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Great Britain's Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber

Photos

  • Fairey Swordfish reconnaissance
  • Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber
  • Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber
  • Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber
  • Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber
  • Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber
  • Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber
  • Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber
  • Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber
  • Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber
  • Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber
  • Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber
  • Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber
  • Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber Part 1
  • Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber Part 2
  • Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber Part 3
  • Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber Part 4
  • Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber Part 5
  • 1941 torpedo-bomber comparison
  • 1941 Torpedo-bomber production comparison

Design

The design of the Swordfish was designed to meet Air Ministry Specification S.38/34.

The bi-plane had an open cockpit. The frame was metal with a fabric covering and was very resilient to damage. The pilot used "Gosport tubes" to communicate to the other crew.

The 7.7 mm Vickers in the front was synchronized to fire through the propeller.

The Swordfish had a metal frame with a fabric cover.

Wings

To allow more room on a carrier the wings of the Swordfish could be folded back.

Landing Gear

The Swordfish's gear could be replaced by floats.

Prototype

The prototype, known as the T.S.R. II, was flown on April 17, 1934 / 1934. Part of the trials was a catapult launch off of the HMS Repulse.

Production

Between 1934 and August 18, 1944 2,391 / 2,396 Swordfish were produced. Blackburn constructed 1,699 Swordfish.

  • Swordfish: 2,396
    • Manufacturer: Fairey Aviation Co. Ltd., Blackburn
    • Production: ? - August 18, 1944, 1940 - mid 1944
  • Swordfish Mk I:
  • Swordfish Mk II:
  • Swordfish Mk III:
  • Swordfish Mk IV:

Variants

  • TSR II: Prototype.
  • Swordfish Mk I: Met Specification S.38/34. Slight swept back top wing.
  • Swordfish Mk II: Stronger lower wing to allow for the mounting of rockets.
  • Swordfish Mk III: Had a radar (ASV Mk 10) scanner between the mainwheels.
  • Swordfish Mk IV: Conversion of a Mk II to have a enclosed cabin. Used by Canada.
  • Floatplane: Had floatplanes, but the drag and weight reduced its speed a lot.

Usage

Entered service with the Fleet Air Arm in 1936 (July 1936) and was known as the "Stringbag."

At the start of the war there were 13 squadrons in the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. A total of 689 Swordfishes had been delivered.

The first U-Boat sunk by the Fleet Air Arm was made by the Swordfish on April 13, 1940.

Swordfish sank more ships than all the Royal Navy's battleships combined.

Taranto

Twenty one Swordfish were used in the attack against the Italian fleet at Taranto on November 11, 1940. They took off from the HMS Illustrious. Two battleships, a cruiser, and a destroyer were sunk.

Bismarck

Swordfishes were key in slowing down the Bismarck in its last battle.

Channel Dash

Swordfishes were used in the near suicidal attack on the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and Prinz Eugen during their escape through the English Channel in February 1942.

The End

On May 21, 1945 the last Swordfish squadron was disbanded.

Specifications

  Fairey Swordfish
Type Mine Laying, Reconnaissance, Torpedo-bomber
Crew 2 - 3, 3
Pilot, observer / gunner
Engine (Type) 1: Bristol Pegasus III
1: Bristol Pegasus XXX
Cylinders Radial, Radial 9
Cooling Air
HP 700, 750
Dimensions  
Span 45' 6"
13.87 m
Length - Landplane 35' 8", 36' 4"
10. 9 m
Length - Seaplane 40' 6"
12.3 m
Height 12' 10"
Height - Landplane 12' 4"
3.75 m
Height - Seaplane 14' 7"
4.45 m
Weight  
Empty - Landplane 4,700 lb
2,134 kg
Loaded 7,700 lb
Loaded - Reconnaissance 6,750 lb
3,065 kg
Loaded - Seaplane 7,510 lb
3,410 kg
Performance  
Speed 150 mph
Speed at 5,000' / 1,525 m
Reconnaissance Landplane
144 mph
230.4 kph
Speed at 5,000' / 1,525 m
Torpedo-Bomber Landplane
138 mph
220.6 kph
Speed at 5,000' / 1,525 m
Reconnaissance Seaplane
134 mph
214.4 kph
Speed at 5,000' / 1,525 m
Torpedo-Bomber Seaplane
125 mph
204.8 kph
Range 750 miles
Armament  
Fuselage 1: MG
1: 0.303" Vickers MG
Rear cockpit 1: MG
1: 0.303" Vickers MG
Bombs / Torpedo 1,500 lb
680 kg
OR  
Rockets - HE 8: 60 lb
8: 27.2 kg
OR  
Rockets - AP 8: 25 lb
8: 11.4 kg
  Fairey Swordfish Mk I
Type Torpedo, Torpedo-bomber
Crew - torpedo 2, 3
Crew - reconnaissance 3
Engine (Type) 1: Bristol Pegasus III M.3
1: Bristol Pegasus III
OR 1: Bristol Pegasus XXX
Cylinders Radial 9
Cooling Air
HP 690
Propeller blades 3
Dimensions  
Span 45' 6"
Length 36' 4"
Height 12' 10"
Weight  
Loaded 9,250 lb
Performance  
Speed @ 4,750' 139 mph
Service ceiling 10,700'
Range 546 miles
Armament  
Forward firing 1: MG
Rear cockpit 1: MG
Torpedo 1: 1,610 lb
OR  
Bombs 1,496 lb
OR  
Rockets 8
  Fairey Swordfish Mk II
Type Torpedo-bomber, Reconnaissance, Anti submarine
Crew 2-3, 3
Pilot, radio operator/gunner
Engine (Type) 1: Bristol Pegasus XXX piston
Cylinders Radial, Radial-9
HP 750
Propeller blades 3
Dimensions  
Span 45', 45' 6"
12.87 m, 13.87 m
Length 35' 8", 36'
10.87 m
Height 12', 12' 4"
3.76 m
Wing area 607 ft2
56.39 m2
Weight  
Empty 4,690 lb, 4,700 lb
2,132 kg
Loaded 7,493 lb, 7,510 lb
3,406 kg, 3,407 kg
Performance  
Speed 138 mph
222 kph
Speed at
sea level
138 mph
222 kph
Climb 1,220' per minute
372 m per minute
Service ceiling 10,690', 19,250'
3,260 m, 5,865 m, 5,867 m
Range 546 miles, 1,028 miles
879 km, 1,658 km
Armament  
Fuselage 1: 7.7 mm Vickers MG
Forward firing 1: 7.7 mm / 0.303" MG
Rear cockpit 1: 7.7 mm Lewis or Vickers K MG
1: 7.7 mm / 0.303" MG
Torpedo 1: 1,600 lb
1: 18" / 45.7 cm
1: 730 kg
1: 0.457 m
OR  
Bombs 1,500 lb
680 kg
OR  
Rockets 8
8: 60 lb
8: 27.2 kg
  Fairey Swordfish Mk III
Type Torpedo-bomber
Crew 2
Engine (Type) 1: Bristol Pegasus XXX
  Fairey Swordfish Mk IV
Type Trainer
Crew 3
Engine (Type) 1: Bristol Pegasus XXX

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  4. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  5. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
  6. Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II, 1989
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