aircrafft of the month April '09

To discuss all those Naval and Aviation matters from "Killer" Caldwell to the "Scrap Iron Flotilla".
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Cardinal Biggles

aircrafft of the month April '09

Post by Cardinal Biggles » Fri Apr 17, 2009 4:55 pm

Westland Whirlwind (fighter)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article describes the Second World War fighter aircraft. For the postwar helicopter of the same name, see Westland Whirlwind (helicopter).

Westland Whirlwind in a rare Second World War colour photograph
Role Heavy fighter
Manufacturer Westland Aircraft Limited
First flight 11 October 1938
Introduction June 1940
Retired October 1943
Primary user Royal Air Force
Produced 1940 – January 1942
Number built 116

The British Whirlwind was the RAF's first single-seat, twin-engined, cannon-armed fighter, and a contemporary of the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane. A heavy fighter, it was developed by the Westland Aircraft company. It was one of the fastest aircraft when it flew in the late 1930s, and was much more heavily armed than any other. However, protracted development problems with its Rolls-Royce Peregrine engines delayed the entire project and only a relatively small number were ever built. During the Second World War only two RAF squadrons were equipped with the Whirlwind, and despite successful use as a fighter-bomber it was withdrawn from service in 1943.

* 1 Background
* 2 Design and development
* 3 Operational history
o 3.1 Channel Dash
o 3.2 Munsterland
* 4 Modifications
* 5 Deactivation
o 5.1 An appraisal
* 6 Variants
* 7 Operators
* 8 Survivors
* 9 Specifications (Whirlwind)
* 10 See also
* 11 References
o 11.1 Notes
o 11.2 Bibliography
* 12 External links


The Whirlwind's origin lay in the new aircraft being developed for the RAF in the mid 1930s, following the last biplane fighters. With higher attack speeds giving shorter opportunities for firing on targets, it was decided to increase the minimum level of armament fitted to aircraft. Instead of two rifle-calibre machine guns, eight were specified. At the same time it was recognised that cannons such as the 20mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 which could fire exploding ammunition offered another route to heavy firepower and requests were made for aircraft designs which could carry four of these cannons.

A serious problem for air planners of the 1930s was that one could only build a nimble combat aircraft if it was small. Such an aircraft would have limited space for fuel, and would only have enough range to fight in defensive operations. A multi-engined fighter appeared to be the best solution to the problem of range, but it seemed that any fighter large enough to incorporate a substantial fuel load would be too unwieldy to successfully engage its single-engine counterparts in combat.

Germany and the United States pressed ahead with such programmes anyway, which resulted in the Messerschmitt Bf 110 and the Lockheed P-38. The Luftwaffe was soon boasting that the Bf 110 could defeat any single-engine fighter, and do so while operating at long ranges escorting their bombers.

Design and development
Westland Whirlwind prototype L6845 c.1940

The claims made about the Bf 110 piqued the interest of the British Air Ministry, who issued specification F.37/35 in 1935, which called for a single-seat day and night fighter armed with four cannon. Six aircraft were submitted in response to the specification, of which three were twin-engined types: the Boulton Paul P.88, the Bristol Type 153A, the Hawker F.37/35 (which was a Hurricane variant), the Supermarine 312 (a Spitfire variant), the Supermarine 313 and the Westland P.9 which was successful. A contract was placed in February 1937 for two prototypes of Westland's design.

Westland's design team, under the new leadership of Teddy Petter (who was later to design the English Electric Canberra and Lightning), designed an aircraft that employed state-of-the-art technology. The monocoque fuselage was a small tube with a T-tail at the end, built completely of stressed-skin duraluminium, with the pilot sitting high under one of the world's first full bubble canopies, while the low and forward location of the wing made for superb visibility (except for directly over the nose). Four 20 mm cannon were mounted in the nose, making it the most heavily armed fighter aircraft of its era; the clustering of the weapons also meant that there were no convergence problems as with wing-mounted guns. Hopes were so high for the design that it remained "top secret" for much of its development, although it had already been mentioned in the French press.

The first prototype (L6844) flew on 11 October 1938. It exhibited excellent handling and was very easy to fly at all speeds. The only exception was the high landing speed; Fowler flaps were added to correct this problem, which also required the horizontal stabilizer (tailplane) to be moved up out of the way of the disturbed air flow caused when the flaps were down. An initial production order for 200 aircraft was placed in January 1939 followed by a second order for a similar number, deliveries to fighter squadrons being scheduled to begin in September 1940.

The Whirlwind was quite small, only slightly larger than the Hurricane in overall size, but smaller in terms of frontal area. The landing gear was fully retractable and the entire aircraft was very "clean" with few openings or protuberances. Careful attention to streamlining and two 885 hp Peregrine engines powered it to over 360 mph (580 km/h), the same speed as the latest single-engine fighters which used much higher-powered engines. The speed quickly garnered it the nick-name Crikey, (a minced oath meaning "my god!" or more accurately "Christ's keys!").

But there were problems as well. The aircraft actually had limited range, under 300 miles combat radius, which made it marginal as an escort. More troublesome were the continued failures of the Peregrine engines. Originally intended to be one of Rolls' main designs, the Merlin had become much more important to the war effort and the Peregrine was relegated to a secondary status, and the first deliveries of Peregrine engines did not reach Westland until January 1940.

Westland argued for the creation of a Mk II model using two Merlin engines, but by this time the role of escort fighter was becoming less important as Bomber Command turned to night bomber missions. By 1940, the Supermarine Spitfire was mounting 20 mm cannons, so the "cannon-armed" requirement was also being met. The main qualities the RAF were looking for in a twin-engine fighter was range and carrying capacity (to allow the large radar apparatus of the time to be carried), which the Bristol Beaufighter could do just as well as or even better than the Whirlwind.

Development and delivery problems with the Peregrine engines along with a number of flying accidents and its high landing speed which restricted the number of airfields from which it could operate, resulted in Whirlwind production being ended in January 1942 after the completion of just 112 aircraft.

Operational history

The first squadron to receive the Whirlwind was No. 25, then based at North Weald. The squadron was fully equipped with Bristol Blenheim IF night fighters when Squadron Leader K. A. K. MacEwen flew prototype Whirlwind L6845 from Boscombe Down to North Weald on 30 May, 1940. The following day it was flown and inspected by three of the squadron's pilots, and the next day was inspected by the Secretary of State for Air, Sir Archibald Sinclair, and Lord Trenchard. Two days later the second Whirlwind, a production model, was again flown in from Boscombe Down by Squadron Leader MacEwen, and later that day a pilot of the squadron solo'ed in it. On 17 June the AOC-in-C Fighter Command recommended that No. 25 Squadron be re-equipped with Bristol Beaufighter night fighters, as it was already an operational night fighter squadron, and Whirlwinds were not being produced fast enough. The three Whirlwinds supplied to No. 25 Squadron were transferred to No. 263 Squadron.

The first production Whirlwind delivered to No. 263 Squadron was P6966, which was collected by Squadron Leader H. Eeles on 24 June and flown to Grangemouth, where 263 Squadron was reforming after disastrous losses in the Norwegian Campaign, in which only four pilots survived. After the decision had been made that No. 263, not No. 25, would be the first operational Whirlwind squadron, No. 263 had to make do with the three initial aircraft, and was supplied with additional Hurricanes until more Whirlwinds became available. Due to slow deliveries and the delays involved in transitioning from Hawker Hurricanes to the new fighter, the squadron did not become operational with Whirlwinds until December 1940.

The first Whirlwind was written off on 7 August when Pilot Officer McDermott had a tyre blow out while taking off in P6966. In spite of this he managed to get the aircraft airborne. Flying Control advised him of the dangerous condition of his undercarriage, and to land the aircraft in such condition was extremely hazardous. PO McDermott bailed out of the aircraft between Grangemouth and Stirling. The aircraft dived in and buried itself thirty feet into the ground (see survivors).

No. 263 squadron became operational with the Whirlwind in December 1940, carrying out convoy patrols from Exeter. The Whirlwind’s first confirmed kill occurred on 8 February, when Pilot Officer Graham (P6969) shot down an Arado Ar 196 floatplane. Unfortunately PO Graham was never seen again, and was believed to have died in the attack. From then on the Squadron was to have considerable success with the Whirlwind while flying against enemy Ju 88's, Do 217's, Me 109's and Fw 190's. The squadron went on to carry out day bomber escort missions with the Whirlwinds, including the escort of six Blenheim squadrons to Antwerp on 12 August 1941. A second Whirlwind squadron, No. 137, flew the type from September 1941 until June 1943. In the summer of 1942, both squadrons' Whirlwinds were fitted with racks to carry two 250 lb or 500 lb bombs and redesignated Whirlwind IA. These undertook low-level cross-channel "Rhubarb" sweeps, attacking locomotives, bridges, shipping, and other targets.

Channel Dash

No. 137 Squadron's worst losses were to be on 12 February, 1942 during the Channel Dash, when they were sent to escort five British Destroyers, unaware of the escaping German warships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. Four Whirlwinds took off at 13:10 hours, and soon sighted warships through the clouds about twenty miles from the Belgian coast. They descended to investigate and were immediately jumped by about twenty Me 109's of Jagdgeschwader 2. The Whirlwinds shot at anything they got in their sights, but the battle was against odds. While this was going on, at 13:40 two additional Whirlwinds were sent up to relieve the first four, still uninformed. All six Whirlwinds failed to return.


From 24 October until 26 November, 1943 Whirlwinds of 263 Squadron made several large attacks against the German warship Munsterland, in dry dock at Cherbourg. As many as twelve Whirlwinds participated at a time in dive bombing attacks carried out from 12,000 to 5,000 ft using 250 lb bombs. The attacks were met by very heavy anti-aircraft fire, but virtually all bombs fell within 500 yds of the target. Only one Whirlwind was lost during the attacks.


One Whirlwind (P6972) was tested as a night fighter in 1940 with No. 25 Squadron while the first prototype was tested with an armament configuration of 12 0.303 machine guns. Another Whirlwind had a single 37 mm cannon fitted.[1][2]


The last Whirlwind mission to be flown by 137 Squadron occurred on 21 June, 1943 when five Whirlwinds took off on a "rhubarb" attack against the German airfield at Piox. Pilot Officer Barclay (P6993) was unable to locate the target and instead bombed a supply train north of Rue. While returning, the starboard throttle jammed in the fully open position and the engine eventually lost power. PO Barclay made a forced landing in a field next to Manston, but the aircraft was a complete write-off - a sad fare-well to the Whirlwind, though like in so many other crash landing in the type, the pilot walked away unhurt.

In December, 1943 No. 263 Squadron, the first and last squadron to operate the Whirlwind, turned in their planes and converted to the Hawker Typhoon. On 1 January, 1944 the type was officially declared obsolete. The remaining serviceable aircraft were transferred to No. 18 Maintenance Unit, while those undergoing repairs or overhaul were only allowed to be repaired if they were in near-flyable condition, an official letter forbidding aircraft needing repair to be worked on.

An appraisal

At low level, the aircraft was a devastating fighter-bomber, armed with both cannons and bombs, and it could hold its own with the Bf 109 at low-level. The performance of the Peregrine engine fell off at altitude, so the Whirlwind was used almost exclusively at low level. Though the Peregrine is a much-maligned powerplant, in actuality it would prove more reliable than the troublesome Napier Sabre engine used in the Hawker Typhoon, the Whirlwind's successor.

In the ground-attack role the Whirlwind excelled, proving to be both an excellent bombing platform, and highly durable. The presence of a second engine meant that many seriously damaged aircraft were able to return from dangerous bombing missions over occupied France and Belgium on one engine, something that the Whirlwind's successor, the Hawker Typhoon, could not do.

The Whirlwind's four 20mm cannon were to prove extremely effective. From 1941 until 1943 the aircraft would become a frequent unwelcome sight over German airfields, marshaling yards, and locomotives. The Whirlwind was used to particularly good effect as a gun platform for destroying German supply trains. Pilots were often credited with several trains damaged or destroyed in a single mission. The aircraft was also very successful in hunting and destroying German E-boats which operated in the Channel.

The Whirlwind became distinguished for its survivability during crash landings and ground accidents. The placement of the wings and engines ahead of the cockpit allowed the aircraft to absorb a great deal of damage while the cockpit area remained largely intact. As a result, many pilots were able to walk away unhurt from aircraft that were totally written-off, a rare occurrence in 1930's era aircraft.

Philip J.R. Moyes notes in Aircraft in Profile 191: The Westland Whirlwind:

The basic feature of the Whirlwind was its concentration of firepower: its four closely-grouped heavy cannon in the nose had a rate of fire of 600 lb./minute – which, until the introduction of the Beaufighter, placed it ahead of any fighter in the world. Hand in hand with this dense firepower went a first-rate speed and climb performance, excellent manoeuvrability and a fighting view hitherto unsurpassed. The Whirlwind was, in its day, faster than the Spitfire down low and, with lighter lateral control, was considered to be one of the nicest "twins" ever built… From the flying viewpoint, the Whirlwind was considered magnificent.[3]

Bruce Robertson, in The Westland Whirlwind Described quotes a 263 Squadron pilot as saying, "It was regarded with absolute confidence and affection.” [2]

The aircraft is well summed up by Francis K. Mason’s comments in Royal Air Force Fighters of World War Two, Vol. One:

Bearing in mind the relatively small number of Whirlwinds that reached the RAF, the type remained in combat service, virtually unmodified, for a remarkably long time…The Whirlwind, once mastered, certainly shouldered extensive responsibilities and the two squadrons were called upon to attack enemy targets from one end of the Channel to the other, by day and night, moving from airfield to airfield within southern England.

The last words on the subject were perhaps best stated by Dr. G. Buckwell who, as a young Sergeant Pilot with 263 Squadron, was shot down in a Whirlwind over Cherbourg. "The Whirlwind was great to fly - we were a privileged few":

In retrospect the lesson of the Whirlwind is clear… A radical aircraft requires either prolonged development or widespread service to exploit its concept and eliminate its weaknesses, Too often in World War II such aircraft suffered accelerated development or limited service, with the result that teething difficulties came to be regarded as permanent limitations.[4]

[edit] Variants

P.9 prototype
Single-seat twin-engine fighter aircraft prototype. Two built (L6844 and L6845), can be distinguished from later production samples by the mudguards above the wheels (Though the first production sample (P6966) had them as well), the exhaust system and the so-called 'acorn' on the joint between fin and rudder .
Whirlwind I
Single-seat twin-engine fighter aircraft, 400 ordered, 114 built
Whirlwind IA
Single-seat twin-engine fighter-bomber aircraft, fitted with underwing bomb racks. At least 67 conversions made from the original Mk.I fighter.


United Kingdom

* Royal Air Force
o No. 25 Squadron RAF tested three aircraft between May and July 1940. Squadron's 'ZK' code letters, It has not been confirmed if code letters were painted on the aircraft, or not.
o No. 137 Squadron RAF operated Whirlwinds between September 1941 and June 1943. Aircraft had applied Squadron's 'SF' code letters.
o No. 263 Squadron RAF operated Whirlwinds between July 1940 and December 1943. Aircraft had applied Squadron's 'HE' code letters.

US Navy, one aircraft was sent to the USA for trials in June 1942 and survived there until at least late 1944


* With the end of production in January 1942, the Whirlwind became another "also-ran." Today none exist, as surviving airframes were scrapped at 5MU - RAF Kemble.
* The last surviving Whirlwind was P7048, which had been damaged in May, 1943 and returned to the Westland works at Yeovil for repair. After it was repaired it remained the only serviceable Whirlwind, and the only one to survive WWII. The aircraft was eventually civil registered post-war as G-AGOI and used as a company hack for a short time before being scrapped in 1947.
* In October, 1979 the remains of Whirlwind P6966, the first Whirlwind to be lost, were recovered near Grangemouth by enthusiasts in a dig group. The two Peregrine engines were recovered, as well as many pieces of the airframe.
* Plans for a 2/3 scale replica were marketed for homebuilding in the late 1970s and early '80s as the Butterworth Westland Whirlwind.
* In 2003, UK aircraft restorer Tony King announced that he would lead a group to build a Westland Whirlwind replica from scratch. Built in aluminium throughout, the full-scale replica was intended to taxi under its own power. Since the project announcement, further work appears to be stymied.[5]

Specifications (Whirlwind)

Data from

General characteristics

* Crew: One pilot
* Length: 32 ft 3 in (9.83 m)
* Wingspan: 45 ft 0 in (13.72 m)
* Height: 11 ft 7 in (3.53 m)
* Wing area: 250 ft² (23 m²)
* Empty weight: 8,310 lb (3,770 kg)
* Loaded weight: 10,356 lb (4,697 kg)
* Max takeoff weight: 11,410 lb (5,175 kg)
* Powerplant: 2× Rolls-Royce Peregrine I Liquid-cooled V-12, 885 hp (660 kW) each


* Maximum speed: 360 mph (560 km/h)
* Range: 808 miles (1,300 km)
* Service ceiling: 30,315 ft (9,240 m)
* Rate of climb: 1.550 ft/min (474 m/min)
* Wing loading: 41 lb/ft² (204 kg/m²)
* Power/mass: 0.17 hp/lb (0.28 kW/kg)


* Guns: 4x Hispano 20 mm cannon with 60 rounds per gun
* Bombs: 2x 250 lb (115 kg) or 500 lb (230 kg) bombs
Westland_whirlwind.jpg (33.89 KiB) Viewed 5261 times

Cardinal Biggles

Re: aircrafft of the month April '09

Post by Cardinal Biggles » Fri Apr 17, 2009 5:00 pm

and course we missed March

Bristol Beaufighter
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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This article includes a list of references or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations where appropriate. (April 2009)

Bristol Beaufighter is also the name of a car produced by Bristol Cars in the 1980s.

Type 156 Beaufighter
Beaufighter, armed with rockets
Role Heavy fighter / strike aircraft
Manufacturer Bristol Aeroplane Company
First flight 17 July 1939
Introduction 27 July 1940
Retired 1960 (Australia)
Primary users Royal Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
Produced May 1940 – 1946
Number built 5,928
Developed from Bristol Beaufort

The Bristol Type 156 Beaufighter, often referred to as simply the Beau, was a British long-range heavy fighter modification of the Bristol Aeroplane Company's earlier Beaufort torpedo bomber design. The name Beaufighter is a portmanteau of "Beaufort" and "fighter".

Unlike the Beaufort, the Beaufighter had a long career and served in almost all theatres of war in the Second World War, first as a night fighter, then as a fighter bomber and eventually replacing the Beaufort as a torpedo bomber. A unique variant was built in Australia by the Department of Aircraft Production (DAP) and was known in Australia as the DAP Beaufighter.

* 1 Design and development
* 2 Operational service
o 2.1 Coastal Command
o 2.2 Pacific war
+ 2.2.1 South east Asia
+ 2.2.2 South west Pacific
o 2.3 Postwar
* 3 Variants
* 4 Operators
* 5 Survivors
* 6 Specifications (Beaufighter TF X)
* 7 See also
* 8 References
* 9 External links

[edit] Design and development

The idea of a fighter development of the Beaufort was suggested to the Air Ministry by Bristol. The suggestion coincided with the delays in the development and production of the Westland Whirlwind cannon-armed twin-engined fighter. By converting an existing design the "Beaufort Cannon Fighter" could be expected to be developed and produced far quicker than starting a completely fresh design. Accordingly the Air Ministry produced specification F.11/37 written around Bristol's suggestion for an "interim" aircraft pending proper introduction of the Whirlwind. Bristol started building a prototype by taking a part-built Beaufort out of the production line. The prototype first flew on 17 July 1939, a little more than eight months after the design had started and possible due to the use of much of the Beaufort's design and parts. A production contract for 300 machines had already been placed two weeks before the prototype flew, as F.17/39.

In general the differences between the Beaufort and Beaufighter were minor. 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. The bomb-bay was omitted, and four forward-firing Hispano 20 mm cannons were mounted in the lower fuselage area. 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. As a result, they were soon replaced by a belt-feed system. The cannons were supplemented by six 0.303 inch (7.7 mm) Browning guns in the wings; four in the starboard wing and two to port. The areas for the rear gunner and bomb-aimer were removed, leaving only the pilot in a fighter-type cockpit. The navigator / radar operator sat to the rear under a small perspex bubble where the Beaufort's dorsal turret had been located.

The Bristol Taurus engines of the Beaufort were not powerful enough for a fighter and were replaced by the more powerful Bristol Hercules. The extra power presented problems with vibration; in the final design they were mounted on longer, more flexible struts, which stuck out from the front of the wings. This moved the centre of gravity (CoG) forward, a bad thing for an aircraft design. It was moved back by shortening the nose, as no space was needed for a bomb aimer in a fighter. This put most of the fuselage behind the wing, and moved the CoG back where it should be. With the engine cowlings and propellers now further forward than the tip of the nose, the Beaufighter had a characteristically stubby appearance.

Production of the Beaufort in Australia, and the highly successful use of British-made Beaufighters by the Royal Australian Air Force, led to Beaufighters being built by the Australian Department of Aircraft Production (DAP), from 1944 onwards. The DAP's variant was an attack/torpedo bomber, known as the Mark 21: design changes included Hercules CVII engines, dihedral to the tailplane and enhanced armament.

By the time British production lines shut down in September 1945, 5,564 Beaufighters had been built in England, by Bristol and also by Fairey Aviation Company, (498) Ministry of Aircraft Production (3336) and Rootes (260).

When Australian production ceased in 1946, 365 Mk 21s had been built.

[edit] Operational service
Bristol Beaufighter Mk 1 in No. 252 Squadron, North Africa

By fighter standards, the Beaufighter Mk.I was rather heavy and slow. It had an all-up weight of 16,000 lb (7,000 kg) and a maximum speed of only 335 mph (540 km/h) at 16,800 ft (5,000 m). Nevertheless this was all that was available at the time, as the otherwise excellent Westland Whirlwind had already been cancelled due to production problems with its Rolls-Royce Peregrine engines.

The Beaufighter found itself coming off the production line at almost exactly the same time as the first British Airborne Intercept (AI) radar sets. With the four 20 mm cannons mounted in the lower fuselage, the nose could accommodate the radar antennas, and the general roominess of the fuselage enabled the AI equipment to be fitted easily. Even loaded to 20,000 lb (9 t) the plane was fast enough to catch German bombers. By early 1941 it was an effective counter to Luftwaffe night raids. The various early models of the Beaufighter soon commenced service overseas, where its ruggedness and reliability soon made the aircraft popular with crews.

A night-fighter Mk VIF was supplied to squadrons in March 1942, equipped with AI Mark VIII radar. As the faster de Havilland Mosquito took over in the night fighter role in mid to late 1942, the heavier Beaufighters made valuable contributions in other areas such as anti-shipping, ground attack and long-range interdiction in every major theatre of operations.

In the Mediterranean, the USAAF's 414th, 415th, 416th and 417th Night Fighter Squadrons received 100 Beaufighters in the summer of 1943, achieving their first victory in July 1943. Through the summer the squadrons conducted both daytime convoy escort and ground-attack operations, but primarily flew defensive interception missions at night. 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.

By the autumn of 1943 the Mosquito was available in enough numbers to replace the Beaufighter as the primary night fighter of the RAF. By the end of the war some 70 pilots serving with RAF units had become aces while flying Beaufighters.

[edit] Coastal Command

1941 saw the development of the Beaufighter Mk.IC long-range heavy fighter. This new variant entered service in May 1941 with a detachment from No. 252 Squadron operating from Malta. The aircraft proved so effective in the Mediterranean against shipping, aircraft and ground targets that Coastal Command became the major user of the Beaufighter, replacing the now obsolete Beaufort and Blenheim.

Coastal Command began to take delivery of the up-rated Mk.VIC in mid 1942. By the end of 1942 Mk VICs were being equipped with torpedo-carrying gear, enabling them to carry the British 18-inch or the US 22.5-inch torpedo externally. The first successful torpedo attacks by Beaufighters came in April 1943, with No. 254 Squadron sinking two merchant ships off Norway.

The Hercules Mk XVII, developing 1,735 hp at 500 feet, was installed in the Mk VIC airframe to produce the TF Mk.X (Torpedo Fighter), commonly known as the "Torbeau." The Mk X became the main production mark of the Beaufighter. The strike variant of the "Torbeau" was designated the Mk.XIC. Beaufighter TF Xs would make precision attacks on shipping at wave-top height with torpedoes or RP-3 rockets. Early models of the Mk Xs carried metric-wavelength ASV (air-to-surface vessel) radar with "herringbone" antennae carried on the nose and outer wings, but this was replaced in late 1943 by the centimetric AI Mark VIII radar housed in a "thimble-nose" radome, enabling all-weather and night attacks.

The North Coates Strike Wing (Coastal Command), based at RAF North Coates on the Lincolnshire coast, developed attack tactics combining large formations of Beaufighters on anti-flak suppression with cannon and rockets while the Torbeaus attacked on low level. These tactics were put into practice in mid 1943 and in a 10-month period 27,000 tonnes of shipping were sunk. Tactics were further adapted when shipping was moved from port during the night. North Coates Strike Wing operated as the largest anti-shipping force of the Second World War, and accounted for over 150,000 tons of shipping and 117 vessels for a loss of 120 Beaufighters and 241 aircrew killed or missing. This was half the total tonnage sunk by all strike wings between 1942-45.

[edit] Pacific war
Beaufighter of No. 30 Squadron RAAF over the Owen Stanley Range, New Guinea, 1942.(AWM OG0001)

The Beaufighter arrived at squadrons in Asia and the Pacific in mid-1942. It has often been said — although it was originally a piece of RAF whimsy quickly taken up by a British journalist — that Japanese soldiers referred to the Beaufighter as "whispering death", supposedly because attacking aircraft often were not heard (or seen) until too late.[1] (The Beaufighter's Hercules engines featured sleeve valves which lacked the noisy valve gear common to poppet valve engines. This was most apparent in a reduced noise level at the front of the engine.)

[edit] South east Asia

In the South-East Asian Theatre the Beaufighter Mk VIF operated from India on night missions against Japanese lines of communication in Burma and Thailand. The high-speed, low-level attacks were highly effective, despite often atrocious weather conditions, and makeshift repair and maintenance facilities.

[edit] South west Pacific

Before DAP Beaufighters arrived at Royal Australian Air Force units in the South West Pacific theatre, the Bristol Beaufighter Mk IC was employed in anti-shipping missions.

The most famous of these was the Battle of the Bismarck Sea in which they co-operated with USAAF A-20 Bostons and B-25 Mitchells. No. 30 Squadron RAAF Beaufighters flew in at mast height to provide heavy suppressive fire for the waves of attacking bombers. The Japanese convoy, under the impression that they were under torpedo attack, made the fatal tactical error of turning their ships towards the Beaufighters, leaving them exposed to skip bombing attacks by the US medium bombers. The Beaufighters inflicted maximum damage on the ships' anti-aircraft guns, bridges and crews during strafing runs with their four 20 mm (0.787 in) nose cannons and six wing-mounted .303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns. Eight transports and four destroyers were sunk for the loss of five aircraft, including one Beaufighter.

[edit] Postwar

From late 1944, RAF Beaufighter units were engaged in the Greek Civil War, finally withdrawing in 1946.

The Beaufighter was also used by the air forces of Portugal, Turkey and the Dominican Republic. It was used briefly by the Israeli Air Force.

[edit] Variants
A Bristol Beaufighter I in the Air Power Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force

Beaufighter Mk IF
Two-seat night fighter variant.

Beaufighter Mk IC
The "C" stood for Coastal Command variant; many were modified to carry bombs.

Beaufighter Mk II
However well the Beaufighter performed, the Short Stirling bomber program by late 1941 had a higher priority for the Hercules engine and the Rolls Royce Merlin XX-powered Mk II was the result.

Beaufighter Mk IIF
Production night fighter variant.
Beaufighter Mk III/IV
The Mark III and Mark IV were to be Hercules and Merlin powered Beaufighters with a new slimmer fuselage carrying an armament of 6 cannon and 6 machine guns which would give performance improvements. The necessary costs of making the changes to the production line led to the curtailing of the Marks. [2]

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. Only two Mk Vs were built.

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.

Beaufighter Mk VIC
Torpedo-carrying variant dubbed the "Torbeau".

Beaufighter Mk VIF
This variant was equipped with AI Mark VIII radar.

Beaufighter Mk VI (ITF)
Interim torpedo fighter version.

Beaufighter TF Mk X
Two-seat torpedo fighter aircraft. The last major version (2,231 built) was the Mk X, among the finest torpedo and strike aircraft of its day.

Beaufighter Mk XIC
Built without torpedo gear for Coastal Command use.

Beaufighter Mk 21
The Australian-made DAP Beaufighter. Changes included Hercules CVII engines, a dihedral tailplane, four 20 mm in the nose, four Browning .50 in the wings and the capacity to carry eight five-inch High-Velocity Aircraft Rockets (HVAR), two 250 lb bombs, two 500 lb bombs and one Mk13 torpedo.

Beaufighter TT Mk 10
After the war, many RAF Beaufighters were converted into target tug aircraft.
Beaufighter_(AWM_OG0001).jpg (56.11 KiB) Viewed 5257 times
Bristol_Type_156_Beaufighter_ExCC.jpg (62.53 KiB) Viewed 5258 times


Re: aircrafft of the month April '09

Post by Greywolf » Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:18 pm

My favourite aeroplane (WW) and the Beaufighter in the top ten , this is why I like you CB.The Whirlwind,could have been a contender,would have shot down droves of Jerry. In my alternate Pulp world the undead Albert Ball pilots a Griffon engined Whirlwind with belt fed 20mms (instead of the low capacity drums,60 rounds each if I'm correct).Have a very pricy 148th scale Whirlwind from Classic Airframes,etch, resin the whole lot and one day I'll even build it.


Re: aircrafft of the month April '09

Post by chrism » Fri Apr 17, 2009 8:35 pm

My dad use to work on Beaufighters in North Africa as part of 336 Squadron RHAF - used to work of Spitfires and Hurricane too.

336th Fighter Squadron - RAF (336 Mira - Royal Hellenic Air Force) was formed on 25 February 1943 at Landing Ground 219 in the Western Desert, as the second Greek fighter squadron in the Desert Air Force. 336th RHAF Squadron wasn't just a foreign maned squadron, but a full established air force under the command of RAF. It was employed on shipping protection and air defence duties off the Libyan coast until September 1944, when the squadron moved to Italy with No.335. After flying sweeps over the Balkans, both squadrons moved to Greece for attacks on German-held islands in the Aegean. In May 1945, No.336 moved to Salonika, where it was disbanded on 31 July 1946.

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Re: aircrafft of the month April '09

Post by gregorius » Mon Apr 20, 2009 9:59 am

Hi Chrism,

Do you have any details of the markings these planes carried? A plane from that squadron would be interesting>


Dienekes, remarked with a laugh, 'Good. Then we'll have our battle in the shade.' - Herodotus, The Histories, 7.226


Re: aircrafft of the month April '09

Post by chrism » Mon Apr 20, 2009 10:14 am

Reference Site with great pics........... ... DLE%20EAST ... 2-raf.html

Thanks for the dad was a FLT/SGT one of several in charge of Sptifire/Hurricane Maintenance and I had an Uncle who was a Spitfire Pilot.

The only German my dad saw up close was an ME109 Pilot who got lost in a sand storm and managed to tack onto a stick of ten Greek Spitfires who he mistook for his own and landed with them.

As dad once said 10 went and eleven came back......instant POW.

I have the picture of the captured ME 109 somewhere at home.

Cardinal Biggles

Re: aircrafft of the month April '09

Post by Cardinal Biggles » Mon Apr 20, 2009 4:04 pm

great pics good stuff..

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