The Walrus flying boat played a vital role in the rescuing of downed aircrew in the English Channel and North Sea during the Second World War for the Royal Air Force. Also serving with
the Fleet Air Arm it performed a number of roles including spotting for ship's guns. It would remain in service until 1956.
The Walrus had its roots in the Supermarine Seagull Mk V which had little in common with the Seagull Mk III which came before it, the major changes included metal replacing wood to build the hull of
the aircraft. The Seagull Mk V prototype made its maiden flight on the 21st June 1933 with Supermarine test pilot Captain Joseph Summers at the controls. This was followed by an order for 24 aircraft
from the Royal Australian Air Force. Meanwhile a prototype Seagull Mk V was delivered to Felixstowe on the 29th July 1933 for trials by the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment which resulted
in Specification 2/35 being issued just under two years later during May 1935, along with an order for 12 aircraft, followed in August 1935 with the aircraft being named the Supermarine Walrus.
The 18th March 1936 saw the first Walrus Mk I production version fly and along with the second production example these were also sent to Felixstowe before going to Calshot and Lee-on-Solent for pilot and observer training
respectively. The Walrus Mk I housed a crew of four and was powered by a 750-hp Bristol Pegasus VI engine giving the aircraft a top speed of 135 mph, range of 600 miles and a service ceiling of 18,500 ft. Armament consisted
of two or three 0.303-in machine-guns with a bomb load of either 600lb bombs or depth charges.
The Walrus Mk II saw the wooden hull returning and a 775-hp Bristol Pegasus VI engines power the aircraft. The top speed, range, service ceiling and armament were identical to the Walrus Mk I
except for the bomb load of 760lb, with the 2nd May 1940 seeing the first production example fly.
By the time the Second World War (1939 - 1945) broke out the Walrus had been delivered to many of the various different types of ships serving with the Royal Navy as catapult flights before all being
merged as No. 700 Naval Air Squadron, Fleet Air Arm during January 1940. The Supermarine Walrus's other roles with the Royal Navy included communication flights, depth charge attacks and spotting for the
The Walrus also served with the Royal Air Force where it was used to rescue downed aircrew and built a reputation to take a lot of punishment and bearing in mind a lot of these missions
were undertaken in mined waters or under attack the achievements of No. 277 Squadron in rescuing 598 aircrew is impressive, with April 1946 seeing the RAF retire the type.
740 aircraft had been built by the time production ended in January 1944 and the last Walrus to be scrapped by the Royal Navy was done so in 1956.