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Fairey Seal
Role spotter-reconnaissance
Manufacturer Fairey Aviation
First flight 1930
Introduction 1933
Primary users Fleet Air Arm
Royal Air Force

The Fairey Seal was a British carrier-borne spotter-reconnaissance aircraft, operated in the 1930s. The Seal was derived - like the Gordon - from the IIIF. To enable the Fairey Seal to be launched by catapult from warships, it was able to be equipped with floats.

Service life and operations[edit | edit source]

The Seal was designed and built by Fairey Aviation. It first flew in 1930 and entered squadron service with the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) in 1933. Ninety-one aircraft were produced. The FAA started to replace it with the Swordfish Mk1 from 1936. By 1938 all FAA torpedo squadrons had entirely re-equipped with the Swordfish. It was removed from front-line service by 1938, but remained in secondary and support roles. By the outbreak of the Second World War, only four remained in service. The type was retired fully by 1943. The type was last used in India as an instructional airframe from the Royal Navy Photographic Unit.

The RAF also operated the Seal as a target tug. 12 aircraft were part of the RAF's No 10 Bombing and Gunnery School until 1940. A further four aircraft were used by 273 Squadron in Ceylon. These aircraft were used on coastal patrols, some as floatplanes. By May 1942, the type had been retired from RAF service.

In 1934 Latvia ordered four Seal floatplanes for its naval aviation (factory numbers F.2112 - 2115, tactical numbers 26 - 29, later 98 - 101).[1] Between 22 June and 5 July 1936 three floatplanes under Colonel Janis Indans undertook a 6000 km long journey from Liepāja through Baltic and North European countries to England and back. In autumn 1940, after Latvia's annexation, the aircraft were taken by the Soviets, but they were not used by them afterwards, and remained stored on Kisezers lake. On 28 June 1941 they were destroyed there by the German planes.[1]

Variants[edit | edit source]

  • Fairey IIIF Mk VI : The first prototype was converted from a Fairey IIIF MK IIIB.
  • Fairey Seal : Three-seat spotter-reconnaissance aircraft for the Royal Navy.

Operators[edit | edit source]

 United Kingdom

Survivors[edit | edit source]

There are no known survivors of this type in existence.

Specifications (Landplane)[edit | edit source]

Data from British Naval Aircraft since 1912[2]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 3
  • Length: 33 ft 8 in (10.26 m)
  • Wingspan: 45 ft 9 in (13.95 m)
  • Height: 12 ft 9 in (3.89 m)
  • Wing area: 443.5 sq ft (41.2 m²)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 6,000 lb (2,727 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Armstrong Siddeley Panther IIA radial piston engine, 525 hp (392 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 138 mph (120 knots, 222 km/h)
  • Endurance: 4.5 hr
  • Service ceiling: 17,000 ft (5,180 m)
  • Time to 5,000 ft (1,520 m): 5.34 min


  • Guns: 1 fixed forward-firing .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun and .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis Gun in rear cockpit
  • Bombs: 500 lb (230 kg) or stores carried under lower wings

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Indans' Great Amok, "Insignia" Issue 11, Volume 3, Number 3, Spring 1999, ISSN 1360-4848, p.76-81
  2. Thetford 1978, p. 131.
  • Sturtivant, R; Burrow, M (1995). Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to 1945. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air Britain (Historians) Ltd. ISBN 0-85130-232-7. 
  • Taylor, H.A. (1974). Fairey Aircraft since 1915. London: Putnam. ISBN 0-370-00065-X. 
  • Thetford, Owen (1978). British Naval Aircraft Since 1912. London: Putnam. ISBN 0-370-30021-1. 
  • Vicary, Adrian (1984). Naval Wings. Wellingborough, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 0-85059-660-2. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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