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Firefly

Shipborne Fighter

Fairey

Fairey Firefly Mk.I © Michael Bykov

Fairey Firefly Mk.I

Fighter, reconaissance, night fighter, anti-submarine aircraft, was developed by a design team headed by H E Chaplin to meet FAA requirements for a carrier-borne fighter-reconnaissance aircraft as defined at first by Specifications N.8/39 and N.9/39 and subsequently revised in Specification N.5/40 in the light of Fairey's initial proposals. An initial production contract was placed in 1940, the first three aircraft to serve as prototypes and the next ten as pre-production aircraft. The all-metal Fairey Firefly was powered by a 1,735 hp Griffon IIB or 1,815 hp Griffon XII, armed with four 20-mm cannon in the wings and seated pilot and observer in tandem. First flight was made on December 22, 1941, second prototype on June 4, 1942, and third on August 26, 1942.

Fairey Firefly F Mk I: Initial production contract for 200 in June 1940, 100 more in September 1941, 300 more in June 1942 and 200 more in August 1943, of which total 770 were built, including variants noted below and diversions to Mk IV. Power plant and armament as prototypes; provision for two 1,000-lb (454-kg) bombs under wings. First unit, No 1770 Sqn, equipped February 1944; first operation, July 1944 against the Tirpitz. Four Fairey Firefly squadrons operational with British Pacific Fleet by July 1945. Production total of F Mk I, 297 plus 132 by General Aircraft Ltd.

Fairey Firefly FR Mk I: Fighter reconnaissance version similar to F Mk I with ASH radar in canister beneath forward fuselage. First deliveries late 1944. 273 built, plus some F Mk Is converted to same standard as F Mk IA.

Fairey Firefly NF Mk I: Similar to FR Mk I, with same ASH radar, dedicated to night fighting role (with shrouded exhausts) and adopted after failure of NF Mk II programme. Total of 140 completed by diversions from F Mk I contracts. Entered service (usually known as Fairey Firefly INF) with No 746 Sqn mid-1944 and No 1740 Sqn January, 1945.

Fairey Firefly NF Mk II: Night fighter version of F Mk I, carrying AI Mk X radar with small radomes on each wing leading edge, and 15 in (38 cm) extra length in fuselage. Prototype conversion completed March 1943 and 37 completed as production-line conversions of Mk Is, later being converted back to Mk I standard.

Fairey Firefly F Mk III: As F Mk I with 1,540 hp two-stage Griffon 61 and annular-type chin radiator. Prototype conversion of Mk I flown April 18, 1943; no production.

Fairey Firefly IV: Succeeded F Mk III proposal, based on Griffon 70 series using wing root radiators and changed wing planform. Radome on starboard wing and flush-fitting fuel tank on port wing. Fairey Firefly III prototype (with Griffon 72) and three modified Mk Is with 2,245 hp Griffon 74s tested 1944-45 and first production Mk IV flown May 25, 1945. Subsequent variants, production and service were post-war.

Firefly Mk. I
Crew 2
Dimensions
Wing span 13.56 m (44 ft 6 in)
Wing area 30.47 m2 (328 ft2)
Length 11.45 m (37 ft 7 in )
Height 4.15 m (13.6 ft)
Engine
One 1,735 hp Rolls-Royce Griffon IIB or 1,990 hp Griffon XII 1,730 hp ( 1,290 kW)
Weight
Empty weight 4,048 kg (8,925 Ib)
Loaded weight 6,481 kg (14,288 Ib)
Performance
Max speed at altitude 5,180 m (17,000 ft) 513 km/h (319 mph)
Service Ceiling: 8,840 m (29,000 ft)
Range (with 90 Imp gal/409 l drop tanks) at 328 km/h 204 mph 2,195 km (1,364 mis)
Armament
4x 20mm Cannon, Bombs 907kg (2,000 lb)

References

  • "Encyclopedia of military engineering" /Aerospace Publising/
  • "British warplanes of World War II" /under cor. Daniel March/

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