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The Fairey Battle single-engined day bomber monoplane was designed by a team headed by Marcel Lobelle during 1932-3 to the requirements of Specification P.27/32, and ordered for prototype construction on June 11, 1934. Powered by an 890 hp Merlin C, the prototype flew on March 10, 1936, and was intended as a two-seater (pilot and observer); provision for a radio operator/air gunner was made later, to man a Vickers 'K' 0.303-in (7.7-mm) dorsal gun. One Browing gun of similar calibre was carried in the star-board wing and a 1,000-lb (454-kg) bomb-load accommodated in wing cells could be supplemented by external wing bomb-racks.
Fairey Battle Mk I: Initial production orders placed 1935 for 655 aircraft to Specification 23/35, built by Fairey at Stockport and the first of which flew early 1937. Subsequent production orders to Specification 14/36 brought total built to 2,184 including 1,029 by Austin Motors Shadow Factory at Longbridge to Specification 32/36, and including target-tug and training versions noted below. Production Fairey Battles were fitted with 1,030 hp Merlin I, II, III or V, and were often referred to as Fairey Battle I, II, III or V respectively to facilitate spares backing and maintenance.
Entered service May 1937 with No 63 Sqn, and about 15 squadrons operational by September 1939. Operated widi AASF in France but little used as day bomber after 1940. One RAF squadron operational in Iceland until July 1941. One Fairey Battle I supplied, ex-RAF, to SAAF in April 1939 was followed by about 160 more in 1940, used by squadrons in Western Desert and East Africa until 1942. Twenty-eight transferred to Turkey, September 1939, and 12 to Greece, also in 1939; one earmarked for Poland not delivered. Several Fairey Battles used as engine test beds during war, with-Fairey P.24 and Prince, Napier Dagger VIII and Sabre, Bristol Taurus and Hercules and Rolls Royce Exe and Merlin XII.
Max speed at sea level, 257 mph (414 km/h) at 15,000 ft (4,572m), 215 mph (346 km/h) at 25,000ft (7,620 m). Cruising speed, 200 mph (322 km/h) at 16,000 ft (4,877 m). Time to 15,000 ft (4,572 m), 13 min 36 sec. Range, 1,100 mis (1,770 km) at 16,000 ft (4,877 m). Empty weight, 6,647 Ib (3,018 kg). Gross weight, 10,792 Ib (4,900 kg). Span, 54ft 0 in (16.46 m). Length, 42ft 4 in (12.90 m). Wing area, 422 sqft (39.20 m2).
Fairey Battle T: After the Fairey Battle was retired from front-line service, several units used the type, basically unmodified, for training. A special dual-control trainer evolved in 1939 had separate, similar cockpits in tandem; after prototype testing, 200 built by Fairey and 66 by Austin. Total of 740 Fairey Battles shipped to Canada, August 1939 onwards, for training school use, included 70 twin-cockpit Fairey Battle Ts and some Fairey Battle TT target tugs (see below); similarly, 364 ex-RAF Fairey Battles shipped to Australia, 1940 onwards, for training and target towing. For gunnery training, some Fairey Battles carried Bristol Type I single-gun dorsal turret in place of rear cockpit; two prototypes tested in UK and 204 similarly converted in Canada, 1942/43, as Fairey Battle IT, plus one turret trainer with R-1820-G3B Cyclone radial as Fairey Battle IIT.
Fairey Battle TT: Variant for use as target tug, with wind-driven winch on port side of fuselage and drogue stowage box below rear fuselage. 200 built by Austin, starting February 1940, plus conversions of Fairey Battle bombers in UK and Canada.
Belgian Fairey Battle: Sixteen Fairey Battles ordered for Aeronautique Militaire Beige in 1938, assembled by Avions Fairey at Gosselies from Stockport-built components. Radiator farther forward than British version; Merlin III engine. In service with 5e escadrille, III Groups, in May 1940 and used for a single mission against bridges over the Albert Canal.
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