|Manufacturer||Bristol Aeroplane Company|
|Primary Role||Heavy Fighter|
|Maiden Flight||17 July 1939|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseThe first Beaufighter took flight on 17 Jul 1939 as a response to the British Air Ministry's specification F.11/37 and F.11/39 that called for a durable long range fighter. Fighters of this new design were modified from an earlier Beaufort torpedo bomber design, with very similar appearances. Once in production, these fighters were heavy and slow (though rather maneuverable), but with the ample space for radar, they made excellent night fighters to counter German night time bombing raids. The Beaufighters were also operated by member nations of the British Commonwealth; some made their way to the United States Army as well. A total of 5,564 Beaufighters were built in Britain, and 364 more were built in Australia. Some later versions returned to their Beaufort roots and were equipped as torpedo bombers.
Last Major Revision: Apr 2006
|17 Jul 1939||Bristol Beaufighter multi-role aircraft took its first flight.|
|27 Jul 1940||The first five Beaufighter IF fighters were handed over to the RAF for evaluation.|
|3 Aug 1940||A second batch of five Beaufighter IF fighters were handed over to the RAF for evaluation.|
|2 Sep 1940||No. 25 and 29 Squadrons RAF each received their first Beaufighter fighters.|
|17 Sep 1940||No. 29 Squadron RAF became fully operational with the Beaufighter IF fighters. Meanwhile two more Squadrons (Nos. 600 and 640) were working up with the type.|
|11 Nov 1940||No. 640 Squadron RAF recorded the first Beaufighter "kill" when a German Ju 88A aircraft was shot down with the aid of the A.I.IV radar.|
|7 Dec 1940||The 100th Beaufighter aircraft rolled off the production line at Filton, South Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom.|
|7 Feb 1941||The first Beaufighter IF fighter (T4623) built at the Fairey factory in Stockport near Manchester, England, United Kingdom made its maiden flight.|
|20 Feb 1941||The first Beaufighter IF figher (X7540) built at Bristol's new factory at Weston-super-Mare, England, United Kingdom was completed.|
|22 Mar 1941||The first production Beaufighter IIF fighter (R2270) with 1,280 hp Merlin XX engines was completed.|
|10 May 1941||The 200th Beaufighter aircraft was completed.|
|4 Apr 1943||No. 254 Squadron of Coastal Command achieved its first success against enemy shipping using torpedo carrying Beaufighter aircraft.|
|26 May 1944||The first Australian-built Beaufighter Mk.21 aircraft (A8) made its maiden flight. 364 aircraft would be built by the Mascot and Fishermen's Bend factories by the end of 1945.|
|21 Sep 1945||The last Beaufighter aircraft (SR919) to be built in the United Kingdom rolled off the production line, bringing total British production to 5,526 machines.|
|12 May 1960||The last Beaufighter TF.Mk.10 aircraft were retired from British service at RAF Seletar in Singapore.|
|Machinery||Two Bristol Hercules XVII 14-cylinder radial engines rated at 1,770hp each|
|Armament||4x20mm Hispano cannons, 1x0.303in Vickers K, optional 6x0.303in Brownings, optional 1x728kg torpedo, optional 8x rockets or 2x1000lb bombs|
|Weight, Empty||7,100 kg|
|Weight, Loaded||11,530 kg|
|Speed, Maximum||528 km/h|
|Service Ceiling||9,144 m|
|Range, Normal||2,478 km|
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Visitor Submitted Comments
27 Jan 2008 01:12:32 AM
In January 1943 RAF Coastal Command wrote to the Air Ministry requesting a reduction in the number of operations needed by air crew to complete a tour of duty. They had calculated that only 40 percent of Air-crew survived to the end of their Tour and wanted to increase the survival rate to 50 percent. THe situation was far worse in the Beaufighter squadrons, whose task it was to prevent the Luftwaffe from attacking coastal convoys. Here the percentage survival rate was a mere 7 percent.
26 Jul 2011 07:14:37 AM
"Cat's Eyes" John Cunningham achieved 20 of his 28 night victories flying a Beaufighter of No. 604 Squadron.
2 Aug 2011 12:45:19 PM
Are there any photographs of the Beaufighter with Merlin engines? I've never seen one actually.
22 Mar 2012 05:58:34 AM
There is one on page 77 (pic 62) Fighting Colours 1937-1975 by Michael AF Bowyer. The aircraft concerned is the first production MkII R2270
13 Nov 2013 12:44:02 AM
640 squadron never flew the Beaufighter, it was a Halifax squadron which did not form until much later in the war
Please correct this inaccuracy
28 Feb 2015 11:56:12 PM
Need to find the reference now, but Guy Gibson served for a time in a NF squadron eqipped with Beaufighters. The squadron almost went on strike because the pilots had convinced themselves the plane was dangerous.
Then another Beau came in, made a perfect 3-point landing which drew comments about "the brass". Strangely, those comments died and the Squadron never did go on strike when the female ATA pilot climbed out the cockpit...
2 Oct 2016 07:59:48 AM
Bristol Hercules XVII 14-cylinder radial engines were rated at 1,725hp
They were fitted to Marks X & XI
10 Sep 2018 04:58:31 PM
Correction to your timeline comment under 26 May 1944. You have incorrectly indicated the RAAF Aircraft Designation ('A' number) for the Beaufighter 21 to be 'A9'. this should be 'A8'. The RAAF used 'A19' for its British built Beaufighters (1C, VIC, X & XIC) and 'A9' was used for the locally produced DAP Beaufort MK.XIII and DAP Beaufreighter Mk.IX. Hope this assists.
11 Sep 2018 05:33:02 AM
Sharpie, the correct has been made, thank you for pointing this out to us.
28 Jul 2019 12:53:22 AM
The Australian built was the best version of this magnificent Aircraft and had better fire power
2 Feb 2021 07:35:00 AM
later vareants had 8 7.7 milimeter machine guns
27 Jul 2021 10:37:06 PM
The Australian mk21 was armed with 20mm cannons and .50 cal machine guns plus rockets and or bombs as required. It was indeed a war weapon and the Japanese hated them.
All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.
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Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939
21 Sep 2007 04:34:20 AM
The Beaufighter Mk.II was actually powered by Rolls-Royce Merlin XX engines in order to preserve the supply of Hercules engines for the Short Stirling heavy bomber.