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Fairey Firefly

Carrier-Borne Fighter / Strike-Fighter Aircraft

Fairey Firefly

Carrier-Borne Fighter / Strike-Fighter Aircraft

OVERVIEW
SPECIFICATIONS
ARMAMENT
VARIANTS
HISTORY
MEDIA
OVERVIEW



A star player for the British Royal Navy during World War 2, the Fairey Firefly remained in service well into the Cold War period with several operators.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United Kingdom
YEAR: 1943
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Fairey Aviation Company, Ltd - UK
PRODUCTION: 1,702
OPERATORS: Australia; Canada; Denmark; Ethiopia; India; Netherlands; Sweden; Thailand; United Kingdom
SPECIFICATIONS



Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Fairey Firefly F.Mk I model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
CREW: 2
LENGTH: 37.57 feet (11.45 meters)
WIDTH: 44.46 feet (13.55 meters)
HEIGHT: 13.62 feet (4.15 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 9,771 pounds (4,432 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 14,054 pounds (6,375 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Rolls-Royce Griffon IIB V-12 inline piston engine developing 1,735 horsepower driving a three-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
SPEED (MAX): 316 miles-per-hour (509 kilometers-per-hour; 275 knots)
RANGE: 1,305 miles (2,100 kilometers; 1,134 nautical miles)
CEILING: 28,002 feet (8,535 meters; 5.30 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 1,740 feet-per-minute (530 meters-per-minute)




ARMAMENT



STANDARD:
4 x 20mm Hispano-Suiza cannons in wings (two per wing).

OPTIONAL:
8 x 60lb rockets mounted underwing.
2 x 1,000 lb conventional drop bombs held underwing.
VARIANTS



Series Model Variants
• F.Mk I - Initial Production Model; fitted with Rolls-Royce Griffon XII 1,990hp engine; chin-mounted radiator assembly.
• FR.Mk I - Reconnaissance Model Variant; similar to F.Mk I models but fitted with ASH radar system.
• F.Mk IA - Modified Mk.I models brought up to FR.Mk I standards.
• F.Mk 3 - Trial Modification Model fitted with Griffon 61 engine and nose radiator.
• Mk IV - Fitted with 2,100hp Griffon 61; root-based radiators.
• F.Mk IV - Variant of the Mk IV model
• FR.Mk 4 - Variant of the Mk IV model
• FR.Mk 4 - Post-War Reconnaissance Variant; fitted with Griffon 74 engine.
• Mk 5 - Improved Model; power-folding wings.
• FR.Mk 5 - Base Fighter Model based on the Mk 5.
• NF.Mk I - Nightfighter Variant Model; fitted with specialized radio systems; shrouded exhaust ports.
• NF.Mk 5 - Nightfighter Model based on the Mk 5.
• NF.Mk II - Nightfighter Variant Model; fitted with 2 x AI.MK X radar system, one mounted in each wing; elongated nose assembly; later converted to Mk 1 standard.
• AS.Mk 5 - Anti-Submarine Warfare Model based on the Mk 5.
• AS.Mk 6 - Similar to the Mk 5 model; Anti-Submarine Reconnaissance / Strike Derivative; 152 produced; utilized British-made sonobuoys instead of American-produced ones.
• AS.Mk 7 - Final Production Model; fitted with Griffon 59 2,250hp engine; chin-mounted radiator.
• T.Mk 1 - Pilot Trainer
• T.Mk 2 - Operation Trainer
• T.Mk 3 - Anti-Submarine Warfare Trainer
• T.Mk 5 - Trained Model based on the Mk 5.
• TT.Mk 4 - Target Tug
• U.Mk 9 - Target Drone


HISTORY



Detailing the development and operational history of the Fairey Firefly Carrier-Borne Fighter / Strike-Fighter Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 9/11/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The Fairey Firefly navy monoplane fighter formed a critical component for the British Royal Navy's (RN) Fleet Air Arm (FAA) throughout the latter years of World War 2 (1939-1945) and beyond. From the period spanning 1941 until 1955, some 1,702 aircraft were built across a plethora of variants, both major and minor. The fighter was eventually taken on by powers outside of the United Kingdom and this list went on to include Australia, Canada, India and Thailand (among others). The final forms were operated well into the 1960s despite their wartime vintage.

The Firefly was born from an FAA requirement of 1938 seeking an all-modern, two-seat reconnaissance-minded navy fighter to succeed its aging line of Fairey Fulmars of 1940 origin - this other aircraft regarded as an interim measures at best. Specification N.5/40 was eventually drawn up in 1940 to cover the new design. Fairey Aviation returned with its proposal for a two-seater and, in June of 1940, the RN placed an order for 200 before the aircraft had even physically materialized - such was the need and "blank check" approach to many wartime aircraft designs. At least three flyable prototypes were contracted for.

H.E. Chaplin was credited with design of the new monoplane seating its crew of two in tandem, though in separate, cockpits. The engine was at the nose in the usual way and drove a three-bladed propeller. The tail unit was conventional and featured a single, rounded vertical fin coupled with a pair of mid-mounted horizontal planes (placed noticeably ahead of the rudder plane). A tail-dragger undercarriage was used for ground-running and an arrestor hook fitted for carrier landings. Additional carrier qualities included folding wings and a reinforced undercarriage system. Primary armament centered on 4 x 20mm Hispano automatic cannons with two guns fitted per wing and provision was had to carry bombs into combat - though at a reduction in performance. The powerplant-of-choice became the famous Rolls-Royce "Griffon" IIB series inline piston engine which offered the necessary performance figures of this streamlined design.

While heavier than the Fulmar it was intended to replace, the new fighter was certainly more powerful, agile and capable. A prototype went airborne for the first time on December 22nd, 1941 and pilots soon learned to appreciate the forward position of the cockpit, this ahead of the wing mainplanes, as it offered relatively good vision when ground-running.

Having passed its requisite tests and evaluations, the project graduated to become the "Firefly" in service when formally adopted in 1943. It saw its first taste of combat during war year 1944 and, by this time, the line was evolved to carry more than cannons and bombs for it could be used as precision strike platform through launching aerial rockets. Its first assignment was on the aircraft carrier HMS Indefatigable and first operations were off the coast of enemy-held Norway. Before long, the series was fielded in number across the Far East Theater of War as well.

Initial production forms were the "Firefly I" and this designation encompassed the 429 F.Mk I fighter models built alongside the 376 FR.Mk I fighter-reconnaissance mounts. The latter included ASH detection radar and were meant more for maritime patrolling and attack. Production of this stock was split between Fairey and General Aircraft.




Fairey Firefly (Cont'd)

Carrier-Borne Fighter / Strike-Fighter Aircraft

Fairey Firefly (Cont'd)

Carrier-Borne Fighter / Strike-Fighter Aircraft



As built, the Mk I model held a running length of 37.7 feet, a wingspan of 44.5 feet and a height of 13.6 feet. Empty weight was 9,750lb against an MTOW of 14,000lb. The Griffon IIB engine outputted 1,730 horsepower and drove the aircraft to speeds reaching 315 miles per hour and a range of 1,300 miles up to a service ceiling of 28,000 feet. It could reach 10,000 feet of altitude in under six minutes.

Beyond its fixed, forward-firing 4 x 20mm Hispano-Suiza battery of cannon, the aircraft was cleared to carry 2 x 1,000lb bombs under the wings and 8 x RP-3 "60lb" aerial rockets. This made for a versatile attack platform that could hold its own in air-to-air fighting.

The NF.Mk II was featured as a dedicated night-fighter development of the Firefly and given a slightly lengthened fuselage so as to carry the needed airborne interception radar and applicable equipment. About 37 aircraft were built to this standard. The "Firefly III" was a proposed, ultimately abandoned improvement of the Firefly line set to feature the Griffon 61 series engine.

The F.Mk IV carried the Rolls-Royce Griffon 72 engine of 2,330 horsepower and, though flying sometime in 1944, only entered service after the war had ended in 1945. Its fighter-reconnaissance variant became FR.Mk 4. The NF.Mk 5 was another night-fighter entry and the RF.Mk 5 was a reconnaissance-centric model. Its anti-submarine variant became AS.Mk 5 and other anti-submarine platforms were the AS.Mk 6 and AS.Mk 7 - the latter featuring the Rolls-Royce Griffon 59 engine. Its training form became T.Mk 7.

The Mk 4, Mk 5 and Mk 6 Fireflies were all converted at some point to serve out the remainder of their days as target tugs and designated accordingly as TT.Mk 4, TT.Mk 5 and TT.Mk 6. The TT.Mk I was a limited batch of early Firefly Mk Is converted to the same role.

Post-war, twin-flight-cockpit trainer models became Firefly T.Mk 1, the T.Mk 2 and the T.Mk 3.

Some six total Royal Australian Navy squadrons were formed with the Firefly and two Royal Canadian Navy squadrons equipped with the type as well. The Dutch Naval Aviation Service made use of the aircraft through no fewer than six squadrons all their own. The Indian Navy began operations involving Fireflies from 1955 on and Sweden operated the type from early-1949 until late-1963. Similarly the Royal Thai Air Force made use of the aircraft from 1952 until 1966.

Twenty-four total squadrons of the Royal Navy - Fleet Air Arm - operated Fireflies, making the British the definitive operator of the series. The Fairey Gannet, detailed elsewhere on this site, succeeded the Firefly in FAA service.




MEDIA









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: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (316mph).

    Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LDN
LDN
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MSK
MSK
 
  TKY
TKY
 
  SYD
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  LAX
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  NYC
Graph showcases the Fairey Firefly F.Mk I'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
1702
1702

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
A2A
Interception
UAV
Ground Attack
CAS
Training
ASW
Anti-Ship
AEW
MEDEVAC
EW
Maritime/Navy
SAR
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
VIP
Passenger
Business
Recon
SPECOPS
X-Plane/Development
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Supported Arsenal
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of aircraft aerial rockets
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
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 pioneering aircraft
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 representing modern aircraft
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 War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.