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Fairey Swordfish

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Fairey Swordfish
Description
RoleCarrier-borne biplane torpedo bomber
Crew3
First flightApril 17, 1934
Entered serviceJuly 1936
ManufacturerFairey, Blackburn
Dimensions
Length35 ft 8 in10.87 m
Wingspan45 ft 6 in13.87 m
Height12 ft 4 in3.76 m
Wing area542 ft²50.4 m²
Weights
Empty4,195 lb1,900 kg
Loaded7,720 lb3,500 kg
Maximum takeoff lb kg
Powerplant
Engines1 x Bristol Pegasus IIIM.3 or XXX radial
Power690 hp (IIIM.3)
750 hp (XXX)
510 kW
560 kW
Performance
Maximum speed138 mph at 5,000 ft222 km/h at 1,500 m
Combat range546 miles879 km
Ferry range1,025 miles1,650 km
Service ceiling19,250 ft5,870 m
Rate of climb1,220 ft/min370 m/min
Armament
Guns0.303 in Vickers machine gun in engine cowling
0.303 in Lewis or Vickers machine gun in rear cockpit
7.7 mm Vickers
7.7 mm Lewis gun
Bombs1,670 lb torpedo
or 1,500 lb mine
760 kg torpedo
or 700 kg mine
Rockets8 x 60 lb (30 kg) rocket projectiles (Mk.II and later)

The Fairey Swordfish was a torpedo bomber used by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during World War II. Affectionately known as the Stringbag by its crews, it was outdated by 1939, but achieved some spectacular successes during the war. It was operated as a primary attack aircraft into 1942, and not retired until 1945.

The Swordfish was based on the Fairey PV and was offered to the Royal Navy to fulfill a reconnaissance and torpedo attack role. The prototype TSR II first flew on April 17, 1934. It was a large biplane with a metal frame covered in fabric, with folding wings for carrier use. An order was placed in 1935 and the aircraft entered service in 1936. By 1939 the Royal Navy had thirteen squadrons equipped with the Swordfish.

The primary weapon was the torpedo, but the low speed of the biplane and the need for a long straight approach made it difficult to deliver against well defended targets. However, Swordfish flying from HMS Illustrious made a very significant strike, on November 11, 1940, against the Italian navy at Taranto, Italy and in May 1941 a Swordfish strike was vital in damaging the German battleship Bismarck. This successful attack may have given inspiration or confidence to the Japanese who would later attack Pearl Harbor. Swordfish also flew anti-shipping sorties from Malta.

The problems with the aircraft were starkly demonstrated in February 1942 when a strike on German cruisers in the English Channel resulted in the loss of all attacking aircraft. With the development of new torpedo attack aircraft the Swordfish was soon redeployed in an anti-submarine role, equipped with depth-charges or ten 27 kg rockets and flying from the smaller escort carriers or even Merchant Aircraft Carriers with RATO. The Swordfish was meant to be replaced by the Fairey Albacore, also a biplane, but actually outlived its intended successor. It was, however, succeeded by the Fairey Barracuda monoplane torpedo bomber.

The Mark II and Mark III variants were both introduced in 1943. The Mark II had metal lower wings to allow the use of rockets and the Mark III added a large centrimetric radar unit. Production ended in 1944 with the Mark IV, which had an enclosed cabin for use by the RCAF, and the aircraft was withdrawn from active service on May 21, 1945. Almost 2,400 had been built, 692 by Fairey and 1,699 in Sherburn by the Blackburn Aircraft Company, which were sometimes dubbed the "Blackfish". The most built version was the Mark II, of which 1,080 were made.


Specifications (variant described)

General characteristics

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Performance

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Related content
Related development None
Similar aircraft Fairey Albacore
Designation series Swordfish - Battle - Seafox - Fulmar - Albacore
Related lists List of aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm


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

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

de:Fairey Swordfish ja:ソードフィッシュ (雷撃機) no:Fairey Swordfish

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