Calendar Plane of the Month November: Fairey Swordfish Mk I

November's Plane of the Month is the Fairey Swordfish, famous for crippling the German battleship Bismarck in May 1941; which is the incident illustrated on the gift set box (which includes paints) of the new Airfix 1/72 scale model.

This is a great image and is far superior to the conventional kit box art which is rather dull in comparison.  The model itself came out about a year ago, replacing the 1960's original and has had superlative reviews.  In fact it has been said that it is one of the five best model kits Airfix has released.  The model makers measured up a real one to get the proportions exactly right.

The new picture is also better than the one that Triple P remembers from his childhood which was not considered a very accurate model.

The Fairey Swordfish was originally developed at the request of the Greek Naval Air Service.  When the Greeks changed their minds the plane was offered to the Air Ministry as a  spotter plane.  It was decided to add the ability to launch a torpedo and the first model flew in 1934.

Although already obsolete by the outbreak of World War 2 the Swordfish contributed to two major British victories early in the war.  In November 1940 Swordfish from HMS Illustrious sank or disabled three Italian battleships and a cruiser during the Battle of Taranto.  Flying low to avoid Italian radar some of the Swordfish's wheels actually touched the waves during the attack.

Swordfish overfly the Ark Royal

In May 1941 a torpedo fired from Swordfish flying from HMS Ark Royal damaged the rudders of the battleship Bismarck to such an extent that surface forces were able to hunt down and sink the elusive vessel.

The Swordfish also sank 14 U-boats but was replaced by the monoplane Fairey Barracuda in front line service in 1943.  There are currently three in airworthy condition, two of which are part of the Royal Navy Historic Flight based at RNAS Yeovilton.  A third is currently being restored to a flying condition there.

Nice though it is we don't think we will be contemplating building one of these because of all the wires you need to fit on the biplane!
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