Fairey Firefly

The Fairey Firefly was a British Second World War-era carrier-borne fighter aircraft and anti-submarine aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm (FAA). It was superior in performance and firepower to its predecessor, the Fulmar, but only entered operational service towards the end of the war. Designed around the contemporary FAA concept of a two-seat fleet reconnaissance/fighter, the pilot and navigator/weapons officer were housed in separate stations. The design proved to be sturdy, long-ranging and docile in carrier operations, although the limitations of a single powerplant in a heavy airframe reduced overall performance.

The Fairey Firefly served in the Second World War as a fleet fighter but in postwar service, although it was superseded by more modern jet aircraft, the Firefly was adapted to other roles, including strike operations and anti-submarine warfare, remaining a mainstay of the FAA until the mid-1950s.

The Firefly was designed by H.E. Chaplin at Fairey Aviation; in June 1940, the Admiralty ordered 200 aircraft "off the drawing board" with the first three to be the prototypes. The prototype of the Firefly flew on 22 December 1941.

The primary variant of the aircraft used during the Second World War was the Mk I, which was used in all theatres of operation. In March 1943, the first Firefly Mk Is were delivered but they did not enter operational service until July 1944 when they equipped 1770 Naval Air Squadron aboard HMS Indefatigable. The first operations were in Europe where Fireflies carried out armed reconnaissance flights and anti-shipping strikes along the Norwegian coast. Fireflies also provided air cover during strikes on the German battleship Tirpitz in 1944.

Throughout its operational career, the Firefly took on increasingly more demanding roles from fighter to anti-submarine warfare stationed mainly with the British Pacific Fleet in the Far East and Pacific theatres. Fireflies carried out attacks on oil refineries and airfields and gained renown when they became the first British-designed and -built aircraft to overfly Tokyo.

General characteristics
  • Crew: Two (pilot & observer)
  • Length: 37 ft 7¼ in (11.46 m)
  • Wingspan: 44 ft 6 in (13.57 m)
  • Height: 13 ft 7 in (4.14 m)
  • Wing area: 328 ft² (30.5 m²)
  • Empty weight: 9,750 lb (4,432 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 14,020 lb (6,373 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1× Rolls-Royce Griffon IIB liquid-cooled V12 engine, 1,730 hp (1,290 kW)

  • Maximum speed: 316 mph (275 kn, 509 km/h) at 14,000 ft (4,300 m)
  • Range: 1,300 mi (1,130 nmi, 2,090 km)
  • Service ceiling: 28,000 ft (8,530 m)
  • Climb to 10,000 ft (3,050 m): 5 min 45 sec

  • 4 × 20 mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 cannons
  • 8 × RP-3 "60 lb" rockets
  • 2 × 1,000 lb (454 kg) bomb

** Fairey Firefly - Warbird Fare

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