Seaﬁre LF.IIIC PP972
Registration - G-BUAR
Price on Application
Built under contract by Westland Aircraft Ltd at Yeovil, Somerset as a Seaﬁre LF.IIIC serial PP972 was ready for collection on the 27th September 1944. It was then issued to the Royal Naval Deposit Account (RNDA) on the 28th September awaiting collection for the Fleet Air Arm (FAA).
PP972 is then known to have served with 809 (Naval) Squadron from November 1944 who at the time were converting from the Seaﬁre L.II. 809 Squadron were destined too see service in the Far East and the squadron embarked onto the aircraft carrier HMS Stalker at Plymouth, Devon on the 29th November bound for Gibraltar and then Egypt, the Seaﬁres then ﬂew off onto HMS Attacker on leaving Plymouth as Stalker was due for a reﬁ t at Gibraltar. The carrier arrived at Dekhelia, Egypt and the Seaﬁres disembarked, later they would be reunited with Stalker before setting sail to the Far East in March 1945 as part of the 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron ﬂeet.
The ﬂeet arrived at Trincomalee, Ceylon on the 20th March as part of the East Indies Fleet, 809 Squadron becoming part of the 4th Fighter Wing based at RNAS Katukurunda, Ceylon, PP972 acquiring the squadron code ‘D6-M’. Here they spent the following month gaining operational experience of strike missions over the jungle terrain before re-embarking on the carrier during April for sea work and deck landing refresher practice before setting a passage to Akyab, Burma the assembly point for Operation Dracula. They left Akyab on the 30th April with assault convoys bound for Rangoon, Burma.
Operation Dracula, for which the squadron was to provide support for landings which began on the May 2nd was somewhat of an anti-climax as the Japanese had already evacuated from the area but the Seaﬁres were still operational however carrying out air cover and support missions as well as bombing sorties against ﬂak positions and coastal defence batteries near Thakutpin, Burma and also performing shipping patrols.
Other Operations the squadron were involved with included: Bishop, these were air attacks on Japanese coastal bases.
Balsam, June 1945. The 3rd and last of a series of photo reconnaissance missions over Malaya. On the 20th June the Seaﬁres were engaged on offensive sweeps of Japanese held airﬁelds at Lhokseumawe, Midan and Bindjai.
Collie, July 1945. Providing air cover for mine sweeping operations in the Nicobar area of the Malayan coast.
Zipper, August 1945. A deployment to cover the landings in Southern Malaya.
Jurist, September 1945. Providing air cover during the landings of Port Swettenham, Malaya and support co-operation on entering Singapore harbour for support of the re-occupation.
With its work done in the Far East orders to return home were received and from September 1945 the carrier set sail arriving in the Irish Sea on the 21st October, 809 Squadrons new temporary home was to be at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Nutts Corner, Northern Ireland until squadron disbandment during January 1946.
PP972 was then issued to 767 (Naval) Squadron in May of 1946 as part of No.1 Operational Flying School at RNAS Easthaven, Tayside before relocating to RNAS Lossiemouth, Grampian, Scotland later in the month. Milltown, Morayshire was used by the squadron as a satellite landing airﬁeld and PP972 gained the code ‘MV’ for Milltown and the fuselage code ‘120’. During its time here it suffered a burst tyre and cropped propeller when landing on HMS Thesus on the 24th October the pilot Lt J. C. S. Wright suffering no injuries.
The Seaﬁre is then believed to have entered a period storage at RNAS Anthorn, Cumberland and then later sent to RNAS Lee-on-Solent, Hampshire to be serviced and overhauled for sale overseas.
A new life was to follow with the French Navy (L’ Aéronautique Navale) becoming one of sixty ﬁve Seaﬁres delivered during late 1948, PP972 was test ﬂ own by pilot Ofﬁcer Equipages 1st Class Debrun on the 27th December 1948 but suffered engine trouble, with a new engine ﬁtted and several test ﬂights later it was eventually ferried out and delivered to France in March 1949. It was Issued to No.1 Flottille at Hyères and coded ‘1.F-9’. On the 1st August 1948 No.1 Flottille was split into two forming the No.12 Flottille and PP972 was re-allocated to this unit at Hyères and was re-coded as ‘12.F-2’.
By July 1949 the Seaﬁres were beginning to show their age and were destined to be retired but PP972 was one of thirty two kept in service for use by Groupement de Chasse Embarquée Escadrille de Servitude No.54 at Hyères where it would almost certainly have carried out deck landing practice on board the carrier Arromanches the one time former HMS Colossus.
By November 1950 PP972 was one of eleven Seaﬁres left ﬂying and was ﬁnally retired and placed in store at Hyères and struck off charge on the 11th December 1950 and it was classiﬁed as withdrawn from use by 1951. It appears to have been placed at Gâvres gunnery range but was later employed for technical training before it entered storage and was placed in a compound at Aeronavale Base 83 (Gâvres) near Lorient, Brittany.
During 1965 it was discovered by Jean Frélaut and acquired by him in January 1970 and he moved it to Vannes-Meucon and then later to Plescop by the 17th September 1977. Jean decided that a restoration to static display condition could be undertaken and it was restored into its French Naval colour scheme from its No.1 Flottille days. After restoration it was exhibited at the Musee de la Résistance at St.Marcel near Malestroit, Brittany from 1982 but had returned to VannesMeucon by July 1984.
Jean decided to part with the Seaﬁre and it was acquired by Warbirds of Great Britain (WofGB) at Biggin Hill, Kent in 1988 and registered as G-BUAR on the 21st January 1992 and then relocated to their Bournemouth, Dorset base. The Seaﬁre was moved around various workshops eventually ending up with Air Leasing Ltd at Bentwaters, Suffolk where after restoration it ﬂew again on the 15th June 2015 with Richard Grace at the controls in a scheme depicting a Seaﬁre of 880 (Naval) Squadron (FAA) of HMS Implacable.
Airframe: A highly original aircraft with only 42,25 hours
Engine: Rolls Royce Merlin 45 with 47,25 Hours & Dowty Rotol four blade propeller – Inspected and passed on 25/06/2019
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