Kit supplied history
Of somewhat antiquated appearance, the Swordfish became universally known as the “Stringbag” soon after entering service. Despite its lack of speed and awkward configuration, the Swordfish possessed such exceptional handling qualities that it won the unqualified respect and lasting affection of many pilots who came to fly the aircraft.
In 1933 the Fairey Aviation Co. Ltd, with its long tradition of design and construction of naval aircraft produced as a private venture a new three-seat torpedo-reconnaissance biplane, powered by Britstol Pegasus II M radial engine, designated T.S.R. I which was followed in 1934 by the T.S.R.II. developed to meet the new and more advanced Air Ministry specification for a triple-role naval aircraft.
The initial production contract placed was for 68 aircraft and the first of these began to come off the line at Fairey’s Hayes works early in 1936. The production aircraft was styled the Swordfish Mk.I and the first squadron to equip with the new biplane was No. 825, who exchanged their Fairey Seals for the Swordfish in July, 1936. A total of thirteen Squadrons were operational by September, 1939. During the war, thirteen additional first-line Squadrons were equipped with the Swordfish, so that, collectively, twenty six different Squadrons saw active service with this exceptional biplane.
Early in 1940teh Fairey Co. was very heavily engaged in the manufacture of the Fleet Air Arm so that the Director of Air Material at the Admiralty proposed to Blackburn Aircraft Ltd. that Swordfish production should be transferred to this firm.
Initial deliveries from Blackburn were of the Swordfish Mk.I, but in 1943, this variant was superseded by the Mk.II which had metal undersurfaces to the lower wings, stressed for rocket projectile launching, and by the Mk.III, which carried an A.S.V. Mk.X radar in a radome mounted between the undercarriage legs.
The attack mounted against the Italian Fleet on November 11, 1940 at Taranto was undoubtedly the crowning achievement in the Swordfish’s distinguished career, and remains a landmark in the annals of naval air warfare. Swordfish were also engaged in the expit chase which ended in the destruction of the Bismarck on May 27, 1941. It was Lt-Cdr. Esmonde’s squadron, No. 825, which was later involved in the calamitous but gallant attack on the German battleships Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prince Eugen as they slipped through the English Channel from Brest on February 12, 1942. This tragic episode was to mark the end of the use of the Swordfish in the torpedo-bomber role. With A.S.V. radar antenna, depth charges or rocket projectiles, this exceptional old biplane went on instead to make a new name for itself as a submarine killer extraordinary, operating in the main from merchant aircraft carriers. Faireys and Blackburn had manufactured a total of 2392 aircraft.
Technical specification (Swordfish Mk.I)
Wingspan: 45ft 6in. (13.87m)
Length: 36ft 1in. (11.00m)
Maximum speed: 139mph (224 km/h) at 4,750 ft (1,450m)
Service ceiling: 12,400 ft (3,780m)
Range: 770 miles (1,240 km)