Fairey Swordfish (1935)

Fleet Air Arm 1935-43: 2,391 built.

The proverbial British torpedo bomber

The "string bag", Swordfish, made by the British Fairey company, is fondly remembered now, cementing its place in the hall of fame of aviation due to its actions during WW2 and showing fighting qualities that outshined many other biplanes of the era. The formula was so great that its designated successor, Albacore, was not only also a biplane, but never really shadowed it. Neither this one of the ungainly Barracuda that followed, a monoplane, never reached the same fame and adoration. Now, beyond the myth, let's see the plane itself technically, and if these were its qualities, the pilots, the tactic/training or the events that made its so special.

the legendary fairey swordfish

Fairey's saga with the Royal Navy

Fairey Aviation started like many others in WWI: In 1915, it was funded by Charles Richard Fairey (more on WWI planes), and started as the main supplier of the Royal Naval Air Service right away, providing the Royal Navy models such as the Hamble Baby, F.2, Campania, Fairey III and N.9 in 1917-18. The Campania, operated from its namesake converted liner as a seaplane carrier, was the world's first tailored aircraft for such use. The interwar saw the company dividing its assets, the Propeller Division (Fairey-Reed Airscrews) in the Hayes factory, using Sylvanus Albert Reed patents, and main manufacturing plant at North Hyde Road, Hayes (Middlesex), flights tests being made at Northolt Aerodrome, Great West Aerodrome and Heston Airport and White Waltham in WW2 and afterwards. The company diversified but got bankrupt in 1960. In between it gave aviation history many great models (and others less so), always close to the Royal Navy. It had also ties with Belgium, through the engineer Ernest Oscar Tips joining the company early on, and later Marcel Lobelle. In 1935, the main production took place in the Heaton Chapel Stockport factory, from which emerged the monoplane Bomber Hendon, the Battle, Albacore, Fulmar, Firefly and Barracuda. But it's for a biplane, the Swordsfish, that the company is best remembered for. The last model developed for the Navy was the Gannet, an ASW turboprop model deployed on all British aircraft carriers in the 1950s-70s. This was Fairey's last great "navy bird".

Gloster Gauntlet and Fairey Swordfish, 1936

Development of the Swordfish

The Swordsfish is in part the result of a competition between Blackburn and Fairey over these multirole torpedo/bomber/recce biplanes the RN wanted. At the base of this industrial rivalry was the WWI fairey III, a dependable torpedo-Bomber answered by the Blackburn Blackburn. The model III was so sturdy and dependable it's career went on until ...1941. Naturally, it was chosen as a base to develop in 1928 the next model, the Fairey Seal (first flight 1930), developed from the prototype Fairey IIIF Mk VI. It saw limited production and Blackburn sold more of its Blackburn Shark, which first flew in 1933 and replaced it. By the way, the Shark was produced until 1939 (although already obsolete by 1937) and soldiered for the duration of WW2, but it was largely ecplised by the next model from Fairey. At this juncture, Fairey indeed wanted to improve the Seal.

In 1933 Fairey indeed started development of an entirely new three-seat reconnaissance/torpedo bomber, soon receiving the internal designation T.S.R. I ("Torpedo-Spotter-Reconnaissance I"). The reason a single plane was tasked for so many roles was a reflection od British Aircraft carriers of the time, which had a limited capacity, contracry to USN later CVs, which emphasized the largest air group possible. Instead of starting with an improvement of the Seal, the company however stuck to a biplane configuration, propelled by a single 645 hp Bristol Pegasus IIM radial engine. In 1933, this choice was already a controversial one, as all companies now were turning their efforts to develop monoplanes. This would come to an age in 1935 only however, after first attempt, mostly fixed-undercarriage models of 1933-35.

Fairey reasons for maintening it's biplane configuration however at the time sounded reasonable and well-thought. The biplane configuration was already well-known and ensured a quicker development than a brand new venture (a leap the company made alreeady years ago with the Hendon, not a sucess). The biplane configuration advantages largely matched its role: Priority was range, not speed. It was believed at the time that reconnaissance aircraft needed to be either biplanes or parasol monoplanes to ensure the best visibility. Cantilever monoplanes were notorious for their poor all-round visibility, akin the extreme competition planes that were developed. A biplane brould more sustentation, so more range and also more stability, which was ideal, both for reconnaissance and dropping a torpedo perfectly in line. It was also a configuration ideal for the well-winded decks of aircraft carriers and landed more smoothly, and on shorter distances.


Fairey also choose to quickstatrt this development outside any official specifications, a self-financed private venture. Future navy specifications were an educated guess, which proved correct. Development of the T.S.R. I however at least followed another Air Ministry Specification, S.9/30, for which Fairey developed a broadly similar aircraft with a Rolls-Royce Kestrel engine and new fin and rudder configuration. The T.S.R.I's development also came from a proposal to the Greek Naval Air Service, requested replacement for their Fairey IIIF Mk.IIIB. The TSR-I also shadowed the air ministry specifications M.1/30 and S.9/30. When its prototype was sufficiently advanced, Fairey informed the Air Ministry of their latest project, since the Greeks renounced the order. They proposed it to match the requirements for a spotter-reconnaissance plane in 1933, but the next year the Air Ministry issued S.15/33, adding the torpedo bomber role to it. This all checked Fairey's boxes for its TSR-I, hich first flew on 21 March 1933. Immatriculated F1875, it took off at West Aerodrome, Heathrow, piloted by Chris Staniland. After various flights it was re-engined with an Armstrong Siddeley Tiger radial, flew again, then adopted the Pegasus engine now retuned. These flights were done to test the flight envelope and determine its flight characteristics. On 11 September 1933, the prototype was lost however during spinning tests, but fortunately the pilot parachuted and survived the incident.


Despite its accident, the TSR-I however displayed very favourable performance, so fairey decided to go on with the next iteration, the T.S.R II prototype, now perfectly matching the Specification S.15/33. On 17 April 1934, T.S.R II (K4190) was flown by Staniland, propelled by the latest, more powerful Pegasus engine. It also shown an additional bay within the rear fuselage to combat the plane's spin habits. The upper wing was also slightly swept back to keep balance due to the longer fuselage, plus a few more aerodynamic fixes at the rear. The flight test programme was concluded well, and the prototype was moved to Fairey's factory in Hamble-le-Rice (Hampshire) to be tested with a twin-float undercarriage as per Navy request. On 10 November 1934, the seaplane variant of the TSR.II flew and performed its water-handling trials, and then aircraft catapult tests, recovery tests (onboard HMS Repulse). It was given back its wheeled undercarriage and started official evaluation by the state-owned Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (RAF Martlesham Heath).

Pre-production tests (1934-36)

Having met all the requirements in 1935, the MoD ordered a first pre-production batch of three aircraft. By then, the T.S.R II was named "Swordfish" and registered as such within the air ministry and the navy. The three pre-production models had the Pegasus IIIM3 with a new three-blades Fairey-Reed propeller. On 31 December 1935, K5660, first of these, made its maiden flight and on 19 February 1936, K5661 was the first delivered, followed by K5662 completed in the floatplane configuration for extensive Royal navy water-based trials at the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment (Felixstowe).

Fairey Swordfish on Airfield

Production of the swordfish (1936-39)

By early 1936, the pre-production contract fora large batch of 68 Swordfish was signed. This became naturally the Swordfish Mark I, from Fairey's Hayes plant in West London. The very first planes were introduced in the Fleet Air Arm by July 1936. The next years would see some modifications and improvements but the production went on without a change in type. By early 1940 however Fairey's plant were crammed wit orders and at full capacity, including with the planned replacement of the swordfish, the new Albacore.

The Admiralty however needed its Swordfish and approached Blackburn, always close to the Navy, and proposed it to take in charge the manufacture of the Swordfish Mark I. In fact the Navy knew fairey would stop its run soon at Hayes and wanted a full production transfer to Blackburn. The latter, without larger order for the Navy, immediately started to buid from the ground up a brand new fabrication and assembly facility, in Sherburn-in-Elmet (North Yorkshire).

In between the Swrordfish entered legend, notably after its November raid on Tarento and in early 1941, the first Blackburn Swordfish freshly out of the hangar made its flight debut, which was sucessful. Sherburn therefore was stasked to deliver the fuselage, but also final assembly and pre-delivery testings. Indeed the production management started to employ "shadow factories" to mitigate Luftwaffe bombing raids efforts, and major sub-assemblies were setup with four subcontractors, all around Leeds. Parts, tails and wings and other equipments were transported by land to the Sherburn plant.

After all was organized, deliveries of completed planes, still Swordfish Mark I standard started in mid-1941 up to 1943. That year, Blackburn had ideas about how to improve the model, which resulted in the improved Swordfish Mark II and the Mark III, the first carrying an ASV Mk.II radar, underwings metal surfaces, reneforced to carry dix 3-inch rockets, and the more powerful Pegasus XXX air-cooled piston radial engine.

The Swordfish III was the same, but with new fittings to carry a centimetric ASV Mk.XI radar this time, placed under band in-between undercarriage legs. This was a pure detection model, sacrificing its torpedo, but rockets replaced by depht charges. At last, on 18 August 1944, it was decided the venerable biplane had reached its own development rope, and the one was delivered that day to the FAA, a production run of nine years, something unheard of in british naval aviation so far.

Some 2,400 aircraft were delivered in all, most of the type II(1080), 692 by Fairey and 1,699 by Blackburn, showing the implication of the former rival in this wartime process. There was even a short "Canadian run", or Swordfish Mark IV, sole enclosed cockpit version for the RCAN. In between fairey designed and produced the Albacore, and the Barracuda, a quirky monoplane, both replacing the Swordfish with mixed success.

Torpedo examined by the crew and pilot, N°835 Sqn RNAS, HMS Battler 1943

Design of the swordfish

The Fairey Swordfish was a medium-sized biplane with a crew of three to allow an obersver/radio, as a reconnaissance aircraft. The whole structure called for a light metal airframe covered in fabric. Sice it was a carrier-based model, folding wings were designed, helped by the simple structure and shape of the wings, which were flded on both sides of the fuselage, allowing to stack five or more of them in a row; Something that was quite useful in cramped hangars or decks of escort carriers, like HMS Audacity or the MAC ships (Merchant Aircraft Carriers). These folding wings were also useful in battleships hangars. Like all biplanes of the time, the Swordfish wings used struts, spars, and braces. But the famous nickname "stringbag" came for the apparently endless variety of payloads, equipment carried, compared to housewife's string shopping bags.


The Bristol Pegasus was a 1932 nine-cylinder, single-row and air-cooled radial engine designed by Roy Fedden from Bristol. It met soon success both on the civil and military markets in the 1930s and and well at the end of the 1940s. This was a development of the earlier Mercury and Jupiter engines. The last version of the Pegasus was pushed up to 1,000 horsepower (750 kW) based on 1,750 cubic inches (28 L) and a geared supercharger, reaching the pinnacle of its development. In all, over 30,000 Pegasus were built, and the swordsfish was given several variants of the Pegasus along its development.

It was for the main production Mark I the IIIM.3, which developed 690 hp (510 kW). Coupled with a 3-bladed metal fixed-pitch propeller, it gave the following performances:


Aerial Torpedoes:

Swordfish being loaded with a torpedo HMS Ark Royal 1941

Its main, primary weapon of choice. The Swordfish was stable and a good pateform for accurate launch, but its low speed called for a long straight approach, always dangerous in the face of a strong FLAK, especially for the Kriegsmarine. Swordfish torpedo doctrine consisted in a first approach at 5,000 feet (1,500 m), and then a dive almost to 18 feet (5.5 m), the ideal delivery altitude for the torpedo. Too high and the latter was likely to eplode on contact or sink, and too low was just plain dangerous for the plane itself, notably because of waves and a still possible "bounce" of the toprpedo itself, coming back hurting the biplane.

Torpedo loaded under a Swordfish onboar HMS Illustrious
Torpedo loaded under a Swordfish onboard HMS Illustrious

The parth chosen also depended of the range of the early Mark XII aerial torpedo used: 1,500 yards (1,400 m) at best. This could be crossed at 40 knots (74 km/h; 46 mph), but with a larger setting, it could be extended to 3,500 yards (3,200 m) at 27 knots. The torpedo first travel course was 200 feet (61 m) after release, but stabilized after 300 yards (270 m), at the preset depth, while the warhead detonator armed itself. Training and combat shown pilots preferred to shorten distance down to 1,000 yards (910 m) from their target and use max speed. However, reaching that stage meant having to pass through a wall of shrapnel.

Dive & strafe Bomber:

Aft armament: Lewis MG

With its sturdy structure, the Swordfish was also tested as a dive-bomber. In 1939, a few from HMS Glorious made comparative dive-bombing tests and 439 runs to find the most acccurate diving angle. The latter proved to be about 60, 67 or 70°. HMS Centurion was the target ship, and as she was stationary the average error margin was within 49 yd (45 m) from around 1,300 ft (400 m) at 70°, but it went down to 44 yd (40 m) from higher at 1,800 ft (550 m) but at 60° which was far easier to recover and spared the strcture. Nevertheless, the Swordfish was found to operate underwings incendiary bombs with some success.

As ASW patrol plane: DCs and Rockets

Installing rockets under a swordfish from Sqn 834 Sqn, HMS Battler

Since Fairey delivered two more modern and capable torpedo attack models, the Royal Navy wanted its biplane to be converted as a pure ASW aircraft, something new and still untested in 1942-43 for small planes. For this anti-submarine role, the Mark II, with its reinfiorced underwings could now engage surface U-Boats about to submerged with rockets, and for those submerged and spotted, with depth charges. The 60 lb (27 kg) RP-3 rockets and DCs were often used for the start onboard small escort carriers, like the MACs. In that case, especially on the northern route, air was cold and the deck was short enough to have onboard Swordfish equipped with rocket-assisted takeoff (RATO) systems. The great issue of the Swordfish when attacking, its slow speed, proved to be a blessing when landing and takeoff from small decks. The carrier for example did not needed to leave the convoy to try to steam into the wind. It was even tested when the carrier was at anchor and the wind blew strong enough.

Variants of the swordfish

Swordfish Mark I: First production.
Swordfish Mark I seaplane, for catapult-equipped warships.
Swordfish Mark II: Metal lower wings to fire rockets (1943).
Swordfish Mark III: New Centrimetric radar for low visibility (1943).
Swordfish Mark IV: Fully enclosed cabin (only used by the RCAF in 1944).

Operational history:

Early service, 1940-41

In July 1936, the Swordfish entered service with the Fleet Air Arm, showing with the 825 Naval Air Squadron. It started gradually to replace the Fairey Seal as spotter-reconnaissance plane, but also the Blackburn Baffin as torpedo bomber, and went in competition with the Blackburn Shark, which quickly replaced in turn by the Swordfish. All Seal and Sharks were sent to the far east, verse to schools or confirned to coastal bases and reserve. In 1938, the Swordfish was the sole torpedo-bomber/recce model in the FAA, but the Albacore was intended to replace it in 1940 (it first flew aso in 1938). This never happened, as the latter, with a small production run of 800 was superseded quicky by the controversial Barracuda.

In September 1939, the FAA was no longer prt of the RAF but now controlled fully by the Royal Navy. In total, the FAA operated 13 squadrons equipped with the Swordfish Mark I, plus three flights of Swordfish seaplanes based on cruisers and battleships. 26 FAA Squadrons were soon equipped with the Swordfish and 20 second-line squadrons as well, for coastal patrols and training. 1939 ended with a record of dull fleet protection and convoy patrols.

Norwegian Campaign

The first large scale engagement and clashes with the Kriegsmarine started in Norway, where on 11 April 1940, several Swordfish took off from HMS Furious to attack the German flotilla in Trondheim. However they only spotted two two enemy destroyers, registering one hit only, but it was the first of such attack in WW2. On 13 April 1940, a floatplane version from HMS Warspite spotted and sent radio corrections during the Second Battle of Narvik, playing an instrumental part in the shelling accuracy that devastated eight German destroyers. Later, U-64 was spotted by a Swordfish which tried to dive-bomb it, scoring a direct hit. This became the first U-Boat sunk by the FAA at that point. Swordfish patrolled and attacked opportunity targets off Narvik during the following weeks. They also attacked German land facilities and aerodromes. Anti-submarine patrols coupled with reconnaissance went on despite the terrible weather. This campaign saw also the first nighttime landings on a carrier, also performed by Swordfish.

Mediterranean Campaign

Swordfish and Fulmars onboard Ark Royal

During these three years of heavy fighting (late 1940 - late 1943) Swordfish squadrons really won their laurels. They operated from HMS Ark Royal in particular, but many other carriers, notably those of the Illustrious class. On 14 June 1940, the Italians were at war, and nine Swordfish (767 NAS) based at the time in the Suth of France, at Hyeres, took off for a bombing raid on the industrial ligurian coast. 767 Sqn moved to Bone in Algeria as France collapsed, and joined afterwards RAF Hal Far on Malta, now as 830 NAS. On 30 June they raided fuel tanks in Augusta, Sicily.

On 3 July 1940, Swordfish from Ark Royal were committed in the Attack on Mers-el-Kébir, in all twelve from 810 and 820 NAS, which mines the entry of the harbour to avoid any vessel to escape and also directly torpedo anchored fleet. The French battleship Dunkerque was badly damaged after an ammunition barge nearby detonatd after being hit by a torpedo, and other ships were damaged. This acted a bit a rehearsal for the future attack on Taranto. Three Swordfish were also sent in support of the British Army in the Western Desert, searching for axis vessels operating off the coast of Libya. On 22 August alone, they sank two U-boats, one destroyer and a supply ship in the Gulf of Bomba.

Equipment passed two a Swordfish crew in North Africa
Equipment passed two a Swordfish crew in North Africa

On 11 November 1940, HMS Illustrious made a night launch of its squadrons over Taranto, after extensive preparations and planning going back to 1938. Pilots had been trained for night flying operations. This was the only way to circumvent the good AA defences of the harbour. After firing flares, Swordfhish torpedo planes started their attacks, while others made bombing runs, despite of AA and barrage balloons, torpedo nets. The synchronised attack was deadly. Six Swordfish with torpedoes badly damaged three battleships, while the "bombers" hit two cruisers, two destroyers and other ships. The agile "stringbag" showed it could even evade anti-aircraft fire. The case was to inspired greatly the Japanese. It was a game-changing event. In fact, Takeshi Naito, German attaché made the trip to Taranto to see the results and sent a detailed report to Tokyo.

On 28 March 1941, two Swordfish based from Crete torpedoed Pola, which provoked the turning point of the Battle of Cape Matapan. Also in May 1941, six Swordfish from Shaibah (Basra, Iraq) successfully dealt with the insurgents (Anglo-Iraqi War). For the remainder of 1941-42 operations, the best and most used squadrons were in Malta. They targeted enemy convoys in the dark to avoid the Luftwaffe. However on 27 Swordfish were in Malta at all times, but they nevertheless claimed 50,000 tons of enemy shipping monthly over 9 months. By their action alone they hampered supply efforts to North Africa, plaguing Rommel's operations. One month in particular, they sent to the bottom some 98,000 tons of shipping. This became such a problem a massive invasion operation was planned, plan C3, eventually never realized. Losses were few in exhange, despite the difficulty of night flying.

Atlantic operations of the swordfish

The Swordfish crews that successfully attacked and hit the Bismarck

In May 1941, during the famous hot pursuit of KMS Bismarck, Swordfish Squadrons participated actively, especially at the end of its rampage, when separated from KMS Prinz Eugen and en route to the French coast. On 24 May, nine Swordfish from HMS Victorious made a first sortie (825 Naval Air Squadron, Lt Cdr Eugene Esmonde) late in the day but due to poor weather mistook HMS Suffolk for the battleship. After returning to the carrier for reloading, they took off again, at falling night, in deteriorating weather conditions. They used the ASV radar to spot and attack Hitler's mighty battleship. It was often saif that it's the slow speed of the Swordfish and calibartion of FLAK guns, setup for faster flying aircraft, that contributed to a relatively weak number of kills.

Onboard HMS Victorious, May 1941, these Swordfish are going to take off and find Bismarck

In any case, on the 24/25, Bismarck used its secondary artillery (6-inches) guns to create massive splash around the planes, at the lowest possible depression. The very low altitude of these planes is perhaps what really helped the most, rather than a discrepancy in speed. Many were hit by splinters, but all survived but missed. Just one made a particularly lucky hit, which struck amidships the main armoured belt, causing minor damage. However, Bismarck has to stop at night ot repair, this contributed to see her pursuers catching up. On 26 May, Ark Royal's (Force Z from the south) launched two Swordfish strikes, the first missing the battleship, and the second second scoring two hits. The last one in particular was the most critical, as it jammed the ship's rudders at a 12° port, as Bismarck was veering furiously to avoid these. This doomed her to run circles, later pounded to death by the British battleships. But this was the only significant surface warfare episode to that point. U-Boats were a far more common occurence.

Swordfish wings being folded, HMS Sparrohawk, RNAS Haston (Orkneys)

Therefore, from mid-1942, the Swordfish was gradually retired from fleet carriers as she was replaced by the new Fairey Albacore and Barracuda. Instead they were versed to smaller escort carriers, in the new role of submarine-hunter, in which its revealed itself as a formidable asset in the battle of the Atlantic. Equipped with radars (notably the Mark 2 and retrofitted Mark 1s) both detected and attacked U-boat packs mercylessely. They were also used in the Arctic convoys to Murmansk, but maintaining these in such icy conditions was nightmarish. Despite of this, Swordfish prove dit was very dependable. In addition to attacking U-Boats, they would guide destroyers and coordinate their attacks by radio. Those from HMS Striker and HMS Vindex notably flew 1,000+ hours for ten days, virtuall in the air non-stop, taking turns to have at least four patrol planes at all times searching on all quadrants.

Despite its large size for the cramped escort carriers, Swordfish easy handling and slow speed made landings far more easier than with any other model of the time, even in rough seas. In some cases, there was not even a hangar, and the Faireys were stationed on the deck at all times. This was true especially when combined with the merchant aircraft carriers ("MAC ships"). Over 20 of them carried three or four of them, all equipped for ASW with convoys. Three of these were even Dutch-manned, and the Sqn 860 (Dutch) Naval Air Squadron were a bit unique in that regard. British MACs spread between them the 836 Naval Air Squadron, the largest operating the type with 91 in 1942-43.
Mark IIIs, No 119 Sqn, Knokke le Zoute, Belgium, 1945

Unlikely operators:

RNAS Puttalam in ceylon

A Swordfish Mark 4A fell into Italian hands after the Battle of Taranto, landing where it could after being hit. It was examined throughly. Another was K8422,from HMS Eagle. It was shot down and after the Maritza airfield in Rhodes, on 4 September 1940. The first was evaluated at Guidonia Test Centre and flew until the lack of spares by mid-1941 while K8422 was cannibalised. Anotether namd P4127 (4F), 820 NAS, HMS Ark Royal, was hist by FLAK during a bomb raid on Cagliari (Sardinia) and landed at Elmas in August 1940. It was sent to be repaired by Caproni, using an Alfa Romeo 125 engine. This quite unique hybrid was tested also at the Stabilimento Costruzioni Aeronautiche, Guidonia, in February 1941 and still extant in April 1942. Oustide the Italians, the Spanish also used it during WW2: Swordfish W5843, 813 Sqn based in Gibraltar lost its bearings and landed, gasoline-dry, between Ras el Farea and Pota Pescadores (Spanish Morocco) on 30 April 1942. Another, P4073 (700 Sqn, HMS Malaya also ran out of fuel after tracking Scharnhorst, on 8 March 1941. As it was a floatplane, it was intercepted by the Spanish liner Cabo de Buena Esperanza, off Canary Islands. It became HR6-1, integrated in 6 December 1943 with the 54 Escuadrilla at Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife (Canary) and served until 1945.

Fairey Swordfish floatplane, HMS MALAYA October 1941.

Swordfish Coastal Command

Rocket armed Fairey Swordfish training flight RNAS St Merryn Cornwall 1 August 1944

In early 1940 already, the 812 Squadron was versed to the Coastal Command and started operations against occupied ports along the English Channel. They notably deployed naval mines at their entrance to blockade and hamper traffic. This was challenging, requiring precision navigation skill, and extra range, so additional fuel tanks installed in the crew area, sacrificing a crew member. RAF fighters covered them for part of the travel, or if the range allowed it, create a defensive perimeter against the Luftwaffe.

Coastal Command's Swordfish operations rose to four Swordfish-equipped squadrons in mid-1940. Bases were Detling, Thorney Island, North Coates and St Eval. They hit the coasts of Netherlands and Belgium by day, and by night attacked oil installations, power stations and airfields. After the French Armistice, French ports became their prime target, especially when it was feared an invasion. In February 1942 however, the "stringbag" coild not do much during the "Channel Dash". Six Swordfish (Lt. Cdr Eugene Esmonde) took off from Manston and started an initial attack run astern of the fast ships, until interecpted by no less than 15 Messerschmitt Bf 109 from the coast, and all shot down before making a single hit. In all, 18 Swordfish crew were killed, including Esmonde, awarded the VC posthumously. It was commented as a gallant attack, albeit doomed from the start, redeeming the fiaco.

MkIII, 119-Sqn RAF B58 Knokke le Zoute Belgium

Their courage was also noted by German Vice-Admiral Otto Ciliax. Following this, the admiralty decided to retire the type for good as a torpedo bomber. From there, the Swordfish definitely became an ASW patrol plane.

Soon, the Fairey Swordfish was the first equipped by the surface vessel (ASV) radar, first implementation on a carrier-borne aircraft. This allowed the Swordfish to locate surface ships at night and in bad visibility. From October 1941, ASV radars-equipped squadrons started operations. By December 1941, a Gibraltar Swordfish, just equpped with the radar was the first to claim an U-boat by night time. In May 1943 a Swordfish claimed U-752 off Ireland with rockets for the first time also.

Fairey Albacore
Fairey Albacore
Fairey Albacore

Fairey Barracuda II of 814 Squadron, its successors. Both were outshined by the Swordfish

In 1945, Swordfish II with rockets and radars operated from the Belgian coast, hunting by night, the onlly moment where German midget submarines operated in the area. Their new centrimetric radar was efficient over 25 miles to spot relatively small boats. So the was was going to an end, seeing the first jets in combat, whereas the venerable biplane was still equipping nine frontline ASW squadrons, claiming 14 U-boats. The most amazing was that in mid-1945, the Fairey Albacore had been already replaced by the Fairey Barracuda. The last sorties were performed along the coast of Norway (835 and 813 Sqn). On 21 May 1945, 836 NAS, the last deployed on MAC ships, was disbanded after V-Day in Europe. But this was not over.

A training squadron still flew its Swordfish in the summer of 1946. Most of these famous birds ended in scrapyards, but due to fond mempry by pilots and privates initiatives, many survived today, including one completely rebuilt and another resored in flying conditions.

Fairey Swordfish Mk1 profile cc

Specifications Mark I

Dimensions:9.56 x 10.97 m x 4.50 m (33 x 41 x 13 ft)
Wing area: 342 sq ft (31.8 m2)
Airfoil: NACA 0010 - NACA 2212
Weight: Light3,788 lb (1,718 kg)
Weight: Max take-off5,437 lb (2,466 kg)
Propulsion:P&W R-1340-18 600 hp (450 kW)
Performances:Top speed: 48.6 kn (55.9 mph, 90.0 km/h)
Cruise speed: 116 kn (133 mph, 214 km/h)
Service ceiling: 14,900 ft (4,500 m)
Rate of climb: 915 ft/min (4.65 m/s)
Range: 587 nmi (675 mi, 1,086 km) at 5,000 ft (1,500 m)
Armament - MGs2x 0.3 cal
Armament - Bombs650 lb (295 kg)

Operators and surviving examples

Australia The RAAF operated six in No. 25 Squadron, 1942.
Canada Many used by both the Royal Canadian Air Force and RCN.
Netherlands Royal Netherlands Navy (in exile), No. 860 (Dutch) Sqn FAA
United Kingdom
No. 8, 119, 202, 209, 273, 613 Sqn RAF, No. 3/4 Malta, Gibraltar, Singapore
RNAS 700, 705 (floatplane, Repulse, Renown), 771, 810, 811, 812, 814-825, 835, 836, 838 Squadrons.

Read More/src

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Fairey_Swordfish_W5856 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Fairey_Swordfish_LS326 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCyP4xfZZZo

Testimonies of veteran pilots - Armoured Carriers Channel and website.

The model corner

-Trumpeter, Ark Models, Tamiya, Smer, Airfix, SMK
-Squadron signals book. The swordfish in action.
-Full list on scalemates


Author's illustrations: All Liveries

Swordfish Mark 1, HMS Eagle, 1938, painted in medium gray overall

Mk.1 from Sqn.810 NAS Courageous, 1938, still showing its canvas, 810 Sqn. blue markings

Mk.1 of Sqn 810 RNAS HMS Ark Royal 1939

Mk.1 Sqn 810 NAS HMS Eagle, 1940

Mk.1 2nd.Sqn. 810 NAS, HMS Ark Royal, north sea 1941, the plane that hit Bismarck's rudder.

Fairey Mark I floatplane, NAS 702 HMS Resolution, 1941

Mk2 815 NAS, attack on Lorient, 1942

Mk2 837 NAS HMS Dasher, North Atlantic 1942

Swordfish Mark II from 811 Sqn, HMS Biter, 1944, with rockets

Mark II, 819 Sqn, 1944

RCAN mark III in 1944

Mark IV from the Canadian 1st naval air gunery school, late 1944

Additional photos

A swordfish lifted from the hanger of HMS Attacker in 1943

A Swordfish above from HMS Eagle - Flickr

A squadron of Swordfish in flight (WoW ingame screenshot).

St Merryn Swordfish used as target tug

Sqn.816, HMS Tracker

Rocket-assisted Swordfish RNAS

Swordfish Mk1, No785 Sqn FAA RNAS Crail
Swordfish Mk1, No785 Sqn FAA RNAS Crail, Scotland

Flyover HMS Indomitable
Flyover HMS Indomitable

Swordfish from 860 Sqn
Swordfish from 860 Sqn.

Swordfish crew onboard HMS Battler
Swordfish crew onboard HMS Battler

St Merryn was a main swordfish training center
St Merryn was a main swordfish training center, situated in Scotland

Sqn 785, RNAS Crail

Swordfish from Sqn 816 onboard HMS Tracker

Swordfish Mark III based in Ireland 1944, note the underwings rocket boosters

Swordfish II from Sqn 824

Swordfish onboard HMS Tracker

Swordfish 860 Sqn

RNAS Hatston

HMS Fencer clearing snow swordfish

Fairey Swordfish taking off from HMS Tracker 1943

Fairey Swordfish on Airfield

Fairey Swordfish Mk2 C-GEVS

Fairey Swordfish MkI training flight from Crail Scotland 1940

Fairey Swordfish II LS326 L2_tail detail

crew training torpedo dropping Fleet Air Arm station HMS JACKDAW Crail

119 Sqn B65 Maldeghem Begium 1945

Naval History

❢ Abbrev. & acronyms
AAW// warfare
AASAmphibious Assault Ship
AEWAirbone early warning
AGAir Group
AFVArmored Fighting Vehicle
AMGBarmoured motor gunboat
APArmor Piercing
APCArmored Personal Carrier
ASMAir-to-surface Missile
ASMDAnti Ship Missile Defence
ASW// Warfare
ASWRL/// rocket launcher
ATWahead thrown weapon
avgasAviation Gasoline
awAbove Waterline
AWACSAirborne warning & control system
bhpbrake horsepower
BLBreach-loader (gun)
BLRBreach-loading, Rifled (gun)
BUBroken Up
CAArmoured/Heavy cruiser
CalCaliber or "/"
CGMissile Cruiser
CICCombat Information Center
C-in-CCommander in Chief
CIWSClose-in weapon system
CECompound Expansion (engine)
ChChantiers ("Yard", FR)
CLCruiser, Light
CMBCoastal Motor Boat
CMSCoastal Minesweeper
CNOChief of Naval Operations
CpCompound (armor)
COBCompound Overhad Beam
CODAGCombined Diesel & Gas
CODOGCombined Diesel/Gas
COGAGCombined Gas and Gas
COGOGCombined Gas/Gas
COSAGCombined Steam & Gas
CRCompound Reciprocating
CRCRSame, connecting rod
CruDivCruiser Division
CPControlled Pitch
CTConning Tower
CTLconstructive total loss
CTOLConv. Take off & landing
CTpCompound Trunk
CVAircraft Carrier
CVA// Attack
CVE// Escort
CVL// Light
CVS// ASW support
DADirect Action
DASHDrone ASW Helicopter
DCDepht Charge
DCT// Track
DCR// Rack
DCT// Thrower
DEDouble Expansion
DEDestroyer Escort
DDE// Converted
DesRonDestroyer Squadron
DFDouble Flux
DPDual Purpose
DUKWAmphibious truck
EOCElswick Ordnance Co.
ECMElectronic Warfare
ESMElectronic support measure
FCSFire Control System
fpsFeet Per Second
FYFiscal Year
GMMetacentric Height
GPMGGeneral Purpose Machine-gun
GRTGross Tonnage
GUPPYGreater Underwater Prop.Pow.
HAHigh Angle
HCHorizontal Compound
HCR// Reciprocating
HCDA// Direct Acting
HCDCR// connecting rod
HDA// direct acting
HDAC// acting compound
HDAG// acting geared
HDAR// acting reciprocating
HDMLHarbor def. Motor Launch
H/FHigh Frequency
HF/DF// Directional Finding
HMSHer Majesty Ship
HNHarvey Nickel
HNCHorizontal non-condensing hp
HPHigh Pressure
HRHorizontal reciprocating
HRCR// connecting rod
HSHarbor Service
HS(E)Horizontal single (expansion)
HSET// trunk
HTHorizontal trunk
HTE// expansion
ICInverted Compound
IDAInverted direct acting
IFFIdentification Friend or Foe
ihpindicated horsepower
IMFInshore Minesweeper
KCKrupp, cemented
KNC// non cemented
LALow Angle
LCLanding Craft
LCA// Assault
LCAC// Air Cushion
LFC// Flak (AA)
LCG// Gunboat
LCG(L)/// Large
LCG(M)/// Medium
LCG(S)/// Small
LCI// Infantry
LCM// Mechanized
LCP// Personel
LCP(R)/// Rocket
LCS// Support
LCT// Tanks
LCV// Vehicles
LCVP/// Personal
LCU// Utility
locolocomotive (boiler)
LSCLanding ship, support
LSD// Dock
LSF// Fighter (direction)
LSM// Medium
LSS// Stern chute
LST// Tank
LSV// Vehicle
LPlow pressure
lwllenght waterline
MA/SBmotor AS boat
MGMachine Gun
MGBMotor Gunboat
MLMotor Launch
MMSMotor Minesweper
MTMilitary Transport
MTBMotor Torpedo Boat
HMGHeavy Machine Gun
MCM(V)Mine countermeasure Vessel
MLMuzzle loading
MLR// rifled
MSOOcean Minesweeper
NCnon condensing
nhpnominal horsepower
nmNautical miles
NBC/ABCNuc. Bact. Nuclear
NSNickel steel
NTDSNav.Tactical Def.System
NyDNaval Yard
OPVOffshore Patrol Vessel
PCPatrol Craft
PDMSPoint Defence Missile System
psipounds per square inch
PVDSPropelled variable-depth sonar
QFQuick Fire
QFC// converted
RAdmRear Admiral
RCRreturn connecting rod
RFRapid Fire
RPCRemote Control
rpgRound per gun
SAMSurface to air Missile
SARSearch Air Rescue
SBShip Builder
SCSub-chaser (hunter)
SSBNBallistic Missile sub.Nuclear
SESimple Expansion
SET// trunk
shpShaft horsepower
SHsimple horizontal
SOSUSSound Surv. System
SPRsimple pressure horiz.
SSSubmarine (Conv.)
SSMSurface-surface Missile
sfsteam frigate
SLBMSub.Launched Ballistic Missile
spfsteam paddle frigate
STOVLShort Take off/landing
SUBROCSub.Fired ASW Rocket
tton, long (short in bracket)
TACANTactical Air Nav.
TBTorpedo Boat
TBD// destroyer
TCTorpedo carriage
TETriple expansion
TER// reciprocating
TFTask Force
TGBTorpedo gunboat
TGTask Group
TLTorpedo launcher
TLC// carriage
TSTraining Ship
TTTorpedo Tube
UDTUnderwater Demolition Team
UHFUltra High Frequency
VadmVice Admiral
VCVertical compound
VCE// expansion
VDE/ double expansion
VDSVariable Depth Sonar
VIC/ inverted compound
VLFVery Low Frequency
VQL/ quadruple expansion
VSTOLVertical/short take off/landing
VTE/ triple expansion
VTOLVertical take off/landing
VSE/ Simple Expansion
WTWireless Telegraphy
xnumber of
BuShipsBureau of Ships
DBMGerman Navy League
GBGreat Britain
DNCDirectorate of Naval Construction
EEZExclusive Economic Zone
FAAFleet Air Arm
FNFLFree French Navy
MDAPMutual Def.Assistance Prog.
MSAMaritime Safety Agency
RAFRoyal Air Force
RANRoyal Australian Navy
RCNRoyal Canadian Navy
R&DResearch & Development
RNRoyal Navy
RNZNRoyal New Zealand Navy
USSRUnion of Socialist Republics
UE/EECEuropean Union/Comunity
UNUnited Nations Org.
USNUnited States Navy
WaPacWarsaw Pact

⚑ 1870 Fleets
Spanish Navy 1870 Armada Espanola Austro-Hungarian Navy 1870 K.u.K. Kriegsmarine
Danish Navy 1870 Dansk Marine
Hellenic Navy 1870 Nautiko Hellenon
Haitian Navy 1914Haiti Koninklije Marine 1870 Koninklije Marine
Dutch Screw Frigates & corvettes
De Ruyter Bd Ironclad (1863)
Prins H. der Neth. Turret ship (1866)
Buffel class turret rams (1868)
Skorpioen class turret rams (1868)
Heiligerlee class Monitors (1868)
Bloedhond class Monitors (1869)
Adder class Monitors (1870)
A.H.Van Nassau Frigate (1861)
A.Paulowna Frigate (1867)
Djambi class corvettes (1860)
Amstel class Gunboats (1860)

Marine Française 1870 Marine Nationale
Screw 3-deckers (1850-58)
Screw 2-deckers (1852-59)
Screw Frigates (1849-59)
Screw Corvettes (1846-59)
Screw Fl. Batteries (1855)
Paddle Frigates
Paddle Corvettes
screw sloops
screw gunboats
Sailing ships of the line
Sailing frigates
Sailing corvettes
Sailing bricks

Gloire class Bd. Ironclads (1859)
Couronne Bd. Ironclad (1861)
Magenta class Bd. Ironclads (1861)
Palestro class Flt. Batteries (1862)
Arrogante class Flt. Batteries (1864)
Provence class Bd. Ironclads (1864) Embuscade class Flt. Batteries (1865)
Taureau arm. ram (1865)
Belliqueuse Bd. Ironclad (1865)
Alma Cent. Bat. Ironclads (1867)
Ocean class CT Battery ship (1868)
French converted sailing frigates (1860)
Cosmao class cruisers (1861)
Talisman cruisers (1862)
Resolue cruisers (1863)
Venus class cruisers (1864)
Decres cruiser (1866)
Desaix cruiser (1866)
Limier class cruisers (1867)
Linois cruiser (1867)
Chateaurenault cruiser (1868)
Infernet class Cruisers (1869)
Bourayne class Cruisers (1869)
Cruiser Hirondelle (1869)

Curieux class sloops (1860)
Adonis class sloops (1863)
Guichen class sloops (1865)
Sloop Renard (1866)
Bruix class sloops (1867)
Pique class gunboats (1862)
Hache class gunboats (1862)
Arbalete class gunboats (1866)
Etendard class gunboats (1868)
Revolver class gunboats (1869)

Marinha do Brasil 1870 Marinha do Brasil
Barrozo class (1864)
Brasil (1864)
Tamandare (1865)
Lima Barros (1865)
Rio de Janeiro (1865)
Silvado (1866)
Mariz E Barros class (1866)
Carbal class (1866)

Turkish Ottoman navy 1870 Osmanlı Donanması
Osmanieh class Bd.Ironclads (1864) Assari Tewfik (1868) Assari Shevket class Ct. Ironclads (1868)
Lufti Djelil class CDS (1868)
Avni Illah class cas.ironclads (1869)
Fethi Bulend class cas.ironclads (1870)
Barbette ironclad Idjalleh (1870)
Messudieh class Ct.Bat.ships (1874)
Hamidieh Ct.Bat.Ironclads (1885)
Abdul Kadir Batleships (project)

Ertrogul Frigate (1863)
Selimieh (1865)
Rehberi Tewkik (1875)
Mehmet Selim (1876)
Sloops & despatch vessels

Marina do Peru Marina Do Peru
Monitor Atahualpa (1865)
CT. Bat Independencia (1865)
Turret ship Huascar (1865)
Frigate Apurimac (1855)
Corvette America (1865)
Corvette Union (1865)

Regia Marina 1870 Regia Marina 1870 Imperial Japanese navy 1870 Nihhon Kaigun Prussian Navy 1870 Preußische Marine Russian mperial Navy 1870 Russkiy Flot Swedish Navy 1870 Svenska marinen
Norwegian Navy 1870 Søværnet
⚑ 1898 Fleets
Argentinian Navy 1898 Armada de Argentina
Parana class Gunboats (1873)
La Plata class Coast Battleships (1875)
Pilcomayo class Gunboats (1875)
Ferre class Gunboats (1880)

Austro-Hungarian Navy 1898 K.u.K. Kriegsmarine

Chinese Imperial Navy 1898 Imperial Chinese Navy
Danish Navy 1898 Dansk Marine

Hellenic Navy 1898 Nautiko Hellenon
Haitian Navy 1914Marine Haitienne
Koninklije Marine 1898 Koninklije Marine
Konigin der Netherland (1874)
Draak, monitor (1877)
Matador, monitor (1878)
R. Claeszen, monitor (1891)
Evertsen class CDS (1894)
Atjeh class cruisers (1876)
Cruiser Sumatra (1890)
Cruiser K.W. Der. Neth (1892)
Banda class Gunboats (1872)
Pontania class Gunboats (1873)
Gunboat Aruba (1873)
Hydra Gunboat class (1873)
Batavia class Gunboats (1877)
Wodan Gunboat class (1877)
Ceram class Gunboats (1887)
Combok class Gunboats (1891)
Borneo Gunboat (1892)
Nias class Gunboats (1895)
Koetei class Gunboats (1898)
Dutch sloops (1864-85)

Marine Française 1898 Marine Nationale
Friedland CT Battery ship (1873)
Richelieu CT Battery ship (1873)
Colbert class CT Battery ships (1875)
Redoutable CT Battery ship (1876)
Courbet class CT Battery ships (1879)
Amiral Duperre barbette ship (1879)
Terrible class barbette ships (1883)
Amiral Baudin class barbette ships (1883)
Barbette ship Hoche (1886)
Marceau class barbette ships (1888)
Cerbere class Arm.Ram (1870)
Tonnerre class Br.Monitors (1875)
Tempete class Br.Monitors (1876)
Tonnant ironclad (1880)
Furieux ironclad (1883)
Fusee class Arm.Gunboats (1885)
Acheron class Arm.Gunboats (1885)
Jemmapes class (1892)
Bouvines class (1892)

La Galissonière Cent. Bat. Ironclads (1872)
Bayard class barbette ships (1879)
Vauban class barbette ships (1882)
Prot. Cruiser Sfax (1884)
Prot. Cruiser Tage (1886)
Prot. Cruiser Amiral Cécille (1888)
Prot. Cruiser Davout (1889)
Forbin class Cruisers (1888)
Troude class Cruisers (1888)
Alger class Cruisers (1891)
Friant class Cruisers (1893)
Prot. Cruiser Suchet (1893)
Descartes class Cruisers (1893)
Linois class Cruisers (1896)
D'Assas class Cruisers (1896)
Catinat class Cruisers (1896)

R. de Genouilly class Cruisers (1876)
Cruiser Duquesne (1876)
Cruiser Tourville (1876)
Cruiser Duguay-Trouin (1877)
Laperouse class Cruisers (1877)
Villars class Cruisers (1879)
Cruiser Iphigenie (1881)
Cruiser Naiade (1881)
Cruiser Arethuse (1882)
Cruiser Dubourdieu (1884)
Cruiser Milan (1884)

Parseval class sloops (1876)
Bisson class sloops (1874)
Epee class gunboats (1873)
Crocodile class gunboats (1874)
Tromblon class gunboats (1875)
Condor class Torpedo Cruisers (1885)
G. Charmes class gunboats (1886)
Inconstant class sloops (1887)
Bombe class Torpedo Cruisers (1887)
Wattignies class Torpedo Cruisers (1891)
Levrier class Torpedo Cruisers (1891)

Marinha do Brasil 1898 Marinha do Brasil
Siete de Setembro class (1874)
Riachuleo class (1883)
Aquidaban class (1885)

Marina de Mexico 1898 Mexico
GB Indipendencia (1874)
GB Democrata (1875)

Turkish Ottoman navy 1898 Osmanlı Donanması
Cruiser Heibtnuma (1890)
Cruiser Lufti Humayun (1892)
Cruiser Hadevendighar (1892)
Shadieh class cruisers (1893)
Turkish TBs (1885-94)

Regia Marina 1898 Regia Marina Pr. Amadeo class (1871)
Caio Duilio class (1879)
Italia class (1885)
Ruggero di Lauria class (1884)
Carracciolo (1869)
Vettor Pisani (1869)
Cristoforo Colombo (1875)
Flavio Goia (1881)
Amerigo Vespucci (1882)
C. Colombo (ii) (1892)
Pietro Micca (1876)
Tripoli (1886)
Goito class (1887)
Folgore class (1887)
Partenope class (1889)
Giovanni Bausan (1883)
Etna class (1885)
Dogali (1885)
Piemonte (1888)
Staffeta (1876)
Rapido (1876)
Barbarigo class (1879)
Messagero (1885)
Archimede class (1887)
Guardiano class GB (1874)
Scilla class GB (1874)
Provana class GB (1884)
Curtatone class GB (1887)
Castore class GB (1888)

Imperial Japanese navy 1898 Nihhon Kaigun German Navy 1898 Kaiserliches Marine
Russian Imperial Navy 1898 Russkiy Flot
Marina do Peru Marina Do Peru

Swedish Navy 1898 Svenska Marinen Norwegian Navy 1898 Søværnet
Royal Navy 1898 Royal Navy
HMS Hotspur (1870)
HMS Glatton (1871)
Devastation classs (1871)
Cyclops class (1871)
HMS Rupert (1874)
Neptune class (1874)
HMS Dreadnought (1875)
HMS Inflexible (1876)
Agamemnon class (1879)
Conqueror class (1881)
Colossus class (1882)
Admiral class (1882)
Trafalgar class (1887)
Victoria class (1890)
Royal Sovereign class (1891)
Centurion class (1892)
HMS Renown (1895)

HMS Shannon (1875)
Nelson class (1876)
Iris class (1877)
Leander class (1882)
Imperieuse class (1883)
Mersey class (1885)
Surprise class (1885)
Scout class (1885)
Archer class (1885)
Orlando class (1886)
Medea class (1888)
Barracouta class (1889)
Barham class (1889)
Pearl class (1889)

Spanish Navy 1898 Armada 1898
Ironclad Pelayo (1887)

Infanta Maria Teresa class (1890)
Emperador Carlos V (1895)
Cristobal Colon (1897)
Princesa de Asturias (1896)
Aragon class (1879)
Velasco class (1881)
Isla de Luzon (1886)
Alfonso XII class (1887)
Reina Regentes class (1887)

Destructor class (1886)
Temerario class (1891)
TGunboat Filipinas (1892)
De Molina class (1896)
Furor class (1896)
Audaz class (1897)
Spanish TBs (1878-87)
Fernando class gunboats (1875)
Concha class gunboats (1883)

US Navy 1898 1898 US Navy
USS Maine (1889)
USS Texas (1892)
Indiana class (1893)
USS Iowa (1896)

Amphitrite class (1876)
USS Puritan (1882)
USS Monterey (1891)

Atlanta class (1884)
USS Chicago (1885)
USS Charleston (1888)
USS Baltimore (1888)
USS Philadelphia (1889)
USS San Francisco (1889)
USS Newark (1890)
USS New York (1891)
USS Olympia (1892)
Cincinatti class (1892)
Montgomery class (1893)
Columbia class (1893)
USS Brooklyn (1895)

USS Vesuvius (1888)
USS Katahdin (1893)
USN Torpedo Boats (1886-1901)
GB USS Dolphin (1884)
Yorktown class GB (1888)
GB USS Petrel (1888)
GB USS Bancroft (1892)
Machias class GB (1891)
GB USS Nashville (1895)
Wilmington class GB (1895)
Annapolis class GB (1896)
Wheeling class GB (1897)
Small gunboats (1886-95)
St Louis class AMC (1894)
Harvard class AMC (1888)
USN Armoured Merchant Cruisers
USN Armed Yachts


☉ Entente Fleets

British ww1 Royal Navy
WW1 British Battleships
Majestic class (1894)
Canopus class (1897)
Formidable class (1898)
London class (1899)
Duncan class (1901)
King Edward VII class (1903)
Swiftsure class (1903)
Lord Nelson class (1906)
HMS Dreadnought (1906)
Bellorophon class (1907)
St Vincent class (1908)
HMS Neptune (1909)
Colossus class (1910)
Orion class (1911)
King George V class (1911)
Iron Duke class (1912)
Queen Elizabeth class (1913)
HMS Canada (1913)
HMS Agincourt (1913)
HMS Erin (1915)
Revenge class (1915)
B3 class (1918)

WW1 British Battlecruisers
Invincible class (1907)
Indefatigable class (1909)
Lion class (1910)
HMS Tiger (1913)
Renown class (1916)
Courageous class (1916)
G3 class (1918)

ww1 British cruisers
Blake class (1889)
Edgar class (1890)
Powerful class (1895)
Diadem class (1896)
Cressy class (1900)
Drake class (1901)
Monmouth class (1901)
Devonshire class (1903)
Duke of Edinburgh class (1904)
Warrior class (1905)
Minotaur class (1906)
Hawkins class (1917)

Apollo class (1890)
Astraea class (1893)
Eclipse class (1894)
Arrogant class (1896)
Pelorus class (1896)
Highflyer class (1898)
Gem class (1903)
Adventure class (1904)
Forward class (1904)
Pathfinder class (1904)
Sentinel class (1904)
Boadicea class (1908)
Blonde class (1910)
Active class (1911)
'Town' class (1909-1913)
Arethusa class (1913)
'C' class series (1914-1922)
'D' class (1918)
'E' class (1918)

WW1 British Seaplane Carriers
HMS Ark Royal (1914)
HMS Campania (1893)
HMS Argus (1917)
HMS Furious (1917)
HMS Vindictive (1918)
HMS Hermes (1919)

WW1 British Destroyers
River class (1903)
Cricket class (1906)
Tribal class (1907)
HMS Swift (1907)
Beagle class (1909)
Acorn class (1910)
Acheron class (1911)
Acasta class (1912)
Laforey class (1913)
M/repeat M class (1914)
Faulknor class FL (1914)
T class (1915)
Parker class FL (1916)
R/mod R class (1916)
V class (1917)
V class FL (1917)
Shakespeare class FL (1917)
Scott class FL (1917)
W/mod W class (1917)
S class (1918)

WW1 British Torpedo Boats
125ft series (1885)
140ft series (1892)
160ft series (1901)
27-knotters (1894)
30-knotters (1896)
33-knotters (1896)

WW1 British Submarines
Nordenfelt Submarines (1885)
Flower class sloops
British Gunboats of WWI
British P-Boats (1915)
Kil class (1917)
British ww1 Minesweepers
Z-Whaler class patrol crafts
British ww1 CMB
British ww1 Auxiliaries

✠ Central Empires

⚑ Neutral Countries

Bulgarian Navy Bulgaria
Danish Navy 1914 Denmark
Greek Royal Navy Greece

Dutch Empire Navy 1914 Netherlands
Norwegian Navy 1914 Norway

Portuguese navy 1914 Portugal

Romanian Navy 1914 Romania
Spanish Armada Spain Swedish Navy 1914 Sweden


✪ Allied ww2 Fleets

US ww2 US Navy
WW2 American Battleships
Wyoming class (1911)
New York class (1912)
Nevada class (1914)
Pennsylvania class (1915)
New Mexico class (1917)
Tennessee Class (1919)
Colorado class (1921)
North Carolina class (1940)
South Dakota class (1941)
Iowa class (1942)
Montana class (cancelled)

WW2 American Cruisers
Omaha class cruisers (1920)
Pensacola class heavy Cruisers (1928)
Northampton class heavy cruisers (1929)
Portland class heavy cruisers (1931)
New Orleans class cruisers (1933)
Brooklyn class cruisers (1936)
USS Wichita (1937)
Atlanta class light cruisers (1941)
Cleveland class light Cruisers (1942)
Baltimore class heavy cruisers (1942)
Alaska class heavy cruisers (1944)

WW2 USN Aircraft Carriers
USS Langley (1920)
Lexington class CVs (1927)
USS Ranger (CV-4)
USS Wasp (CV-7)
Yorktown class aircraft carriers (1936)
Long Island class (1940)
Independence class CVs (1942)
Essex class CVs (1942)
Bogue class CVEs (1942)
Sangamon class CVEs (1942)
Casablanca class CVEs (1942)
Commencement Bay class CVEs (1944)
Midway class CVs (1945)
Saipan class CVs (1945)

WW2 American destroyers
Wickes class (1918)
Clemson class (1920)
Farragut class (1934)
Porter class (1935)
Mahan class (1935)
Gridley class (1936)
Bagley class (1936)
Somers class (1937)
Benham class (1938)
Sims class (1938)
Benson class (1939)
Fletcher class (1942)
Sumner class (1943)
Gearing class (1945)

GMT Evarts class (1942)
TE Buckley class (1943)
TEV/WGT Rudderow classs (1943)
DET/FMR Cannon class
Asheville/Tacoma class

WW2 American Submarines
Barracuda class
USS Argonaut
Narwhal class
USS Dolphin
Cachalot class
Porpoise class
Shark class
Perch class
Salmon class
Sargo class
Tambor class
Mackerel class
Gato Class

USS Terror (1941)
Raven class Mnsp (1940)
Admirable class Mnsp (1942)
Eagle class sub chasers (1918)
PC class sub chasers
SC class sub chasers
PCS class sub chasers
YMS class Mot. Mnsp
ww2 US gunboats
ww2 US seaplane tenders
USS Curtiss ST (1940)
Currituck class ST
Tangier class ST
Barnegat class ST

US Coat Guardships
Lake class
Northland class
Treasury class
Owasco class
Wind class
Algonquin class
Thetis class
Active class

US Amphibious ships & crafts
US Amphibious Operations
Doyen class AT
Harris class AT
Dickman class AT
Bayfield class AT
Windsor class AT
Ormsby class AT
Funston class AT
Sumter class AT
Haskell class AT
Andromeda class AT
Gilliam class AT
APD-1 class LT
APD-37 class LT
LSV class LS
LSD class LS
Landing Ship Tank
LSM class LS
LSM(R) class SS
LCV class LC
LCVP class LC
LCM(3) class LC
LCP(L) class LC
LCP(R) class SC
LCL(L)(3) class FSC
LCS(S) class FSC
British ww2 Royal Navy

WW2 British Battleships
Queen Elisabeth class (1913)
Revenge class (1915)
Nelson class (1925)
King Georges V class (1939)
Lion class (Started)
HMS Vanguard (1944)
Renown class (1916)
HMS Hood (1920)

WW2 British Cruisers
British C class cruisers (1914-1922)
Hawkins class cruisers (1917)
British D class cruisers (1918)
Enterprise class cruisers (1919)
HMS Adventure (1924)
County class cruisers (1926)
York class cruisers (1929)
Surrey class cruisers (project)
Leander class cruisers (1931)
Arethusa class cruisers (1934)
Perth class cruisers (1934)
Town class cruisers (1936)
Dido class cruisers (1939)
Abdiel class cruisers (1939)
Fiji class cruisers (1941)
Bellona class cruisers (1942)
Swiftsure class cruisers (1943)
Tiger class cruisers (1944)

WW2 British Aircraft Carriers
Courageous class aircraft carriers (1928)
HMS Ark Royal (1937)
HMS Eagle (1918)
HMS Furious (1917)
HMS Hermes (1919)
Illustrious class (1939)
HMS Indomitable (1940)
Implacable class (1942)
Malta class (project)
HMS Unicorn (1941)
Colossus class (1943)
Majestic class (1944)
Centaur class (started 1944)

HMS Archer (1939)
HMS Argus (1917)
Avenger class (1940)
Attacker class (1941)
HMS Audacity (1941)
HMS Activity (1941)
HMS Pretoria Castle (1941)
Ameer class (1942)
Merchant Aircraft Carriers (1942)
Vindex class (1943)

WW2 British Destroyers
Shakespeare class (1917)
Scott class (1818)
V class (1917)
S class (1918)
W class (1918)
A/B class (1926)
C/D class (1931)
G/H/I class (1935)
Tribal class (1937)
J/K/N class (1938)
Hunt class DE (1939)
L/M class (1940)
O/P class (1942)
Q/R class (1942)
S/T/U//V/W class (1942)
Z/ca class (1943)
Ch/Co/Cr class (1944)
Battle class (1945)
Weapon class (1945)

WW2 British submarines
L9 class (1918)
HMS X1 (1923)
Oberon class (1926)
Parthian class (1929)
Rainbow class (1930)
Thames class (1932)
Swordfish class (1932)
HMS Porpoise (1932)
Grampus class (1935)
Shark class (1934)
Triton class (1937)
Undine class (1937)
U class (1940)
S class (1941)
T class (1941)
X-Craft midget (1942)
A class (1944)

WW2 British Amphibious Ships and Landing Crafts
LSI(L) class
LSI(M/S) class
LSI(H) class
LSS class
LSG class
LSC class
Boxer class LST

LST(2) class
LST(3) class
LSH(L) class
LSF classes (all)
LCI(S) class
LCS(L2) class
LCT(I) class
LCT(2) class
LCT(R) class
LCT(3) class
LCT(4) class
LCT(8) class
LCT(4) class
LCG(L)(4) class
LCG(M)(1) class

British ww2 Landing Crafts

WW2 British MTB/gunboats.
WW2 British MTBs
MTB-1 class (1936)
MTB-24 class (1939)
MTB-41 class (1940)
MTB-424 class (1944)
MTB-601 class (1942)
MA/SB class (1938)
MTB-412 class (1942)
MGB 6 class (1939)
MGB-47 class (1940)
MGB 321 (1941)
MGB 501 class (1942)
MGB 511 class (1944)
MGB 601 class (1942)
MGB 2001 class (1943)

WW2 British Gunboats

Denny class (1941)
Fairmile A (1940)
Fairmile B (1940)
HDML class (1940)

WW2 British Sloops
Bridgewater class (2090)
Hastings class (1930)
Shoreham class (1930)
Grimsby class (1934)
Bittern class (1937)
Egret class (1938)
Black Swan class (1939)

WW2 British Frigates
River class (1943)
Loch class (1944)
Bay class (1944)

WW2 British Corvettes
Kingfisher class (1935)
Shearwater class (1939)
Flower class (1940)
Mod. Flower class (1942)
Castle class (1943)

WW2 British Misc.
WW2 British Monitors
Roberts class monitors (1941)
Halcyon class minesweepers (1933)
Bangor class minesweepers (1940)
Bathurst class minesweepers (1940)
Algerine class minesweepers (1941)
Motor Minesweepers (1937)
ww2 British ASW trawlers
Basset class trawlers (1935)
Tree class trawlers (1939)
HMS Albatross seaplane carrier
WW2 British river gunboats

HMS Guardian netlayer
HMS Protector netlayer
HMS Plover coastal mines.
Medway class sub depot ships
HMS Resource fleet repair
HMS Woolwhich DD depot ship
HMS Tyne DD depot ship
Maidstone class sub depot ships
HmS Adamant sub depot ship

Athene class aircraft transport
British ww2 AMCs
British ww2 OBVs
British ww2 ABVs
British ww2 Convoy Escorts
British ww2 APVs
British ww2 SSVs
British ww2 SGAVs
British ww2 Auxiliary Mines.
British ww2 CAAAVs
British ww2 Paddle Mines.
British ww2 MDVs
British ww2 Auxiliary Minelayers
British ww2 armed yachts

✙ Axis ww2 Fleets

Japan ww2 Imperial Japanese Navy
WW2 Japanese Battleships
Kongō class Fast Battleships (1912)
Fuso class battleships (1915)
Ise class battleships (1917)
Nagato class Battleships (1919)
Yamato class Battleships (1941)
B41 class Battleships (project)

WW2 Japanese cruisers
Tenryū class cruisers (1918)
Kuma class cruisers (1919)
Nagara class (1921)
Sendai class Cruisers (1923)
IJN Yūbari (1923)
Furutaka class Cruisers (1925)
Aoba class heavy cruisers (1926)
Nachi class Cruisers (1927)
Takao class cruisers (1930)
Mogami class cruisers (1932)
Tone class cruisers (1937)
Katori class cruisers (1939)
Agano class cruisers (1941)
Oyodo (1943)

Seaplane & Aircraft Carriers
IJN Hōshō (1921)
IJN Akagi (1925)
IJN Kaga (1927)
IJN Ryujo (1931)
IJN Soryu (1935)
IJN Hiryu (1937)
Shokaku class (1940)
Zuiho class (1937)
Ruyho (1933) comp.42
Junyo class (1941)
IJN Taiho (1943)
Chitose class (comp. 1943)
IJN Shinano (1944)
Unryu class (1944)
IJN Ibuki (1942)

Taiyo class (1940)
IJN Kaiyo (1938)
IJN Shinyo (1934)

Notoro (1920)
Kamoi (1922)
Chitose class (1936)
Mizuho (1938)
Nisshin (1939)

IJN Aux. Seaplane tenders
Akistushima (1941)
Shimane Maru class (1944)
Yamashiro Maru class (1944)

Imperial Japanese Navy Aviation

WW2 Japanese Destroyers
Mutsuki class (1925)
Fubuki class (1927)
Akatsuki class (1932)
Hatsuharu class (1932)
Shiratsuyu class (1935)
Asashio class (1936)
Kagero class (1938)
Yugumo class (1941)
Akitsuki class (1941)
IJN Shimakaze (1942)

WW2 Japanese Submarines
KD1 class (1921)
Koryu class
Kaiten class
Kairyu class
IJN Midget subs

WW2 Japanese Amphibious ships/Crafts
Shinshu Maru class (1935)
Akistu Maru class (1941)
Kumano Maru class (1944)
SS class LS (1942)
T1 class LS (1944)
T101 class LS (1944)
T103 class LS (1944)
Shohatsu class LC (1941)
Chuhatsu class LC (1942)
Moku Daihatsu class (1942)
Toku Daihatsu class (1944)

WW2 Japanese minelayers
IJN Armed Merchant Cruisers
WW2 Japanese Escorts
Tomozuru class (1933)
Otori class (1935)
Matsu class (1944)
Tachibana class (1944)
Ioshima class (1944)
WW2 Japanese Sub-chasers
WW2 Japanese MLs
Shinyo class SB

⚑ Neutral

Armada de Argentina Argentinian Navy

Rivadavia class Battleships
Cruiser La Argentina
Veinticinco de Mayo class cruisers
Argentinian Destroyers
Santa Fe class sub. Bouchard class minesweepers King class patrol vessels

Marinha do Brasil Brazilian Navy

Minas Gerais class Battleships (1912)
Cruiser Bahia
Brazilian Destroyers
Humaita class sub.
Tupi class sub.

Armada de Chile Armada de Chile

Almirante Latorre class battleships
Cruiser Esmeralda (1896)
Cruiser Chacabuco (1911)
Chilean DDs
Fresia class subs
Capitan O’Brien class subs

Søværnet Danish Navy

Niels Juel
Danish ww2 Torpedo-Boats Danish ww2 submarines Danish ww2 minelayer/sweepers

Merivoimat Finnish Navy

Coastal BB Ilmarinen
Finnish ww2 submarines
Finnish ww2 minelayers

Nautiko Hellenon Hellenic Navy

Greek ww2 Destroyers
Greek ww2 submarines
Greek ww2 minelayers

Marynarka Vojenna Polish Navy

Polish ww2 Destroyers
Polish ww2 cruisers
Polish ww2 minelayer/sweepers

Portuguese navy ww2 Portuguese Navy

Douro class DDs
Delfim class sub
Velho class gb
Albuquerque class gb
Nunes class sloops

Romanian Navy Romanian Navy

Romanian ww2 Destroyers
Romanian ww2 Submarines

Royal Norwegian Navy Sjøforsvaret

Norwegian ww2 Torpedo-Boats

Spanish Armada Spanish Armada

España class Battleships
Blas de Lezo class cruisers
Canarias class cruisers
Cervera class cruisers
Cruiser Navarra
Spanish Destroyers
Spanish Submarines
Dedalo seaplane tender
Spanish Gunboats
Spanish Minelayers

Svenska Marinen Svenska Marinen

Gustav V class CBBs (1918)
Interwar Swedish CBB projects

Tre Kronor class (1943)
Gotland (1933)
Fylgia (1905)

Ehrernskjold class DDs (1926)
Psilander class DDs (1926)
Klas Horn class DDs (1931)
Romulus class DDs (1934)
Göteborg class DDs (1935)
Mode class DDs (1942)
Visby class DDs (1942)
Öland class DDs (1945)

Swedish ww2 TBs
Swedish ww2 Submarines
Swedish ww2 Minelayers
Swedish ww2 MTBs
Swedish ww2 Patrol Vessels
Swedish ww2 Minesweepers

Türk Donanmasi Turkish Navy

Turkish ww2 Destroyers
Turkish ww2 submarines

Royal Yugoslav Navy Royal Yugoslav Navy

Dubrovnik class DDs
Beograd class DDs
Hrabi class subs

Royal Thai Navy Royal Thai Navy

Taksin class
Ratanakosindra class
Sri Ayuthia class
Puket class
Tachin class
Sinsamudar class sub

minor navies Minor Navies

naval aviation Naval Aviation
Latest entries

USN aviation
Boeing model 2/3/5 (1916)
Aeromarine 39 (1917)
Curtiss VE-7 (1918)
Aeromarine 40 (1919)
Douglas DT (1921)
Naval Aircraft Factory PT (1922)
Loening OL (1923)
Huff-Daland TW-5 (1923)
Martin MO (1924)
Consolidated NY (1926)
Vought FU (1927)
Vought O2U/O3U Corsair (1928)
Berliner-Joyce OJ (1931)
Curtiss SOC seagull (1934)
Grumman FF (1931)
Grumman F2F (1933)
Grumman F3F (1935)
Northrop BT-1 (1935)
Vultee V-11 (1935)
Grumman J2F Duck (1936)
Curtiss SBC Helldiver (1936)
Vought SB2U Vindicator (1936)
Brewster F2A Buffalo (1937)
Douglas TBD Devastator (1937)
Vought Kingfisher (1938)
Curtiss SO3C Seamew (1939)
Cessna AT-17 Bobcat (1939)
Douglas SBD Dauntless (1939) Grumman F4F Wildcat (1940)
Northrop N-3PB Nomad (1941)
Brewster SB2A Buccaneer (1941)
Grumman TBF/TBM Avenger (1941)
Consolidated TBY Sea Wolf (1941)
Grumman F6F Hellcat (1942)
Vought F4U Corsair (1942)
Curtiss SB2C Helldiver (1942)
Curtiss SC Seahawk (1944)
Douglas BTD Destroyer (1944)
Grumman F7F Tigercat (1943)
Grumman F8F Bearcat (1944)

Curtiss H (1917)
Curtiss F5L (1918)
Curtiss NC (1919)
Curtiss NC4 (1918)
Naval Aircraft Factory PN (1925)
Douglas T2D (1927)
Consolidated P2Y (1929)
Hall PH (1929)
Douglas PD (1929)
Douglas Dolphin (1931)
General Aviation PJ (1933)
Consolidated PBY Catalina (1935)
Fleetwings Sea Bird (1936)
Sikorsky VS-44 (1937)
Grumman G-21 Goose (1937)
Consolidated PB2Y Coronado (1937)
Beechcraft M18 (1937)
Sikorsky JRS (1938)
Boeing 314 Clipper (1938)
Martin PBM Mariner (1939)
Grumman G-44 Wigeon (1940)
Martin Mars (1943)
Goodyear GA-2 Duck (1944)
Edo Ose (1946)
Hugues Hercules (1947)

Japanese WW2 naval aviation
Mitsubishi 1MF
Mitsubishi A5M
Nakajima A4N
Mitsubishi A6M "zeke"

Mitsubishi B1M
Aichi D1A "Susie" (1934)
Aichi D3A "Val" (1940)
Aichi B7A "Grace" (1942)
Mitsubishi B5M (1937)
Nakajima B5N "Kate" (1937)
Nakajima B6N "Jill" (1941)
Yokosuka B4Y "Jean" (1935)
Yokosuka D4Y "Judy" (1942)
Yokosuka MXY-7 "Baka" (1944)
Mitsubishi G3M "Nell" (1935)
Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" (1941)
Yokosuka P1Y1 "Frances" (1943)

Aichi M6A1-K Nanzan (1943)
Kyushu K10W1 "Oak" (1941)
Kyushu K11W1 Shiragiku (1942)
Kyushu Q1W1-K "Lorna" (1943)
Mitsubishi K3M "Pine" (1930)
Yokosuka K5Y1 "Willow" (1933)
Yokosuka MXY-7K-1 "Kai" (1944)
Yokosuka MXY-8 Akigusa

Nakajima E4N
Nakajima E14Y
Nakajima E8N "Dave"
Mitsubishi F1M "pete"
Kawanishi E7K
Kawanishi H6K
Kawanishi E11K
Kawanishi K6K
Kawanishi K8K
Kawanishi E15K Shiun
Kawanishi H8K "Emily"
Kawanishi N1K1 "Rex"

Italian WW2 air arm
CANT Z.501 Gabbiano
CANT Z.506 Airone
Fiat RS.14
IMAM Ro.43
IMAM Ro.44
Macchi M5

British Fleet Air Arm
Carrier planes
Fairey Flycatcher (1922)
Blackburn Backburn (1923)
Blackburn Dart (1924)
Fairey IIIF (1927)
Fairey Seal (1930)
Blackburn Shark (1931)
Blackburn Baffin (1934)
Vickers Vildebeest (1933)
Blackburn Ripon (1934)
Fairey Swordfish (1934)
Gloster Gladiator (1938)
Fairey Albacore (1940)
Fairey Fulmar (1940)
Grumman Martlet (1941)
Hawker sea Hurricane (1941)
Brewster Bermuda (1942)
Fairey Barracuda (1943)
Grumman Tarpon (1943)
Grumman Gannet (1943)
Supermarine seafire (1943)
Fairey Firefly (1943)
Blackburn Firebrand (1944)

Supermarine Southampton (1925)
Blackburn Iris (1926)
Hawker Osprey (1930)
Short Rangoon (1930)
Short Valetta (1930)
Fairey Seal (1930)
Supermarine Scapa (1935)
Supermarine Stranraer (1936)
Supermarine Walrus (1936)
Fairey Seafox (1936)
Short Sunderland (1937)
Saro Lerwick (1940)
Short Shetland (1944)

The Cold War

Royal Navy Royal Navy
Sovietskaya Flota Sovietskiy flot
US Navy USN (1990)

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