Navy Wings unveils plans to buy new Swordfish Pegasus Engine
Navy Wings has unveiled plans to buy a Swordfish Pegasus engine after receiving a donation of £400,000 from the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) Officers’ Association following the closure of the Association and sale of the Association’s Club House and Headquarters, the Naval Club, at 38 Hill Street, London.
The RNVR served with distinction in every theatre of the war throughout the Second World War. Distinguishable from their regular counterparts by the ‘wavy’ gold rank braid worn on the sleeves of their uniforms, the RNVR also became the mainstay of the Fleet Air Arm with many RNVR Officers serving in the RNVR (Air) Branch. By the end of WW2, the RNVR was 45,000 strong, of whom over 8,000 were aircrew.
“Navy Wings is privileged to receive this most generous donation” said Commodore Jock Alexander, CEO of the Navy Wings. “The purchase of a spare Pegasus engine will help ensure that Navy Wings can keep the only two airworthy Fairey Swordfish in the world flying, providing a fitting focus of pride and national identity for the RNVR, and serving as a lasting link connecting the RNVR (A) Branch and Fleet Air Arm with their shared heritage.”
Members of the RNVR (A) Branch flew the iconic Swordfish in the Battle of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, took part in the Battle of Taranto, the sinking of the Bismarck and the Channel Dash. They also flew Seafires and Corsairs in the Pacific and Hurricanes with Douglas Bader in the Battle of Britain. Three of the five top Royal Navy fighting aces of the war were members of the RNVR (A).
Naval volunteers have a long tradition and distinguished history of supporting the Royal Navy over the centuries. In more recent times, the Admiralty created the Royal Naval Reserve in 1861 and from this flowed over the years a whole series of Royal Navy volunteer forces including the RNVR which was formed in 1903.
The RNVR Officers’ Association came into being at the end of the Second World War when Reserve personnel were demobbed but wanted to stay in close contact with each other. Shared experiences and strong friendships forged in times of difficulty and hardship created unswerving bonds and the founding members of the Association acquired 38 Hill Street in 1946 to offer its members a meeting place in London. Originally called the RNVR Club, the prestigious Mayfair property provided all the amenities of a West End club where they could socialise and stay overnight in convivial surroundings at a fraction of the cost.
The donation from the RNVR Officers’ Association will also enable Navy Wings to construct new rear seats in both Swordfish to meet Civil Aviation Authority safety requirements and bring a second Chipmunk back into operation. The Chipmunk was the predominant elementary pilot training aircraft for aircrew for many years and will be called the ‘Spirit of Hill Street’ in tribute to the RNVR Officers’ Association and the spirit and ethos of the RNVR that lived on in the enduring friendships and camaraderie enjoyed at 38 Hill Street.
With very few RNVR (A) Branch Officers still alive and direct links to the branch ebbing way, the funding will also go towards a RNVR (Air) Branch plaque at the Fleet Air Arm Memorial Church, St Bartholomew’s, at RNAS Yeovilton, as a permanent memorial to the RNVR (A) men who helped win the freedoms we value so greatly today.