The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest campaign of WWII. It began on the first day of the war and continued until the German surrender in 1945.
The battle to control the shipping lanes across the Atlantic involved thousands of ships and cost the lives of more than 30,000 Merchant Navy seamen. Its loss would, in all probability, have meant defeat in the war. For both Britain and Germany, it was the battle that neither side could afford to lose.
1943 is seen as the point at which the balance of success in this battle shifted in favour of the Allied Forces – an advantage they maintained for the remainder of the war. 2013 is, therefore, the year chosen to commemorate the 70th anniversary of this pivotal battle.
The Fleet Air Arm Museum’s new exhibition will dramatically display a Fairey Swordfish, Fairey Fulmar and the newly restored Grumman Martlet. In addition to the aircraft on display there will be a representation of a German U-boat conning tower along with a rare example of a German gyrocopter. Gyrocopters were stored onboard the U-boats within torpedo tubes and could be deployed rapidly when the submarine surfaced and towed behind, lifting its pilot to height of some 100 metres and extending visibility to around 25 miles.
The aircraft, the people, the ships, the submarines and the technology – all played their part in this decisive battle and will feature in the new exhibition, telling the story of the Battle of the Atlantic, its importance to World War II, and the Fleet Air Arm’s vital role in it.
The exhibition will be opened at 12.30pm on July 11 by former First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, Chairman of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Admiral Terry Loughran, Chairman of the Fleet Air Arm Museum, and Capt Eric Brown CBE who, as a Martlet pilot, took part in the Battle of the Atlantic.