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Aces of Aviation

Hawker Sea Fury FB Mark XI of Peter Carmichael

Hawker Sea Fury FB Mark XI of Peter Carmichael

Hawker Sea Fury FB Mark XI from the 802nd Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm, piloted by Lieutenant Peter Carmichael the 9th August 1952.

Wingspan: 11.70 meters.

Length: 10.57 meters.

Height: 4.82 meters.

Engine[s]: Bristol Centaurus 18 of 2480 horsepower.

Maximum speed: 740 kilometers/hour.

Service ceiling: 10910 meters.

Range: 1125 kilometers.

Armament: Four Hispano 20-millimeter cannons; sixteen 7.62-centimeter rockets or two 454-kilogram bombs.

When the Korean War began, the 25th June 1950, the Royal Navy was still fully equipped with piston and propeller fighters, whereas the United States Navy operated the Grumman F9F-2 Panther turbojet fighter. However, from the beginning the British and Commonwealth governments destined ships to the war zone under control from the chiefs of the US Navy. After the light aircraft carrier HMS Triumph had contributed, with her Supermarine Seafire and Fairey Firefly aircraft, to the first attack performed by aircraft carriers in that war, along with aircraft from the USS Valley Forge, arrived to the front the HMS Theseus and the HMS Glory, followed by the HMAS Sydney from the Royal Australian Navy.

In April 1951 the Communists launched their most important offensive approximately at the same time when the HMS Theseus was being replaced by the HMS Glory and, shortly after, by the HMS Ocean, being this latter a light aircraft carrier equipped with Hawker Sea Fury Mark II and Fairey Firefly Mark V fighter-bombers. Called to the front to support the counter-attack carried out by United Nations, the air wing of this aircraft carrier performed numerous missions against ground forces, while the aircraft from the HMS Ocean set the record of not less than 123 operative missions effectuated in a single day.

During the summer of 1952, the British aviation had a series of aerial encounters with the Communist MiG-15 turbojet fighters, and it was the 9th August when the first one was downed by the machine guns of a Royal Navy pilot. In the first hours of that day, four Sea Fury commanded by Lieutenant Peter Carmichael, from the 802nd Squadron, which had taken off from the HMS Ocean, were attacked by eight MiG-15 north of Chinnampo, in the northeastern coast of Korea. The British pilots responded to the attack and Carmichael managed to fire a two-second burst against one of the enemy fighters, whose pilot was most probably hit, for the MiG-15 fell into an almost vertical dive until it crashed and exploded. On the other hand, all of the Sea Fury returned unscathed.

The Sea Fury piloted by Carmichael, serialized as VR943, displayed the letter O in its vertical tail and a scheme of black and white strips in the fuselage and the wings, being this latter used in all the British and Commonwealth carrier-borne aircraft during the Korean War. The Sea Fury Mark XI could carry either up to sixteen 76.2-millimeter rockets, two 454-kilogram bombs, two 410-liter fuel tanks or napalm bombs under the wings. In the photograph below Carmichael (second from the right) poses with the three pilots from the 802nd Squadron who formed his flight group when he downed that first MiG-15 over Korea. The badge of the squadron, which appears in the illustration, displays the inscription "Primus Ferire" (First to Strike).

Hawker Sea Fury FB Mark XI of Peter Carmichael