Bristol Beaufighter Timeline 1939
March 1939: The long range fighter-bomber project was officially named Beaufighter.
17 July 1939: The first flight of the Beaufighter R 2052 prototype.
2 April 1940: R 2052 was delivered to the R.A.F. with two Hercules I-SM engines
with 2-speed supercharging. Maximum speed was 335 mph./16,800 ft. but
disappointing at higher altitudes.
30 April 1940: A second prototype (R 2053) with 1,300 hp. Hercules II engines had
been delivered. Combat weight of the aircraft had risen from 16,000 lb. to
18,531 lb. and performance was disappointing.
June 1940: The first flight of the Beaufighter IIF prototype with two Rolls-Royce
Merlin XX engines.
27 July 1940: The first five production Beaufighter IFs were delivered to the R.A.F
These had "bow & Arrow" aerials for the A.I. Mk.IV equipment. It is important
It is important to point out that the first Beaufighters to enter service did not
initially have radar but this was soon added by No. 32 M.U.
Two Bristol Hercules XI engines: 1,400 hp. with a three blade Rotol constant-
speed metal airscrew. 1,500 hp. when using the new 100 octane fuel.
Max. speed: 321-323 mph./15,000-15,800 ft.
Climb: 1,960 fpm./2,000 ft., 10,000 ft./5.8 min., 20,000 ft./14.1 min.
Service ceiling: 26,500 ft.
Range: 1,170 ml./5,000 ft./182 mph., 1,550 ml. maximum.
2 September 1940: The first operational Beaufighters were sent to No.25 Squadron
at North Weald, No.29 at Digby, No.219 at Catterick and No.604 at Middle
Wallop, one aircraft each.
17/18 September 1940: S/Ldr. Widdows and P/O Watson of No.29 Sqdn. flew the
first sortie in R2077 from 23:55 ro 01:05.
18 September 1940: Between 20:55 to 21:35 Widdows and Watson flew the first
27 September 1940: R2062 was destroyed in an enemy raid on Hucknall. It was
one of three of the first production batch that was supplied to Rolls-Royce in
1939 when the early Griffon engine was being considered for the prototypes
of the Mk.II.
25 October 1940: The first air to air victory was by Sgt. Hodkinson & Sgt. Benn
of 219 Squadron in Beaufighter R2097 shooting down a Do 17.
October & December 1940: R2058 and R2061 that were also delivered to Rolls-
Royce were now delivered with Merlin X engines producing 1,075 hp./T.O.
19/20 November 1940: The 1st night time radar equipped Beaufighter air to air
victory was by F/Lt. John Cunninham & Sgt. J. Phillipson of 604 Squadron in
R2098 destroying a Ju 88.
January 1941: Testing of the G.C.I. Radar does not give a feed back from the
earth and is very effective.
7 February 1941: The first flight of the Faire built Beaufighter I.
20 February 1941: The first flight of the Weston-built Beaufighter I.
22 March 1941: The first flight of the production Beaufighter II R2270 with a pair
of 1,280 hp. Merlin XXs that had a reduction in drag ahead of the c.g. and the
aircraft became unstable directionally. The introduction of 12 degrees of
dihedral on the tailplane corrected the directional stability problem. 450 of this
type were built.
Late April 1941: The first Beaufighter II was delivered to 604 Squadron with a
2-speed supercharger and 3 blade Roto constant-speed airscrews.
19/20 May 1941: Ina heavy "blitz" on London, 24 enemy aircraft were shot down
by fighters and two by AA fire. The events of this attack virtually ended the
Night Battle of Britain.
Note: " Early Beaufighters had fixed fittings, for both day and night duties; but
as these rolls became increasingly divergent, two distinct airframes were
standardized, distinguished by the suffex F for Fighter Command and C
for Coastal Command appended to Mark number. All production Beaufighter
IIs were designated IIF."
Note: The Fairey-Youngman bellows-type dive brake permitted rapid overtaking
of a target without the risk of collision at the last moment.
May 1941: No.600 Squadron was the first to receive Mk.IIFs in quantity.
Summer 1941: Two Mk.V designated Beaufighters with Boulton-Paul Type A
turrets with 4 x 0.303 in machine guns plus 2 x 20 mm forward firing cannon
in the lower fuselage were tested. The increased flexibility of the turret did
not make up for the reduced performance because of the added weight. The
actual over all firepower was reduced.
September 1941: The Mark I Feed (Chatellerault recoil-operated feed) mechanism
for the four 20 mm cannon was introduced in to the 401st Beaufighter.
Autumn 1941: No.2522 Squadron was formed in Coastal Command. The first 80
Beaufighter ICs were produced at Filton for their use and for 272 Squadron.
These were operated between the coasts of Norway and the Bay of Biscay.
January 1942: The Beaufighter VI began to supplant earlier models. The Mark
N.F.VIF with AI Radar. These had the Hercules VI or XVI engines capable of
1,615 hp./T.O. and 1,670 hp. for emergencies. This was the first mark to be
fitted with the gas-operated 0.303 in Vickers machine-gun in the observer's
station. A 50 gallon fuel tank was added in the starboard wing gun bay, a 24
gallon tank in the port wing gun bay and a 29 gallon tank installed outboard
of each engine nacelle. At 22,777 lb.:
Maximum Speed: 315 mph./14,000'
Initial Climb: 2,000 fpm.
Service Ceiling: 26,000 ft.
Range: 1,540 ml./190 mph.
March 1942: B. A. Company began designing a torpedo carrying Mark VIC.
April 1942: Bristol Aeroplane Co. received official permission to produce a
trial installation using a 22.5 in American or 18 in. British torpedo.
20 April 1942: The first of 76 Mk.IC Beaufighters is delivered to the RAAF. The
last of which arrives on 20 August 1945.
May 1942: Beaufighter VI I.T.F.(interim torpedo fighter) with the Hercules XVI
are put into service. These were designated Mark VIC by Coastal Command.
4 April 1943: The first operational success of the torpedo carrying Beaufighter
came when two enemy ships were sunk off the coast of Norway. These
were sunk by a trial squadron that had been supplied sixteen converted
26 May 1944: The first Australian-built Beaufighter is constructed and flown,
Beaufighter Mk.21 A8-1. Its Hercules XVIII engines have two-gear
superchargers. 364 were built before roduction ceased in 1945. These
had the standard 4 x 20 mm in the nose + 4 x 0.5 in Browning machine
guns in the wings and the ability to carry 8 x 5 in. high velocity aircraft
rockets, 2 x 250 lb. bombs, 2 x 500 lb. bombs and one Mk.13 torpedo.
Beaufighter TF Mk X: 2 x Hercules XVII engines with cropped superchargers
improved low-altitude performance. This was the last major version of
which 2,231 were produced. The later production models had a dorsal
fin installed. The T.F.X. engines produced 1,725 hp./T.O./2,900 rpm.,
1,735 hp./500 ft. and 1,375 hp./1,500 ft./2,400 rpm
Combat Weight: 9,808 - 25,400 lb.
Maximum Speed: 305 mph./S.L., 320 mph./10,000 ft.
Initial Climb Rate with torpedo:1,600 fpm.
Service Ceiling without torpedo: 19,000 ft.
Range with torpedo: 1,400 ml.
Range with torpedo and long-range tanks: 1,750 ml.
Beaufighter Mk.XIC:(T.F.X. without torpedo) had A.I. Mk.VIII radar in a thimble
shaped nose, large dorsal fin and increased area of the elevator.
Beaufighter XX: R.N.Z.A.F. Beaufighters had Hercules XVII engines and were
similar to the Mk.21 aircraft of Australia.
Edited by CORSNING, 17 February 2018 - 02:43 PM.