Fairey Spearfish Torpedo / Dive Bomber Aircraft Prototype
Brought to life in 1943, the Fairey Spearfish was only ever completed in five examples due to the end of the war in 1945.
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Fairey Aviation, founded as early as 1915, had been designing, developing and building warplanes since World War 1 (1914-1918) when it took on the charge to fulfill a British military specification for a new torpedo / dive bomber in April of 1943. World War 2 (1939-1945) had been waging for four long years up to now with seemingly no end in sight and the British Fleet Air Arm (FAA) of the Royal Navy (RN) was in the hunt for a modern solution to meet a new demand - particularly in its ever-growing commitment in the Pacific Theater. The specification was named O.5/43 and ultimately answered by Fairey along with competitors Blackburn, Cunliffe-Owen and Folland. The hope by the Admiralty was to have the new aircraft available no later than early 1946.
Fairey returned with two proposed design, one being a single-engined aircraft and the other of a twin-engined configuration. The Admiralty elected for the practicality and familiarity of the former housing and this to house a single Bristol Centaurus engine to which three prototypes were ordered during August of 1943. The aircraft would have to possess good speed and handling over water, proper strength in a full-speed dive and able to withstand the rigors of carrier operations over vast distances - sometimes thousands of miles without any land in view. A crew of two was envisioned to help alleviate the expected workload of the light bomber. In October of 1943, the design was granted the name of "Spearfish".
The initial flight of the first prototype, delayed from the originally selected date by the Centaurus engine of choice, was not recorded until July 5th, 1945. This showpiece example was fitted with the Bristol Centaurus 57 series 18-cylinder radial piston engine of 2,585 horsepower output. However, by this time, the war in Europe had drawn to a close and the Japanese Empire in the Pacific and Far East was falling to the island-hopping campaign of the Allies. The requirement for such a new carried-based bomber dwindled until altogether lost by September of 1945 when the Japanese capitulated.
This left many-a-military-project in limbo or cancelled altogether. The Spearfish program did not suffer either fate though its production contract was no more (envisioned as 150 "TD.Mk 1" production examples). Instead, the three prototypes were allowed completion in a flyable form used in research. These were then followed by a forth prototype which flew in December of 1945 and it, itself, was followed by an order for three more aircraft. To that end, only five were ever really completed and all eventually lost to the scrap heap once their usefulness had ended.