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Photographer's Note

Fairey Swordfish Mk.II LS326.

This photograph was taken from a boat in Portsmouth Harbour during the 1998 second International Festival Of The Sea. But a glance will be enough to convince you this is not a ship. This aircraft overflew us quite low and quite sedately. It's a Swordfish, also known as a 'Blackfish', built by Blackburn Aircraft in 1943 at Sherburn-in-Elmet. The Swordfish was often affectionately known as the "Stringbag". Later in 1943 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 getting more and more dilapidated until Sir Richard Fairey gave orders for the aircraft to be rebuilt. The restoration work 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!'. In October 1960 she 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 she has worn her original wartime colour scheme for North Atlantic convoys with 'L' Flight of 836 Squadron. Following extensive work by BAeS Brough to her wings, LS326 flew again on 1 July 2008 for the first time in ten years.

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Additional Photos by Will Perrett (willperrett) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1061 W: 298 N: 2919] (13428)
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