Barracuda bomb bay

Barrett

Senior Airman
448
588
Feb 9, 2007
Western United States
The Barracuda's missing bomb bay has caused considerable musing among naval aviation students and operators. Seems oddish especially given the high "shoulder" wing mount.
Anybody out there have some insight or Declassified Documents on the subject?

Thank you one & all.
 

EwenS

Staff Sergeant
1,017
1,982
Oct 19, 2021
First time I've ever heard of the Barracuda having a "missing" bomb bay!

The high wing is generally atributed to the combination of roles that the Barracuda, and for that matter its predecessors were expected to fulfill. The Spec that led to the Barracuda was S.24/37. It called for an aircraft to combine the duties of dive bomber/reconnaissance and torpedo bomber/reconnaissance. Note the emphasis on reconnaissance. That meant having an observer with a good view of the ocean below both to spot enemy ships and maintain contact with them and finally to spot the fall of shot when the battlefleet caught them up. And finally he required to navigate his way back to the parent carrier. And bear in mind that this was to be done in European skies with expected poor visibility.

In 1936 there had been Specs M.7/36 for a torpedo spotter reconnaissance aircraft and O.8/36 for a dive bomber reconnaissance aircraft. While individually they came to nothing they did lead to Spec 41/37 and the Albacore. But amongst the submissions was one from Fairey, twin engined with a low wing which was felt to be unsuitable and this may have had an influence on subsequent designs.

So to give the observer the good view he required to fulfill the recce function , the wing had to be mounted above his cabin. And he got wide bulged windows each side to aid that view out.

The pilot needed a good view over the nose to aid deck landing, so his seat was placed up at the wing leading edge. And the TAG got to sit behind the observer with his radio equipment and guns.

And to meet the exacting deck landing speeds on a monoplane meant use of high lift devices on the wing in the shape of the Fairey Youngman flaps, that doubled up as dive brakes. And how do you then arrange a folding undercart with a wide enough track for good deck handling when you have a narrow fuselage.

And the bombs specified were 6x250lb or 6x100lb AS or 3/4x500lb which could all be accommodated on wing racks as in earlier designs. Only the Mk.XII torpedo required accommodated under the fuselage or an overload fuel tank to extend that all important Recce function. Only in 1944 were Barracudas adapted to carry bombs under the fuselage, being the US 1,600lb AP weapon used against the Tirpitz.

Combining the TB and DB roles in one airframe is not as stupid as it first appears. As developed in the 1930s the RN developed a TB attack method of a medium level approach, followed by a steep dive to throw off the enemy AA gunners and position the aircraft only a mile or two from the torpedo dropping point. So a sturdy airframe was applicable to both roles.

So viewed from that perspective the design becomes quite logical. Having an internal bay for carrying the torpedo or bomb load would have made the fuselage even deeper.

But it wasn't only Fairey that came to that conclusion. The other competitor chosen for prototyping (from 7 designs from 5 companies) was the Supermarine Type 322 "Dumbo" with the same overall configuration but using a variable incidence wing to meet the deck landing criteria. As Supermarine was so heavily involved with the Spitfire the Type 322 didn't fly until 1943. But at least Fairey made the effort to make the undercart fold!

But of course the Barracuda had its design problems. Development of the original air cooled Exe engine was stopped by Rolls Royce and a liquid cooled Merlin adopted adding weight. And the airflow over the Fairey Youngman flaps affected the tailplane forcing it to be relocated upwards.

Its trials and tribulations were set out by Matthew Willis in his book The Fairey Barracuda.
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EwenS

Staff Sergeant
1,017
1,982
Oct 19, 2021
The Barracuda's missing bomb bay has caused considerable musing among naval aviation students and operators. Seems oddish especially given the high "shoulder" wing mount.
Anybody out there have some insight or Declassified Documents on the subject?

Thank you one & all.
And for those that think the importance placed on the role of the observer in the Barracuda is odd, even more bizarre was Spec S.23/37 to meet an Operational Requirement for an aircraft “required for the specific purpose of carrying out the duty of shadowing enemy ships at night” by means of continuous visual contact “without betraying its own presence” by flying as quietly as possible. A three seat pusher was envisaged in the Spec. But look at the similarity in the two prototypes produced by General Aircraft Ltd and Airspeed with a 4 engined tractor configuration.


They look even more bizarre with the wings folded!

But look at the observer’s position in the nose with its large bay window providing a wonderful view!
 

Barrett

Senior Airman
448
588
Feb 9, 2007
Western United States
First time I've ever heard of the Barracuda having a "missing" bomb bay!

The high wing is generally atributed to the combination of roles that the Barracuda, and for that matter its predecessors were expected to fulfill. The Spec that led to the Barracuda was S.24/37. It called for an aircraft to combine the duties of dive bomber/reconnaissance and torpedo bomber/reconnaissance. Note the emphasis on reconnaissance. That meant having an observer with a good view of the ocean below both to spot enemy ships and maintain contact with them and finally to spot the fall of shot when the battlefleet caught them up. And finally he required to navigate his way back to the parent carrier. And bear in mind that this was to be done in European skies with expected poor visibility.

In 1936 there had been Specs M.7/36 for a torpedo spotter reconnaissance aircraft and O.8/36 for a dive bomber reconnaissance aircraft. While individually they came to nothing they did lead to Spec 41/37 and the Albacore. But amongst the submissions was one from Fairey, twin engined with a low wing which was felt to be unsuitable and this may have had an influence on subsequent designs.

So to give the observer the good view he required to fulfill the recce function , the wing had to be mounted above his cabin. And he got wide bulged windows each side to aid that view out.

The pilot needed a good view over the nose to aid deck landing, so his seat was placed up at the wing leading edge. And the TAG got to sit behind the observer with his radio equipment and guns.

And to meet the exacting deck landing speeds on a monoplane meant use of high lift devices on the wing in the shape of the Fairey Youngman flaps, that doubled up as dive brakes. And how do you then arrange a folding undercart with a wide enough track for good deck handling when you have a narrow fuselage.

And the bombs specified were 6x250lb or 6x100lb AS or 3/4x500lb which could all be accommodated on wing racks as in earlier designs. Only the Mk.XII torpedo required accommodated under the fuselage or an overload fuel tank to extend that all important Recce function. Only in 1944 were Barracudas adapted to carry bombs under the fuselage, being the US 1,600lb AP weapon used against the Tirpitz.

Combining the TB and DB roles in one airframe is not as stupid as it first appears. As developed in the 1930s the RN developed a TB attack method of a medium level approach, followed by a steep dive to throw off the enemy AA gunners and position the aircraft only a mile or two from the torpedo dropping point. So a sturdy airframe was applicable to both roles.

So viewed from that perspective the design becomes quite logical. Having an internal bay for carrying the torpedo or bomb load would have made the fuselage even deeper.

But it wasn't only Fairey that came to that conclusion. The other competitor chosen for prototyping (from 7 designs from 5 companies) was the Supermarine Type 322 "Dumbo" with the same overall configuration but using a variable incidence wing to meet the deck landing criteria. As Supermarine was so heavily involved with the Spitfire the Type 322 didn't fly until 1943. But at least Fairey made the effort to make the undercart fold!

But of course the Barracuda had its design problems. Development of the original air cooled Exe engine was stopped by Rolls Royce and a liquid cooled Merlin adopted adding weight. And the airflow over the Fairey Youngman flaps affected the tailplane forcing it to be relocated upwards.

Its trials and tribulations were set out by Matthew Willis in his book The Fairey Barracuda.
Amazon product

Many thanks--I'll share with the emailing tailhookers.
 

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