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Fairey Swordfish; in British, Canadian & Netherlands Service in WW2 - by AIRfile

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in British, Canadian & Netherlands Service in World War Two

by AIRfile


The Fairey Swordfish; a canvas covered, open cockpit, biplane which was already obsolete at the start of World War 2 and yet achieved everlasting fame in those early years of the war. The Swordfish was the first aircraft to achieve a successful torpedo attack on an enemy fleet when, in November 1940, twenty one aircraft took off from HMS Illustrious and attacked the Italian fleet anchored in Taranto Harbour. Six months later, in May 1941, a torpedo attack on Germany's super battleship KM Bismark disabled the rudder, making the ship unmanoeuvrable and caused it to turn in an arc that brought it within range of the British fleet which was persuing her and subsequently sunk by them.

This new book from AIRfile is a departure from their previous titles in that it is dedicated to a specific aircraft type, rather than 'theatre specific' subjects they are normally well known for. The layout is still arranged to the earlier formats, containing historical context interspersed with full colour profile illustrations, photographs and a selection of full 4-view illustrations of a particular aircraft.

The book is separated into chapters describing the timeline of this iconic and famous aircraft; with sections on the pre-war period, the early war years, Taranto, the Bismark chase, the Channel Dash and finally the latter years of WW2.

The textual content within these chapters, nicely complemented with appropriate black & white images, provide the historic perspective of the work and role of the Fairey Swordfish. They provide information on the nations, squadrons, ships and shore establishments that these aircraft were allocated to plus the time periods in which they were in operation.



Set out within the card covers of this 72 page, A4 portrait format book, compiled by Neil Robertson, are no less than 123 full colour profile drawings of various Swordfish Aircraft; each beautifully illustrated by Peter Scott. The profile illustration shows a specific aircraft depicted at a certain time-frame within its career. Alongside the drawing is a short but detailed heading and supporting narrative of that aircraft. The heading provides details of the: type, mark, serial and unit lettering, Squadron, parent ship or station, date referred to and the pilot & crew details. The narrative gives additional historical data relating to the production and colour details of this aircraft during the period the illustration refers to.


There are also 19 pages of 4-view colour illustrations with an individual aircraft shown on each page. Again the drawings are supplemented with narrative particular to that airframe and time period. These drawings can be of particular benefit for the modeller wishing to ascertain correct colour demarcations all around the aircraft.


Throughout the book there are over 45 black and white images, each showing various views of the Swordfish. There is also information on changes of codes and the use of camouflage patterns, with their respective admiralty colour coding etc.


With reference to the colour profile illustrations, Neil Robinson has delved into more research on variations of the camouflage schemes used, not just the 'standard' sea-going colours, coming up with some unusual colour schemes,which Peter Scott has produced as interesting illustrations. Some of these must surely tempt the modeller to build something out of the ordinary; perhaps this all black version with D-Day markings for June 1944?



This publication is a nice departure from AIRlife's normal 'theatre specific' themes, although I hope they don't stop doing them, and I believe the Fairey Swordfish is a good first choice here. Don't expect this to be the definitive on the Swordfish, there is only so much one can achieve within 72 pages, however Neil and Peter have managed to cover over 145 aircraft which is at least 5% of the 2,392 aircraft built by Fairey and Blackburn.

As a modeller, I find the illustrations to be particularly useful; especially when checking with factual content within, before deciding which variant and period to build a kit to represent.

The layout is just right, with large colourful illustrations and just enough historical data to enlighten and interest the masses without getting unduly bogged down reams of tabulated data etc. Hopefully there will be more of these 'type specific' subjects forthcoming from Neil and the team!

Review sample courtesy of



Kindly mention Britmodeller.com to the supplier when making enquiries or orders

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I like history and books like this are a treasure..

I think I want one... :pilot:

thank you.

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