|700 Naval Air Squadron|
700 NAS badge
|Role||Operational Evaluation Unit|
|Part of||Fleet Air Arm|
Experientia docet |
(Latin: "Experience teaches")
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.
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.
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.
Intensive Flying Trials Units
- 1957 - 700H NAS (Westland Whirlwind HAS.7)
- 1957-1958 - 700X NAS - (Supermarine Scimitar F.1)
- 1958-1959 - 700Y NAS - de Havilland Sea Vixen FAW.1)
- 1959-1961 - 700X NAS (reformed) - (Saunders-Roe P.531)
- 1960 - 700H NAS (Westland Wessex HAS.1)
- 1961-1963 - 700Z NAS (Blackburn Buccaneer S.1)
- 1963-1964 - 700W NAS (Westland Wasp HAS.1)
- 1963-1964 - 700V NAS (Westland Wessex HU.5)
- 1965 - 700B NAS - (Blackburn Buccaneer S.2)
- 1967 - 700H NAS (reformed) (Westland Wessex HAS.3)
- 1968-1969 - 700P NAS (McDonnell Douglas Phantom FG.1)
- 1969-1970 - 700S NAS (Westland Sea King HAS.1)
- 1976-1977 - 700L NAS (Westland Lynx HAS.2)
- 1979-1980 - 700A NAS (British Aerospace Sea Harrier FRS.1)
- 1990-1992 - 700L NAS (reformed) (Westland Lynx CTS Trials)
- 1998-2008 - 700M NAS (AgustaWestland Merlin HM.1)
- 2009- - 700W NAS (AgustaWestland Wildcat)
- AgustaWestland Merlin
- Westland Lynx (introduction to service)
- Supermarine Walrus
- Westland Whirlwind (tests)
- De Havilland Sea Vixen
- Fairey Gannet (tests)
- Hawker Sea Hawk (tests)
- Saunders-Roe P.531 (tests) (only 6 built)
- Westland Wasp (introduction to service)
- Westland Sea King (introduction to service)
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