Annotated Fairey Swordfish bibliography - Recommended aviation books (2)

Photo-set via photographer CJG1 flickr links

Fairey Swordfish

Fairey Swordfish

Fairey Swordfish Pilot's cockpit

Bibliography prepared and commented by DCR and MB from the Die-cast Aviation Forum with additional comments by myself. And as Martin pointed out, a decent collection of Swordfish titles can be acquired reasonably cheaply. Thank you both for your recommendations..

Swordfish: Fairey Swordfish Mks -I - III - 'A very slim soft back book but with lots of photo's showing close up details. The MK IVs were actually MKIIs fitted with a canopy'.
The Swordfish Story - Ray Sturtivant
Fleet Air Arm Aircraft, Units and Ships 1920 to 1939 - Ray Sturtivant with Dick Cronin.
Fairey Swordfish And Albacore - W A Harrison
Taranto 1940: A Glorious Episode - A J Smithers - 'A bit disappointing but still interesting as it included a history of torpedo attacks up to 1939'.
Swordfish, Story of the Taranto Raid - David Wragg.
Stingbag: The Fairey Swordfish At War - David Wragg
Wings At Sea - A Fleet Air Arm Observers War - Gerard A Woods
Escort Carrier: HMS Vindex At War. Kenneth Poolman - 'I really enjoyed this one and I have a good subject for a Corgi model if any one wants a suggestion for the next one'.
Channel Dash Heroes - Ted Powell  - 'A small book published on the 60th anniversary for the Fleet Air Arm Association'
War In A Stringbag - Charles Lamb
Eugene Esmonde VC, DSO - Chaz Bowyer'Good but I didn't feel it got to the heart of the man in the way that Cheshire and Gibson have been done'.
Night Strike From Malta - Kenneth Poolman
Bring Back My Stringbag - A Swordfish pilot at War, John Godley (Lord) Kilbracken - Macmillan 1980
Channel Dash - Terrence Robertson'Covers the whole of Operation Fuller but quite a strong emphasis on the part played by 825 Squadron and a good companion to Bowyer's book'.

Fiasco: Break Out Of The German Battleships, John Deane Potter, published 1970 '..A recent 65p on line purchase. I didn't have great expectations but it turned out to be a very good read. It is similar in the basics to Robertson's earlier Channel Dash but places more emphasis on the individuals involved. The Swordfish survivors are all listed in the acknowlgements and details of their participation include details that I haven't read elsewhere. There seems to be plenty of copies about of both paper back and hardback at very reasonable prices. (Ebay was by no means cheaper than other on line dealers). Well worth reading though people who have already read Channel Dash might give it a miss..'

Swordfish Patrol - George Sadler (Bridge books, 1996).
'Sadler was an 835 Naval Air Squadron Swordfish pilot. This short 130-page memoir is the story of  hundreds of lonely hours spent shepherding essential but vulnerable merchant vessels through the U Boat infested waters to a safe berth in Allied territory where the airman's success was measured, not by locating the enemy but by keeping him at arm's length. The author carried out patrols in all weathers, in every season, providing cover for convoys. He completed the highest number of deck landings in his squadron before being sent ashore as an instructor shortly before the end of war in Europe..'

Achtung Swordfish - Stanley Brand. 'Naff title but good read, includes crashing and apparently writing off a Swordfish but which he flew in again as a passenger post war - one of our favourite models with the city of Leeds crest on it. A good book but with one of the saddest post scripts that I have ever read'
Fairey Aircraft - Ray Sturtivant
With Naval Wings – John Wellam. 'I came across this one in the library but was so impressed I’m now awaiting my own copy from Ebay. The author not only took part in the Taranto raid, he was one of the three pilots on the Bomba Raid when they achieved the distinction of sinking a submarine and three ships with only three torpedoes'.

Tag On A Stringbag,  co-author Les Sayer ( Aspen Publications, 1994) - ' a series of recollections. Most books are written from the pilot's point of view, a few by observers but this I think is the only one from the back seat that I know of  - the point of view of the 'Telegraphist Air Gunner' or TAG. Comprises recollections from a sizeable number of TAGs. Despite the book's title, not all of them related to the Swordfish. The organisation of the stories is disorganised and could be improved, particularly those relating to the Bismarck and Channel Dash episodes. One thing that did strike me was the almost unanimous feelings about the gap between officers and the "lower decks" to the point where TAGs were rarely included in briefings and were often setting off with no idea of where they were going or why. Any enquiry was often met with "Mind your own business and do as you are told". This differs sharply with the impressions received from the books of Lamb and Wellam etc. One surprise for me was that Les Sayer, co-author of the book, was himself a TAG with 825 Squadron and was awarded the DSM for his part in the Bismarck attack. What he fails to mention is that he flew as a TAG with Esmonde from Ark Royal. For the attack on Bismarck he was crewed with Percy Gick (later an admiral). He makes only the briefest mention of Esmond and none at all of Gick. He was still with 825 at the time of the Channel Dash and would have taken part but for one of those twists of fate. Another squadron member asked Sayer to attend a course in his place. That man was PO Clinton who was TAG for Esmonde and who was killed with him. Not a bad book but could have been organised a little better and provides a different point of view..'  Les Sayer's obituary is here

Fairey Swordfish Observers station

Fairey Swordfish Observers station

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