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Fairey Albacore

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The Albacore, like a number of other aircraft, was intended to replace the Swordfish. Seeing service in a number of different roles and theatres of war, the Fairey Albacore would be retired from service before, and in some cases was replaced by, its predecessor.

Quick Facts
Sorry, no image available
First flight
12th December 1938
Entered service
15th March 1940
Total built

Front view
Albacore front view photo
Side view
Sorry, no view photo available
Rear view
Albacore rear view photo

During May 1937 the Air Ministry released Specification S.14/36, with this new aircraft expected to replace the Fairey Swordfish, and the result was the Albacore which was ordered into production before a prototype had even flown. On the 12th December 1938 taking off from Fairey's Great West Aerodrome the first prototype flew and production started the following year, the prototype would also be tested with floats during 1940 but no further development took place.

The Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment based at Martlesham Heath would receive the first production Fairey Albacore which they tested and found a number of problems with the aircraft including heavy elevators and ailerons and conditions in the cockpit, the Albacore had an enclosed cockpit, were said to be uncomfortable in the front during summer and cold and draughty in the rear. On the plus the Albacore was steady in the dive whilst carrying a torpedo and had a smooth recovery from the dive. The Albacore also suffered from an engine development issue which saw the 1,130-hp Taurus XIII replace the 1,065-hp Bristol Taurus II that early versions of the plane had been fitted with.

The specially formed No. 826 Naval Air Squadron which would be based at RNAS Ford received their twelve Albacores on the 15th March 1940 and were in action two months later when they attacked road and rail targets at Westende, Belgium and E-boats off the coast of Zeebrugge, Belgium on the 31st May. No. 829, 828 and 827 Naval Air Squadron would also be formed before the year was out and No. 826 and 829 Naval Air Squadron would be stationed aboard HMS Formidable (67) from the 26th November 1940. A year after the Albacore entered service they would fire torpedoes in action for the first time when aircraft from No. 826 and 829 Naval Air Squadron attacked the Italian battleship Vittorio Veneto.

At the peak of its service the Fairey Albacore equipped fifteen squadrons serving with the Fleet Air Arm during 1942 operating from the Arctic Circle, Western Desert, Mediterranean and Indian Ocean. Operating in a number of different roles including anti-submarine patrol. Albacores would also feature alongside the Fairey Fulmar and Fairey Swordfish in an unsuccessful attack on ships based at Kirkenes, Norway and Petsamo, Finland, the Albacore would also feature in the Allied invasion of North Africa.

The Fairey Albacore had been intended to replace the Swordfish however like the Blackburn Skua, which had also been intended to replace the Swordfish, it would be retired in 1944 whilst the Swordfish stayed in service, and all Fleet Air Arm squadrons except one would have their Albacores replaced by the Fairey Barracuda with the Grumman Avenger equipping the other squadron. Although some of the Albacores would be sent to No. 415 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force who used the aircraft on D-Day for operations in the English Channel. The Royal Air Force would also use the type firstly with No. 36 Squadron based at Java during December 1941, although this squadron was captured in March 1942 by the Japanese. Then during 1943 - 1945 with No. 415 Squadron, RCAF and No. 119 Squadron before being replaced, ironically, by the Fairey Swordfish.

In production for four years 800 Fairey Albacores were produced.


Click on the aeroplane image to view a larger version.

Top Speed Range Service Ceiling Armament
Albacore Mk I 169 mph 930 miles 20,700 ft three 0.303-in machine-guns
and either one 1,610lb torpedo,
four 500lb bombs or
six 250lb bombs


Click on a photo to view a larger version.
Albacore Mk I

On Display

(C) = Cockpit only exhibit. (F) = Fuselage only exhibit. (R) = Remains of an aircraft.

Variant Location
No known examples currently on public display in the UK.

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