Owner: Royal Navy Historic Flight
Status: Undergoing maintenance

SIGNIFICANCE

LS326 is one of the last two remaining Swordfish in the world. The story of her survival is incredible and few who have seen her fly can begin to appreciate the luck, care and perseverance that have been expended keeping her in the air. The Fairey Aviation Company, Westland Aircraft and everyone who has contributed to maintaining her airworthiness over the last fifty years have had to face every difficulty – virtually rebuilding the aircraft in 1955, and the engine in 1967, searching the world for spares.

The aircraft was even a movie star at one point, when she had a part in the film “Sink the Bismarck!”, demonstrating the pivotal role that the then near-obsolete Fairey Swordfish played in World War II when they dropped torpedoes on the mighty German battlecruiser, disabling the ship so it could be overtaken and targeted by the surface fleet.

Tech Specs

  • Crew: 3

Flight Specs :

Speed -
143 mph (224 km/h)
Range -
522 mi (840 km)
Ceiling -
16,500 ft (5,030 m)
Full Specs

HISTORY

This aircraft was a “Blackfish” like Swordfish W5856, built in 1943 by Blackburn Aircraft at Sherburn-in-Elmet. The same year she was part of ‘L’ Flight of 836 Squadron (the largest ever Fleet Air Arm Squadron) on board the MAC ship Rapana, on North Atlantic Convoy duties. Following her active service she was used for training and communications duties from the Royal Naval Air Station Culham near Oxford and Worthy Down near Winchester.
In 1947 Fairey Aviation bought LS326 and displayed her at various RAeS Garden party displays. The following year she was sent to White Waltham for storage and remained there gradually deteriorating until Sir Richard Fairey gave orders for the aircraft to be rebuilt. The restoration was completed in October 1955 and thereafter she was kept in flying condition at White Waltham registered as G-AJVH and painted Fairey Blue and silver.

In 1959 LS326 was repainted for a starring role in the film “Sink the Bismarck!”, playing a pivotal role for which the aircraft became famous in WW2.

In October 1960 LS326 was presented to the Royal Navy by the Westland Aircraft Company and has been flown ever since. For many years she retained her “Bismarck” colour scheme and in 1984 D-Day invasion stripes were also added for the 40th Anniversary celebrations, when she overflew the beaches of Normandy. Since 1987 LS326 has worn her original wartime colour scheme for North Atlantic convoys with ‘L’ Flight of 836 Squadron. Following extensive work by BAE Systems Brough to her wings, LS326 flew again on 1 July 2008 for the first time in nine years.
LS326 was adopted by the City of Liverpool, the name she proudly wears on her port side.

Current Status

LS326 is currently undergoing an engine rebuild and a regime of prudent (but necessary) piston checks which will unfortunately delay the return of LS 326 to flying condition. However in the meantime there are still tasks to finish on the airframe, including the manufacture and fitting of some looms and in particular a large bundle of cables between the radio breadboard in the aft fuselage and the cockpit.