A 100"

Fairey Swordfish






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 January 2017.....

The British fairy Swordfish was most famous for the first torpedo hit on the dreaded German battleship the Bismark. A Swordfish from the aircraft carrier Ark Royal disabled Bismark's steering gear, jamming her rudders in a turning position and preventing her escape. With her steering jammed and her speed slashed by torpedo attacks, The Bismark and her crew of 2,200 were a sitting duck for the royal navy and they quickly finished her off. The Fairy Swordfish was a slow biplane torpedo bomber originating in the early 1930's. It was affectionately named the "stringbag". It is said that this amazing aircraft sunk more axis shipping in world war 2 than all the other allied aircraft put together.

This build will be a 1/5.5 scale (100"span) model from plans by Len Ashdown in Ontario.....follow along with me......


I have chosen to model the oldest surviving Fairey Swordfish in the world. She first flew in 1941. In 1944 she was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy and used in a training role. In 1990, the aircraft was bought by British Aerospace and completely restored to flying condition. In 2015 she was re-painted in the pre-war colours of the Co's aircraft of 810 Squadron of the HMS Ark Royal 1939.  She is presently operated by the Royal Navy Historic Flight in the UK.




    Starting with the top wing ribs.....There are 26 ribs on each side, that's 52 on the top wing only and not counting the center cabane.....A LOT of hand cutting and my fingers are sore already. The ribs are stacked together and sanded true.....they will all be exactly the same size and shape.




The fuselage is built in a temporary jig to hold the formers in perfect alignment.












Here the fuselage is out of the jig now that it is rigid enough to hold it's shape.  I am using a lot lighter materials than called for in the plan. Some carbon rod to stiffen the lower fuse and lightply in place of hard plywood in many places. I hope to keep this airplane under 20 lbs. and use one of the big Saito singles for power. The weight of the fuse at this point is under 2 lbs.


Here the vertical and horizontal stabs are fixed in place and covered with white Solartex. The rudder and elevator are not yet  covered.



Upside-down in the building jig, the bottom of the fuselage is sheeted with 3/32" balsa and the arrester hook is installed in the underside of the fuselage. The lower stub wing is completed and fitted along with an access door. The wing stub will be glued permanently in place and will support the lower folding wing and the landing gear struts.

Here the whole thing is temporarily clamped together.....at this point I will be making a jig to hold everything in place while the struts are made and the wings are rigged. Solartex is being used for covering material. The servos and pull-pull systems are in place.....I chose Corona servos from Hobby City. So far I have spent close to $300.00 on balsa and nearly $400.00 on covering materials.....enough to make a Scotsman weep!!

The Swordfish has a very large oil cooler sticking out of the right hand side of the fuselage. I made this by  pulling the copper wire out of some 14 gauge electrical wire leaving me with some black hollow tubing about the right diameter......then I glued it around a shaped balsa block.

The struts from the lower wing stub to the fuselage are made of balsa with plywood end caps. A lot of filling and sanding took place and I painted a coat of epoxy on them to prepare the surface for final painting.

   May 2017.....                                            


The covering is going on and the painting has started.....The top wing center section has been trial painted using latex paint and clearcoated with a fuelproof clear. Some strange colors on this bird.....silver in some places and grey in others. I have no idea why the pink colored stripes were used but that's the way it was!! The rib stitching and pinked taping are scale dimensions.


There are about a hundred ribs in the wings with simulated rib stitching on both sides (top and underside) First pencil lines need to be drawn to locate the ribs. Secondly the stitching tapes are cut to 1/8" strips and applied .....they are stick-on. Next the 3/8" pinked tapes are applied and ironed in place over the stitching tape. That's more than 200 strips of tape....close to 300 feet of tapes at a cost of about $200.00. This thing is rupturing my pocketbook!!.....but I'm happy with the results after painting. This is the really fun stuff!!

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