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Slingsby Firefly
Vought Kingfisher float plane


703 Naval Air Squadron initially formed on 3 June 1942 as a long range catapult squadron operating the American built Vought Kingfisher float plane. The squadron's shore base was Lee-on-Solent with flights deployed on various armed merchant cruisers to carryout convoy patrol work. In addition the squadron operated 3 Walrus amphibians from a shore base in South Africa. The Squadron disbanded on 1 May 1944. It reformed again in April 1945 at Thorney Island as a trials squadron, called the Air Sea Warfare Development Unit. In this role it operated an extensive variety of aircraft including the Avenger, Barracuda, Firefly and Sea Mosquito.

Following a move to Ford in April 1950 it became the Service Trials unit and was involved in conducting trials on the flexible deck using Vampires. Additional tasks included testing of catapult and arrester gear on all carriers after refits and trials on the Carrier Approach System using the Fairey Firefly. In 1954 703 NAS conducted trials on the Gannet AS1 and Wyvern prior to disbanding in August 1955.

It was not until 22 January 1972 when 703 NAS reformed again, this time at Portland as the Wasp training squadron, a role it would continue to fulfil until disbanding on 1 January 1981. 703 NAS reformed once again as a training squadron in 2003 at RAF Barskton Heath as the Royal Navy's Elementary Flying Training Squadron operating the Slingsby Firefly as part of the Defence Elementary Training School. In 2009 the squadron replaced the Firefly with the Grob Tutor.

"Motto: Experentia docet" - "Experience teaches"