8117 Barracuda

The Fairey Barracuda

Orange • 2016
Autor(zy)Matthew Willis
IlustratorJP Vieira
Data wydania2016-11-10
Nr katalogowy8117
KategoriaAvailable KategoriaDostępne
FormatA4, 168 stron (16 w kolorze)
Cena130.00 PLN Cena25.00 GBP

'The Fairey Barracuda was the first monoplane torpedo bomber operated by the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. The Barracuda experienced a difficult birth and development during the Second World War, and this, added to a number of fatal crashes, led to a poor reputation which the aircraft would never truly shake. Despite this, the Barracuda proved highly successful in service, carrying out raids against the Tirpitz, and against Japanese forces in the East Indies that contributed greatly to the war effort. It also undertook a variety of less well known roles, and remained in Fleet Air Arm service into the 1950s.

This new book by naval aviation historian Matthew Willis contains an extensive history and technical description of the Barracuda, drawing from a wide range of archive materials and accounts from the men who flew and operated the aircraft in service, together with over 100 photographs, many never before published.

Scale plans and colour profiles also included.

 Reprint 2021

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  • The Aviation Historian 21 • 2017-10-15
    The Aviation Historian 21
  • speedreaders.inf • 2017-03-17

    The Fairey Barracuda

    by Matthew Willis


    “There is no doubt that the Barracuda is an aircraft of contradictions. It was unquestionably flawed, often unpopular and troubled throughout its life. For all that, though, it achieved far more than its critics like to admit and was among the most powerful and adaptable weapons in the Fleet Air Arm’s arsenal in the last two years of war and beyond.”


    Over 2500 of the carrier-based Barracuda torpedo and dive bombers were delivered, more than any other type ordered by the Royal Navy at that time—and still it couldn’t shake the reputation of being, as Willis says right in his first sentence, “among the most reviled aircraft of WW II.” He’s also quick to call it a victim of “muddled thinking” which might have similarly hobbled the only other prototype (by Supermarine) that had been selected by the Air Ministry in 1937 out of the six proposals for a TRB—Torpedo/Recon Bomber.

    As he has done for the Fairey Flycatcher, Willis (b. 1976) examines both the good and the bad and manages once again to rehabilitate a grossly misunderstood aircraft. And again we say that his background as a naval aviation historian and novelist flavors Willis’ writing style in a most appealing way.

    If you know this publisher’s output you know that their different series of books have different approaches. This one is in the Orange Series which means a strong focus on development and operational service. (If you have the aforementioned Flycatcher book which was also published in the Orange Series know that the new book is in the larger 8.25 x 11.75″ format.)

    All variants are covered. While kit modelers are always on the publisher’s mind, this time they’ll get rather a bit less to sink their teeth into because there is not one single surviving complete aircraft so a usual feature of these books, the walk-around of an actual aircraft, is missing. (The one aircraft that had a good chance of getting resurrected has once again an uncertain future after a cooperative arrangement with the group that is rebuilding Donald Campbell’s Bluebird speedboat fell apart.)

    Side note: if battleships are your main interest you’ll probably recognize the Barracuda as a highly competent raider, not least of the German Tirpitz.

    For the money, these books offer an enormous amount of original research from primary sources (actual period manuals, interviews with pilots and maintainers, action reports etc.), scores of images that are new to the record, and pages of scale plans and color drawings to show markings and paint schemes.


    Copyright 2017 (speedreaders.info).

    The Fairey Barracuda
    by Matthew Willis
    MMPBooks, 2017
    140 pages, 217 b/w & color profiles, softcover
    List Price: $39 / £19
    ISBN-13: 978-8365281241
  • Model Airplane International 3/2017 • 2017-02-24
    Model Airplane International 2017 03 1
  • Skrzydlata Polska • 2017-02-22
    SP 02 2017 001
  • Scale Aviation Modeller International 02/2017 • 2017-01-27
    Scale Aviation Modeller International 2017 02 95
  • IMPS USA website • 2017-01-21

    The Fairey Barracuda

    Published: January 20th, 2017      
    Product Image
    Front cover
    Author: Matthew Willis
    Reviewed by: 
    Frank Landrus, IPMS# 35035
    Company: Mushroom Model Publications
    ISBN #: 978-83-65281-24-1
    Other Publication Information: Colour Plates: JP Vieira, Scale Plans: Dariusz Karnas, Softbound, A4 [11.7” x 8.4”], 168 pages
    Price: $39.00
    Product / Stock #: 8117


    Matthew Willis was born in the historic naval town of Harwich, Essex in 1976. Matthew studied Literature and History of Science at the University of Kent, where he wrote an MA thesis on Joseph Conrad and sailed for the University in national competitions. He subsequently worked as a journalist for Autosport and F1 Racing magazines, before switching to a career with the National Health Service, where he wrote everything from press releases to consultation papers. His first non-fiction book, a history of the Blackburn Skua WW2 naval dive bomber, was published in 2007. He currently lives in Southampton with his University lecturer wife Rosalind, and writes both fiction and non-fiction for a living. This is Matthew Willis fifth book, and fourth with Mushroom Model Publications. Matthew has also been published in four short-story anthologies with author J. A. Ironside. He has also authored many feature articles in aviation and scale modeling magazines. You can find Mathew Willis on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/daedalusandthedeep/ and follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/NavalAirHistory . He also has a blog at http://airandseastories.com/ for his fiction stories.

    The Fairey Barracuda was a carrier torpedo and dive bomber that was designed to replace the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm’s biplanes, the Fairey Swordfish and the Fairey Albacore. The Barracuda was designed to British Specification S.24/37 and made its first flight on December 7, 1940. Its primary competitor, the Supermarine Type 322’s first flight wasn’t till 1943 after the Barracuda was already in full production. The Barracuda was the FAA’s first all metal aircraft to fill this role, entering service on Janaury 10, 1943 with 827 Squadron. The Barracuda’s early service was plagued with a number of fatal crashes that gave the airplane an ill reputation. Interestingly, one of the biggest problems was with hydraulic leaks, with the most common leak being the pilot’s hydraulic pressure gauge. It wasn’t till 1945 that the mystery of the hydraulic fluid spraying into the pilot’s face was attributed to the hydraulic fluid containing ether. Over 2,600 Fairey Barracudas were delivered and sadly, not a single complete example of this aircraft has survived.

    This tome provides some of the most thorough coverage on the Barracuda yet published. David Brown’s 1972 Aircraft Profile number 240 on the Barracuda provided 24 pages. Warpaint 35 covered the Barracuda authored by W.A. Harrison and was published in 2004 and clocked in at 36 pages. Ad Hoc Publications’ 2012 release from their ‘From the Cockpit’ series (number 16 by Robert McCandless) comes close with 144 pages, but unfortunately I don’t have a copy of it.

    The Table of Contents includes the following sections:



    ‘The Aeroplane Is To Be Presented For Examination’ – Background and Genesis

    The Powerplant Saga [Page 8]

    ‘A Certain Amount of Ill-Informed Criticism’ – Barracuda Development

    The Long Road To Readiness

    A New Production Scheme [Page 18]

    Production Testing, and Development Continues

    Barracuda (1/48 and 1/72) Scale Plans [Page 33]

    ‘A Very Hairy Sort of Business’ – The Barracuda Enters Service

    Rapid Build Up

    New Tactics and Methods



    Radar and Weight-Saving

    The Tirpitz and Shipping Strikes in the North Sea [Page 58]

    Hitting Hard in the East Indies

    ‘Cuda’ Floats [Page 72]

    ASW and Convoy Protection in European Waters

    Return to the East

    The Barracuda and the Griffon [Page 95]

    ‘Was Anyone Hurt in the Wreck?’ – Postwar Service [Page 111]

    Cold War Anti-Submarine Warfare

    ‘Special Duties’

    ‘Dropped Like A Stone’ – The Barracuda Assessed

    Performance and Power


    Qualities As A Strike Aircraft

    Modern Features [Page 120]



    Deck Landing


    ‘It Has Not Been Found Easy To Tool Up; - Technical Description

    Fuselage and Cockpit [Page 132]



    Control Surfaces






    In Flight

    Fairey Barracuda Details

    ‘Epitomizing the Beauty of Naval Aviation’ – Barracuda Colours [Page 165]

    ‘Something Very Original’ - Postscript

    One section that caught my attention was the one on ‘Cuda Floats’ [Page 72]. In preparation for Allied landings against Japan, trials were conducted at Boscombe Downs. Although not definitive, it appears that the containers at eight-feet in length, two-feet wide, and two-and-a-half feet in depth may have been meant to carry paratroopers since the evaluation was conducted with the Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment. Each ‘float’ had front and rear doors that were pilot operated. This effort did not proceed beyond testing, but I have to wonder about the sanity of a paratrooper willing to ride in this ‘float’ for literally hours only to wait until the pilot opens the ‘doors’ so they can parachute to their target. Maybe it could be a thrill ride at a theme park?

    Special Hobby produces a nice mixed media 1/48 Mk.II and after-market companies make it possible to get to the Mk.III and Mk.V Barracuda. In 1/72, you get the old tried and true generic Barracuda Mk.II from Frog (Air Lines, UPC, Hasegawa, and Novo) kit along with a resin Planet Models kit of the Mk.5. MPM (Special Hobby) gets you a Mk.II and a Mk.III.

    Matthew Willis has delivered a great history on the Fairey Barracuda that not only covers the development and operational history, but provides a good basis for the modeler with nice detail shots. I counted 219 black and white photographs. You also get 28 color plates from JP Vieira and 10 black and white scale drawings from Dariusz Karnas. Mushroom Model Publications’ has provided a page by page preview at: http://mmpbooks.biz/ksiazki/337 .

    My thanks to Mushroom Model Publications and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

    Highly recommended!

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