Fleet Air Arm (Naval Aviation) of WW2

For all nations concerned: Belligerents of WW2, both the axis and allies, used seaplanes, floatplanes, and for those with carriers, a plethora of dedicated models.
In this portal page we will see the creation (WWI), interwar development (and controversy) and spectacular expansion in WW2, models of all nations, organization and tactics. The fleet air arm was called as such by the British, was known under many local variants. It had a hard time to be accepted, but in WW2, naval aviation revealed itself playing a vital part of all naval operations. In Europe, British naval aviation had an amazing hunting board, playing a crucial role in some events such as the attack on Taranto in November 1940 or the lucky torpedo that jammed the Bismarck’s rudder in May 1941, securing its doom for the allies. Aviation was also patrolling the Atlantic and spotting and even attacking U-Boats. In the Pacific, the role played by naval aviation was even greater: After the attack of Pearl Harbor, Force Z destruction, Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal or the Philippines sea, all these famous battles were played “over the horizon”, ships never seeing each others, and for the USN, after the loss of its battleships, only carriers remains as capital ships, and they fell all expectations, but conversely paid a heavy price. IJN aviation was probably among the world’s best, and certainly the best in Asia, contributing to the early campaign quick successes. However over time, the lack of experienced pilots and aviation gasoline played against the IJN in 1944. The might Yamato, pride of the surface fleet, and her sister ship, were both destroyed entirely by air power. And among the most significant losses by the USN in the late period of the war (like the USS Franklin), Kamikaze were responsible.

Note: It’s a work in progress !!!

German naval aviation

The Luftwaffe used the He 111H for anti-ship warfare, armed with two torpedoes.

During the interwar, many models were already developed for the civilian market, but many models entered service with the Reichsmarine:
-Dornier Do A Libelle – sport flying boat (1921)
-Heinkel HE 1 – reconnaissance floatplane (1921)
-Caspar U1 Submarine-launched patrol seaplane (1922)
-Dornier Do J Wal – twin-engined flying boat used for military and commercial purposes (1922)
-Dornier DO X (civilian only, landmark)
-Dornier Do 16 – ‘Wal’ military flying boat (1923)
-Heinkel HE 2 – reconnaissance floatplane (1923)
-Junkers A 20/Ju 20 – single-engine military floatplane (1923)
-Rohrbach Ro II – transport flying boat (1923)
-Rohrbach Ro III – transport flying boat (1924)
-Dornier Do D – torpedo bomber floatplane (1924)
-Dornier Do E – reconnaissance flying boat (1924)
-Junkers G 24 – trimotor transport floatplane version (1924)
-Rohrbach Ro IV – transport flying boat (1925)
-Heinkel HD 14 – torpedo-carrying floatplane (1925)
-Heinkel HE 25 – single-seat reconnaissance floatplane (1925)
-Heinkel HE 26 – reconnaissance floatplane (1925)
-Heinkel HE 24 – floatplane trainer (1926)
-Heinkel HE 4 – floatplane (1926)
-Junkers W 33/34 – single-engine transport floatplane version (1926)
-Heinkel HE 5 – reconnaissance floatplane (1926)
-Rohrbach Ro VII Robbe – flying boat (1926)
-Rohrbach Ro V Rocco – twin-engined 10-passenger flying boat (1927)
-Heinkel HE 31 – reconnaissance floatplane (1927)
-Heinkel HE 8 – reconnaissance floatplane (1927)
-Arado W II – 2-seat twin-engine monoplane floatplane trainer (1928)
-Heinkel HD 9 – floatplane (1928)
-Heinkel HD 16 – torpedo-carrying floatplane (1928)
-Heinkel He 55 – reconnaissance flying boat (1929)
-Heinkel He 56 – reconnaissance floatplane (1929)
-Heinkel HE 12 – catapult-launched mailplane floatplane (1929)
-Heinkel He 57 – single-engine cabin amphibious flying boat (1929)
-Arado SSD I – biplane catapult-capable floatplane fighter (1930)
-Junkers Ju 52 – single- or three-engine transport floatplane version (1930)
-Heinkel HE 42 – seaplane trainer (1931)
-Heinkel He 50 – floatplane dive bomber version (1931)
-Heinkel He 59 – reconnaissance bomber floatplane (1931)
-Arado Ar 66 – training biplane floatplane variant (1932)
-Heinkel He 58 – catapult-launched mailplane floatplane (1932)
-Junkers Ju 46 – single-engine shipborne catapult-launched floatplane (1932)
-Klemm Kl 35bW – floatplane trainer
-Heinkel He 62 – reconnaissance floatplane (1932)
-Heinkel He 60 – reconnaissance floatplane (1933)
-Heinkel He 51 – floatplane fighter version (1933)

Models of the Luftwaffe

-Arado Ar 95 – two-seat coastal patrol and light attack floatplane (1937)
-Arado Ar 196 – two-seat shipboard and coastal patrol floatplane (1937)
-Arado Ar 199 – two-seat floatplane trainer (1939)
-Arado ar 233 floatplane prototype (1942)
-Blohm & Voss Ha 139 – long-range mail, mine-sweeping and reconnaissance floatplane (1936)
-Blohm & Voss BV 138 – diesel trimotor, maritime patrol flying boat (1937)
-Blohm & Voss Ha 140 – twin-engine torpedo bomber/reconnaissance floatplane (1937)
-Blohm & Voss BV 222 – Maritime transport flying boat (1938)
-Blohm & Voss BV 238 – Six-engine transport floatplane (1942)
-Dornier Do 24 & Do 318 – three-engined maritime patrol/search and rescue flying boat (1937)
-Dornier Do 18 – four-seat coastal reconnaissance flying boat (1935)
-Dornier Do 26 – coastal patrol flying boat (1938)
-Dornier Do 22 – three-seat utility floatplane (1938)
-DFS Seeadler – sailplane flying boat (1936)
-Fieseler Fi-167 (1938): Carrier-borne Torpedo bomber biplane
-Focke-Wulf Fw 58W – twin-engine trainer floatplane (1935)
-Focke-Wulf Fw 62 – single-engine reconnaissance floatplane (1937)
-Heinkel He 114 – shipboard biplane reconnaissance seaplane (1936)
Heinkel He 115 – maritime reconnaissance floatplane (1936)
-Heinkel He 119 – high-speed reconnaissance floatplane version (1936)

Arado AR-95 D-ODGY
Arado AR-95 D-ODGY, testing aerial torpedoes

It made little doubt that the Luftwaffe in 1939 was probably the most effective air force in the world. It was almost dwarved by the Soviet aviation, but compensated in quality, tactics and organization, despite a very personal management by Goering. However there was no proper naval aviation, to the dismay of Raeder and later Dönitz. The few FW-200 Condors consented to the Kriegsmarine command proved invaluable in the Atlantic, until the allies manage to have a permanent air cover thanks to numerous “jeep carriers”. Goering had no intention to cede a part of his beloved Luftwaffe and in that matter, inter-service cooperation was non-existent, in a very similar way in Italy.

Despite of this, the Luftwaffe “coastal command” once Europe was occupied, installed bases along the French, Dutch and Norwegian coasts. There were seaplanes units in activity along the coast and in the Mediterranean. There was no shortage of models, while the rarest and largest (in fact record-beaters) were built by the naval yard Blohm & Voss. But their role revolved around patrol, SAR, transport, reconnaissance and sometimes attack. On the other hand, the Luftwaffe also sank many vessels during the war. The Junkers 88/188 and Ju 87 “Stuka”, both dive bombers, proved absolutely devastating. Later this was, modified Dornier 217 were fitted to carry the first airborne antiship missiles and sank several ships, including the Italian battleship Roma.

He-59A floatplane
He-59A floatplane (1935). Only 142 of this model were available when WW2 broke out. Used at first for torpedo attacks and minelaying, it became a recce and SAR plane (search and rescue), gradually retired in 1942 and only retained for training.

Arado 196A3
The nimble Arado 196 floatplane (1937), deployed on Kriegsmarine cruisers and battleships was also used for coastal reconnaissance, in particular from Norwegian coastal bases. 540 were produced until 1944. It was also used by the Bulgarian, Finnish and Romanian Air Forces.

Dornier Do-18 G1
Dornier Do-18 G1, interwar seaplane used for SAR and reconnaissance. About 100 were still operational when WW2 broke out.

Dornier Do-24 T1
Dornier Do 24 T-1. The Do-24 was probably the most ubiquitous German long range SAR and patrol seaplane of the Luftwaffe in the Atlantic

He 115
Heinkel He-115 (1939): The standard Marine Floatplane of the Luftwaffe, used in torpedo attacks, SAR and recce until 1945. 138 were delivered and it was also used by other Axis aviations.

JU-52 3mW
Junkers Ju-52 3MW: This variant of the ubiquitous “Tante Ju” (1932) was fitted with floats and used to carry mostly recce and transport missions.

JU-87 B2
Junkers Ju-87 B2. The famous Ju-87 “Stuka” was widely used for antiship missions from land bases, where it excelled, being able to place a bomb in a funnel opening, notably in the confines of the Mediterranean, with great success, credited with more than 25 ships.

JU-88 A4
Junkers Ju-88 A4. The other successful dive bomber of the Luftwaffe, the Ju-88 was even more produced and often used for antiship missions, especially in the Mediterranean but also the Atlantic thanks to its longer range.

Blohm & Voss 222C, an impressive 6-engine long range transport and patrol seaplane. The even more enormous BV-238 never past the production stage.

Another depiction of the BV 222
Another depiction of the BV 222 by Ed Jackson.

BV 238
Depiction of the gigantic BV 238 by Ed Jackson.

Focke-Achgelis fa-330: Usually deployed from destroyers, it was an early form of on-board helicopter but stayed largely experimental.

Italian naval aviation

The Italian fleet air arm was created before WW1 already (since 1913), and there were already quite interesting records for the Italian aviation in the Adriatic, operating against the Austro-Hungarian naval assets at sea and along the coast, and perform reconnaissance. During the interwar, the Italian Navy Royal started to plan for an aircraft carrier long before the Aquila, but were opposed by Benito Mussolini, the Duche arguing Italy, for simple geographical reasons, was already a giant “aicraft carrier” bulging into the central Mediterranean. He also expected that Greece would ultimately fell under his banner as well, allowing the covering of the aegean sea as well and threatening Malta. It would take until the dreadful losses at Taranto in November 1940 and at losses at Cape Matapan in 1941 to drive the admiralty on the path of creating two fleet carriers again, this time with the Duce’s greenlight. Despite their effort, Aquila went close to completion when Italy surrendered in September 1943. In between the Regia Marina had to make due with its a naval aviation which was part of the air force. The service was indeed disbanded and integrated into the Italian Air Force, upon the creation of this new branch in 1937, when a law gave control of all national fixed-wing air assets to the Italian Air Force. It was only back as an independent arm in 1956.

SM76 Sparviero, which proved to be a redoubtable torpedo bomber
SM76 Sparviero, which proved to be a redoubtable torpedo bomber

During WW2, the poor coordination bewteen the Regia Marina and the Aeronautica Militare proved an hinderance to naval operations. Whenever this support was asked for, it was never efficient and the “aicraft carrier italy” was nothing more in reality than wishful thinking. Nevertheless, the Navy more or less operated with greater livery proper naval planes as they were of little use for the air force. That’s out main ficus here, and the associated types. Italy did not lacked both talent and engineering skills to produce escellent aircraft and it was true for seaplanes and floatplanes as well. The major issue for the industry was its inability to produce powerful aicraft engines, including inline-water cooled engines, marring performances. For this reason, the majority of Italian medium torpedo bombers and patrol/ASW floatplanes were trimotors.

Imam Ro 43 Idro
Imam Ro 43 Idro

The workhorse of the land-based aviation deployed in the benefit of the Regia Marina, but operated by the air force, was the excellent Savoi-Marchetti SM79, a fast and potent torpedo bomber.
On the pure naval side, the main recce flying boat was the single-engine IMAM Ro.43

-CANT 6 – maritime patrol flying boat (1925)
-CANT 7 – trainer flying boat (1924)
-CANT 18 – trainer flying boat (1926)
-CANT 25 – fighter flying boat (1927)
-CANT Z.501 – reconnaissance bomber flying boat (1934)
-CANT Z.506 – reconnaissance bomber and rescue floatplane (1935)
-CANT Z.508 – heavy bomber floatplane (1936)
-CANT Z.509 – transport floatplane (1937)
-CANT Z.515 – reconnaissance bomber floatplane (1939)
-CANT Z.511 – long-range military transport floatplane (1943)
-Caproni Ca.316 – maritime reconnaissance floatplane (1940)
-Fiat CR.20 Idro, single-seat fighter floatplane version (1926)
-Fiat RS.14 – long-range maritime reconnaissance floatplane (1939)
-IMAM Ro.43 – catapult launched reconnaissance floatplane (1935)
-IMAM Ro.44 – fighter floatplane (1936)
-Macchi M.18 – three-seat reconnaissance/bomber flying boat (1928)
-Macchi M.24 – three-seat reconnaissance/bomber flying boat (1923)
-Macchi M.26 – fighter flying boat (1924)
-Macchi M.40 – catapult-launched reconnaissance seaplane (1928)
-Macchi M.41 – fighter flying boat (1927)
-Macchi M.53 – reconnaissance seaplane (1928)
-Macchi M.70 – light biplane floatplane (1929)
-Macchi M.71 – fighter flying boat (1930)
-Maachi MC.73 Idro – floatplane training biplane version (1931)
-Macchi MC.77 – two-seat maritime reconnaissance flying boat (1935)
-Macchi MC.99 – military flying boat (1937)
-Piaggio P.6 – catapult-launched floatplane (1927)
-Piaggio P.8 – single-seat floatplane (1928)
-Savoia-Marchetti S.55 – twin hulled mulitrole flying boat (1924)
-Savoia-Marchetti S.56 – three-seat trainer amphibious flying boat (1924)
-Savoia-Marchetti S.57 – reconnaissance flying boat (1923)
-Savoia-Marchetti S.59 – reconnaissance/bomber flying boat (1925)
-Savoia-Marchetti SM.62 – four-seat reconnaissance/bomber flying boat (1926)
-SIAI S.13 – reconnaissance and fighter flying boat (1919)
-SIAI S.16 – bomber-reconnaissance flying boat (1919)
-SIAI S.67 – fighter flying boat (1930)

Imperial Japanese naval aviation

A group of Nakajima B5N2 over the fleet
A group of Nakajima B5N2 over the fleet – Colorized by Irootoko jr.

Japanese aviation was divided between the Army and Navy models, with a great deal of rivalry between the two, a bit like the USA. A code was soon created to differenciate between the two: Two letters and a number, coding the plane origin and purpose, a Japanese symbolic name, and on top the allied intelligence code, versus the factory designation for Japanese Army planes with the Type in Imperial years. For example, the N1K “Kyofu” (Rex), where N signified “floatplane fighter”, 1 as it was the first of the factory of this type, and K for “Kawanishi”. “Rex” was the allied intelligence code. A6M for example designated the sixth type of carrier fighter under this designation system, and that it was built by Mitsubishi. Zeke was the Japanese symbolic name and “Zero” the allied code, inspired by the Imperial year code Reisen (“year zero”). Note: Foreign planes built under licence are not included there.


Without contest, the A6M was the most famous IJN fighter in 1941. Agile, fast, with a long range and top-tier pilots, it brushed aside all opposition until late-1942 when the Hellcat and Lightning started to be introduced. Its army equivalent was the equally agile Nakajima Ki-43 “Oscar”.

Mitsubishi 1MF (1921) 138 built, retired 1923
-Heinkel HD 23/Aichi Type H (1926) semi experimental fighter, 4 built
-Kawanishi K-11 (1927) experimental fighter, 2 built
Nakajima A1N (1928), based on Gloster Gambet, 151 built, retired 1935
Nakajima A2N (1929): 166 built, retired 1941
Note: The Navy also used the Gloster Sparrowhawk from 1931, 90 were in service.
Mitsubishi A5M (1935), main fixed-train monoplane, 1094 built, retired 1945
Nakajima A4N (1935) 221 built, until 1940, second line 1942.
Mitsubishi A6M Zero “Zeke” (1939): By far the most famous navy fighter. 10,939 built in any variants
Nakajima J1N Gekko (1941) “Irving” fast twin-engine heavy fighter, 479 built
Kawanishi N1K-J Shiden “Georges” (1943) derived from the “Rex” floatplane fighter, circa 1400 built
Mitsubishi J2M Raiden “Jack” (1942), 621 built
Mitsubishi A7M Reppū (1944): Planned replacement of the legendary “Zeke”, codenamed “Sam”, 10 preserie built.
Yokosuka MXY-8 Akigusa (1945), a clone of the German Me 163 Komet, which plans and parts arrived via U-Boat. About 50-60 were built but apparently never used.
The IJN also tested the Dewoitine D.510J in 1936, the Canadian Car & Foundry AXG1 in 1938, Heinkel A7He1 (12), Seversky A8V (20) the same year, the American Douglas HXD and Fairchild LXF1, and used 20 Seversky A8V recce monoplanes.

Carrier-borne Bombers

Aichi D1A (1934) dive bomber, 590 built codename “Susie”
Aichi D3A (1938), main IJN dive bomber, 1,486 built
Yokosuka D4Y (1942) codename “Judy” diver bomber, 2,038 built

Navy land-based Torpedo Bombers

Mitsubishi G3M (1935), 1,048 built, long range twin engine navy land-based bomber, codename “Nell”.
Mitsubishi G4M (1939) “Betty”, Main long range twin engine torpedo bomber of the navy, 2,435 built
Nakajima G5N Shinzan (1941) “liz” long-range quad-engine heavy bomber, 6 built
-The navy also experimented with the Mitsubishi Ki-67 bomber, with a torpedo-bomber, the “Yasukuni”, and a dedicated ASW plane, the Mitsubishi Q2M1 Taiyo.
Nakajima B6N Tenzan (1941) coldename “Jill”, 1,268 built planned replacement for the “Nate”.
Aichi B7A Ryusei “Jack” (1942), last IJN carrier-borne Torpedo bomber, 114 built


Nakajima B5N
Mitsubishi 1MT (1922), triplane 20 built retired 1928.
Mitsubishi B1M (1923), 443 built, retired 1936.
Mitsubishi B2M (1932) 206 built, based on Blackburn Ripon, retired 1939-1940
Yokosuka B4Y (1935) 205 built, biplane, retired 1943
Mitsubishi B5M (1936) fixed carriage monoplan bomber, 125 built
Nakajima B5N (1937) 1,150 built, main torpedo bomber
Yokosuka P1Y1 Ginga “Frances” (1943) Navy Land-Based twin engines Bomber, 1098 built


Mitsubishi MC-20-II, close to the L4M, Naval transport plane
Mitsubishi MC-20-II, close to the L4M, Naval transport plane
Yokosuka K2Y (1929), main navy trainer based on Avro 504, rarely mounted on floats. All 464 built were used by the Navy.
Nakajima C2N (1930) staff carrier developed with Fokker, used by the navy and army (Ki-6), prod. unknown
Mitsubishi K3M (1930), navy trainer and liaison, recce, 625 built, retired 1940s
Mitsubishi 2MR (1932), carrier-based recce biplane, 159 built, retired 1937-38 as trainers
Yokosuka K5Y (1934) 5,770 main IJN biplane trainer, with undercarriage or floats, used during WW2
Hiro G2H (1933) 8 long-range recce/bomber land-based biplanes, most destroyed at Cheju Island in 1937
Gasuden KR-2 (1934), light transport biplane, small prod.
-Nakajima C3N (1936) experimental recce monoplane with fixed undercarriage
-Nakajima L1N (1936) main transport monoplane twin engine, 351 built
Mitsubishi L4M (1939) main twin-engine transport plane, 406 built
Nakajima/Showa L2D (1939) large navy transport plane codenamed “Tabby”, DC-3 copy.
-In 1939 also first flew the Nakajima LXD-1, transport four-engined prototype.
-Kyushu K9W1 Momiji (1942) biplane trainer based on the Bücker Bu-131, 339 built
Kyushu K11W1 Shiragiku (1942) monoplane advanced operations trainer, 798 built
Nakajima C6N Saiun “Myrt” (1943) Navy Carrier Reconnaissance Plane, the fastest built by Japan, 463 built.
Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka (1944) codename “Baka” the famous suicide rocket plane, 852 built

Floatplanes & seaplanes

IJN Haguro and IJN Nachi’s Nakajima E8N (Type 95) “Nate” recce plane – colorized bi Iroo Toko Jr.

Yokosho Rogou Kougata (1918), 218 built, retired 1928
Yokosuka K1Y (1925) Main trainer/spotted floatplane of the Navy, 104 built, retired 1941
Hiro H1H (1925) recce and ASW patrol seaplane, 60 built, retired 1938
-Aichi Type 15-Ko Mi-go (1925), semi-experimental seaplane, 4-5 built
Yokosuka E1Y (1926): Main recce floatplane, 320 built, retired 1938
-Aichi Navy Type 2 (1928), experimental floatplane
Nakajima E2N (1929): 80 built, retired in the late 1930s
Yokosuka E6Y (1929), submarine-based recce floatplane, 10 built, retired 1943
Yokosuka K4Y (1930), trainer/recce floatplane, 211 built, retired 1940s.
Yokosuka E5Y (1930) 20 built, recce floatplane. Used by NOTORO, phased out late 1930s
Aichi E3A (1930): Recce floatplane dev. with Heinkel, 20 built
Nakajima E4N (1930), recce floatplane, 153 built, retired late 1930s
Hiro H4H (1933) recce seaplane, 47 built, retired 1940
Kawanishi E7K (1934) main recce floatplane, 533 built, served in WW2
Nakajima E8N (1935) Main recce floatplane, 755 built, served WW2 codename “Pete”
-Kawanishi E10K (1934) experimental transport/recce floatplane
Kawanishi H6K (1936) four engine flying boat, 215 built.
Mitsubishi F1M (1936) 944 recce, last biplane floatplanes in the IJN
Yokosuka H5Y (1936) Type 99 Flying Boat Model 11, 20 built
-Watanabe K6W (1937) experimental florplane trainder/recce
Aichi E11A (1937) 17 gunnery spotting seaplanes (E11A Type 98)
-Kawanishi E11K (1937), two transport flying boats
-Nakajima E12N (1938), 2 recce floatplanes
-Nippi K8Ni1 (1938), 2 trainer floatplanes
Watanabe E9W (1938) 35 shipboard recce biplanes
-Watanabe K8W (1938) 3 built, recce seaplane trainers
Aichi E13A (1938) main recce monoplane floatplane, 1,418 built
-Kawanishi E13K (1938) 2 built, 3-seat shipboard recce.
-Kawanishi K6K (1938) seaplane trainer, 3 built
-Kawanishi K8K (1938), same, 15 built
-Nippi K8Ni1 (1938), same, prototype
-Nakajima E12N (1938), recce floatplane, 2 built
Aichi H9A (1940), recce seaplane, 31 built
Nakajima E14Y (1939), shipboard recce floatplane, 126 built
Kawanishi E15K Shiun (1941) codename “Norm”, 15 built, floatplane Torpedo bomber
Kawanishi H8K (1941) codename “Emily”, main long-range aquad-engine, 167 built
Kawanishi N1K1 Kyofu (1942) “Rex”, main IJN floatplane fighter, variant, land-based fighter Kawanishi N1K-J Shiden- 1,532 built.
Aichi M6A1 Seiran (1943) Navy Special Strike Submarine Bomber developed for the I-400 submarines, 28 built.
-Also was tested a flotplane trainer, the Aichi M6A1-K Nanzan Navy Special Strike Submarine Bomber trainer (1943, 2 built) and the Kyushu Q1W1-K Tokai-Ren, a twin-engine the same year codenamed “Lorna”.

Author’s illustration of the H8K “Emily”

Soviet naval aviation


Soviet naval aviation (Morskaya Aviatsiya) was initially created under another name, in 1918: the Workers and Peasants Red Air Fleet. Prior to that, it inherited from the Emperor’s Military Air Fleet (1909–1917). This had oc creation of the “reds” participated in the Russian Civil War, cooperating with ships and army at Petrograd, on the Baltic and Black Sea, as well as over the Volga, Kama, Dvina rivers and Lake Onega. It was a hotchpotch of some 76 obsolete hydroplanes with poor maintenance and unskilled staff. Due to its condition it was used mostly for reconnaissance and supplies.

However when the Soviet Army and air forced consolidated in the 1920s, Naval Aviation started to increase in capabilities. Thanks to a first 5-year plan, it receive a massive influx of new reconnaissance hydroplanes, but also coastal defence bombers and fighters. By the mid-1930s, it grew so large that it needed to be separated, by creating at first the Baltic, Black Sea andt Pacific Fleet own naval aviation branches. In 1938–1940, Soviet Naval Aviation became a very important components of the Soviet Navy, with formations of torpedo and bomber planes. The Great Patriotic War the two fleets of the Black sea and Baltic combined some 1,445 aircraft.

During the war, Naval Aviation provided air support to the Soviet Navy over the Barents sea, the Baltic and Black Sea as well as the Sea of Okhotsk.
It was composed almost exclusively of land and shore based planes, since the limited size of the Navy saw few ship-based planes in action: Thos of the three Gangut-class battleships, and about seven cruisers. Flying boats were of course the most recoignised asset of the Navy, usng specific aicraft, while torpedo-bomber units relied on air force models, converted in some cases to carry torpedoes or equipped with floats. In some cases, transport plaanes of the Navy were used for land operations, in support of the Red Army during, but also landings and special wartime joint army-navy operations. Air cover to Allied convoys in North Sea and up to the Barents Sea was also one of its missions, as well as in the north Pacific and Sea of Okhotsk.

Naval Aviation was noted in the defense of Odessa in June–October 1941 (Crimean campaign) where naval troops were very active. The Black Sea fleet air arm also carried out many air strikes during the 1944 offensive. In terms of sunken ships it was quite successful, achieving a 2/3 better success ratio than any other unit of the Soviet Navy. In all, 17 naval aviation units were awarded the title of ‘Soviet Guards’ and 241 naval air personal were awarded the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union, some pilots twice.


-1st Guards Fighter Aviation Division VVS VMF
-2nd Torpedo Rananskaya Red Banner Aviation Division in the name of N.A. Ostryakova VVS VMF
-3rd Bombardment Aviation Division VVS VMF
-4th Bombardment Aviation Division VVS VMF
-5th Torpedo Aviation Division VVS VMF
-6th Bombardment Aviation Division VVS VMF
-7th Bombardment Aviation Division VVS VMF
-8th Torpedo Gatchinskaya Red Banner Aviation Division VVS VMF
-9th Assault Ropshinskaya Red Banner, Order of Ushakov Aviation Division VVS VMF
-10th Seysinskaya Red Banner Aviation Division of Dive Bombers VVS VMF
-11th Assault Novorossiysk Twice Red Banner Aviation Division VVS VMF
-12th Assault Aviation Division VVS VMF
-13th Aviation Division of Dive Bombers VVS VMF
-14th Mixed Aviation Division VVS VMF
-15th Mixed Aviation Division VVS VMF
-16th Mixed Aviation Division VVS VMF

The models:

A Beriev Kor-2 on its catapult onboard a Kirov class cruiser.

British Fleet air arm

Canadian Fleet air arm

French Fleet air arm

Free nations Fleet air arm

Norway operated www

USN Aviation

at Midway

WWI models

Curtiss-Goupil Duck (1916), Burgess H,I,J,S, Twin Hydro, Curtiss R-9J… Read more

Interwar models

WW2 USN floatplanes


WW2 USN seaplanes

PBY Catalina (1936-45)

A multirole patrol seaplane, twin engine and monoplan parasol. It was the culmination of eight years of the USN to create the ideal long range modern patrol aircraft. The PBY was able to play the main roles of Maritime patrol bomber, search and rescue but also able to attack if needed.

Free French postwar Catalina in the 4F flotilla on the Atlantic (Britanny).

Russian PBN-1 in 1944

Production: 3,308 (2,661 U.S., 620 Canadian, 27 Soviet)
Here a cutaway.

WW2 USN land-based patrol planes

Work in progress

WW2 USN carrier planes

Work in progress

Blimps and dirigibles

USS Macon
There were at first the commissioned “airships” as any regular USN warships: The USS Shenandoah (ZR-1), USS Los Angeles (ZR-3) and the USS Akron and Macon, first flying aircraft carriers.
During the Korean war and beyond, the USN also operated two Airborne Early Warning dirigibles for ten years, between 1952 and 1962, housing a radar in their roomy interior, the ZWG and ZWN Reliance, both by Goodyear. From 1947, and until 1962, the same manufacturer would built for the USN a serie of smaller patrol blimps, ZPG, ZPK, ZP2K, ZP3K, ZP4K, ZP5K, ZPM, ZPN, ZP2N and two scouts, lighter and faster, ZSG and ZS2G plus the ZTG and ZTL for training. With the advent of carrier-borne ADACS, the career of lighter-than-air ended in the USN, although proposals remained well until the late 1980s.

Curtiss Sparrohawk, hooked. The Macon and Acron carried each up to 5 aircraft.

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