The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia
|Previous: Swing, Joseph M.||Table of Contents||Next: Sydney|
Fairey Swordfish Mk.I
|Dimensions||45'6" by 35'8" by 12'4"
13.87m by 10.87m by 3.76m
|Maximum speed||138 mph at 5000 feet
222 km/h at 1500 meters
|Climb rate||8 feet per second
2.4 meters per second
|Service ceiling||12,400 feet
|Power plant||1 690 hp (514 kW) Bristol Pegasus IIIM3 nine-cylinder radial engine driving a three bladed propeller.|
fixed machine gun (nose)
1 0.303 flexible machine gun (rear cockpit)
|External stores||1 1610 lb (730 kg) torpedo or 1500 lb (680 kg) mine or equivalent in bombs|
|Range||546 miles (879 km) with full load
|Production||2391 by Fairey-Blackburn from 1935 to 1944-6
Mk.II had a more powerful engine and rocket
racks under the lower wings. The lower wings were metal skinned to take
the weight of the rockets.
The Fairey Swordfish, known as "Stringbag" to its crews, was a painfully obsolete aircraft, typical of what the Fleet Air Arm had to work with early in the war. Though very maneuverable, it was also very slow. It was more successful than it had any right to be, but this was mostly because it was employed in the Atlantic and other distant areas where enemy naval air opposition was ineffective. Its two greatest feats were crippling the Bismarck (where there was no enemy air opposition at all, and the Bismarck's antiaircraft fire proved astonishingly ineffective) and sinking two Italian battleships at Taranto (where the raid went in at night and achieved a considerable measure of surprise.) The Swordfish was almost entirely ineffective in the Malaya campaign, where it was present in small numbers, and the British Far East Fleet was fortunate to never meet a Japanese carrier task force head on.
The design dated to 1933, with the prototype first
flying on 17 April 1934. The Swordfish entered squadron service in July
1936. It was officially designated as a torpedo-spotter-reconnaissance aircraft, or TSR, intended to locate the enemy fleet, slow it with torpedo strikes, then spot the gunfire
of the British battle line when it caught up with the enemy: "Find,
Fix, and Strike", as the Fleet Air Arm motto expressed it. Production
continued as late as June 1944, in part because of the
failure of its intended successors.
It has been speculated that the reason for the success of the Swordfish against the Bismarck is that the antiaircraft directors on the Bismarck were not designed with so slow an aircraft in mind.
The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia © 2007, 2009, 2014 by Kent G. Budge. Index
Comment on this article