Blackburn skua

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Jul 16, 2006
need info on the british dive bomber-fighter "blackburn skua" am new to this site. can anyone help?
I'd hardly say the Skua was a lump of junk. It was a pretty good airplane for the time and very effective.

The Swordfish was designed for a completely different role than the Skua. You often hear how the Swordfish outlasted the Albacore, however this completely misses the point. The Albacore replaced the Swordfish in the TB role simply because it was better. The Swordfish was then relegated to second-line roles such as ASW which it excelled in. The Albacore wasn't as suited for those roles so the Swordfish stayed in service. The Albacore then being replaced by Cudas and Tarpons.
I disagree Red Admiral The Albacore was not a better TB the tonnage of shipping sunk by Stringbags is huge compared with Alby. The Alby started service in march 1940. The Swordfish was sorting out the Italians in Taranto with among other ordnance torpedoes in November of that year I also seem to recall in may 1941 (nearly a year after the Albacores introduction) it was a stringbag that torpedoed the Bismark. The stringbag was withdrawn from it's torpedo role only after the channel dash disaster Feb 1942 the Alby was phased out in early too late 1943 being replaced by the equally unimpressive Barracuda. Also used in every other role including that of the Skua, dive bomber the Stringbag was the most successful fleet air arm plane of the war and its shipping kill tonnage is disputed against that of the SBD as the highest of any aircraft. These figures have been very hard to verifier (even the FAAM in Yeovilton whom are researching it for me are having problems)
Interceptor/fighter for obvious reasons was about the only role the Stringbag never took on.
So after saying all that about other planes I will stick to my original assumption the Skua was not a very good aircraft slow and under powered with a 500lb bomb load its only redeeming feature was four wing mounted M.Gs but it suffered heavy losses when in its fighter role and pitched against M.E's etc. As such it was not very successful. It was only with the arrival of the US designed carrier aircraft that things really took a turn for the better for the FAA in the field of performance.
yes the Skua really was a shocking aircraft and the less said about it's friend the Roc the better.......

and the swordfish was generally considdered the favourable aircraft between the stringbag and alby..........
In the last thirties some naval aircraft as Blackburn Skua or Lioret-Nieuport 411 were projected to melt the roles of dive-bomber and fighter, the results were usually fairly good dive bombers and mediocre , too heavy fighters.

The aim of the original proget was not anyway a true "air superiority fighter", their main opponents would have been in original hypothesis those slow reconeissance flying boats of the class of CANT Z501 , SM 55 or Dornier Do-18 which could spot the carrier and her escort ships .... ( the first air victory of Fleet air arm was just a Do-18 shot down by a Skua), or the slow pre-war bombers as Savoia Marchetti SM-81 or the French bombers.
The possible opponent naval fighters , usually older biplanes in 1936-38, were not considered a plausible threat .

The first low-wing monoplanes with retractable undercarriage were quite good as a rule for the last 30s , ex Breda Ba-65 in Spanish civil war but none of them was up -to date when opposed to the new generation aircrafts in 1940.

As a paradox, Dauntless was originally projected as a pure dive bomber but it showed good performances ,in particular handling , when employed in air-to-air fighting.
I disagree Red Admiral The Albacore was not a better TB the tonnage of shipping sunk by Stringbags is huge compared with Alby.

Because there were more Swordfish in service around the globe and the 100,000ton advantage of the Taranto attack.

The Cuda gets a lot of bad press for no apparent reason whilst the USN's Dauntless, Devastator and Avengers were massacred by the IJN. The Cuda sure is ugly though.

The Skua - not a bad aircraft for the time, just outclassed by 1941/42, when it was beginning to be replaced.
Taranto was only the tip of the iceberg for the string bags shipping claims Red Admiral add 18 U-boats and the Italian supply convoy attacks in the Med that averaged around 50,000 tons per month throughout 1940 and the figures start getting very big.
The Skua could only carry a third of the swordfishes bomb load and when used as a dive bomber the stringbags decent was so slow (around 180 knots anything faster than 200 knots and the wings tended to fall off)
proved to be very accurate, indeed, in north Africa it was even used against amour.
The best article on the Skua I've seen in print is Eric 'Winkle' Brown's description of flying the type, originally published in Air International back in the late 'sixties. This eminent test pilot's writings were collected into a single volume 'Wings of the Navy', published in the late 'seventies - it should be fairly easy to find if you search.

Included four-views, John Weal cutaway and diagrammatic cockpit layout too.

Hope this helps.


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