No. 826 Naval Air Squadron was specially formed to operate the first Albacores in March 1940, being used for attacks against harbours and shipping in the English Channel, operating from shore bases, and for convoy escort for the rest of 1940. HMS Formidable's 826 and 829 Squadrons were the first to operate the Albacore from a carrier, with operations starting in November 1940. Initially, the Albacore suffered from reliability problems with the Taurus engine, although these were later solved, so that the failure rate was no worse than the Pegasus that equipped the Swordfish. It remained less popular than the Swordfish, however, as it was less agile, with the controls being too heavy for a pilot to take effective evasive action after dropping a torpedo.
Eventually, there were 15 first-line FAA squadrons equipped with the Albacore which operated widely in the Mediterranean. Albacores played a prominent role in the ill-fated raid on Kirkenes and Petsamo in July 1941. More successfully they participated in the Battle of Cape Matapan and the fighting at El Alamein as well as supporting the landings at Sicily and Salerno. During the period September 1941 to end of June 1943, No. 828 Squadron, based at RAF Hal Far, Malta, operated a squadron of Albacores under some of the most severe blitz conditions imaginable during the siege of Malta, mainly against Italian shipping and shore targets in Sicily.
In 1943, the Albacore was progressively replaced in Fleet Air Arm service by the Barracuda. The last FAA Albacore squadron, No. 841 Squadron, (which had been used for shore based attacks against shipping in the Channel for the whole of its career with the Albacore), disbanded in late 1943.
The Royal Air Force deployed some Albacores; No. 36 Squadron based at Singapore acquired five to supplement its Vickers Vildebeests at RAF Seletar in December 1941. The remnants of the squadron was captured by the Japanese in March 1942. In 1943, No. 415 Squadron RCAF was equipped with Albacores (presumably ex-FAA) before the Flight operating them was transferred and reformed as 119 Squadron at RAF Manston in July 1944. The squadron deployed later to Belgian airfields. Their Albacores were disposed of in early 1945 in favour of ASV-radar equipped Swordfish Mk.IIIs that the squadron kept until the end of the war in May. The Aden Communication Flight used 17 Albacores between the middle of 1944 and August 1946. Some of these were delivered by sea on the SS Empire Arun in December 1945 (all from Royal Navy stock).
The Royal Canadian Air Force took over the Albacores and used them during the Normandy invasion, for a similar role until July 1944. The Albacore was the last biplane to be used in combat by the RCAF.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia