Fairey Barracuda (1942)

RNAS/FAA, 607 built.
The Fairey Barracuda was a British torpedo and dive bomber used during World War II. It was designed and built by the Fairey Aviation Company and served primarily with the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. The Barracuda entered service in 1943 and saw action in various theaters of the war, including the Atlantic and Pacific. It was intended to replace the older Fairey Swordfish biplane, offering improved performance and capabilities. The Barracuda was notable for its distinctive appearance, featuring a large, bulbous fuselage and a high-mounted wing.

The aircraft was powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, giving it a top speed of around 265 mph (426 km/h). It could carry either a torpedo or bombs for anti-shipping and anti-submarine missions. Additionally, it was equipped with defensive armament, typically consisting of machine guns mounted in the turret and rear positions. While the Barracuda was initially plagued by technical issues and performance shortcomings, it underwent several improvements throughout its service life.

Despite its challenges, it played a significant role in naval operations during the latter years of World War II, participating in attacks on enemy ships and submarines. After the war, the Barracuda was gradually phased out of service as newer aircraft became available. Its contributions to naval aviation during World War II, however, remain noteworthy, and it is remembered as an important part of Britain's aerial arsenal during the conflict.

Fairey Barracuda - British carrier-based torpedo bomber and dive bomber of the Second World War; the first English all-metal aircraft of this type. Adopted by the Royal Navy Air Arm to replace the Fairy Swordfish and Fairy Albacore biplanes. One of the most remarkable episodes of its combat use is Operation Tangsten on April 3, 1944 - a raid on the Tirpitz parking lot in Kofjord, as a result of which the German battleship was seriously damaged


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The first production Barracuda received a Merlin 30 engine (1300 hp) and a Rotol propeller. On May 18, 1942, its first flight took place, after which an experimental series of 30 aircraft was produced. Due to insufficient engine power, the aircraft had a low rate of climb (especially with a suspended torpedo) and poor take-off characteristics, which is why they were not accepted into service. But in flight and on landing, the Barracuda behaved well. A version with a higher power engine, the Merlin 32 (1640 hp), became the prototype for the Barracuda Mk.II, although this power was clearly not enough. The aircraft entered service in January 1943.

General conception

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Barracuda: 2 prototypes (Nos. P1767 and P1770), built to the Fairey Type 100 design.
Mk I: first production modification, Rolls-Royce Merlin 30 engine (1,260 hp/940 kW), 30 built;
Mk II: engine Merlin 32 1640 hp / 1225 kW), four-blade propeller, ASV II radar, built 1688;
Mk III: anti-submarine modification II with ASV III radar in a blister under the aft fuselage, 852 built;
Mk IV: aircraft Mk II (No. P9976) with a Rolls-Royce Griffon engine (1,850 hp / 1380 kW), first flight 11/11/1944, did not go into production, since preference was given to the Fairey Spearfish torpedo bomber, work on which was also interrupted after construction 5 prototypes;
Mk V: Griffon 37 engine (2,020 hp / 1,510 kW), bomb load increased to 2,000 lb (910 kg), ASH radar under left wing, modified vertical tail, 37 built.

⚙ PLANE specifications

Gross Weight4,907 kg; max TO 5,715/6,401/6,464 kg
Max Takeoff weight
Lenght12.12 m
Wingspan14.99 (folded 5.41 m)
Height3.73 m
Wing Area38.46 m²
EngineLiquid cooled RR Merlin 32 1,027l 1640 hp (1225 kW)
Top Speed, sea level386 kph at 533 m
Cruise Speed332 km/h at an altitude of 1524 m, torpedo: 311 km/h
Range467 km/torpedo 370 km/bomb 290 km
Climb Rate4 min 12 s to 1,524 m
Ceiling4,572 m
Armament2× 7.7 mm Vickers K LMG 726 kg/3× 227 kg/6× 113 kg bombs or 735/680 kg torpedo


Links and resources

Brown, J. David. Fairey Barracuda Mks. I-V. — Windsor, Berkshire, UK: Profile Publications Ltd., 1972.
Bishop, Chris (Ed) "The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II." Orbis Publishing Ltd, 1998.
Brown, Eric, CBE, DCS, AFC, RN.; William Green, and Gordon Swanborough. "Fairey Barracuda". Wings of the Navy, Flying Allied Carrier Aircraft of World War Two. London: Jane's Publishing Company, 1980.
Fredriksen, John C. International Warbirds: An Illustrated Guide to World Military Aircraft, 1914-2000. ABC-CLIO, 2001.
Gunston, Bill. Classic World War II Aircraft Cutaways. London: Osprey, 1995.
Hadley, D. Barracuda Pilot. London: AIRlife Publishing, 2000.
Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988.
Harrison, W.A. Fairey Barracuda, Warpaint No.35. Luton, Bedfordshire, UK: Hall Park Books Ltd., 2002.
Jefford, C.G. RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife Publishing, 2001.
Kilbracken, Lord. Bring Back my Stringbag. London, Pan Books Ltd., 1980 (also London: Peter Davies Ltd, 1979)
Lewis, Peter. Squadron Histories: R.F.C., R.N.A.S. and R.A.F. 1912–59. London: Putnam, 1959.
Mason, Tim. The Secret Years: Flight Testing at Boscombe Down, 1939-1945. Manchester, UK: Hikoki Publications, 1998.
Pilot's Notes for Barracuda Marks II and III Merlin 32 engine. London: Air Ministry, February 1945.
Popham, Hugh. Sea Flight. London: Futura Publications, 1974, First edition, London: William Kimber & Co, 1954.
Roskill, S.W. The War at Sea 1939–1945. Volume III: The Offensive Part II. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1961.
Smith, Peter C. Dive Bomber!: Aircraft, Technology, and Tactics in World War II. Stackpole Books, 2008.
Stemp, P.D. Kites, Birds & Stuff - Fairey Aircraft. Lulu.com, 2011.
Taylor, H.A. Fairey Aircraft Since 1915. London: Putnam, 1974.
Thetford, Owen. British Naval Aircraft since 1912. London: Putnam, Fifth edition, 1982.
Willis, Matthew. "Database: The Fairey Barracuda." Aeroplane Monthly, May 2009
Willis, Matthew. The Fairey Barracuda. Sandomierz, Poland: Mushroom Model Publications, 2017.
Monday, David. "British Aircraft of World War II". Chancellor Press, 1982

The model corner


Author's illustrations: Types and liveries

Mark 4 11

Additional photos

Three Seals in formation

Three Seals in formation

Three Seals in formation


A Decent Plane With A Deadly Problem: Fairey Barracuda



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