Blackburn Shark (Orange Series)
MMP Books has a series called the Orange Series. This prolific publishing company has a number of series and this one is relatively new and the Blackburn Shark is one of three imprints in this series. In a sense it is a profile publication that highlights one model of aircraft. As with many publications of this genre, it is well illustrated with pictures contemporary to the aircraft’s service (very well produced), drawings, and color profiles.
My surname is Blackburn, but to my knowledge, I am not related to the founders of the Blackburn aircraft company. Prior to receiving this book, I had never heard of this particular aircraft. A contemporary of the famous Swordfish, it saw only limited service in World War Two before being relegated to secondary roles. In the aftermath of the First World War, the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm transitioned from single role aircraft to multirole aircraft to economize the number of aircraft needed in the fleet. The specifications called for a torpedo, spotter, and reconnaissance biplane. Blackburn evolved the Shark from earlier models and the prototype performed well, though it had teething engine issues. While these issues were corrected, given the persistent engine problems as the Shark moved from prototype to production models, the perception among users was that the Shark was a flawed aircraft. It was not. As with most prototypes, issues were identified and fixed.
In terms of its service, given how technology in the aviation field was rapidly changing as well as the perception that the Shark to begin with, it doomed the plane to a short term of service in the first months of the war. It was rapidly replaced by the Albacore and relegated to a variety of training roles. Even though it was being withdrawn from the frontline, it did see service with the Canadians and the Portuguese. In each case, they filled secondary roles and by 1944, it was completely out of service. The plane had similar characteristics to the Swordfish, so it is a nice piece of conjecture if it had seen service side-by-side with the Swordfish.
There has not been a mainline kit of the Shark in sometime. Looking at Scalemates, there have been 1/72 kits, but they are out of production. As with many works in this genre, this book may be of interest to those who enjoy the technical histories of esoteric aircraft.
My thanks to IPMS and Casemate Publications for giving me the opportunity to review this book.