An iconic World War II aircraft called the ‘City of Leeds’ has been paid a special visit by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Thomas Murray.

The Swordfish plane, which components were made in the Blackburn Aircraft factory based on Roundhay Road, and built at Sherburn in Elmet, played a key role in a number of important missions during World War II.

It protected many convoys and caused significant damage during one of its raids to one of the most feared German warships, the Bismarck, which rendered its steering gear inoperable. Famed for its superb handling qualities which made it uniquely suitable for deck flying operation, the Swordfish took off for this particular mission from the HMS Ark Royal, which also has a historic tie with Leeds, having been adopted by the city in 1942.

There are now only two Swordfish aircrafts left in existence, one of which is the ‘City of Leeds’, Swordfish W5856. The planes are housed at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton, Somerset, where repairs and refurbishment of the ‘City of Leeds’ is currently taking place.

It is hoped that Swordfish W5856 will once again be able to take to the skies and make a special flight to its adopted home in 2014.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Thomas Murray said:

“It was lovely to be able to pay a visit to RNAS Yeovilton and see how the refurbishment on Swordfish W5856 is progressing.

“Seeing such an old and iconic aircraft at close proximity was really amazing, and we are all looking forward to seeing the refurbishment complete with the ‘City of Leeds’ back in the skies where it belongs and hopefully paying a special visit to the city next year.

“This will undoubtedly be a very emotional and moving sight, and a time to remember the crews who flew in atrocious conditions, in open cockpits protecting convoys in the Atlantic. Keeping her flying seventy years later is a living memorial to the spirit, endeavour and bravery of everyone who served.”


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