727 NAS

727 Naval Air Squadron

During their training at BRNC Dartmouth all Officer Cadet Pilots are sent to 727 NAS for a short flying course called Grading. For many this is their first contact with flying aircraft and for others it will build upon previous experience.

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727 NAS not only has the remit of assessing potential pilots but also to promote the Fleet Air Arm as a career for young people leaving school, university or from civilian life.

The core of 727 NAS operations is the Flying Grading Course. This consists of 13 hours flying in Grob 115E Tutor aircraft.

About the aircraft:-

G Limits: +6G to -3G
Seating: 2
Power: 180bhp
Max Speed: 185kts
Cruise Speed: 120kts
Range: 500nm
Fuel: 140litres
Length: 7.6m
Wingspan: 10m
Wing Area: 12.2m
Manoeuvre: Aerobatics and Spinning

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Unit History

Formation1943

727 Naval Air Squadron formed during World War 2 on 26 May 1943 at Gibraltar with obsolete Fairey Swordfish, Hawker Hurricane IIc and Bolton-Paul Defiant aircraft. They operated to support the fleet with tracking and target towing aircraft from detachments in Tafanoni, Blida and Bizerta in North Africa.

Decommissioned1944

Post a move to Ta Kali, Malta the squadron was disbanded on 7 Dec 1944.

Re-commission1946

23 Apr 1946 saw the squadron re-commissioned at RNAS Gosport using a collection of deHaviland Tiger Moth, Supermarine SeaFire, Fairey Firefly and North American Harvard aircraft to provide air courses for junior Royal Navy and Royal Marine officers.

Britannia Royal Naval College1949

Whilst 727 NAS was still operating the Britannia Royal Naval College began operating deHavilland Tiger Moth aircraft for officer cadet flying experience. Throughout the ‘50s detachments and summer camps were conducted in various aircraft including Taylorcraft Auster, deHavilland Chipmunk and Miles Messenger.

Second Disbandment1950

With cadet flying being undertaken by Britannia Royal Naval College, 727 NAS was disbanded for a second time on 17 Jan 1950.

Third Commission1956

On the 4th January 1956 the Squadron reformed as the Dartmouth Cadet Air Training Squadron and operated the Sea Balliol from RNAS Brawdy in Pembrokeshire.

Disbandment again1960

The squadron continued to operate throughout the 50’ using Sea Vampires, a Sea Prince and two Westland Dragonfly helicopters before disbanding again on 16 December 1960.

Flying Grading1961

Most naval air stations had a couple of Tiger Moths which would congregate for summer camps, however the RN decided to collate them at Roborough, Devon to begin flying grading its aviators. This aimed at identifying those that would succeed at further flying training and continue to become the aviators of the future.

Conversion to deHavilland Chipmunk1966

By the end of 1966 the ageing Tiger Moths were replaced with seven deHavilland Chipmunk aircraft. Recreational and summer camps continued between grading courses.

Conversion to Grob 115D Tutor aircraft1994

A new contract with Shorts Brothers saw the replacement of the Chipmunk with five Grob 115D Tutor aircraft.

RN Grading Flight commissioned as 727 NAS2001

On 6 December 2001 the RN Grading Flight was commissioned as 727 NAS. A very fitting Squadron number as 727 NAS had conducted very similar activity post WWII.

Upgrade2004

The Grob 115D aircraft were replaced in 2004 with Grob 115E aircraft. These had a three bladed variable pitch propeller, a slightly uprated engine and a much improved avionics fit.

Move to RNAS Yeovilton2006

727 NAS moved out of Roborough, where it had operated for approximately 45 years, to the hub of naval aviation, RNAS Yeovilton. Here the young officers and cadets would experience operating in a busy operational air station.

Babcock International takeover the civilian contract2010

A share holder buyout saw Babcock International Group plc take over the running of the civilian contract and maintain continuity of service to 727 NAS.

New Propeller2013

During the latter half of 2013 the 727 NAS aircraft all underwent a major upgrade program to include a new propeller and upgraded oil system.

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Commanding Officer Jim Ashlin

Rank: Lieutenant Commander

Lieutenant Commander Jim Ashlin joined the Royal Navy in 1997, he assumed command of 727 NAS in June 2015.

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