Fairey Swordfish torpedo bomber airplane model. At the outbreak of World War Two the Fleet Air Arm had 13 operational squadrons. The Fairey Swordfish has earned its place in history for major contributions to naval warfare. During the Norwegian campaign, and especially during the raid on Toranto. During November 1940, Twenty Swordfish took off from the HMS Illustrious (operation Judgement) to attack the Italian Fleet in their Harbour of Toranto. At Least nine torpedoes hit their targets. Seven Italian Ships were badly damaged including the Italian battleships, Caio Duillio, Littorio and Conte De Cavour. This was followed in February 1942, by a Heroic but suicidal attack on German Battle Cruisers in the English Channel by six swordfish of 825 squadron from RAF Manston. All aircraft and crews were lost. This resulted in a Victoria Cross for the leader Lieutenant Commander E Esmonde.
The next major event was the torpedo attack on the Bismarck from Swordfish from HMS Ark Royal. This attack badly damaged the steering gear of the Bismarck and helped in the final destruction of the German battleship by Royal Navy Battleships. The fairey Swordfish was also used in anti-submarine and anti-shipping roles. The Swordfish sunk more enemy ships (by Tonnage) than any other aircraft acting in the same roles. By the end of the War the Fleet Air Arm still had nine active squadrons, but all were finally disbanded in May 1945. A total of 2399 Swordfish were built.