were flown out to Gibraltar, where they were mostly
   assigned to existing flights on board, resulting in the odd situation
   of two different squadron's aircraft being carried on the books of the
   same ship's flight. Toward the end of October, the various elements of
   the fleet sailed for the eastern end of the Mediterranean, but during
   this phase of the operation, air cover was provided by the Light Fleet
   Carriers and most of the Ospreys remained hangared.

    The exceptions were four aircraft carried as singletons on board troop
   ships that had had makeshift flight decks added. These ships, sailing
   as part of a separate convoy, relied on land based air cover from
   Gibraltar, Malta and Cyprus in turn, and the four Ospreys found
   themselves flying long hours filling in the gaps. The only saving grace
   to this grueling workload was the unexpected bonus of ease of landing
   on the much more stable troopers compared to the Navy's lively
   warships. Lt. Colin Cassidy was one of these pilots, assigned to MV
   Cape Horn having previously been an instructor with 807, and soon
   became the highest hour Osprey pilot in the FAA. This experience was to
   serve him well in the days to come.

    Ultra-high altitude reconnaissance flights by RAF 13 Sqdn. Meteor PR19s,
   operating from their Cyprus base with impunity over the Egyptian
   mainland, had established that the Egyptian Defence Staff, anticipating
   action by French and British forces, had collected large numbers of
   both light and medium bombers from both the USSR and other sympathetic
   Arab countries. These aircraft were primarily Il-28 Beagle light
   bombers, comparable with the RAF's Canberra, and Tu-16 Badger medium
   bombers comparing to the USAF B-47 in capability. Both types carried
   defensive armament, unlike any British bombers of the period, and the
   Ospreys practiced attack techniques to counter the Egyptian guns
   against RAF Canberras flying from Malta and Cyprus. At the same time,
   more offensive operations were being conducted by other Canberras
   against Egyptian airfields, but effective dispersion of the EAF bomber
   fleets to the many available bases, most of which were ironically built
   by the Allies, made it very difficult to counter the threat provided by
   the bombers.

    One of the 811 NAS Ospreys, WV116, operating from HMS Dauntless, while
   returning from one of these training missions, had an engine failure
   during it's landing, which resulted in loss of the aircraft but from
   which the pilot, Sub Lt. J. Wicken, was able to eject successfully,
   although sustaining serious injuries. Accordingly, Lt. Cassidy
   transferred with WV121 to Dauntless becoming flight commander on board,
   and immediately proposed the tactic of locating an Osprey carrying ship
   close to a radar picket, thus cutting down the response time of the
   interceptors. This idea was adopted forthwith, and the Osprey pilots
   were able to lie in the tilting seats of the VTOL fighters awaiting an
   alert on deck rather than to fly standing patrols.

    The naval screening fleet came within range of the EAF during the last
   week of October, and very soon high altitude flights by reconnaissance
   TU-16s were being tracked by the radar pickets. As the carrier based
   fighters were fully occupied escorting the Allied strikes against the
   mainland, the Osprey flights were readied to intercept the first recce
   Badgers, but in the event they were chased off by RAF Hunters operating
   from Cyprus, although only one of them was shot down, the other making
   good it's escape. The accurate position fix obtained by this flight
   enabled the EAF to plan it's first strike against the Allies, and this
   was carried out on the morning of November 1st, with the results
   related earlier.

    This first strike comprised 30 Badgers and 26 Beagles, planning a
   high-low attack, and four of the Allied fleet launched their Ospreys in
   defence, resulting in great losses to the EAF from the high altitude
   TU-16 attacks, none of which succeeded in hitting their targets. The
   Il-28s were decimated by the close-in AA from the escorts, and never
   again tried to attack at low level, even though two of their targets
   were hit, one of them, HMS Hereford, subsequently sinking. The Osprey's
   defence against the Tu-16 resulted in the loss of 10 of the Badgers,
   two of these falling to Lt. Cassidy's guns.

    Over the next five days, the EAF flew seven more strikes against the
   Allies, most of them at high level, and all were badly mauled by the
   ship's flights. By the time the invasion had consolidated its beach
   -head, the EAF had lost 88 aircraft to the Ospreys, most of them being
   from the bomber strikes. During the latter days of the campaign, with
   air superiority clearly gained, the VTOL fighters operated some inland
   strikes of their own, flying escort to Sea Hawk and Wyvern ground
   attacks. These resulted in 15 further kills of EAF fighters, mostly the
   theoretically superior MiG-15s, but the maneuverability conferred by
   the large delta wing, and the incredible acceleration of the big engined
   Osprey, more than outweighed the transonic capability of the Soviet
   built fighter.

    It was during this phase of the operation that the second Osprey loss
   occurred, the aircraft falling to an AA battery over Heliopolis. This
   time the pilot, Lt. J.E. Pell, ejected safely, but he was unfortunately
   captured by the opposition. His incarceration was short-lived however,
   as the Allied forces overran the local air base where he was being held
   only two days later. Unfortunately the aircraft concerned was WV110,
   the first production Osprey, but some airframe parts were excavated
   during the '80s by the Egyptian authorities, and presented to the FAA
   Museum at Yeovilton, where they are now displayed close to Cassidy's
   aircraft, whose pilot ended the campaign with seven kills to his
   credit, and thus became the highest scoring Osprey pilot.

    With the Suez campaign coming to it's almost inevitable conclusion,
   the ship's flights were reduced to their normal compliment of two
   aircraft, and the surplus Ospreys returned to the UK, most of them on
   board the Light Fleet Carrier, HMS Bulwark, and carried rather
   incongruously on the flight deck immediately forward of the island, as
   it turned out the VTOL fighter could not be accommodated in the limited
   height of the hangar deck. A scheme to remove the propeller/radome
   assembly was thwarted by the discovery that the special tools needed
   for this task had been returned to San Diego in error at the time of
   806's formation!

    Two of 806's aircraft had been flown down to the Canal Zone airfield
   at Fayid toward the end of the campaign in order to demonstrate their
   remarkable capabilities to the Allied commanders, and at the RAF's
   request, had remained there for some time to test some ideas about
   local point defence tactics using VTOL techniques. Colin Cassidy had by
   now been promoted Lt. Commander, and as he had been largely
   instrumental in getting this tactical evaluation 'off the ground', was
   engaged in flying the evaluation with Lt. Perry in WV135 at the time
   the remainder of 806 embarked on Bulwark. The two Ospreys were
   therefore left behind until the end of the trials, and were flown home
   directly from the Canal Zone to the UK toward the end of December, via
   Cyprus, Malta and the French Naval Air Station at Toulon, where they
   put on an impromptu flying display at short notice.

    This latter exercise had a great impact on Aeronavale thinking, and it
   may be interesting to briefly explore the subsequent French approach to
   shipboard VTOL flying. Negotiations were opened with Convair and the US
   Government during the Spring of '57, eventually resulting in a French
   order for 24 of the Convair aircraft, and a further order of 20 during
   1958. The French aircraft reverted to the US armament of twin 20mm
   cannon, in this case sourced nationally by DEFA, and 18 FF rockets
   housed in the tip pods. For some obscure tactical reason the 44 F3Y-3s,
   as they were designated, were not fitted with radar, improving their
   climb rate, but making them wholly dependent on the radar pickets for
   command and control. The Aeronavale named their F3Y-3s as Tornade
   (Whirlwind) and uniquely amongst F3Y operators, built two specially
   designed ships to operate the VTOL squadrons, the Seine and the Rhone.

    These two ships were like carriers in that they had large flight decks
   compared to the size of the superstructure, but the bridge was placed
   right in the bows and was complemented by a twin hangar deck lift right
   in the stern. The overall configuration was similar to a smaller
   version of the two later Royal Navy assault ships, HMS Intrepid and
   Fearless, although only half the size. The picket radar sets were
   incorporated into the design, and thus formed a compact local fleet
   defence unit, which suited the Aeronavale thinking at the time, but
   differed from the very much smaller units adopted by the FAA and the

    806's short 'vertical' life came to an end on 13th January 1957, but
   it immediately reformed at Lossiemouth with Sea Hawks once more on the
   following day, most of the Osprey pilots returning to their
   instructional duties with 807 and 811. Such duties were not for Colin
   Cassidy however, and he was assigned to the Naval Air Tactical Weapons
   Staff where he was able to promote his far reaching ideas for use of
   the Osprey units.

    The two Osprey squadrons carried on being used in similar fashion for
   a number of years, although they never again fired their guns in anger.
   Some carrier deployments were undertaken during the '60s, although the
   difficulties experienced in hangering the tall fighters were never
   fully solved. Highlights of this period included the famous '59
   Farnborough display when four Ospreys took-off at the same time as four
   others made an interleaved landing. Ear defenders should have been
   issued to every spectator!

    External changes to the aircraft during it's life included fitting of
   RWR pods on both fins, an under fuselage avionics pack and the belated
   fitment of Sidewinder rails to the tip pods late in the '60s. Although
   the cannon were originally retained, it transpired that any missile
   launch rendered the adjacent cannon immediately unserviceable, and so
   the upper cannon were deleted and the lower Sidewinder rails relocated
   under the wing immediately outboard of the aileron jack fairings.

    More obvious was the change to Extra Dark Sea Grey/White colour scheme
   in 1959, and the consolidation of the VTOL assets into one Squadron in
   October '58 when 807 was reformed as a Scimitar unit. 811 therefore
   became the only FAA combat VTOL squadron, still operating the detached
   ships flights, and moving it's shore based operations from Ford to
   Yeovilton at the same time, its departure signalling Ford's closure as
   an active shore base.

    Further development of the Convair 'Pogo' concept in the US was not
   followed up by the FAA, as the steady reduction in size of the British
   Fleet, matched by the size of the carrier based Sea Vixen and later
   Phantom squadrons, was enough to ensure that 811 did not need any
   supplemental deliveries. When 811 NAS finally stood down in July 1970,
   British Naval aviation's first VTOL era came to an end. It seemed at
   the time that the MoD's view was severely short-sighted, but behind the
   scenes the 'Cassidy Factor' was still at work.

    Rear Admiral Cassidy, as he had become by then, had been preaching the
   VTOL gospel for years, especially since early examples of the Harrier
   concept had been evaluated on board both the Ark Royal and the Bulwark
   in the '60s, and tactical evaluations had reinforced Cassidy's theories
   that had been developed while he served as an Osprey pilot. Hawker's
   involvement in the Osprey project could have been seen as a taster to
   their own VTOL projects, as the vectored thrust engine concept had
   become known at Kingston during early '57, and the Harrier had grown to
   a fully fledged operational aircraft, albeit a land based one, during
   the Osprey's service life.

    Cassidy's hard work at MoD eventually resulted in the much delayed
   order for the Sea Harrier FRS1 in 1975, resulting in the FAA once again
   acquiring a VTOL capability that had been missing from their inventory
   for five years, although the 'Ship's Flight' concept had been replaced
   by the 'Through Deck Cruiser' idea by this time. In truth it is
   doubtful if the Sea Harrier could operate from the relatively small aft
   decks used by the Osprey, and the hanger accommodation was totally the
   wrong shape for the flat rising jet. The much improved performance of
   the Sea Harrier more than made up for the slight lack of flexibility
   however, and by 1980 the FAA had commissioned it's first shipboard Sea
   Harrier squadron. Justly, Colin Cassidy took the salute at the

    With a true sense of occasion, WV121 was also present, having been
   restored to it's '56 Suez configuration and colour scheme. The FAA
   Museum rolled it the short distance across Yeovilton's concrete to
   stand beside it's most famous pilot to produce an instant vignette of
   the Fleet Air Arm's VTOL capability.


             Modelling the Osprey

    Roger Wallsgrove asked me if I'd describe the thought and building
   processes that produced my 'Convair-Hawker Osprey F1 for the Mushroom
   Monthly Aoril issue in 1995'. When I managed to bring my hysteria
   under control, I told him it shouldn't be too much of a problem so long
   as I could find the 'September '94' video tape to plug into my head!
   Luckily I found it.......

    Unlike the previous year's PR19 Meteor, which came to me in a blinding flash,
   the Osprey was actually the result of a reasoned thought process,
   surprising as it may seem. I'm fascinated by the development process
   that a lot of aircraft go through in their lives, the Spitfire being
   the classic case, and a more modern example being the Harrier. Both of
   them show a steady change in shape and capability from the earliest
   prototype to the final version, each Mark being a logical progression
   from the previous one.

    For a 'died-in-the-wool' spoof modeller and What-If SIG member, a
   logical progression from this interest is the building of Marks that
   the original manufacturer never got round to building (viz. the PR19),
   and production versions of aircraft that only got as far as prototypes
   in real life. I'd built the KP Convair XFY-1 Pogo kit in '93, and was
   quite impressed with it, so much so that I bought a few more, precisely
   because it seemed such a good basis for a spoof. I wasn't actually
   thinking of a production Pogo at that time, but by last Summer that is
   exactly what I had in mind.

    From various articles written about the two US Navy VTOL fighters, it
   seemed that any production version would have to have been larger to
   give it a sensible range, and therefore would have needed a more
   powerful engine in order to actually lift off vertically. It would also
   have needed a larger wing area to lift the extra weight, and a bigger
   propeller to absorb the increased power. Translating this into model
   terms lead to F-102 wings, as they were designed by the same team as
   the Pogo, and I had a pair handy from a scrapped attempt at a TF-102.
   The larger propeller turned out to be a problem, as the standard Pogo
   one was pretty big anyway, and I originally thought of a Shackleton
   unit, but to my mind a paddle blade type was essential, and soon the
   scrap box yielded an Aeroclub Beverley set. (No, I haven't got a
   Beverley stashed away in the loft minus it's propellers, I just wish I
   had. I did a lot of flying in them in the late '50s, and I'd love to
   make one.)

    Of course, Beverley props are single units and they are all the same
   hand, so to make a contra-prop I had to reverse the pitch of one of
   them! It turned out easier than it sounds, though. The white metal that
   John Adams uses is ideal for a little re-working so long as you work
   slowly enough, and soon I had a normal and a reverse pitch Beverley
   prop. Fitting them into the Pogo spinner was much harder however, and
   filling and filing the assembly took FOR EVER. Purely by accident, it
   turned out that I'd reversed the direction of the assembly, with the LH
   half at the front, like a contra-prop Griffon, and this was to
   culminate later in the Anglicisation of the project. The big prop
   looked silly close up to the cockpit, so I inserted a short extension
   made from the rear of a U-2. Guess where THAT came from....

    Mating the bigger wings and the short Pogo fuselage produced something
   that looked like a turbo-prop Angels Interceptor, and a comparison of
   likely power outputs showed that my proposed 'Big' engine would still
   be too much for the propeller, so why not re-heat the exhaust during
   the take-off? As the engine was a 'double', like a Gannet, a twin
   engined layout was essential, and obviously a much larger rear fuselage
   and jet pipes were called for, so after sawing the Pogo in half just
   aft of the cockpit, I started off looking at a Javelin, but it was far
   too British. An F-101 looked a possibility, but the high tail didn't
   suit, and a Phantom was just too big.

    Then I came across parts of an ancient Airfix F-111, and it all fell
   into place. With the centre 'nib' removed and a tapered section sawn
   out of the rear half, the F-111 was exactly the right width at the
   cockpit, and with a bit of trimming even the wings fitted well. The
   real bonus was that the fairings outboard of the F-111 jet pipes were
   exactly right to house the 'Shock absorbers' that would have been
   needed to take the extra weight of the F3Y-1. The underside needed a
   little filling, and a couple of extra scoops, from the F-102 tanks,
   were added to cover the worse dents. I left the front half of the
   intakes off, to increase the area, and then put splitter plates back
   on, 'cos it looked better.......

    All this left me with a big space behind the cockpit, and adding the
   rear of the Pogo's fuselage still left a gaping hole. I filled this
   with 'planks' of 40 thou. 'card and filled and sanded it all to a
   smooth shape. The upper fin of the Pogo needed an extension to make it
   symmetrical in span, and I added it's outer undercarriage fairings and
   tanks to the F-102 wing tips. However the tanks just didn't look right,
   and after a number of trials I used the tanks from the F-102 as well,
   with 30% sawn out of the middle. The cannon muzzles were bits of handy
   brass tube.

    All this time, I'd been seeing the 'Production Pogo' in Midnite Blue
   or a Gull Grey and White scheme, with VF14 markings or something
   similar, but then the 'Britishness' of the propeller assembly impinged
   itself on my addled brain, and the thought 'Why not Fleet Air Arm?'
   popped into my head. Checking the same books that got my PR19 Meteor
   over Suez in '56 produced a similar juxtaposition of dates, and all of
   a sudden I was looking for yellow and black paint.


    I'm not quite sure where the idea of the 'post Suez' finish, with the
   yellow/black stripes showing through the normal paintwork, came from,
   but a photo of a post-Suez PR7 Canberra had some influence I'm sure.
   The only problem was I knew absolutely nothing about FAA squadrons, but
   I know a man who does! Mike McEvoy came up trumps as usual, referring
   me to Ray Sturtivant's superb book on the subject. He even bought his
   own copy to a very foggy Shuttleworth to give me some ideas, and by an
   even bigger stroke of luck Mike Stewart, the Airliner SIG leader and a
   good friend, had a copy that he was willing to sell me. This mine of
   information produced suitable colour schemes and codes, and fired my
   imagination for the 'full-size' story that you'll find elsewhere. By some
   amazing fluke the FAA managed to disband one of
   it's most famous Squadrons, 806 'Ace of Diamonds' NAS, for the entire
   period of Suez, so I re-equipped them with Ospreys, as I was now
   calling this beast, and so committed myself to making the badge from
   teeny-weeny bits of red and white decal sheet.

    The result of all this mayhem you can see in the photos, and it
   managed to bamboozle Roger into awarding it the 'Flight of Fancy'
   trophy at the '94 IPMS Nats'. Thanks Roger, my wife Mary really
   appreciates your taste in trophies, and she thinks you're just as mad
   as me!

    Drawing up the Osprey plans was a whole order worse than the PR19,
   and they have yet to be done, if only because I couldn't find anything to
   base them on at all. Writing the 'full-size' story was fun though. Historical
   coincidences came up all over the place, never ceasing to amaze me,
   possibly the best being the one about the Admiralty naming Portland as
   HMS Osprey! I expect I'll run across some retired Admiral called Cassidy
   next week.......

Kit's Rule 1 ) Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage
Kit's Rule 2) The backstory can always be changed to suit the model

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)


Ed S

WOW.  That's a lot of story.  Well thought out and detailed.  I'd like to see more shots of the model. 

I might also mention that I did a WHIFF Pogo for the Spring Break Group Build


We don't just embrace insanity here.  We feel it up, french kiss it and then buy it a drink.



Thanks, glad you liked the story.

I really ouught to take more piccies, I only have a couple of each model so far. I'll get onto that.

LOVED your Mexican Pogo! If ever there was a kit designed as a 'What If' source it's the KP Pogo. Your cockpit interior is miles better than mine, I'm glad I kept the canopy shut now. :)
Kit's Rule 1 ) Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage
Kit's Rule 2) The backstory can always be changed to suit the model

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)



"Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot."
 - Sandman: A Midsummer Night's Dream, by Neil Gaiman

"I dunno, I'm making this up as I go."
 - Indiana Jones

Joe C-P

Very nice! May we see more pictures?

I did mine in USN grey-over-white. I'm looking for the right decals to finish it in specific markings instead of generic.
In want of hobby space!  The kitchen table is never stable.  Still managing to get some building done.



I'm trying to organise a Gallery for my stuff, so hopefully I can post some on there. I took a few of all my spoof models the other night, so there's plenty to fill the gallery. :)

Grey over white for a Pogo sounds good, lots of units to pick from in that scheme. Some of the F-8U units might be worth looking at?
Kit's Rule 1 ) Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage
Kit's Rule 2) The backstory can always be changed to suit the model

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)



Nifty model & backstory, Kit,

I did a KP Pogo in overall blue for the USN, but I went a shade further and replaced the prop with a jet intake.  Gotta be one of the neatest types for whiffing in my opinion.




Kit, love this story and build- thanks for linking it in the other thread.  I am a huge fan of the Pogo and have built several over the years and have a few WHIF ideas.

Love the changes you made, especially to the armament, props and shock absorbers

A couple of questions for banters sake- please not a criticism at all- I realize this is WHIF.  You propose afterburners on takeoff- surely that would put a huge strain on the deck and eflux on the aircraft with the burner cans almost touching the deck.  Perhaps burners after take off?  I think wooden decks would be out  :o

Also you removed the lower fin to pack more of them in the hangar.  Are you proposing that the Osprey was stable to tail sit without the bottom fin?  Or would the bottom fin be bolted back on for operations.  Sorry if I missed that.  

I offer that the Popo appears to be shorter (in overall height) when sitting horizontally on its jeep towed trailer.  Perhaps this could be a solution for fitting underneath the hangar ceiling heights?  Of course you would need one trailer per Osprey and a gaggle of Ospreys would take up a good deal of square footage....

Again, no criticism, just chatter if you had thought about this stuff.

Dave "Sandiego89"
Chesapeake, Virginia, USA



Crumbs, that's bumped this thread a tad, 8 years worth of bump!  :o

Ah yes, the afterburner issue. After the FAA had trialled the original Ospreys aboard HMS Victorious and found that the deck warped considerably after a few take-offs and landings NAY  Fleetlands developed a gridded deck for the operational ships with water cooling applied during flight operations. This worked reasonably well but had the slightly undesirable effect of producing huge clouds of steam through which the Ospreys had to fly. While this wasn't too much of a problem during take-off, landings became rather 'fraught' at times.....

[I just invented that lot after reading your post.  ;D :lol:]

The lower fins of the Ospreys were always jettisonable in case the aircraft had to make a belly landing, so all the Ship's Flights did was remove them while the aircraft was hangared, and then replace them before launch.
Kit's Rule 1 ) Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage
Kit's Rule 2) The backstory can always be changed to suit the model

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)



An overdue revival!  Can't go wrong with a Pogo/Osprey.  Thanks for the answers- Good fast thinking!

Dave "Sandiego89"
Chesapeake, Virginia, USA

Captain Canada

I'm going to print that one off for my break time reader at work. Can't wait to sit down and have a read ! Cheers !

CANADA KICKS arse !!!!

Long Live the Commonwealth !!!
Vive les Canadiens !
Where's my beer ?