By John Sweatman

Two different launches. The smaller one presumably not a rescue vessel.

A view from the very early 1960's. The dredger Foremost Prince is at the left.

2754 is a 68' RTTL (Rescue & Target Towing Launch) built in 1956, capable of 39 knots! You're quite right, 1196 is a Pinnace, a 'maid of all work' for the RAF. - Andy, Editor

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'RAF LAUNCHES' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'RAF LAUNCHES' page

Peter Fox

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'RAF LAUNCHES' page

Peter Fox

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'RAF LAUNCHES' page

Peter Fox

This page was added by John Sweatman on 14/03/2010.
Comments about this page

I have just visited the RAF Museum at Hendon which has two of these craft on display outside in the open. While chatting with the restoration team on my visit, they said they may try to have these craft displayed in a covered area in the future to prevent the ravages of weather. At present they are on cradles and not in their natural environment i.e Afloat on water! so they tend to dry out which affects the integrity of the hull planking. The ones at the Museum are the same as the craft pictured, i.e. one is a 'Target towing launch' and the other a 'General service pinnace'. Another recent addition to the Museum is the 'Sea plane tender' which paid a visit to Newhaven during early May 2010, and which is now being made ready to place alongside the 'Sunderland flying boat' in one of the display halls at the Museum. Hendon is an excellent museum which is well worth a visit.

By Chris Young
On 31/05/2010

I'm pleased I found these photographs and information as I used to serve on these air sea rescue boats while serving in the RAF from 1968-1973 at RAF Mountbatten, Plymouth, 1151 M.C.U  Malta and Alnes in Scotland. This made my day.

By colin hay
On 03/03/2011

The RTTL shown in the picture was refitted and posted to Gibraltar in '71 or '2 , she joined 2753 there, I was a electrician in Gib from 1970 to 73. She was the boat that sank in the Med a few years later, 'allegedly' her hull collapsed. Much more likely she caught a semi submerged container, we had several close calls with them during my time there.

By tonykenny
On 02/07/2011

Hi Tony, here are some photos of the last moments of 2754. I am not sure what date this happened but I seem to recall it was about '74 ish, (I'm sure someone will correct me!) and more to the point nobody was lost or hurt during the 'incident'. I agree with you about 'semi-submerged' containers - they were/are a real danger. 

By Peter Fox
On 07/08/2012

My dad (the engineer Jim Beard) was on 2754 around 1972. My sister was born in Gibraltar and I went to St Georges School which became the Casino. I remember seeing these boats.

By Mark Beard
On 18/09/2012

You are correct Chris Y. The launches will deteriorate. I took my son to Hendon in 2005. The pair were both outside on the cradles then and the same thing was said . 'They are to be put inside soon'. We will see. Our old C.O. At Newhaven used to say ' Ah the RTTL. 68 feet of snarling driftwood ' or occasionally referred to as 'A high speed navigational hazard'.  Driftwood is how the pair will finish if they aren't enclosed. A point on 2754. A view was put up that it was a case that the hull did collapse. She was in a following sea and for whatever reason, she dug her nose in and at any speed , other than slow ahead she will become something the hull wasn't designed to be'' A submarine''.

Finally are there any photos existing of HMAFV 2760 who broke from her moorings in Mountbatten in late 70-early 71? She wound up on the rocks on the other side of the harbour. My lasting memory of her , when she was hauled out onto Mountbatten slip was her pair of rudders. they looked to have been made of dough. Regards to all, Barry Ogle, 26 Jan 2013

By Barry Ogle
On 26/01/2013

I was one of the chaps who got on to 2760 when she went ashore on the rocks at Queens Anns battery. We inflated a life-raft in the sick bay to give the radio fitters time to recover the very valuable gear on board. There were many people on the pan as we dragged the hull on to the cradle with a pinnace that had managed to pull her of the rocks. The chippy in charge was an S.A.C. No one else wanted to be responsible.

By Peter Saupe
On 22/02/2013

Are you sure it was a pinnace that pulled 2760 off the rocks Pete, I thought it was the RSL. I know mate, I was on it! I was on duty that night and what a night it was, after almost sinking the marine tender in the storm, we got back to the marine dock and in the glare of the searchlight saw 2760 slipping backwards towards one of the seal craft. We shot back out to drop the anchor (after a frightening clamber aboard), but too late to hold her, fendered her off other craft and she shot across to the rocks. We then got the RSL to try to pull her off.

By Chips Essex
On 02/03/2013

You could be right Chips, its a long time ago. Am I right in thinking the mooring bouy was still attached to 2760 as it had failed at the swivel.   I do remember it was a filthy night weather wise.

By Peter Saupe
On 05/03/2013

Just found this interesting page and reading about 2760 brings back some memories of the night. I had been to the New Inn at Turnchapel and was on my way back to the Block with one or two under my belt when I was stopped by a F/S from MT. I was told to go down to the MT Yard and get the towing tractor as I was the only "Chippy" at the time on the slipping party and authorised to drive the tractor. We managed to get a cradle onto the slip and into the water as we always had at least one cradle set up for each type of craft just in case of an emergency such as this. First attempt to get her sitting on the cradle correctly did not go well so after letting some of the water drain out we put her back in and get her into the squats ready for slipping. Once on dry land she was chocked and made safe ready for the, "part timers" who were still in their beds and unaware of what had happened over night assess the damage in the morning. Us at the sharp end finished around 4 in the morning. One thing that did stand out was that a Sgt. from the Mess supplied some soup for which he got a CO's recommendation the workers who were wet and cold got the next morning off.

By Mick Humble
On 11/01/2014

I have great interest in this article my father was the coxswain on watch that night and he told me this story he was in charge of the RSL 1667 I believe it was a very rough night.

By Andy Manuell
On 02/11/2015

Hello, whilst a serving SAC cook at RAF Brawdy S.W.Wales, I had the good fortune to be detached in 76 to RAF MCU at Tenby, Pembrokeshire as the Station cook, based on Tenby Harbour our C.O was the late Warrent Officer Wilf Hardy MBE .. Of Tenby and One Pinnace I do Remember was 1388. I know I have photo's somewhere, including crew of the day .... Any further information you or your readers may have would be most welcome..... 


By Christopher Fairlie
On 09/01/2016

I saw on the news recentlly a celebration of the war service of HSL's and motor torpedo boats in Portsmouth harbour and was amazed to see Pinnace 1202 taking part, this was a boat I spent time on while serving in the RAF at the marine craft unit at Marsalokk in Malta  in 1959, a real nostalgic moment.

By Anthony Plummer
On 05/09/2016

I am looking for pictures or info about HSL2660 from the second world war as my grandfather was the F/S on this boat and putting together a photo history for my mum. Any info or pictures would be greatly appreciated.

By Van Weston
On 17/02/2017

I was the last radio op on 2764 in 1978. What a boat! We got a million foot pennant for our paying off ceremony in Valletta harbour. I borrowed it and donated it to Hendon where it should be now. My oppo on 2771 was Rod Rush.......hope he is alive and well.

By Gareth Jones
On 25/12/2017

Still alive and well. Did 5 years on the marine branch, 1/2 my service. The most enjoyable time of my working life. 

By Rod Rush
On 29/12/2017

 Re:- RTTL 2754 

I served in Gib from 1975 to 77 on the MCU and was there when she went down. 1976 I think. It was not long after this that we got our first metal hull. Seal.

By Mike Evans
On 01/04/2018

Yes I was on 2760 that night, and it was a  RSL that pulled us off the rocks.

By Peter Willie Whittaker
On 09/05/2018

I was posted from RAF Mount Batten 1964 to MCU Tenby were Staff SGT  Hardy was the boss there. I served till 1966 when I Demobed and served on that pinnace absolute brilliant time before this time serving at MB I was on thr RTTL 2756  fibre Glass Hull and the fastest boat in the RAF. One crew member I remember was Colin Harbin, did any one else serve during this time? please write some thing QQ

By Anthony Bertie
On 31/08/2018

2768 and 2771 were the boats in Malta, I was crew there 75-77. As Rod Rush can testify, he still has our kayaking endeavours etched in his memory! 

By Jeffrey Lewis
On 16/09/2019

As many have already said about the Hendon exhibits, wooden boats die when kept out of water! especially salt water which is why old vessels had their decks scrubbed with salt water to kill off any growth and preserve the timber. The very reason Cutty Sark  and HMS Victory suffer so much is the fresh water (rainwater) runs off the decks and through the ships and leeches the natural oils from the timbers and causes rot, they are now just patched up shells of the great ships they once were.

I remember going to the Duxford museum in the early days, they had a very old original whaleback type torpedo boat that was even then in poor condition! It ended up being scrapped like many more....when removed from a salt water environment.

Same thing at St Catherine's dock, they took them on as exhibits to swell their coffers but didn't  maintain them, so sad to see our maritime heritage reduced to propped up old relics of the once proud vessels they were.

By David
On 20/09/2020

I served on both the boats at the museum at Hendon and was part of the crew that took the RTTL on it’s last trip from Plymouth to London. 

Nigel Thornton


By Nigel Thornton
On 28/06/2021

As remembrance day approaches, here is a British Pathe film link back to 1955, with RAF launch 2749 at sea, laying a wreath of poppies off Newhaven.


By John Hills
On 09/11/2021

Hello fellas, 

looking for info on RAF Saul and the exploits of your mob in Gloucestershire c April 1943 to December 1944.

By Louis Paul Barnett
On 29/12/2021

I was training at Mountbatten in 1955 when a Liner ran aground just outside the billet block. At low tide, RAF personnel (I was one of them) helped passengers clamber over the rocks. I remember a photo in a local newspaper, but have found no such photo. Does anyone else remember the episode, if so have you got the photograph.

By B.T Hodkinson
On 04/06/2023

B.T. Hodkinson. The small Norwegian Liner Venus ran aground May 5th, 1955.

 (link to pictures)  LINK TO VIDEO

There are some photos online if you google her and the date. 

By Rob Patten
On 19/07/2023

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