The Long and Winding Road: an analysis of British Built Naval plane construction 1930-45

1. The Basic List
While researching for info related to the many interesting TL on British Carrier developments
I created the table below from this source in Wiki by extracting Naval related issues

However the column labelled comments are mine (related to said threads) πŸ€”
Aside: the repeated [35] are references to a book I don't yet have access to:
Meekcoms, K. J.; Morgan, E. B. (1994). The British Aircraft Specifications File. London: Air Britain. ISBN 0-85130-220-3.

This is not yet a TL or AHC or WI ,
I will be adding my thoughts on the pattern visible in this SNAFU in later posts
but please pitch in if you have time

Enjoy o_O
Spec
OR
Type
Designs
comments​
M.1/30​
Torpedo bomber – Spec. supersedes M5/28 (q.v.)​
All 3 advanced concepts, prototypes only​
F.7/30​
Fighter capable of at least 250 mph and armed with four machine guns​
left in because of later Sea Gladiator Created AFTER 1936.​
S.9/30​
Two-seat carrier-borne torpedo bomber/three-seat spotter-reconnaissance aircraft​
Fairey T.S.R.I, Gloster FS.36; see also S.15/33​
all rejected at the time​
16/30​
Naval fighter – written for Nimrod​
2 gun biplane​
18/30​
Fairey IIIF replacement​
in naval service known as Seal, bombs only, floatplane version​
19/30​
Naval fighter/reconnaissance with folding wings and interchangeable wheel/float U/C
2 seater, 1 + 1 MG​
S.11/32​
Naval catapult observation/spotting seaplane for carriage on cruisers
2man​
S.15/33​
Naval carrier-borne torpedo bomber/spotter/reconnaissance (TSR) – Fairey 9/30 (q.v.) design modified and re-submitted as T.S.R.II – Spec. replaces S.9/30 & M.1/30 (q.v.)​
THE CLASSIC STRING BAG. 2600+ built but most (2000 in WW2 by Blackburn!)​
18/33​
Radio-controlled Fleet gunnery target aircraft
P4/34Light Bombersupposedly a dive bomber BUT no DB kit allowed
However Fairey became basis of later Fulmar
P5/34OR.15Single-seat fighter[35] (although contracts were placed for prototypes with three companies none were ordered into production)[35]Bristol Type 146, Martin-Baker M.B.2, Vickers Type 279 Venom, Gloster F.5/34 Land plane specified.
Kept in because some suggestions could be navalised especially the Gloster
06/34​
Single-engine biplane amphibian for Australia.[35]
11/34​
Torpedo spotter reconnaissance aircraft development[35] (One Fairey Seal fitted with an Armstrong Siddeley Panther VI engine[35])​
?early Walrus perhaps​
12/34​
Torpedo spotter reconnaissance aircraft development[35] (production of 16 Sharks for use by No. 820 Squadron RAF[35])​
250+ built ? why when Swordfish ordered ? To keep Blavkburn happy. Some still operating in FE in 1942​
15/34​
Three-seat torpedo bomber[35] (production of Mk III[35])​
land based. Longer range that carrier equivalent tho similar performance. Also in FE in 42​
16/34​
Three-seat general purpose aircraft – Vincent I production order including conversion of outstanding Vildebeests to Vincents​
update of 1920 design landbase TBR​
21/34​
Two-seat fleet spotter reconnaissance aircraft[35] (Osprey III production[35])​
upgraded inline engine​
26/34​
Float seaplane trainer[35] (production of 16 Tutors for the Seaplane Training School[35])​
O.27/34​
Naval dive bomber​
2 seater monoplane, 4 + 1 MG, only 500lb bomb but at least true DB, 660nm range​
F.36/34​
OR.16​
High Speed Monoplane Single Seater Fighter (based on the Hawker submission to F.5/34)[35]
what is planned on land​
F.37/34​
High Speed Monoplane Single Seater Fighter (based on the private venture Supermarine Type 300 submission)[35]
what is hoped for​
S.38/34​
Written for Swordfish production order​
STRING BAG ACCEPTED!​
A.39/34​
Two-seat Army co-operation aeroplane​
kept in to show when Westland had business​
B.1/35​
OR.19​
Twin-engine medium bomber​
this spec included a requirement for reduced strategic material​
02/35​
Naval catapult-launched observation/spotting flying boat for carriage on cruisers​
F.10/35​
Drawn up for the Spitfire prototype​
13/35​
Naval torpedo-spotter-reconnaissance aircraft – written for Shark production order​
why when swordfish ordered?​
16/35​
Autogyro – written for Cierva C.30/Avro 671 Rota evaluation order​
also evaluated as Sea Rota, Using float. NB Spain tried from ships​
20/35​
Radio-controlled Fleet gunnery target aircraft – Queen Bee production order​
G.24/35​
General Reconnaissance – Anson replacement​
26/35​
Naval fighter/reconnaissance – Osprey IV production order​
Marginally better engine. 2 seater with 1 +1mg is a fighter? 2x250lb bombs only 450nm range​
O.30/35​
Naval turret-fighter – fighter development of Skua accepted​
Q.32/35​
Radio-controlled Fleet Gunnery target aircraft – Queen Bee replacement​
F.37/35​
OR.31​
Fighter with cannon​
the first thought of cannon​
R.1/36​
OR.32​
Small reconnaissance flying boat​
01/02/36​
Development of the Cierva C.30 (cancelled)​
01/04/36​
Catapult bomber (cancelled)​
Short S.27​
01/05/36​
OR.33​
Improved Walrus for the Fleet Air Arm​
M.7/36​
Torpedo Spotter Reconnaissance aircraft (cancelled)​
O.8/36​
OR.36​
Reconnaissance dive bomber for the Fleet Air Arm (cancelled)​
why cancelled? Skua good enough perhaps​
S.9/36​
Three-seat spotter fighter for the Fleet Air Arm (cancelled)​
Fairey S.9/36​
again why. Presumably 3 man fighter but clearl​
B.12/36​
OR.40​
Four-engine heavy bomber 250 mph cruise, 1500 mile range, 4000 lb bomb load[37]
kept in for impact on Supermarine​
17/36​
Written for Hotspur initial production order – later cancelled​
Hawker Hotspur; cancelled​
Hotspur originally a turret fighter Hurricane/Henley. Suggested without turret as an early Fulmar​
19/36​
Naval torpedo-spotter-reconnaissance aircraft – written for Shark additional production order​
more sharks​
T.23/36​
Multi-role crew trainer​
25/36​
Written for Skua initial production order​
26/36​
Written for Roc initial production order​
29/36​
Written for Wellington (revised Crecy from B.9/32) initial production order​
36/36​
Written for Lysander initial production order​
37/36​
Written for Walrus additional production order​
S.41/36​
Three-seat torpedo/spotter-reconnaissance aircraft – Swordfish replacement​
42/36​
Target tug – order for Henley target tug conversions by Gloster's
kept in to show a Henley fighter possible​
43/36​
Autogyro​
Cierva C.40 Rota II​
Q.8/37​
Radio-controlled Fleet Gunnery target aircraft – Queen Bee replacement – role subsequently carried-on by Queen Wasp – see Q.32/35​
Airspeed A.S.37 (not built)​
F.18/37​
Heavily armed interceptor armed with 12 x 0.303 mgs and capable of at least 400 mph​
for interest​
20/37​
Written for Roc floatplane production order​
S.23/37​
OR.52​
Four-engine carrier-based Fleet shadower/follower – low-speed, high-endurance, ship-tracking aircraft – requirement later rendered obsolete due to introduction of radar
INTERESTING CONCEPT. Multiengines (start stop) , 50' wingpan, 6 Hrs endurance​
S.24/37​
OR.53​
Naval torpedo/dive-bomber, reconnaissance – Supermarine entry featured variable-incidence wing​
IMHO the true POD​
S.7/38​
Naval catapult-launched observation/spotting flying boat – Walrus replacement​
O.8/38​
Naval carrier-borne fighter/observation – winner developed from Fairey's earlier P.4/34 entry​
Note FULMAR is specified after BARRACUDA​
16/38​
Trainer – Master I production order​
B.17/38​
Twin-engine medium bomber of mixed wood/metal construction​
Bristol Type 155 (cancelled by Bristol)[38]
non strategic material​
B.18/38​
Twin-engine medium bomber of mixed wood/metal construction​
non strategic material​
S.22/38​
Naval helicopter​
28/38​
OR.66​
Two-seat helicopter – written for Weir W.6​
N.8/39​
Naval two-seat carrier-borne fighter – Roc replacement – replaced by N.5/40​
see N.5/40​
no action in 39 ?​
N.9/39​
Naval two-seat carrier-borne fighter – Fulmar replacement – replaced by N.5/40​
see N.5/40​
no action in 39?​
E.28/39​
Experimental aircraft using Whittle jet-propulsion with provision for 4 Γ— 0.303 machine guns​
JET (but obviously not carrier based)​
1940–1949
Spec
OR
Type
Designs
N.5/40​
OR.82​
Naval 2-seat Fleet reconnaissance/fighter​
N.11/40​
OR.88​
Naval single-seat Fleet fighter powered by Napier Sabre – see also S.8/43​
Hawker machine was enlarged Typhoon, with parallel fold wings​
S.12/40​
OR.89​
Naval catapult-launched observation/spotting flying boat – Walrus & Sea Otter replacement – superseded by S.14/44 (q.v.)​
F.18/40​
OR.95​
Night fighter with turret​
Gloster F.18/40, fulfilled by de Havilland Mosquito NF.II[44]
F.19/40​
Low-cost emergency production fighter​
B.20/40​
"Close Army Support Bomber" with Merlin engine able to dive bomb and photoreconnaissance​
De-navalised version of Fairey Barracuda offered but specification not proceeded with.[41]
E.28/40​
OR.101​
Experimental research aircraft for deck landings – cancelled 1943​
Folland Fo.115, Folland Fo.116 (ordered but not completed)[45]
N.1/41​
OR.102​
Naval fighter​
N.2/42​
OR.114​
Single-seat boat fighter​
Blackburn B-44​
E.6/42​
Experimental lightweight Tempest – written for Tempest Light Fighter – refined & re-issued as F.2/43 (q.v.)​
Hawker Fury – see F.2/43​
F.6/42​
Single-seat fighter​
move towards tempest​
H.7/42​
OR.117​
Torpedo bomber – Beaufighter replacement​
F.2/43​
OR.121​
Written for Tempest Light Fighter​
Hawker Fury; cancelled at conclusion of hostilities.​
N.4/43​
OR.113​
Carrier-based fighter – Seafire with Griffon engine​
O.5/43​
OR.144​
Torpedo bomber – Barracuda replacement​
N.7/43​
Carrier-based fighter – revised as N.22/43 (q.v.)​
S.8/43​
OR.124​
Naval single-seat Fleet fighter capable of carrying rockets, torpedo or bombs – Firebrand powered by Centaurus – see also N.11/40​
Q.10/43​
Radio-controlled Fleet Gunnery target aircraft – Queen Wasp replacement​
S.11/43​
OR.146​
Naval carrier-borne attack/strike aircraft – later cancelled – Sturgeon also submitted to Q.1/46 & M.6/49 (q.v.)​
E.16/43​
Experimental helicopter with powered tilting hub controlled rotor with automatic collective pitch control, and torque reaction control using jet efflux.​
A.17/43​
OR.145​
Army liaison and VIP transport aircraft – Messenger I production order​
F.19/43​
OR.127​
Folland design to be built by English Electric​
T.21/43​
OR.153​
Trainer version of Fairey Spearfish
N.22/43​
OR.155​
Revision of N.7/43; carrier-based fighter​
S.28/43​
OR.150​
Firebrand replacement​
X.4/44​
OR.160​
Tank-carrying heavy glider capable of carrying 7-ton load and returning under its own power​
N.5/44​
OR.162​
Naval carrier-version of Hornet​
E.6/44​
OR.170​
Written for Saro SR.44 flying-boat jet fighter​
N.7/44​
OR.167​
Carrier-based fighter – navalised version of Spitfire F Mk.21
N.11/44​
OR.174​
Naval long-range carrier-based fighter with Eagle 22 piston engine capable of accepting a turboprop at a later date – RN version of F.13/44 (q.v.) – see also N.12/45​
F.13/44​
OR.194​
Long-range fighter with Eagle 22 piston engine capable of accepting a turboprop at a later date – RAF version of N.11/44 (q.v.) – see also N.12/45​
N.15/44​
OR.189​
Naval carrier-version of Mosquito​
20/44​
Jet civil transport (de Havilland DH.106)​
Not issued​
O.21/44​
Twin-Merlin engined Fairey Spearfish
Specification cancelled​
N.5/45​
Naval carrier-borne fighter – Seafang developed to this spec. but supplanted by Nene-powered, Naval version of E.10/44 (q.v.)​
TX.8/45​
OR.180​
Tandem-seat training glider for Air Training Corps
N.12/45​
OR.213​
Long-range carrier-based fighter – Wyvern with Python turboprop engine – see also F.13/44 & N.11/44​
GR.17/45​
OR.220​
Carrier-borne ASW
E.20/45​
OR.221​
Experimental helicopter – see also E.34/46​
N.21/45​
OR.226​
Naval carrier-borne two-seat night fighter​
Q.1/46​
OR.225​
Naval target tug​
C.3/46​
Medium-range tactical transport​
N.3/46​
Naval helicopter​
E.4/46​
Experimental gyrodyne
N.7/46​
OR.218​
Naval carrier-borne interceptor/fighter bomber​
N.11/46​
Two-seat trainer version of Sea Fury​
E.19/46​
Experimental helicopter for crop spraying
E.34/46​
OR.242​
Experimental helicopter – see also E.20/45​
N.40/46​
OR.246​
Naval carrier-borne jet fighter – see also F.4/48​
E.41/46​
An experimental swept-wing version of Attacker – evolved into Swift​
 
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It is interesting to see that before the war began they were already ordering a jet and a helicopter.
 
It is interesting to see that before the war began they were already ordering a jet
the Gloster E28/69 was more a flying testbed than a functioning plane and was most definitely LAND and not NAVAL

I left that row in my selection from the source because it marked the first serious Air Ministry commitment to jets.
In fact, they had delayed so long that despite Whittle working for years on Jet, the Gloster was only the 4th jet to fly.
beaten by 2 German and 1 Italian parallel developments.

It also to note how long a gap it was before Naval Jets were developed.
After the War, the RN clung to props for far too long, though the Sea Fury was a good plane there were several other duds
(though that is really outside the remit of this thread)

and a helicopter.
True .. but the technology was not quite ready for my period

However, a major theme in the '30s was the AutoGyro mostly based on Cierva design with STOVL capability but no hover
which was evaluated by the RAF, Army and RN several times.
In WW2 the British used it only in non-combat roles in the UK while other nations tried it in combat in many roles.
The IJN even flew their models off a converted merchantman as lightweight ASW
... which IMHO is a huge missed opportunity for the Allies in the 'Atlantic Gap'
 
The Bristol 133 fighter is in my opinion the aircraft that would have been ordered instead of the Gladiator but for it crashing due to pilot error just before the service trials. It was more advanced than the Gladiator being a modern monoplane with a retractable under carriage and had better performance at 260mph than the Gladiator despite having only 2/3 the power from an earlier version of the same engine as the Gladiator. It is likely that the RAF would opt for the 840hp Mercury for the service aircraft giving it around 280mph (based on the similar Fokker DXXI with the same engine). The 133 would then almost certainly been adapted for carrier service like the OTL Sea Gladiator. This would give the FAA a fighter at least comparable and probably better than the Japanese A5M Claude in 1938 and unquestionably superior to the American Grumman F3F biplane, both of which were the Sea Gladiators contempory naval fighters.
 

perfectgeneral

Donor
Monthly Donor
250+ built ? why when Swordfish ordered ? To keep Blackburn happy. Some still operating in FE in 1942
Well that seems like rewarding failure of design. That could have been 250 extra Swordfish. If the pre-war orders were only 600+ that much extra is a big difference. Add the 400 Vildebeest/Vincent that only has marginal advantage. Stahp developing the losing bidder, Shark, with Blackburn!
 
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Well that seems like rewarding failure of design. That could have been 250 extra Swordfish. If the pre-war orders were only 600+ that much extra is a big difference. Add the 400 Vildebeest/Vincent that only has marginal advantage. Stahp developing the losing bidder, Shark, with Blackburn!
The only thing wrong with the Shark was the unreliable Tiger engine, other than that it was a more advanced design than the Swordfish with a performance similar to the later Albacore, Unlike the Swordfish the Shark had a metal monocoque fuselage.
 
Well that seems like rewarding failure of design. That could have been 250 extra Swordfish. If the pre-war orders were only 600+ that much extra is a big difference. Stahp developing the losing bidder, Shark, with Blackburn!
Ironically in 1940 Blackburn was tasked as an "alternative factory" for the Swordfish and by 1944 had made twice as many as Fairey :rolleyes:

Add the 400 Vildebeest/Vincent that only has marginal advantage.
Probably true wrt performance but my understanding was that a Late Mark Vincent had a range of over 1000nm cf <500 for a Stringbag. So maybe a valid division of labour.
 
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The Shark was in service 2 years before Swordfish (May 1934 vs June 1936)

Given the even then pace of advancement 2 years in the 30s was a long time and the Swordfish would ultimately replace both it and 2 other aircraft - the Baffin and Seal - also earlier aircraft.

Its perhaps incredible that the Swordfish would outlast its replacement the Albacore in front line service.
 

perfectgeneral

Donor
Monthly Donor
The only thing wrong with the Shark was the unreliable Tiger engine, other than that it was a more advanced design than the Swordfish with a performance similar to the later Albacore, Unlike the Swordfish the Shark had a metal monocoque fuselage.
If the engine is unreliable, why order 250 of them?
 
The Shark was in service 2 years before Swordfish (May 1934 vs June 1936)

Given the even then pace of advancement 2 years in the 30s was a long time and the Swordfish would ultimately replace both it and 2 other aircraft - the Baffin and Seal - also earlier aircraft.

Its perhaps incredible that the Swordfish would outlast its replacement the Albacore in front line service.
Thanks for pointing out the Blackburn Baffin in RN service in 1934.
I had mistakenly missed it out from my list because it was simply an upgrade to the Ripon
(which originated outside the period of the list.)

I understood the Shark did not enter service till May 1935 with one squadron and also was used to replace Seals with 2 more squadrons in 1936.

It was always my intention to make a post about the number of TSR designs used by the RN in 1933-7
but I see I'll have to look again much closer :coldsweat:
 
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If the engine is unreliable, why order 250 of them?
Because it was available in 1935 and the Swordfish wasn't. The problem was solved with the Mk III which was given the Bristol Pegasus engine as well as an enclosed cockpit making it the equal to the much later Albacore.

My Fleet Air Arm of September 1939 would be equipped with
Blackburn Shark MkIII's with Bristol Perseus Engines due to be replaced by Fairey monoplane torpedo bombers with Griffon engines
Blackburn Skua Scout Dive Bombers with Bristol Perseus engines due to be replaced by Hawker Sea Henley's with Hercules engines
Bristol 133 again with Perseus engines due to be replaced with either Hawker Sea Hurricanes (properly designed with folding wings) with Hercules engines, or Gloster fighters with folding wings and Hercules engines.
 
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I have always been at a loss to understand why the Swordfish replaced the Shark as it does not seem to be better. Was it a matter of moving work around the factories to give them work/free them for other work?
 
I have always been at a loss to understand why the Swordfish replaced the Shark as it does not seem to be better. Was it a matter of moving work around the factories to give them work/free them for other work?
I am trying to find out more but I understand that the Armstrong Siddeley Tiger engine was not that reliable in service compared to the Bristol Pegasus which might have doomed the design.

I also wonder recall reading that the aircraft was not as nimble as the Swordfish and not as well regarded as a Carrier aircraft.

Or maybe it was simply more expensive to build?

And I cannot see it as 'make work' as Blackburn ended up making most of the Swordfish anyway - of the 2,391 made 692 were built by Fairey and the remaining 1,699 by Blackburn.
 
And I cannot see it as 'make work' as Blackburn ended up making most of the Swordfish anyway - of the 2,391 made 692 were built by Fairey and the remaining 1,699 by Blackburn.
True ... and interesting BUT the Blackburn Swordfish were all built post-1940 when the War was raging
and the Swordfish fully established and in heavy use

BTW at that point Fairey was very busy building other planes like Fulmar
and working on more advance designs like Barracuda
while Blackburn had no design in major use
so to a degree that might be classed as make-work, or at least, sensible use of resources
 
True ... and interesting BUT the Blackburn Swordfish were all built post-1940 when the War was raging
and the Swordfish fully established and in heavy use

BTW at that point Fairey was very busy building other planes like Fulmar
and working on more advance designs like Barracuda
while Blackburn had no design in major use
so to a degree that might be classed as make-work, or at least, sensible use of resources
Fairey also built the Battles before the Fulmar - so again were kept quite busy

Here is what Blackburn were up to from 33-39 - not massively busy but hardly twiddling their thumbs from what I can tell

Interesting - the Sherburn-in-Elmet factory was stood up in 41 at that civilian airfield and that's where the 1699 'Blackburn' Swordfish were made until 1944

So if an alternative aircraft was going to be made they had that sort of capacity from 41
 
- the Sherburn-in-Elmet factory was stood up in 41 at that civilian airfield and that's where the 1699 'Blackburn' Swordfish were made until 1944

So if an alternative aircraft was going to be made they had that sort of capacity from 41
AIUI in the same 41-44 period, Fairey and Blackburn also shared the building of Barracudas, ~ 400 each.
At the moment I have no info wrt Fireflies
 
S.23/37OR.52Four-engine carrier-based Fleet shadower/follower – low-speed, high-endurance, ship-tracking aircraft – requirement later rendered obsolete due to introduction of radarAirspeed AS.39, General Aircraft GAL.38INTERESTING CONCEPT. Multiengines (start stop) , 50' wingpan, 6 Hrs endurance
Quite aside from the fact that air to surface radar installed in faster, larger aircraft such as B-24 "Liberator" variants could get the job done by the early '40s, it is very questionable such low speed aircraft could possibly expect to survive while maintaining visual contact with enemy fleet elements. I'd think that enemy air cover--not just carrier based fighters but even floatplanes and flying boats--would engage them and any attempt to retreat to the carrier mother ship would just lead enemies to one's own task force location.

Given their very low airspeeds, 6 hours endurance seems a pittance. Indeed aircrews aboard might have trouble with human endurance, maintaining visual contact with foes trying to shoot them down or evade them if asked to stay on this duty a lot longer than 6 hours anyway.

I've wondered whether it might have been possible to design a bimodal aircraft as it were, by the expedient of attaching a large area biplane second wing above the main wing of a high performance carrier fighter type plane--in the 1930s FAA, this would be something like a Skua or Fulmar. The much larger upper wing is made as cheaply as possible while allowing it to double as a fuel tank and perhaps with some other endurance stores; the multiseat base plane might allow say four crew to enable watch and watch duties, one pilot and one spotter on while the others try to sleep. Then if enemy units zero on on them, blow off the upper wing and zoom up to airspeeds typical of the monoplane base plane; this gives the plane a fighting chance of mixing with the foe and also evading and running.Though they'd be overloaded with four crew. Keeping the endurance short to enable a single pair of crew to serve for say 8 hours, not all of it on station, might work better.

The simplest solution was to use carrier based fighters. These were not the ideal platform for observation but such ideal platforms would be sitting ducks; the high speed of the fighters (or even say torpedo planes or dive bombers, which allowed for multicrew options) allowed evasive approach to and withdrawal from spotted foe elements and dodging around like flies or bumble bees.
 

Driftless

Donor
Any practical way of upgrading the Skua as an intermediate step in the early war? i.e.Could you switch the engine to a Hercules or another powerful engine without a major structural design overhaul? A Skua Mk III - a bit faster and with a bigger payload capacity
 
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2. Hoist by my own petard
3 years ago on another person's thread I wrote

good luck tracking British naval plane designs in the 20's and 30's.
AIUI there were new designs roughly every 2 years (not counting significant upgrades)
Now it seems I'm about to attempt that very task myself πŸ€”

Starting simply. I'm am going to ignore the various prototypes built, even those funded by the Ministry.
I'll count only British designed carrier planes that could drop a torpedo that actually entered RN service before 1941.
(Please .. pretty please ... let me know if I am missing any or have counted one that should not qualify o_O )

Note:
  • all these are biplanes
  • all can carry a single 18" torpedo (1500 to 1700 lbs)
  • all have limited defensive armament
    1 fixed forward rifle calibre machine gun + 1 flexible mount for the observer if any
  • all except the Ripon use one model or another of a Radial Engine
    with updates of versions (or even changes of the engine model) over service
  • all can carry some bombs for level bombing (500-2000 lbs often in 4 or more units)
    some are stressed for steep angle Glide bombing, though none have specific dive-bombing equipment
  • similarly a mine or 2 -4 depth bombs may be carried.
  • the dates I give are purely for torpedo role from carriers
    most remained in service longer from land in secondary theatres (sometimes in other roles)
The planes are:
  1. Sopwith Cuckoo November 1918-April 1923, 1 man, 252 built
  2. Blackburn Dart Early 1923 - Mid 1933. 1 man, 118 built
  3. Blackburn Ripon 1929 - Jan 1935, 2 men as torp / 3 as recon, 92 built Inline Engine
  4. Blackburn Baffin January 1934 - December 1936, 2 or 3 men, ~ 90,
    26 new + 38 conversion+ 26 more new order in 1935
    (an update of Ripon with Radial Engine from Pegasus family)
  5. Blackburn Shark May 1935 - late 1937, 2 or 3 men, 269 built
    (originally Tiger Radial Engine only ~ 20 with Pegasus)
  6. Fairey Swordfish July 1936 - late 1945, 2 or 3 men, 2341 built (over 1600 after 1940)Pegasus Radial Engine
  7. Fairey Albacore March 1940 - late 1943 2or 3men, 800 built (double Row radial Taurus Radial Engine)
Significant points to note are
  • The move from 1 man attack only plane to a 2 + option of another crew as a multirole aircraft
  • the Dominance of Blackburn until the mid-1930s in the torpedo role
    (though Fairey was building many Reconnaissance and bombing carrier planes e.g. Seal in the same period)
  • the emerging preference for Radial Engine especially from Bristol (Pegasus Family then Taurus)
From the above list of dates, you can clearly see the period of maximum confusion falls between the years 1934 to 1936
when the RN is actually flying four separate designs biplane Torpedo/Bomber/Reconnaissance with a fifth being designed.
However, since the Baffin is simply a Ripon with a different engine - and the RN actually made several conversions- perhaps it's fairer to regard this as 3 + 1 when we look closer
Description​
just before
selected but soon superceded
"Winner"
Specified soon after
Name​
Baffin​
Shark​
Swordfish​
Albacore​
Manufacturer​
Blackburn​
Blackburn​
Fairey​
Fairey​
based on?​
Ripon (inline engine)​
1930 Fairey TSR 1​
Design Started/why​
1932 as PV​
? early 1933 for S15/33​
? mid 1933 for S15/33​
? late 1936 for S41/36​
First Flight​
30/09/32​
24 Aug 1933​
17/04/34​
12/12/38​
First Production Order​
01/08/34​
early 1936 (68 ac)​
In Service​
01/01/34​
01/05/35​
July 1936​
01/03/40​
Last Order on​
late 1935 (to supplement shark)​
01/01/37​
August 1944​
retired (as TSR)​
1936​
1937-38 in favour of Swordfish​
from 1943 first line
1945 on MACs​
from 1943 on carriers​
Total Built​
97 (including converts)​
269​
2391
(~700 prewar)​
800​
Construction Details​
open cockpits​
closed cockpit for the observer​
later models
metal lower wings (rockets)
& closed cockpit​
closed cockpit
full metal.
extra features like a liferaft​
Size (L,W.H) in feet​
38x45x13​
35x46x12​
36x46x12​
41x50x13​
Wt (empty/loaded) lbs​
3800/7600​
4000/8000​
4200/7600​
7200/10400​
Engine (first/best fitted)​
Pegasus R​
Tiger R/Pegasus R only on a few trainers​
Pegasus R​
Taurus 2 row Radial
constant speed prop​
HP(first/best)​
/565​
760 /800 Pegasus​
690/800​
1065/1135​
Speed (max/cruise) kn​
118/​
130/103​
124/​
140/120​
Range nm/endurance​
430/4h30m​
543/4h54m​
454/5h30m​
620/​
Ceiling K /Time to 5K​
15K/5m20s​
15.6K/~5m​
16.5K/~6m​
19K/~6m​
Torpedo wt (lbs)​
1800​
1600 Mk X​
1670​
1670​
bombs wt (lbs)​
2x250
presumably for wing stress​
1600 (mix ?)​
1500 mixed
capable of Glide Bombing​
4x500
Stressed for high angle Glide Bombing​

To my mind this contradicts the conventional story that:
  1. the Swordfish won the competition S15/33
  2. was quite competitive at the time
  3. but it's replacement was delayed (in part because of war pressure)
However, from the pattern of orders placed (see first post) it's clear that @Peg Leg Pom and @Cryhavoc101 are correct
in 1934 the Shark was chosen as the Winner of S15/33 but problems emerged quite soon

AFAICS extra Baffins were ordered as an update to what the RN already had
and the Swordfish was given the go-ahead as a replacement to the Shark even though inferior.
Certainly, no more orders placed on the Shark and instead a new specification issued that resulted in the Albacore

The question is - if the only issues were with the Shark engine - the Armstrong Siddeley Tiger giving 760hp
AND the Bristol Pegasus III range gave similar power why could that not be fitted in 1936 or 1937.
(The MarkIII Shark had such an engine but was only produced in small numbers for Canada)


There has to be more going on
 
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The question is - if the only issues were with the Shark engine - the Armstrong Siddeley Tiger giving 760hp
AND the Bristol Pegasus III range gave similar power why could that not be fitted in 1936 or 1937.
(The MarkIII Shark had such an engine but was only produced in small numbers for Canada)
I suspect, though it's only a guess, is that the Shark was discontinued so that Blackburn could concentrate on the Skua and Botha(bad idea) as well as working with Bolton Paul on the Roc(very bad Idea).
 
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