Swordfish Mk.I

The Fairey Swordfish was a medium-sized biplane torpedo bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. The Swordfish employed a metal airframe covered in fabric. It utilized folding wings as a space-saving measure, which was useful on board aircraft carriers. In service, it received the nickname Stringbag; this was not due to its biplane struts, spars, and braces, but a reference to the seemingly endless variety of stores and equipment that the type was cleared to carry. Crews likened the aircraft to a housewife's string shopping bag, common at the time and which could accommodate contents of any shape, and that a Swordfish, like the shopping bag, could carry anything. It was initially operated primarily as a fleet attack aircraft; during its later years, the Swordfish became increasingly used as an anti-submarine and training platform. The type was in front line service throughout the entirety of the Second World War, but it was already considered obsolescent at the outbreak of the conflict in 1939.

Nonetheless, the Swordfish achieved some spectacular successes during the war; notable events included a flight of the type sinking one battleship and damaging two others of the Regia Marina (the Italian Navy) during the Battle of Taranto, and the famous crippling of the Bismarck, which contributed to her eventual demise. By the end of the war, the Swordfish held the distinction of having caused the destruction of a greater tonnage of Axis shipping than any other Allied Aircraft. The Swordfish remained in front-line service until V-E Day, having outlived multiple aircraft that had been intended to replace it in service.

The Kit

The Tamiya kit comes in a top opening tray type box with nice artwork on the top. The bottom half is made from thin corrugated cardboard making for a nice sturdy box. Inside we find that the box if brimming full of sprues. The reason for this is noted on the box top where it says 'Clear Edition" I did not want a clear edition but at the time it was all that was available. Since the kit contains all the original parts the clear parts will just be extra as I do not intend on using them. The sprues are all bagged, the two clear sprues are individually bagged as is sprue with the fuselage halves, the clear windscreen parts and on other small sprue. Two other larger bags have two sprues each and one medium sized bag has two identical sprues that have the under wing armaments. The parts are molded in a dark gray color and feature a glossy surface with recessed panel lines and raised fastener and other appropriate details. The fabric cover portions are done very well. All the molding is crisp without a hint of flash. Mold separation line are barely noticeable. There are some ejector pin marks in places that might show but they are very light and if they bother you should be easy to remedy. looking over the air frame parts I found no surface blemishes. Basic everything you would expect from a Tamiya kit. 

From a detail standpoint the interior is quite complete, I didn't do a parts count but there are a lot of them. The first six assembly steps are just for the interior. The crew stations are built inside a tubular frame work that is then trapped between the fuselage halves. Three fairly decent looking figures are supplied should you be so inclined. The wings have the option of being extended or folded. If you chose folded there are both different parts used as well as a number of parts that must be modified. Four assembly steps are dedicated to the folded option. The engine should look nice right out of the box once painted up. Tamiya offers an optional photo etch set for rigging and it includes a few parts to dress up the engine but I didn't feel I wanted to attempt using photo etch for rigging so I did not get the set. The wheels are in halves and not weighted. A good assortment of under armaments are supplied. Lets look at the parts...

In the clear edition you also get this sprue molded in clear plastic.

The next sprue is also provided in clear plastic in the clear addition.

There are two of the next sprue.

This Sprue is the fuel tank and is only supplied with the clear edition as it wouldn't be seen otherwise.

The clear parts, what few there are are reasonably clear.

The decals are typical Tamiya for the time the kit was released originally around 1999, that is to say rather thick by today's standards. The registration is good but you must do some of that yourself by putting the red centers in all but the upper wing roundels. Personally I really hate to stack decals. The decals provide markings for three aircraft, one from 825th Squadron, One from the Bismark attack, and one from the 823rd squadron. With this clear addition one gets a second set of decals, same markings. The color saturation seems greater on the set marked for the clear version and the yellow color is different. Also the decals for the clear version are very glossy whereas the other have a semi gloss finish. The ones shown below are the non clear version decals.

The instructions consist of a 16 page booklet stapled to keep it together. Page one has multilingual history's, page two is all about tools, safety warnings and a paint list in Tamiya colors. Pages three through thirteen are the assembly in 25 steps. Not all steps apply depending on your choice of folded or non folded wings. Paint and markings start on page thirteen and continue on the balance of the pages. Check your references concerning color call outs, apparently on the original release the top colors were wrong however when the clear edition was released this was apparently fixed as it is correct in my instructions. The clear edition has an added half page showing assembly of the fuel tank that is only supplied with the clear edition. There is also a separate page with additional history on the Swordfish. and lastly as in some of their other kits is a page with full sized marking that could be cut and used as masks for painting.

After Market Goodies

I don't usually buy the full PE sets for kits as I find the Zoom sets provide all I want but in this case wen I bought the kit I could not find a Zoom set. Besides the color fret with cockpit goodies there are two other frets with engine and a host of other interior and exterior parts, probably more than I'll want to deal with.


At the time it was released this kit was considered to be the most expensive 1/48 kit ever released. Compared to prices these days it's just barely on the high side of norm. The kit is everything one expects from a Tamiya kit, great engineering, fit and flawless molding. With over 200 parts it is a complex kit and with the added complexity of rigging, I would not recommend the kit to anyone other than experienced modelers.

Links to kit build or reviews

Build reviews can be found here, here, here. These are all for the non clear version but is the same kit.


Fairey Swordfish in Action by W.A. Harrison

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Updated 2/18/17