...from Key Publishing, via Pen & Sword
Author: Key Publishing
Publisher: Key Publishing
Number 28 in the Historic Military Aircraft Series from Key Publishing, Fairy's Successful Torpedo-bomber. A small format 160-page soft-cover book filled with archive images and informative text.
Plenty of others I have seen in this series are mostly a collection of photos, with the bulk of the support information held in the captions. This one is quite different, with a much greater text content, and that is then supported by the photos, though still with more detail in their captions. The first of the 14 chapters starts with not just some background to the development of the Swordfish itself, but also to Fairy Aviation as a company who designed and built it. Just as one snippet, I was intrigued to find that before being named the Swordfish, it had the project name of TSR II, a bit different to the TSR 2 of the 1960s! The remaining chapters cover so many stories, including the arrival of the Swordfish into Royal Navy service in 1936. with both the wheeled undercarriage and floatplane versions. Early carrier training on HMS Courageous is covered, though the carrier itself was sunk in September 1939. Then there are other famous episodes, such as the hunt for the Bismarck, the channel dash of the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. There is detail on the skills involved with launching torpedoes and the training that new aircrews had to go through. There is not only their work over the English Channel, against e-boats and miniature submarines as well as the large U-boats themselves. There is an account of what it was like to serve on another small carrier, HMS Argus, and a chapter on 'Lily', a flexible runway to be laid down on water, and the experiments to operate a floating airfield. To complete the story there is an interesting chapter on the veteran Swordfish airframes in the hands of the Royal Navy Historic Flight, as well as a listing of the surviving Swordfish airframes. It is all rounded off with a listing of all the squadrons which flew the Swordfish, both front line and second-line squadrons.
There is a lot of information along with a great selection of archive images packed into this little book. As well as so much detail around the history of the famous 'Stringbag', I also enjoyed the extra information on Fairy Aviation, as I am a regular volunteer at the Museum of Berkshire Aviation, which holds a lot of information on Fairy, as we hold not only a Gannet but also the only prototype Gyrodyne. Sadly no Swordfish but I guess we can't have everything! So a great value little book, and if you have any interest in this famous aircraft, this is certainly one I'd recommend.
Thanks to Pen & Sword, who are distributors for these Key Publishing books, for the review copy.