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Fairey Gannet

United Kingdom (1953)
Picture of Fairey Gannet Anti-Submarine Warfare Aircraft

The multi-faceted and capable Fairey Gannet, a Cold War warrior for several operators, featured contra-rotating propeller units at the nose and crew of three.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Fairey Gannet Anti-Submarine Warfare Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 6/4/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The Fairey Gannet was a dedicated anti-submarine platform primarily serving the Fleet Air Arm of the British Royal Navy during the Cold War years. She was an aircraft design originating from a 1945 British Admiralty initiative (GR.17/45) requiring an advanced, carrier-based, anti-submarine warfare (ASW) platform. Both Fairey Aviation Company and Blackburn Aircraft responded with prototypes "Fairey 17" and "B-54" respectively. Both were of outwardly similar design, sporting conventional monoplane wings, stout reinforced airframes, internal bomb bays and a tricycle undercarriage. The "gannet" name was derived from the species of large seabirds common to the North Atlantic, the southern regions of Africa and the South Pacific (near Australia and New Zealand). Their predatory nature is such that they dive, at speed, upon unsuspecting prey in the water and can continue the chase of said prey while remaining submerged.

The Blackburn B-54 featured a piston engine while the follow-up prototype, the B-88, was fitted with a gas-powered turbine engine driving a large-radius contra-rotating propeller system. The internal bomb bay was affixed to the underside of the fuselage. The pilot and his observer sat in tandem under a framed canopy. The empennage was conventional, featuring a single vertical tail fin with a pair of horizontal planes. A radar scanner was mounted under the base of the empennage in a cylindrical fitting and was retractable into the fuselage. First flight was recorded on September 20th, 1949. Only three Blackburn prototypes were produced in all before the program was shelved in favor of the Fairey product.

The Fairey design (attributed to engineer H.E. Chaplin) made use of the Armstrong Siddeley Mamba gas-turbine engine in a dual configuration arrangement earning the pair the collective name of "Twin Mamba" or "Double Mamba". The arrangement showcased the engines in a side-by-side seating coupled to a single gearbox and powering contra-rotating propellers fitted to the nose of the aircraft. The engines exhausted from oblong ports along the sides of the fuselage, just above and aft of the wing trailing edges. The aircraft could be flown on just one engine in the event of a failure or to conserve fuel and could also operate with kerosene or diesel fuel as opposed to the more volatile high-octane fuel common to carrier piston engine aircraft of the time. The initial crew complement included the pilot, seated in the forward cockpit, and an observer, seated in a rear cockpit just aft of the pilot. Like the Blackburn design, the Fairey 17 also sported a retractable radome assembly under the base of the tail and an internal bomb bay compartment under the fuselage. The wings were cranked upwards outboard of the main landing gear legs. As the design was intended to be fielded from British carriers, the wings were designed to fold for optimal storage space; the assemblies took on a very distinct "Z" shape as a result, folding at two hinged locations and effectively "stacking" the wing vertically upon itself. The nose landing gear leg of the tricycle undercarriage gave the aircraft a distinct "nose up" appearance when at rest.

After the prototype was developed, the design was slightly revised to include a third crewmember as an additional observer. This added a third segregated cockpit to the layout, set just aft of amidships behind the wing yet ahead of the tail assembly. Of course this addition was not without effect and it was found to disrupted the airflow along the stabilizers on the tail forcing the use of small "finlets" along the fuselage sides aft of the wing assemblies to counter the issue. First flight of the Fairey 17 occurred on September 19th, 1949. On June 19th, 1950, the prototype made her first evaluation landing on the deck of the HMS Illustrious carrier. Content with the results, British authorities ordered the type for production as the Fairey "Gannet" AS Mark 1 (AS.Mk I) before the end of 1953. Deliveries of the first 100 aircraft began in April of 1954. That same year, a modified trainer variant was flown and accepted, entering service in 1955 as the T Mark 2 (T.Mk II). The first Gannet squadron for the Fleet Air Arm became 826 NAS, stationed on the HMS Eagle.
Production ran from 1953 until 1959 to which 348 examples were ultimately delivered by Fairey.

The AS Mark 1 (AS.Mk I) was the primary 3-seat production model of which 180 examples were built. The T Mark 2 (T.Mk II) became the primary training variant of the AS 1 production model. 35 of this type were produced. The AS Mark 4 (AS.Mk 4) soldiered on as an improved anti-submarine platform with a revised engine featuring greater output and was essentially the 170th production model onwards of the AS.Mk I. Eighty-two examples were produced. The COD Mark 4 (COD.Mk 4) were AS.Mk 4 production models revised for use as carrier-based transport aircraft. The T Mark 5 (T.Mk 5) was the trainer version of the AS.Mk 4 production model though only eight of this type were delivered. The A.Mk 6 were AS.Mk 4 models fitted with new and improved radar systems and revised electronics. The ECM.Mk 6 was an electronic countermeasures (ECM) land-based Gannet variant. The last production Gannet became the AEW.Mk 3 utilized by the Royal Navy as an airborne early warning (AEW) platform beginning in 1958. Forty-four examples of this type were ultimately built with first flight recorded on August of 1958. AEW.Mk 3 equipped four flights of No. 849 Squadron.

By the middle of the 1960s, the Fairey Gannet series - and its respective tasks - was being replaced by the Westland Whirlwind series of land- and carrier-based helicopters. The primary role of the Gannet now shifted wholly to use as electronic countermeasures platforms while some were revised as dedicated transports for passengers and cargo alike. It was about this time that the system was purchased by foreign parties including Australia, West Germany and Indonesia. The last of the Fairey Gannets was retired for good on December 15th, 1978, ending her long, yet useful, tenure for multiple naval parties.

The largest operator of the Fairey Gannet was the Fleet Air Arm of the British Royal Navy. The type was fielded through 700, 703, 703X, 719, 724, 725, 737, 744, 796, 810, 812, 814, 815, 816, 817, 820, 824, 825, 826, 831, 847, 849 Naval Air Squadrons. There was also B Flight on the HMS Ark Royal and D Flight on the HMS Eagle as well as the 1840 Naval Air Squadron of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

The Fairey Gannet was operated by the 724, 725, 816 and 817 squadrons of the Royal Australian Navy. The German Navy also operated the type with Marinefliegergeschwader 2 and Marinefliegergeschwader 3 up until 1963 and 1966 respectively. The aircraft was purchased in small quantities by the Indonesian Navy as well.




General Assessment (BETA)
Firepower  
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Performance  
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Survivability  
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Versatility  
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Impact  
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Rating: 76 (of 100)
The rating is an internal assessment derived from forty factors pertaining to this entry.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (300mph).

    Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
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  MOS
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  TOK
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  LAX
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  NYC
Graph showcases the Fairey Gannet AS Mark 4's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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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
348
348


  * 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: 1953
Type: Anti-Submarine Warfare Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Fairey Aviation Company - UK
Production: 348
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
Australia; West Germany; Indonesia; 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 Gannet AS Mark 4 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
3


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
43.01 ft


Meters
13.11 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
54.36 ft


Meters
16.57 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
13.68 ft


Meters
4.17 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
14,528 lb


Kilograms
6,590 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
22,487 lb


Kilograms
10,200 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Armstrong Siddeley Double Mamba ASMD.3 turboprop engine developing 3,145 horsepower.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
300 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
482 kph


Knots
260 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
944 mi


Kilometers
1,520 km


Nautical Miles
821 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
21,982 ft


Meters
6,700 m


Miles
4.16 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
310 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
94 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft air-to-surface missile
Graphical image of aircraft aerial rockets
Graphical image of an aircraft aerial torpedo
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (2):

Mission-specific. Up to 2,850lbs of internal and external stores including:

2 x Torpedoes (held internally)
16 x 60lb air-to-surface rockets
Conventional Drop Bombs
Depth Charges
Variants: Series Model Variants
• Gannet AS.Mk I - Anti-Submarine Model; 180 examples produced.
• Gannet T.Mk II - Trainer Model based on the AS Mark 1 production model; 35 examples produced.
• Gannet AEW.Mk 3 - Airborne Early Warning aircraft platform; 44 examples produced; Royal Navy use.
• Gannet AS.Mk 4 - Anti-Submarine Model; improved performance from new engine; 82 examples produced.
• Gannet COD.Mk 4 - Passenger/Cargo Transport based on AS Mark 4 models.
• Gannet T.Mk 5 - Trainer Model based on the AS Mark 4 production model; 8 examples produced.
• Gannet AS.Mk 6 - Improved Gannets fitting new electronics and radar systems; limited production.
• Gannet ECM.Mk 6 - Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) Model; lad-based Gannets.