‘The Man Who Built the Swordfish’ by Adrian Smith @uni_southampton is the biography of my grandfather, which was ‘launched’, well certainly celebrated, in the Test Valley which he loved, this weekend. The London launch, at the Royal Aeronautical Society @4HamiltonPlace, is coming in a few weeks, gulp.
Charles Richard Fairey (1887-1956) was the founder of one of Britain’s biggest aviation companies in the first half of the 20th century. When he was 13 his family lost all their money, his father died and the younger children in the family had to be sent to orphanages, in one of which his youngest brother died. He swore he would never be poor again and fought his way to success.
As a boy in late Victorian England, he was beaten by a teacher for daring to argue that manned flight was possible. He lived just long enough to see the Fairey plane, the beautiful Fairey Delta, smash the world air speed record and be the first aircraft to go over 1000mph. The FD2 is the prototype for Concorde.
During World War 2, he was head of the British Air Commission in World War 2. He was negotiating with the US to buy desperately needed aircraft. Meanwhile in the battle of the Atlantic, in which his oldest son lost his legs, his plane, the Swordfish took on and crippled the mighty German Battleship ‘Bismarck’. He was also a passionate fisherman and the Test Valley, where he lived was, in his words, ‘the loveliest place in the world’. This is, above all, a cracking story that deserves to be told.
Thank you Adrian and publishers I B Tauris.
#britishhistory #notallheroswearcapes #swordfish #theoldstringbag #battleshipbismarck #fairey #faireyaviation #agoodstory #ataletotell #20thcenturyboys #biographyproject #lendlease #angloamerican #vintageaeroplane #fleetairarm #fleetairarmmuseum #ibtauris #universityofsouthampton #testvalley #hampshirelife #hampshirehistory #talesfromtheriverbank #planestrainsandautomobiles #britishengineering #britishheroes