Vale, Bismarck slayer

 Visiting the RN Historic Flight in 2008 to get re-acquainted with the Swordfish, the obsolete "flying stringbag" that proved so useful against both the Bismarck and at Taranto.

Jock visiting the RN Historic Flight in 2008 to get re-acquainted with the Swordfish, the obsolete “flying stringbag” that proved so useful against both the Bismarck and at Taranto.

Swordfish pilot Lt Cdr John ‘Jock’ Moffat  – credited with launching the torpedo which crippled the Bismarck in 1941 – has died at the age of 97.

The Scotsman, who always played down his role in the attack, was a lifelong champion of naval aviation and friend of the Fleet Air Arm.

2016 ends for Naval aviation as it began – with the loss of one of its greatest heroes.

The torpedo dropped by his Swordfish at dusk on May 26 1941 jammed the rudder of Hitler’s flagship.

Despite every effort by its crew, the battleship steamed in circles until the guns of the Royal Navy’s Home Fleet arrived the next morning to finish Bismarck off – and avenge the loss of the world-famous battle-cruiser Hood, which the German leviathan had blown up three days earlier.

The air strike carried out by the biplanes of HMS Victorious and Ark Royal at last light on May 26 had been Britain’s last hope of slowing or stopping the Bismarck before it reached the relative safety of waters off France.

With his crew of observer Sub Lt ‘Dusty’ Miller, and telegraphist/air gunner Albert Hayman, a 21-year-old Jock Moffat took off in Swordfish L9726 from the deck of Ark Royal and made for Bismarck, fighting against driving rain, low cloud and a Force 9 gale.

He flew in at 50 feet, barely skimming the surface of the waves, in a hail of bullets and shells, to get the best possible angle of attack on the ship and, at 9.05pm, dropped the fateful torpedo.

“When Churchill gave the order to sink the Bismarck, we knew we just had to stop her trail of devastation at all costs!” said Jock.

“We dived in through the murk, into a lethal storm of shells and bullets.

Bismarck’s guns erupted and in the hail of hot bullets and tracer, I couldn’t see any of the other Swordfish.

“I thought the closer we were to the water the better chance we had of surviving so we flew in bouncing off the tops of the waves – and it worked.

“The great thing about the Swordfish was that the bullets just went straight through. After all, it was only made of canvas. It was like David and Goliath!”

More on Jock, here.

The world is a little more gray today.

swordfish-attack-on-the-bismarchk

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as GUNS.com, Univesity of Guns, Outdoor Hub, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the US federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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