Tempest Books' Fairey Swordfish

Author/Artists: Matthew Willis


Tempest Books


$24.50 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 130 pages, softcover, 9.7 x 7.2 inches
ISBN: 978-781911658498


The Fairey Swordfish was one of those anomalies of WWII. A torpedo/strike/reconnaissance aircraft of the late 1930s that outlived its replacement and soldiered on in various roles until the end of WWII. Though obsolete at the start of the war, the choice was to keep building them or have a long delay until its replacement could be ready. Since the aircraft life span of the time was fairly short, it was felt that keeping it in production would be the best choice and so it was.

The type's slow operating speed, ease of repair, and maneuverability stood it in good stead so that when it was no longer considered adequate for its primary role on fleet carriers, it proved to be a very good option for the smaller escort carriers and MAC ships that were used for ASW work in protecting convoys. Upgraded with new avionics, ASV radar, and a slightly more powerful engine, the aircraft were flown in all sorts of weather, some of which would keep other types grounded.

This book follows the format of similar books by this publisher in that we are provided a full development history of the type, followed by a fairly comprehensive look at its operational use throughout the war. This includes the raid at Taranto and its operation against the Bismark. It was the latter operation where the Swordfish performed as it was designed. The TSR role was no necessarily to sink large ships, but to damage them to the extent that large surface forces would be able to catch them and then sink them with gunfire. Of course, against smaller ships and submarines, the Swordfish would prove to be deadly, but sinking stuff wasn't its intended role.

Included in the book are some nice period photos as well as a section of full color profiles showing the various camouflage schemes carried by the aircraft. It all makes for a super read and one that is well worth getting.

September 2022

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