No. 13301. Fairey Barracuda Mk.I (P9659 c/n 4587) Royal Navy
Aeroplane Photo Supply (APS) Photo No. 2526

Fairey Barracuda Mk.I

12/15/2017. Remarks by Johan Visschedijk: "The Royal Navy operated four versions of Fairey's angular Barracuda and the type remained in service in one form or another (albeit with a short post-war break) from January 1943 until 1953. Even if it was not the best-looking aircraft ever to be foisted upon a long-suffering Fleet Air Arm, it won respect for its prodigious load-carrying capability, if not for its handling qualities.

Designed to meet the requirements of Specification S.24/37, the Fairey Type 100, as the Barracuda was originally known, was intended as a replacement for the Albacore biplane torpedo bomber. The prototype, serialed P1767, flew for the first time on December 7, 1940. But because of the pressure of more urgent calls for other types of combat aircraft the design effectively remained on the shelf for a further two years, although a second prototype, P1770, flew in June 1941.

Series production of the Barracuda Mk.I began in early1942 and the first production aircraft flew on May 18 that year. Only 25, powered by the 1,260 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin 30, were built. The Barracuda Mk.II was powered by the 1,640 hp Merlin 32. Production began during the latter part of 1942 at Fairey's Stockport factory, Blackburn at Brough, and Boulton and Paul at Wolverhampton. Last of the wartime Barracudas was the Mk.III, generally similar to the Mk.II but equipped with ASV Mk.X radar for anti-submarine reconnaissance. Total production of the Marks I, II and III was 2,572 aircraft, the majority of which were Mk.IIs. The first of this variant entered service with 827 Squadron in January 1943 and a year later the Barracuda establishment in the Royal Navy had grown to twelve front-line squadrons.

Although originally conceived as a torpedo bomber, the aircraft will be best remembered as a dive bomber. One of the most famous Barracuda actions was the series of dive-bombing attacks against the German battleship Tirpitz in Kaafiord, Norway, between April and August 1944.

After VJ-Day most Barracuda squadrons were disbanded, with only three remaining operational by the beginning of 1946. A small force of Barracuda Mk.IIIs was formed in 1947 to perform the anti-submarine patrol role until the arrival of the Grumman Avenger in 1953.

Last of all the Barracuda variants was the Mk.V, which entered service in 1947. It was an almost entirely new aircraft, powered by a 2,020 hp Rolls-Royce Griffon in place of the earlier versions' Merlin and featuring wings and vertical tail of substantially altered shape. Only about thirty were built and none was to enter front-line service, the aircraft equipping only 750 Squadron at St Merryn and 783 Squadron at RNAS Lee-on-Solent."

Created December 15, 2017