Category Archives: Reconnaissance


Fairey ‘Seafox’ Mk.I, (Matchbox)

TYPE: Reconnaissance floatplane


POWER PLANT: One Napier Rapier air-cooled engine, rated at 395 hp


COMMENT: The Fairey Seafox was a 1930s British reconnaissance floatplane designed and built by Fairey for the Royal Fleet Air Arm. It was designed to be catapulted from the deck of a light cruiser and served in the WW II. Of the 66 built, two were finished as landplanes.
The Fairey Seafox was built to satisfy Air Ministry Specifications S.11/32. The first of two prototypes appeared in 1936, first flying on May 1936, and the first of the 64 production aircraft were delivered in 1937. The flights were organized as 700 Naval Air Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm.
The fuselage was of all-metal monocoque construction, the wings being covered with metal on the leading edge, otherwise fabric. It was powered by a 16-cylinder 395 hp air-cooled Napier Rapier H engine. It cruised at 106 mph, and had a range of 440 mi.
Although the Seafox handled well, it was criticized for being underpowered, engine cooling was poor and landing speeds were higher than desired.
In 1939, a Seafox played a part in the Battle of River Plate against the German pocket battleship “Admiral Graf Spee”, by spotting for the naval gunners. This ended with “Graf Spee’s” scuttling and destruction.
Seafoxes operated during the early part of the war from the cruisers HMS “Emerald”. “Neptune”, “Orion”, “Ajax”, “Arethusa” and “Penelope” and the armed merchant cruisers HMS “Pretoria Castle”, “Asturias” and “Alcantara”. The floatplanes remained in service until 1943 (Ref.: 24).

Blackburn B.20 (Unicraft, Resin)

TYPE: Medium-range Maritime Reconnaissance Flying Boat


POWER PLANT: Two Rolls-Royce “Vulture” liquid-cooled engines, rated at 1,830 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 306 mph at 15.000 ft

COMMENT: One of the most interesting flying boats to be built and flown during the war years  was the Blackburn B.20 medium-range reconnaissance aircraft. The B.20 represented an attempt to reconcile the conflicting requirements for angles of incidence and correct streamlining between the conditions of take-off and level flight, and simultaneously provide adequate clearance between airscrews and water. The novel feature of the B.20 was the use of a retractable planning bottom. The pontoon was attached to the main hull by means of links so designed that when the pontoon was extended the hull and wings automatically assumed the best attitude for take-off. When the pontoon was retracted it presented a good streamline form with the main hull. The B.20 was first flown early in 1940 and a number of flights were made, the aircraft performing well both on the water and in the air, and the retractable pontoon operating successfully. Unfortunately, the B.20 was lost during a test flight and further development of the flying boat was abandoned in favor of the Saro “Lerwick”. However, during the war design work on a flying-boat fighter Blackburn B.44 employed the retractable pontoon principle, but this project never left the drawing-board (Ref.: 14).

Fairey Firefly F.R.Mk.I (Pawla Models)

TYPE: Carrier-borne fighter-reconnaissance aircraft

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of two (pilot and radar-observer)

POWER PLANT: One Rolls-Royce Griffon XII inline engine, rated at 1,765 hp

PERFORMANCE:  316 mph at 14,000 ft

COMMENT: The Fairey Firefly brought versatility to a degree previously unapproached in a carrier-borne aircraft. Despite the fact that its wartime career was relatively brief, the Firefly not seeing action until mid-July 1944, it fought in practically every operational theatre, from the Arctic to the Tropics, emerging as perhaps the most successful of British wartime shipboard aeroplanes. In 1939 the admiralty issued specification N.8/39 and N.9/39, which respectively called for a fixed-gun fighter and a fighter possessing a power-driven turret in which all armament was concentrated. The Fairey Company submitted designs for both specifications, but concluded that a clean two-seat fighter with fixed-gun armament offered greater potentialities. A design on these lines was accepted in principle, specification was revised to N.5/40, and an initial contract for 200 machines was ordered. On December 1941 the first prototype – the name “Firefly” was selected – made its initial flight. The first production aircraft was delivered in March 1943 and quantity production began in autumn 1942. The contract called for 800 aircraft and the first operational unit received the Firefy F.I. on October 1943. A total of 430 F.Mk.I are built by Fairey and under sub-contract by General Aircraft. The Firefly F.I was succeeded by the F.R.Mk.I fighter-reconnaissance aircraft carrying ASH shipping detection radar, a total of 376 aircraft were produced (Ref.: 12).

Fairey Albacore Mk.II, 145 Squadron, RCAF (MPM)

TYPE: Carrier-borne torpedo bomber, reconnaissance

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of three

POWER PLANT: One Bristol Taurus XII radial engine, rated at 1,130 hp


COMMENT: The Fairey Albacore was a British single-engine carrier-borne biplane torpedo bomber built  by Fairey Aviation between 1939 and 1943 for the  Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm and used during the  Second World War. It was designed for spotting and reconnaissance as well as level bombing, dive bombing and as a torpedo bomber. The Albacore, popularly known as the “Applecore”, was conceived as a replacement for the ageing Fairey Swordfish , which had entered service in 1936. The Albacore served with the Swordfish and was retired before it, being replaced by the Fairey Barracuda and Grumman Avenger torpedo bombers. A total of 800 Albacores were built (Ref.: 23).

Fairey Swordfish Mk.III (Matchbox)

TYPE: Torpedo bomber, anti-submarine aircraft, trainer

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of three

POWER PLANT: One Bristol Pegasus III M3 radial engine, rated at 690 hp

PERFORMANCE: 143 mph at 5.000 ft

COMMENT: The Fairey Swordfish was a biplane torpedo bomber designed by the Fairey Aviation company, used by the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm during World War II. Originating in the 1930s, the Swordfish, nicknamed “Stringbag”, was an outdated design by the start of the war in 1939, but remained in front-line service until the end of the hostilities in Europe outliving several types intended to replace it, e.g. the Fairey Albacore. It was initially operated primarily as a fleet attack aircraft. During its later years the aircraft was equipped with racks under the lower wings to enable the mounting of rockets and a large centrimetric radar in a fairing under the fuselage. It was used as an anti-submarine and training aircraft. When the production was halted in August 1944 a total 2,391 have been built (Ref.:23).