question: Speed of Swordfish?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by delcyros, Feb 13, 2007.

  1. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    Gentlemen, this is a more special question.

    The Swordfish torpedobomber, credited with the sinking of italian BB´s at Taranto and beeing famous for the hit on Bismarck´s steering gear (which turned out to be fatal for her) has several different speeds posted for torpedo attacks.

    I got confused about that, so maybe one out of You can help me out? I am searching for

    A) the max. speed lightly loaden
    B) the max. sustainable speed in low altitude with and without torpedoe
    C) the servicable speed of ´41 timeframe

    posted figures range from 95 mp/h to 134 mp/h.


    Thanks in advance,
     
  2. trackend

    trackend Active Member

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    This is the most comprehensive specs I have for the StringBag Del and is taken from the SwordFish Story by Ray Sturtivant although it does'nt give unladen performance.

    Power Plant
    Bristol Pegasus Mk IIIM3 (or MK 30) Nine Cylinder Radial air cooled supercharged engine rated at 775hp at 2300RPM at sea level and 690hp at 2300rpm at 3500ft (five minute combat rating 750hp at 2525rpm at 4750ft when fitted with Fairey Reed three bladed fixed pitch metal propeller)

    Fuel Capacity
    155 Imperial gallons in main fuselage tank and a further 12.5 Imperial gallons in gravity tank. Provision for 60 Imperial gallon auxiliary tank slung from torpedo crutches beneath centre fuselage.

    Dimensions
    Span (upper mainplane) 45ft 6in. (lower mainplane) 43ft 9in.
    Width with mainplanes folded 17ft 3in.
    Length (tail down) 36ft 1in, (flying attitude) 36ft 4in.
    Height (tail down) 12ft 10.5in, (flying attitude) 13ft 5.75in.
    Gross wing area 607 sq ft.

    Weights (MK1 late production)
    Empty 4,700lbs
    Empty equpped 5,200lbs
    Loaded 8,100lbs
    Maximum loaded 8,700lbs
    Maximum overload 9,250lbs

    Armament
    One fixed forward firing Vickers .303 machine gun x 600 rounds
    One Lewis .303 machine gun x 6 magazines mounted on Fairey high speed.
    fleximount
    Loads included Optional, one 1,610 lb torpedo. one 1,500lb sea mine or 1,500lb of bombs (which could comprise of 2 500lb bombs beneath fuselage and 2 250lb bombs beneath lower main plane or one 500lb bomb beneath lower each lower main plane.
    The MkII could instead carry four 60lb rockets underneath each lower mainplane.

    Performance (MkI late production at 8,700lbs loaded weight)
    Maximum speed 132mph at sea level, 139mph at 4,750ft.
    Maximum cruising speed 128mph at 5,000ft with maximum weak mixture power.
    Economical cruising speed 104mph at 5,000ft.
    Range with 1,500lb bomb load at economical cruising speed no external stores 546 miles. With 60 Imperial gallon external tank 1,030 miles.
    Initial climb rate 1,200ft/min.
    Time to 5,000ft at 8,700lbs weight 10 minutes.
    Service ceiling (9,250lbs weight) 10,700ft, (8,700lbs weight) 12,400ft.
    Maxmium unloaded ceiling 19,250ft.
    Take off distance (to clear 50ft max load) 725yds.
    Deck run into 20 kt wind 180yds, 30kt wind 115yds, 40kt wind 62yds.
    Landing run (over 50ft at 8,700lbs) 550yds.

    I have some other figures from issued middle east documents for the Swordfish in seaplane configuration but the ones above are about (as far as I can find out) the most accurate.
    As for kills the Fleet Air Arm museum in Yoevilton seems to settle around 300,000 tonnes + of merchantile shipping excluding mine layed kills and 20 submarines through direct involvement as for naval vessels this list includes obviously several capital and numorous smaller vessels ranging from cruisers too gun boats, as for anti tank and air to air action I have not been very successfull in this but there are quite a few accounts in various articals of kills in this area.
     
  3. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Track, I knew you would come through on this!!!
     
  4. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    Thank You very much, Track!

    Any idea what the typical approach speeds with torpedoes were? I have heard rumors that approach was quite fast (around 120 mp/h) and only lowered for dropping the torpedoes. Could be interesting.
     
  5. trackend

    trackend Active Member

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    You know me too well FB

    As for torpedo runs Del It seems to have varied, The accounts I have on the Bismark attack although not totally unchallegable seem to have been very slow given that the gunnery control for anti aircraft weapons on board had problems calculating the closing speed as it was below the normal settings available
    so it appears to be around 90 kts.

    Charles Lamb (in War in a Stringbag) gives several accounts of torpedo attacks and describes the use of the very crude but highly effective sight which consisted of a bar mounted across the center wing support this had a row of lights on, each representing (I believe as Im at work) 5 knts by estimating ship speed all that was required was to count off the required lamps and launch your fish (at the right distance of course) when the ships bow was in alignment with the correct light.
    When I get a chance over the weekend I'll have a butches in my books and get an average launch speed for you.
     
  6. Bernhart

    Bernhart <b>2012 Forum Fantasy Football Champion</ b>

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    was at an airshow about ten years ago, there was a swordfish there, and an older gentleman was standing there. Starting talking to him and he talked about flying swordfishes. Said he remebers flying off the cliffs of dover and because stalling speed was so slow he said you could fly into a good headwind and hover
     
  7. lol

    lol New Member

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    Dear all has anybody got any pictures of a wellington bomber engine.
    many thanks lol
     
  8. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    I read somewhere that with the 18" torpedo fitted, the Swordfish was capable of 87 knots at optimal altitude. Not much more than that at the moment....will try and check when I get home
     
  9. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    While having a low speed makes is optimal to have have a steady and uneventfull torpedo launch ..... it does create problemswhen your target turns to run from you and is already at top speed.

    I read an account of this during the Battle of Midway when a flight of TBD torpedo bombers were put into a position of having to chase one of the IJN carriers, and the attack run was lengthened considerably in having to chase them. Just long enought to let the CAP come around and savage them.
     
  10. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    This happened to Swordfish attacks quite a lot. In a high headwind, and the target running away at top speed (30 knots) the relative approach speed of the Stringbag could be as low as 40 knots. Thats a lot of AA time in the Kill zone.

    The thing that saved the Stringbag was its ability to operate very efectively at night. The attacks on Bismarck, Taranto and Matapan (admittedly these were the similar Albacores) against the Pola (the third strike was delivered at 2000 hours, in dim light conditions), and the planned airstrikes against the japanese were all night attacks, relying on flares and ASV radar for target acquisition. In many ways the success of the Stringbag was more a triumph for the versatility and training of the aircrews more than the qualities of the aircraft
     
  11. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    Didn't they remove SOME backseat gunners for the Raid on Taranto? How many aircraft were lost during the Suprise Attack?

    I also read somehwere the Japanese based there attack on Pearl Harbor from the Raid of Taranto am I correct?
     
  12. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Yes that is correct the Japanese did nominally base their Pearl Harbour attack on the attack on Taranto. They sent a delegation to Taranto immediately after the raid to assess the success of it and that way it was done - which they then put to good use.

    For the Taranto attack (11/11/1940) there was rear gunners in all of the Swordfish. Only 2 aircraft were lost from the 21 that started out the raid - 2 KIA and 2 POWs.

    War in the Mediterranean - The Taranto Raid
    Battle of Taranto - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Battle of Taranto - Raid on Taranto - Italian Navy at Taranto - British Attack on Taranto - World War II - WWII Raid on Taranto

    This really belongs in a new thread though
     
  13. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    Thanks a lot!
     
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