Admiral VAT Smith - The extraordinary life of the father of Australia’s Fleet Air Arm

Graeme Lunn, hardback with dustjacket, full colour, fully illustrated, 250 x 176mm, 248 pages, Avonmore Books, 2024. ISBN 9780645700480 RRP $49.95 DUE JULY 2024

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Admiral VAT Smith - The extraordinary life of the father of Australia’s Fleet Air Arm

Graeme Lunn, hardback with dustjacket, full colour, fully illustrated, 250 x 176mm, 248 pages, Avonmore Books, 2024. ISBN 9780645700480 RRP $49.95 DUE JULY 2024

Admiral Sir Victor Alfred Trumper "VAT" Smith AC KBE CB DSC MiD RAN is a towering figure in Australian naval circles, his extraordinary career spanning almost 50 years. As the first graduate of the Royal Australian Naval College to be promoted full admiral he was the founding father of the Australian Fleet Air Arm.
Joining the navy in 1927 aged thirteen, Smith specialised in aviation. As the senior observer of a Royal Navy Swordfish squadron, he led the first mass torpedo strike against a major warship at sea, the daring attack on the battlecruiser Scharnhorst off Norway in 1940. Then, at Churchill's insistence, he embarked the very first catapult fighter for convoy protection. His subsequent service in two-seat Fairey Fulmar fighters saw him twice shot down in the Mediterranean and escape the torpedoed HMS Ark Royal in 1941.
Recalled to Australia to fly Walrus amphibians, Smith survived the August 1942 destruction of HMAS Canberra at the Battle of Savo Island. Returning to Europe he served in the escort carrier HMS Tracker in the Atlantic and Arctic before participating in the Normandy landings.
Postwar he was closely involved in the Australian decision to develop a carrier-based Fleet Air Arm and was executive officer of the carrier HMAS Sydney in the Korean War. Command of frigates, an air station and the carrier HMAS Melbourne followed. As Chief of Naval Staff, he dispatched forces to the war in Vietnam before serving as Chairman of the tri-service Chiefs of Staff in the 1970s.

Graeme Lunn

Originally from Melbourne, Graeme Lunn served as a naval diver before entering the Royal Australian Naval College in 1976. He attended the University of New South Wales for a Bachelor of Arts degree and found a love for history there. He later added a master's degree in military history from the University of New England.
After flying training, Graeme's Fleet Air Arm postings included HC723 and HU816 squadrons with the venerable Wessex. He did an exchange posting with the RNZN flying the Wasp whose short endurance helped him accrue 1,749 deck landings.
On return from New Zealand in 1988 the prospect of a desk job in Canberra was not enticing, so he joined British Airways. During a 33-year career he subsequently qualified on almost the entire Boeing range (B737, B757, B767, B777, B747 and B787). After 22,000 flying hours he retired (compulsorily) when he turned 65 and moved permanently back to New Zealand where his wife Rowan hails from. Graeme's mission is to make the history of Australia's naval aviators from 1911 more widely known.


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