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  • Fairey Barracuda Torpedo / Dive Bomber

    The Fairey Barracuda stocked the inventory of many Fleet Air Arm squadrons during World War 2 action.

     Updated: 2/5/2016; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm (FAA) attempted to replace its aging Fairey Swordfish biplane torpedo bomber line of World War 2 (1939-1945) through several more modern designs - the Fairey "Albacore" and the Fairey "Barracuda" - but neither of these would ever replicate the success and popularity of the 1930s Swordfish. The Albacore was a serviceable aircraft but its reach numbered under 800 units and crews still preferred their sturdy Swordfish platforms. The Barracuda was limited throughout its career by its choice of engine and was further delayed in its service entry by the British wartime production commitment. All of the aforementioned Fairey Aviation aircraft were designed around the torpedo delivery role with conventional dive bombing as secondary.

    The Fairey Barracuda emerged from Specification S.24/37 of 1937 calling for an all-modern fast monoplane bomber. As the Albacore was designed to succeed the Swordfish, so too was the Barracuda designed to succeed the Albacore and, by default, the Swordfish, which remained in service during the war years despite its age. The Barracuda would be powered by the in-development Rolls-Royce "Exe" engine (named after the River Exe) which promised the required performance. A long, three-man cockpit was set under an equally lengthy greenhouse-style canopy. Window panes were added to the fuselage sides for improved observation of the surrounding terrain. The engine was mounted in the front of the airframe with a conventional tail unit fitted at rear - the tail featured its horizontal planes set high on the single rudder fin. The wing mainplanes were straight, high-mounted appendages, a departure from the biplane arrangements used in the Swordfish and Albacore. A wheeled, tail-dragger undercarriage was fitted with only the main legs retractable.

    Fixed armament of the aircraft was 2 x 7.7mm Vickers K machine guns in the rear cockpit position. The bomb load maximum was approximately 1,800 pounds or 1 x 1,620 pound torpedo held underneath.

    Development on the Rolls-Royce powerplant began in the 1930s and was intended for a new generation of FAA aircraft - the Barracuda being one of its earliest primary candidates. However, work on the powerplant was halted during August of 1939 and all commitment was officially ended the following year leaving the Barracuda prototype to fit the Rolls-Royce Merlin 30 engine of lower 1,260 horsepower output driving a three-bladed propeller unit. The ultimate abandonment of the Exe engine delayed the Barracuda program substantially and lowered performance expectations considerably - especially since the Barracuda was designed with a certain specialized equipment fit in mind, making for an inherently large and heavy aircraft.

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    Fairey Barracuda Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1943
    Type: Torpedo / Dive Bomber
    National Origin: United Kingdom
    Manufacturer(s): Fairey Aviation Company / Blackburn / Boulton Paul / Westland - UK
    Production Total: 2,609

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 3
    Length: 39.76 feet (12.12 meters)
    Width: 49.21 feet (15.00 meters)
    Height: 15.16 feet (4.62 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 9,370 lb (4,250 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 14,132 lb (6,410 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x Rolls-Royce Merlin 32 V12 liquid-cooled inline piston engine developing 1,640 horsepower.

    Maximum Speed: 230 mph (370 kph; 200 knots)
    Maximum Range: 687 miles (1,105 km)
    Service Ceiling: 16,667 feet (5,080 meters; 3.16 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 833 feet-per-minute (254 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    2 x 7.7mm Vickers K machine guns in rear cockpit.

    Up to 1,500 lb of conventional drop stores OR 1,800 lb of depth charges OR 1 x 1,620 lb torpedo.

    Global Operators / Customers

    Canada; France (post-war); Netherlands; United Kingdom

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    Barracuda - Base Series Name; initial prototype pair

    Type 100 - Fairey Aviation company model designation

    Barracuda Mk I - Initial production mark; fitted with Rolls-Royce Merlin 30 engine of 1,260 horsepower; three-blade propeller; 30 examples completed.

    Barracuda Mk II - Definitive production mark; fitted with Rolls-Royce Merlin 32 engine of 1,640 horsepower;four-blade propeller; 1,688 examples completed.

    Barracuda Mk III - Based on Mk II; Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) variant with ASV III radar under rear fuselage; 852 examples completed.

    Barracuda Mk IV - Based on Mk II; proposed form with Rolls-Royce Griffon engine of 1,850 horsepower; not adopted.

    Barracuda Mk V - Final production model with Rolls-Royce Griffon 37 engine of 2,020 horsepower; ASH radar fit under portside wing element; 37 examples completed.