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Avions Fairey Firefly

An Anglo-Belgian fighter aircraft, the original Felix-engined Firefly I was a private-venture single-seat biplane fighter first flown on November 12, 1925. Although it was much faster than contemporary RAF fighters-top speed 302 km/h (188 mph) it did not go into production, but an improved all-metal version, the Firefly IIM, was entered for an RAF fighter competition in 1929. Apart from its construction, this differed considerably from the Mk I, having a pronounced stagger to the wings, much-improved interplane and land-ing gear struts, modified vertical tail surfaces, redesigned turret with the stowing cradle for a ventral radiator (instead of wing-mounted), and a more powerful engine (480-hp Rolls-Royce Kestrel IIS) in an aerodynamically cleaner cowling. A 0.303-in (7.7-mm) Vickers machine-gun was mounted in each side of the fuselage, forward of the cockpit, to fire forwards through the propeller disc.

The Mk IIM lost the RAF competition to the Hawker Fury, but in a home-based competition, against strong continental opposition, it proved superior to all its rivals and was the only one of them to demonstrate a terminal velocity dive. As a result, in 1930 Belgian's Aeronautique Militaire ordered 45 (later increased to 88), of which all but the first 25 were manufactured by Fairey's Belgian subsidiary at Gosselies. Deliveries began in late 1931 and were completed during 1933. Although they were no longer in first-line service at the outbreak of the Second World War, about 50 were still on charge in May 1940 when Germany invaded Belgium, and took part in the brief fighting which followed. Most of the Fireflys that survived this period succeeded in escaping to France.

Fairey in Britain also built one Firefly Mk III/IIIM, a carrier version with bigger area wings, strengthened fuselage, catapult and arrester gear, bomb racks, and provision for floatplane landing gear. This competed unsuccessfully for a Royal Navy order against the Hawker Nimrod, but was later used as a practice floatplane by the 1931 RAF Schneider Trophy team. Two other Firefly IIMs were converted to Firefly IVs with 758-hp Hispano-Suiza 12 Xbrs engines.

Firefly IIM
Span: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)
Length: 7.52 m (24 ft 8 in)
Gross weight: 1490 kg (3285 lb)
Maximum speed: 282 km/h (175 mph).

Firefly IV
Engine: 758-hp Hispano-Suiza 12 Xbrs


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