British WWII torpedo bomber found in Norwegian fjord

British WWII torpedo bomber found in Norwegian fjord

Norwegian divers have localised the wreck of a Fairey Barracuda - a British carrier-borne torpedo and dive bomber which saw extensive service during WW2, most notably the large-scale attack upon the German battleship Tirpitz on 3 April 1944.

The first Barracudas entered operational service on 10 January 1943 with 827 Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm (FAA), who were deployed in the North Atlantic. Eventually a total of 24 front-line FAA squadrons were equipped with Barracudas.

On 22. February 1945 nine Fairey Barracuda from 821 Naval Air Squadron are launched from the aircraft carrier HMS Puncher in the North sea on a minelaying operation along the western coast of Norway, or more specifically Karmsundet which is a narrow strait south of the coastal town of Haugesund.

Due to navigational error or imprecision, the planes make landfall farther south than planned, near the town of Stavanger, where they are met with heavy anti-aircraft artillery.  Two of the planes make their way north along Karmsundet flying very low.  A Karmsundet, the narrow strait just south of Haugesund, they are taking fire from all sides and one of the planes goes down some 5-600m south of Salhus narrows. According to eyewitnesses, one of the crew managed to free himself from the wreck and cried for help, but a nearby German vessel did not come to his rescue. The two other airmen perished with the plane.  The other Barracuda was also shot down and crashed into a barn nearby, killing all three airmen.

The wreck was located in the middle of Haugesund shipping channel by local divers Tore André Apeland, Roy Drange and Lene Herigstad using an ROV,  the Norwegian dive magazine Dykking reports. The search was initiated after Tore André Apeland caught an oil tank from the plane in one of his fishing pots in September.

Kystverket, The Norwegian coastal administration which is responsible for coastal navigation infrastructure, is said to consider moving shipping lanes such that diving on the only known accessible wreck of a Fairey Barracuda becomes a possibility.   The wreck lies at a depth of 33m.