Air Weapons

Fighter-Bomber (1943)



Firefly F.I
Firefly F.I

Similar in appearance to its predecessor, the Fulmar, the Fairey Firefly was a much more capable aircraft although as a pure fighter it still suffered from having too large an airframe in order to accommodate a two-seat (pilot and observer) single-engine design. The Firefly was characterized by patented Youngman area-increasing flaps which gave it excellent maneuverability at low speeds and in cruise, as well as powerful Griffon engines and an observer station behind the wing. Despite performance limitations compared to single-seat carrier-based fighters such as the Seafire or Corsair, the Firefly proved to be a very capable fighter-bomber and reconnaissance aircraft and was eventually adapted for other roles including night fighter (with air intercept radar) and anti-submarine warfare. During World War II, the Firefly operated mostly in the Indian and Pacific Oceans (it was the first British aircraft to fly over Tokyo during strikes against the Japanese home islands) although they also provided air cover during the Tirpitz strikes in 1944. Post-war, the Firefly had an illustrious career doing extensive service in the Korean War (where they flew from both British and Australian carriers) and serving well into the 1950s, with some being operated even later for target towing, training, and pilotless drones. Other post-war users included Canada, Ethiopia, Thailand, and the Netherlands the latter which used them in action in 1962 in the Dutch East Indies.

First flown on 22 December 1941, the Firefly began equipping FAA squadrons beginning on March 1943. The Mk. I family included the F.I fighter-bomber, the FR.I reconnaissance fighter with ASH radar for use against ships and submarines, and the NF.I night fighter. Its successor, the NF.II had wing-mounted AI radar. Post-war, the Firefly was equipped with two-stage Griffon engines, this began in the Mk. III (a Mk. I conversion) and then the Mk. 4 which was also notable in that the engine radiators had been moved to the wing roots. A night fighter version was the NF.4. The last multi-role series was the Mk.5 which came in fighter-bomber, night-fighter and anti-submarine variants. They saw service in the Korean War. The last two marks were specialized anti-submarine aircraft, these were the AS.6 and AS.7 the last example delived in May 1955.

Preceded by:

Fulmar (1940)

Succeeded by:



DesignFirefly F.IFirefly FR.4
Length11.46 m11.53 m
Height4.140 m4.369 m
Wing Span13.56 m12.55 m
Wing Arean/an/a
Empty4,423 kg4,472 kg
Maximum6,359 kg7,083 kg
Wing Loading208.7 kg/m²231.0 kg/m²
Speed509 km/h555 km/h
Ceiling8,534 m8,900 m
Range1,722 km1,722 km
Engine1 x Griffon IIB
1,290 kW
1 x Griffon 74
1,674 kW
Guns4 x 20-mm
Hispano Mk. II
4 x 20-mm
Hispano Mk. II
Payload907 kg907 kg
AS WeaponsGP 1000-lb
RP-3 (8)
GP 1000-lb
RP-3 (8)