The Fairey Battle entered service a few months after the Bristol Blenheim. Like the Blenheim, the Battle was categorise as a light-bomber and both types were designed to replace the Royal Air Forces obsolete biplane Hart and Hind bombers.
The first prototype Battle (K4303), with is sleek lines and all metal stress-skin construction, first flew on March 10, 1936. By May 1937, the aircraft had entered operational service with No. 63 Squadron, RAF stationed at Upwood.
Within two years of its introduction, it was soon realised that the aircraft would not be a viable type when confronted with the rapidly improving modern fighters. However, with no alternative types available to replace the remaining obsolete aircraft of the RAF. Production of "proven" aircraft types, including the Battle, were increased in order to equip the rapidly expanding air force.
Employed in the roll of a tactical bomber, Battle equipped squadron's were sent into combat in the skies over France. However, the vulnerability of the aircraft soon became obvious, as German Luftwaffe fighter attacks ravaged the normally un-escorted Battle formations. During May 1940, as the Battles' were thrown fruitlessly against the advancing German Blitzkrieg, almost half of all of the available Battle's stationed in France was lost in one day.
With little choice left to the Air Ministry, the remnants of the Battle squadron's were withdrawn from France and returned to their stations in England. Were they were to be rested and rebuilt to full their original full operational strengths.
With still no replacement aircraft types becoming readily available. Battle equipped squadrons continued to operate offensively from England and played a major roll in the destruction of German invasion barges in the Channel ports.
Fairey Battle Data
Engine : 1,030 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin
Span : 54'-0" (1.65 m)
Length : 42'-6" (12.95 m)
Height : 15'-6" (4.72 m)
Empty Weight : 6,647 lbs. (3,015 kg)
Loaded Weight : 10,792 lbs. (4,895 kg)
Maximum Speed : 241 mph at 13,000 ft. (3,962 m)
Ceiling: 23,500 ft. (7,163 m)
Range: 1,050 miles (1,690 km)
One fixed 0.303" machine gun in the starboard wing, single Vickers "K" gun located in the rear canopy,1,000 lbs. (454 kg) bomb load.
Bomber Command squadron's equipped with the Battle.
12, 15, 35, 40, 52, 63, 88, 98, 103, 105, 106, 142, 150, 185, 207, 218, 226, 300, 301, 304, 305
Updated: January 2008