Albacore file photo [6166]


CountryUnited Kingdom
ManufacturerFairey Aviation
Primary RoleTorpedo Bomber
Maiden Flight12 December 1938


ww2dbaseDesigned by Marcelle Lobelle of Fairey Aviation in response to Specification S.41/36 as a replacement for the Swordfish torpedo bombers, the Albacore torpedo bombers remained of a biplane design, but they were equipped with sleeker bodies and more powerful engines. Despite being outperformed by contemporaries, they were still considered effective carrier-borne torpedo bombers as they required a much shorter takeoff and landing distance than more powerful monoplanes. Production began in 1939.

ww2dbaseThe 826 Naval Air Squadron Fleet Air Arm received their first Albacore aircraft in Mar 1940; these first examples were shore-based, and were used to patrol and attack German shipping in the English Channel. In Nov 1940, they were deployed to carriers, starting with HMS Formidable, and Albacore pilots found that although they were more powerful than the Swordfish aircraft that the Albacore aircraft had replaced, they were less agile due to the heavier weight. Albacore torpedo bombers saw action in North Africa, with the Mediterranean convoys, and during the invasions of Sicily and Italy. One squadron of Albacore aircraft served out of Malta during the period of persistent Axis attacks; they were used mainly to attack Italian targets at Sicily. The Royal Canadian Air Force also operated Albacore aircraft, which were used during the Normandy invasion in 1944 as reconnaissance aircraft. In the Pacific War, the No. 36 Squadron Royal Air Force operated Albacore torpedo bombers in Java, which were captured by the Japanese in Mar 1943.

ww2dbaseProduction ceased in 1943 as Albacore aircraft were being replaced by Barracuda and Avenger torpedo bombers, and they were retired from front line service in late 1943; interestingly, they were retired before their supposed-predecessors, the Swordfish torpedo bombers. A total of 800 Albacore torpedo bombers were built.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Jun 2008

Albacore Timeline

12 Dec 1938 Albacore aircraft took its first flight.
26 Nov 1940 No. 826 and No. 829 Squadrons of the British Fleet Air Arm embarked on carrier HMS Formidable for convoy escort duties to Cape Town, South Africa.


MachineryOne Bristol Taurus II 14-cylinder radial engine rated at 1,065hp
Armament1x7.7mm forward machine gun, 1x or 2x7.7mm rear Vickers K machine guns, 1x760kg torpedo or 900kg of bombs
Span12.14 m
Length15.24 m
Height4.62 m
Wing Area57.90 m²
Weight, Empty3,295 kg
Weight, Loaded4,755 kg
Weight, Maximum5,727 kg
Speed, Maximum259 km/h
Speed, Cruising225 km/h
Service Ceiling6,310 m
Range, Normal1,143 km


Albacore aircraft in flight, circa 1940, photo 1 of 2Albacore aircraft in flight, circa 1940, photo 2 of 2Albacore aircraft aboard HMS Formidable, 1940sAlbacore aircraft of No. 820 Squadron FAA flying in formation over HMS Formidable and other warships, 1940s
See all 20 photographs of Albacore Torpedo Bomber

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
6 Apr 2014 04:40:44 AM

In March 1942, Fleet Air Arm Albacore Squadrons Nos 828 and 830 amalgamated for operation purposes to form Naval Air Squadron Malta. By mid-1943 the two squadrons had sunk thirty enemy ships and damaged a further fifty.
2. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
8 Apr 2014 02:18:37 AM

The first deployment of Albacores to sea occurred on 26 November 1940 (not 1941 as stated) when No.s 826 and 829 Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm embarked on the carrier, HMS Formidable, for convoy escort duties to Cape Town.
3. Commenter identity confirmed C. Peter Chen says:
8 Apr 2014 06:40:51 AM

Thanks Alan, I have corrected the date.
4. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
12 Nov 2017 10:12:52 AM

While the Albacore was designed primarily as a three-seat torpedo bomber, it was found to be equally effective as a Dive Bomber. For example in the Western Desert operations of 1942, Albacores from Nos, 821 and 826 squadrons performed with great effect in this role, making 471 sorties between June and November. One historian recording that the bombing accuracy of these Navy pilots in Dive bombing was proverbial.
5. Jon Clarke says:
16 Oct 2020 05:11:15 PM

The Albacore's contemporaries were the Swordfish, the Nakajima B5N,and Douglas Devastator. It had a more powerful engine and carried a heavier payload than any of these, was more flexible, being designed to act as a dive as well as torpedo bomber, operationally faster than the Swordfish and Devastator, and had almost from the start it carried radar, giving it all weather, day or night capability.

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Albacore Torpedo Bomber Photo Gallery
Albacore aircraft in flight, circa 1940, photo 1 of 2
See all 20 photographs of Albacore Torpedo Bomber

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