Fairey Albacore: In the shadow of the Swordfish

27 Feb

It’s difficult making a name for yourself when you have a popular sibling. All the more worse when you strongly resemble and are often confused for them as well. Such is the case of the Fairy Albacore, the intended replacement for the famous Swordfish torpedo bomber.

The Albacore was Fairey aviation’s intended follow up to its Swordfish torpedo bomber then (1936) entering service with the Fleet Air Arm (FAA). The Albacore seemed like the next logical step following the Swordfish. Compared to its predecessor, the Albacore had an enclosed cockpit Vs. the open air one on the Swordfish, possessed increased speed (161mph vs 139mph) and could carry 2,000 lbs. of bombs vs. 1,500lbs on the former aircraft. Both aircraft had similar range, were armed with a single forward firing 303. machine gun and a rear firing 303. K-gun and both carried the standard 1,670 lb. aerial torpedo.  The Albacore also had some unique features for the day such as cockpit heating, a wiper for the windscreen and a dinghy that automatically deployed in case the crew needed to ditch in the sea.

But acceptance would prove to be difficult for the Albacore. There was really not much wrong with the aircraft expect that the elevator and ailerons controls were heavy. In fact it was very steady in a dive , the cockpit provided excellent visibility and recovery after dropping a torpedo was described as being smooth. All in all it was a sturdy, reliable aircraft, but so was the older Swordfish,which had almost the same combat prowess. The big difference was that the Swordfish had unbelievable agility,could be mastered with great ease and had already become very popular with FAA pilots.

The Albacore entered FAA in 1940, before the Swordfish had gained a name for itself. The” Applecore” as its crews nick named it, started its war by supporting the Allied evacuation of Dunkirk, battled E-boats off the Zeebrugge and attacked shipping and harbor installations in occupied France, initially flying from bases in the UK. In March 1941 flying from the HMS Formidable, Albacores torpedoed the Italian battleship Vittorio Veneto during the Battle of Cape Matapan. The torpedo hit on her aft port side braking the outboard shaft and sheering off the port screw. After extensive flooding aft Veneto, the most powerful Italian surface present had to exit the battle.

Later in 1942 Albacores made the only airborne torpedo attack on the German battleship Tirpitz while she was at sea, missing her bow by mere feet. The Albacores also flew out of the besieged island fortress of Malta, at times almost totally running out of aircraft due to attrition. During and following the siege they attacked Axis shipping, provided flare illumination for the bombardment of Pantellaria island, and provided support during the invasion of Sicily.

At a peak of equipping 15 FAA squadrons the Albacore started to vanish from front line use in 1943 when its production was stopped. It was replaced by the Fairey Barracuda and Grumman Avenger in most squadrons. It had fought hard and well and while popular with ts crews it was never as well loved as the Swordfish, which continued to serve from escort carriers and land bases up to the very end of the war. The Albacore’s was an unsung war, one in which it served alongside the aircraft it was to replace and was also outlived by it. On top of that many people contribute its exploits to the Swordfish due to their similar appearance. But the old “Applecore” was a tough aircraft whose crews fought hard during Britain’s darkest days and proved that they lacked not an ounce of courage that their brothers flying in the Swordfish had demonstrated.

General characteristics

  • Crew: Three
  • Length: 39 ft 10 in (12.14 m)
  • Wingspan: 50 ft 0 in (15.24 m)
  • Height: 14 ft 2 in (4.62 m)
  • Wing area: 623 ft² (57.9 m²)
  • Empty weight: 7,250 lb (3,295 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 10,460 lb (4,755 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 12,600 lb  (5,727 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1× Bristol Taurus II (Taurus XII) 14-cylinder radial engine, 1,065 hp (1,130 hp) (794 kW (840 kw))

Performance

  • Maximum Speed: 140 kn (161 mph, 259 km/h)
  • Cruise Speed: 122 kn (140 mph, 225 km/h) (maximum cruise)
  • Stall Speed: 47 kn (54 mph, 87 km/h) (flaps down)
  • Range: 817 nmi (930 mi, 1,497 km) (with torpedo)
  • Service ceiling: 20,700 ft (6,310 m)
  • Climb to 6000 ft 8 min

Armament

  • Guns:
    • 1 × fixed, forward-firing .303in (7.7 mm) machine gun in starboard wing
    • 1 or 2 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers K machine gun in rear cockpit.
  • Bombs: 1 × 1,670 lb (760 kg) torpedo or 2,000 lb (907 kg) bombs
Advertisements

3 Responses to “Fairey Albacore: In the shadow of the Swordfish”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Fairey Albacore: In the shadow of the Swordfish (via It’s World War!) » » Calgary Recreational & Ultralight Flying ClubCalgary Recreational & Ultralight Flying Club - Current Aviation News, Videos, Photos, Classifieds, Calendar, - February 28, 2011

    […] Fairey Albacore: In the shadow of the Swordfish It’s difficult making a name for yourself when you have a popular sibling. All the more worse when you strongly resemble and are often confused for them as well. Such is the case of the Fairy Albacore, the intended replacement for the famous Swordfish torpedo bomber. The Albacore was Fairey aviation’s intended follow up to its Swordfish torpedo bomber then (1936) entering service with the Fleet Air Arm (FAA). The Albacore seemed like the next log … Read More […]

  2. Fairey Albacore: In the shadow of the Swordfish (via It’s World War!) « Calgary Recreational and Ultralight Flying Club - February 28, 2011

    […] Fairey Albacore: In the shadow of the Swordfish (via It’s World War!) 28 02 2011 It's difficult making a name for yourself when you have a popular sibling. All the more worse when you strongly resemble and are often confused for them as well. Such is the case of the Fairy Albacore, the intended replacement for the famous Swordfish torpedo bomber. The Albacore was Fairey aviation's intended follow up to its Swordfish torpedo bomber then (1936) entering service with the Fleet Air Arm (FAA). The Albacore seemed like the next log … Read More […]

  3. Fairey Albacore: In the shadow of the Swordfish (via It’s World War!) « Calgary Recreational and Ultralight Flying Club - February 28, 2011

    […] Fairey Albacore: In the shadow of the Swordfish (via It’s World War!) 28 02 2011 It's difficult making a name for yourself when you have a popular sibling. All the more worse when you strongly resemble and are often confused for them as well. Such is the case of the Fairy Albacore, the intended replacement for the famous Swordfish torpedo bomber. The Albacore was Fairey aviation's intended follow up to its Swordfish torpedo bomber then (1936) entering service with the Fleet Air Arm (FAA). The Albacore seemed like the next log … Read More […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: