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 had originally been designed by the Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Company primarily as as a private venture torpedo bomber destined for export sales to overseas air forces. The UK Air Ministry however, required a modified version for use by the Fleet Air Arm and this variant was to become known as the Blackburn T2 Dart.
The Blackburn T2 Dart differed from the original Blackburn T1 Swift by having a reduced wing span, plus additional 'special equipment', fitted to meet the requirements of the Admiralty. In its later form, it was also fitted with a much later version of Napier Lion engine.
The design was concentrated on a conventional, single seat two-bay tractor biplane, completed with divided undercarriage legs, in order to accommodate a Mk VIII of Mk IX 18-inch torpedo. Provision was also made for the attachment of an equivalent underwing bomb load although no guns were ever fitted.
The longerons sloped down ahead of the pilot’s cockpit in order 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 the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Martlesham Heath for trials on 24th October 1921. However, problems with the engine cooling system delayed the planned 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 Blackburn T2 Dart was adjudged to be superior to the competing Handley Page HP19 Hanley and it was ordered into production. The type 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 thereafter, production aircraft were ordered in batches between 1922 and 1926. These included the three trials aircraft giving a total of 117 aircraft to be delivered for Fleet Air Arm use. Later aircraft supplied were fitted with the improved 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 RNAS 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 and it was operated by a Blackburn subsidiary company, North Sea Aerial and General Transport Co Ltd, who were formed in 1933 to provide training to the Air Ministry of Auxiliary and Reserve officers.
This company had been awarded a contract to train RAF Reserve Officers, initially using a Blackburn RT1 Kangaroo aircraft, as well as the three civil Blackburn T2 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 for service during 1925.
One notable occasion, the Blackburn T2 Dart achieved the first night-time deck-landing on HMS Furious on 6th May 1926, piloted by Air Commodore G.H. Boyce.
The three civil, 2-seat machines continue in their training 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 & Number Built

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)

One 465 hp Napier Lion IIB
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
2.25 hr at 107 mph, 3 hr at 95 mph




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