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Fairey Campania

Carrierborne Reconnaissance and Patrol Aircraft

Fairey Campania

Carrierborne Reconnaissance and Patrol Aircraft


The Fairey Campania was the first purposely built carrier aircraft in the world.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United Kingdom
YEAR: 1917
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Fairey Aviation - UK
OPERATORS: United Kingdom

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Fairey Campania F.22 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 43.01 feet (13.11 meters)
WIDTH: 61.58 feet (18.77 meters)
HEIGHT: 15.06 feet (4.59 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 3,748 pounds (1,700 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 5,291 pounds (2,400 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Sunbeam Maori II V12 liquid-cooled engine developing 260 horsepower.
SPEED (MAX): 85 miles-per-hour (137 kilometers-per-hour; 74 knots)
RANGE: 373 miles (600 kilometers; 324 nautical miles)
CEILING: 6,562 feet (2,000 meters; 1.24 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 285 feet-per-minute (87 meters-per-minute)

1 x 7.7mm Lewis machine gun on trainable mount in rear cockpit.

6 x 116lbs underfuselage and underwings
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun

Series Model Variants
• F.16 - Fitted with Rolls-Royce Eagle IV engine of 250 horsepower.
• F.17 - Fitted with Rolls-Royce Eagle III engine of 345 horsepower or Rolls-Royce Eagle V engine of 275 horsepower.
• F.22 - Fitted with Sunbeam Maori II engine of 260 horsepower.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Fairey Campania Carrierborne Reconnaissance and Patrol Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 4/3/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The British became big proponents and pioneers of naval aviation during World War 1. War had broken out in Europe during the summer of 1914 to which old alliances and treaties came into play, pitting colonial powerhouse against colonial powerhouse. The British eventually declared war on the German Empire and became a part of the Triple Entente alongside France and Russia to combat the likes of the Central Powers made up of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire. As in any wartime economy, business began a rapid climb and technology raced to offer solutions to the problems of war. The World War eventually produced chemical warfare, the flamethrower, the fighter aircraft, the bomber aircraft and the aircraft carrier among other notably deadly developments. Before the advent of the aircraft carrier, however, there was the "seaplane tender" - vessels usually converted from existing hulls to service floatplane aircraft at sea. This involved the aircraft being lowered onto the water for take-off by crane and being collected upon its return in similar fashion. While the method proved sound up to a point, it made the host ship quite vulnerable during the process - which eventually led to the development of purpose-built aircraft carriers themselves.

The first Royal Navy seaplane tender became the experimental HMS Hermes of 1913 and this was based on an existing cruiser type naval warship dating back to 1898. The vessel was lost to an enemy torpedo in October of 1914. It was not until the commissioning of the HMS Ark Royal in December of that year that the Royal Navy claimed their first "true" aircraft carrier. From then on, the Royal Navy offered up a steady stream of vessels being converted to service different aircraft types and ultimately provided for a long range "reach" against enemies in whatever region they were called to.

In the early phases of the war, the seaplane tenders HMS Engadine (1911), HMS Empress (1914) and HMS Rivera were used in battle with their small fleet of seaplane aircraft. The first naval aviation raid was recorded on December 25th, 1914 when Royal Navy aircraft bombed a Zeppelin hold outside of Cuxhaven. The HMS Engadine also took part in the later Battle of Jutland near Denmark. The HMS Vindex was responsible for the first-ever launching of a land-based fighter when a Bristol Scout C biplane was sent forward from her deck. A Short Type 184 biplane seaplane bomber from the HMS Ben-My-Chree (a former passenger ferry) took part in the first-ever successful torpedo run from an aircraft. In 1914, the Royal Navy acquired the Campania, an aged ocean liner that was converted into a seaplane tender and served in this fashion until 1916.

In 1916, the Royal Navy revised the HMS Campania to include a 200 foot flight deck to which a purpose-built naval aircraft for patrol and reconnaissance was ordered. This fell to the Fairey concern which was founded in 1915 and, to this point, had been largely involved in contract production of various aircraft types. Fairey responded with the F.16 prototype which was a two-seat, single-engine biplane aircraft powered by a Rolls-Royce Eagle IV engine of 250 horsepower. Construction was traditional with a strong wood understructure with canvas skin covering. The undercarriage was made up of a pair of floatplanes for water take-off and landings but a jettisonable wheeled dolly was devised to be used for deck take-offs from equipped ships. Defense was via a 7.7mm Lewis machine gun in a flexible ring mount in the rear cockpit while a bomb load of up to 6 x 116lb bombs could be carried. The F.16 was followed by the F.17 prototype with its Rolls-Royce Eagle V engine of 275 horsepower. These two aircraft were utilized in limited operational service prior to the type seeing acceptance with the Royal Navy. The definitive production mark, therefore, became the F.22 with its Sunbeam Maori II engine of 260 horsepower. 170 of the type were on order and production would be split between Fairey, Barclay Curie and Company and Frederick Sage and Company/Sunbeam Motor Car Company.

As the HMS Campania was completed, she received her new Fairey aircraft to which the name of "Campania" became associated with the type. From then on, the "Fairey Campania" went on to stock the HMS Nairana and HMS Pegasus in turn (though the HMS Campania was the only vessel of the three to be finished with a flight deck - the others left to operate their aircraft by winch as normal). The Royal Air Force also stocked the aircraft type through No. 240, 241 and 253 Squadrons.

Fairey Campanias were utilized as spotting aircraft throughout the rest of the war which ended in November of 1918 with the Armistice. In the years following, the British used the Fairey Campania to identify naval mines along the English coast while its service career was rather nondescript. Some British Fairey Campanias also served in the war against the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution though, by August of 1919, the aircraft had met its technological end and was formally retired from service. The HMS Campania herself was lost in November of 1918 to a storm in the Fifth of Forth, bringing an end to her career as well.

Despite the 170 Fairey Campanias on order, only 62 were completed in all and 42 of these were available at the time of the Armistice.


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
Hi: 100mph
Lo: 50mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (85mph).

Graph average of 75 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Fairey Campania F.22'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 (62)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
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
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.

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