Aircraft History

Fairey Barracuda

Fairey BarracudaAlthough the Fairey Barracuda was never on the Royal Canadian Navy's inventory it played a significant role in the training of the initial cadre of pilots and observers in Canada's fledging Naval Air Arm in 1946.

The prototype Barracuda first flew on 7 December 1940 and featured shoulder mounted cantilever wings, which were foldable and incorporated Fairey-Youngman trailing edge flaps that gave it improved performance over its predecessors. Flight-testing revealed that the low set tailplane was poorly positioned and a strut-based horizontal surface mounted high on the taller and narrower fin was designed for the second prototype, which started flight-testing on 29 June 1941. The service trials revealed that the Barracuda required strengthening and along with new equipment resulted in the aircraft suffering from weight problems throughout its service life.

The main production Barracuda Mark II, of which 1,688 were built, incorporated a more powerful Rolls Royce Merlin 32 engine. The Royal Navy's 827 Squadron received the first operational Barracudas on 10 January 1943. The Barracudas were involved in the conspicuous action against the German battleship Tirpitz on 3 April 1944. The Royal Navy's 810 and 847 Squadrons, embarked on HMS Illustrious, introduced the Barracudas to the Pacific theater in April 1944 when they supported the US Navy in a dive-bombing attack on the Japanese installations on Sumatra. A total of 852 Barracuda Mark III's, equipped with ASV radar, were manufactured and flew anti-submarine patrols from small escort carriers in European operations, using rocket assisted take-off gear from the short decks. The last Barracudas in front line service were replaced in 1953 by Grumman Avengers.

The Barracuda Mark V was the final production version in which the Merlin 32 was replaced with a Rolls Royce Griffon engine. The Mark V had a longer squarer wing and an enlarged fin area to counteract the greater torque of the Griffon 37 engine. Only 30 Mark V's were produced before the end of the war resulted in the cancellation of the remaining 110 on order. The Barracuda Mark V's never entered front line service, being used by Royal Navy 705, 744 and 753 Squadrons for training until 1950.

From mid 1943 the British Admiralty and the Canada's Naval Service Headquarters conducted discussions on the formation of a Canadian Naval Air Arm. The Admiralty proposed to reform 803, 825, 826 and 883 Squadrons and transfer them to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) when each of the squadrons was principally manned by Canadians. Nos. 825 and 826 Squadrons were to be Torpedo Bomber Reconnaissance squadrons while 803 and 883 were to be fighter squadrons. In preparation for the creation on of the Canadian naval squadrons the Royal Navy formed 825 Squadron on 1 July 1945 at Royal Naval Air Station Rattray in Scotland, with a full complement of Barracudas. Similarly, 826 Squadron formed on 15 August 1945 at Royal Naval Air Station East Haven, Scotland equipped with Barracudas. Canadian airmen who had either served with the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm or had transferred from the RCAF were posted to 825 and 826 Squadrons and trained on Barracudas before converting to Fairey Firefly FR I's.

On 24 January 1946, the date of commissioning the RCN's first carrier, HMCS Warrior , the Admiralty transferred 803 and 825 Squadrons to the RCN. It was also agreed that the Royal Navy's 826 and 883 Squadrons would become RCN squadrons when all Royal Navy personnel had been replaced by Canadians or from the date of commissioning of the second carrier, HMCS Magnificent , whichever occurred first.

Type : Three seat, carrier based, torpedo and dive bomber

Wing Span : 14.99m (49 ft 2 in)

Length : 12.12 m (39 ft 9 in )

Height : 4.6 m (15 ft 1 in)

Max. Speed: 367 kph (228 mph)

Max. Weight : 6396 kg (14,100 lb)

Empty Weight : 4241 kg (9,350 lb)

Power Plant : One 1223 kW (1640 hp) Rolls Royce Merlin 32 12-cylinder Vee piston engine

Armament: Two 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Browning machine guns in rear cockpit plus one 735 kg (1,620 lb) torpedo, or up to 726 kg (1,600 lb) of bombs, or six 113 kg (250 lb) depth charges, or 744 kg (1,640 lb) of mines

Service Ceiling : 5060 m (16,600 ft)

Range: with torpedo 1101 km (684miles)