Oooooh, Barracuda

Designed as a replacement for the downright antique-looking Fairey Swordfish and Fairey Albacore biplane torpedo bombers of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, the Fairey Barracuda monoplane was on the drawing board before WWII but didn’t make it into production until 1943, which left the “Flying Stringbag” (Swordfish) the task of crippling the mighty SMS Bismarck and knocking three Italian battleships and a heavy cruiser out of action at Taranto, the latter accomplished by just 21 aircraft more than a year before Pearl Harbor stunned the world.

Powered by a huge Rolls-Royce Merlin, the Barracuda could tote a 1,620-pound aerial torpedo or an equivalent bomb loadout to 600 miles and something like 2,600 of the aircraft were produced, in the end, flying with not only the Brits but several Allies.

Fairey Barracuda on HMS indefatigable (R10)

Barracuda raids tied up Bismarck’s sister, Tirpitz, and had some success in ASW before a stint in taking the war to the Japanese in 1944.

An unloved bird, the Barracuda was soon phased out in favor of the Grumman TBM Avenger, which had better performance, especially in hot, tropical weather (see= Pacific) and none were retained for posterity in museums.

Which makes the recent discovery of a Barracuda by workers laying a new power cable across the English Channel exciting. Lost on a training flight in September 1943, the ‘Cuda is relatively complete and crews are now carefully recovering the rare aircraft in sections.

Fairey Barracuda, lost on a training flight in September 1943

The aircraft is believed to be BV739 of 810 Naval Air Squadron which lost power shortly after taking off from HMS Daedalus in Lee-on-the-Solent.

The aircraft’s pilot – Canadian Sub Lieutenant Douglas Williams – survived the ditching… and came through WW2 as well.

The plan is that the plane could help the Fleet Air Museum craft a Barracuda from parts. Don’t laugh, there is a P-39 Aircobra in Moscow that was recently made from 19 different airframes recovered from Eastern Front battlefields.

“This is an incredible find and a wonderful piece of British history. There are very few blueprints of the Barracuda plane design available so this wreckage will be studied to enable us to see how the plane segments fitted together and how we can use some of the parts we currently have,” said museum curator David Morris, who’s been working on the project for several years and visited four other crash sites to retrieve parts.

Also, if you came this far, you knew this was happening.

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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