Bristol Beaufort


Bristol Beaufort

:"Bristol Beaufort was also a car produced by Bristol Cars in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Infobox Aircraft
name= Type 152 Beaufort


caption=
type=Torpedo bomber
manufacturer=Bristol Aeroplane Company
designer=
first flight= 15 October 1938
introduction= avyear|1939
retired= avyear|1944
status=
primary user= Royal Australian Air Force
more users= RAF Coastal Command Fleet Air Arm
produced=
number built= 2,080
unit cost=
developed from= Bristol Blenheim
variants with their own articles= Bristol Beaufighter

The Bristol Type 152 Beaufort was a British large twin-engined 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Command — including Commonwealth squadrons serving with the RAF — and then the Fleet Air Arm from 1940, until they were withdrawn in 1944.

The Beaufort spawned a long-range heavy fighter variant called the Beaufighter, which proved very successful.

Design and development

The Beaufort came from Bristol's submission to meet Air Ministry Specifications M.I5/35 and G.24/35 for a land-based twin-engined torpedo-bomber and general reconnaissance aircraft. With a production order to Specification 10/36, the Bristol Type 152 was given the name Bristol Beaufort. [ [http://www.jaapteeuwen.com/ww2aircraft/html%20pages/BRISTOL%20TYPE%20152%20BEAUFORT.htm British Aircraft of World War II: Bristol Beaufort] ] The competing torpedo bomber entry from Blackburn was also ordered as the Blackburn Botha. In an unprecedented step both designs were ordered straight off the drawing board, an indication of how urgently the RAF needed a new torpedo bomber. [Note: The RAF mainly relied on the obsolescent Vickers Vildebeest biplane.] 320 Beauforts were ordered: initially, because of their commitment to the Blenheim Bristol were to build 78 at their Filton factory, with the other 242 being built by Blackburn. These allocations would be changed later.Robertson 1976]

Although the design looked similar in many ways to the Blenheim, it was in fact somewhat larger, with an 18-inch increase in wingspan. With the fuselage being made longer in the nose and taller to accommodate a fourth crew member, it was also considerably heavier. The larger bomb-bay was designed to house a semi-recessed torpedo, or it could carry an increased bomb load. Because of the increased weight the Blenheim's Mercury engines were to be replaced by the more powerful, sleeve valve, Bristol Perseus. It was soon determined that even with the Perseus, the Beaufort would be slower than the Blenheim and so a switch was made to the larger Taurus engine, also a sleeve valve design.Barnes 1988] For these engines chief designer Roy Feddan developed special low-drag NACA cowlings which exhausted air through vertical slots flanking the nacelles under the wings. Air flow was controlled by adjustable flaps.

The basic structure, although similar to the Blenheim, introduced refinements such as the use of high-strength light alloy forgings and extrusions in place of high-tensile steel plates and angles; as a result the overall structural weight was lighter than that of the Blenheim. [Note:The added weight of the Beaufort was because of additional equipment and crew accommodation, plus the heavier engines.] In addition the wing centre section was inserted into the centre fuselage and the nacelle structure was an integral part of the ribs to which the main undercarriage was attached. Transport joints were used on the fuselage and wings: this feature allowed sub-contracters to manufacture the Beaufort in easily transportable sections, and was to be important when Australian production got underway.The Vickers main undercarriage units were similar to, but bigger than those of the Blenheim and used hydraulic retraction retraction with a cartridge operated emergency lowering system. [Note: Many Beaufort components, including construction techniques and the undercarriage units, were to be used in the later Bristol Beaufighter.]

The first prototype rolled out of Filton in mid-1938. Problems immediately arose with the Taurus engines continually overheating during ground testing. New more conventional engine cowlings with circumferential cooling gills had to be designed and installed, delaying the first flight which took place on 15 October 1938. As flight testing progressed it was found that the large apron-type undercarriage doors, similar to those on the Blenheim, were causing the aircraft to yaw on landing. These doors were taken off for subsequent flights. On the second prototype and all production aircraft more conventional split doors, which left a small part of the tyres exposed when retracted, were used..

With Blenheim production taking priority and continued overheating of the Taurus engines there were delays in production, so while the bomber had first flown in October 1938 and should have been available almost immediately, it was not until November 1939 that production started in earnest. Several of the first production Beauforts were engaged in working-up trials and final service entry began in January 1940 with 22 Squadron of Coastal Command.

British Beauforts

A total of 1,013 Taurus powered Mark Is were produced and a number of changes were introduced into the line:
* The original curved perspex bomb aimers nose panels were replaced by flat, non-distorting panels from the 10th production aircraft.
* Successive Marks of Taurus engines were installed: starting with the Taurus III the more reliable Taurus IIs were used whenever possible. [Note: Initially Beauforts with the Taurus II engines were designated Beaufort Mk II, while those with other Taurus Marks continued to be Beaufort Is. Finally all Taurus-engined Beauforts became Mk Is with the introduction of the Wasp-powered Beaufort Mk II.] The Taurus IIs were modified to IIA, which became the Taurus VI. All of these versions produced 860/900 hp (641/671 kW). The final marks of Taurus engines used were the more powerful 1,130 hp (843 kW) XII and XVIs. The Taurus engines drove de Havilland Type DH5/19 constant speed propellers.
* Extra .303 Vickers G.O machine guns were fitted; two on a gimbal mounting in the forward nose and single guns on pivots on either beam.
* A remotely controlled .303 Browning machine gun was fitted, firing to the rear under the nose. Housed in a clear blown transparency, it was found to be of little use and most operational units soon discarded them.
* Fairey-Youngman pneumatic dive brakes were fitted to the wing trailing edges of several Beauforts. After adverse reports from pilots these were locked shut. However it was found that the curved alloy extensions on the trailing edges improved the flight characteristics and similar panels were fitted on all later production Beauforts.

When it became apparent that the Taurus engines had problems, planning commenced to repower the aircraft with 1,200 hp (895 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin-Wasp radials, which were of similar diameter and slightly lighter. These engines drove Hamilton Standard bracket-type variable pitch propellers. However there was no guarantee that supply of the Twin Wasp would not be cut off, and production reverted to the Taurus-engined Mark Is after 165 Beaufort Mark IIs had been built, starting with "AW244" which first flew in September 1941. Performance with the Twin-Wasps was marginally improved: maximum speed went up from 271.5 mph (437 km/h) to 277 mph (446 km/h) and the service ceiling increased from 16,500 ft (5,029 m) to 18,000 ft (5,486 m). However normal range was reduced from 1,600 miles (2,575 km) to 1,450 miles (2,333 km). [Note: Mark I performance figure relate to late production versions with the more powerful Taurus XII/XVI. Those with the earlier versions were slower.] Other modifications introduced on the Mk II and continued on late Mk Is were:
* A new direction finding loop aerial, enclosed in a clear, tear-drop fairing on the top of the cabin, replaced the elongated strip type.
* ASV Mk III was added with yagi antennae under the nose and wings.
* A Bristol B1 Mk V turret with two .303 Browning machine guns was fitted.

The final British-built version of the Beaufort was the Pratt & Whitney powered T Mark II, produced from August 1943. In this version the turret was removed and the position was faired over. The last ever Beaufort was a T II which left the Bristol Banwell factory on 25 November 1944.

Australian-built Beauforts

As the design for the Beaufort began to mature the Australian Government invited a British Air Mission to discuss the defence needs of Australia and Singapore. It was also a step towards expanding Australia's domestic aircraft industry. The Beaufort was chosen as the best General Reconnaissance (G.R) aircraft available and, on 1 July 1939 orders were placed, for 180 airframes and spares, with the specially formed Beaufort Division of the Commonwealth's Department of Aircraft Production (DAP). The Australian made variants are often known as the DAP Beaufort.

The Australian Beauforts were to be built at the established DAP plant in Fisherman's Bend, Melbourne, and a new factory at Mascot, New South Wales; to speed up the process drawings, jigs and tools and complete parts for six complete airframes were supplied by Bristol. The bulk of Australian-built Beauforts used locally available raw materials.

One of the decisive factors in choosing the Beaufort was the ability to produce it in sections. Because of this railway workshops were key subcontractors:
* Chullora NSW: Front fuselage, undercarriage, stern frames, nacelles.
* Newport, Victoria: Rear fuselage, empennage.
* Islington, South Australia: Mainplanes, centre-section.

Taurus engines, aircraft components and the associated equipment were shipped out to be joined, in October 1939, by the eighth production Beaufort "L4448". With the outbreak of war the possibility that supplies of the Taurus engines could be disrupted or halted was considered even before the British government placed an embargo on exporting war materials with the Blitzkrieg on France, the Netherlands and Belgium in May 1940. It was proposed that a change of powerplant could be made to the Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp, which was already in use on RAAF Lockheed Hudsons. Orders for the engine were placed and a factory was set up at Lidcombe N.S.W. and run by General Motors-Holden Ltd. The locally built engines were coded S3C4-G, while those imported from America were coded S1C3-4. Three-bladed Curtiss-Electric or Hamilton-Standard propellers were fitted to all Australian manufactured Beauforts. In early 1941, "L4448" was converted as a trials aircraft and the combination was considered a success. [Note: The decision to install Twin-Wasps in British Beauforts was undertaken almost simultaneously. The trials aircraft was "N1110".]

The first Australian-assembled Beaufort "A9-1" flew on 5 May 1941 with the first Australian-built aircraft "A9-7" coming off the production line in August. Australian Beauforts were manufactured in the following series:

* Mk V: (50) Pratt & Whitney S3C4-G with Curtiss Electric propellers
* Mk VI: (40) Pratt & Whitney S1C3-G with Curtiss Electric propellers
* Mk VII: (160) Pratt & Whitney S1C3-G with Hamilton Standard propellers
* Mk VA: (30) Pratt & Whitney S3C4-G with Hamilton Standard propellers
* Mk VIII: (519) Pratt & Whitney S3C4-G with Curtiss Electric propellers
* Mk IX: (46 conversions) Pratt & Whitney S3C4-G with Curtiss Electric propellers

A distinguishing feature of Australian Beauforts was a larger tailfin, which was used from from the Mk VI on. Armament fit also varied from British aircraft: British or American torpedoes were able to be carried and the final 140 Mk VIII were fitted with a locally manufactured Mk VE turret with .50 cal machine guns.

The Mk XI was a transport conversion, stripped of armament, operational equipment and armour and rebuilt with a redesigned centre fuselage. Maximum speed was 300 mph (483 km/h) and a payload of 4,600 lb (2,086 kg) could be carried.

Production of the Australian Beaufort ended in August 1944 when production switched to the Beaufighter.

Contemporary aircraft

The Beaufort was one of a handful of aircraft used during World War II which were designed from the outset as land-based, twin engined torpedo carrying bombers; the only other purpose built twin engine torpedo/reconnaissance bombers to reach operational service were the larger Mitsubishi G3M and G4M "Attack Bombers" used by the IJN. The contemporary Blackburn Botha, which was designed to the same specifications as the Beaufort, proved to be underpowered and deficient in other ways and was never used operationally in its intended role. Another twin engined aircraft designed and used as a torpedo bomber was the Heinkel He 115 seaplane. Other land-based twin and multi engine torpedo bombers, such as the Heinkel He 111 and Savoia-Marchetti S.79 were conventional bombers adapted to carry torpedoes.

For its envisaged role the Beaufort's performance and armament was considered adequate at the time. Few light or medium twin engine bombers designed in the 1930s carried more than a handful of light, rifle calibre machine guns and few of them had a higher maximum speed than the Beaufort. When faced with modern fighter opposition, as encountered around the coasts of German–occupied Europe and Japanese-occupied parts of Asia and the Pacific, the light armament and a speed deficit of over 70 mph (112 km/h) made the Beaufort an easy target. Even with the Twin-Wasps, which were the most powerful engines installed, the Beaufort was underpowered and, in the event of the loss of one engine, it was impossible to keep the aircraft flying for any length of time. For an aircraft operating in a maritime environment this often meant the crew as well as the airframe were lost.

On the plus side was the Beaufort's rugged construction and air cooled radial engines, which had no vulnerable cooling systems. These features meant that many heavily damaged Beauforts were able to get their crews back to base.

Operational history

Europe

Although it did see some use in the torpedo bomber role, notably in attacks on the battlecruisers "Scharnhorst" and "Gneisenau" while in port in Brest, the Beaufort more often used bombs or mines while in European service. It saw considerable action in the Mediterranean theatre, where it helped put an end to Axis shipping supplying Rommel in North Africa.

By early 1940 22 Squadron was fully equipped, although a great deal of training in the specialised art of torpedo-dropping was needed by the crews. Because of this, and because of a shortage of torpedoes the squadron's first operations consisted of laying magnetic mines ("Gardening" in RAF parlance) and dropping conventional bombs. The first operation took place on the night of 15/16 April when nine Beauforts successfully laid mines in the Schilling Roads (north of Wilhelmshaven). One Beaufort failed to return. In the meantime A second unit 42 Squadron was also re-equipped with Beauforts, starting in April.

On one of its first bombing operations, on 7 May 1940, a Beaufort dropped the first British 2,000 lb (907 kg) bomb, aiming at a German cruiser anchored off Norderney. [Note: the Beaufort could carry a 2,000 lb (907 kg) bomb using a purpose built carrier.]

The first RAF torpedo attack of the war came on 11 September 1940, when five aircraft of 22 Squadron attacked a convoy of three merchant ships off Ostend. One torpedo hit a 6,000 ton (6,096 tonne) ship. Four days later the first "Rover" was mounted; a Rover was an armed reconnaissance mission carried out against enemy shipping by a small number of aircraft operating independently. "Rovers" became a major part of Beaufort operations over the next next 18 months. [Note: During a Rover on 11 December 1940, a Beaufort flown by Flt. Lt. Oliver Philpot was shot down. Philpot was later to take part in the dramatic prison camp escape made famous in the film "The Wooden Horse".] Other more hazardous operations were to follow, with one Beaufort pilot being awarded a posthumous VC.

The only other UK based units to be equipped with the Beaufort, 86 Squadron and 217 Squadron, were operational by the middle of 1941.

Torpedo dropping

A successful torpedo drop required that the approach run to the target needed to be straight and at a speed and height where the torpedo would enter the water smoothly: too high or too low and the torpedo could "porpoise" (skip through the water), dive, or even break up. Height over the water had to be judged without the benefit of a radio altimeter and misjudgement was easy, especially in calm conditions. For the Beauforts using the 18 inch (45.72 cm) Mk XII aerial torpedo the average drop-height was 68 feet (20.7 m) and the average range of release was 670 yards (612 m). During the run-in, the aircraft was vulnerable to defensive anti-aircraft fire, and it took courage to fly through it with no chance of evasive manoeuvres. The Beaufort's optimum torpedo dropping speed was a great deal higher than that of the Vildebeests it was replacing and it took practice to accurately judge the range to, and speed of, the target ship. A ship the size and speed of the "Scharnhorst", for example, would look huge, filling the windscreen at well over a mile (1.609 km) and it was easy to under-estimate the range. In action torpedoes were often released too far away from the target, although there were instances of torpedoes being released too close. [Note: For safety reasons torpedo warheads had a set distance (usually about 400 yards 365 m) from the release point before they were armed. It also took some distance for the torpedo to settle to its running depth.] Barker 1957]

Once the torpedo had been dropped, if there was room, a sharp turn away from the enemy was possible: more often than not the aircraft had to fly around or over the ship, usually at full-throttle and below mast height. A sharp pull-up could be fatal, as it could expose a large area of the aircraft to the guns.

Attacks on capital ships

Some of the Beaufort's most notable actions were attacks on warships of the German Kriegsmarine:
* On 21 June 1940 nine Beauforts of 42 Squadron attacked the "Scharnhorst" off the Norwegian coast. No torpedoes were available at RAF Wick and a dive bombing attack was carried out using two 500 lb (226 kg) bombs. The Beauforts encountered Bf 109s protecting the battlecruiser and only four of them returned. Shortly after this the Beauforts were grounded for modifications to their Taurus engines.

* In early April 1941, after an air raid on Brest by Bomber Command, the "Gneisenau" had to move out of her dry-dock because of an unexploded bomb. Photo reconnaissance revealed that the ship was in the inner harbour. An estimated 1000 flak guns of all calibres protected the base and, adding complication to the danger, was the realisation that "Gneisenau" was only about 500 yards (457 m) from a harbour mole, requiring extremely accurate torpedo drops. Finally, the aircraft would be forced into a steep banking turn during the escape to avoid rising ground surrounding the harbour. In spite of the dangers 22 Squadron, based at RAF St Eval was ordered to make a torpedo attack, timed to take place just after dawn on 6 April 1941. It was planned to attack the torpedo nets, which were thought to be protecting the ship, using three Beauforts armed with bombs; another three Beauforts would then attack the ship with torpedoes. However, following heavy rain that had drenched the airfield, the bomb-carrying aircraft became bogged down. Because of a sea mist the other three Beauforts arrived at Brest independently; one, flown by F/O Kenneth Campbell, managed to penetrate the harbour and torpedo the "Gneisenau", but was shot down immediately afterwards. Campbell was awarded the VC and his Observer, Sergeant J.P. Scott of Canada, the DFM. The other two crew members were Sgts R.W. Hillman and W. Mallis.Barker 1957]

* On the night of 12/13 June 1941, 13 Beauforts of 42 Squadron, based at RAF Leuchars and a detachment of five Beauforts of 22 Squadron, operating from Wick, were sent out to find the heavy cruiser Lūtzow and an escort of four destroyers which had been sighted near Norway. At midnight a signal from a Blenheim of 114 Squadron confirmed the position of the ships, but underestimated their speed. Most of the Beauforts failed to find the ships except for one 42 Squadron aircraft piloted by Flight Sergeant Ray Loviett, who had become separated from the main force. His attack took the Lūtzow by surprise (the Beaufort had been mistaken for a Ju 88 which was known by the ships to be on patrol in the area) and, without a defensive shot being fired, Loviett's torpedo hit her on the port side. Lūtzow was under repairs for six months.

* During the famous Operation Cerberus, the "Channel Dash" by "Scharnhorst" and "Gneisenau" and the heavy cruiser the "Prinz Eugen" which took place from 12 February 1942, three Beaufort units, with a total of 33 serviceable aircraft, were available: 22 Squadron was under orders to move to Singapore. 42 Squadron, based at Leuchars in Scotland, were supposed to move to Manston but had been delayed by snow. 86 and 217 squadrons were in position to attack the German ships. For various reasons only 11 Beauforts sighted the battlecruisers and launched torpedoes. Three were shot down.

One of the conclusions reached by a later Court of Inquiry was that a faster, longer-ranged torpedo bomber than the Beaufort was needed: Bristol already had under way a torpedo carrying conversion of their Beaufighter, itself a development of the basic Beaufort airframe, and were later to produce the Brigand.

* The final major operation to feature Beauforts before they were moved to other theatres, was an attack on the heavy cruiser "Prinz Eugen". A report reached Coastal Command on 16 May 1942 that this ship, escorted by two destroyers, was off Trondheim steaming south-west at high speed. [Note: "Prinz Eugen" had been torpedoed by the submarine HMS "Trident" earlier in the year, with the result that her stern had been destroyed. She was on her way back to Germany after temporary repairs in Trondheim.] A strike force was formed consisting of 12 Beauforts of 42 Squadron, with six Blenheims of 404 (RCAF) Squadron and four flak-suppression Beaufighters, two each from 235 Squadron and 248 Squadron. When the "Prinz Eugen" was sighted it was discovered that she was escorted by four destroyers. The Beaufighters went in first, raking the ships with cannon fire, as the Blenheims made dummy torpedo runs to further distract the gunners. Some Bf 109s (more than likely from I./JG 5) appeared and the Blenheims attempted to fend them off as the Beauforts started their attack. Three Beauforts were shot down by defensive fire from the ships before they could launch their torpedoes and the nine torpedoes which were launched failed to hit the target. One Beaufort, already damaged by flak, was then attacked by three 109s: in spite of further heavy damage the pilot made a successful crash-landing back at base. In the meantime another strike force of fifteen Beauforts from 86 Squadron was sent too far north by a reporting error. They too were attacked by Bf 109s: four Beauforts were shot down (in return the crews claimed to have shot down five fighters) and, of the 11 Beauforts remaining, seven were forced to jettison their torpedoes.

In spite of its failure this operation set the pattern for Coastal Command for future operations: Beaufighters were used for the first time in the flak-suppression and escort roles and there had been diversionary tactics used to try and reduce attention on the attacking torpedo aircraft. It also marked the end of Beaufort operations from Britain.

The remaining Beaufort squadrons now started moving east:
* 42 Squadron left Scotland in June 1942 bound for Ceylon, but operated in North Africa until December.
* 86 Squadron Beauforts and aircrews moved to the Mediterranean in July and the unit was reduced to cadre: In October it was re-equipped with Liberator IIIs. One ex-86 Squadron Beaufort flight, along with one from 217 Squadron, joined up with a flight from 39 Squadron on Malta, later becoming a part of a reconstituted 39 Squadron.
* 217 Squadron's ground echelon left for Ceylon in May 1942 while the Beauforts flew out via Malta. In August 217 Squadron, minus a Beaufort flight, moved on to Ceylon to be re-equipped with Hudsons.

Mediterranean and Malta

The first Beaufort unit in the Mediterranean was 39 Squadron which had reformed in Egypt in January 1941. Initially equipped with Blenheims and Marylands the unit started re-equipping with Beaufort Is the following August.

The first operation in which Beauforts took part was an attack on an Italian convoy on 28 January 1942. The three Beauforts of 39 Squadron included in a large strike force succeeded in crippling the 14,000 ton (14,224 tonne) merchant ship "Victoria" (Count Ciano in his diaries called her "The pearl of the Italian Merchant Fleet"), which was then sunk by Albacores.

In another operation during the early hours of 15 June 1942, nine Beauforts of 217 Squadron, which had just flown in from England, took off from RAF Luqa, Malta to intercept ships of the "Regia Marina" which had sailed from Taranto. Few of the Beaufort crews had experience in night-flying: four aircraft failed to find the agreed rendezvous point and set out independently. One, flown by Flying Officer Arthur Aldridge discovered the Italian Fleet some 200 miles to the east of Malta. Like Loviett's attack on the Lūtzow, his Beaufort was mistaken for a friendly aircraft by Italian lookouts. Aldridge successfully torpedoed and crippled the heavy cruiser "Trento". The anti-aircraft fire started only after Aldridge had escaped.Shores 1991]

The main formation of Beauforts came in to attack guided in by the gunfire. In the confusion and the smokescreen which had been laid down by the Italian warships, 217 Squadron claimed several torpedo hits for one Beaufort which, because of heavy damage, belly-landed at Luqa. None of the other ships were hit. "Trento" was later sunk by two torpedoes fired by the submarine HMS "Umbra", which had witnessed the aerial attack.

By July 1942, 86 Squadron Beauforts and crews had arrived on Malta and were soon absorbed into a reconstituted 39 Squadron, at first under the command of the inspirational Wing Commander Patrick Gibbs, [Note: R.P.M. Gibbs DSO DFC and bar was invalided out of the RAF in 1944. He was to write the book "Torpedo Leader" about his experiences.] while 217 squadron moved on to Ceylon. Most of the Beauforts used were the Twin-Wasp powered Mk. IIs which were modified with tropical sand filters over the carburettor air intakes. These created a great deal of drag, slowing down the aircraft and reducing range.

Over the next 11 months the Beaufort force, now usually accompanied by Beaufighters, was instrumental in crippling the convoy supply lines which were vital to Rommel's Afrika Korps. At night torpedo carrying Wellingtons of 38 Squadron [ [http://freespace.virgin.net/paul.hunt3/units/38Sq.html 38 Squadron] ] also played an important part in attacking convoys. Some important ships destroyed or badly damaged were:

* MV (Motor Vessel) "Reichenfels", 7,744 tons (7,868 tonnes): 21 June.
* MV "Rosalino Pilo", 8,300 tons (8,433 tonnes): 17 August.
* Tanker "Pozarica", 7,800 tons (7,925 tonnes): 21 August.
* Tanker "Dielpi", 1,500 tons (1,524 tonnes) : 27 August.
* Tanker "San Andrea", 5,077 tons (5,158 tonnes) : 30 August. (Gibbs' last operation.)
* Tanker "Proserpina", 5,000 tons (5,080 tonnes) : 27 October.
* Tanker "Thorsheimer", 9,955 tons (10,115 tonnes): 21 February 1943.

In June 1943 39 Squadron, the last operational Beaufort unit, converted to Beaufighters.

Capturing a CANT

On 28 July 1942, a Beaufort of 217 Squadron was forced to ditch during an attack on an Italian convoy. The crew, Lieutenant E.T. Strever (SAAF -pilot), Plt Off W.M. Dumsmore and two New Zealanders, Sergeants A.R. Brown and J.A. Wilkinson, were later picked up by a Cant Z.506B floatplane. They were taken to an Italian base at Prevesa, Greece where they were well looked after overnight. Next morning the prisoners boarded another Cant Z506B: the Italians decided not to use handcuffs in case the aircraft was forced down at sea.

Some 45 minutes into the flight, Sgt Wilkinson distracted the guard who was overpowered and disarmed. The five Italian crew were forced to surrender the Cant and Lt Strever took over the controls, altering course to fly to Malta. There were no proper maps on board and a rough heading to the south-west was set. Eventually Cape Spartivento, the southernmost point of Italy, was recognised and a new course was set for Malta, some 100 miles to the south. The aircraft was soon detected by radar on Malta and a section of four Spitfires of 603 Squadron was scrambled to intercept. They found the Cant about 10 miles off the coast and forced it to alight with a burst through the port wing.

HSL 107 (an RAF High Speed Launch, used to rescue aircrew) arrived an hour later and found the five Italians and four Beaufort crew sitting on the wings enjoying wine and brandy provided by the Italians. Cant No. MM45352 "13" of 139 Squadrilia was taken into service by the RAF and used for air/sea rescue duties. Lt Strever and Plt Off Dunsmore were awarded the DFC and Sgts Wilkinson and Brown, the DFM.

Pacific

During the Pacific War, the Beaufort performed a vital role for the RAAF. With the United States unable to supply many aircraft to Australia, the DAP Beaufort became a mainstay of the RAAF during 1941-44.

The first six Australian built Beauforts reached Singapore just after the Japanese invasion of Malaya in December 1941. It was soon decided that these Beauforts were under-armed and their crews were insufficiently trained and they were soon returned to Australia. [Robertson, 1976, p. 58] Production continued to increase, reaching almost one a day in 1943. The Beaufort served with 19 squadrons and played an important role in the South West Pacific Area, as a maritime patrol and strike aircraft and bomber. Beauforts sank an impressive tonnage of merchant and naval shipping.Fact|date=January 2008

Variants

;Beaufort I:Torpedo-bomber, reconnaissance version for the RAF, powered by two Bristol Taurus sleeve valve radial engines. This is the first British production version.;Beaufort II:Torpedo-bomber, reconnaissance version for the RAF, powered by two Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp radial piston engines.;Beaufort III:Unbuilt version. It was intended to be powered by two Rolls-Royce Merlin XX inline piston engines.;Beaufort IV:One prototype only; powered by two Bristol Taurus XX radial piston engines.;Beaufort V:This was the first Australian built version, it was powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-1830-53C4-G Twin Wasp radial piston engines; 30 built in Australia.;Beaufort VA:Similar to the Beaufort Mk V, but fitted with a larger tail; 30 built in Australia.;Beaufort VI:This version was powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S1C3 Twin Wasp radial piston engines; 40 built in Australia.;Beaufort VII:This version was fitted with Hamiliton Standard propeller; 60 built in Australia.;Beaufort VIII:Improved version fitted with an ASV radar, it could carry American or British mines or torpedoes; 520 built in Australia.;Beaufort IX:Forty-six Beaufort aircraft were converted into light transport aircraft for the RAAF.

Operators

;AUS:;flag|Canada|1921:;NZL:;flag|South Africa|1928:;TUR:;UK:

pecifications

aircraft specifications

plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=prop

ref="Beaufort Special"Robertson 1976, p. 78-79.]
crew=4
length main=44 ft 2 in
length alt=13.46 m
span main=57 ft 10 in
span alt=17.63 m
height main=14 ft 3 in
height alt=4.34 m
area main=503 ft²
area alt=46.73 m²
empty weight main=13,107 lb
empty weight alt=5,945 kg
loaded weight main=21,230 lb
loaded weight alt=9,629 kg
max takeoff weight main=
max takeoff weight alt=
engine (prop)=Bristol Taurus VI
type of prop=14-cylinder radial engines (late production Mk Is)
number of props=2
power main=1,130 hp
power alt=843 kW
max speed main=271.5 mph
max speed alt=236 knots, 420 km/h
max speed more=at 6,500 ft (1,981 m). With Mk XII torpedo 263 mph (228 knots, 423 km/h.)
cruise speed main=255 mph at 6,500 ft
cruise speed alt=221 knots, 410 km/h
cruise speed more=at 6,500 ft (1,981 m). With Mk XII torpedo 225 mph (195 knots, 362 km/h.)
range main=1,600 mi
range alt=1,400 nm, 2,600 km
ceiling main=16,500 ft
ceiling alt=5,030 m
climb rate main=
climb rate alt=
loading main=42.2 lb/ft²
loading alt=206 kg/m²
power/mass main=0.106 hp/lb
power/mass alt=175 W/kg
guns=
** Initially 3× .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers G.O machine guns (two in dorsal turret, one in port wing). See British Beauforts for later armament fit.
** 1× .303 in Browning machine gun in rear-firing chin blister
bombs=
** 1× 1,605 lb (728 kg) 18 inch (45.72 cm) Mk XII torpedo "or".
** 2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs or mines.

ee also

aircontent
related=
* Bristol Beaufighter
* Bristol Blenheim
similar aircraft =
* Blackburn Botha
* Ilyushin Il-4
* Mitsubishi G3M
* Mitsubishi G4M
* Cant Z.1007
* Savoia-Marchetti SM.79
lists=
* List of aircraft of the RAF
* List of bomber aircraft

References

Notes

Bibliography

* Barker, Ralph. "The Ship-Busters: The Story of the R.A.F. Torpedo-Bombers". London: Chatto & Windus Ltd., 1957. No ISBN.
* Barnes, C.H. "Bristol Aircraft Since 1910". London: Putnam Aeronautical, 1988 (3rd revised edition). ISBN 0-85177-823-2.
* Butler, Tony. "Bristol Beaufort" (Warpaint Series No. 50). Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, UK: Warpaint Books Ltd., 2000. ISSN X-9999-00501.
* Gibbs, Patrick (Wing Commander,DSO,DFC and Bar). "Torpedo Leader". London: Wrens Park Publishing, 2002. ISBN 0-905778-72-3
* Robertson, Bruce. "Beaufort Special". Shepperton, Surrey, UK: Ian Allan Ltd., 1976. ISBN 0-7110-0667-9.
* Shores, Christopher, Cull, Brian and Malizia, Nicola. "Malta: The Spitfire Year". London: Grub Street, 1991. ISBN 0-948817-16-X.

External links

* [http://www.military.cz/british/air/war/bomber/beaufort/beaufort_en.htm Bristol Beaufort]
* [http://www.raafmuseum.com.au/research/aircraft/a2series/beaufort.htm A9 Bristol Beaufort]
* [http://www.jaapteeuwen.com/ww2aircraft/html%20pages/BRISTOL%20TYPE%20152%20BEAUFORT.htm British Aircraft of World War II]


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