Fairey IIID

"The main condition that the hydroplane, with Rols Royce Eagle VIII engine, would have to satisfy would be to have an excellent and completely reliable engine. I have always been of the opinion that the success of any air voyage depends more on the engine and the mechanics than on the aircraft and the pilot.", Sacadura Cabral, Report of the Lisbon-Rio de Janeiro Air Voyage, 1922."

Once Sacadura Cabral had chosen an engine for the Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII, “(…) the one that has proved itself and that I consider the best (…)”, the need to choose an English manufacturer was also confirmed. Of the possible options, between Vickers and Fairey, the latter won out, due to the ease of modifying the aircraft for the desired mission.

The Fairey IIID was thus the hydroplane selected by Sacadura Cabral for the 1922 crossing:

– F 400, “Lusitânia” – A hydroplane Fairey III, modified, designated “Trans-Atlantic Load Carrier”.  It left Lisbon on March 30th 1922, and made stopovers in the Canary Islands and Cape Verde.

It made the “Great Leap” between Cape Verde and the Penedos de S. Pedro e S. Paulo: a journey of 1682 km, made in 11 hours and 21 minutes, in the heart of the South Atlantic.

Without any outside help, without radio, relying only on astronomical navigation, they managed to reach some small rocks lost in the middle of the sea. At that time, no one dared to make a similar journey.

Before leaving: the “Lusitânia” in the Naval Aviation hangar, at Bom Sucesso docks, in Belém, Lisbon. It is recognizable

for having 3 pairs of uprights, in each wing, which makes it a unique hydroplane.

– F 401, “Portugal” (hydroplane nr. 16, of the Naval Aviation) – It is a Fairey III B. It left Fernando de Noronha, heading for Penedos, and returned, bound for Recife. After covering 890 km, in 6 hours and 34 minutes, she had an engine failure and was lost at sea.

The aviators were adrift alone between 3.30 pm and 00.35 am, when they were picked up by the ship “Paris City”, under the command of Captain A. E. Tamlyn. E. Tamlyn.

The Fairey nº 16, being lowered from the ship “Bagé”, in Fernando de Noronha. It can be recognized by the difference in the wingspan of the upper and lower wings. Source: Cinemateca Portuguesa.

– F 402, “Santa Cruz” (No. 17) – It is a Fairey IIID, with Rols Royce VIII engine. It completed the crossing between Fernando de Noronha and Rio de Janeiro. in Lisbon.  Later, it served on the mainland, and in Macao.

Besides the hydroplane, with Rols Royce VIII engine, at the Museu de Marinha, in Lisbon, (and the two non-flying replicas, from Alverca (Museu do Ar) and the Monument of the Crossing, (Belém)), there is no other original aircraft in the world.

Crédito: Ricardo Reis

All were equipped with the engine chosen by Sacadura Cabral: a Rolls-Royce V8, Eagle VIII, of 350 HP.

It was used by several air forces, namely the British, Australian, Argentinean, Dutch and Portuguese air-naval forces, among others. It is an aircraft with a long tradition in the aeronautical world.

Image gallery of the “Santa Cruz”, at the Museu de Marinha, in Lisbon, by Ricardo Reis:


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