Fairey treasure trove emerges from Solent

The Barracuda’s recovered Rolls-Royce Merlin engine being examined by William Gibbs and Dave Morris from the FAA Museum, Jake Stevens from National Grid, and Alistair Bayford-Bates and Ben Saunders from Wessex Archaeology.

Seventy-six years ago, a Fairey Barracuda taking offfrom HMS Daedalus at Lee-on-Solent, Hampshire, failed to reach climbing speed and force-landed into the Solent. The aircraft is believed to have been Barracuda BV739, with records showing the pilot — who made an effective escape — to be Sub-Lt J. D. Williams of the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve. The aircraft was not recovered at the time but was discovered recently by the National Grid while conducting a thorough sea bed survey ahead of the major IFA2 electricity cable installation between the UK and France.

The National Grid has recognised the significance of the find and is kindly facilitating the recovery of the wreckage back to the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton, Somerset, to assist in the long-term rebuild of Barracuda II DP872. Some items have not endured their watery storage well, but other parts are in remarkable condition and can be used in the museum’s rebuild. The wreck does, however, provide many other crucial details, dimensions and information to assist the project. Work is under way to stabilise and desalinate the sections of aircraft as they are removed from the Solent and taken to Yeovilton.

The starboard Youngman flap from the ditched machine.