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Fairey Swordfish II (HS618)

Developed from the early Fairey TSR.1 and TSR.II projects, the Fairey Swordfish first flew in 1934 and fully entered service in 1936. A total of 2391(2) were built and the fighting career of a great naval aircraft came to an end in 1945. Pilots remember the Swordfish as a reliable but uncomfortable aircraft. Known as the "Stringbag" it saw action during the Battle of the Atlantic, on Russian convoys, and over the Mediterranean and Indian Oceans.

Swordfish operating from HMS Ark Royal in 1941 successfully torpedoed the German battleship Bismarck resulting in her finally being sunk by the home fleet. Fitted with early Air-to-surface vessel radar and wing mounted rockets the Swordfish became an effective submarine hunter, with the first sinking of a submarine using rockets being achieved by a Swordfish on 23 May 1943.

An unsuccessful, but nevertheless heroic attack was made on the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst, Gniesenau and Prinz Eugen in the English Channel in February 1942 using Swordfish aircraft.

Often regarded as the finest achievement of the Swordfish, was the attack on the Italian Fleet in Taranto harbour on the night of November 11th 1940. That night 21 Swordfish operating from HMS Illustrious changed the balance of naval power in the Mediterranean.

The Museum's Aircraft - Fairey Swordfish Mk II HS618

This aircraft actually served in the Battle of the Atlantic. It was built under licence by Blackburn Aircraft Ltd and delivered to 834 Naval Air Squadron in May 1943. It was then embarked in HMS Hunter, an Escort Carrier lent to Britain by the United States Government. HMS Hunter served with the British Western Approaches Command in Atlantic convoy defence. During severe weather HS618 was badly damaged in the ships hangar when it was struck by a Seafire that had broken loose. Although no longer airworthy, HS618 was retained as an instructional airframe.

This aircraft has been painted to represent Swordfish Mk 1 P4139 in the colours of 813 Naval Air Squadron for a previous exhibition.

Aircraft Name

Aircraft names often follow a theme as a manufacturer devlops a series of aeroplanes. Fairey Aviation used the Tunny Fish (Tuna family) names for a series of its naval, hunter killer type aircraft. The Swordfish was one along with the Fairey Barracuda and Albacore aircraft.

Many aircraft designed for use by the Royal Navy are given a name with a maritime connection, in this case 'Swordfish'. Swordfish are fast predatory gamefish found in the tropical oceans. They can grow to 3m long and use their bills or 'swords' to slash at smaller fish.



Technical Specification

Role - Carrier based torpedo-spotter-reconnaissance, anti submarine

Manufacturers - Fairey Aviation Ltd

Span - 45ft 6ins

Engine - 690hp Bristol Pegasus III Mk 3 or 750hp Pegasus XXX

Wingspan - 45ft 6ins

Length - 36ft 4ins

Height - 12ft 10ins

Weight (loaded) - 9250lbs

Max Speed - 139mph

Armament - One 18in 1610lb torpedo, or one 1500lb mine, or 1500lbs of bombs or eight 60lb rockets. One forward firing Vickers machine gun and single Vickers or Lewis gun in rear cockpit

Other exhibits in this hall

  • de Havilland Vampire T22 de Havilland Vampire T22
  • Focke Achgelis FA330A-1 (100545) Focke Achgelis FA330A-1 (100545)
  • Grumman Martlet AL246 Grumman Martlet AL246
  • Fairey Fulmar (N1854) Fairey Fulmar (N1854)
  • Westland Dragonfly HR5 (WN493) Westland Dragonfly HR5 (WN493)
  • Hawker Sea Fury FB11 (WJ231) Hawker Sea Fury FB11 (WJ231)
  • LIM2 (MIG 15 copy) (01420/G-BMZF) LIM2 (MIG 15 copy) (01420/G-BMZF)
  • de Havilland Sea Vampire de Havilland Sea Vampire

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