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Bristol B.156 Beaufighter





The Beaufighter was original proposed by the Bristol company and sold to the Royal Air Force to fulfill a need it required (though the RAF never officially approached the Bristol company about design any such aircraft).


Fourth prototype Beaufighter R2055 with Vickers S and Rolls-Royce 40mm guns, Duxford 1941


The first of four radar-equipped night fighter prototypes flew on 17 July 1939 and the first production Beaufighters were delivered to the Royal Air Force in the following April. The type was the first high performance night fighter equipped with airborne interception radar and successfully operated against the German night raids in the winter of 1940-1941. The twin-engine fighter utilized a crew of two men and was initially fitted with 4 x 20mm cannon and 6 x 7.7mm machine guns. Since the Beaufighter utilized many components of the already-in-production Beaufort torpedo plane, the implementation of the Beaufighter was quick. The Type 156 was based on the wings, tail unit, and landing gear of the Beaufort torpedo bomber with a new fuselage and Hercules radial engines. Production of the Beaufighter was launched on three lines.

The first night fighter success with AI.Mk IV radar followed in November 1940.



The Beaufighter Mk IIF (597 night fighters) had a dihedralled tailplane to avoid directional instability and 1,280-hp/954-kW Rolls-Royce Merlin XX inline engines to avoid overtaxing Hercules production.

Later the Beaufighter was introduced into Coastal Command as a strike fighter. Its original gun armament was retained but rockets and torpedoes were added giving it an even greater fire power.

Not only did the Beaufighter operate in North West Europe but also the Middle and Far East. For operations in the Mediterranean theatre, some Beaufighter Mk IFs were tropicalized and fitted with additional fuel tankage.

The USAF utilized the Bristol Beaufighter platform for a time as their primary nightfighter until an American-made alternative could be produced.

A total of 5864 aircraft were built, including 364 built in Australia, by the time the last one was delivered in September 1945 and fifty-two operational Royal Air Force squadrons had been equipped with the type.

After its withdrawal from operational use many Beaufighters were converted to target tug duties and the last flight of the type in Royal Air Force service took place on 17 May 1960 when a TT10 made a final target towing flight from Seletar.


RAF Beaufighter final flight – broken up for scrap hours later


Beaufighter Mk IF

553 night fighters

Beaufighter Mk IC
397 Coastal Command strike fighters

Beaufighter Mk IF
two-seat night fighter.
Engines: two 1,590-hp (1,186-kW) Bristol Hercules VI radial
Maximum speed: 306 mph (492 km/h) at sea level
Initial climb rate: 1,850 ft (564 m) per minute
Service ceiling: 28,900 ft (8,810 m)
Range: 1,500 miles (2,414 km)
Weights empty: 14,069 lb (6,381 kg)
Maximum take-off: 21,100 lb (9,526 kg)
Wing span: 57 ft 10 in (17.63 m)
Length: 41 ft 4 in (12.60 m)
Height: 15 ft 10 in (4.82 m)
Wing area: 503.0 sq ft (46.73 sq.m)
Armament: four 20-mm cannon and six 0.303-in (7.7-mm) machine guns.

Beaufighter Mk IIF

597 night fighters
Engines: 2 x 1,280-hp/954-kW Rolls-Royce Merlin XX

Bristol Beaufighter VIF
Length: 41.34ft (12.6m)
Width: 57.91ft (17.65m)
Height: 15.88ft (4.84m)
Maximum Speed: 333mph (536kmh; 289kts)
Maximum Range: 1,479miles (2,381km)
Rate-of-Climb: 1,923ft/min (586m/min)
Service Ceiling: 26,519ft (8,083m; 5.0miles)
4 x 20mm cannons in under nose position
6 x 7.62mm machine guns in wings
Accommodation: 2
Hardpoints: 2
Empty Weight: 14,619lbs (6,631kg)
Maximum Take-Off Weight: 21,627lbs (9,810kg)
Engines: 2 x Bristol Hercules VI 14-cylinder air-cooled sleeve radials, 1,635hp.

Bristol Beaufighter TF. Mk X
Engines: 2 x Bristol Hercules XVII, 1320kW / 1770 hp
Props: 3 blade
Take-off weight: 11431 kg / 25201 lb
Empty weight: 7076 kg / 15600 lb
Wingspan: 17.63 m / 57 ft 10 in
Length: 12.7 m / 41 ft 8 in
Height: 4.83 m / 15 ft 10 in
Wing area: 46.73 sq.m / 503.00 sq ft
Max. speed: 264 kts / 488 km/h / 303 mph
Cruise speed: 217 kts / 401 km/h / 249 mph
Service ceiling: 4570 m / 15000 ft
Range: 2366 km / 1470 miles
Range w/extra wing tanks: 1750 miles
Crew: 2
Armament: 2 x 20mm cannons, 7 x 7.7mm machine-guns, 1 torpedo and 2 x 113kg bombs




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