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Fairey Seafox

United Kingdom (1937)
Picture of Fairey Seafox Navy Reconnaissance Floatplane

The Fairey Seafox served the British Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm across sixty-six total examples.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Fairey Seafox Navy Reconnaissance Floatplane.  Entry last updated on 5/1/2015. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

Since 1917, Fairey Aviation Company delivered many-an-aircraft for British Royal Navy service and this relationship spanned from World War 1 (1914-1918) to World War 2 (1939-1945). In 1932, the Air Ministry delivered Specification S.11/32 calling for a floatplane aircraft to serve aboard Royal Navy light cruisers through the Fleet Air Arm (FAA). Fairey responded with what became the "Seafox" and two prototypes followed with the first arriving in 1936. First flight was recorded on May 27th, 1936.

The aircraft was designed around a seaplane configuration, its undercarriage consisting of twin floats for water landings while launching was accomplished by onboard catapults (recovery would be by way of shipboard crane). The Seafox was not intended as a fleet protector as much as reconnaissance platform, serving gunnery crews aboard the cruisers and increasing their ranged accuracy as a result. When pressed into war, British light cruisers would be charged with hunting down enemy participants and any long range vision from above was of particularly value.

The Seafox employed a biplane arrangement as well as a metal understructure which was reinforced for the rigors of catapult launching. Simple fabric covered the wings and tail surfaces to produce a light design and manufacture-friendly product. A strut network fixed the floats to the underside of the fuselage. The aircraft required a crew of two and seated the pilot in an open-air cockpit aft of the forward-mounted engine while the observer was shielded from the elements under a canopy aft of the pilot. The engine of choice became the Napier "Rapier" VI series 16-cylinderair-cooled piston model of 395 horsepower output and performance figures included a maximum speed of 125 miles per hour, a service ceiling up to 9,700 feet, and a range out to 440 miles. Armament was largely defensive (and optional) - a single 7.7mm Lewis machine gun being fitted for the rear observer. Some Seafoxes were later modified with underwing racks for carrying 4 x 20lb light bombs or marking flares.

The Seafox was introduced for service in April of 1937 and went on to stock the inventories of some eleven Fleet Air Arm squadrons. Beyond the two prototypes completed, total production netted 64 aircraft. None were exported though British Seafoxes served with Australian and New Zealand naval forces for a time. In practice, the type proved itself highly serviceable but were noted for such failings as underpowered engines (which also suffered from cooling issues) and tricky handling - however these limitations could be overlooked in a time of total war.

When Britain declared war on Germany, total Seafox strength numbered thirty-two and the line was immediately pressed into active operations against German naval targets. Seafoxes played a role in the hunt for the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee in the South Atlantic to which this enemy vessel was eventually chased by the British Navy into neutral Montevideo, Uruguay before being scuttled in December of 1939. Beyond that, Seafoxes served the FAA well in subsequent war years - providing much needed over-the-horizon eyes-in-the-skies. Some were present in the evacuation of Crete during 1941 and their type was in force up until about 1943 when more modern products were ultimately adopted by the FAA.

Any available statistics for the Fairey Seafox Navy Reconnaissance Floatplane are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 150mph
Lo: 75mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (124mph).

    Graph average of 112.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Fairey Seafox's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
66
66


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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National Flag Graphic
Origin: United Kingdom
Year: 1937
Type: Navy Reconnaissance Floatplane
Manufacturer(s): Fairey Aviation - UK
Production: 66
Global Operators:
United Kingdom
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Fairey Seafox model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
2


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
33.46 ft


Meters
10.2 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
40.03 ft


Meters
12.2 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
12.14 ft


Meters
3.7 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
3,814 lb


Kilograms
1,730 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
5,512 lb


Kilograms
2,500 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Napier Rapier Vi piston engine developing 395 horsepower.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
124 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
200 kph


Knots
108 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
441 mi


Kilometers
710 km


Nautical Miles
383 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
9,843 ft


Meters
3,000 m


Miles
1.86 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
325 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
99 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (0):

OPTIONAL:
1 x 7.7mm machine gun

NOTE:
Some aircraft modified with underwing racks for carrying 4 x 20lb conventional drop bombs or marking flares.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• Seafox - Base Series Name