Bristol Beaufighter.

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Bristol Beaufighter.

Berichtdoor Tandorini » 07 jun 2008, 19:20

Britse nachtjager.
Op 17 juli 1939 vloog het eerste Bristol Beaufighter prototype.Hij zou de nachtelijke verdedigingstaak over gaan nemen van de Bristol Blenheim MK IF interim-nachtjager tijdens de Duitse nachtelijke Blitzkrieg in de winter van 1940-1941.Aanvankelijk werd de Beaufighter voortgestuwd door 1044kW Bristol Hercules III stermotoren met schuifkleppen.De Beaufighter MK IF ws uitgerust met een AI.MK IV radar (te herkennen aan pijlvormige antenne op de neus).Na de eerste operationele tests bij de Fighter Interception-eenheid tijdens de latere fase van de Slag om Groot-Brittannië,werd het type vanaf september 1940 geleverd aan de nachtjager-eenheden van de RAF.
Doordat men nog niet vertrouwd was met de AI-radar,werden in 1940 weinig successen met het type geboekt.In de laatste drie maanden van de Blitzkrieg begon de Beaufighter echter steeds een grotere rol te eisen van de Duitse bommenwerpers.De nachtjagereenheden die in Groot-Brittannië met de Beaufighter MK IF waren uitgerust,waren de No's 25,29,68,141,153,219,256,600 en 604.

Toenemende productie.
De productie werd verder opgevoerd en omvatte onder meer duizend toestellen die vanuit de 'schaduwfabrieken' waren besteld.Vanaf het 51ste toestel werden de Beaufighters bewapend met zes in de vleugel gemonteerde 7,7-mm machinegeweren,naast de vier 20-mm boordkanonnen onder in de buik.Doordat er vertragingen waren bij de leveringen van de verbeterde Hercules stermotoren,werd er bij de Beaufighter MK II gekozen voor Rolls-Royce Merlin XX V-12 motoren.Het eerste productie-exemplaar van dit type maakte zijn eerste lucht op 22 maart 1941 vanuit Filton.In juli werd hij in gebruik genomen door het Fighter Command,bij No.255 Squadron.Daarna volgden in augustus het door Poolse vliegers gevormde No. 307 Squadron,en No.96 en 125 Squadron in 1942.De Beaufighter MK III is de lichter versie.De Beaufighter MK IV had Rolls-Royce Griffon motoren,maar werd niet geproduceerd.Wel vloog er bij wijze van experiment een Beaufighter MK II met Griffonmotoren.De Beaufighter MK V had een geschutskoepel op de rug met vier Defiant boordkanonnen.Het type werd echter niet operationeel omdat de koepel de nooduitgang van de piloot belemmerde.
De Beaufighter MK VIF werd de belangrijkste nachtjager van de RAF tot de komst van de Mosquito MK II.De MK II vloog in Groot-Brittannië bij de nachtjagereenheden No. 29,68,96,125,141,153,219,255,256,307,600 en 604.In 1942/1943 vloog het type bij de Squadrons No. 46,89,108,144,252 en 272 in het Midden-Oosten.De Beaufighter MK VIF-Squadrons No.255 en 600 werden na de landingen in Noord-Afrika van Engeland naar het Middellandse-Zeegebied overgeplaatst.Op 30 april 1943 haalden sergeant Downing en sergeant Lyons van No.600 Squadron in hun Beaufighter MK VIF bij Setif binnen tien minuten vijf Junkers Ju 52/3 transporttoestellen neer.In het Verre Oosten vlogen de Beaufighter MK VIF's bij No. 27,89,176 en 17è,vooral rond Calcutta en boven Birma.Toen de Beaufighter voor het eerst in gebruik werd genomen,beschouwde men het als een lastig te vliegen toestel,vooral op één motor.Maar later werd het kielvlak vergroot en kreeg het staartstuk een V-stelling om de landingsstabiliteit te verbeteren.Dit leidde tot een goede nachtjager waar de RAF in de midoorlogse periode twee jaar lang op vertrouwde.

Specificaties.
Beaufighter MK VIF.
Type:Tweezits nachtjager.
Motoren:Twee 1245kW (1670-pk) Bristol Hercules VI of XVI luchtgekoelde sterzuigermotoren met schuifkleppen.
Prestaties:Maxiumsnelheid 536km/u op 4755m;Klim naar 4570m in 7min. en 48sec.;Plafond 8075m;Vliegbereik 2382km.
Gewicht:Leeg 6623kg;Maximaal startgewicht 9800kg.
Afmetingen:Spanwijdte:17,6m;Lengte:12,7m;Hoogte:4,8m;Vleugeloppervlak:46,7m².
Bewapening:Vier 20-mm boordkanonnen in de neus en zes 7,7-mm machinegeweren in de vleugels en een 7,7-mm beweegbaar machinegeweer in de rug.

Afbeelding

Een Beaufighter klaar voor aanvallen tijdens D-Day.

Afbeelding

Laag over zee scherend vuurt een Beaufighter zijn raketten af.

Afbeelding

Een Duits schip krijgt de volle laag van twee Beaufighters.
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Re: Bristol Beaufighter.[Wo2-GB.]

Berichtdoor Tandorini » 29 jan 2009, 21:16

Afbeelding

Cockpit van een MK-IC.
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Avatar:De Siciliaanse vlag,oorspronkelijk uit 1282,de triskelion (trinacria) in het midden,is van oorsprong een oud Keltisch zonnesymbool.


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Re: Bristol Beaufighter.

Berichtdoor Tandorini » 20 okt 2010, 20:38

Whispering death.
From the defence of the night sky over England to the daylight rocket incursions in the jungle of Burma, the Beaufighter proved itself to be a truly amazing fighting machine.Conceived during the panic created by the Munich Crisis, it also proved that a fighter could be 'improvised' with great succes out of a bomber, in this case the Beaufort.

The quest in Britain for a four-cannon fighter - twin or single-engined - originated way back in the mid 'thirties. Bristol Aeroplane Company tendered for both F.37/35 and F.18/37 without success. In the twin-engined category, the Royal Air Force had its eyes set on the Westland Whirlwind though teething problems were eventually to cause graven concern. There was still a gap in RAF inventory for a long-range fighter which could provide a decisive punch, taking the fight into enemy territory rather than fighting an aggressor away from home ground.
In 1938, the Munich Crisis caught the RAF with obsolete types such as the Fury and Gladiator still equipping its front line squadrons. Bristol was fully geared up the develoment and production of the Blenheim and Beaufort when Captain F. Barnwell passed away in august; he was succeeded by Leslie G. Frise, who soon realised the situation within the RAF. Frise took stock of the situation, and could foresee that the prototypes ordered by the RAF in the long-range fighter and night-fighter categories were still far away and would, most probably, fall short of future requirements.
Bristol's tests on the Beaufort torpedobomber - a derivative of the Blenheim - registered an enormous reserve of strength. Wings, engine nacelles, undercarriage and tail could provide the basis for a new heavily-armed fighter thus rationalising on manufacturing resources, maximising the use of existing jigs. Bristol set itself the task of producing the new fighter as a private venture, exchanging the 1,000hp Bristol Taurus engines of the Beaufort for 1,5000hp Hercules, also of its own manufacture which required larger-diameter propellers, this meant that the nose of the new machine had to be cut back, and engines had to be mounted on their centreline, not underslung, to afford ground clearance.
Standard Beaufort bolting and fittings could be used to marry the wings to the new forward fuselage which was much slimmer at the top, producing the characteristic bell-shaped cross-section. At the rear end, the new fuselage sloped down to meet the Beaufort's stern, complete with forward retractable tailwheel, fin, rudder and horizontal tail surfaces. A crew of two was to be accommodated: a pilot sitting centrally in a comfortably wide cockpit and an observer/navigator (whose duties included loading the 20-mm cannon) stationed helf way down the fuselage sitting under a bubble canopy.

From Fort to Fighter.
A few days after the Beaufort's first flight in october 1938, Bristol presented its proposal (Type 156) to the Air Ministry: the new fighter was large by any standard, but the Air Staff liked what they saw and authorised the construction of four prototypes. On november 16, detail design began, together with the formulation for two other versions: the first (Type 157) was a proposed three-seat bomber version equipped with a dorsal turret similar to the Blenheim while the second (Type 158) considered the speed with which the new fighter was designed and built was extraordinary and within six months the prototype, R2052, was complete.
Meanwhile, the type was given the name 'Beaufighter' in march 1939. On july 17, the prototype, powered by Hercules III engines, took to the air for the first time; however, a production order for 300 examples had already been placed 'off the drawning board' fourteen days previously, in accordance with Air Ministry Specification F.17/39. Origenally it was intended to assign the Hercules VI engines of 1,61hp (at take-off) to the Beaufighter but it became clear that deliveries from the shadow factory at accrington would not match the speed with which Bristol could produce the fighter. So Hercules III's providing a maximum of 1,500hp had to be installed on the initial production batch, married to DeHavilland propellers in place of the desired Rotols, again due to difficulties in supplies. Armament comprised four 20-mm Hispano cannon with interchangeable 60-round drums per cannon, mounted low in the centre fuselage and firing through ports right under the pilot's feet.
With Bristol Hercules engines earmarked for the vast bomber production programme then being planned, it was considered wise to invest in an alternatively powered Beaufighter. Rolls-Royce Griffon engines were considered as alternatives, the change over being possible with minimum structural change. This, together with some other modifications such as the change of undercarriage to a longer-stroke Lockheed unit, an increase in the fin area and a reduction of 3in in propeller diameter to improve ground clearance slowly pushed Beaufighter development backwards. While a prototype was produced and flown in six months, deliveries would take a year to begin.
R2052 was officially handed over on april 2, 1940 while second prototype R2053 followed two weeks later. While R2052 had produced a top speed of 335 mph (540 km/u) R2054, which was the first fully-equipped prototype clocked only 309 mph (497 km/u). This raised a few eyebrows, reflecting the veracity of Bristol's original plan to power the new fighter with Bristol VI's. Though one Griffon-engine Beaufighter was produced (T3177), the engine's choice as powerplant for the Fairey Firefly put a strain on its procurement and Bristol had to look for another alternative which presented itself in the form of the Merlin. Thus it was decided that about half of the Beaufighters on the Filton production line were to be fitted with Merlin XX's. At the same time, a second order brought up total procurement to 1218.
Official designations were changed as follows: Beaufighter Mk I as powered by Hercules III engines, Mk II powered by the Merlin 'power-egg' produced as the outer nacelles of the Lancaster; the Mk III and IV were to be the slim-fuselaged Beaufighter with the respective engines which, but the sub-types never materialised. Rolls-Royce undertook the conversion of first pair of Merlin-powered Beaufighters Mk II (R2058 and R2061, though fitted with Merlin X rather than the specified XX), the first flying at Hucknall in july 1940, and delivered to Filton by september.
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Re: Bristol Beaufighter.

Berichtdoor Tandorini » 23 okt 2010, 20:12

Beaufighter deliveries.
By july 27, 1940 Bristol had delivered the first batch of five Beaufighters to the RAF, a second batch of five following early august with deliveries gaining momentum soon afterwards, especially with the commissioning of two shadow factories at Stockport and Weston-super-Mare. The Beaufighter's awesome size (for a fighter) came in for some initial scepticism, soon wiped out when it was found to be the only fighter able to carry the bulky Al Mk IV radar for night interception. Production machines presented some fines improvements such as redesigned nacelles to improve aerodynamics, inner and outer fuel jettison chutes were combined into one, positioned at the rear end of the nacelles, and emergency exits for both crew members were provided in the fuselage underbelly.
Great improvements to the armement system were also underway. The hand-changed 60-round magazine system was considered impractical,especially during combat, so Bristol first devised a recoil-operated feed only to be turned down by the Ministry of Aircraft Production (MAP). Then a servo-feed mechanism was installed and presented on R2055 on may 6, 1940. First 50 examples off the production line were ordered with the original 60-round magazine system while the new arrangement was accepted on the terms that the 120 rounds per cannon had to be increased to 240. At this stage, MAP ordered the French Chatellerault recoil system as standard 'Mark I Feed' on all cannon installations but protracted development meant that it could opnly be fitted after the first 400 Beaufighters had been produced. Eventually it was discovered that Bristol's original recoil system was practically identical; in fact its adoption would have saved considerable time and development costs. Meanwhile, from the 51st Beaufighter onwards, six .303 (7,7-mm) Browning machine guns were installed in the wing, four starboard and two port. This made the Beaufighter the heaviest armed fighter in the world at that time.
On september 2, 1940 four Blenheim Mk IF squadrons received a Beaufighter each for familiarisation training: R2056 went to N° 25 based at North Weald, R2072 to N° 29 at Digby, R2070 to N° 219 at Catterick and R2073 to N° 604 at Middle Wallop, N° 600 squadron became the fifth Beaufighter unit receiving its first example on september 8 at Hornchurch. This made them only RAF units flying Beaufighters just after the height of the Battle of Britain and were to remain so during the winter blitz which lasted up to may of the following year. First operational night sortie was performed by 29 squadron on 17/18 september but the first official kill - a Do 17 - was credited to R2097 of N° 219 squadron flown by Sgt Hodgkinson and Sgt Benn on oktober 25.

Merlins in lieu of Hercules.
In april 1941 deliveries of the 450 Mk II's, now fitted with standard Merlin XX's, began with R2277 to N° 604 squadron with N° 600 receiving R2278 soon after. A pair of Mk II's, R2274 and R2306, had their wings guns and two of the belly cannon removed and a Defiant-style four-gun Boulton-Paul BPA.1 turret fitted above the fuselage, just after the cockpit. Designated Mk V's, these were issued for operational trials with N° 406 and 29 squadrons but were unpopilar with the crews as the turret obstructed the pilot's emergency exit. Lancanster production took over procurement of all existing Merlins, so Bristol turned back to its Hercules for power; the final 120 Mk I's were produced with Hercules XI's (again in lieu of the planned VI's), which in fact were Mk III's converted to operate on 100-actane fuel.
An urgent plea came from the Middle East for a long-range fighter for Coastal Command. In responce, Bristol produced the Mk IC (the normal version now bieng designated Mk IF) with additional wing tanks in place of the machine guns, a navigator's table and a DF loop aerial. To accelerate matters, the extra fuel was incorporated in tanks positioned on the floor between the cannon bays on early examples until enough wing tanks became available, the first (T3228) joining N° 252 squadron on march 8, 1941. By may, the unit was flying detachments from North Africa and Malta with such success that it was to remain in that theatre for the rest of the war.
Here N° 252 was later joined by N° 272, while N° 46 and 89 used their Beaufighters in the night intruder role. The Mk IC's success can be gauged by the fact that N° 272 squadron claimed 49 enemy aircraft destroyed and 42 damaged while operating from Malta during july 1941. Not to be outdone by well-publicited daring De Havilland Mosquito raids, Beaufighter T4800 of N° 236 squadron flew from Thorney Island on june 12, 1942 at low-level to Paris, dropped a French flag on the Arc de Triomphe and proceeded with a cannon attack on Gestapo Headquarters at the Place de la Concorde.
With the availability of the Hercules VI engine, the Beaufighter Mk VI appeared, being practically a re-engined Beaufighter Mk I. Performance improved, with 333 mph (535 km/u) being reached at 4750 m. Again, F (Fighter) and C (Coastal Command) versions were distinguished by their wing tankage/armament fit, the VIC having an extra range of 330 mile (530 km). Progress in radar development meant that the AI Mk VII (and later AI Mk VIII) unit could be housed within a bulged nose, first tested in Mk IF X7579, on the Beaufighters Mk VIF which entered service with N° 68 and 604 squadrons, first of 22 RAF units to fly the type. The VIC began to replace the IC in Coastal Command as from 1942, total Mk VI production reaching 1852 examples.

Mast-high Beau's.
With positive results being registered by Beaufighter crews in all camps, thought was now given to the possibility of Beaufighters delivering torpedo's. X8065, a Mk VIC, fitted with a modified British 18-in (46-cm) or US 22.5-in (57-cm) torpedo was flying at Filton in april and on may 8 went for further trials at the Torpedo Development Unit, Gosport. This led to the construction of 16 torpedo-carrying Beaufighters which were passed onto N° 254 squadron, the total later being raised to 50 Interim Torpedo Fighter (ITF) standard before passing onto the definite version, which became the Beaufighter TF Mk X of which 2205 examples were to be built. The opportunity was also taken to change the Hercules VI engines - unpopular with Coastal Command - to Hercules XVII's. Another modification was the installation of a Vickers 0.303 (7.7-mm) 'K' machine gun in a modified blister in the observer's mid-upper position. This proved so popular that it was retrofitted to many previous models of Beaufighters, especially Mk VIC's. A final refinement was the introduction of a dorsal extension of the fin and enlarged V-type elevators.
Development of the TF Mk X continued apace with deliveries: ASV radar nose fit, provision for underwing bomb racks and, most important of all in the anti-shipping role (apart from the torpedo weapon), the installation of four rockets under each wing in lieu of the wing guns, cannon rounds being indreased from 240 to 285 per cannon. Beaufighters with such devastating firepower were formed into massive Strike Wings within Coastal Command, which included no less than five RAF squadrons and others from the RCAF, RAAF and RNZAF (all retaining RAF schemes, markings and serials). They laid a path of destruction against enemy shipping from the North Sea, throught the Channel during D-Day operations and down to the Mediterranean.
The Mk XIC, of which 163 were built at Weston, lacked torpedo gear. A Mk XII, with Hercules 27 engines and a wing stressed to carry bombs was considered but never proceeded with. Final version was to be the TT Mk 10 for target tug dutie, the first of which flew for the first time in may 1948 followed by 35 examples built at Filton. These served faithfully up to May 16, 1960 when the final Beaufighter flight was performed at Seletar in Singapore.

Export Beaufighters.
Spurred by the succes of RAF units flying Beaufighters in the Far East, such as N° 27 and N° 176 on Mk IF's and VIF's late in 1942 and early 1943, together with its own experience on 72 Mk IC, 64 VIC's, 62 Mk X's and 20 Mk XIC's (serialled A19-1 to 218), the RAAF decided to switch to this type on the Beaufort production line at Fisherman's Bend. This was standardised on the Mk X version with Hercules XVIII engines but lacked nose radar and the dorsal fin. Designated Mk 21, RAAF Beaufighters retained the pair of .303's in the port wing but the four starboard guns were replaced by .50-in (12.7-mm) guns. First Mk 21, serialled A8-1, flew for the first time on may 16, 1944 with deliveries eventually being effected to N° 22, 30, 31, 92 and 93 squadrons totalling 364 machines.
The USAAF flew Beaufighter VIF's during the North African campaign within the First Tactical Command. Of interest is the fact that 414, 415, 416 and 417 Fighter squadrons also flew Beaufighters until supplied by P-61 Black Widows. Turkey received some Mk X's in 1944 which were hastily marked with new national markings while RAF roundels were hastely painted over. However, 20 ex-RAF machines in much better condition were delivered to Turkey just after war's end.
Portugal was the recepient of 15 TF Mk X in april 1945 and two more examples the following year, forming Esquadrilla 8 of the Forcas Aereas du Armada (naval air arm). Further foreign deliveries consisted of ten Mk X's, retrofitted as Mk VI's, to the Dominican Air Force and four examples were integrated into the embryonic Israeli Air Force. The latter were acquired through a dubious deal, the purchaser buying five civil examples for 'filming purposes', one of which crashed after delivery, the rest flying out to Palestine.
Considering the numbers built, surviving Beaufighter are a rarity, and an example under rebuilt might become the first to take to the air after some 35 years.
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Re: Bristol Beaufighter.

Berichtdoor Tandorini » 07 dec 2011, 21:32

VariantenBeaufighter Mk IF: Two-seat night fighter variant.

Beaufighter Mk IC: The "C" stood for Coastal Command variant; many were modified to carry bombs.

Beaufighter Mk II: However well the Beaufighter performed, the Short Stirling bomber programme by late 1941 had a higher priority for the Hercules engine and the Rolls-Royce Merlin XX-powered Mk II was the result.

Beaufighter Mk IIF: Production night fighter variant.

Beaufighter Mk III/IV: The Mark III and Mark IV were to be Hercules and Merlin powered Beaufighters with a new slimmer fuselage carrying an armament of six cannon and six machine guns which would give performance improvements. The necessary costs of making the changes to the production line led to the curtailing of the Marks.

Beaufighter Mk V: The Vs had a Boulton Paul turret with four 0.303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns mounted aft of the cockpit supplanting one pair of cannon and the wing-mounted machine guns. Only two (Merlin-engined) Mk Vs were built. R2274 when tested by the A&AEE was capable of 302 mph at 19,000 ft.

Beaufighter Mk VI: The Hercules returned with the next major version in 1942, the Mk VI, which was eventually built to over 1,000 examples.

Beaufighter Mk VIC: Torpedo-carrying variant dubbed the "Torbeau".

Beaufighter Mk VIF: This variant was equipped with AI Mark VIII radar. Changes included a dihedral tailplane.

Beaufighter Mk VI (ITF): Interim torpedo fighter version.

Beaufighter TF Mk X: Two-seat torpedo fighter aircraft. The last major version (2,231 built) was the Mk X, among the finest torpedo and strike aircraft of its day. The later production models featured a dorsal fin.

Beaufighter Mk XIC: Built without torpedo gear for Coastal Command use.

Beaufighter Mk 21: The Australian-made DAP Beaufighter. Changes included Hercules CVII engines, four 20 mm cannon in the nose, four Browning .50 in (12.7 mm) in the wings and the capacity to carry eight 5 in (130 mm) High-Velocity Aircraft Rockets (HVAR), two 250 lb (110 kg) bombs, two 500 lb (230 kg) bombs and one Mk 13 torpedo.

Beaufighter TT Mk 10: After the war, many RAF Beaufighters were converted into target tug aircraft.
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Avatar:De Siciliaanse vlag,oorspronkelijk uit 1282,de triskelion (trinacria) in het midden,is van oorsprong een oud Keltisch zonnesymbool.


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