Royal Air Force Air Sea Rescue Launch Color Photographs

During the Second World War the Royal Air Force operated a fleet of small boats and aircraft with the primary mission of performing search and rescue operations. They were organized as the RAF Marine Branch (much to the chagrin of the Royal Navy) with the motto of “The sea shall not have them”. The service eventually grew to over 300 High Speed Launches and 1,000 other vessels of various types.
While the RAF Marine Branch was formed with the intention of rescuing RAF airmen downed at sea, in practice they rescued airmen and sailors of any nation under the ancient seafaring tradition of coming to the aid of any person in danger at sea. By the end of WWII it was estimated that the Marine Branch had saved the lives of over 8,000 airmen and 5,000 sailors.
An unusual view of High Speed Launch 2586 on a beaching dolly provides a fine view of her hull form. This is a British Power Boat “68 footer” derived from a torpedo boat design. Armament was intended for self-defense and was contained in power-operated turrets as used on RAF bombers.
This is a series of photographs showing the acceptance inspection of HSL 2562 in February 1942. The inspection team is comprised mainly of personnel from the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.
The launches carried high visibility markings for easy identification as rescue vessels and to help coordinate rescue efforts from the air. These photographs reveal several details of interest to modelers.
Despite their humanitarian mission, the boats were subject to attack. Visible here are splinter mats around the conning station to help protect the crew.
All photographs are from the collect of the Imperial War Museum.

6 thoughts on “Royal Air Force Air Sea Rescue Launch Color Photographs

  1. Thanks so much for this Jeff, definitely a subject we’ve read/heard about on the periphery during our reading about the RAF or 8th AF ops, but rarely read/see anything about them directly. Definitely a subject I’d be interested in modeling one day.
    Did Airfix produce a kit in 1/72nd?

    Liked by 2 people

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