Fairy Swordfish

...Fleet Air Arm Legends2, from Tempest Books

Title: Fairy Swordfish
Author: Matthew Willis
Publisher: Tempest Books
ISBN: 978-1-911658-49-8

A new 130-page soft-cover book from Tempest Books, a Morton's Books publication. Number 2 in their Fleet Air Arm Legends series and giving us the story of the famous Swordfish, the 'Stringbag'. An aircraft which was really obsolete at the outbreak of WW2 but which actually had increased production, and served successfully throughout the war.
Spread across 12 chapters it starts out with that early story its' development and the other competitors it had for the changing specifications the Navy issued. How at the end of the 1930s it was set for replacement by the newer Albacore, yet how/why decisions were made to replace Albacore production with new Swordfish orders. The Swordfish was designated TSR, Torpedo, Strike, Reconnaissance. Despite being slow and having an open cockpit, the Swordfish went to war. Early use was in Norway, with wheels on carriers and floats on other RN warships. After Norway, we hear about their service in the Mediterranean with attacks on both French and Italian warships even before the famous attack on Taranto. They went on to see more action around Malta, Crete and the Red Sea. Another famous use of the Swordfish is described, with their part in the pursuit of the Bismarck, before the tragic failure of their attacks in the German battlecruisers which took part in the Channel Dash. Back with the carrier Illustrious, the Swordfish went to war in the Indian Ocean while with the introduction of the small Escort carriers, so they played their part in the war against the U-Boat. While not over the invasion beaches, the Swordfish supported the D-Day landings with patrols further afield, keeping the U-Boats away from the Normandy convoys and serving on to the end of the war.
To accompany the text there are plenty of archive images, showing the aircraft in use in some dreadful weather conditions plus a section with 16 pages of fine colour profile artwork. These showcase how varied colours and marking schemes can offer a great potential for a themed collection for aircraft modellers. An interesting read about this famous aircraft, which served so well throughout WW2. Seeing some of the photos, and reading several of the accounts, it makes you think about how young men, which so many of them were, crewed these slow, open cockpit machines in some of the worst weather conditions, often at night too. Super reference on this famous aircraft type.
Thanks to Tempest Books for our review copy.

Robin