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The Fairey Battle is best known for being one of the worst aircraft to serve in the Royal Air Force. On operations, it suffered the highest loss rate of any plane in the RAF's history. The missions flown by its brave crews became a byword for hopelessness and futility. Born out of muddled thinking, condemned before it even reached the squadrons and abandoned after the briefest of operational careers, the plane seems to thoroughly deserve its reputation. But was the Battle so useless? Why did it suffer such terrible loses? Was there nothing that could have been done to prevent the disasters of 1940?
A fresh look at the documents of the time suggest there was. They reveal a very different story of ignored recommendations and missed opportunities. It was the way it was used rather than fundamental flaws in the design that ensured its operational career was such a dismal failure. It might even be argued that in the desperate days of the summer of 1940, the Fairey Battle was exactly what Britain needed.
Despite being a great improvement on the aircraft that ...
The Fairey Battle was a disaster as a light day bomber, being too slow, vulnerable and under-gunned for air warfare in Second World War. Those surviving the early war years were reallocated to training duties.
The Battle was built to meet Air Ministry specification P.27/32 issued in April of 1933. The Fairey design initially envisioned the use of one of several high horse power engines then in development however ...
Greg Baughen's reassessment of the Fairey Battle is an interesting and thought provoking book on a much maligned aircraft.