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Fairey Swordfish

Introduced in 1936, this slow but durable torpedo-bomber and reconnaissance biplane was involved in some of the most decisive combats in the early stages of WWII. Perhaps foremost among the Swordfish's feats was their role in the sinking of the KMS Bismarck--a hit from a Swordfish torpedo disabled the battleship's rudder, enabling the British fleet to catch and sink the ship before it could reach France. Swordfish are also credited with the sinking of U-64, the first German U-boat to be claimed by the Allies, as well as sinking the greatest tonnage of enemy ships of any aircraft during the war. Ironically, its main weakness--slow top speed--was one of its advantages as well: faster aircraft found it difficult to keep the plane in gun range without overtaking their target, and antiaircraft targeting mechanisms overcompensated for faster planes, causing flak to burst far enough in front of the plane to minimize damage. As the war progressed, however, the Swordfish's vulnerabilities became painfully obvious in 1942 when many aircraft were lost against the battle-cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. This was the last time the Swordfish was used as a torpedo-bomber, but it continued to be used in an anti-submarine role until the end of the war.

The plane has a crew of two or three: pilot, radio operator/gunner, and an optional observer. The observer sat in an extra-large cockpit with the gunner, and was not present in the torpedo-bomber role. Additionally, an 82.8-gallon tank could be placed in the second cockpit to extend range, or the plane could be fitted with a 72-gallon auxiliary tank on the fuselage hardpoint. The plane could be fitted with a wide array of ordnance options, earning it the nickname "Stringbag" for its versatility.

The plane has a range of 546 miles with a full bomb load and 1,030 miles with auxiliary tanks. The Swordfish burns 25.75 gallons of aviation fuel per hour at routine usage. A full load of fuel and ammo (excluding ordnance) costs $51.20.


Fairey Swordfish Mk I

Subassemblies: Medium Fighter chassis +3; Light Fighter-Bomber wings with Biplane and Folding options +3; 3 fixed wheels +0.

Powertrain: 515-kW aerial HP gasoline engine with 515-kW prop and 201-gallon standard fuel tank [Body], 4,000-kWs battery.

Occ.: 2-3 XCS Body

Cargo: 3.9 Body


Armor F RL B T U

Body: 2/2C 2/2C 2/2C 2/2C 2/2C

Wings: 2/2C 2/2C 2/2C 2/2C 2/2C

Wheels: 2/3 2/3 2/3 2/3 2/3



Aircraft LMG/.303 Vickers Mk V [Body:F] (500 rounds).

Aircraft LMG/.303 Lewis [Body:B] (582 rounds).

1x450mm Torpedo/18" [Body:U].


1x1,500-lb. mine [Body:U]


1,500 lbs. of 500-lb, 250-lb. and 20-lb. bombs carried in a mix on [Wings:U].



Body: Autopilot, navigation instruments, medium range radio transmitter and receiver, arrestor hook, casemate and high-angle mount for the rear MG, 1,700-lb. hardpoint. Wings: 2 500-lb. hardpoints, 4 250-lb. hardpoints, and 2 80-lb. hardpoints.



Size: 36'x46'x13' Payload: 2.00 tons Lwt.: 4.35 tons

Volume: 100 Maint.: 48 hours Cost: $17,677

HT: 8. HPs: 120 Body, 250 each Wing, 12 each Wheel.

aSpeed: 139 aAccel: 4 aDecel: 21 aMR: 5 aSR: 1

Stall Speed: 52 mph. Take-Off Run 300 yards (256 with catapult). Landing Run 270 yards (0 yards with arrestor hook).

gSpeed: 174 gAccel: 9 gDecel: 10 gMR: 0.5 gSR: 2

Ground Pressure: Extremely High. No Off-Road Speed.


Design Notes:

Historical wing area was 607 sf. The design purchases 1,000 rounds of LMG ammo; the historical values are listed. Design aSpeed was 168 mph with a single loaded hardpoint. Performance calculations were based on historical values for wing area and loaded weight. Historical loaded weight varied widely, ranging from 7,510 to 9,250 lbs. A median value of 8,700 lbs. was selected as it most closely matched the design's loaded weight of 8,435 lbs. Design payload was 3,407 lbs. with a single torpedo; the historical value has been substituted.



The Swordfish Mk II (1943) featured metal skin under the wings for 8 rockets: either 60-lb. HE or 25-lb. AP air-to-surface missiles. 1,080 built.

The Swordfish Mk III was similar to the Mk II but carried air-to-surface search radar. 320 built.

The Swordfish Mk IV was an unknown number of conversions of Mk II planes featuring enclosed cockpits for use in Canada.


From the Aerodrome for GURPS

2008 by Jim Antonicic