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Help save the Fairey Barracuda from extinction

Fairey Barracuda DP872. Restoration of the World's only WW2 Fairey Barracuda torpedo bomber.

Over 2500 Barracuda aircraft were delivered to the Fleet Air Arm, more than any other type ordered by the Royal Navy to date. Unlike other more iconic aircraft of its era none were retained for posterity and no complete examples exist today.

Since the early 1970s the Fleet Air Arm Museum has been collecting Barracuda components from a wide variety of sources throughout the British Isles, with the long term aim of rebuilding a Barracuda.

Nose, centre section and wing components from Barracuda DP872 were the first to be collected and have since formed the basis of the rebuild. Says Dave Morris Curator of Aircraft "some restoration work on the nose section was started in the 1990s, however, the enormity of the task coupled with lack of funds meant no further significant progress was made until now".

Barracuda layout Barracuda layout

In 2010 the Museum’s Engineering Dept. laid out the many hundreds of  components retrieved over the preceding forty years into a life-size outline plan of the aircraft and begun the process of identification and assessment of the task ahead.

Resembling a crime scene investigation this assessment soon revealed that an impressively high amount of original material had been obtained.

In 2011 an agreement was formed between Newcastle based engineer Bill Smith and the ‘Blue Bird Project’ Team to handle the complex straightening and reformation of the crumpled components.

Barracuda airs scoop before complex straightening and reformation Barracuda airs scoop before complex straightening and reformation

Bluebird Project team was formed to rebuild Donald Campbell’s record breaking speed boat ‘Bluebird’ that was recovered from Coniston Lake in 2001. Led by Bill Smith the team of volunteers developed processes for reforming extremely crumpled, broken and often unidentifiable lumps of wreckage, back into usable components.  FAAM was drawn to this approach because, if it could be applied to aircraft restoration, a rebuilt Barracuda could contain very high amounts of original material.

An informal agreement was reached between Bluebird Project and FAAM for the reconstruction of a test section, to explore what could be done. A splendid piece of work resulted in the rebuilt tail section being completed by the end of 2014.  This arrangement with BlueBird Project is now concluded and the work has been brought back in house to continue with the reconstruction. 

Barracuda airs scoop after straightening and reformation Barracuda airs scoop after straightening and reformation



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