The Blackburn Baffin was a radial powered version of the Blackburn Ripon torpedo bomber. In the early 1930s a number of light powerful air-cooled radial engines emerged, amongst them the Armstrong Siddeley Tiger I and Bristol Pegasus. Blackburn believed that they could improve the performance of the Ripon by installing one of these engines and put forwards plans for the Ripon IV bomber or Ripon V torpedo bomber.
The Air Ministry was interested in the second of these suggestions. Prototypes powered by each of the rival engines were completed in September 1932, and the Pegasus was chosen for the production aircraft. The first Baffins were build using airframes originally began as Ripon IICs. Exact production numbers are uncertain, but 29 aircraft were completed as Baffins and at least 62, but probably more, were produced by converting existing Ripon IIAs and IICs.
The Baffin has a short front-line service career with the Fleet Air Arm. The first squadron to receive it was No.812 on HMS Glorious in January 1934. Next came No.810 Squadron on HMS Courageous in August 1934 and finally No.811 Squadron in HMS Furious in May 1935. In the following year all three squadrons replaced their Baffins – No.810 with the Blackburn Shark, Nos.811 and 812 with the Fairey Swordfish. No.812 Squadron was forced to convert after its Baffins were destroyed on the ground in December 1936 at Hal Far, Malta, by a tornado which swept across the island.
The Baffin had a second lease of life with the RNZAF. Twenty nine aircraft were purchased in 1937-38, and were used to equip Territorial Squadrons raised in the main cities for coastal defence. Three of these squadrons, at Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland, received the Baffin. At the start of the war they became fully operational, and for the next two years they were used to patrol the waters around New Zealand, before finally being retired and scrapped in 1941.
Engine: Bristol Pegasus I.M3 or II.M3
Power: 565hp or 580hp
Wing span: 45ft 6.5in (lower), 44ft 10in (upper)
Length: 38ft 3.75in
Height: 12ft 10in
Tare weight: 3,184lb
All-up weight: 7,610lb
Maximum speed: 136mph at 6,500ft
Service ceiling: 15,000ft
Armament: One fixed forward firing 0.303in Vickers gun and one 0.303in gun in rear cockpit
Bomb load: One torpedo or 2,000lb of bombs