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Faiery TSR.II / Swordfish


Swordfish II

In 1933 the Fairey Aviation Company privately financed and built the TSR.1, a biplane torpedo spotter reconnaissance aircraft, from which the Swordfish evolved. Although the first TSR.I crashed, it had undergone sufficient tests to prove the feasibility of the design, and Fairey built the TSR.II, a slightly larger aircraft. It was designed by Marcelle Lobelle to meet the Naval Spec S.15/33.

First flying from Harmondsworth on 17 April 1934, and after numerous modifications a specification (S.38/34) was written around the aircraft. Official testing proved it to be a stable and reliable aircraft. The fuselage, 36ft 4in long, was rectangular in section and featured a bolted steel-tube frame. The aft portion was fabric-covered, but detachable metal panels, for easy access, were fitted from the cockpit for-ward. The crew consisted of a pilot, navigator and bomb-aimer.

The equal-span biplane wings were of fabric-covered metal construction, and the upper wing centre section was attached to the fuselage by a pyramid structure and carried the hoisting sling. The lower wings were braced to the fuselage by an inverted V-strut. The wing cellules could be manually folded for compact storage. The leading edge of the upper wing was fitted with Handley Page slots, and ailerons were fitted to both upper and lower wings.

The undercarriage used medium-pressure tyres and pneumatic brakes. Each of the main units consisted of an oleo shock-absorber leg connected to the lower centre-section front spar, and two inner struts hinged to the fuselage. The design was strengthened to withstand catapult launches and arrester-hook landings. Early production Swordfish, built to Air Ministry Specification S.33/34, were powered by an air-cooled 690 hp Bristol Pegasus IIIM3 radial engine. Blessed with superb handling characteristics, the Swordfish performed extremely well on carrier-borne operations, being able to operate from pitching decks in stormy conditions. It had a range of 546 miles and a maximum speed of 138 mph at 5,000ft.




The first batch of production Fairey Swordfish rolled off the assembly line during December 1935, and were operating with the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm (FAA) within two months. By 1939, on the eve of the Second World War, there were 13 operational squadrons of the type. A total of 689 aircraft had been delivered or were on order.

The Swordfish Mk I's defensive armament comprised a fixed forward-firing synchronised Vickers machine-gun and a movable Vickers K gun on a Fairey high-speed mounting in the rear cockpit. The offensive load could be a single 18in 1,610 lb torpedo, or one 1,500 lb mine, or 1,500 lb of bombs. The Mk II, which appeared in 1943, had a strengthened lower wing capable of carrying eight 601b rocket projectiles.

The final production version, the Mk III, had an ASV Mk X radar scanner in a radome under the fuselage. In Canada, canopy equipped Mk.IIs and IIIs were designated Mk IVs. The No 1 Naval Air Gunners School at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, operated 105 Swordfish. Considered obsolete at the beginning of the war, the Swordfish outlived its successors and survived the war with an impressive battle record; the type is credited with sinking a greater tonnage of Axis shipping than any other torpedo bomber.    
The Swordfish first made big news in the seaplane form, when a Swordfish catapulted from HMS Warspite not only spotted for the British naval force during the battle in Ofot Fiord, Norway, on April 13, 1940, but itself bombed and sank a submarine and fin-ished off an enemy destroyer that had been dam-aged by the ships.

Seven months later, Swordfish from the carrier Illustrious achieved one of the most spectacular successes in naval air warfare. In two waves or twelve and nine aircraft, they dived into Taranto Harbour under cover of darkness and launched their bombs and torpedoes to such effect that three Italian battleships, a cruiser and two destroyers were seriously damaged, two naval auxiliaries sunk and shore installations heavily damaged -all for a loss of two Swordfish. Another major success was achieved on May 26, 1941, when Swordfish of 818 Squadron so crippled the battleship Bismarck that the Navy was able to intercept and sink it. The well remembered attack on the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in the Channel cost the lives of 13 of the 18 men who took part.

Outliving its intended replacements, the Fairey Albacore and Barracuda, the Swordfish served until the war's end. Production ended on 18 August 1944, by which time a total of 2,396 Swordfish were built.




Engine: Bristol Pegasus, 690 hp
Wingspan: 45 ft 6 in
Length: 36 ft 4 in
Takeoff weight: 9250 lb
Max speed: 139 mph
Seats: 2-3


Swordfish Mk II
Engine: 1 x Bristol Pegasus XXX, 559kW / 740 hp
Max take-off weight: 3406 kg / 7509 lb
Empty weight: 2132 kg / 4700 lb
Wing loading: 12.3 lb/sq.ft / 60.0 kg/sq.m
Wingspan: 13.87 m / 45 ft 6 in
Length: 10.87 m / 35 ft 8 in
Height: 3.76 m / 12 ft 4 in
Wing area: 56.39 sq.m / 606.98 sq ft
Max. speed: 120 kt / 222 km/h / 138 mph
Cruise speed: 104 kt / 193 km/h / 120 mph
Service ceiling: 3260 m / 10700 ft
Range: 1658 km / 1030 miles
Armament: 2 x 7.7mm machine-guns, 1 x 730kg torpedo or 680kg of bombs
Crew: 2-3



Fairey Swordfish



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