Blackburn
T2 Dart

Naval torpedo aircraft developed from the Blackburn T1 Swift.
Blackburn Shark 'B-6' uncowled August 1933 Prototype Blackburn Shark B-6 during early testing with an uncowled engine in August 1933.
 
The Blackburn T1 Swift (described separately) was a private venture torpedo bomber developed primarily for export sales.
 
The Air Ministry ordered a modified version for Fleet Air Arm use to be known as the Blackburn T2 Dart which differed from the T1 Swift mainly in having a reduced wing span, special equipment to meet the requirements of the Admiralty and a later version of Napier Lion engine.
 
The type was a conventional single seat two-bay tractor biplane with divided undercarriage legs to accommodate carriage of a Mk VIII of Mk IX 18-inch torpedo. Provision was also made for the carriage of an equivalent underwing bomb load whilst no guns were ever fitted.
 
The longerons sloped down ahead of the pilot’s cockpit to improve the forward view for deck-landing, this becoming something of a Blackburn design trademark.
 
Blackburn T2 Dart '4' on Carrier Blackburn T2 Dart '4' ready to launch from a carrier deck.
 
The first prototype (N140) was delivered to Martlesham Heath for trials on 24th October 1921 although problems with the engine cooling system delayed the trials and a second aircraft (N141) took its place on 12th January 1922.
 
The performance tests were conducted with and without the torpedo whilst a further prototype (N142) was used to examine alternative control arrangements.
 
The Dart was adjudged to be superior to the competing Handley Page HP19 Hanley and was ordered into production. It was to become the Fleet Air Arm’s standard single-seat torpedo aircraft, remaining in service for more than ten years.
 
Blackburn T2 Dart N9629 69 in flight Blackburn T2 Dart N9629 '69' in flight.
 
The first production aircraft (N9536) appeared in the New Types Park at the 1922 RAF Display at Hendon and production aircraft were ordered in batches between 1922 and 1926. These included the three trials aircraft giving a total of 117 aircraft delivered for Fleet Air Arm use. Later aircraft were fitted with the 465 hp Napier Lion V, rather than the 450 hp Lion IIB.
 
The majority of the Fleet Air Arm aircraft were based on carriers deployed at sea around Britain and in the Mediterranean. The ships involved included HMS Eagle, HMS Furious and HMS Courageous whilst a Torpedo Training Flight was based at Gosport to prepare pilots in torpedo-dropping techniques, prior to their posting aboard ship.
 
Blackburn T2 Dart Seaplane Trainer G-EBKF G-EBKF was the first of three civil two-seat, dual control Dart seaplane trainers..
 
Only one additional variant was produced as an unarmed, civil two-seat seaplane trainer operated by Blackburn’s subsidiary company North Sea Aerial and General Transport Co Ltd.
 
This company had been awarded a contract to train RAF Reserve Officers using initially the Blackburn Kangaroo aircraft as well as the three civil Dart Aircraft (converted on the production line to two-seat, dual control, seaplane trainers). These three aircraft were consecutively registered (G-EBKF, G-EBKG and G-EBKH) and were delivered during 1925.
 
One notable occassion for the Dart was the first nightime decklanding on HMS Furious on 6th May 1926, piloted by Air Commodore GH Boyce.
 
The civil machines continue in this role until 1929, when one (G-EBKG) was scrapped whilst the remaining two aircraft were converted for land operations.
 
One of the pair (G-EBKF) was written off following an accident in January 1932, thankfully without injury to the crew. The third (G-EBKH) was retired from use in 1933 and for a number of years provided publicity outside Mr Reg Fowler’s garage in Hatfield, Yorkshire.

 

Variants & Numbers Built

 Prototypes
Three aircraft, serial numbers N140 – N142
T1 Dart
114 production aircraft for the Fleet Air Arm
Dart Seaplane Trainer
Three civil aircraft (G-EBKF, ‘BKG and ‘BKH) for the North Sea Aerial and General Transport Co Ltd.
Total built
120 aircraft – three prototypes. 114 production for Fleet Air Arm and 3 civilian seaplane trainer aircraft.

 

Specification (Production aircraft with Lion IIB)

Powerplant
One 465 hp Napier Lion IIB
Span
45 ft 5.75 in
Maximum Weight
6,383 lb
Capacity & Armament
Single pilot; one Mk VIII or Mk IX 15-inch torpedo, or equivalent bomb load
Maximum Speed
107 mph at 1,000 ft
Max cruise speed
103 mph
Endurance
2.25 hr at 107 mph, 3 hr at 95 mph

Survivors

No Dart aircraft survive.