DescriptionThe Bristol Type 156 Beaufighter (often called the Beau) was a multi-role aircraft developed during the Second World War by the Bristol Aeroplane Company in the UK.
It was originally conceived as a heavy fighter variant of the Bristol Beaufort torpedo bomber. The Beaufighter proved to be an effective night fighter, which came into service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the Battle of Britain, its large size allowing it to carry heavy armament and early airborne interception radar without major performance penalties.
The Beaufighter was used in many roles; receiving the nicknames Rockbeau for its use as a rocket-armed ground attack aircraft and Torbeau as a torpedo bomber against Axis shipping, in which it replaced the Beaufort. In later operations, it served mainly as a maritime strike/ground attack aircraft, RAF Coastal Command having operated the largest number of Beaufighters amongst all other commands at one point. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) also made extensive use of the type as an anti-shipping aircraft, such as during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea.
Although the RAAF number A7 was allocated through 1926–46 and the Beaufort became A9 in 1941, the prefix A8 was not used until 1944 when the Department of Aircraft Production (DAP) Beaufighter Mk 21 joined the RAAF. This anomaly came about when the numbers A8 to A12 were reserved in the late 1930s, because aircraft such as the Series 1 A11 Southampton and A12 Bulldog were still in service.
The first DAP Beaufighter was flown on 26 May 1944 and, five days later, the aircraft was taken over by the RAAF. As production mounted in the Fishermens Bend and Mascot factories, the Australian A8 Beaufighter began to replace the British A19 Beaufighter. The smooth-running sleeve-valve engine and the devastating fire-power of cannon rockets and machine-guns had already earned the Beaufighter the nickname "Whispering Death" and the Australian version continued to wreak great havoc throughout New Guinea, the Celebes and the Philippines. The aircraft served with Nos 22, 30, 31, 92 and 93 Squadrons, and when production ceased at the end of 1945, a total of 364 DAP Beaufighters had been built.
- 12.70 m (44 ft 8 in)
- 17.63 m (57 ft 10 in)
- 4.82 m (15 ft 9 in)
- Wing Area:
- 503 sq ft (46.7 sq m)
- Empty Weight:
- 7076 kg (15 600 lb)
- Loaded 11 521 kg (25 150 lb)
- Fuel Capacity:
- 550 imp gal (660 US gal; 2,500 l) normal internal fuel
- Two 1725hp Bristol Hercules XVIII radial engines
- Maximum speed 515 km/h (278 kt)
- 2365 km (1277 nm)
- Rate of Climb:
- 1,600 ft/min (8.1 m/s). 35 mins to 5,000 ft (1524 m)
- Service Ceiling:
- 19,000 ft (5791 m)