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Bristol Beaufort

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Bristol Beaufort
Bristol Beaufort
Description
RoleLight and torpedo bomber
CrewFour
First flightOctober 15, 1938
Entered serviceOctober 1939
ManufacturerBristol Aeroplane Company
Dimensions
Length44 ft 2 in13.46 m
Wingspan57 ft 10 in17.63 m
Height14 ft 3 in4.34 m
Wing area503 ft²46.73 m²
Weights
Empty13,107 lb5,945 kg
Loaded21,230 lb9,629 kg
Maximum takeofflbkg
Powerplant
Engines 2 xBristol Taurus VI 14-cylinder radial engines
Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp
Power 2 xBristol Taurus
 1,130 hp843 kW
 Twin Wasp
 1,200 hp kW
Performance
Maximum speedClean
 260 mph418 km/h
 With torpedo
 225 mph362 km/h
Combat range1,600 miles2,575 km
Ferry rangemileskm
Service ceiling16,500 ft5,030 m
Rate of climbft/minm/min
Armament
Guns3 x .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers K machine guns
(two in dorsal turret, one in port wing)
1 x .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine gun in rear-firing chin blister
Bombs2,000 lb907 kg
Other1,605 lb (728 kg) torpedo
Contents

General description

The Beaufort (Bristol Type 152) was a large torpedo bomber designed by the Bristol Aeroplane Company, and developed from the earlier Blenheim light bomber.

Beauforts were most widely used, until the end of the war, by the Royal Australian Air Force in the Pacific theatre. Most of these planes were manufactured under licence in Australia. Beauforts also saw service with the Royal Air Force's Coastal Command — including Commonwealth squadrons serving with the RAF — and then the Fleet Air Arm from 1940, until they were withdrawn in 1944.

Although the design looked similar in most ways to the Blenheim, it was in fact somewhat larger, and another crewmember was added (to make four), and it was considerably heavier. The weight proved too much for the Blenheim's Mercury engines, and so a switch to the larger Taurus engine was made. The Taurus proved to be a problem on the Beaufort, and overheating was a constant problem. This introduced delays into the production, so while the plane had first flown in October 1938 and should have been available almost immediately, it was not until December 1939 that production started in earnest, with service entry in August 1940.

A number of changes were introduced into the line, and after the 1014th had been delivered, all of these were collected into the new Mk.II. The Mk.II was different visibly primarily in the use of a flat bomb-aiming window under the nose. However it also included a second forward firing 0.303 in (7.7 mm) gun in the wing, a blister under the nose with a rearward firing gun, an improved dorsal turret with a newer Vickers K gun, an installation of the ASV Mk.II air-to-surface radar, removal of the Youngman trailing edges, retractable tailwheel, and improved airflow on some points of the aircraft. Performance, sadly, was not improved.

Oddly the first 165 of the Mk.II's were delivered with the Pratt and Whitney Twin Wasp engines instead of the Taurus. The 166th on reverted to the Taurus, although the better performing and more common Twin Wasp seems like a much better fit for the aircraft. The Taurus engine was otherwise unused, and that production line could surely be put to better use.

The Beaufort was a slow aircraft, with a top speed of only 265 mph (430 km/h), which dropped to a mere 225 mph (360 km/h) when carrying a torpedo. Although it did see some use in the torpedo bomber role, notably in attacks on the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau while in port in Brest, the Beaufort was more often used as a mine-laying aircraft while in European service. It saw considerable action in the Mediterranean theatre, where it helped put an end to Axis shipping supplying Rommel.

Coastal Command regarded the Beaufort as a disappointment, but it turned out to make an excellent basis for a heavy fighter in the form of the Bristol Beaufighter. The Beaufighter was so superior to the Beaufort that a number were specially modified to carry a torpedo, and it replaced the Beaufort in service.

Australian-built Beauforts

With Britain's domestic aircraft industry working at capacity already in early 1939, the British Air Ministry instigated negotiations to set up parallel production lines in Australia, to supply both the RAF and the RAAF with Beauforts and Twin Wasp engines. Australia's tiny industrial base was barely up to the task of making a modern aircraft, but frantic efforts by the Australian Department of Aircraft Production (DAP) saw the first of an eventual 700 planes roll off the line in August 1941. The Australian made version is often known as the DAP Beaufort.

During the Pacific War, the Beaufort performed a vital role. With the United States unable to supply many aircraft to the RAAF, the DAP Beaufort became a mainstay of the RAAF during 1941-44. Production continued to increase, reaching almost one a day in 1943, and though inexperience and hurry combined to produce a horrendous accident rate early on, the Beaufort served with 19 squadrons and played a vital role in stemming the Japanese advance: as a maritime patrol aircraft, bomber, fighter-bomber, and most of all on maritime strike duties, where Beauforts sunk an impressive tonnage of merchant and naval shipping. After roughly 50 each of the Mk V, VI and VII and 520 Mk VIIIs, production ceased in favour of more modern types in 1944, and handful of Mk.VIII's were later modified as transports, known as the Mk.IX or "Beaufreighter".

Units using the Beaufort

Royal Australian Air Force

  • No. 1 Squadron
  • No. 2 Squadron
  • No. 6 Squadron
  • No. 7 Squadron
  • No. 8 Squadron
  • No. 13 Squadron
  • No. 14 Squadron
  • No. 15 Squadron
  • No. 32 Squadron
  • No. 100 Squadron
  • Sub-squadron units
    • 1 Communications Unit
    • 3 Communications Unit
    • 4 Communications Unit
    • 5 Communications Unit
    • 6 Communications Unit
    • 8 Communications Unit
    • 11 Communications Unit
    • 9 Local Air Supply Unit
    • 10 Local Air Supply Unit
    • 12 Local Air Supply Unit

Royal Air Force

  • No. 22 Squadron
  • No. 39 Squadron
  • No. 42 Squadron
  • No. 47 Squadron
  • No. 48 Squadron
  • No. 69 Squadron
  • No. 86 Squadron
  • No. 100 Squadron
  • No. 217 Squadron

Fleet Air Arm

  • No. 728 Squadron
  • No. 733 Squadron
  • No. 762 Squadron
  • No. 788 Squadron
  • No. 798 Squadron

Royal Canadian Air Force

  • No. 415 Squadron

Royal New Zealand Air Force

  • No. 489 Squadron

External links

  • Bristol Beaufort (http://www.military.cz/british/air/war/bomber/beaufort/beaufort_en.htm)
  • A9 Bristol Beaufort (http://www.raafmuseum.com.au/research/aircraft/a2series/beaufort.htm)
Related content
Related development Bristol Beaufighter
Similar aircraft
Designation series Type 130 - Type 142 - Type 152
Related lists

List of aircraft of the RAF


Lists of Aircraft | Aircraft manufacturers | Aircraft engines | Aircraft engine manufacturers

Airports | Airlines | Air forces | Aircraft weapons | Missiles | Timeline of aviation

de:Bristol Type 152 Beaufort

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