Courtesy of the Swordfish Heritage Trust
There are more Swordfish flying now than there has been since the early
1950's. There are four known airworthy and frequently flying Swordfish
and up to 17 including static airframes around the World. Two airworthy
examples are in the UK and a further two in Canada, although another 2
are potentially airworthy. A substantial industry has built up around
restoring and maintaining warbirds, and it is true to say that with the
exception of parts of the engines, it is possible to build a new Swordfish
from scratch, or even as replicas as the New Zealand example shows.
Delivered to RNHF This is the only Mk I flying today, but it is not the oldest airworthy UK airshows. Again a ‘Blackfish’, W5856 was built by Blackburn at Sherborn-in-Elmet and first flew on Trafalgar Day (October 21) 1941. She served with the Mediterranean Fleet for a year before being returned to Fairey’s Stockport factory for refurbishment. Used for advanced flying training and trials, the machine was then relocated to Canada where she was used again in the training role and then stored in reserve until war’s end. Passing through at least two civilian owners after disposal, she was purchased by Sir William Roberts and bought to Scotland to join his Strathallan Collection. Bought in 1990 by British Aerospace for presentation to the Swordfish Heritage Trust, the partly restored airframe went to BAe Brough for a complete restoration to flying condition, her engine was ‘zero-houred’ by Rolls Royce at Filton. Both Companies have invested superb craftsmanship in this aircraft, bringing it to ‘better-than-new’ condition. Making her first public appearance on 22nd May 1993, the RNHF’s ‘new’ Swordfish is in fact the oldest in existence. As a contrast to LS326’s well-known wartime markings W5856 is painted in the pre-war colours of 810 Squadron embarked in Ark Royal, wearing the codes [A2A]. She has also been adopted by the City of Leeds and wears the city's coat of arms on her fuselage.
To the Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, New Zealand in
1986. Marked "4C'. Delivered to the Fleet Air Arm in MNovember 1941. Served
with 813 squadron 1942.
Airworthy Fairey Swordfish Mk II (the "gem" in our collection). Originally delivered on 10 February 1943, this Swordfish was operating with 841 squadron from April 1943 and known to have flown from Manston to Lee-on-Solent. It was tested after shipment to Canada, at Darmouth on 12.7.1943, and then was delivered to 745 squadron on 28.8.1943. HS469 was involved in a Category c accident when it undershot the runway on landing on 8 August 1944, at 1 WS, Mount Hope. HS469 was SOC RCAF on 17 August 1946. She was rebuilt in 1990 at Toronto, and delivered to the Shearwater Museum, Dartmouth, NS in 1992.
HS491 served with 745 sqdn RT Flight at Yarmouth from September 1943 until December 1944. Parts of HS491 were used to restore HS469 and HS554.
HS498 served with 745 squadron in 1943. she was delivered to RCAF Mount Hope in 1946. HS498 was subsequently sold to Karl Enholder of Vancouver, BC and is Extant.
Swordfish MkIV HS503
RN Historic Flight (UK)
HS503 served with 745 squadron in 1943, thence with 754 squadron from 1944 till 1945. SOC RCAF in 1946. Post war preserved at the Aerospace Museum, Cosford (UK), and currently is extant with the RNHF at Yeovilton (UK).
Parts - static - Airworthy?
HS509 served with 745 squadron in 1943. Parts of HS509 were used to restore HS469 and HS554.
The Swordfish HS 554 is the only one of its kind to be registered privately. It was restored and is extant at Bob Spence Farm, Muirkirk, Ontario. HS554, flew 362 hours during the war on Canada's east coast, serving with 745 squadron RT Flight Yarmouth 1943-1944. Bob Spence, of Muirkirk Ontario, bought his first Swordfish as a derelict at the Ernie Simmons estate sale near Tillsonburg, on Labor Day weekend, 1970. Over the next few years, three more Swordfish relics were purchased for parts. Over twenty-one years, Bob, with the help of many friends and volunteers, gradually brought the huge biplane back to life. Using original patterns and materials specified in a 1934 Fairey Aviation list, they pooled their enthusiasm and skill in the reconstruction project. Containing 60% newly manufactured parts, Bob's Swordfish first flew on 17 August, 1992 with Bob at the controls. Since then, it has become a familiar and popular sight at airshows and events in southern Ontario, recalling the history made by the machine and the men who flew her.
At the time of writing Spence was aged 65, a COPA Pioneer and currently flies the Swordfish and a Chipmunk. His is a most remarkable effort, achieved with the help of many volunteers and without any government financial support.(see Canadian and Owners Pilot Association COPA awards)
HS618 served with 834 squadron in 1943, then post war was located at RNEC Manadon 1960. With the oppening of the Yeovilton museum HS618 was moved to the FAA Museum and is extant. HS618 when on display has been marked as W5984 then as P4139.
LS326 was built in 1943 at Sherburn-in Elmet in Yorkshire by Blackburns and is therefore really a ‘Blackfish’. She saw active service flying on North Atlantic convoy duties with ‘L’ Flight of 836 Squadron on board the MAC ship ‘Rapana’. After the war she flew from the naval air stations at Culham (Oxford) and Worthy Down (Winchester) before going to Fairy Aviation as G-AJVH. In 1960 she came back to the Navy and was painted for a starring role in the film ‘Sink the Bismarck’. She now wears her wartime 836 Squadron colours. In 1960 she returned to the Navy and was painted for a starring role in the film ‘Sink the Bismarck’ with the codes [5A]. She is presently one of only three active airworthy Swordfish in the world and of the fifteen surviving examples, four of them are currently based at Yeovilton. At the present time LS326 wears her wartime 836 Squadron markings and wears the codes [L2]. In May 1999 she was adopted by the City of Liverpool and she wears the city's coat of arms on her fuselage. She is currently resting in the RNHF hangar for the 2000 airshow season, leaving W5856 to solely fly the RNHF flag at Airshows across the UK.
Currently under restoration to a static exhibit (2000). Originally delivered to the RAF in February 1945
to the Royal Navy in April 1944, thence served with the RAF 1945 and returned
to the RN in 1946. Another static aircraft destined for airworthiness is
Swordfish III NF389, this aircraft has a non-working engine and it found
its way onto the deck of a Royal Navy ship during 1996. This aircraft was
on outdoor static display at RNAS Lee-On-Solent for a number of years after
having a early limited airshow career during the fifties and she also starred
in the film 'Sink the Bismarck.' The airframe was used as a stencil in
the rebuild of W5856 at BAe Brough. It was there that NF389 was given restoration
to static display standard and a new paint scheme, and it now wears the
squadron code letter [D]. NF389 was then moved down permanently to the
RNHF Hangar at RNAS Yeovilton following its static performance at the station's
Air Day on 13th July 1996. Following a period of 'storage' and being used
as a source of essential spares to keep LS326 and W5856 airworthy the 'RNHF
restoration team' at BAe Brough offered to take on the task to make NF389
airworthy again, hopefully emerging as an night-flying Mark III. Her Pegasus
engine has been almost completely rebuilt whilst the rest of the airframe
was moved to Brough on 25th January 1999 to begin a restoration programme
that is expected to take around two years to complete. A preliminary date
of January 2001 looks to be the date when NF389 returns to Yeovilton.
Manufacturer: Blackburn Aircraft Ltd., Great Britain Aquisition Date: 1965
Little is known about the museum Swordfish's history, as the aircraft's
original identity was lost in its years of outdoor storage at a farm in
Tillsonburg, Ontario. It was purchased by the museum in 1965 and assigned
a fictitious identity. Airworthy: Spurious serial "NS133" painted on the
unidentified restored aircraft in the National Museum of Canada, 1965.
Marked "TH-M" and extant.
See more photos of this aircraft
National Aviation Museum (Canada)
Swordfish MkII. Registration #: Not Known
National Air and Space Museum (USA)
Static example serial not known
Static - awaiting restoration 2000
The museum's Swordfish was acquired in 1995 and is awaiting restoration.
Static - awaiting restoration
The Collection ultimately wishes to asssure restoration to airworthy
condition of its ex RCAF Fairey Swordfish. Meanwhile it is stored awaiting
Bristol Heritage Collection email
Nashville, TENNESSEE USA.
Telephone: (615) 646-2473.
CAPTURED SWORDFISH - status unknown
Whilst srving with 820 squadron of HMS Ark Royal took part in a bombing raid on Cagliari Sardinia . The Swordfish was hit by AA and force landed on the enemy airfield of Elmas, and captured at Bacu Abis, Sardinia 2.8.40. The Swordfish was taken to Caproni and repaired at Elmas. P4127 was fitted with an Alfa Romeo 125 engine and sent to the Stabilimento Costruzioni Aeronautiche, Guidonia, Italy where she was listed February 1941-April 1942. It is not known if the aircraft survived the war.
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