The Blackburn B-24 Skua was a carrier-based low-wing, two-seater, single-radial engine aircraft by the British aviation company Blackburn Aircraft. It was the first Royal Navy carrier-borne all-metal cantilever monoplane aircraft, as well as the first dive bomber in Fleet Air Arm (FAA) service. The aircraft took its name from the sea bird which 'divebombs' any potential predators that come too close to its nest.
The Skua was designed during the mid-1930s to Specification O.27/34, it was a radical design for the era, combining the functions of a dive bomber and fighter. Its enclosed cockpit and monoplane configuration were obvious shifts from preceding FAA aircraft such as the Hawker Nimrod and Hawker Osprey biplanes. On 9 February 1937, the first prototype performed its maiden flight; it was ordered straight off the drawing board to accelerate its development. In November 1938, the Skua was introduced to FAA service; 33 aircraft were operational by the outbreak of the Second World War.
During the early half of the conflict, the Skua was heavily involved in the Norwegian campaign and sank the German cruiser KÐ ÐŽÐ²Ð‚Â nigsberg, the first major warship sunk in war by air attack and by dive-bombers. It was present during the Battles of Narvik, the Dunkirk evacuation and the early stages of the Mediterranean theater also. While a capable dive bomber, its poor top speed and rate of climb meant it was severely limited as a fighter aircraft. Despite this Fleet Air Arm pilots achieved moderate success with the Skua, scoring numerous aerial victories during the Norwegian and Mediterranean campaigns, with at least one pilot making ace status with five victories. In 1941, the Skua was relegated from frontline operations but continued to be operated in secondary roles, typically training and target tug duties, as late as March 1945.
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