A carrier torpedo and a dive bomber.
2,602 were built between 1941 and 45
Used by – Britain, France, Canada and Netherlands
Fairey Aviation – Blackburn Aircraft, Boulton Paul and Westland Aircraft
Barracuda developed to replace Albacore
U-Boat School Established
Barracuda Mk II
Stronger engine than the prototype and flown most of the war.
Barracuda Mk III
Same as Mk II but optimized for anti-submarine operations
Barracuda Mk II
First entered operational service in squadrons
810 Squadron – HMS Illustrious action off Norway
Barracuda – Pacific
Barracuda introduced to the Pacific War
No 827 Squadron on HMS Illustrious
Baraccuda Mk II
Rada equipped Barracuda Mk II entered service with Canada
While Britain a number of truely wonderful aircraft during World War 2, it also produced some that, while often loved by their crews and pilots, were in reality less than spectacular planes. With regards to the Barracuda, there is a rumor that an American naval officer said upon seeing the Barracuda for the first time “While it is wonderful, it is unlikely to ever replace the airplane.”
The Fairey Barracuda Mk 1 was originally designed and developed with an engine that only allowed a top speed of 337 Km / hour. Given that the plane first went into active service in 1943, this was considered very slow. The original engine was replaced with a better engine. This better engine variant became known and the Barracuda Mk II.
Designed to be both a dive bomber or a torpedo bomber it certainly could fullfil a number of roles in different situations. It was usually armed with a single 735 kilogram torgedo or 6 110 kilogram bombs. The Barracuda could upon occassion be fitted with depth charges and fullfil an anti submarine role. While the Barracuda never really exceeded at any one thing, it could perform reasonable well in a variety of roles, unlike many other aircraft of its day. Noramlly there was a pilot and a rear gunner on each plane, though at times there might be a third in the role of navigator.
The Barracuda had an unusual appearance due to its need to fullfil a wide variety of roles. A dive bomber that is also a torpedo bomber and also an anti submarine aircract meant that its appearance was generally considered ugly. In fact most people felt that it was very ugly. Crews were proud of their plane and embrassed its ugliness.
Top speed for the Barracuda Mk II was 367 kilometers / hour and while much improved over the Mk I, this was still fairly slow.
The Fairey Barracuda is most well known for this actions against the Tirpitz in Norway and in the Mediteranean Theater. Specifcally with supporting the Salerno operation. While the Barracuda operated in the Pacific, it was outclassed by the Grumman Avenger and so while it saw action, it generally played a smaller role against the Japanese.
The Barracuda is an easily over looked airplane from the war. However it was well loved by its crews and pilots and participated in a number of important operations. Ugly and under appreciated by most people the Barracuda and its pilots and crews made their contribution to the war. One of the last places were Barracudas served on active service was at Ronaldsway Airport, later converted to a Royal Naval Air Station. From 1944 to 1946 Barracudas flew here training new pilots in torpedo bomber operations.
Few people remember this plane but it played a role in the sinking of the Tirpitz, providing support in Salerno and to a limited degree supported operation against the Japanese in the South Pacific.