Crash rescue boat
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Crash Rescue Boat is a name used in the USA to describe military high-speed offshore rescue boats, similar in size and performance to Motor Torpedo Boats, used to rescue pilots and aircrews of crashed aircraft. During World War II these rescue boats, armed with light anti-aircraft guns for self-defense, saw extensive services with the British Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces.
From its inception in 1918 the RAF had seaplane tenders, which as part of Marine Craft Section, were used for rescue, but these were really only designed for refueling and rearming the seaplanes in service with the RAF. Development of a purpose-built boat for rescue began in 1932 with the 200 Class seaplane tenders, followed by the 100 Class ASR (Air Sea Rescue) boats which entered service in 1940. Perhaps the best known 100 Class boats were the 36 knot (67 km/h) British Power Boat Company Type Two 63 ft HSL, also known as the 'Whaleback' after their distinctive design.
Even after the introduction of rescue helicopters such as the Westland Dragonfly in 1953 the RAF continued to operate a fleet of Rescue/Target Towing Launches, the last of which were not retired until 1986.
The USAAF used 140 such 85-foot vessels in World War II, designed by Dair N. Long in 1944. The last of these boats has been restored by the AAF/USAF Crash Rescue Boat Association, a non-profit organization with the goal to preserve it for future generations. It is now owned by the West Coast Crash Rescue Boat Association.
These boats were also used during the Korean War, but were superseded by other boats, PBY Catalinas and other aircraft such as the 1946 purpose-built Sikorsky S-51 (civilian) /H-5 (USAAF) /H03S (USN) helicopters. The 22nd Crash Rescue Boat Squadron not only rescued pilots during the Korean War, but also conducted covert operations behind enemy lines.
- Seenotdienst (World War II Luftwaffe organisation that operated fast motor life boats)
- "The origins of Air/Sea Rescue". Royal Air Force. 2009.
- Haas, pp. 66 - 75.
- Haas, Michael E. (2002). Apollo's Warriors: US Air Force Special Operations During the Cold War University Press of the Pacific. ISBNs 1410200094, 978-1410200099.