Fairey Barracuda

Missing image
Fairey Barracuda

The Fairey Barracuda was a British carrier-borne torpedo- and dive-bomber used during World War II, the first of its type to be fabricated entirely from metal. It was introduced to the Fleet Air Arm as a replacement for the Fairey Swordfish and Fairey Albacore biplanes. It is famous for its role in attacking the German battleship Tirpitz, and is widely regarded as one of the ugliest aircraft to enter production.

The Barracuda resulted from Air Ministry Specification S.24/37 issued in 1937 for a monoplane torpedo bomber. Fairey Aviation's design was selected from six submissions, and two prototypes were ordered. The first prototype flew on December 7 1940. It had a high-wing configuration, with large Youngman flaps that doubled as dive brakes. Originally fitted with a conventional tail, flight tests suggested stability would be improved by mounting the stabiliser higher, similar to a T-tail. The Barracuda was originally intended to use the Rolls-Royce Exe engine but production of this powerplant was abandoned which delayed the prototype's trials. The prototypes eventually flew with the lower-powered Rolls-Royce Merlin 30 engine (1,260 hp) and a three-bladed propeller. Further experience with the prototypes and the first production machines (Mk I) revealed the aircraft to be underpowered as a result of the weight of extra equipment that had been added since the initial design. Only 30 Mk Is were built (including five by Westland) and were used only for trials and conversion training.

Replacing the Merlin 30 with the more powerful Merlin 32 12-cylinder Vee type (1,600 hp) and a four-bladed propeller to resulted in the definitive Mk II variant of which 1,688 were manufactured by Fairey (675), Blackburn (700), Boulton Paul (300), and Westland (13).

The first Barracudas entered service on January 10, 1943 with No. 827 Squadron and were deployed in the North Atlantic. The following year they entered service in the Pacific Theatre. The Barracuda first saw action with No. 810 Squadron during the Salerno landings. They eventually would equip 23 front-line squadrons. From 1944 onwards, the Mk IIs were accompanied in service by radar-equipped (but otherwise similar) TB Mk IIIs which were used for anti-submarine patrols. 852 Mk IIIs were eventually produced (406 by Fairey, 392 by Boulton Paul).

The Mk IV never left the drawing board, so the next and final version of the Barracuda was the Mk V which replaced the Merlin powerplant with a Rolls-Royce Griffon and featured various aerodynamic changes. The Mk V did not take to the air until November 16, 1944, and only 30 were built by Fairey before the war in Europe was over.

The Barracuda continued in Fleet Air Arm service until the mid 1950s, by which time they were all replaced by Grumman Avengers. Not a single example exists today, although the Fleet Air Arm Museum has large pieces of wreckage from two crashed aircraft and hopes to collect enough parts to eventually assemble a complete example for static display.

During the earlier part of its service life the Barracuda suffered a fairly high rate of unexplained fatal crashes, often involving experienced pilots. In 1945 this was traced to small leaks developing in the hydraulic system. The commonest point for the leak was at the point of entry to the pilot's pressure gauge and was situated such that the resulting spray went straight to the pilot's face. The chosen hydraulic fluid contained ether and as the aircraft rarely were equipped with oxygen masks (and few aircrew wore them below 10,000 feet anyway) the pilot quickly became unconscious leading to a crash. An Admiralty order issued at the end of May 1945 required all examples of the type to be oxygen fitted as soon as possible, and for pilots to use the system at all times.


Specifications (Mk II)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 3
  • Length: 39 ft 9 in (12.12 m)
  • Wingspan: 49 ft 2 in (14.99 m)
  • Height: 15 ft 1 in (4.60 m)
  • Wing area: 367 ft² (34 m²)
  • Empty: 9,350 lb (4,241 kg)
  • Loaded: lb ( kg)
  • Maximum takeoff: 14,100 lb (6,396 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 x Rolls-Royce Merlin 32, 1,640 hp (1,223 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 210 mph (338 km/h)
  • Range: 724 miles (1,165 km)
  • Service ceiling: 21,600 ft (6,585 m)
  • Rate of climb: ft/min ( m/min)
  • Wing loading: lb/ft² ( kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: hp/lb ( kW/kg)


  • 2 x .303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns in rear cockpit
  • 1,600 lb (726 kg) torpedo or equivalent weight in bombs, depth charges, or mines

Related content

Related development: None

Comparable aircraft: TBF Avenger - Nakajima B6N

Designation series: Fulmar - Albacore - Barracuda - Firefly - Spearfish

See also

Lists of Aircraft | Aircraft manufacturers | Aircraft engines | Aircraft engine manufacturers

Airports | Airlines | Air forces | Aircraft weapons | Missiles | Timeline of aviation


  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (https://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Art)
    • Architecture (https://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Architecture)
    • Cultures (https://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Cultures)
    • Music (https://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Music)
    • Musical Instruments (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/List_of_musical_instruments)
  • Biographies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Biographies)
  • Clipart (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Clipart)
  • Geography (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Geography)
    • Countries of the World (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Countries)
    • Maps (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Maps)
    • Flags (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Flags)
    • Continents (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Continents)
  • History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History)
    • Ancient Civilizations (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Ancient_Civilizations)
    • Industrial Revolution (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Industrial_Revolution)
    • Middle Ages (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Middle_Ages)
    • Prehistory (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Prehistory)
    • Renaissance (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Renaissance)
    • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
    • United States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/United_States)
    • Wars (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Wars)
    • World History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History_of_the_world)
  • Human Body (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Human_Body)
  • Mathematics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Mathematics)
  • Reference (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Reference)
  • Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Science)
    • Animals (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Animals)
    • Aviation (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Aviation)
    • Dinosaurs (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Dinosaurs)
    • Earth (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Earth)
    • Inventions (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Inventions)
    • Physical Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Physical_Science)
    • Plants (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Plants)
    • Scientists (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Scientists)
  • Social Studies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Social_Studies)
    • Anthropology (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Anthropology)
    • Economics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Economics)
    • Government (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Government)
    • Religion (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Religion)
    • Holidays (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Holidays)
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Solar_System)
    • Planets (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Planets)
  • Sports (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Sports)
  • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
  • Weather (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Weather)
  • US States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/US_States)


  • Home Page (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php)
  • Contact Us (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Contactus)

  • Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)
Personal tools