Supermarine Walrus (Supermarine Seagull)

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The Supermarine Walrus was a catapult-launched, biplane amphibian with pusher propeller, developed from the Seagull. The Prototype desigjnated the Segull V had one 635hp Pegasus IIM2 engine, it was initially built as a  private venture, this then became a production model for RAAF. The first production models in 1935 were the Walrus Mk I, redesignated from the Seagull V for service with the RAF and FAA; some fitted with ASV radar. The Walrus was rather rectangular in outline, and did not show that it was built by the same manufacturer as the Spitfire. It was the standard catapult- launched reconnaissance and SAR (Search And Rescue) aircraft for some time. 740 were built between 1936 and 1944.

HMAS Sydney equipped with Walrus/Seagull V of 700 sqdn 1939, 1940-1941.
Photograph shows aircraft in 1939

By the beginning of WWII there were 162 Walruses serving with the RN and Commonwealth forces. Six of the original first batch of 12 Supermarine Walrus I ordered 5.35 to Spec 2/35 under Contract No 391700/35/C.4 1(c) from Vickers-Supermarine, Woolston  were still in service in September 1939.

Walrus being winched onbaord HMS Resolution, 1941

The Walrus was shore based as well as catapult launched on Capital Ships including HMS Ajax, HMS Anson, HMS Barham, HMS Belfast, HMS Bermuda, HMS Berwick, HMS Birmingham, HMS Ceylon, HMS Cornwall, HMS Cumberland, HMS Devonshire, HMS Dorsetshire, HMS Duke of York, HMS Edinburgh, HMS Effingham, HMS Effingham, HMS Exeter, HMS Fiji, HMS Gambia, HMS Glasgow, HMS Gloucester, HMS Howe, HMS Jamaica, HMS Kent, HMS Kenya, HMS King George V, HMS Liverpool, HMS London, HMS Malaya, HMS Manchester, HMS Mauritius, HMS Newcastle, HMS Newfoundland, HMS Nigeria, HMS Norfolk, HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Renown, HMS Repulse, HMS Resolution, HMS Rodney, HMS Sheffield, HMS Shropshire, HMS Southampton, HMS Suffolk, HMS Sussex, HMS Trinadad, HMS Uganda, HMS Valiant, HMS Warspite, and HMS York.

Walrus HMS Rodney by Ivan Berryman

A number of Walruses were also loaned to the RAAF in HMAS Hobart (November 1939), HMAS Sydney (1939-1941), Walruses also served with 9 squadron RAAF on HMAS Westralia (November 1942), HMAS Australia (1942-1943), also to 700 New Zealand Flight July 1940, HMNZS Achilles (February 1941), HMNZS Leander (April 1942). Walrus P5706 was delivered on lend-lease loan in 1942to Russia. It went out as deck cargo on SS Ocean Freedom in an Arctic Convoy to the Archangel area, where it was used by the Russians for operational purposes. It is presumed that it was retained after the war.  Finally, Walrus W3016 after September 1945 was sent to the Egyptian Navy as N3016.

The very last RN Walrus to be payed off was P5656, it was one of the batch of 50 Supermarine Walrus I ordered under contract No B974377/39 from Vickers-Supermarine, Woolston 1 and first flew in 1939 was finally scrapped near Birmingham in 1956.

 Seagull V          Prototype; One 635hp Pegasus IIM2, initial private venture;
                            Production model for RAAF
 Walrus Mk I    Redesignated Seagull V for RAF and FAA; some fitted with
                            ASV radar
 Mk II                  Modified Mk I, Uprated engine and wooden hull.

Fleet Air Arm history
Supermarine Walrus
Total FAA 1939-1945:             692 (includes Commonwealth aircraft)
First delivered to RN:              1935
First squadron 1939 -1945:
Last served with RN                1947. Very last, P5656 scrapped 1956

12 Supermarine Walrus I ordered 5.35 to Spec 2/35 under Contract No 391700/35/C.4 ( c ) from Vickers-Supermarine, Woolston
Serial Numbers: K5772 to K5783. The following were still in service 9.39
Total: 6

8 Supermarine Walrus I ordered under contract No 472708/35 (ex 391700/35) to spec 37/36 from Vickers-Supermarine , Woolston.
Serial Numbers: K8338 to K8345. The following were still in service 9.39
Total: 3

28 Supermarine Walrus I ordered under contract No 472708/35 from Vickers-Supermarine , Woolston.
Serial Numbers: K8537 to K8564. The following were still in service 9.39
Total: 19. K8542 the first of this 28 was loaned to RAAF in HMAS Sydney 26.4.40

168 Supermarine Walrus I ordered 10.7.36 under contract No 534422/36 to spec 37/36 from Vickers-Supermarine, Woolston.
Serial Numbers: L2169 to L2336. The following were still in service 9.39
Total: 134, Many of the aircraft went to RAF, RAAF and RNZAF

50 Supermarine Walrus I ordered under contract No B974377/39 from Vickers-Supermarine , Woolston
Serial numbers: P5646 to P5720.
Total 50
First flight 28.9.39
Deld 10.39
P5656 ff 19.11.39 . Scrapped near Birmingham 1956
Many survive in 1945 some to 1947 eg P5664

15 Supermarine Walrus I ordered under Cont No B21120/39 from Vickers-Suoermarine, Woolston.
Serial Numbers: R6543-R6557
First 5.40

10 Supermarine Walrus I ordered under Cont No B21120/39 from Saunders-roe ltd, cowes.
Serial Numbers: R6582-R6591
First 5.41 R6582

50 Supermarine Walrus II ordered under Cont No B43393/39 from Saunders-Roe lts, cowes.
Serial Numbers: W2670-W2729
Deld 12.1.40 W2679, W2705 9 sqdn RAAF HMAS Austalia 10.42, W2707 to RNZAF 1.43

150 Supermarine Walrus II ordered under Cont No B67952/39 from Vickers-Suoermarine, Woolston.
Serial Numbers: W2731-W3101
Deld 6.41, W2740 to RNZAF as NZ L59 11.44, W3016 after 9.45 to Egyptian Navy as N3016. Many to RAF 1944-45

2 Supermarine Walrus I rebuilds , fitted with wooden hulls by Saunders-Roe Ltd. Wooden hull by Saro, Beaumaris
FF 2.5.40 then 754 sqdn (X1045) and 700 sqdn (X1046)

65 Supermarine Walrus I ordered under Cont No B43393/39 from Saunders-Roe Ltd, Cowes.
Serial Numbers: X9460-X9558
Deld 3.42 many to RAAF HMAS Australia 11.1942 and to 9 sqdn RAAF HMAS Westralia and one X9512 to RNZAF  9.44. Many to RAF 1943-45

35 Supermarine Walrus II ordered under Cont No B43393/39 from Saunders-Roe Ltd, Cowes.
Serial Numbers: X9559-X9593
Deld 7.42, Many to RAF 1943-45

50 Supermarine Walrus II ordered under Cont No B119490/40 from Saunders-Roe Ltd, Cowes.
Serial Numbers: Z1755-X1823
Deld 9.42

100 Supermarine Walrus II ordered under Cont No B19490/39 from Saunders-Roe Ltd, Cowes.
Serial Numbers: HD837-HD936
Deld from 11.42. many survived to 1946 and to 1947.

Three aircraft of RAAF involving RN aircrew in accidents A2-9, A2-21 and A2-24

Aircraft Type:
Supermarine Walrus (Seagull V)
Primary Role:
Reconaissance and Air/Sea rescue amphibian
First Flight: 
First Flight: 21.6.1933
Date operating with FAA squadrons:
One 775 HP Bristol Pegasus VI radial engine
 Wing Span: Length: Height: Wing Area: 
Wingspan  45.8 ft (13.97 m) 
Length 37.2 ft (11.35 m) 
Height 15.3 ft (4.65 m) 
Wingarea 610 sq ft (56.67 sq m)
Empty Weight: Max.Weight:
empty  4,900 lb (2,223 kg) 
max. 7,200 lb (3,266 kg)



Speed 135 mph (217 km/h) 
Ceiling17,090 ft (2,210 m) 
Range 600 mi  (966 km)
Two Vickers 'K' guns -  in nose and dorsal positions; 
760lb of Bombs and Depth charges under wing
836, 1700
Battle honours:
Atlantic, Arctic, West Africa, Eastern Mediterranean, Singapore
Additional references and notes:

Battle Honours and Operational History

One of the first combats of the Walrus with enemy forces was on 31 October 1939 when Walrus L2261 flown by Lt SM Bird, Lt CHE Osmaston, and L/A WH Brown of 711 squadron on HMS Sussex.  F9C was attacked and shot down by three Bf109s whilst it was on a recce patrol in the South Atlantic. The crew were all killed. Walrus were to be used during the Battle of River Plate, however before the Battle Walrus K8341 of 718 flight on HMS Exter was jetissoned, 13 December 1939.

Then on 21 June 1940, Walrus P5666 of 700 squadron on HMS Manchester found the German Battlecruiser Scharnhorst but her ship did not engage. Three months later, on 25 September 1940 Walrus L2247 loaned to the RAAF, and flown by Fl Lt GJI Clarke RAAF, Lt Cdr WG Fogarty RAN, and PO Tel CK Burnett serving on HMAS Australia, took part in Operation Menace, and was shot down by three Vichy French Curtiss Hawk 75As while bombardment spotting at Dakar, 2 crew seen to bale out astern of HMS Barham but all were killed. Then on 7 October 1940, a Walrus flown by Lt MC Hoskins, and Lt TE Rose-Richards based at Sandbanks was on a rescue mission, and was shot down in the sea by enemy aircraft 708 miles south of Anvil Point.

During conflict with German Capital ships on 23 May 1941, Walrus L2184 of 700 squadron in HMS Norfolk was damaged by shellfire from Prinz Eugen in the Denmark Strait whilst on its catapult.

There were at least 5 confirmed enemy submarines sunk or damaged by Walruses duruing WWII, including the Vichy French submarine Poncelet which was bombed by Walrus L2268 of 700 squadron (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 PO PH Parsons, Sub Lt AD Corkhill and NA Evans were all awarded gallantry medals.

On 14 January 1941, Walrus P5667 of 710 squadron (HMS Albatross) landed 120 miles west of Freetown, West Africa  to assist survivors of SS Eumaeus sunk by a U-boat (Lt VBG Cheesman RM awarded MBE, Sub Lt WC Broadburn a MID, and CPO MW Dale awarded the BEM).

A Walrus was also involved in nearly sinking a Russian Submarine. On 3 October 1941, Walrus R6543 of 700 (HMS London) flown by Sub Lt DJ Chaplin, Sub Lt OM Cairns, and L/A HW Barrett was on anti-submarine patrol ahead of the ship in White Sea, and sighted a submarine which it proceeded to depth charge. There was no result, and it was later found to be Russian.

The final sussessful attack on an enemy submarine by a Walrus was on 11 July 1942, when Walrus W2709 of 700 (Levant) squadron flown by Sub Lt PE Jordan, Lt DJ Cook, and L/A P Garrett-Reed, sank the Italian submarine Ondina, along with surface vessels South African Protea and trawler Southern Maid, east of Cyprus.

Walruses were also involved in the fight against the Japanese. Walrus R6587, flown by PO WTJ Crozier, PO S Damerell and TAG MFA Rose of 700 squadron in HMS Repulse sighted Japanese invasion barges on 10 December 1942 and watched the Japanese attack on the British Fleet. It remained aloft during the Battle but force landed having run out of fuel. It was rescued by HMS Stronghold and towed 60 miles back to Singapore dockyard.

Surviving aircraft and relics

Only three Walruses/Seagulls are known to exist in the world, in the Fleet Air Arm Museum (UK), RAF Museum Hendon (UK) and the RAAF Museum (Australia). .

Walrus L2301 Preserved FAA Museum (UK)

RAF Museum Hendon (UK) Supermarine Seagull Mk V A2-4/VH-ALB

RAAF Museum: Walrus HD874: Received by QANTAS at Rose Bay on 14 September 1943, HD874 was initially allotted to No 9 Squadron in December of that year. In storage until 1947, HD874 was then sent to Maintenance Squadron Rathmines for servicing before issue to the RAAF's Antarctic Flight in October of that year. Nicknamed 'Snow Goose' and painted bright yellow, HD874 was transported on HMAS Labuan LST3501 to Heard Island, for the National Antarctica Research Expedition 30 October 1947, and flew only once before being badly damaged in a storm on 21 December 1947.  The damaged hull was recovered by the RAAF in 1980, and transported to Point Cook, restoration of the airframe began in 1991, and the aircraft is anticipated to be completed in 2001.

Associations and reunions
No information
Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995)
'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to1945'  Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1995 ISBN: 0 85130 232 7 
Created 3-4-1999, Modified 3-4-2000


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