Type 156 Beaufighter
Bristol Type 156 Beaufighter ExCC.jpg
A Beaufighter Mk X with rockets. This Beaufighter is NE255/EE-H of No. 404 Squadron RCAF, of RAF Coastal Command at Davidstow Moor, 21 August 1944.
Role Heavy fighter / strike aircraft
Manufacturer Bristol Aeroplane Company
First flight 17 July 1939
Introduction 27 July 1940
Retired 12 May 1960 (United Kingdom)
Status Retired (1960)
Primary users Royal Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
Produced May 1940 – 1946
Number built 5,928
Developed from Bristol Beaufort
The Bristol Type 156 Beaufighter (often referred to simply as the “Beau”) is a multi-role aircraft developed during the Second World War by the Bristol Aeroplane Company in the United Kingdom. It was originally conceived as a heavy fighter variant of the Bristol Beaufort bomber. Upon its entry to service, the Beaufighter proved to be well suited to the night fighter role, for which the Royal Air Force (RAF) initially deployed the type during the height of the Battle of Britain, in part due to its large size allowing it to accommodate both heavy armaments and early airborne interception radar without major performance penalties.
As its wartime service continued, the Beaufighter was used in many different roles; receiving the nicknames Rockbeau for its use as a rocket-armed ground attack aircraft, and Torbeau in its role as a torpedo bomber against Axis shipping, in which it came to replace the Beaufort which had preceded it. In later operations, it served mainly as a maritime strike/ground attack aircraft, RAF Coastal Command having operated the largest number of Beaufighters amongst all other commands at one point. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) also made extensive use of the type in the maritime anti-shipping role, such as during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea.
The Beaufighter saw extensive service during the war with the RAF (59 squadrons), Fleet Air Arm (15 squadrons), RAAF (seven squadrons), Royal Canadian Air Force (four squadrons), United States Army Air Forces (four squadrons), Royal New Zealand Air Force (two squadrons), South African Air Force (two squadrons) and Polskie Siły Powietrzne (Free Polish Air Force; one squadron). In addition, variants of the Beaufighter were also manufactured in Australia by the Department of Aircraft Production (DAP); such aircraft are sometimes referred to by the name DAP Beaufighter.
Colours : Gunze
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