Gannet XA356

Aircraft History

Type:  AS.1
Delivered:  8May1956
Side Numbers: 829(M)
History: Served with 816 Sqn. Crashed 30/03/60 on landing on HMAS Melbourne.Flown by Lt P McNay RAN 816 Sqdn. Aircraft sank on approach and struck round down, port mainplane sheared off at root and aircraft came to rest on it side. 
Disposal:   After stripping for spares, airframe disposed over the side of HMAS Melbourne.

Gannet829-1There are not many photographs of XA356 readily available.  Here she can be seen fifth from the left, in an impressive line up of Gannets and Venoms.

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Fairey Gannet, HMAS Melbourne

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Above: After striking the round-down XA356 slid along the deck, shearing off the port wing and coming to rest on its side with arrestor cables wrapped around the cockpit area.

Right and below. Stripped of every morsel of useful gear, the fuselage section is committed to Davey Jones’ Locker. (RAN Images via Jeff Chartier)

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“I came in to land with everything going smoothly. As I approached the stern of the ship, my port engine failed and, with the resultant loss of power, I sank rapidly, hitting the ‘round down’, bouncing onto the deck and rolling on to my port side. This manoeuvre tore off the port wing and I slid down the deck on my side towards the edge. Finally, I caught a wire, or should I say a wire caught me, wrapping itself around my cockpit, bringing me to a halt. After turning everything off to avert a possible fire, I attempted to open my canopy, which was hydraulically operated. Nothing happened as the arrester wire, which was under tons of pressure, kept it from opening. The next thing I saw was an axe trying to break through the canopy. All I could think of was the darned thing coming straight through and collecting my skull! However, my saviour arrived in the form of Charlie Morris, our Squadron Electrical Officer and former Olympic hammer thrower.  He literally grabbed the poor young Naval Airman, who was only trying to do the job he was trained for, and threw him off the fuselage. He then grabbed the wire and, with an enormous heave, lifted it just sufficiently to enable the canopy to slide open under its own momentum, having already been activated.”  Peter McNay, pilot.