Bristol Beaufighter / DAP Beaufighter
The Bristol Beaufighter was a twin engine fighter/bomber that was
fast, heavily armed and armored and was constructed from the tail of a Beaufort. In the Pacific, used for low level attacks. The Allies claimed the Beaufighter was dubbed "The Whispering Death" because of the speed at which one could suddenly
strike and depart.
During World War II, Beaufighters were exported and served in both the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).
In Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) service Beaufighters built in the United Kingdom were assigned the serial number prefix A19.
Starting in January 1943, the Australian government decided to build the Beaufighter in Australia. Starting in 1944, the Department of Aircraft Production (DAP) at Fishermans Bend in Melbourne began building the Beaufighter Mark 21 model with a total of 364 built when production ceased in 1946. The Australian version had Hercules VII or XVIII engines and some minor changes in armament configuration. In Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) service DAP built Beaufighters were assigned the A8 prefix for serial numbers. Until 1950, the Australians used the Beaufighter as a front line fighter.
Mark Ic: A19-1 to A19-72
Mark VIc: A19-73 to A19-136
Mark X: A19-149, A19-150, A19-153 to A19-155, A19-159, A19-162, A19-164 to A19-218
Mark XIc : A19-137 to A19-148, A19-151, A19-152, A19-156 to A19-158, A19-160, A19-161, A19-163
Mark 21 : A8-1 to A8-365
A total of 5,928 were built including 5,564 in the United Kingdom plus 364 in Australia.
On September 21, 1945 British production of the Beaufighter ended with a total of 5,564 built including 5,564 Beaufighters built by Bristol and the Fairey Aviation Company at Stockport, plus 498 built by RAF Ringway and 3,336 built by the Ministry of Aircraft Production and 260 built by Rootes at Blythe Bridge.
When Australian production at Department of Aircraft Production (DAP) ceased a total of 364 Beaufort Mark 21 aircraft were built.
Crew Two (pilot and observer/gunner)
Engine 2 x Bristol Hercules XVII fourteen-cylinder
two-row sleeve-valve radial engines with three bladed propeller
Span 57' 10"
Length 41' 4"
Height 15' 10"
Maximum Speed 320 mph
Range 1,400 miles
Armament (fuselage) 4 x 20mm Hispano Mark II cannon with 240 rounds per gun (wings) 6 x Browning .303 machine guns
(observer) 1 x .303 in Browning machine gun facing rear
Ordnance 18" torpedo or 8 x rockets