Biggin Hill 2008 News Release

Biggin Hill 2008 News Release

Historic Naval Aircraft

Monday 21st April 2008

Two historic naval aircraft maintained and operated by the Royal Naval Historic Flight at RNAS Yeovilton (Somerset) will be flying in the daily flying display at the Biggin Hill International Air Fair (7th & 8th June) and will be positioned in the static park for closer viewing and photography.

The Seafire 17, a development of the famous Spitfire to enable carrier-borne operations, was rescued from a scrap-yard and painstakingly restored to airworthy condition over a period of several years by Kennet Aviation. First flight of the rejuvenated aircraft was on 3rd May 2006, exactly sixty years to the day of her very first flight from the Westlands factory at Yeovil. The aircraft saw service with the Fleet Air Arm in the carrier Ocean during the late 1940's.

A total of 2570 Seafires were built. The Mk 17 was powered by a Rolls Royce Griffon engine of 1900 HP with a 4-bladed propeller.

The Fairey Swordfish Mk 2 is one of a small number of these outstanding aircraft still remaining that carry such a valiant history during WWII as a torpedo-carrying strike aircraft.

Known affectionately as the 'Stringbag' because its fabric, wood and wire construction, the massive biplane powered by a Bristol Pegasus 9-cylinder supercharged radial engine of 750 HP , was flown by Fleet Air Arm aircrews in several important naval engagements of the war years, notably the night strike by 21 torpedo-carrying Swordfish in November 1940 on the Italian fleet in Taranto harbour, an episode that became the blueprint for a similar strike by the Japanese navy on the US fleet in Pearl harbour.

The famous chase of the German battleship Bismarck in appalling weather conditions of the North Atlantic came to an end when a torpedo launched by a Swordfish crippled the steering gear of the huge warship and the Home Fleet were able to sink her with gunfire.

The aircraft has been refurbished in the colours of 836 Naval Air Squadron, a Mk 2 version with metal underwing coverings that enabled the use of rockets against U-boats. The open-cockpit Swordfish had a crew of three Pilot, Observer (navigator) and Telegraphist / Air Gunner known as a TAG.

Biggin Hill Air Fair website.




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