The Fairey Swordfish in Profile
It was big, slow - unbelievably slow if you were an attacking German
or Italian pilot, and a holdover from another age, yet the Fairey Swordfish
was to serve until after the end of WWII in one capacity or another.
Famed for its torpedo attacks on Taranto and the Bismarck, the 'Stringbag'
also served as a bomber, rocket and radar equipped strike aircraft.
Not bad for something that looked like it belong 20 years earlier in
the Kaiser's war.
Entering service in the late-1930s, the Swordfish was to carry many
different schemes during its service career, some of which are shown
here. The earliest Swordfish were finished in aluminum dope on all fabric
surfaces and cerrux grey on all metal surfaces. Additional markings
were a coloured fuselage band to indicate assigned ship and a large
number to show the individual aircraft's number within the Fleet Air
Fairey Swordfish Mk.I L9781
No.820 Sqn FAA
HMS Ark Royal
Aircraft 650 shows the Ark Royal's colours of a blue/red/blue band,
aircraft belonging to No.814 Sqn carried the same colours, but in a
chevron pattern. Also note that type A roundels are carried - these
feature a bright red and blue, not the more familiar dark colours of
wartime usage. One more point to be noted by model builders is that
the torpedo is a practice one as denoted by its red warhead - 'live'
ones carried no additional colours.
Fairey Swordfish Mk.I L2732
No.821 Sqn FAA
Another prewar Swordfish is a/c 685 of No.821 Sqn assigned to HMS Courageous.
This aircraft is finished as above with the addition of the fleet number
repeated under the upper wing.
Fairey Swordfish Mk.I K5959
No.823 Sqn FAA
The Tamiya kit contains markings for another of Glorious' aircraft,
note the different fin markings between K5972/804 (the Tamiya option),
and K5959/809. The former has a black fin with white bars, while the
latter is in the pattern shown above. The fleet number is in black with
a thin silver outline, upper fuselage decking and cowl are black.
Fairey Swordfish Mk.I P4084
No.765 Sqn FAA
With the coming of war, the FAA's aircraft were quickly done up in
camouflage colours. Initially they were in Dark Sea Grey and Extra Dark
Slate Grey (a greenish colour to you and I), with the upper surfaces
of the lower wings being in Dark Sea Grey and Light Slate Grey to provide
shadow compensation from the upper wing. The undersurfaces are in Sky
Grey (NOT Sky)
Fairey Swordfish Mk.I K8422
No.820 Sqn FAA
An interesting mix of roundels are visible on K8422, the fuselage roundel
is now of type A1, upperwing are type B, while those on the bottom wing
are type A.
Fairey Swordfish Mk.I V4373
No.815 Sqn FAA
By 1942 lower surfaces and fuselage side were now in Sky, and roundels
were of type A1 on the fuselage and type B1 on the upper wings. No roundels
were carried under the lower wing.
Fairey Swordfish Mk.II W5970
No.815 Sqn FAA
Another aircraft from No.815 Sqn is shown here with the undersurfaces
painted 'night' (black) as part of a plan to attack the French port
of Lorient. Roundels are as above. Note ROYAL NAVY and serial are now
Fairey Swordfish Mk.II W5858
N0.837 Sqn FAA
As well as being carried by the large Fleet carriers, the Swordfish
was also used onboard the smaller escort carriers that helped to close
the mid-ocean gap that had previously been devoid of air cover.. That
seen here is from the carrier HMS Dasher
Fairey Swordfish Mk.II NF243
No.816 Sqn FAA
The next big change was to go with a white fuselage and undersurfaces,
uppersurfaces were still in standard camouflage. NF243 carries D-Day
stripes with a thin white outline to the outside white stripes on both
fuselage and wings surfaces where they border white. Roundels are now
type C1 on the fuselage and type B on upperwings, none on lower wing.
Fairey Swordfish Mk.II NE932
No.819 Sqn FAA
Overall 'Night' with white invasion stripes added to fuselage and wings.
ROYAL NAVY and serial are in red. Roundels as above.
Fairey Swordfish Mk.III NR944
RCNAS Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
Postwar the Swordfish survived in various capacities, that seen here
is a radar-equipped Mk.III of the Royal Canadian Navy. Once again in
overall aluminum with a black trimmed cowl. On radar equipped aircraft,
the operator's cockpit was partially covered over to prevent glare on
the scope screen.
Fairey Swordfish Mk.III NF933
Seen here in Extra Dark Sea Gray and Sky finish is Mk.III NF933. Roundels
in all positions are of type A
Scale Aircraft Modeling: April 1984: Swordfish feature by Ian
Huntley and Alan Hall with illustrations by Mike Weeks
Correspondence with Chris Banyai-Riepl, Will Riepl, Robert Karr,