1. This is a thread about the Bristol Beaufighter & how it was the most important (if not the absolute ‘best’) heavy fighter of the SWW. Beaufighter origins go back to the Bristol Type 142 ‘Britain First’ built as a publicity stunt for Daily Mail owner Lord Rothermere in 1935.

2. With a top speed of 278mph, this was considerably faster than the Hawker Fury, which could only manage 207mph. A specification for a fast medium bomber was issued for a revised version of the 142M, named the Blenheim.
3. By the time the war started all-metal monoplane fighters had eclipsed the performance of the Blenheim. Serious shortcomings in operational capabilities of all RAF aircraft were revealed during early wartime aerial activity, leading to heavy losses of aircraft & crews.
4. Lack of defensive armament, armour & self-sealing tanks were added to the problems of looming obsolescence. The huge number of aircraft ordered from shadow factories, along with delays to replacement models, kept the Blenheim in the front line much longer than it should have.
5. Fighter Command had 7 Blenheim IF squadrons at the outbreak of war. These were dual purpose day/night units, but by early 1940 were operating primarily as night fighters. The need to provide cover for east coast convoys led to the formation of 4 ‘trade protection’ squadrons.
6. Concurrently, 21 Blenheims were equipped with Aircraft Interception (AI) radar in the Autumn of 1939. By early 1940 it was clear a faster, heavier armed aircraft and better radar were essential for night interception, & fortunately a better aircraft was on the horizon.
7. The design team at Bristol had followed up the Blenheim with the Beaufort torpedo bomber and the Botha maritime general reconnaissance aircraft (of which, the less said the better…).
8. John Ferris has described British air defence before SWW as ‘planned for a bad case but not the worst case’, against an enemy flying across the North Sea rather than being based on the other half of the English Channel.
9. Daylight attacks by unescorted Luftwaffe bombers were therefore expected, & in this context the Boulton Paul Defiant made sense, which would have prevented its disastrous combat record during the Battle of Britain.
10. The development of a cannon-armed fighter was the next logical development, as the limitations of the rifle calibre machine guns used in the Spitfire, Hurricane and Defiant were becoming apparent.
11. Although the Westland Whirlwind, with 4 x 20mm cannon entered production, there were numerous delays due to the choice of Peregrine engines & problems with other aircraft systems.
12. The Air Ministry was not alone in proposing a cannon-armed ‘bomber destroyer’ - in Germany the Reichsluftfahrtministerium similarly specified the Bf 110 Zerstörer for the Luftwaffe.
13. While Gloster designed the F.9/37 from scratch, the Bristol project team proposed a ‘Beaufort Fighter’, utilising the wings, tail & undercarriage of the Beaufort attached to a new fuselage and Hercules sleeve-valve engines instead of the bomber’s Taurus.
14. Although serious design work only started at the end of 1938, the re-use of Beaufort components meant that the 1st prototype was flying by July 1939. The name ‘Beaufighter’ was adopted from May, but was still being referred to as the ‘Beaufort Fighter’ into 1940.
15. From the start, it was always intended that a long-range version would be provided for Coastal Command use in addition to Fighter Command, demonstrating the multi-role abilities of the aircraft.
16. The limitations of Blenheim night operations over the winter of 1939 made the Beaufighter an obvious replacement, but the unprecedented speed of development meant a whole range of teething troubles were not resolved before the aircraft entered service.
17. The Hercules VI, using 100 octane fuel was intended for the Beaufighter but in June 1939 delays to this version meant that a batch of aircraft would be supplied with Hercules IIs, as well as subsequent aircraft fitted with Hercules IIIs.
18. Compared to other 1st-generation monoplane fighters, the Beaufighter entered service much earlier in the RAF. Despite flying for the first time 10 months after the Whirlwind, the Beaufighter was in extended service before any of the previous fighters began operations.
19. The optimisation of the Beaufighter, AI & GCI radar into an integrated weapon system was not possible before active service, but was performed during operations against night bomber raids over the UK during the winter of 1940-41.
20. Lack of experience in using AI limited interceptions, but serious faults with the equipment itself did not help. The initial slow supply of aircraft meant that daylight training was not possible, but by November at least one squadron had sufficient to do so.
21. This highlighted that the position of the target aircraft did not correlate with that on the equipment screens, a fault traced to dry-soldered and other poor connections in the AI equipment, with all squadrons being alerted to the problem.
22. The disappointing initial performance of AI was blamed on the long approach by the night fighter after acquisition into firing position, considered as slow and inefficient when compared to day fighter tactics, by Air Officers who had last seen combat in open cockpit biplanes.
23. The results of night fighter defence up to the end of the Blitz in July 1941 illustrate that meaningful results were only possible after the teething troubles of GCI and the Beaufighter/AI Mark IV combination were overcome.
24. Although quantitatively the number of AI-equipped squadrons just started to increase in May 1941, while only one extra squadron had been added to the order of battle compared to September 1940, all bar one were operating Beaufighters or Havocs equipped with AI Mark IV.
25. The RAF was clearly desperate to obtain as many Beaufighters as possible for the night battle. One report complained that on 1 November 1940 there were 24 Beaufighters at Maintenance Units, many already fitted with AI and other equipment and air tested.
26. Ministry of Aircraft Production statistics show that 111 Beaufighters had been delivered to the RAF by the end of 1940. 47 Beaufighters had been fitted with AI by November 1940. On 14 December 1940, 85 Blenheims & 57 Beaufighters fitted with AI were with squadrons.
27. This implies nearly half of the aircraft delivered in 1940 had been destroyed or seriously damaged. This trend continued, as 36 Beaufighters were destroyed or badly damaged in accidents during the first three months of 1941, almost half of the 77 in squadron service.
28. This is an Aircraft Record Card, which exists for every RAF aircraft. Because I went through 500 of these, I was able to track the expansion of the night fighter force from the delivery of aircraft to & total strength of squadrons up to the end of the Blitz.
29. This table demonstrates that Beaufighter absolute numbers increased very slowly during 1940 and early in 1941, due to high losses from accidents over the winter months, and it took until June 1941 before the number of Beaufighters in Fighter Command exceeded a hundred.
30. A shortage of Hercules engines prompted the development of the Beaufighter IIF, with Merlin XX engines, which served with AI squadrons in Fighter Command until the Beaufighter VI, finally equipped with Hercules VIs, became available in 1942.
31. By May 1941 the Beaufighter had been in service long enough for Sir Henry Tizard to arrange a meeting between the Ministry of Aircraft Production, Air Ministry and Fighter Command, to discuss progress and agree improvements for the aircraft and radar system.
32. The gunsight was too bright on dark nights, and there had been failures of cannon ammunition when the casing collapsed. Dampness was still causing problems & large numbers of equipment valves were unsatisfactory leading to rejection.
33. Sixteen Beaufighter squadrons were planned by the end of 1941 to expand the night fighter force, but by July, only eleven had formed in Fighter Command, not all fully equipped, with the number of operational aircraft limited by shortages of fully trained aircrew.
34. As the supply of aircraft increased, the use of the Beaufighter expanded into strike roles with bombs, rockets and torpedoes, both with Coastal Command and onwards into the Mediterranean and Pacific theatres.
35. For Fighter Command, the contribution of the Beaufighter has been overshadowed by the de Havilland Mosquito. In 2019, at the ‘Normandy 75’ conference. I had the opportunity to discuss this with Christina Goulter, who also feels this is the case for Coastal Command operations.
36. The superior performance of the Mosquito as an AI fighter was not significant during 1942, due to the small number of squadrons available, as by October 1942 only five fighter squadrons had equipped with Mosquitoes, and not all were operational.
37. These aircraft used AI Mark V, which was the metric AI Mark IV equipped with a target indicator for the pilot, reflecting the ‘pilot-centric’ nature of the service, which distracted the pilot during the final stages of the interception.
38. This meant that contacts were lost which could have been held with AI Mark IV, and throughout 1942 there were ‘disquieting rumours of continued trouble with AI Mark V’, reports of which reached the Secretary of State for Air by the beginning of 1943.
39. The first centimetric AI radar sets, the interim AI Mark VII, was introduced in January 1942, when thirty-seven sets distributed between four Beaufighter squadrons began.
40. The first AI Mark VIII radar was introduced in January 1943, to replace the Mark VII. Initially only Beaufighter squadrons were reequipped, and was not until March that Mosquito XIIs with AI Mark VIII arrived at squadrons.
41. Re-equipment was initially slower than with Beaufighters, and it took until the end of 1943 before the number of Mosquito squadrons equipped with centimetric radar outnumbered those using Beaufighters.
42. By the start of 1942 there were only 3 Beaufighter squadrons in Coastal Command, and it was not September 1942 until it was agreed for use as a torpedo bomber. The TorBeau strike wings began operating from North Coates in 1943.
43. Subsequently, the Beaufighter Strike Wings operated successful until they began reequipping with Mosquitoes at the end of 1944. In both Fighter and Coastal Command the Beaufighter did the hard work until the Mosquito arrived & took more credit than it deserved *ENDS*

More from History

**Thread on Bravery of Sikhs**
(I am forced to do this due to continuous hounding of Sikh Extremists since yesterday)

Rani Jindan Kaur, wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh had illegitimate relations with Lal Singh (PM of Ranjit Singh). Along with Lal Singh, she attacked Jammu, burnt - https://t.co/EfjAq59AyI

Hindu villages of Jasrota, caused rebellion in Jammu, attacked Kishtwar.

Ancestors of Raja Ranjit Singh, The Sansi Tribe used to give daughters as concubines to Jahangir.

The Ludhiana Political Agency (Later NW Fronties Prov) was formed by less than 4000 British soldiers who advanced from Delhi and reached Ludhiana, receiving submissions of all sikh chiefs along the way. The submission of the troops of Raja of Lahore (Ranjit Singh) at Ambala.

Dabistan a contemporary book on Sikh History tells us that Guru Hargobind broke Naina devi Idol Same source describes Guru Hargobind serving a eunuch
YarKhan. (ref was proudly shared by a sikh on twitter)
Gobind Singh followed Bahadur Shah to Deccan to fight for him.

In Zafarnama, Guru Gobind Singh states that the reason he was in conflict with the Hill Rajas was that while they were worshiping idols, while he was an idol-breaker.

And idiot Hindus place him along Maharana, Prithviraj and Shivaji as saviours of Dharma.

You May Also Like

"I really want to break into Product Management"

make products.

"If only someone would tell me how I can get a startup to notice me."

Make Products.

"I guess it's impossible and I'll never break into the industry."


Courtesy of @edbrisson's wonderful thread on breaking into comics –
https://t.co/TgNblNSCBj – here is why the same applies to Product Management, too.

There is no better way of learning the craft of product, or proving your potential to employers, than just doing it.

You do not need anybody's permission. We don't have diplomas, nor doctorates. We can barely agree on a single standard of what a Product Manager is supposed to do.

But – there is at least one blindingly obvious industry consensus – a Product Manager makes Products.

And they don't need to be kept at the exact right temperature, given endless resource, or carefully protected in order to do this.

They find their own way.