The Blackburn Skua was a pre-war low-wing monoplane dive bomber with a distinctive 'greenhouse' cockpit. The Skua was constructed as an all-metal aircraft which diverged from Royal Navy tradition of fabric covered aircraft. It was also the Fleet Air Arm's first naval dive-bomber and their first deck-landing aircraft to have flaps, retractable landing gear and a variable-pitch propeller. Advanced in concept, it was nevertheless nearing obsolescence when it entered service. The Skua was originally intended to act also as two-seat fighter, however it was not suitable for that role. All types were withdrawn from first-line service in 1941.
The first of two prototypes flew at Brough on 9 February, 1937. It was then sent to the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment at Martlesham Heath for handling trials. By this time 190 orders had come in for the Skua. The first production aircraft flew at Brough on 28 August, 1938, and subsequently between October 1938 and March 1940 the 190 aircraft were delivered. The first operational unit, 800 squadron started to be equipped with the Skua from October 1938 and was part of the fron-line squadrons inventory until 1941. The very last Skua in FAA service was L3034 which served with 776 squadron until March 1945.
Fleet Air Arm history
        Total FAA 1939-1945              192
        First delivered to RN:              Entered Service: 28.8.1938
        First squadron 1939-1945:        800 sqdn 10.1938
        Operational squadron:              800 sqdn 10.1938
        Last served with RN                1944/45 (front-line in 1941)

2 Protypes (K5178, K5179)

Dld 2.37 from Brough to A&AEE 6.1937 for Performance trials.
End 9.39 ditching trials from HMS Pegasus.


190 ordered 7.36 under contract No 534298/36 to specification 25/36.

First RN     Entered Service: 28.8.1938. To 9.1938 to A&AEE for electrical, oil, diving and night flying (L2867)
First sqdn:  800 sqdn 10.38 L2869
First op:     803 sqdn ĎA7Mí FTR from attack on U-30 off Rockall Bank 14.9.39 Lt
                 Griffiths RM POW and PO J Simpson killed.
End RN      8.44 L3045 776 sqdn Speke Woodvale, 776 sqdn 10.44 L3040, 3.45 to 776 sqdn L3034

Aircraft Type:
Blackburn Skua
Primary Role:
Naval fighter/dive-bomber
First Flight: 
Date operating with FAA squadrons:
August 1938-1944/1945
One 905 hp 9 cylinder Bristol Perseus XII radial engine
 Wing Span: Length: Height: Wing Area: 
Wingspan 46.2 ft (14.07 m) 
Length 35.6 ft (10.85 m) 
Height12.4 ft (3.79 m) 
Wingarea 312 sq ft (28.98 sq m)
Empty Weight: Max.Weight:
Weight empty  5,490 lb (2,490 kg) 
 max.  8,228 lb (3,732 kg)
Speed 225 mph (362 km/h) 
Ceiling 19,095 ft (5,820 m) 
Range 800 mi (1,287 km)
Four .303in forward firing machine guns in wings with One Lewis gun on flexibale mount in rear cockpit.
One 500lb bomb beneath fuselage and 8 30lb practice bombs on underwing racks.
Battle honours:
Additional references and notes:
Battle Honours and operational History
Hostilities did not heat up again until 1940, a period where the Skua is more known for its dive-bomber role. At dawn on 10 April 1940, 16 Skua aircraft from the 800 and 803 squadrons flying from Hatston in the Orkneys sank the German cruiser Konigsberg in Bergen harbour. Eleven days later most of the Skuas were destroyed after an attack at Narvik.

Mild success occurred immediately after that on 28 April 1940, when Skua L3000 of 800 squadron, flown by Lt GED Finch-Noyes and PO HG Cunningham, shot down a German He111 over Convoy TM1. The kill was shared with Skuas L2934 and A6G.

On 13 June 1940, calamity again occurred when 800 squadron (HMS Ark Royal) was involved in dive bombing the German Capital ship Scharnhorst at Trondheim, during which many of the aircraft were shot down by Bf109s of II/JG77, Stornfjord, Fosen and even the Commanding Officer Capt RT Partridge RM flying Skua L2995 was lost. He was taken PoW and Lt RS Bostock killed.

The Skua was again in combat the following month during the Dunkirk evacuation. On 31 May 1940, a Skua flown by Mid RMS Martin and NA R Hedger from 801 squadron at Detling, it took part in combat with Bf109s ovcer Dunkirk, both crew were wounded.

On 24 September 1940 Skua "A7K' of 803 squadron of HMS Ark Royal took part in the Operation Menace attack on French warships at Dakar. It led an attack on French Curtiss Hawk 75s, but was hit by HA fire, and force landed. The crew were recovered by HMS Forester.

Then on 27 November, 1940, Skua L3015 "6F' from 800 squadron on HMS Ark Royal, flown by Lt JA Pooper and Sub Lt GR Woolston along with Skuas shared L2900, L3007, and L3017, took part in a divebombing attack on Monte Cuccioli, and on its return shot down an Italian Ro43 in the sea in flames off Sardinia.

Fleet Air Arm Museum (UK). Blackburn Skua II L2940 forward cockpit section.

Associations and reunions
No information
BLACKBURN SKUA webpage  Includes details of successes and history. 
Three recollection articles about Skua by S/Ldr D.H. Clarke, DFC AFC
The Decision Is Always The Pilot's - Roc Versus Heinkel He59
The Shunned Skua - Memories Of Flying The Blackburn Skua
Ghost Fighters over Dunkirk - Flying The Skua Over Dunkirk At Night
Blackburn Skua details by FAA SIG Skua restoration cockpit photographs
ADC Skua in British Aircraft of the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm and the RAF Downloadable ADC pdf file of technical specifications.
Aircraft Profiles by FAUCONBERG AEROGRAPHICS Profile including BLACKBURN SKUA II, 800 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service, H.M.S. Ark Royal, South Atlantic, November 1939
  Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995) 'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to 1945'  Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1995 ISBN: 085130 232 7 
Created 3-4-1999, Modified 3-4-2000


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