Bristol / DAP 156 Beaufighter

1st Flight 1939

The Bristol Type 156 Beaufighter (often called the Beau) was a multi-role aircraft developed during the Second World War by the Bristol Aeroplane Company in the UK. It was originally conceived as a heavy fighter variant of the Bristol Beaufort torpedo bomber. The Beaufighter proved to be an effective night fighter, which came into service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the Battle of Britain, its large size allowing it to carry heavy armament and early airborne interception radar without major performance penalties.

The Beaufighter was used in many roles; receiving the nicknames Rockbeau for its use as a rocket-armed ground attack aircraft and Torbeau as a torpedo bomber against Axis shipping, in which it replaced the Beaufort. 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 as an anti-shipping aircraft, 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). Variants of the Beaufighter were manufactured in Australia by the Department of Aircraft Production (DAP); such aircraft are sometimes referred to by the name DAP Beaufighter.


Crew: 2

Length: 41 ft 4 in (12.60 m)

Wingspan: 57 ft 10 in (17.63 m)

Height: 15 ft 10 in (4.83 m)

Wing area: 503 sq ft (46.7 m2) [54]

Airfoil: root: RAF-28 (18%) ; RAF-28 (10%)[55]

Empty weight: 15,592 lb (7,072 kg)

Max takeoff weight: 25,400 lb (11,521 kg) with one torpedo

Fuel capacity: 550 imp gal (660 US gal; 2,500 l) normal internal fuel

Maximum fuel capacity: 682 imp gal (819 US gal; 3,100 l) (with optional 2x 29 imp gal (35 US gal; 130 l) external tanks / 1x 24 imp gal (29 US gal; 110 l) tank in lieu of port wing guns / 1x 50 imp gal (60 US gal; 230 l) tank in lieu of stbd. wing guns)

Powerplant: 2 × Bristol Hercules XVII or Bristol Hercules XVIII 14-cylinder air-cooled sleeve-valve radial piston engines, 1,600 hp (1,200 kW) each

Propellers: 3-bladed constant-speed propellers


Maximum speed: 320 mph (510 km/h, 280 kn) at 10,000 ft (3,000 m)

Range: 1,750 mi (2,820 km, 1,520 nmi)

Service ceiling: 19,000 ft (5,800 m)

Rate of climb: 1,600 ft/min (8.1 m/s)


Guns: * 4 × 20 mm (0.787 in) Hispano Mk II cannon (240 rpg) in nose

1 × manually operated 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Browning for observer

Rockets: 8 × RP-3 60 kg (130 lb) rockets

Bombs: 2× 250 lb (110 kg) bombs or 1× British 18 inch torpedo or 1x Mark 13 torpedo



National Museum of the US Air Force

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