Supermarine Walrus / Seagull V
The Supermarine Walrus amphibian designed by Reginald Mitchell was a private venture development of the 1922 Seagull I, and first flew as the Seagull V on 21 June 1933.
An order for twenty-four followed from the Royal Australian Air Force, as the Seagull V, who required a reconnaissance amphibian that could be catapulted, with full operational load, from warships.
The Australian government prompted evaluation by the Royal Navy's No. 702 Catapult Flight, which in turn led to an initial contract for 12 Walrus Mk I aircraft being placed by the Air Ministry in 1935.
Following further trials, during which a Walrus was catapulted fully loaded from HMS Nelson, production orders for 204 aircraft with the 474kW Pegasus II M2 radial were placed, and the flying-boat entered Fleet Air Arm service in 1936.
All the metal hulled Walrus Mk I aircraft were manufactured by the parent company Supermarine. However, with Spitfire fighter production building up, responsibility for construction was transferred to Saunders Roe Ltd.(Saro). Most ASR Walruses were the wooden hulled MkII built by Saro which provided a marked improvement in take off and landing on water. When production ended in January 1944 Saro had built 461 of the total of 746.
It was the first British squadron service aircraft to have a fully retractable main undercarriage and a completely glazed cockpit.
Early in World War II Walrus amphibians were serving aboard battleships and cruisers of the Royal Navy all over the world as components of No. 700 Squadron, as well as with Nos 701, 711, 712 and 714 Squadrons, their principal duties being over-the-horizon search for enemy shipping; they were also employed for gunnery spotting, antisubmarine and convoy protection duties. A Walrus was even catapulted from the cruiser HMS Dorsetshire to bomb a target in Italian Somaliland on 18 November 1940.
The work for which the Walrus (affectionately known as the Shagbat) will be best remembered was air/sea rescue, serving in this role with Nos 269, 275, 276, 277, 278, 281 and 282 Squadrons at stations in the United Kingdom, and with Nos 283, 284, 292 and 294 Squadrons in the Middle East. Called out in any weather, day or night, Walrus air/sea rescue aircraft frequently alighted in enemy coastal waters to pick up ditched Allied airmen from their dinghies, sometimes putting down in minefields where rescue launches could not venture. The Walrus rescued more than 7500 Allied airmen.
The Walrus was slowly replaced in service from 1944 onwards by the tractor Mercury-powered Sea Otter, although No. 624 Squadron was re-formed at Grottaglie in Italy in December that year with Walrus aircraft for minespotting duties. A total of 740 Walrus aircraft was built, production of the Walrus Mk I with metal-clad hull being terminated at Supermarine after 287 had been completed; thereafter production was switched to Saunders-Roe who built 453 Walrus Mk II aircraft with wooden hulls before finally ending in January 1944.
The Walrus was used mainly by Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
Walrus Mk I
Engine: 1 x Bristol Pegasus VI, 559kW, 775 hp
Max take-off weight: 3266 kg / 7200 lb
Empty weight: 2223 kg / 4901 lb
Wingspan: 13.97 m / 46 ft 10 in
Length: 11.35 m / 37 ft 3 in
Height: 4.65 m / 15 ft 3 in
Wing area: 56.67 sq.m / 609.99 sq ft
Max. speed: 217 km/h / 135 mph
Ceiling: 5210 m / 17100 ft
Range: 966 km / 600 miles
Armament: 2-3 Vickers K 7.7mm machine-guns
Walrus Mk I
Engine: Bristol Pegasus II M2, 764 hp
Length: 37.5 ft / 11.43 m
Height: 15.256 ft / 4.65 m
Wingspan: 45.833 ft / 13.97 m
Wing area: 609.996 sq.ft / 56.67 sq.m
Max take off weight: 7166.3 lb / 3250.0 kg
Weight empty: 4873.1 lb / 2210.0 kg
Max. speed: 117 kts / 217 km/h
Cruising speed: 82 kts / 152 km/h
Service ceiling: 18537 ft / 5650 m
Wing loading: 11.69 lb/sq.ft / 57.0 kg/sq.m
Range: 521 nm / 965 km
Armament: 2 MG Vickers