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Fairey Firefly TT1

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Uploaded on Jan 17, 2012

The Fairey Firefly was a British Second World War-era carrier-borne fighter aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm (FAA). It was superior in performance and firepower to its predecessor, the Fulmar, but did not enter operational service until 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The Fairey Firefly served in the Second World War as a fleet fighter but in postwar service, although it was superseded by more modern jet aircraft, the Firefly was adapted to other roles, including strike operations and anti-submarine warfare, remaining a mainstay of the FAA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. Both the UK and Australia Fireflies flew anti-ship missions off various aircraft carriers in the Korean War. In foreign service, the type was in operation with the naval air arms of Australia, Canada, India, and the Netherlands whose Fireflies carried out a few attack missions as late as 1962 in Dutch New Guinea.
Before the war, in 1938 the Air Ministry issued two specifications for two naval fighters, a conventional and a "turret fighter". Performance for both was to be 275 knots at 15,000 ft while carrying an armament, for the conventional fighter, of 8 Browning machine guns or 4 Hispano cannon. This would replace the Fulmar which had been an interim design. These specifications were updated the following year and several British manufacturers tendered their ideas. Further changes to the official specification followed, the turret fighter specification was dropped and a modified specification issued to cover single and dual seat fighters capable of 330 and 300 knots respectively. Fairey offering designs that could be single or two seater and powered by the Rolls Royce Griffon or alternatively a larger airframe with a Napier Sabre. After consideration of manufacturers responses, a Specification N.5/40 replaced the earlier specifications. Due to the necessity of navigating over open sea, it was for a two seater alone. For defence of naval bases a separate single seater design would lead to the Blackburn Firebrand.

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. Although it was 4,000 lb (1,810 kg) heavier than the Fulmar (due largely to its armament of two 20 mm cannon in each wing), the Firefly was 40 mph (60 km/h) faster due to improved aerodynamics and a more powerful engine, the 1,735 hp (1,294 kW) Rolls-Royce Griffon IIB.

The Firefly is a low-wing cantilever monoplane with oval-section metal semi-monocoque fuselage and conventional tail unit with forward-placed tailplane. Powered by a Rolls-Royce Griffon liquid-cooled piston engine with a three-blade airscrew. The Firefly had retractable main landing gear and tail wheel, with the hydraulically-operated main landing gear retracting inwards into the underside of the wing centre-section. The aircraft also had a retractable arrester hook under the rear fuselage. The pilot's cockpit was over the leading edge of the wing and the observer/radio-operator/navigator aft of the wing trailing edge - positions which gave better visibility for operating and landing. Both crew had separate jettisonable canopies. The all metal wing could be folded manually, with the wings ending up along the sides of the fuselage. When in the flying position the wings were hydraulically locked.

Copyright © 2012 Malcolm Auld

This video material may not be reproduced in any form (except as an embedded video on any other website), without written permission.

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