715 (1) July 1936 - January 1940
The unit number 715 was
first used for a Catapult Flight of the Fleet Air
Arm of the RAF. The flight formed on July 15th 1936, under the command of Lt. Cdr E. O. F. Price, RN, by renumbering No.403 (Catapult) Flight, to operate in ships of the 5th Cruiser Squadron in the China Station The flight had its shore based
Headquarters at Kai Tak airport, Hong Kong with a
satellite at Wei-Hai-Wei in northern China. The
Flight initially operated Osprey III seaplanes
embarked in the County Class Cruisers HMS BERWICK,
HMS DORSETSHIRE and HMS KENT; these began to give
way to Walruses from September 1936, the Ospreys
being withdrawn by July 1937.
The Flight was
reorganised in 1937, BERWICK and KENT were withdrawn
for major refits, and the Flight took over
responsibility for aircraft in HMS BIRMINGHAM, HMS
CORNWALL, HMS CUMBERLAND and HMS SUFFOLK. By the end
of 1937 the Flight was elevated to squadron status.
On May 24th 1939 The Squadron was transferred to
Admiralty control, it was operating 7 Walruses in 5
cruisers, using both Kai Talc and Seletar,
Singapore, as shore bases.
In January 1940 all Catapult Squadrons were merged into No.700 Squadron which was to assume responsibility for all ships flights; No.715 Squadron was disbanded at RAF Kai Tak on 21 January 1940
715 (2) August 1944 - March 1946
Formation and work-up
No.715 Squadron reformed at RNAS St Merryn on August 17th 1944, when Lt. Cdr (A) R.E. Gardner DSC RNVR, (in command) with Lieutenants I. F. Voller and C. V.Atkinson, RNVR broke away from No.736 Squadron to operate as the Fighter Wing of the School of Air Combat (later renamed School of Naval Air Warfare).
The new squadron was tasked to operate Fighter Air Combat Instructor and Fighter Leaders Courses, training pilots in the principles of air combat using a collection of Spitfire, Seafire, and Corsairs. Two Miles Master trainers were also available, shared with 736; and from January 1945 a small number of Harvard trainers were also received. A further 6 pilots arrived in September, when courses began.
Pilots undertook a six week course involving both classroom and flying instruction with 9 separate flying exercises which had to be mastered in order to pass the course;
Exercise F1, range estimations and holding a steady sight:
Exercise F2, judging line of flight
Exercise: F3, Steady deflection shot: Exercise F4, attacks from opposite course:
Exercise F5, affiliation with Barracudas: Exercise F6, Half roll attacks from above and below:
Exercise F7, Barrel roll attacks:
Air to Air firing:
Gyro gun sight exercises.
With the exception of the air to air firing, all exercises were filmed using 16mm gun cameras so that the pupil’s performance could be assessed. An example of this is Lt. Cdr J.G. Large RNVR
 who attended course number 6. He flew 52 hours in 16 different Seafires during his course. A total of 41 flights, 32 gun camera simulations and 9 air to air firing. He commenced the course on September 11th 1944 and passed out as an air combat instructor on October 19th. He was appointed to number 2 Naval Air Fighter School (761 Squadron) at RNAS Henstridge in November 1944.
Command of the squadron
passed to Lt. Cdr D.G. Carlisle DSC, SANF(V) on
December 12th 1944 and to Lt. Cdr F.R.A. Turnbull
DSC & Bar RN on June 28th 1945. There were 22 pilots
on the squadron strength when the war ended.
Training continued for several months after the end of the war, but on March 31st 1946 No.715 squadron disbanded, and was reabsorbed by No.736 Squadron.
 Watch the gun camera footage
from his course
21 December 2016
Sources used in compiling this account:
Sturtivant, R. & Burrows, M. (1995)'Fleet Air Arm
Aircraft 1939 to 1945' Tonbridge Wells, Air Britain
Sturtivant, R & Balance, T., (1994)'Squadrons of the
Fleet Air Arm' Tonbridge Wells, Air Britain (Historians)