Accredited with sinking more Axis shipping than any other Allied aircraft, the Fairey Swordfish was a British biplane torpedo-bomber that punched well above its weight. Originally designed in the 1930s, the ‘Stringbag’ was operated by both the RAF and Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy. By the outbreak of the Second World War, the Fairey Swordfish was considered rather obsolete. Yet in 1941, 16 Fairey Swordfish biplanes were launched from the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal. They were responsible for crippling the Bismarck, the first of two Bismarck-class battleships built for Germany’s Kriegsmarine.

This particular aircraft was forced to ditch into the sea in April 1943 due to engine failure and was discovered outside of St Julian’s Bay in 2017. Fortunately for the pilot, he was picked up and rescued by off-duty personnel from the Royal Air Force air-sea rescue service, who just happened to be sailing for pleasure on a 27-ft boat from the RAF Kalafrana sailing club.

The wreck site lies at a depth of 65m, and the skeleton of the aircraft remains, along with its engine, propeller and cowling (the covering for the biplane’s engine), which have all survived intact. The Fairey Swordfish lies on an otherwise sterile seabed and attracts a variety of marine life.

Fairey Swordfish

Dive Site

Open to Divers through Registered Dive Centres and Clubs

Maximum Depth: 70 metres


Wreck Video

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