Beauty in the eye of the beholder

The Supermarine Walrus would be highly unlikely to win a best looking or most elegant aircraft contest but for downed airmen and survivors of a sinking ship, it was a thing of true beauty. 

This aircraft meant the chance to get home rather than a stay in a prisoner-of-war camp or a watery grave.  Many airmen and sailors were eternally grateful to see the solid little Walrus lumbering over the horizon to rescue them.Submarine Walrus

Given its ungainly appearance, it is surprising that the Walrus was the brainchild of Reginald Mitchell, designer of the Spitfire.  

Bearing more resemblance to an overweight albatross than a graceful swan, this gutsy little aircraft was catapulted off ships to carry out search and rescue missions, reconnaissance operations, anti-submarine patrols and convoy protection duties – a real multi-tasker!  Rarely did it do that for which it was originally designed, spotting the fall of shells for Royal Navy ships.

FAAM’s Walrus, L2301, had its own unique adventure.  In January 1942, Irish nationals hijacked the aircraft planning to fly to Cherbourg and join the Luftwaffe.  RAF Spitfires escorted it back to St Eval, Cornwall and the would-be defectors were returned under guard to Ireland.

 

HMS Hermes returning from the Falklands