Description: RAN Tally Band – HMAS Albatross – circa 1970s
Maker’s Name: N/A
Condition: Very Good
Comments: Royal Australian Navy – Tally Band – HMAS Albatross – circa 1970s.
The second HMAS Albatross is the Fleet Air Arm’s base near Nowra in New South Wales, about 2 hours drive south of Sydney, hence the alternative title “(Naval Air Station) “NAS Nowra”.
Albatross is the home of the RAN’s entire air fleet, which currently consists of four flying squadrons:
* 723 Squadron – Eurocopter Ecureuil and Agusta A109E
* 808 Squadron – Eurocopter MRH 90
* 816 Squadron – Sikorsky Seahawk
* 817 Squadron – Westland Sea King
The current site of HMAS Albatross was identified in 1938 and land was purchased in June 1939. Construction proceeded at what seems to be a leisurely pace considering it was war time, until the base was declared operational in July 1941. The airfield was used by squadrons of the Beaufort torpedo bombers of Royal Australian Air Force when it opened in 1942. Martin Marauder bombers of the USAAF were also based there in 1942-1943 for training as torpedo bombers.
In 1944, the need for the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy for shore bases led to RAAF Nowra, due to its proximity to Jervis Bay, being transferred to the RN, being renamed HMS Nabbington. This base was used by Mobile Overseas Naval Air Base (MONAB) No. 1 from 21 December 1944 to 15 November 1945. The base supported the British Pacific Fleet’s aircraft carriers by providing shore based facilities for the Carrier Air Groups when the carriers were in Sydney for repairs and resupply. At the end of the Pacific War the British Pacific Fleet returned through its main base in Australia and FAA Squadrons transited through HMS Nabbington until it was decommissioned on 15 November 1945.
Since 1986 there have been Learjet target tugs based at Albatross, operated by civilian companies under contract to the RAN. The first company was Lloyd Aviation, then from 1990 to 1996 Fleet Support (a company later bought by National Jet Systems) and from 1996 until the present Pel-Air. Each company has used four to five Learjet 35/36 series aircraft to provide the services; present incumbent Pel-Air also uses IAI Westwinds for non target-towing support operations.
The naval base had the unusual distinction of being shared by a small civilian passenger terminal, which at various times was utilised by the Masling and later Hazelton Airlines companies flying small propeller driven aircraft on scheduled services for the Nowra community. Until 2004, the Royal Australian Navy Gliding Association (RANGA) also operated from the runways at Albatross with a small fleet of gliders used by both Navy and civilian members.