The Lynx was a favorite helicopter of mine in my teens. It was in service with both the Royal Navy and the British Army in substantial numbers. We used to see them a lot as they often flew past our home on the seafront in Cowes moving between the Navy bases at Portland and Portsmouth. The Lynx has gone from UK service, replaced by the Wildcat. I hadn’t seen any Wildcats before RIAT so was glad to see them from both the Army and the Navy (not that they look that different unliked their predecessors). Old style Lynxes were still represented though. The German Navy had an example visiting. They are not going to be around for much longer, though. They will be replaced early in the 2020s.
The Royal Navy destroyer fleet’s most recent additions have been the Type 45 Daring Class. These ships are an integral part of the groups that will support the new carriers. The Type 45s preceded the carriers in to service by a number of years. They have a superstructure that suggests more focus on radar reflectivity and the main mast is a larger structure than seen on previous ships. This example was sailing out of Portsmouth and towards the English Channel while I was at Seaview on the Isle of Wight. It was a bit distant but still worth a shot given how I haven’t seen one on open water before.
Another flashback post today. This one is an old Farnborough airshow and it included a rather large flying contribution from the Royal Navy. I don’t now recall exactly why the Navy was so committed to this show. This wasn’t even on the public show days when the display is often modified for the public from the format used for the trade days.
The main element of the display was six Sea Harriers. These were FRS1 models prior to the F/A2 upgrade program. The aircraft took off in groups of three and included a formation hovering routine with the jets arrayed along the runway providing a jet in front of most of the viewing crowd. Some fast flying was also a part of the display of course.
Helicopters also contributed to the display and the low speed capabilities of the Harrier meant that it was possible to combine the fixed and rotary elements together in one formation. The whole thing made quite an impression as a recall. The sound of six hovering Harriers was certainly enough to give the eardrums a workout!
The Royal Navy’s submarine fleet is entirely nuclear powered. In the 80s, though, this was not the case. The Navy then still had a substantial fleet of diesel subs. The Oberon Class of subs was available in numbers along with the remaining Porpoise Class that preceded them and these were due to be replaced by the Upholders. Only four of those were built and they were sold to Canada when the decision was made to get rid of the diesel fleet despite their outstanding stealth qualities. When I went to Navy Days in Portsmouth in the 80s, you could see the subs on display. HMS Dolphin was just across the harbor and was the headquarters of the sub operations. One visit included the chance to see a sub in dry dock – something I suspect would not be left on view these days.
The end of the line has come for another UK military type. The Sea King HC4 has come to the end of the line for the Royal Navy. The Navy operated many Sea Kings in the anti-submarine role and for search and rescue before the Commando role was taken on. The Wessex fleet was aging and Westland had already come up with an assault version for the export market. Distinguished by its lack of radome and sponsons, the RN decided to use them as the replacement for the Wessex. I have seen them on many occasions. Living near Portsmouth as a kid, they frequently flew by. I also saw them at Navy Days. However, I have far fewer shots of them than I expected. They were not big airshow regulars.
The Junglie name had come from operations before their time and will, I suspect continue with their replacement in service, the Merlins that have been transferred from the RAF. With over 30 years of service, I guess they have done their job well.