Blackburn Shark 'B-6' uncowled August 1933
Prototype Blackburn Shark B-6 during early testing with an uncowled engine in August 1933.
The hugely successful Blackburn T-9 Shark was a three seat, torpedo-spotter-reconnaissance aircraft. It was built by Blackburn Aircraft Company, and had its early origins in the private venture prototype Blackburn B-6,  the design Blackburn offered against Specification S.15/33.
The prototype made its first flight at Brough on 24th August 1933 powered initially by an uncowled 700 hp Armstrong Siddeley Tiger IV engine.
Blackburn Shark B6 Prototype wings folded
Prototype Blackburn Shark B-6 with wings folded and fully-cowled engine.
Equipped with folding wings and an arrester hook for shipboard operations, the type could also be operated in a seaplane configuration.
The all-metal fuselage incorporated two integral watertight compartments to aid floatation in the event of a forced landing at sea as featured in the earlier Blackburn M.1/30A.
The Blackburn B-6 Shark was a large two-bay biplane of unequal span where the N-type interplane struts were canted markedly outboard and were separated by a diagonal compression struts. This gave the aircraft a very distinctive appearance.
This design eliminated most bracing wires,  allowing the wings to be folded, with the full underwing bomb load still in place. Ailerons were provided on all four wings and could be collectively lowered to act as camber-changing flaps.
Defensive armament comprised a fixed forward-firing Vickers machine gun and a Vickers K gun, operated from a low drag mount in the rear cockpit. Offensive armament included a 1,500 The lb torpedo beneath the fuselage or an equivalent bomb load carried underwing.
Blackburn Shark I Seaplane K4295 B-6
Shark prototype B-6 modified to production standard Shark I seaplane K4295.
The Blackburn B-6 went to Martlesham Heath for trials in November 1933, whilst shortly afterwards in 1934, it took part in deck-landing trials on board HMS Courageous.
Once the type was selected for service, the prototype was converted to the production Blackburn Shark I standard, and was allocated an official serial no. (K4295).
16 aircraft produced as Blackburn Shark I were followed by the main production variant, the Blackburn Shark II. This was fitted with a 760 hp Tiger VI, or an 840 hp Pegasus IX engine, of which three pre-production and 126 were built.
Blackburn Shark II K8502 and HMS Rodney July 1938
Blackburn Shark II K8502 flying past HMS Rodney in July 1938.
The final variant was the Blackburn Shark III which featured a semi-enclosed cockpit canopy over the rear cockpit and a three-blade propeller. The prototype was developed by the modification of a Blackburn Shark II (K4882) and 95 aircraft were ordered for Fleet Air Arm service. Eventually, most in-service aircraft were progressively brought up to this standard.
Blackburn Shark III L2351
A late production Fleet Air Arm Blackburn Shark III L2351.
The Blackburn Shark was replaced in service in its primary role by the Fairey Swordfish, although a number of aircraft were still retained for use as such, whilst 22 which were converted as target tugs. Others undertook roles as training and communications aircraft, with some continuing in service until 1942.
The aircraft met with some export success, with six Blackburn Shark IIA being purchased by Portugal. These aircraft could carry four x 112 lb bombs, two x 230 lb bombs or one x 550 lb bomb, held under each wing. Three of these aircraft were alternatively equipped to carry a torpedo, whilst the other three had a large, under-fuselage fuel tank between the undercarriage legs. These aircraft were powered by the 700 hp Tiger VIC.
Blackburn Shark IIA Portuguese 76 seaplane
Blackburn Shark IIA '76' is one of six aircraft exported to Portugal.
Seven Blackburn Shark II aircraft were followed by two Blackburn Shark III (with Pegasus III engines), which were supplied to the Royal Canadian Air Force. The latter of these were followed by a further 17 aircraft, manufactured in Vancouver by Boeing Aircraft of Canada, and equipped with the 840 hp Pegasus IX engine. The Blackburn Shark remained in RCAF service until August 1944.
Blackburn Shark III Canada 525 seaplane
Pegasus-engined Shark III 525 for the RCAF under test in seaplane configuration.


Variants & Number Built

Prototype B-6 700hp Armstrong Siddeley Tiger IV, upgraded to Shark I K4295. 
Shark I 16 production aircraft
Shark II pre-production  Three aircraft K4880, K4881 760hp AS Tiger VI; K4882 840hp Bristol Pegasus IX. K4882 later modified as prototype Shark III.
Shark II   123 production aircraft for FAA in two batches (22 Shark III aircraft subsequently converted to target tug configuration)
Shark IIA Portugal 6 aircraft powered by 700hp AS Tiger VIC
Shark II Canada 7 aircraft to same standard as FAA
Shark III Canada 2 aircraft by Blackburn 525, 526 with 840hp Pegasus IX engine
Shark III Canada 17 aircraft - Canadian production by Boeing Aircraft of Canada
Total production 269 aircraft, of which 17 built in Canada


Specification (Shark II)

  Landplane Seaplane
Powerplant One 760 hp Armstrong Siddeley Tiger VI
Span 46 ft 0 in
Maximum Weight 8,050 lb  8,610 lb 
Capacity & Armament Three crew; one forward-firing Vickers gun, rear Vickers K gun in rear cockpit; One 1,500 lb torpedo or equivalent bomb load
Maximum Speed 150 mph (fighter) 141 mph
Max cruise speed 118 mph 118 mph
Range  625 miles 548 miles




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