Sea Harrier FRS1e - 809 Squadron - Return of the Pheonix

Alas too soon the day draws nigh

When the Phoenix Squadron must cease to fly.

Though fire and flames are forced to dwindle

The immortal spark awaits rekindle.

The snuffing out could hardly be faster,

But watch the Bird at the next disaster.

Final Transmission, 809 Squadron - 1982

Squadron History

NAS 809 squadron has a long and illustrious history. Originally created in 1941 operating Fairey Fulmars on-board HMS Victorious before being retrained to fly the Supermarine Seafire, partaking in several campaigns including Italy, North Africa, France, Burma, Malaya and Sumatra. The Squadron was disbanded in 1946 and then re-formed again in 1949 to operate the Sea Hornet and then the De Havilland Sea Venom before once again being disbanded in 1959. 809 squadron then went on to be reformed and disbanded and reformed again over the course of the early 1960s flying the Blackburn Buccaneer S1 and then Blackburn Buccaneer S2. Serving aboard both HMS Hermes and HMS Ark Royal, before once again being disbanded in 1978.

Falklands War

On the outset of hostilities in 1982 at the start of the Falklands War. High attrition rates for the Sea Harrier’s that made up NAS 800 Squadron (12 aboard HMS Hermes) and NAS 801 Squadron (8 aboard HMS Invincible) were expected and so additional aircraft needed to be sent south as soon as possible to reinforce the stretched forces of 800 and 801 Squadron’s 20 Sea Harriers.

The Solution decided was to create a new front line squadron of aircraft that could be sent south at all haste aboard the Atlantic Conveyor. The Squadron was placed under command of Lieutenant Commander Tim Gedge who had 3 weeks to assemble the entire squadron, finding both pilots and aircraft difficult to locate as all that had been initially available had already been sent south on-board the carriers.

Eventually 8 Sea Harrier FRS1s were located, from Storage, Training and Trials duties and several were rushed to completion by BAE and delivered ahead of schedule. Along with 8 pilots pulled from various sources. Including 2 pilots from an RAF Harrier Gr3 squadron. This made up the 8 pilots and aircraft of NAS 809 Squadron.

Upon arrival in the Falklands, the squadron was split between HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible evenly and operated as part of the respective airgroups on board both aircraft carriers. But following the cease-fire. The Squadron was reformed and embarked on the newly completed HMS Illustrious where they provided air defence until the Port Stanley Airport was fully repaired and RAF Phantom FGR.2s could replace them.

The Squadron was disbanded again in December 1982. But is destined to return, this time flying the F-35B Lightning II.

Sea Harrier FRS1 on alert aboard Atlantic Conveyor

NAS 809 Squadron prior to departure for the South Atlantic

Sea Harrier FRS1

The Sea Harrier FRS1s sent south on board Atlantic Conveyor did so with low visibility light grey paint scheme that differed greatly from “peace-time” skin of blue and white (as found on the Sea Harrier FRS1e in game). This paint scheme was the work of Philip J Barley of the RAE’s defensive weapons department and designed to be difficult to detect visually in the conditions expected in the south atlantic. In addition to the grey camo scheme. The normally vibrant roundels were replaced with pastel colours and each aircraft sported a pheonix on the aircraft tail.

Purpose in-game

Beyond the very cool design of the 809 paint scheme, with the Pheonix on the tail. The camo actually serves a reasonable purpose. The Sea Harrier FRS1e’s default skin is the peace-time camoflage and is notably easier to spot than the Sea Harrier FRS1 that sports a all grey paint scheme, whilst this does create seperation between the 2 airframes, it would be nice to get a GE skin for the FRS1e to allow for a proper combat reskin of the aircraft. In fact both aircraft could recieve the same skin with no issue


War Thunder Live

A War Thunder Live skin does already exist for the Sea Harrier FRS1 with this paint scheme created by PhoenixFire

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