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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Fairey Firefly

The Fairey Firefly Recon Fighter – Fast Recon In WW2

 Andrew Knighton


A Plane Made for Two

The Fairey Firefly was a two-seat fighter and reconnaissance aircraft used by the British during WWII.

A Naval Plane

The Firefly was deployed by the Royal Navy, providing air support for ships at sea.

One in a Series

The Firefly was one in a series of planes that had fulfilled a similar role for British naval forces. Beginning in 1926 the Fleet Air Arm first commissioned a fast two-seat fighter to act as a reconnaissance plane.

Coming into Service

The Firefly entered service during WWII. Its first flight took place on December 22, 1941, just after the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor, bringing America into the war. Its first flights, therefore, were at a time of change and escalating conflict.

Becoming Lead Fighter

The Firefly soon proved its worth as a plane. From July 1943, it was the Royal Navy’s primary carrier-borne fighter. It was the first time the British Royal Navy had made significant use of aircraft carriers, making the Firefly an important plane.

Attacking the Tirpitz

The first major action in which Fireflies took part was a series of attacks against the Tirpitzin July 1944. The Tirpitz and its sister ship the Bismarck were the most powerful battleships in the German fleet. The were a source of fear and an important target for Allied fleets serving off the coast of Europe.

First Kill

On January 2, 1945, a Firefly scored a kill in an aerial combat for the first time. It took place during a dogfight over Sumatra, as part of an attack on oil refineries there. A Firefly from No. 1770 Squadron shot down a Japanese Oscar fighter.

Supply Drops

During the weeks following Japan’s surrender, thousands of Allied prisoners remained trapped in severe conditions in the Japanese prisoner of war camps. Fireflies of the Fleet Air Arm dropped supplies to POWs in camps in mainland Japan.

Firefly Mk IV

Later Wars

Fireflies were involved in British forces action during subsequent wars. They served in Korea, which was the first time jet versus jet combat was used in war and which heralded the end of planes like the Firefly. They also carried out ground attacks during the British intervention in Malaya in 1954.

International Service

The Netherlands Air Force also used fireflies; AS4s in Indonesia in 1962.

Not a Fast Plane

The Firefly was equipped with a Rolls-Royce 1990hp Griffon XII engine. It was a step up from the Merlin engine which its predecessor, the Fairey Fulmar had. With a maximum speed of 416 miles per hour, it added an extra 40 miles per hour to the speed of Britain’s shipboard fighters. However, it was slow in comparison with other fighter planes taking to the skies around the same time.

Good Manoeuvring

The Firefly handled well at low speeds. With limited space on board aircraft carrier decks to take off and land on, it was important the plane operated well at relatively low speeds.

Fairey Fireflies aboard HMS Indefatigable after attacking Pangkalan Brandan, Sumatra.

Cannons in Place of Machine-Guns

The Fulmar was equipped with eight machine-guns, letting it put a large volume of firepower into the air. On the Firefly, they were replaced with four 20mm cannons.
The move to cannons was in line with changes made by the majority of air forces in WWII. Most planes had metal fuselages, making them tougher than the aircraft of earlier eras. Explosive shells fired from cannons were far more likely to do damage to those planes than machine-guns could.
A new development in fuel tanks also played a part. The Germans had created a self-sealing fuel tank, coated in layers of vulcanized and non-vulcanised rubber. If a tank was punctured, the leaking fuel caused the non-vulcanised rubber to expand, sealing the gap. As a result, just putting holes in the tank was not enough to send a plane up in flames. If a shell hit the fuel tank and exploded, no amount of expanding rubber could save the aircraft.

The N.F.2

The first attempt to create a night fighting version of the Firefly was the N.F.2 model. It was given recently developed airborne radar with which to target enemy planes in the dark.
The weight of the equipment changed the Firefly’s center of gravity. To counter it, the fuselage in the N.F.2 was lengthened by 18 inches.

The F.R.1

Changes in the way the radar was mounted meant the N.F.2 was not produced in large numbers. Instead, a different night fighting Firefly was developed repositioning the radar; the F.R.1.

Exhaust Dampers

One of the most important signs that could give away a night fighter in the darkness was the glow from the engine exhaust. To counter it, all Firefly night fighters were equipped with exhaust dampers.

A Fairey Firefly about to land on HMS Pretoria Castle.

Shifting Radiators

The first Fireflies had their radiators mounted underneath the engine. It was changed in later models when the radiators were moved into the wings, altering the appearance of the plane.


The Firefly had a wingspan of 44 feet 6 inches. To fit inside an aircraft carrier, the wings were folded back leaving a wingspan of only 13 feet 3 inches.


The fuel capacity of the Firefly gave it a range of 1,300 miles, enabling it to carry out reconnaissance over a wide area around its carrier base.

Heights Reached

The Firefly could climb 15,000 feet in just under ten minutes. It could fly at heights of up to 28,000 feet.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Ho 229/Go229 The Horten Brothers Flying Wing Marvel

The Horten 229 V3 “Flying Wing” – Amazing Image Collection

The Horten Ho 229 is generally known by a few unique names. The plane was called the H.IX, by the Horten Brothers. The identity Ho 229 had been given to the plane by the German Ministry of Aviation. Sometimes, it was also called the Gotha Go 229, because Gothaer Waggonfabrik was the name of the German maker who manufactured the plane.
This plane has been recently called “Hitler’s Stealth fighter”, despite the fact that the plane’s stealth capacities may have been accidental. As per William Green, creator of “Warplanes of the Third Reich,” the Ho 229 was the principal “flying wing” air ship with a jet engine.
It was the primary plane with elements in its design which can be alluded to as stealth innovation, to obstruct the ability of radar to identify the plane.
The leader of the German Luftwaffe, Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, awarded the German aircraft machine industry what is called “3 X 1000” objective. Goring needed a plane that could transport 1000kg of bombs (2,200 lb), with a scope of 1000 km (620 miles) and speed of 1000 km/h (620 mph).
The Horten Brothers had been taking a shot at flying wing design lightweight gliders since the 1930’s. They thought that the low-drag of the gliders that were made previously could be the base for work that would meet Goring’s requests. The wings of the H.IX plane were produced using two carbon infused plywood boards, stuck to each other with sawdust and charcoal blend.
In 1943, 500,000 Reich Marks had been awarded to the Horten Brothers by Goring to assemble and fly a few models of the all-wing and jet-propelled Horten H IX. The Hortens flew an unpowered glider in March of 1944. The flying machine did not resemble any current plane being used in the Second World War.
The Horten Ho 229 being restored at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Credits: Cynrik de Decker) 
It looked fundamentally the same as the cutting edge American B-2 Bomber. Goring was very much inspired with the plan and transferred it from the Hortens to the German aviation organization Gothaer Waggonfabrik.
At Gothaer, the plan experienced a few noteworthy upgrades. The outcome was a jet powered model, the H.IX V2, which was first flown on 2nd February, 1945.Expelled from the venture, the Horten Brothers were working with the Horten H.XVIII, which was also known as the Amerika Bomber. The Horten H.XVIII was just an effort to satisfy the Germans wishes to manufacture an aircraft that could reach the United States. After a few more experimental flights, the Ho 229 was added to the German Jäger-Notprogramm, or Emergency Fighter Program, on 12th March, 1945.
Work on the next model rendition of the plane, the H.IX V3, finished when the American 3rd Army’s VII Corps came to the Gotha plant in Friederichsroda on 14th April, 1945.
In 2008, Northrop-Grumman, utilizing those designs plans which were available, fabricated a full-size generation of the H.IX V3 by using only those materials which were available in Germany in 1945. They studied the main surviving parts of a Ho 229 V3, which were accommodated at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Paul E. Garber Restoration and Storage Facility on the outskirts of Washington DC in Suitland, Maryland.
The Horten Ho 229 being restored at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Credits: Cynrik de Decker)
Engineers at Northrop needed to see whether the German aircraft could really be resistant to radar. Northrop tried the non-flying reproduction at its classified radar testing office in Tejon, California. During the testing, the frequencies utilized by British radar offices toward the end of the war were directed towards the reproduction. Tom Dobrenz, a Northrop Grumman stealth master, said with regards to the H.IX, “This design gave them just about a 20% reduction in radar range detection over a conventional fighter of the day.”
When combined with the speed of the H.IX, after being picked up by British Homeland Defense radar, the Royal Air Force would have had only 8 minutes from the time of detecting the airplane before it approached England, rather than the standard 19 minutes.
While the design turned out to be stealthy, it has been contended that it was not intended to be stealthy. There is no written proof in Germany that the design was expected to be what would later be recognized as stealth innovation.
In an article composed by Reimar Horten, broadcast in the May 1950 version of the Argentine aviation magazine Revista Nacional de Aeronautica, Reimar composed, “…with the advent of radar, wood constructions, already considered antique, turned into something modern again. As the reflection of electric waves on metallic surfaces is good, such will be the image on the radar screen; on the contrary, on wood surfaces, that reflection is little, these resulting barely visible on the radar.”
In the late 1970s and beginning of the 1980s, data started to break to the media that the United States was doing some important work on airplanes with stealth innovation.
In 1983, Reimar Horten wrote in Nurflugel: Die Geschichte der Horten-Flugzeuge 1933-1960 (Herbert Weishaupt, 1983) that he had wanted to join a blend of sawdust, charcoal, and paste between the layers of wood that framed vast areas of the outside surface of the HIX wing to shield, he said, the “entire plane” from radar, in light of the fact that “the charcoal ought to ingest the electrical waves.
Under this shield the tubular steel, [airframe] and the engines, [would be] “undetectable” [to radar]” (p. 136, creator interpretation).
The Horten Ho 229 being restored at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Credits: Cynrik de Decker)
By 1983, the fundamental elements of American stealth innovation were at the point of being public knowledge.
After the war, the latest scientific improvements prompted the idea of planning an airframe that could sidestep radar. It was found that a jet-powered, flying wing design, just like the Horten Ho 229 will have a little radar cross-area to traditional contemporary twin-motor aircraft. This is because the wings were merged into the fuselage and there were no extensive propeller disks or vertical and horizontal tail surfaces to give a locatable radar signature.
Reimar Horten said he blended charcoal dust with the wood paste to soak up electromagnetic waves (radar), which he accepted could shield the aircraft from identification by British early warning ground-based radar that worked at 20 to 30 MHz (the top end of the HF band), which is called Chain Home radar.
Engineers of the Northrop-Grumman Corporation had a great interest on the Ho 229, and a few of them went to the Smithsonian Museum’s office in Silver Hill, Maryland in the 1980s to learn about and study the V3 airframe. A group of engineers from Northrop-Grumman did some electromagnetic experimentation the V3’s multilayer wooden middle-area nose cones.
The cones are 3/4 of an inch (19 mm) thick and made up of thin sheets of veneer. The group inferred that there was surely some type of conducting element within the paste, as the radar signal lessened extensively as it passed through the cone.
So it turns out Hitler was far along with developing a plane that was far ahead of its time!
The Horten Ho 229 being restored at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Credits: Cynrik de Decker)
The Horten Ho 229 being restored at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Credits: Cynrik de Decker)
The Horten Ho 229 being restored at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Credits: Cynrik de Decker)
The Horten Ho 229 being restored at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Credits: Cynrik de Decker)
The Horten Ho 229 being restored at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Credits: Cynrik de Decker)
This is the only surviving prototype