British aircraft, mainly seaplanes used extensively by the Royal Navy in both world wars. The best known is the Swordfish, a biplane torpedo bomber affectionately known as the “Stringbag” because it could carry anything—bombs, depth charges, torpedoes, mines, rockets, or rescue boats. Although technically obsolete by 1939, it continued in service throughout World War II simply because none of its promised replacements were so versatile or easily maintained.
The Fairey Campania of World War I was the first aircraft designed to be operated from an aircraft carrier. It was fitted with floats but used a wheeled trolley to take off from the deck, landing in the sea and being hoisted inboard.
One of the few models produced for the RAF, the Fairey Battle, was a two-seat monoplane light day bomber. However, it proved an easy target for German fighters and were shot down in such numbers during 1940 that they were hurriedly withdrawn from front line service.