, Bristol began building an initial prototype by taking a partly-built Beaufort out of the production line. Mass production of the type had coincidentally occurred at almost exactly the same time as the first British airborne interception radar sets were becoming available; the two technologies quickly became a natural match in the night fighter role. Beaufighter Mk VI The Hercules returned with the next major version in 1942, the Mk VI, which was eventually built to over 1,000 examples. In combination with the Bristol Beaufighter, the Mosquito helped see off this last German bomber offensive. These were initially fed from 60-round drums, requiring the radar operator to change the ammunition drums manually—an arduous and unpopular task, especially at night and while chasing a bomber. At night the onboard radar let the aircraft detect enemy aircraft.  While there was some scepticism that the aircraft was too big for a fighter, the proposal was given a warm reception by the Air Staff. As there was no room to climb around the seat-back, the back collapsed to allow the pilot to climb over and into the seat.  The cannons were supplemented by six .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns in the wings (four starboard, two port, the asymmetry caused by the port mounting of the landing light). Within six months the first F.11/37 prototype, R2052, had been completed. , During the pre-delivery trials, the first prototype R2052, powered by a pair of two-speed supercharged Hercules I-IS engines, had achieved 335 mph (539 km/h) at 16,800 ft (5,120 m) in a clean configuration. "Bristol Beaufighter: The Inside Story". These factors had thus sparked considerable interest in the adoption of alternative engines for the type.  Success with the Merlin-equipped aircraft was expected to lead to production aircraft in 1941. 30 Squadron flew in at mast height to provide heavy suppressive fire for the waves of attacking bombers. The wing of the Beaufighter used a mid-wing cantilever all-metal monoplane arrangement, also constructed out of three sections.  Due to wartime shortages, some Beaufighters entered operational service without feathering equipment for their propellers. , The Air Ministry produced draft Specification F.11/37 in response to Bristol's suggestion for an "interim" aircraft, pending the proper introduction of the Whirlwind. These production aircraft incorporated aerodynamic improvements, reducing aerodynamic drag from the engine nacelles and tail wheel, the oil coolers were also relocated on the leading edge of the wing. At least one captured Beaufighter was operated by the Luftwaffe – a photograph exists of the aircraft in flight, with German markings. To obtain adequate ground clearance, the engines were mounted centrally on the wing, as opposed to the underslung position on the Beaufort.  The volume of production involved, along with other factors, had led to a shortage of Hercules engines being expected, jeopardising the aircraft's manufacturing rate.  While early radar sets suffered from restrictions in range and thus initially limited the aircraft's usefulness, improved radars became available in January 1941, promptly making the Beaufighter one of the more effective night fighters of the era. Two weeks prior to the prototype's first flight, an initial production contract for 300 aircraft under Specification F.11/37 was issued by the Air Ministry, ordering the type "off the drawing board". The Mk X became the main production mark of the Beaufighter. The P-38 was an excellent all around aircraft - it didn't earn the moniker "forked tail devil" for being a slouch. The Command lost 2,060 aircraft to all causes, but not without result; in action from the first day of hostilities until the last, it flew over one million flying hours in 240,000 operations, and destroyed 212 U-boats. It was lost in almost identical circumstances to the Malta aircraft – it ditched in August 1943 after an engine failure soon after takeoff.  On the night of 19/20 November 1940, the first kill by a radar-equipped Beaufighter occurred, of a Junkers Ju 88. It was originally conceived as a heavy fighter variant of the Bristol Beaufort torpedo bomber. The addition of six .303 Browning machine guns made the Beaufighter the most heavily armed fighter aircraft in the world, capable of delivering a theoretical weight of fire of up to 780 lb (350 kg) per minute; the practical rate of fire was much lower due to gun overheating and ammunition capacity. The aircraft sank within seconds, but both crew and their passenger escaped and swam to shore.  Often, one command opted for modifications and features that the other did not. By the end of the war, some 70 pilots serving with RAF units had become aces while flying Beaufighters. The crew survived uninjured. The most famous of these was the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, during which Beaufighters were used in a fire-suppression role in a mixed force with USAAF Douglas A-20 Boston and North American B-25 Mitchell bombers. By March 1941, half of the 22 German aircraft claimed by British fighters were by Beaufighters. The bomb bay of the Beaufort had been entirely omitted, but a small bomb load could be carried externally. In an emergency, the pilot could operate a lever that remotely released the hatch, grasp two steel overhead tubes and lift himself out of his seat, swing his legs over the open hatchway, then let go to drop through. As some models of the twin-engined Beaufighter could not stay aloft on one engine unless the dead propeller was feathered, this deficiency contributed to several operational losses and the deaths of aircrew. ", "Bristol Beaufighter Mark Ic Serial Number A19-43. The standard Merlin XX-powered aircraft was later called the Beaufighter Mk IIF; the planned slim-fuselage aircraft, alternatively equipped with Hercules IV and Griffon engines, the Beaufighter Mk III and Beaufighter Mk IV respectively, were ultimately left unbuilt. Douglas P-70; Bristol Beaufighter (British supplied) Grumman F6F-3E/F6F-3N/F6F-5N Hellcat; Lockheed P-38M "Night Lightning" Northrop P-61 Black Widow; Vought F4U-2/F4U-4E/F4U-4N Corsair; France. Bristol Beaufighter Jump to: Variants : Photos : On Display Home > Aircraft Database > British Aircraft > Bristol Beaufighter Entering service with the Royal Air Force in July 1940 the Beaufighter As the war progressed, fighter aircraft became increasingly multipurpose and able to combine mobility with precision bombing capability. NOTES: Shapes below depict aircraft from wingtip-to-wingtip / nose-to-tail assuming aircraft are being viewed from overhead perspective (the nose pointing towards the top of the screen). The Bristol Type 156 Beaufighter (often called the Beau) was a multi-role aircraft developed during the Second World War by the Bristol Aeroplane Company in the UK. Although the Northrop P-61 Black Widow fighter began to arrive in December 1944, USAAF Beaufighters continued to fly night operations in Italy and France until late in the war.  As the faster de Havilland Mosquito took over as the main night fighter in mid-to-late 1942, the heavier Beaufighter made valuable contributions in other areas such as anti-shipping, ground attack and long-range interdiction, in every major theatre of operations.  A night-fighter Beaufighter Mk VIF was supplied to squadrons in March 1942, equipped with AI Mark VIII radar. On 12 August 1940, the first production Beaufighter was delivered to RAF Tangmere for trials with the Fighter Interception Unit. It subsequently saw service abroad, particularly in the Middle East. The aircraft was ditched on April 21, 1944 after suffering a double engine failure shortly after takeoff from North Coates. The Beaufighter Mk Xis a rank II British twin-engine fighter with a battle rating of 3.7 (AB/SB) and 3.3 (RB). As the threat from German bombers receded, four Mosquito night fighter squadrons were moved to the 2nd Tactical Air Force, and two more to No. My point was that the Beaufighter recorded its first night time kill in November 1940, the Mosquito became available in enough numbers to replace the Beaufighter as RAF frontline night fighter in Autumn 1943 but it still served in many theatres until much later. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. Another Mediterranean wreck lies in 34 metres (112 ft) of water near the Greek island of Paros. Based on the standard Mk I model, the initial batch of 97 Coastal Command Beaufighters were hastily manufactured, making it impossible to incorporate the intended additional wing fuel tanks on the production line and so 50-gallon tanks from the Vickers Wellington were temporarily installed on the floor between the cannon bays.  The second prototype, R2053, which was furnished with Hercules I-M engines (similar to Hercules II) and was laden with operational equipment, had attained a slower speed of 309 mph at 15,000 ft. Beaufighter TF Xs could make precision attacks on shipping at wave-top height with torpedoes or RP-3 (60 lb) rockets. By the autumn of 1943, the Mosquito was available in enough numbers to replace the Beaufighter as the primary night fighter of the RAF. , The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) was a keen operator of the Beaufighter during the Second World War. The Beaufighter was the only heavy fighter aircraft available, as the Westland Whirlwind had been cancelled due to production problems with its Rolls-Royce Peregrine engines. 2 x Bristol Hercules VI 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines developing 1,635 horsepower each driving three-bladed propeller units. The Beaufighter was also used by the air forces of Portugal, Turkey and the Dominican Republic.  Flight tests found that the Merlins left the aircraft underpowered, with a pronounced tendency to swing to port, making take-offs and landings difficult and resulting in a high accident rate – out of 337 Merlin-powered aircraft, 102 were lost to accidents. The strike variant of the Torbeau was called the Mk.XIC. According to aviation author Philip Moyes, the performance of the second prototype was considered disappointing, particularly as the Hercules III engines of the initial production aircraft would likely provide little improvement, especially in light of additional operational equipment being installed; it was recognised that demand for the Hercules engine to power other aircraft such as the Short Stirling bomber posed a potential risk to the production rate of the Beaufighter. , On 17 July 1939, R2052, the first, unarmed, prototype, conducted its maiden flight, a little more than eight months after development had formally started. The British heavy fighters are an interesting lot, starting off with a trio of converted bombers before moving on to dedicated twin engine fighter designs. On 16 November 1938, Bristol received formal authorisation to commence the detailed design phase of the project and to proceed with the construction of four prototypes. During the Munich Crisis, the Bristol Aeroplane Company recognised that the Royal Air Force (RAF) had an urgent need for a long-range fighter aircraft capable of carrying heavy payloads for maximum destruction. Beaufighters were replaced in some roles by the Bristol Type 164 Brigand, which had been designed using components of the Beaufighter's failed stablemate, the Bristol Buckingham. By mid-1941, twenty Beaufighters were reserved for test purposes, including engine development, stability and manoeuvrability improvements and other purposes. The Beaufighter was ultimately replaced by the de Havilland Mosquito, which offered bomber support over Europe as well as defence for the British Isles.  Early aircraft were able to be outfitted and perform with either command but later, the roles and equipment diverged, leading to the production of distinct models, distinguished by the suffixes F for Fighter Command and C for Coastal Command were used. The timing of the suggestion happened to coincide with delays in the development and production of the Westland Whirlwind cannon-armed twin-engine fighter. , The Beaufighter was commonly operated as a night fighter, such as during the Battle of Britain.  While the aircraft's size had once caused scepticism, the Beaufighter became the highest performance aircraft capable of carrying the bulky early airborne interception radars used for night fighter operations, without incurring substantial endurance or armament penalties, and was invaluable as a night fighter. The Australian crew survived and were rescued by a British submarine. It has been in the game since the start of the Open Beta Test prior to Update 1.27. Either way, the P-38 would have outclassed the Bf-110 in a dogfight.  Structurally, the wing consisted of two spars with single-sheet webs and extruding flanges, completed with a stressed-skin covering, and featured metal-framed ailerons with fabric coverings along with hydraulically-actuated flaps located between the fuselage and the ailerons. The Beaufighter proved to be an effective night fighter, which came into service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the Battle of Britain, its large size allowing it to carry heavy armament and early airborne interception radar without major performance penalties. Malta Triq is-Sajf, SPB2601 Bugibba, Saint Paul’s +356 2750 9592 +356 7707 1419, +48 604 585 389 firstname.lastname@example.org  They were soon replaced by a belt-feed system. On 2 September 1940, 25 Squadron, Though a bit heavy and slower than hoped, the design was available for production when Britain entered World War II that September.  On 7 December 1940, the 100th Filton-built aircraft was dispatched; the 200th Filton-built aircraft followed on 10 May 1941. The final sprue contains the propeller, main gear doors which just like the Revell Mosquito is moulded as one piece and would need to be cut to display when parked. The Beaufighter was the only heavy fighter aircraft available, as the Westland Whirlwind had been cancelled due to production problems with its Rolls-Royce Peregrine engines. Evacuating the aircraft was easier for the navigator, as the rear hatch was in front of him and without obstruction. , Through 1940–41, the manufacturing rate of the Beaufighter steadily rose. The heavy fighter remained fast enough to catch up to German bombers and, with its heavy armament, deal out considerable damage to them. A Mk.VIC Beaufighter, serial A19-130, lies in 204 feet (62 m) of water, just off the coast of Fergusson Island in the western Pacific. The front hatch was behind the pilot's seat. , Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era, British heavy fighter aircraft of the WWII era, This article is about the aircraft. For the car, see, Its armament was exceeded by the gunship variants of the US, Browne, Anthony Montague, Long Sunset: Memoirs of Winston Churchill's Last Private Secretary London 1995 Chapter 3, National Museum of the United States Air Force, List of aircraft of the United Kingdom in World War II, "Bristol Beaufighter – Variants and Stats", "Individual History: Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk.X RD253/BF-13/7931M.  The re-equipping and conversion training process took several months to complete; on the night of 17/18 September 1940, Beaufighters of 29 Squadron conducted their first operational night patrol, conducting an uneventful sortie, the first operational daylight sortie was performed on the following day. If any dimensional values are "NA" in the database then the presented shapes may appear skewed. Beaufighter Mk V The Vs had a Boulton Paul turret with four 0.303 machine guns mounted aft of the cockpit supplanting one pair of cannons and the wing-mounted machine guns. The wings, control surfaces, retractable landing gear and aft section of the fuselage were identical to those of the Beaufort, while the wing centre section was similar apart from certain fittings. This was half the total tonnage sunk by all strike wings between 1942 and 1945. Designers expected that maximum re-use of Beaufort components would speed the process but the fuselage required more work than expected and had to be redesigned.  The DAP Beaufighter was an attack and torpedo bomber known as the "Mark 21". As the aircraft's accompaniment of four 20 mm cannons were mounted in the lower fuselage, the vacant nose could accommodate the radar antennas needed, and while early airborne interception equipment was too bulky to fit in single-engine fighters of the day, it could be accommodated in the Beaufighter's spacious fuselage. The North Coates Strike Wing of Coastal Command, based at RAF North Coates on the Lincolnshire coast, developed tactics that combined large formations of Beaufighters, using cannons and rockets, to suppress flak, while the Torbeaus attacked at low level with torpedoes. The Mossie went on to become the highest scoring Allied night fighter of WW2 The Beaufighter went on to become a highly successful torpedo-strike aircraft armed with torpedo, 8 rockets and 4x20mm cannon The prospective aircraft had to share the same jigs as the Beaufort so that production could easily be switched from one aircraft to the other. They are obviously two different aircraft designed for two slightly different purposes, the Beaufighter was a variant of the Beaufort bomber, which gave it a similarity of purpose to the Mosquito, and both served in similar roles. Pleased with the initial design, the Air Ministry ordered 300 Beaufighters two weeks before the prototype's maiden flight. Bf110 seems to be a more fair comparison to the boo, the 410 is in the similar era as the mosquito even though the 2 aircraft have completely different roles Edited January 29, 2014 by PzGren.  Output of the Beaufighter rose rapidly upon the commencement of production. , In the Mediterranean, the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) 414th, 415th, 416th and 417th night fighter squadrons received a hundred Beaufighters in the summer of 1943, achieving their first victory in July 1943.  More advanced radar units were installed in early 1941, which soon allowed the Beaufighter to become an effective counter to the night raids of the Luftwaffe.  Hydraulics were also used to retract the independent units of undercarriage, while the brakes were pneumatically-actuated. Nice internal detail.  The extra power had presented vibration issues during development; in the final design, the engines were mounted on longer and more flexible struts, which extended from the front of the wings. , In February 1940, an order was placed for three Beaufighters, converted to use the alternative Merlin engine. It was used briefly by the Israeli Air Force after some ex-RAF examples were clandestinely purchased in 1948. , The Beaufighter's armament was located in various positions on the lower fuselage and wings. A total of 10,663 persons were rescued by the Command, including 5,721 Allied crews, 277 enemy person… The Beaufighter was a truly formidable aeroplane. Coastal Command sank 366 German transport vessels and damaged 134. During a raid on London on the night of 19/20 May 1941, 24 aircraft were shot down by fighters against two by anti-aircraft ground fire.. Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk.X torpedo fighter (RD253) at the RAF Museum in Hendon (2012) Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk.X torpedo fighter (RD253) at the RAF Museum in Hendon (2012) By 1950 RD253 had been acquired as a ground instructional airframe for the Lisbon Technical Institute. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form.  Early modifications to R2052 included stiffening of the elevator control circuit, increased fin area and lengthening of the main oleo strut of the undercarriage to better accommodate weight increases and hard landings. Bridgeman, Leonard, ed. Service without feathering equipment for their propellers an excellent all around aircraft - it did earn... 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