Orange Series, No 8120, Blackburn Shark

Another book in the famous and highly respected Orange Series, featuring the almost unknown Blackburn Shark which served loyally and effectively in the shadow of the Fairy Swordfish. This is an A4 book format containing more than 90 b&w photographs, scale plans and 30 unique full colour artwork profiles supporting the well researched and comprehensive text – Most Highly Recommended.

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NAME:   Orange Series, No 8120, Blackburn Shark
FILE: R3196
AUTHOR: Matthew Willis, illustrator Chris Sandham-Bailey
PUBLISHER: Mushroom Model Publications, MMP 
BINDING: soft back
PRICE: £17.00                                                               
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT:   Naval aviation, FAA, Fleet Air Arm, RN, Royal Navy, carrier aircraft, 
float planes, torp[edo bomber, bomber, biplane, single engine, WWII, World War II, 
World War 2, Second World War, Royal Canadian Air Force

ISBN: 978-8365958-31-0

PAGES: 120
IMAGE: B3196.jpg
BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/ybv7amkr
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: Another book in the famous and highly respected Orange Series, 
featuring the almost unknown Blackburn Shark which served loyally and effectively 
in the shadow of the Fairy Swordfish. This is an A4 book format containing more 
than 90 b&w photographs, scale plans and 30 unique full colour artwork profiles 
supporting the well researched and comprehensive text – Most Highly 
Recommended.


The author has selected the story of the Blackburn Shark to tell and it is fully supported by outstanding images to satisfy naval aviation enthusiasts and highly skilled modellers.

Blackburn was one of a number of trusted manufacturers to whom the Royal Navy turned to build it naval aircraft that were real weapons systems. The Admiralty with assistance from the Royal Aeronautical Society set up the first training school for naval aviators in 1911. The first graduates were tasked with recommending how aircraft could be employed to fulfil the duties set for the Royal Navy in war. The Army took a different approach by viewing aircraft as reconnaissance platforms, regarded by many officers as being noisy smelly things that frightened the horses and were of very limited value in war.

From that starting point, the Admiralty turned to trusted suppliers to help it build it aviation force and the Army relied entirely on the Government Aircraft Factory. The result was that in 1914, with the control of naval aviation returned to the Royal Navy, as the Royal Naval Air Service, only weeks before the outbreak of WWI, the RNAS was able to celebrate its formation with the first successful drop of a torpedo from an aircraft. Its aircraft were dramatically better than the products of the GAF with which the Army’s Royal Flying Corps had to make do. Through WWI, the commercial contractors served the RNAS well and produced effective aerial weapons systems. When the RAF was formed in 1918 from amalgamation of the RNAS and RFC, the Royal Navy kept a level of control by insisting on paying for shipboard aircraft and having them crewed by RN personnel. When the RN regained control of shipboard aviation in 1938 in time for WWII, it may have suffered from inter-war cutbacks, but it had trained personnel and trusted suppliers.

In the late 1930s, the newly formed Fleet Air Arm had to work hard to catch up after the largely wasted RAF years. One of the aircraft produced by this effort was designed and built by Blackburn. The Shark may have looked antique as a biplane in a world turning to metal monoplanes, but it proved to be a generally reliable carrier bomber with a number of modern features. It was overshadowed by the less effective Swordfish because the early Sharks were forced to accept an unreliable engine. Had that been addressed very early on, the Shark would have gone on to greater glory and improvements saw it adopting new features, including an enclosed cockpit, while the Swordfish soldiered on with an open cockpit, the Albatross biplane intended to replace it in production. In fact, the Albatross failed to replace the Swordfish that continued to fly with an open cockpit.

The Shark, as with the Swordfish, served not only with wheeled undercarriage from shore airfields and carriers, but also with floats as a spotter plane carried and catapult launched by capital ships. In this role it retained its ability to carry bombs and torpedoes as a capable flying weapons system.

The author has redressed this neglect of a capable torpedo bomber and the illustrator has produced a fine selection of sketches and drawings to complement the photographic illustration.