Known affectionally as “ Old Stringbags”, the Fairey Swordfish was a sturdy and robust biplane torpedo bomber designed by the Fairey Aviation Company in the early 1930s and operated by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy.
With a full metal airframe covered in fabric and featuring folding wings as a space-saving measure for its aircraft carrier duties, the Swordfish’s unusual nickname was not due to its biplane struts, spars, and braces, but a reference to the seemingly endless variety of stores and equipment that the type was cleared to carry. Crews likened the aircraft to a housewife's string shopping bag, common at the time and which could accommodate contents of any shape, and that a Swordfish, like the shopping bag, could carry anything.
The primary weapon of the Swordfish was the aerial torpedo, but the low speed of the biplane and the need for a long straight approach made it difficult to deliver against well-defended targets. Swordfish torpedo operations called for an approach at 5,000 feet followed by a dive to torpedo release altitude of 18 feet.
With the maximum range of the early Mark XII torpedo being only 1,500 yards and requiring over 300 yards from point of water entry to stabilise at preset depth and arm itself, this meant that the ideal release distance was barely 1,000 yards from target - leaving the Swordfish perilously exposed to the ship’s massive firepower.
The intensity of Coastal Command's Swordfish operations was drastically increased following the German invasion of the Low Countries, expanding to involve four Swordfish-equipped squadrons. Swordfish crews were dispatched to strike strategic targets off the coasts of Netherlands and Belgium on daylight raids, during which they were typically subjected to heavy anti-aircraft fire and interception by Luftwaffe fighter aircraft such as the BF 110 and 109 for which the Fairey Swordfish were no match.
Despite this, the Swordfish achieved some spectacular successes during the war; including the sinking one battleship and damaging two others of the the Italian Navy during the Battle of Taranto. It also played a pivotal role in the famous attack on the Bismarck, which contributed to her eventual demise. By the end of the war, the Swordfish held the distinction of having caused the destruction of a greater tonnage of Axis shipping than any other Allied aircraft.
All Fairey Swordfish Instruments listed below come complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.
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FAIREY SWORDFISH BOMB SELECTOR TOGGLE
FAIREY SWORDFISH 'BATHTUB' MORSE CODE SENDER KEY
Fairey Swordfish Torpedo Bomber Bathtub' Morse Code Sender Key...