Bristol Beaufighter

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Bristol Beaufighter
Bristol Beaufighter.jpg
Beaufighter Mk X of No. 404 Squadron RCAF
Bristol Beaufighter 2.jpg
Type Multi role aircraft
Role Night fighter, torpedo bomber, ground attack
Designer Roy Fedden
Manufacturer Bristol Aeroplane Company
Produced UK, Australia
Number built 5,928
Primary users RAF, RCAF, RAAF
In service 27 Jul 1940
Out of service 1960 in both UK and Australia


The Beaufighter saw extensive service during the war with the RAF (59 squadrons), Fleet Air Arm (15 squadrons), RAAF (seven squadrons), Royal Canadian Air Force (four squadrons), United States Army Air Forces (four squadrons), Royal New Zealand Air Force (two squadrons), South African Air Force (two squadrons) and the Free Polish Air Force; one squadron. Over time 14 variants were built.

The first production Beaufighter was delivered to the RAF on 12 Aug 1940, and on 17/18 Sep 1940 Beaufighters from No. 29 Squadron conducted their first night patrol. Initial production deliveries of the Beaufighter lacked the radar for night fighter operations; these were installed during late 1940. In late Apr 1941 Mk II aircraft were delivered to operational squadrons and to the Fleet Air Arm, and the Mk VIF to squadrons in March 1942. Early US Squadrons in the Mediterranean were equipped with a hundred Beaufighters supplied while they awaited a US built fighter. In the Pacific Theatre it became known as "whispering death" by the Japanese due to its quiet engines, and it also operated out of India as a night fighter and as ground attack in Burma

Beaufighter Mk 21 - The Australian-made DAP Beaufighter. Changes included Hercules XVII engines, four 20 mm cannons in the nose, four Browning .50 in (12.7 mm) in the wings and the capacity to carry eight 5 in (130 mm) High Velocity Aircraft Rockets, two 250 lb (110 kg) bombs, two 500 lb (230 kg) bombs and one Mk 13 torpedo. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) made extensive use of the type as an anti-shipping aircraft, such as during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea.

General characteristics

  • Crew: Two - pilot, observor
  • Length: 12.60 m
  • Wingspan: 17.63 m
  • Height: 4.83 m
  • Empty weight: 7,072 kg
  • Max takeoff weight: 11,521 kg
  • Powerplant: 2 x Bristol Hercules XVII or XVIII 14 cylinder engines
  • Maximum speed: 510 km/h
  • Range: 2,820 km
  • Service ceiling: 5,800 m
  • Armament
  • Guns: 4 x 20mm Hispano MkII cannon in nose; 1 x manually operated .303 Browning Machine Gun
  • Rockets: 8 x 60 kg rockets
  • Bombs: 2 x 110 kg bombs or 1 x Mark XIII Torpedo

Crew members

No. 54 Operational Training Unit RAF

No 153 Squadron RAF

No. 256 Squadron RAF

Ground Crew

No. 30 Squadron RAAF

No. 31 Squadron RAAF