Fairey Albacore


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Fairey Albacore

The Albacore torpedo-bombing biplane was first flown in prototype form on 12 December 1938. During the spring of 1940 the first production aircraft entered FAA service and for the remainder of that year were flown mainly on coastal patrol, spotter-reconnaissance, minelaying and night-bombing duties. However in the following year Albacores went to sea in HMS Formidable and other carriers and from then were active on convoy protection duties in the Baltic and in anti-submarine and other roles in the Mediterranean and elsewhere.

The Albacore was removed from FAA service in late 1943, having never performed its intended role as a Swordfish replacement. It had a more powerful 794kW Bristol Taurus or 842kW Taurus XII 14-cylinder sleeve-valve air-cooled radial engine in the NACA cowling with leading-edge exhaust collector and trailing-edge controllable gills, enclosed cockpits for the crew of two or three, one forward-firing 7.7mm Browning and two rear-mounted 7.7mm Vickers guns on a Fairey high-speed mounting, and hydraulically operated flaps.

The last Albacores in operational service were those ex-FAA aircraft taken over by the RCAF and used during the Allied advance into Europe from mid-1944. Production totalled 803 aircraft.


The Taurus engine suffered reliability problems compared to the dependable 'Peggy' (Pegasus) of the Swordfish.

The cockpit design gave the pilot a much better view than on the Swordfish, even if he was uncomfortably hot and his gunner frozen.

Despite its better streamlining, the Albacore's cruising speed and range were less than that of the Swordfish, although the service ceiling was much higher.

The Albacore was used for torpedo attacks, bombing, flare dropping and training Swordfish crews.

Fairey Albacore

 ENGINE1 x Bristol Taurus XII, 843kW
  Take-off weight4745 kg10461 lb
  Empty weight3289 kg7251 lb
  Wingspan15.24 m50 ft 0 in
  Length12.14 m40 ft 10 in
  Height4.32 m14 ft 2 in
  Wing area57.88 m2623.01 sq ft
  Max. speed259 km/h161 mph
  Cruise speed187 km/h116 mph
  Ceiling6310 m20700 ft
  Range1497 km930 miles
 ARMAMENT3 x 7.7mm machine-guns, 1 x 730kg torpedo, 6 x 113kg or 4 x 227kg bombs

Fairey AlbacoreA three-view drawing (684 x 574)

Anonymous, 01.04.2021 16:38

The Albacore represents an example of the overdevelopment of an obsolete concept. At the time the Fleet Air Arm were getting Albacores, they should have been getting Barracudas.


VinceReeves, 05.03.2013 20:56

A good plane with a very impressive combat record. Also, the Albacore was still being used by the RCAF in 1949, so it did outlast the Swordfish after all.


Naga, 08.08.2011 06:27

They were thinking "Swordfish", arguably the most successful and venerable torpedo plane of the war. It would eventually outserve the Albacore, the plane intended to replace it!


Klaatu83, e-mail, 05.03.2011 16:00

First introduced into operational service in 1940, by which time both the Japanese Navy's Nakajima B5N "Kate" and U.S. Navy's Douglas TBD "Devestator" had already been in service FOR SEVERAL YEARS. One cannot help but wonder what their Lordships of the Admiralty could possibly have been thinking of to have sent their young men to war in these obsolete things!


Graham Swanson, e-mail, 18.11.2009 14:57

Does anyone know of a book which completely covers the roll of the Albacore in the Western Desert during WW11, particularly that of 821 Squadron? I have W A Harrisons 'Fairey Swordfish and Albacore' which gives just a few lines. I would also like more info on that squadron's operations from Malta later.


Art Deco, 20.09.2009 03:06

The Albacore pioneered the pathfinder mission in bomber raids by locating targets and dropping flares. Developed in the western desert with Wellington bombers.


David Munroe, e-mail, 20.09.2009 01:08

The web-site www.hannants.co.uk /search /index.php?CATEGORY=&DIVISION=&MANUFACTURER=&CODE=&TYPE=&SCALE=&KEYWORD=albacore&EXACT=on&NUMPERPAGE=25&order%5B%5D=arrived+desc&order%5B%5D=code+asc has details of kits of this aircraft. Hope this helps.


German E. Valle, e-mail, 21.06.2007 01:03

For some reason, i am very interested in to have a model of this plane... but unhappily I could not find any...do you have any info about where do I get one model of this Fairey Albacore... / I am appreciating your help. German


Lee M Ward, e-mail, 26.04.2007 13:21

Its only improvement over the Swordfish was that the cockpit was warmer. Oh yes, the view was better and it had a windscreem wiper!


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