Fairey Swordfish V4554

Calder Dam, Lochwinnoch, Renfrews













Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: A Fairey Swordfish torpedo bomber similar to that featured here. Note the torpedo slung underneath.


Fairey Swordfish at UK Flying Display in 2002


Photo: 2002 Mr. Peter Noble. UK Flying Displays and Museums. Courtesy, Wikipedia. GNU Free Documentation License





Aircraft Type and Background


RN (FAA / NAS) Fairey Swordfish / V4554


(Torpedo bomber)


Aircraft Type Nickname: "Stringbag"; "Blackfish"


Designed originally as a 3-seater reconnaissance aircraft, and equipped with a Bristol Pegasus nine cylinder radial engine, the Swordfish was converted later to a torpedo bomber.


By the time WWII arrived, this large bi-plane had become obsolete. Nevertheless, it was used with great effect against several targets during WWII, including attacks on Norway and against the German battleship, Bismarck.


Six Swordfish aircraft were involved in action against the German warships, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen. All, however, were shot down by covering German fighters.


Fairey Swordfish V4554 (featured here) had been delivered to Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Eastleigh on 17 July 1941. In September 1941, V4554 was delivered to the storage section of RNAS Donibristle near Cowdenbeath in Fife. Subsequently, on 1 November 1941, this Swordfish was taken from storage and delivered to Fleet Air Arm (FAA) No. 823 Squadron. [SH]



BELOW: The cockpit of a Fairey Swordfish showing instruments and controls.


view of fairey swordfish cockpit instruments


Photo: 2008 'GJC1'. Released by the author under Creative Commons License.





Aircraft Accident Details


Fairey Swordfish V4554, together with 3 others, was en-route from Fraserburgh to RAF Machrihanish, near Campbeltown in Argyll. The pilot was Sub/Lt J. A. King. However, due to a shortage of fuel, the other three Swordfish aircraft crashed near Alexandria in Dunbartonshire, not far from Balloch by Loch Lomond and several miles N of the River Clyde. The fourth Swordfish, featured here, managed to stay in the air for a few miles further, crossing to the south side of the Clyde and crashing eventually somewhere around Calder Dam, or in the vicinity of Queenside Muir / Duchal Moor in the Renfrewshire Heights.


According to a report by Mr. A. McKellar—who was standing close to the summit of Windy Hill at the time of the accident—the very low flying Swordfish passed almost directly overhead. However, as there were heavy snowfalls and drifts at the time, Mr. McKellar was unaware that the aircraft had crashed shortly afterward. Indeed, it was only about 3 weeks later that the aircraft wreck was finally discovered. Mr. R. Fleming, the McKellar family's shepherd, was out searching for sheep lost on the snowbound moors. According to Mr. Fleming, he found the wreck, together with the dead airmen, lying between Queenside Muir and Duchal Moor.


According to another report, the aircraft lay on the hillside undiscovered for about 12 days. Eventually, however, police and local volunteers assisting in the search found the wreck. The three airmen were removed, and the main wreckage was removed by an RAF recovery team.





Aircraft Crew Casualties


Those who died in this accident were:




Crash Site Photos


BELOW: This photo was taken at Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum and shows a propeller shaft from a Fairey Swordfish crash near Langholm in that region.


propeller shaft from swordfish crash at langholm. Shaft now in dumfries and galloway aviation museum


Photo: © 2008 James Towill





Photo Gallery


There are no photos available of this aircraft crash site in the Photo Gallery.




















Crash Date / Site


Accident Date: 30 Jan 1942


Accident Site:

Calder Dam (230m) / Duchal Moor (350m) area

(exact location unknown)


Region: Renfrewshire (Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park)


Nearest town or village:



Nearest large towns:

Kilmacolm (N) or Kilbirnie (S)


OS Grid Ref. N/A


GPS Ref: N/A


Present Condition: Very little, if any, remains to be found on site. Fragments of the aircraft were discovered by Muirshiel Park rangers near Old Calder Dam in 1988.




Aircraft Details


Registration or Serial: V4554


Operator: Royal Navy / FAA 823 Squadron / Naval Air Squadron


Operating Base: RNAS Campbeltown. Base also for RAF Machrihanish; HMS Landrail, and Disembarked Squadrons.


Base Location: Machrihanish, Campbeltown, Argyll, Scotland.


Current Airport Status: Military Airport closed 1997. Operational Civil Airport.


Current Airport Name: Campbeltown (Machrihanish) Airport (IATA: CAL / ICAO: EGEC)



Principal airport data courtesy of John Woodside, A Catalogue of UK Airfields





Hill Walking Links


(Hillwalking and Mountaineering)

WalkingScotland (The official Walking site of Scotland's national tourism organisation)

Walking Scotland's Mountains



Other Outdoor Activities


Backpacking and Backpackers

Backpacking in Britain

Backpacking Lite

Cicerone (Backpacking Guides for Walking in the UK)

The Backpackers Club

UK Backpacking Websites



Kayaking and Canoeing

Kayak Scotland (Sea Kayaking in Scotland)

Kayaking at Active Scotland (Various venues)

Sea Kayak Scotland


Mountain Biking



Rock Climbing and Abseiling

Abseiling in Perthshire

Abseiling Scotland (Various venues)

Climbing, Scrambling and Abseiling Scotland

Mountain Sports Courses and Paddle Sports Courses at Glenmore Lodge

Rock Climbing at Scottish National Outdoor Training Centre (Skills Courses and Qualifications Courses)

Rock Climbing in Scotland (Rock Climbing Areas)

UKClimbing.com (UKC) (Includes Abseiling / Rappelling)


Trekking and Hiking

Gairloch Trekking Centre (Pony Trekking in the Scottish Highlands)

Pony and Quad Treks (North Wales)

Ramblers (UK)

Ramblers (Worldwide Holidays)

Trekking Britain

Walking and Hiking



Emergency Services Link

Register for Text 999 Emergency Service

If you cannot make voice calls, you can now contact the 999 emergency services by SMS text from your mobile phone.