Firey Firefly (1943)

RNAS/FAA 1,702 built.
The Fairey Firefly was a Second World War-era carrier-borne fighter/ASW aircraft operated mainly by Fleet Air Arm (FAA), developed and built by the Fairey Aviation Company. Its development was traced back to specifications by the British Air Ministry in 1938, as the need for naval fighters was an emergency. However the versatility asked for models tailored for reduced armoured carriers asked for a two-seat reconnaissance/fighter, to succeed its predecessor, the 1940 Fulmar. However its protracted development make it enter service in 1943 and up to 1945, but paled as a fighter. But it proved sturdy, long-ranged, docile, well tailored for carrier operations.

Post in writing, completion in 2024



General conception



⚙ Fairey Firefly specifications

Gross Weight9,674 lb (4,388 kg)/12,727 lb (5,773 kg)
Max Takeoff weight
Lenght37 ft 11 in (11.56 m)
Wingspan41 ft 2 in (12.55 m)
Wings folded13 ft 6 in (4.11 m)
Height14 ft 4 in (4.37 m)
Wing Area330 sq ft (31 m2)
EngineRR Griffon 74 V-12 LC piston engine 2,300 hp (1,700 kW) TO
Top Speed, sea level367–386 mph (591–621 km/h, 319–335 kn) at 14,000 ft (4,300 m)
Cruise Speed209 mph (336 km/h, 182 kn)
Range760 mi (1,220 km, 660 nmi) on internal fuel at 209 mph (182 kn; 336 km/h)
Climb Rate5,000 ft (1,500 m) 3 minutes 36 seconds
Ceiling31,900 ft (9,700 m)
Armament4× 20 mm HS Mk.V, 16x RP-3 60 lb rockets, 2x 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs


United Kingdom - Fleet Air Arm.
Used for ASW until 1956, replaced by the Fairey Gannet. Used by the 700, 703, 706, 719, 723, 724, 725, 728B, 730, 731, 732, 736, 737, 741, 744, 746, 748, 750, 751, 759, 764, 765, 766, 767, 768, 771, 772, 778, 780, 781, 782, 783, 784, 790, 792, 794, 795, 796, 798, 799, 804, 805, 810, 812, 813, 814, 816, 817, 820, 821, 822, 824, 825, 826, 827, 837, 851 Naval Air Squadrons.

Australia RAN/FAA.
No. 723, 724, 725, 816, 817, 851 Squadron RAN adn the Aircraft Research and Development Unit (T.5 VX373 1953).

Royal Canadian Navy: 825, 826 Squadron RCN and the Heavier-than-air Experimental Air Squadron VX-10, RCN

Royal Danish Air Force

Ethiopian Air Force

Royal Netherlands Navy, Dutch Naval Aviation Service. VSQ-1,2,4,5,7,VSQ-860

Indian Navy, Indian Naval Air Arm, surplus airplanes from 1955 onwards, used for target tugging.

Svensk Flygtjänst AB. Bromma Airport: 19 TT.1 aircraft used between 31 January 1949 and 17 October 1963.

Royal Thai Air Force operated Fireflies between 1952 and 1966 as well as the Royal Thai Navy.


Firefly I / FR.I

Two variants of the Mk I Firefly were built; 429 "fighter" "Firefly F Mk I"s, built by Fairey and General Aircraft Ltd, and 376 "fighter/reconnaissance" Firefly "FR Mk I"s (which were fitted with the ASH detection radar). The last 334 Mk Is built were upgraded with the 1,765 hp (1,316 kW) Griffon XII engine.

Firefly T.3

Observer trainer of 1841 Squadron in 1952

Firefly T.7

trainer with wings folded in 1953

Firefly T.Mk 1

Firefly Mk IV

Preserved Firefly AS.6 demonstrating in Korean War-style markings

Firefly AS.Mk7


Firefly U.9

Drone aircraft in 1959

Firefly NF.Mk II

Only 37 Mk II Fireflies were built, all of which were night fighter Firefly NF Mk IIs. They had a slightly longer fuselage than the Mk I and had modifications to house their airborne interception (AI) radar.

Firefly NF.Mk I

The NF.II was superseded by the Firefly NF Mk I "night fighter" variant.

Firefly T.Mk 1

Twin-cockpit pilot training aircraft. Post-war conversion of the Firefly Mk I.

Firefly T.Mk 2

Twin-cockpit armed operational training aircraft. Post-war conversion of the Firefly Mk I.

Firefly T.Mk 3

Used for Anti-submarine warfare training of observers. Postwar conversion of the Firefly Mk I.

Firefly TT.Mk I

Postwar, a small number of Firefly Mk Is were converted into target tug aircraft.

Firefly Mk III

Proposal based on the Griffon 61 engine, but never entered production.

Firefly Mk IV

The Firefly Mk IV was equipped with the 2,330 hp (1,740 kW) Griffon 72 engine and first flew in 1944, but did not enter service until after the end of the war.

Firefly FR.Mk 4

Fighter-reconnaissance version based on the Firefly Mk IV.

Firefly Mk 5/NF.Mk 5

Day and Night fighter version based on the Firefly Mk 5.

Firefly FR.Mk 5

Fighter-reconnaissance version based on the Firefly Mk 5.

Firefly AS.Mk 5

The later Firefly AS.Mk 5 was an anti-submarine aircraft, which carried American sonobuoys and equipment.

Firefly Mk 6/AS.Mk 6

The Firefly AS.Mk 6 was an anti-submarine aircraft, which carried British equipment.

Firefly TT.Mk 4/5/6

Small numbers of AS.4/5/6s were converted into target tug aircraft.

Firefly AS.Mk 7

The Firefly AS.Mk 7 was an anti-submarine aircraft, powered by a Rolls-Royce Griffon 59 piston engine.

Firefly T.Mk 7

The Firefly T.Mk 7 was an interim ASW training aircraft.

Firefly U.Mk 8

The Firefly U.Mk 8 was a target drone aircraft; 34 Firefly T.7s were diverted on the production line for completion as target drones.

Firefly U.Mk 9

The Firefly U.Mk 9 was a target drone aircraft; 40 existing Firefly Mk AS.4 and AS.5 aircraft were converted to this role.


Links and resources


Author's illustrations: Types and liveries

Additional photos



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