Albacore I N4159 of 826 squadron 1941


The Fairey "Albacore" was a single-engine biplane designed as a torpedo-spotter reconnaissance aircraft to specification S.41/36. It was a all-metal monocoque fuselaged biplane, with wings braced with wire and covered with fabric. It also had an heated enclosed cabin and was nicknamed the  "Applecore" and regarded pleasant to fly.
Two protypes were constructed, the first prototype L7074 first flew on 12 December 1938. Fairey subsequently built 803 Albacore, and it was planned to be a successor to the Fairey Swordfish. The Albacore was first delivered to the Royal Navy on 15 March 1940. By 1942 there were 15 Fleet Air Arm squadrons equipped with the Albacore, several of them shore-based in North Africa. The main use of the Albacore was in coastal operations, the aircraft usually operating singly at night.

The Albacore was retired before the Swordfish, and started to be replaced from 1942 by the Fairey Barracuda and Grumman Avenger. With it no longer being used in operational squadrons, the Albacore was put to other uses. The last 400 built some were used to equip second line sqiuadrons especially in the Middle East to Aden and Khormaksar, and Hal Far in Malta, South Africa at Wingfield, East Africa including Tanga, and RNARY Nairobi, as well as Coimbatore, and Trinidad. They were by this time used also for specialist services. For example, X8967 was used in the East Africa Anti Locust flight (ME) from 8 June 1945 at Nairobi, and Juba. Many of these last 400 were subsequently equipped to the RAF 1944-1946.

The Albacore was also used by the other services. The Albacore being equipped to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), the first to the RCN being in May 1943 (eg X8947, X8952 etc ). It also was equipped to the RAF and RCAF,  first being L7080 to 415 squadron,  for use in coastal operations, the Albacore breing equipped to 415 squadron till June 1944 (eg X8940). The Albacore also saw service with 36 squadron from January 1942 (eg T9135) and 119 squadron from July 1944 (eg T9150 and X8940). It was the last operational biplane to be used by the RCAF with 6 aircraft (1943-1949).

Fleet Air Arm history

100 Fairey Albacore I ordered under Contract No. 625954/37 to specification 41/36 Serial Numbers L7074-L7173, built at Hayes.

Total Built to FAA:          100
First delivered to RN:        A & AEE Boscombe Down, June 1939 (2nd Prototype - L7075)
Last remaining with RN     April 1945 (L7165) to Cowdray Park
First squadron:                 September 1939 to 767 squadron at Donibristle (First production aircraft L7076)
First operation squadron:    826 squadron at Ford April 1940 (L7081). This squadron was equiped with many Albacore at this time.

300 Fairey Albacore I ordered under contract no. 625954/37 to spec 41/36
Serial Numbers: N4152-N4554, built at Hayes. 100 aircraft from N4426 cancelled.

Total Built to FAA:             200
First delivered:                    August 1940 to 38 MU (N4152)
First operational squadron:    825 squadron in August 1940 (N4154), then 828 in September 1940 at Lee (N4153).
                                        Many delivered to operational squadrons August 1940 eg to 827 and 828 squadrons.

100 Fairey Albacore I ordered under contract no. B35944/39
Serial Numbers: T9131- T9260, built at Hayes.

Total Built to FAA:            100
First delivered:                   82 MU 4.41 (T9131)
First squadron:                   826 sqaudron in January 1942 (T9149)
Last with RN:                    750 squadron at Parco in August 1945 (T9139, T9171 SOC RAF 9.5.46

250 Fairey Albacore I ordered under contract no. B35944/39
Serial Numbers: X8940-X9290, built at Hayes.

Total Built to FAA:            250
First delivered:                    August  1941 to 82 MU (X8940)
First squadron:                    September 1941 to 827 squadron (X8944). Many to East Africa, Middle East and Aden.
                                         Most were delivered in 1942, and some still in 1944.
Last with RN:                     However, the last was delivered in Feb-December 1946 to Aden CF (eg X9259 and X9287 2.46 Aden
                                        CF, Khormaksar).

150 Fairey Albacore I ordered under contract no. B35944/39
Serial Numbers: BF584-BF777, built at Hayes.

Total Built to FAA:           150
First delivered:                   March 1942 to 76 MU
First squadron:                   823 squadron on May 1942  (eg BF590). Many to Wingfield, Hal Far, Tanga, Coimbatore, Trinidad.
                                       RNARY Nairobi
Last with RN:                   February 1946 to 700 squadron at Worthy Down.

Aircraft Type:
Fairey Albacore Mk.I
Primary Role:
Torpedo bomber
First Flight: 
prototype 12 December 1938
Date operating with FAA squadrons:
15 March 1940-1946
One Bristol Taurus XII two-row radial engine (1,130 HP -843kW) 
 Wing Span: Length: Height: Wing Area: 
Wing Span: 50 ft (15.24m) Length: 40 ft (12.14m) Height: 12.5 ft (4.32m) Wing Area: 607 sq ft (57.88 sq m)
Empty Weight: Max.Weight:
Empty Weight: 7,250 lb (3289kg) Max.Weight: 12,500 lb (4745kg)



159 mph (256km/h) 

20,700 ft (6310m) 

932 miles (1500km) 

One forward firing .303in machine gun in starboard wing with 2 Vickers K in rear cockpit, One 1610lb torpedo, six 250lb or four 500lb bombs
Battle honours:
English Channel 1939-1945, Kirkenes, Mediterranean, Cape Matapan, Libya, Norway.
Additional references and notes:
Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995)  'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to 1945'  Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1995 ISBN: 0 85130 232 7 

Battle Honours and Operational History

Albacore X9254 in North Africa markings

The Albacore saw  intense action from the Arctic to Malaya. Missions included target marking with flares, close support of troops with bombs, minelaying of European harbours and sinking E-Boats.

The First Albacore to see enemy action and being shot down by enemy aircraft was Albacore I L7081 from 826 squadron operating from Bircham Newton. It was involved in an attack on De Kooy air base and Den Helder naval base in Holland. It was subsequently shot down in flames by Bf109 over Texel on the night of 21/22 June 1940. Lt JL Mackenzie-Bell, Sub Lt FB  Hookins, and na1 rg poole all killed). On the same operation, L7089 was shot by Bf109s over Texel, and crashed near Dechavij Iinsel. Sub Lt WS Butterworth and L/A RJ Jackson were taken POW, and Sub Lt VJ Dyke was captured but died of wounds. Jackson later died as a prisoner on 18 January 1945.

The Albacore served with distinction in several actions in the Mediterranean, notably at the Battle of Cape Matapan in March, 1942, where it launched its first major torpedo attack of its career.

Highlights in the career of this aircraft also included the sinking of the German  torpedo-boat 'Grief', on 24 May 1944, and the suppression of enemy E-boats which attempted to interfere with Allied shipping following the invasion of Normandy.

The Albacore also saw action with the RAF. On 26 January 1942 Albacore I T9135 of 36 squadron was lost or damaged attacking enemy shipping off Endau, Malaya.

Surviving aircraft and relics

          There is only one surviving Fairey Albacore left in the World. it is preserved at
          the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Ilchester (UK). This is Fairey Albacore Serial No.
          'N4389 / N4172'. It is a restoration composite aircraft. The tail of N4389 was salvaged
          for the Fleet Air Arm Museum in 1984 for inclusion in the restored 'N4389/4M'.
          N4389 took part in the Kirkenes raid in Arctic Finland soon after the Invasion of
          the Soviet Union by Germany in July 1941. It was shot down in a torpedo attack on
          ships anchored at bokfjord and crashed east of Reinoy. The crew of Sub Lt D Myles,
          Sub Lt AP Keep and L/A HC Griffin were all taken POW by the Germans.

          The remaining part of the aircraft, 'N4172' is from the wreckage of a 828 squadron
          aircraft which got lost in a blizzard during an anti-submarine patrol off Hatston. It crashed
          at A'Mhoine, Whiten Head, Sutherland. The aircrew of Lt Cdr LA Cubitt, Sub Lt MG
          Goodger and PO DE Polmeeer were all injured. The observer as picked up by Walrus
          W2676 of 700 squadron fromn Hatston. The wreckage was recovered by Puma
           helicopter in 1974, and later forwarded to the FAA Museum.

Fleet Air Arm Museum, Ilchester Fairey Albacore Serial No. N4389 / N4172

Associations and reunions
None known
Fairey Albacore by FAA SIG Close up photos of the preserved FAA Museum Albacore
FAUCONBERG AEROGRAPHICS An A-Z of Aircraft Profiles by FAUCONBERG AEROGRAPHICS. and the Fairey Albacore The Fairey Albacore was the last operational biplane to be used by the RCAF and the only one ever to serve Overseas with that Service. 
Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995)  Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995)  'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to 1945'  Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1995 ISBN: 0 85130 232 7 
Created 3-4-1999, Modified 3-4-2000


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