Bristol Beaufighter
Bristol Beaufighter MB-T in RAF markings


Built as a company-funded long-range fighter (using major components from the earlier Beaufort torpedo-bomber), the prototype Beaufighter first flew on 17 July,1939. The Beaufighter was designed as a long-range heavy fighter, with many components in common with the Bristol Beaufort torpedo bomber. It saw service as a night fighter, a torpedo bomber, a ground attack fighter and an anti-shipping aircraft. By September 1945 a total of 5,928 had been built in a variety of models and many continued in front-line service into the end of 1950s. 364 were built in Australia.
A total of 116 were delivered to the Fleet Air Arm by the end of WW2. Various transfers from RAF as Beafighter Mk II (99), and Mark X (21). Many of the aircraft were sent to RN South Africa RNARY Wingfield (esp June 1944) and to Gibraltar, RNARY Coimbatore, and to Ta Kali. One major mishap occured when V8187 at RAF Blida was shot down by two USAAF spitfires on 27.8.43.
With RAF, Royal Navy, Australian Navy

                    "Beaufighter" Mk.I : first production version
                    "Beaufighter" Mk.IC : maritime patrol aircraft
                    "Beaufighter" Mk.IF : night fighter
                    "Beaufighter" Mk.II : Rolls-Royce "Merlin" XX engines
                    "Beaufighter" Mk.III : experimental version with three tail fins
                    "Beaufighter" Mk.IV : Mk.III with Rolls-Royce engines
                    "Beaufighter" Mk.V : Mk.II with Boulton-Paul four-gun turret, 2 built
                    "Beaufighter" Mk.VI : upgraded engines, larger fuel tanks, reduced armament
                    "Beaufighter" Mk.VII : proposed engine upgrade and four-blade propellers, no aircraft built
                    "Beaufighter" Mk.VIII : name reserved for Australian-built aircraft, never used
                    "Beaufighter" Mk.IX : name reserved for Australian-built aircraft, never used
                    "Beaufighter" Mk.X : torpedo bomber
                    "Beaufighter" Mk.XI : Mk.VI maritime patrol
                    "Beaufighter" Mk.XII : proposed engine upgrade, support for drop tanks, no aircraft built
                    "Beaufighter" Mk.XXI : Australian-built Mk.X

            Fleet Air Arm history

            Total FAA 1939-1945:        116
            First delivered to RN:          1943. to RNDA 46 MU 4.43 (R2462)
            First squadron 1939-1945:    7.43 to 781 sqdn at Lee (779 sqdn Gibraltar 8.43 (T3087)
                                                    12.43 to 789 sqdn at Wingfield
            Operational squadron:           None
            Last with RN                      Post war. NV483 in 728 sqdn at Hal Far June 1946

Beaufighter prototype R2052

Aircraft Type:
Bristol Beaufighter 
II and X
Primary Role:
Long-range heavy attack/fighter, night fighter, torpedo bomber
First Flight: 
Prototype 17.7.1939
Date operating with FAA squadrons:
Bristol Aeroplane Company, Weston-super-Mare
Two 1,770 hp Bristol Hercules XVII radial engines 
 Wing Span: Length: Height: Wing Area: 
Wingspan: 17.65 m
Length: 12.70 m
Empty Weight: Max.Weight:
Weight: 11460 kg



Max. speed: 485 km/h 
Ceiling: 4580 m
Range: 2350 km
Four 20mm Hispano cannon, 1x 7.7mm machine gun (fighters - Four cannon, six machine gun); 728 kg torpedo or two 454 kg bomb or eight rockets
Battle honours:
None with FAA
Additional references and notes:
Aviation History Online Museum and the Beaufighter

Battle Honours and Operational History

            No Battle Honours with the Fleet Air Arm.

Wartime colour photograph of Beaufighter Beaufighter 1F V8318 'F-Freddie' of No 252
                Squadron moves out at Magrun. Desert Air Force April1943

During its RAF operational career, in addition to operations in Europe, the Beaufighter also served in the Middle East and Far East. It played a prime role in defeating the Luftwaffe's night "blitz" of 1940-1941, and it operated in every major campaign of the war, carrying out the last operational sortie of the European war, a strike against German shipping in the Skagerrak, and serving with distinction in the Pacific until the capitulation of Japan.

Surviving aircraft and relics

Only a few Beaufighters have survived, and none are in Fleet Air Arm markings. There are  complete aircraft or cockpits in the following Museums:  Midland Air Museum (UK), RAF Museum (UK), Museum of Flight , East Fortune (UK),  National Aviation Museum (Canada), Fighter Collection Duxford (UK) and the Museo Do Ar, Alverca do Ribatejo (Portugal). The most recent was Beaufighter TF.10 RD220 delivered to the Museum of Flight, East Fortune (UK) in 2000 from the SAAF Museum (South Africa).

RAF Museum (UK): Bristol Beaufighter Mark: Mk X Serial No.: RD253/7931M

Bristol Beaufighter JM135/A19-144

The preserved Beaufighter under restoration at the Fighter Collection Duxford (UK) is a composite of two centre sections and fuselages which were recovered from Drysdale in Australia and moved to Sydney. They were reputedly from A19-144 (JM135) & A19-148 (JL946) which were both Beafighter Mk.II aircraft.

Associations and reunions
Beaufighter squadrons website
Beaufighter squadrons including the Fleet Air Arm squadrons 721, 723, 775, 779 and 789 Home, The Beau, In Service, The Crews, Chronology, Restoration, Photographs, Models & Flight Simulators
Aviation History Online Museum and the Beaufighter Details and history of the Beaufighter 
Rick Kent's Profiles Camouflage and markings of Bristol Beaufighter Part 1
Aircraft Profiles by FAUCONBERG AEROGRAPHICS An A-Z of Aircraft Profiles including BRISTOL BEAUFIGHTER T.F. Mk. X, 489 Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force, Dallachy, Morayshire, May 1945
Olivier warbirds, Le site sur l'aviation de la Seconde guerre mondiale Details of the Beaufighter [in french]
Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995) 'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to1945'  Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1995 ISBN: 0 85130 232 7 
Created 3-4-1999, Modified 3-4-2000


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