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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
|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|