Blackburn B-24 Skua I K5718 1st prototype
The first prototype Blackburn B-24 Skua I K5718 at Brough in 1937 with wing folded.
The Blackburn Aircraft Company B-24 Skua was a shipboard two-seat fighter / dive bomber designed to meet Air Ministry Specification O.27/34.
It was an all-metal (duralumin) low-wing, stressed-skin monoplane with wings that folded to the rear around an inclined hinge, just outboard of the undercarriage legs. The undercarriage itself was retractable during flight, whilst the crew sat under a long glazed cockpit enclosure, with the rear gunner positioned in line with the wing trailing edge.
The two prototypes (K5178 and K5179) were powered by an 840hp Bristol Mercury IX engine and the type was equipped with landing flaps that also served as dive brakes. Two main watertight compartments were also incorporated into the fuselage to provide buoyancy if the aircraft were to be forced down onto the sea.
Blackburn B-24 Skua I 2nd prototype K5719
The 2nd prototype Blackburn B-24 Skua I K5719 with lengthened nose and turned-up wingtips.
The first prototype Blackburn B-24 (K5178) flew for the first time on 9th February 1937, with the second (K5179) flying on 4th May 1938. The second prototype incorporated turned-up wingtips and a lengthened nose. Both of these features were adopted for the 190 production aircraft which were all designated as Blackburn Skua II.
Production aircraft made use of the 890 hp Bristol Perseus XII engine as it had been decided to reserve Mercury engines for installation on the Bristol Blenheim aircraft.
Blackburn B-24 Skua II L2889 L2874 803 Sqn May 1939
An air to air view of production Blackburn B-24 Skua IIc L2889 & L2874 of 803 Sqn in May 1939.
Armament comprised four forward-firing 0.303 Browning machine guns in the wings and a defensive Lewis gun, fired from the rear cockpit. The bomb load, when operating in the dive bomber role, was a single 500 lb bomb carried in a recess below the fuselage and between the undercarriage legs. For training purposes, eight 30 lb practice bombs could also be carried below the wings.
As a type, the Blackburn B-24 Skua was found to be 'pleasant and easy to fly and to land' during trials. Although it was outclassed as a fighter, it proved effective as a dive bomber, notably in the sinking of the cruiser Koningsberg at Bergen in April 1940.
The first production Blackburn Skua II (L2867) was flown on 28th August 1938.
The need for a shipboard dive bomber was sufficiently urgent that almost all of the 190 production aircraft were delivered to 800 Squadron and 803 Squadron Fleet Air Arm (FAA) during 1939, for service on HMS Ark Royal. 801 Squadron (FAA) also operated the type on the carrier HMS Furious.
Blackburn B-24 Skua 15x on carrier deck Oct 1940
Fifteen Blackburn B-24 Skua IIs ranged on a carrier deck in October 1940.
The Blackburn B-24 Skua is credited with being the first British type to shoot down an enemy aircraft in air combat during the Second World War, the victim being a Dornier 18 flying boat shot down on 25th September 1939.
A number of aircraft were lost during the Norwegian campaign but the type continued in operational service in the Mediterranean theatre until 1941.
After this, the Blackburn B24 Skua was used mainly for advanced training and target-towing, with late production aircraft being delivered as target tugs from the outset. 
The last Blackburn B-24 Skua in service was struck off charge in March 1945.


Variants & Numbers Built

Blackburn B-24
Skua I                      
840 hp Bristol Mercury IX engine. Two prototypes only K5178 and K5179.
Blackburn B-24
Skua II
890 hp Bristol Perseus XII engine. 190 production aircraft used in fighter, dive bomber and target tug roles.
Total built 192 aircraft


Specification (Skua II)

Powerplant One 890 hp Bristol Perseus XII
Span 46 ft 2 in
Maximum Weight 8,228 lb (dive bomber), 8,124 lb (fighter)
Capacity & Armament Two crew; four forward-firing Browning guns in wings, rear Lewis gun, one 500 lb bomb on an ejector arm under the fuselage. Up to eight 30 lb practice bombs on wing racks.
Maximum Speed 225 mph (fighter)
Max cruise speed 187 mph
Range  435 miles



None although the remains of one nearly complete aircraft were recovered from a Norwegian fjord in 2007. Parts of another aircraft (L2940) were recovered from a Norwegian lake in 1974.

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