Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
"CAM" was an acronym for "catapult aircraft merchantman" and a CAM ship was equipped with a rocket-propelled catapult launching a single Hawker Sea Hurricane, dubbed a "Hurricat" or "Catafighter". The ship was not fitted for landings so the pilot would bail out or ditch in the sea at the end of the flight and the plane would be lost. In 1940-41 35 ships were converted, starting with SS Michael E , and continued to carry their normal cargoes after conversion.
The first four or five ships were taken into Royal Navy service as Auxiliary Fighter Catapult Ships, but later conversions were manned by merchant crews. The aircraft were manned by pilots from the specially formed Merchant Ship Fighter Unit, based at RAF Speke near Liverpool.
In the two years that they were in service, only eight catapult launchings were made, and six enemy aircraft shot down with the loss of one RAF pilot. Twelve CAM ships were sunk through enemy action.
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