Royal Navy Biplanes -
Fairey Swordfish and Albacore
The Swordfish needs little introduction. Slow and agricultural in appearance, the
Fairey Swordfish was an immensely robust and stable weapons platform that saw the
RN through WW2, outlasting its replacement (the Albacore) and fighting with distinction
in every theatre of the war. Easy to fly, perfectly tuned to carrier operations and
powered by the faithful and trustworthy Bristol Pegasus engine, it made a significant
contribution to the war effort. BAC 2010 -
The aircraft represented by this model flew with 820 Sqn from HMS COURAGEOUS and
from ashore at RAF North Coates, until the squadron was re-
The Swordfish is another unsung Matchbox biplane gem, currently available from Revell
and seen here with Aeromaster after-
This model represents the aircraft flown at Taranto by the CO of 815 Sqn, Lt Cdr K Williamson DSO, with Observer NJ "Blood" Scarlett RN. Williamson led the first attack wave, sinking the Battleship Conte de Cavour.
Williamson's aircraft was subsequently shot down, with he and his observer taken as PoWs. The aircraft was recovered by the italians and a picture of her can be seen here: http://www.fleetairarmarchive.net/aircraft/faacapturedaircrafthomepage.html
Although the Swordfish normally carried a crew of 3, Pilot, Observer and Telegraphist Air Gunner (TAG), for this long range raid, the Observer's normal position was occupied by an auxiliary fuel tank and the TAG was not carried.
The old Airfix Swordfish is well past its sell-
In May 1941, after the devastating shock loss of HMS HOOD during the Battle of the Denmark Strait, the honour and spirit of the Royal Navy depended on the rapid destruction of the German surface raider BISMARCK. The entire Home Fleet, plus the Gibraltar based Force H were deployed to stop BISMARCK reaching the safety of a French port.
An initial attack in atrocious weather by Swordfish from HMS VICTORIOUS was ineffective,
but a follow-
The aircraft represented by this model was flown by Sub Lieutenant AWD Beale, with Observer SLt C Friend and TAG L/A K Pimlott, during the critical final action against the BISMARCK on 26 May 1941. Beale became disorientated in the poor visibility and flew back to the shadowing cruiser HMS SUFFOLK for directions. As a result he approached the BISMARCK from a different direction from the other ships, registering a torpedo hit amidships.
This is the MPM enhanced kit, with Cooperativa (ex-
Another of the Swordfish's most famous encounters was the disastrous 1942 Channel Dash
Lt Cdr Eugene Esmonde VC DSO RN, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for leading a desperate attack in a Swordfish aircraft of 825 Naval Air Squadron. Esmonde and his men knew that most of them would die before they took off; yet still they went.
Citation for VC
"On 12 February 1942 in the Straits of Dover, off England, Lieutenant Commander Esmonde
led his squadron of six Swordfish to the attack of two German battle cruisers the
Scharnhorst and the cruiser Prinz Eugen, which were entering the Straits strongly
escorted by surface craft. Detached from their escorting fighters (just 10 in number)
by enemy fighters, all the aircraft of the squadron were damaged, but even after
......The Fleet Air Arm Historic Flight Swordfish about to take off at Yeovilton 2003
Pegasus manufactured a range of interesting and unusual short run kits in the 1980s. The Albacore builds into a nice replica, but it is not one for the beginner. Kit decals are excellent, however in this case I had just finished reading Lt Cdr Donald Judd's autobiography, "Avenger From the Sky", so was determined to do one of 826's western desert based aircraft with Black undersides.
The Albacore was intended as a replacement for the venerable Swordfish, but in the end its predecessor outlived it. Nevertheless, it was a reliable and popular aircraft, that achieved notable success in many roles. This was especially true over the Mediterranean and in the Western Desert, where RN Pilots provided close support and Strike missions for the 7th Armoured Division/Desert Rats, operating against Italian and German forces.
Background Picture -
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