Fairey Firefly

The Fairey Firefly was a British Second World War-era carrier-borne fighter aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm. It was superior in performance and firepower to its predecessor, the Fairey Fulmar, but did not enter operational service until late in the war; making its cobat debut in July 1944 with an attack on the mighty German battleship, Tirpitz.

Rushed into every theatre of war as fighter, nightfighter, fighter bomber and reconnaissance platform, the Firefly became one of the first true multirole combat aircraft. taking on numerous jobs once assigned to several different aircraft.

Powered by a 1,990 hp 12-cylinder Rolls-Royce Griffon inline engine the first version of the aircraft had the radiator in the nose, typical of so many British liquid-cooled engine aircraft, but from the Mk.IV, had the heat exchangers buried in the wings, giving a very pleasing streamlined effect. From the start the armament of four 20 mm cannon and a 2,000 pound external bomb load was excellent. The flaps enabled the aircraft to be flown at very low speeds, making it a delight and quite safe, even when shot up, to bring back aboard ship. With search radar the Firefly became a potent hunter-killer for the fleet and several were turned into night-fighters.

It remained a mainstay of the FAA until the mid-1950s. The Fairey Firefly was a big surprise to North Korean soldiers who attacked South Korea in 1950.

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