802 Naval Air Squadron

802 Naval Air Squadron
Active 3 April 1933April 1940
21 November 194021 December 1941
1 February15 November 1942
1 May 194530 March 1947
1 May 194710 December 1952
2 February 195322 November 1955
6 February 195610 April 1959
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  Royal Navy
Role Naval Air Defence/Attack
Motto(s) Prima Ferire
(Latin: "First to Strike")
Aircraft flown
Fighter Hawker Nimrod
Hawker Osprey
Gloster Sea Gladiator
Grumman Martlet
Hawker Sea Hurricane
Supermarine Seafire
Hawker Sea Fury
Hawker Sea Hawk

802 Naval Air Squadron (802 NAS) was a Naval Air Squadron of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm.[1]

Early history

802 Squadron was formed on 3 April 1933 aboard HMS Glorious by the merger of two independent Royal Air Force naval units, 408 (Fleet Fighter) Flight and 409 (Fleet Fighter) Flight. By 1939, 802 Squadron was operating from HMS Grebe (Dekhelia) in Egypt [2] where, like all Fleet Air Arm units, it was taken over by the Admiralty on 24 May 1939.


Second World War

In April 1940 802 Squadron was serving aboard Glorious with twelve Gloster Sea Gladiators when the ship was recalled to participate in the defence of Norway. The squadron ceased to exist after Glorious was sunk by the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau on 8 June 1940 during the defence of Norway.[4]

Reformed from part of 804 Squadron on 21 November 1940 with Martlet Is, the squadron sub-flights embarked on HMS Audacity in July 1941, with B flight serving on HMS Argus in August. In the following month the whole squadron was involved in Gibraltar escort convoys from Audacity from which it shot down four Focke-Wulf Fw 200's. The squadron was lost on 21 December 1941 when Audacity was sunk by German submarine U-751.[4]

The squadron was re-formed at Yeovilton in February 1942 with Hawker Sea Hurricane Ibs, before embarking on HMS Avenger for escorting Arctic Convoy PQ 18 in September during which time five enemy aircraft were shot down and 17 damaged, in conjunction with 883 Squadron. In September, the squadron embarked on Avenger and provided fighter cover on the Algerian invasion beaches. While returning to the UK Avenger was torpedoed and sunk by U-155 on 15 November 1942.[4]

The squadron lay dormant till May 1945 when reformed at Arbroath with 24 Supermarine Seafire L.IIIs. By VJ day, the squadron had spent a short period in HMS Queen, and had been anticipated to leave for the British Pacific Fleet with 9th Carrier Air Group.[1][5]

Post-war service

By the summer of 1947, 802 Squadron had switched to Seafire XVs operating from HMS Vengeance.[5] During the Korean War 802 Squadron was assigned to HMS Ocean, and equipped with Hawker Sea Fury's. Squadron pilot Lieutenant "Hoagy" Carmichael shot down a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 on 9 August 1952. Carmichael achieved this feat during a dogfight which started when a formation of four Sea Furys under his command were attacked by eight MiGs during a fighter bomber mission over Chinnampo.[6]

By the time of the Suez Crisis, 802 Squadron had transferred to HMS Ark Royal, and was equipped with Sea Hawk FB3s – one of these aircraft lost the front of a drop tank to ground fire[7] while the squadron was embarked aboard HMS Albion in September 1956. 802 Squadron re-equipped with Sea Hawk FB5s before transferring to the Ark Royal in May 1957. Following a trip to the United States, which included cross-operations with USS Saratoga, 802 Squadron completed two tours in the Mediterranean, the second of these starting in September 1958 aboard HMS Eagle, and ending with the disbandment of 802 Squadron at RNAS Lossiemouth on 10 April 1959. Plans to reform 802 Squadron at Yeovilton in 1979 with five British Aerospace Sea Harriers failed to materialise.[8]



  1. 1 2 "802 Squadron". Fleet Air Arm Archive. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  2. Sturtivant, p. 451
  3. Lake, Alan (1999). Flying Units of the RAF. Airlife Publishing Ltd. p. 276. ISBN 978-1-84037-086-7.
  4. 1 2 3 Sturtivant, Ray (1984). Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm. Air Britain (Historians) Ltd. p. 167. ISBN 0-85130-120-7.
  5. 1 2 Morgan, Eric B.; Shacklady, Edward (2000). Spitfire: The History. Stamford: Key Books Ltd. ISBN 0-946219-48-6.
  6. File 145, Sheet 2, World Aircraft Information Files
  7. File 146, Sheet 1, World Aircraft Information Files
  8. Sturtivant p. 169


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