Used for advanced flying training and trials, W5856 was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy in 1944 and again used in a training role, then stored in reserve after the War’s end. Passing through the hands of at least two civilian operators after disposal, she was purchased by Sir William Roberts and brought to Scotland to join his Strathallan Collection, arriving in crates in August 1977 in a badly corroded condition.
In 1990, the aircraft was bought by British Aerospace and completely restored to flying condition. Following a successful test flight at Brough in May 1993 she was gifted to the Royal Navy Historic Flight and three years later was adopted by the City of Leeds, in tribute to the local companies that built Swordfish components during World War II. She now wears the City’s coat of arms and name on her port side just forward of the pilot’s cockpit.
W5856 was grounded with corrosion in her wing spars in 2003 and her future looked uncertain. However with great generosity BAE Systems stepped in and constructed a new set of wings which were delivered to the Royal Navy Historic Flight in 2012. W5856 was finally restored to full flying condition and saved for the nation by a major grant from the Peter Harrison Heritage Foundation. The aircraft re-joined the display circuit in 2015, carrying a new paint scheme which depicts Swordfish of 820 Naval Air Squadron during the attack of the Bismarck in 1941.