The first jet carrier landing

On 3 December 1945, Lieutenant Commander Eric Melrose ‘Winkle’ Brown (later Captain) made the first carrier landings and take-offs with a jet aircraft in history, when he flew de Havilland Sea Vampire LZ551/G onto, and off, HMS Ocean. Considerable preparation was made for these flights, including the development of new deck-landing techniques. Arrester wire tests were made with the aircraft at Farnborough in October. Working up trials then took place with Brown and the batsman, Lieutenant Jim Pratt, at RNAS Ford.

By the beginning of December, Brown was ready to try for a carrier landing, and the conditions were good on the 3rd. it was planned that the landing speed would be 95mph, but after the first landing, a speed of 100mph was maintained because of the gusty conditions over the round down. Several landings and take-offs were made. On the fourth landing, the tail-down attitude and pitching of the carrier deck, led to the trailing edges of the aircraft’s flaps contacting the deck and shearing the hinges, but otherwise this very significant ‘first’ proceeded very smoothly.

The following photographs from the author’s collection were taken on this momentous day.

See also Prototypes and Trials, HMS Illustrious


3 responses to “The first jet carrier landing

    • Yes, I’ve heard this claim before. It’s an interesting one. I don’t tend to consider this the first jet carrier landing for several reasons. Most importantly, it wasn’t successful – West’s Fireball went into the barrier, so that alone disqualifies it. It wasn’t a landing, but a crash-landing. Even if he hadn’t crashed, I think it would have been a dubious claim anyway, for the following reasons. First, the Fireball was not a jet aircraft. It was technically a mixed-power aircraft but to all intents and purposes, a piston aircraft with a supplementary jet engine. Brown’s landing was unquestionably the first for a *jet aircraft*. Second, the whole landing was not made under jet power. The start of the approach was made under piston power, then a glide while the jet was started up. It was a landing, and the aircraft was under jet power for some of the approach, but that, to my mind, is stretching the point to breaking. Thanks for your comment though, interesting one. I’ve been meaning to write something about the Fireball

  1. Pingback: The First Jet Carrier Landing – On This Day (or not?) | Naval Air History·

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