Air Weapons

Fairey

Barracuda

The Fairey Barracuda was the last in line of wartime successors to the legendary Swordfish and had the distinction of being the Fleet Air Arm's first monoplane torpedo bomber which made it far more capable than the Swordfish or its immediate predecessor, the Albacore (both of which were biplanes). Initially, it suffered from engine problems during development leading to the cancellation of the planned powerplant (the Rolls-Royce Exe), something which required replacing it with the more reliable Merlin which was somewhat underpowered for this type of aircraft. Nevertheless it was produced in quantity and was used by the FAA as a torpedo-bomber and occasionally as a dive bomber during the strikes against the Tirpitz in 1944, some were fitted. It was also used extensively with the British Pacific fleet in the last year of the war and continued in production until early 1946.

The Barracuda prototype first flew on 7 December 1940 but did not enter service until 1943 due to the aforementioned engine development problems. The Mk. I was the first variant built although production quickly switched to the Mk. II which was the first version actually produced in significant quantities. The Mk. II had a Merlin 32 engine in place of the Merlin 30 found in the Mk. I, as well as a ASV Mk IIN radar. Later, the Mk. III was built as a torpedo-reconnaissance aircraft with an ASV Mk X radar. The last major variant was the Mk. V which did not see action during the war. It was intended for service in the Pacific and was equipped with a more powerful Griffon engine and a wing-mounted radar pod and was produced up until 1946.

Preceded by:

Albacore (1940)

Succeeded by:

None

Datafile

DesignBarracuda Mk. II
TypeTorpedo Bomber
Year1943
Crew3
Dimensions
Length12.12 m
Height4.60 m
Wing Span14.99 m
Wing Area34.1 m²
Weight
Empty4,241 kg
Maximum6,396 kg
Wing Loading187.6 kg/m²
Performance
Speed367 km/h
Ceiling5,060 m
Range1,851 km
Powerplant
Engine1 x Merlin 32
Rolls-Royce
1,223 kW
Thrust/Weight0.35
Armament
Guns2 x .303-in
Vickers K
Payload907 kg
AA WeaponsGP 250-lb
Mk. XII/XV
Production
Built1,635
Total2,602