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Fairey Fulmar

United Kingdom (1940)
Picture of Fairey Fulmar Carrier-Borne Fighter / Fighter-Bomber

The Fairey Fulmar served through 600 examples and these solely with the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm during the early part of World War 2.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Fairey Fulmar Carrier-Borne Fighter / Fighter-Bomber.  Entry last updated on 8/5/2016. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The Fairey Fulmar became the British Fleet Air Arm's first dedicated monoplane fighter when it was introduced in 1940. The type proved a critical component of the early British response during World War 2 (1939-1945) with some 600 produced and fielded extensively during the first three years of the conflict, showcasing itself no better than simply adequate. It was not until more capable carrier-based types such as the Martlet (Grumman F4F Wildcat), Sea Hurricane and Sea Spitfire came around that the Fulmar had see her best days behind her. Design of the Fulmar was attributed to Marcel Lobelle, a Belgian aviation engineer having relocated to Britain. Lobelle had a hand in developing several other notable Fairey products including the Firefly, Fox, Firefly II, Swordfish, Battle, Albacore and Barracuda.

The Fulmar emerged from an earlier Fairey design known as the P.4/34. This was a light bomber designed by Lobelle and first flown on January 13th, 1937. However, the type was not selected for production and totaled just two prototypes. It was this design, however, that would go on to form the basis of the Fulmar through Specification O.8/38. The Fulmar prototype competed successfully against submissions from Hawker and Gloster, first flying on January 4th, 1940. Formal introduction occurred on May 10th, 1940 and production spanned from 1940 to 1943.

In practice, the Fulmar performed below expectations, powered by the same single engine installation as the competing Hawker Hurricane. To this sole engine installation was added heavier and dimensionally larger airframe than the Hurricane which further reduced the type's potency as a quick and nimble fighter. It carried a two-man crew, seated in line under a long-running greenhouse style canopy, and the engine was conventionally fitted at the front, driving a three-bladed propeller assembly. The aft portion of the fuselage was tapered and fitted a typical tail unit with single vertical fin. Wings were low-set monoplanes with rounded tips, capable of folding rearwards against the fuselage sides for storage. The undercarriage was made up of two main legs and a tail wheel. An arrestor hook allowed for short runway landings on carrier decks. Armament was 8 x 7.7mm Browning machine guns, four to a wing. An optional, trainable, 7.7mm Vickers K machine gun could be fitted for the rear crewman. 2 x 100lbs or 2 x 250lb bomb could be carried for strikes.

Fulmars were in the British inventory (Roayl Air Force No. 273 Squadron) during the 1940 "Battle of Britain" (July - October) though they were not pressed into fighting. In November, they began operating from the deck of HMS Illustrious to partake in the Battle of Taranto and additional stocks made their way to HMS Ark Royal and HMS Formidable. Formidable-based Fulmars were used against the Italian battleship Vittorio Veneto during the Battle of Cap Matapan. In 1942, Fulmars were sent to the Far East to defend against Japanese incursions threatening around the Indian Ocean and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). By this time, there totaled 127 Fulmar Mk I models.

To help bring more power to the line, the Fulmar Mk II was introduced during 1942 with its Rolls-Royce Merlin 30 V-12 engine of 1,260 horsepower. The aircraft now reached 272 miles per hour with a service ceiling up to 27,200 feet, a range out to 780 miles and a climb rate of 1,320 feet per minute. Despite this addition, Fulmar strength was limited and its capabilities as a fighter - especially when compared to the famous Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" carrier-based fighter - quickly shown the type outmoded. Fulmars managed a terrible service history against veteran Zero pilots of the Imperial Japanese Navy to the point that nearly all Fulmars were lost or disabled by the end.

The Royal Navy remained the sole operator of the Fairey Fulmar and the type was never exported. It stocked some 23 total squadrons for the Fleet Air Arm including several night squadrons.

Any available statistics for the Fairey Fulmar Carrier-Borne Fighter / Fighter-Bomber 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: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (272mph).

    Graph average of 225 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 Fulmar Mk II's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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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
600
600


  * 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: 1940
Type: Carrier-Borne Fighter / Fighter-Bomber
Manufacturer(s): Fairey Aviation Company - UK
Production: 600
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 Fulmar Mk II model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
2


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
40.19 ft


Meters
12.25 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
46.36 ft


Meters
14.13 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
14.01 ft


Meters
4.27 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
7,011 lb


Kilograms
3,180 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
9,700 lb


Kilograms
4,400 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Rolls-Royce Merlin 30 V12 liquid-cooled inline piston engine developing 1,300 horsepower.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
272 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
438 kph


Knots
237 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
780 mi


Kilometers
1,255 km


Nautical Miles
678 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
27,231 ft


Meters
8,300 m


Miles
5.16 mi

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (2):

STANDARD:
8 x 7.7mm Browning machine guns in wings

OPTIONAL:
1 x 7.7mm Vickers machine gun in rear cockpit

Up to 500lbs of external stores:
2 x 100lb drop bombs OR 2 x 250lb drop bombs
Variants: Series Model Variants
• Fulmar Mk I - Initial Production Models; 127 produced.
• Fulmar Mk II - Improved Fulmar with Rolls-Royce Merlin 30 engines; increased performance statistics throughout.