sunnuntai 18. kesäkuuta 2017

Fairey Albacore

The Fairey Albacore was a British single-engine carrier-borne biplane torpedo bomber built by Fairey Aviation between 1939 and 1943 for the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm and used during the Second World War. It had a three-man crew and was designed for spotting and reconnaissance as well as level bombing, dive bombing and as a torpedo bomber. 
General characteristics
Crew: Three
Length: 12.14 m
Wingspan: 15.24 m
Height: 4.62 m
Wing area: 57.9 m²
Empty weight: 3,295 kg
Loaded weight: 4,755 kg
Max. takeoff weight: 5,727 kg
Powerplant: 1 × Bristol Taurus II 14-cylinder radial engine, 1,065 hp 1,130 hp 
(794 kW / 840 kw)
Maximum speed: 259 km/h
Cruise speed: 225 km/h maximum cruise
Stall speed: 87 km/h flaps down
Range: 1,497 km with torpedo
Service ceiling: 6,310 m
Climb to 6000 ft 8 min
Armament: 1 × fixed, forward-firing 7.7 mm machine gun in starboard wing
1 or 2 × 7.7 mm Vickers K machine guns in rear cockpit.

Bombs: 1 × 760 kg torpedo or 900 kg bombs

The Albacore, popularly known as the "Applecore", was conceived as a replacement for the ageing Fairey Swordfish, which had entered service in 1936. The Albacore served with the Swordfish and was retired before it, being replaced by the Fairey Barracuda and Grumman Avenger monoplane torpedo bombers.

No. 826 Naval Air Squadron was specially formed to operate the first Albacores in March 1940, being used for attacks against harbours and shipping in the English Channel, operating from shore bases and for convoy escort for the rest of 1940.
HMS Formidable's 826 and 829 Squadrons were the first to operate the Albacore from a carrier, with operations starting in November 1940. Initially, the Albacore suffered from reliability problems with the Taurus engine, although these were later solved, so that the failure rate was no worse than the Pegasus equipped Swordfish. The Albacore remained less popular than the Swordfish, as it was less manoeuvrable, with the controls being too heavy for a pilot to take much evasive action after dropping a torpedo.

Eventually, there were 15 first-line FAA squadrons equipped with the Albacore which operated widely in the Mediterranean. Albacores played a prominent role in the ill-fated raid on Kirkenes and Petsamo in July 1941. Albacores participated with more success in the Battle of Cape Matapan and the fighting at El Alamein as well as supporting the landings at Sicily and Salerno. During the period September 1941 to end of June 1943, No. 828 Squadron, based at RAF Hal Far, Malta, operated a squadron of Albacores under severe blitz conditions during the siege of Malta, mainly against Italian shipping and shore targets in Sicily.

On 9 March 1942, 12 Albacores from HMS Victorious were launched to attack the German Bismarck-class battleship Tirpitz at sea near Narvik. Based on information from one of six radar equipped aircraft already airborne, Albacores from 817 and 832 Squadrons launched torpedoes and some also attacked with their machine guns. One attack came within 30 feet (9.1 m) of success at the bow but the FAA's only torpedo attack on Tirpitz at sea failed, with the loss of two aircraft and damage to many others.

In 1943, the Albacore was progressively replaced in Fleet Air Arm service by the Barracuda. The last FAA Albacore squadron, No. 841 Squadron, which had been used for shore based attacks against shipping in the Channel for the whole of its career with the Albacore, disbanded in late 1943.

The Royal Air Force deployed some Albacores; No. 36 Squadron based at Singapore acquired five to supplement its Vickers Vildebeests at RAF Seletar in December 1941. The remnants of the squadron was captured by the Japanese in March 1942. In 1943, No. 415 Squadron RCAF was equipped with Albacores (presumably ex-FAA) before the Flight operating them was transferred and reformed as 119 Squadron at RAF Manston in July 1944. 

The squadron deployed later to Belgium. Their Albacores were disposed of in early 1945 in favour of ASV-radar equipped Swordfish Mk.IIIs that the squadron kept until the end of the war in May. The Aden Communication Flight used 17 Albacores between the middle of 1944 and August 1946. Some of these were delivered by sea on the SS Empire Arun in December 1945 (all from Royal Navy stock).

The Royal Canadian Air Force took over the Albacores and used them during the Normandy invasion, for a similar role until July 1944. The Albacore was the last biplane to be used in combat by the RCAF.

sunnuntai 11. kesäkuuta 2017

Breda Ba.64

The Breda Ba.64 was an Italian single-engine ground-attack aircraft used by the Regia Aeronautica during the 1930s.

Designed by Antonio Parano and Giuseppe Panzeri, it saw limited service in two units from 1936, together with the contemporary Caproni A.P.1. It was retired from active service in 1939, replaced by the more powerful derivative, the Ba.65.

A development of the earlier Ba.27 fighter (1932), the Ba.64 was designed in 1933 to requirements set out by the Regia Aeronautica for an aircraft able to undertake multiple roles: fighter, bomber and reconnaissance. The aircraft featured an all-metal, low-wing cantilever monoplane with a wire braced tail unit and fixed tail wheel. The open cockpit was placed well forward on the fuselage in line with the wing roots to provide an excellent field of vision down as well as forward. The headrest behind the cockpit was extended as a streamlined fairing all the way down the fuselage upper decking to the tail. 

Two prototypes powered by a 522 kW (700 hp) Bristol Pegasus were developed, the first as a two-seater bomber with an armament of four 7.7 mm machine guns in the wings and up to 400 kg of bombs in racks under the wings. The second was a single-seater fighter configuration fitted with a semi-retractable main landing gear that when in its rearward retracted position, provided less drag as well as protection in case of a wheels-up landing.
The first prototype flew in 1934 but flight tests revealed a lacklustre performance despite the use of a variable-pitch, three-blade propeller. Nonetheless, a limited production order was placed for a composite variant that combined the two-place configuration of the bomber (although a small number of single-seaters were built in the initial series) with the semi-retractable fighter landing gear. 

The production variant was powered by a 485 kW / 650 hp Alfa Romeo 125C and although single-seat variants were built, all the Ba.64s were converted to two-place bomber/attack aircraft with a single 7.7 mm machine gun mounted in the rear cockpit. Production of the 42 Ba.64s was complete by 1936.

Production aircraft were sent to 5° and 50° Stormos but pilots considered them ill-equipped to undertake missions as a bomber or fighter. The faults including being underpowered, heavy handling characteristics and a tendency to enter high-speed stalls that led to a number of fatal crashes. After limited use in front-line service, the Ba.64s were relegated to second-line duties although a small number survived until March 1943.

Two Ba.64s were exported by the Soviet Union in 1938 while a single example saw brief service in June 1937 during the Spanish Civil War with Nationalist forces in the Aviazione Legionaria.
Kingdom of Italy
Regia Aeronautica
Spanish Air Force
Soviet Air Force
Uruguayan Air Force

Specifications Ba.64
General characteristics
Crew: 2
Length: 9.72 m 
Wingspan: 12.10 m 
Height: 3.14 m 
Wing area: 23.50 m² 
Empty weight: 2,030 kg 
Max. takeoff weight: 3,034 kg 
Powerplant: 1 × Alfa Romeo 125 RC.35 radial engine, 485 kW (650 hp)
Maximum speed: 350 km/h 
Range: 900 km 
Service ceiling: 7,000 m (22,965 ft)
Armament: 2 × 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT mg, + 3 × 7.7 mm Breda-SAFAT mg
Bombs: 550 kg 

maanantai 5. kesäkuuta 2017

Northrop N-3PB

The Northrop N-3PB Nomad was a single-engined American floatplane of the 1940s. Northrop developed the N-3PB as an export model based on the earlier Northrop A-17 design. A total of 24 were purchased by Norway, but were not delivered until after the Fall of Norway during the Second World War. 

Exiled Norwegian forces used them from 1941, operating from Iceland, for convoy escort, anti-submarine patrols, and training purposes from "Little Norway" in Canada. Within two years of delivery, the design was effectively obsolete in its combat role, and the remaining N-3PBs were replaced by larger aircraft in 1943.

General characteristics
Crew: Three (pilot, navigator/bombardier and wireless operator/rear gunner)
Length: 10.98 m
Wingspan: 14.91 m
Height: 3.66 m
Wing area: 35.0 m²
Empty weight: 2,814 kg
Loaded weight: 3,864 kg
Max. takeoff weight: 4,818 kg
Powerplant: 1 × Wright GR-1820-G205A 9-cylinder a-c radial engine, 1,200 hp 
Maximum speed: 414 km/h at sea level
Cruise speed: 296 km/h
Range: 1,610 km
Service ceiling: 7,320 m
Climb to 4,570 m, 14.4 min
Armament: 4 × fixed forward firing .50 in machine guns
2 × .30 in machine guns (dorsal and ventral positions)
Bombs: 1 × 950 kg torpedo or equivalent weight of bombs or depth charges
Combat use
The remaining 18 N-3PBs were used to equip No. 330 (Norwegian) Squadron RAF in Reykjavík, Iceland. The N-3PBs sent to Iceland were all shipped across the Atlantic in crates on board the Norwegian steamer Fjordheim, the voyage from New York to Reykjavik taking 13 days to complete. Part of the reason for deploying the N-3PBs to Iceland were to avoid having the unusual aircraft operating over the United Kingdom, with the involved risk of friendly fire incidents. The exiled Norwegian military authorities had originally wanted to base the squadron in the United Kingdom in order to be able to operate off German-occupied Norway.

No. 330(N) Squadron was declared operational on 25 April 1941 the N-3PBs were erected in a seaplane hangar at Reykjavik, with the first aircraft flying by 2 June 1941. The squadron flew antisubmarine and convoy escort patrols from 23 June 1941, with flights based at Reykjavík, Akureyri and Budareyi. While the squadron's N-3PBs carried out eight attacks on German U-boats, including one on U-570 after it had surrendered to the British, no U-boats were sunk. 

On a number of occasions in 1942, the N-3PBs clashed with Focke-Wulf Fw 200 long range reconnaissance bombers and Blohm & Voss BV 138 flying boats, being credited with at least one damaged. On 10 October 1942, a "Northrop"from Budareyi was involved in a friendly fire incident, attacking a British Lockheed Hudson. The incident ended without any of the aircraft involved being hit.

In an effort to publicize the N-3PB operations, the British Air Ministry circulated a report that two Norwegian-flown aircraft had been involved in the attack on the German battleship Bismarck on 21–22 May 1941, but it was merely an example of wartime propaganda. Despite many aviation historians disputing the claim, it still appears in current accounts of the sinking of the Bismarck. No. 330(N) was formed on 25 April 1941 and received its first of 18 N-3PBs on 19 May, two days before the attack on the Bismark but didn't fly until 2 June 1941 and their first official operational flight wasn't until 23 June 1941.

No. 330(N) Squadron began supplementing the N-3PBs with Consolidated Catalina flying boats in 1942, and both the Catalina and the N-3PB began to be displaced in February 1943 by the arrival of the more capable Short Sunderland. Flying boats allowed for longer patrols to be carried out, and had superior seakeeping qualities to the N-3PB. The surviving N-3PBs continued to operate alongside the Catalinas, flying fighter patrol, escort and antisubmarine operations off Iceland's east coast until early 1943.

Throughout the transition to other types, the squadron's C-Flight maintained an "all-Northrop" unit, predominately involved in secondary roles including army cooperation, transport, air-sea rescue, ice reconnaissance and ambulance roles. In early 1943, No. 330(N)'s crews relocated to Oban, Scotland, aboard the troop ship Leinster. Two of the remaining N-3PBs flew to Oban. The eight aircraft left behind on Iceland were scrapped in Reykjavik between December 1942–April 1943.

Throughout its combat service from 23 June 1941 – 30 March 1943, No. 330(N)'s N-3PBs carried out 1,1011 operational sorties, totalling 3,512 hours flying time. Although the eight attacks they carried out on U-boats proved inconclusive, N-3PB escort patrols and antisubmarine sweeps were an important part of the Allied effort in keeping the North Atlantic sea lanes open. After the end of the type's combat service on Iceland, the Norwegian naval authorities considered basing two N-3PBs on Svalbard, an Arctic archipelago previously known as Spitzbergen. A German naval raid on 8 September 1943 resulted in the deployment being cancelled.

During flight training at "Little Norway", there were several accidents resulting in the death of students and instructors. The FTL lost three N-3PBs in Canada in fatal crashes, two in British Columbia when the harbour in Toronto was frozen, at RCAF Jericho Beach Flying Boat Station near Vancouver and Patricia Bay, Vancouver Island, along with the aircraft involved in the ferry boat accident at Island Harbour.

On 20 June 1941, while taking off, a N-3PB collided with the ferry Sam McBride in Port Race, Toronto Harbour, killing both the student pilot and instructor. The Toronto Star newspaper wrote that it was "a matter of time before one of the Norwegian aircraft crashes in the city itself." This fear, along with it being impractical to have flight training in the same place as the current civil aviation operations, precipitated a move to a new camp in Muskoka, Ontario. At the new location, both elementary and advanced level training could take place, while advanced flight training continued at Toronto Island Airport.

No. 330(N) Squadron also had notable accidents and fatalities, including its first operational loss when a N-3PB on a navigational training flight disappeared over the North Atlantic on 30 July 1941. Attrition through accidents gradually reduced the squadron's operational fleet; N-3PB (c/n 311) was damaged beyond repair on 16 September 1942 when depth charges accidentally released and detonated while the aircraft was moored at Budareyi. A total of 11 of the "Northrops" were lost with 12 casualties, including the squadron commander Cmdr. Hans Bugge and his crew who failed to return from an antisubmarine sweep on 25 August 1942. Despite an intensive search, no trace of the aircraft or crew was ever found

Northrop N-3PB, Full story