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700 Naval Air Squadron
125px
700 NAS badge
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Navy
Service history
Active 1940-1944
1944-1949
1955-1961
1998-2008
2009-
Role Operational Evaluation Unit
Part of Fleet Air Arm
Motto Experientia docet
(Latin: "Experience teaches")
Commanders
Insignia

700 Naval Air Squadron (700 NAS) is a squadron of aircraft in the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm.

HistoryEdit

700 NAS was originally formed in January 1940 at RNAS Hatston (HMS Sparrowhawk) in Orkney in a plan to centralise the operations of the 700 series "Catapult" flights attached to catapult units and to act a pool and Headquarters for all catapult aircraft embarked on battleships and cruisers - chiefly the Supermarine Walrus flying boat and Fairey Seafox floatplane.

On 21 June 1940, a Walrus (P5666) of 700 Squadron on the cruiser HMS Manchester found the German battleship Scharnhorst but HMS Manchester did not engage. Trailing German capital ships in the lead up to the Battle of the Denmark Strait, Walrus L2184 of 700 NAS from HMS Norfolk was damaged by shellfire from Prinz Eugen in the Denmark Strait on 23 May 1941 while still on its catapult.

The final successful attack on an enemy submarine by a Walrus was on 11 July 1942, when Walrus W2709 of 700 (Levant) NAS sank the Italian submarine Ondina, along with the surface vessels South African Protea and trawler Southern Maid, east of Cyprus.

There were at least 5 confirmed enemy submarines sunk or damaged by Walruses during the Second World War, including the Vichy French submarine Poncelet which was bombed by Walrus L2268 of 700 NAS (HMS Devonshire) and attacked by HMS Milford on 7 November 1940 off the Cameroons. The submarine was damaged and forced to surrender, and later scuttled off the Gulf of Guinea. The crew of Petty Officer P H Parsons, Sub Lt A D Corkhill and N A Evans were all awarded gallantry medals.

700 NAS was disbanded in March 1944, pilots transferring into 771 Naval Air Squadron, but it was reformed as a Test Pilot School in October 1944.

700 NAS re-emerged in August 1955 as a Fleet Requirements unit and from 1957 was based out of RNAS Lee-on-Solent to introduce the Whirlwind HAS.7.

The Squadron carried on trials of de Havilland Sea Vixens on HMS Victorious and HMS Centaur during 1958 and from October 1959 formed at Yeovilton with the Saunders Roe P.531 to investigate what would be needed to introduce a whole new form of helicopter operation to the Fleet – which lead to the Westland Wasp.

In October 1960 flight tests of landing and take-offs from HMS Vengeance with 27 launchings of the turboprop Fairey Gannet and 34 with the Hawker Sea Hawk.

Buccaneer 700Z Lossiemouth NAN3 62

A 700Z Sqn Buccaneer S.1 at RNAS Lossiemouth in 1961.

700 NAS disbanded again at RNAS Yeovilton in July 1961. However, a number of Intensive Flying Trials Units were subsequently formed under the "700 NAS" title, to prepare for new aircraft types coming into service. These operated as independent units, each being identified by a suffix letter after the squadron number (e.g. "700B").

Several of these IFTUs were formed for the introduction of the Westland Wessex, Blackburn Buccaneer, McDonnell Douglas Phantom, Westland Sea King, Westland Lynx and BAe Sea Harrier into the Fleet Air Arm.

More recently, the squadron was re-commissioned at RNAS Culdrose in December 1998 as 700M Squadron, with a primary role of testing and evaluating the Merlin HM.1 helicopter. 700M disbanded on 31 March 2008, transferring its aircraft and personnel to 824 Naval Air Squadron and also forming a new flight, 824 OEU. The squadron reformed again as 700W NAS in May 2009 at Yeovilton as the Lynx Wildcat Fielding Squadron. 700W expects to receive up to five Wildcats from January 2013 for operational evaluation and conversion training.[1]

Intensive Flying Trials UnitsEdit

Aircraft operatedEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. The Fleet Air Arm's Newest Squadron 700W Lynx Wildcat Commissions At RNAS Yeovilton

External linksEdit



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