The Fairey Albacore was a single-engine carrier-borne biplane torpedo bomber built by Fairey Aviation between 1939 and 1943 for the Fleet Air Arm. It had a three-man crew and was designed for spotting and reconnaissance as well as delivering bombs and torpedoes. The Albacore, popularly known as the "Applecore", was conceived as a replacement for the ageing Fairey Swordfish, which had entered service in 1936. However, the Albacore was destined to serve alongside the Swordfish and was ultimately retired before the older aircraft, being replaced by the monoplane Fairey Barracuda torpedo bomber.
The Albacore prototypes were built to meet Specification S.41/36 for a three-seat TSR (torpedo/spotter/reconnaissance) for the FAA. The first of two prototypes flew on December 12, 1938 and production of the first batch of 98 aircraft began in 1939. Early Albacore's were fitted with the Bristol Taurus II engine and those built later received the more powerful Taurus XII.
No. 826 Squadron FAA was specially formed to operate the first Albacores in March, 1940. Carrier-based squadrons began operating the Albacore in 1941. Eventually there were 15 FAA squadrons equipped with the plane which operated widely in the Mediterranean. Albacores participated in the Battle of Cape Matapan and the fighting at El Alamein as well as supporting the landings at Sicily and Salerno. During the period September 1941 to end of June 1943 No. 828 Squadron FAA, Hal-Far, Malta, operated a squadron of TSR Fairey Albacores under some of the most severe blitz conditions imaginable during the siege of Malta, mainly against Italian shipping and shore-based targets in Sicily.
In 1943 the Albacore was phased out in favour of the Barracuda. The last Albacore squadron, No. 841, disbanded in late 1943. The Royal Canadian Air Force took over the Albacores and used them during the Normandy invasion.
Table of contents
- Crew: 3
- Length: 39 ft 10 in (12.14 m)
- Wingspan: 50 ft (15.24 m)
- Height: 14 ft 2 in (4.32 m)
- Wing area: ft² ( m²)
- Empty: lb ( kg)
- Loaded: 10,460 lb (4,740 kg)
- Powerplant: 1x Bristol Taurus XII, 1,130 hp (843 kW)
- Maximum speed: 161 mph at 4,000 ft (259 km/h)
- Range: 930 miles (1,497 km)
- Service ceiling: 20,700 ft (6,310 m)
- Rate of climb: ft/min ( m/min)
- Wing loading: lb/ft² ( kg/m²)
- Power/mass: hp/lb ( kW/kg)
- 1 x .303 in (7.7 mm) machine gun in starboard wing, 2 x Vickers K machine guns in rear cockpit
- 1 x 1,670 lb (760 kg) torpedo or 2,000 lb (900 kg) bombs
Related development: None
Comparable aircraft: Fairey Swordfish