|National origin||United Kingdom|
|First flight||5 July 1945|
|Primary user||Fleet Air Arm|
The Fairey Spearfish was a 1940s British torpedo bomber designed and built by Fairey Aviation for the Fleet Air Arm. It was one of the largest single-engine aircraft to ever operate from a British aircraft carrier.
Design and development
The Spearfish was designed by Fairey Aviation to Admiralty Specification O.5/43. Having learned the lessons of the Barracuda, the Spearfish had a much more powerful engine and an integral ASV anti-submarine radar (the external installation on the Barracuda caused problems with longitudinal stability). Problems with the Bristol Centaurus engine delayed the first flight until 5 July 1945.
Only four more aircraft were built, two at Fairey's Hayes factory and two at their Stockport plant, during 1945/47. After the end of the war and with the proposal for a more advanced turboprop anti-submarine aircraft (which became the Gannet), further work on the project was stopped and orders for 152 production aircraft cancelled.
The Admiralty did not accept the Spearfish for operational use. One aircraft was used by the Royal Navy Carrier Trials Unit at Ford, Sussex, until mid 1952 and another was modified by Napier at Luton for research into methods of obtaining artificial ice accretion.
The aircraft was said to have such heavy controls that in bad weather a pilot circling a carrier while waiting to land was forced to fly such a wide circuit that he could not keep the carrier in sight.
In a follow-up to meet Specification 0.21/44 for a two-seat strike fighter, the Spearfish was re-designed to accommodate a twin-coupled Merlin engine and contra-rotating propellers. A variety of other engines were considered, and although a production order was placed for three examples in 1944, the programme was eventually shelved, remaining as an unfulfilled paper project.
Data from Fairey Aircraft Since 1915
- Crew: 2
- Length: 45 ft 0 in (13.7 m)
- Wingspan: 60 ft 0 in (18.3 m)
- Height: 16 ft 0 in (4.9 m)
- Wing area: 530 ft² (49.2 m²)
- Empty weight: 12,435 lb (5,640 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 22,050 lb (10,000 kg)
- Powerplant: 1 × Bristol Centaurus 57 18-cylinder radial engine, 2,585 hp (1,930 kW)
- Propellers: five-bladed propeller
- Maximum speed: 300 mph (480 km/h)
- Cruise speed: 260 mph (415 km/h)
- Range: 895 mi (1,440 km)
- Service ceiling: 23,600 ft (7,200 m)
- Rate of climb: 1,720 ft/min (8.74 m/s)
- Guns: 4 × .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns, two in the wings and two in a Frazer-Nash FN95 remote-controlled dorsal barbette
- Rockets: 16× RP-3 rocket projectiles on underwing rails
- Bombs: carried in an internal weapons bay; either:
- 1 × torpedo or
- 2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs or mines
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Blackburn Firebrand
- Blackburn Firecrest
- Curtiss XBTC
- Douglas A-1 Skyraider
- Douglas XTB2D Skypirate
- Grumman AF Guardian
- Grumman TBF Avenger
- Martin AM Mauler
- Westland Wyvern
- Related lists
- Buttler 2012, p. 56.
- Buttler 2012, p. 59.
- Orbis 1985, pp. 1719–1720.
- Taylor, pp. 351–355.
- Buttler 2012, p. 60.
- Buttler 2012, pp. 61–62.
- Brown, Eric. "The Spearfish... A Misconceived Welterweight". Air International , January 1978, pp. 20–25.
- Buttler, Tony. British Experimental Combat Aircraft of World War II: Prototypes, Research Aircraft and Failed Production Designs. Manchester, UK: Hikoki Publications, 2012. ISBN 978-1-902109-2-44.
- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft (Part Work 1982-1985)'. London: Orbis Publishing, 1965.
- Taylor, H.A. Fairey Aircraft since 1915. London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1974. ISBN 0-370-00065-X.
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