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Diels Engineering Inc., #P19. FAIREY FULMAR Mk I--British WW2 Navy Fighter. Blown to 65 inch wingspan

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No. 808 Squadron. Aircraft: Fulmar Mk.1 Motto: Strength in unity Badge: On an azure field, five rings, white, interlocked to form 808 interlaced with a trident gold.

No 808 Squadron was formed at Worthy Down on 1 July 1940 as a Fleet Fighter squadron with 12 Fulmar Is. After work-up it moved to the Isle of Man for land-based patrols over the Western Approaches and Irish Sea.

[IMAGE The Fairey Fulmar was a British carrier-borne fighter aircraft that served with the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) during the Second World War. A total of 600 were built by Fairey Aviation at their Stockport factory between January 1940 and December 1942. The Fulmar's design was based on that of the earlier Fairey P.4/34 that was in turn developed in 1936 as a replacement for the Fairey Battle light bomber. Although its performance (like that of its Battle antecedent) was lacking, the Fulmar was a reliable, sturdy aircraft with long range and an effective eight machine gun armament.

The Fairey P.4/34 was built to Specification P.4/34 as a light bomber capable of being used as a dive bomber, in competition with the Hawker Henley and an unbuilt Gloster design. Its performance was disappointing and it lost out to the Henley (which was eventually ordered as a target tug).

The Fulmar, a navalised version of the P.4/34 was submitted to meet Specification O.8/38 for a two-crew fleet defence fighter. As it was not expected to encounter fighter opposition, high performance or maneuverability was not considered important but long range and heavy armament were. The provision of a navigator/wireless operator was considered essential for the long, over-ocean flights which would be required.

Looking much like its sister, the Battle, the Fulmar prototype was aerodynamically cleaner and featured a folding wing that was 16 in (41 cm) shorter than its bomber lookalike. The prototype P.4/34 K5099 first flew on 13 January 1937 at Fairey Aviation's Great West Aerodrome (now London Heathrow Airport) with Fairey test pilot Chris Staniland at the controls. After the first flight tests, the tail was revised, being raised 8 in (20 cm).

[IMAGE The first prototype Fulmar acting as "flying mock-up" was powered by a 1,080 hp (810 kW) Rolls Royce Merlin III engine. With this engine, performance was poor, the prototype only reaching 230 mph (370 km/h). With the Merlin VIII engine - a variant unique to the Fulmar and with supercharging optimised for low-level flight - and aerodynamic improvements, speed was improved to 255 mph (410 km/h), which, owing to the desperate need for modern fighters, was considered adequate. As a simple derivative of an existing prototype, the Fulmar promised to be available quickly and an initial order for 127 production aircraft was placed in mid-1938 and the first example flew from Fairey's facility at RAF Ringway near Manchester on 4 January 1940 and the last of 600 Fulmars was delivered from Ringway on 11 December 1942.

N1854, the first production Fulmar to be flown on 4 January 1940, was later modified to Mk II standard and then "civilianised" as Fairey's hack, G-AIBE. In June 1959, it reverted to service markings and was seen at Farnborough at the SBAC show on 8 September 1962; its last flight was three months later on 18 December 1962. It is now in the FAA museum, Yeovilton.

During testing, Fulmars were launched from catapults on merchant ships, a convoy defensive plan that was being evaluated at the time.

The first squadron to be equipped with the Fulmar was No. 806 Squadron FAA in July 1940 and this squadron began operating from HMS Illustrious shortly afterwards. The Fulmar was not well matched with land-based fighters. The Navy had specified a two-seat machine, feeling that a navigator was needed to cope with the challenges of navigating over the open ocean. As a result, the Fulmar was far too large and unwieldy when it came into contact with single-seat, land-based opposition, as it did in the Mediterranean Theatre. Yet its long range was useful at times as evidenced in the 1941 chase of the German battleship Bismarck where Fulmars acted as carrier-borne spotters, tracking and trailing the fleeing battleship.

First seeing action on Malta convoy protection patrols in September 1940, the sturdy Fulmar was able to achieve victories against its far more agile Italian and German adversaries. By the autumn, Fulmars had shot down ten Italian bombers and six enemy fighters, while giving top cover to the Swordfish raid on Taranto.

By 1942, the Fulmar was being replaced by single-seat aircraft adapted from land fighters such as the Supermarine Seafire or by American single seat fighters such as the Grumman Martlet. It saw useful service in nighttime roles as a convoy escort and intruder and was used to train crews for the Fairey Barracuda. On the other hand, its flight characteristics were considered pleasant, its wide undercarriage provided good deck handling capacities and it had excellent fuel capacity and range. Fulmars were used in long-range reconnaissance after they were withdrawn as fighters. Most Fleet Air Arm fighter aces scored at least part of their victories in Fulmars, for example, Sub Lieutenant S.G. Orr, finished the war with 12 confirmed air victories, as the third-highest scoring pilot in the FAA.

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At one time, 20 squadrons of the FAA were equipped with the Fulmar. It flew from eight fleet aircraft carriers and five escort carriers. No. 273 Squadron RAF operated them for a while though the crews were FAA. Fulmars destroyed 112 enemy aircraft, which made it the leading fighter type, by aircraft shot down, in the Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War. The Fulmar ended its front line operational career on 8 February 1945, when a Fulmar MK II night-fighter from No. 813 Squadron had a landing accident at the safety barrier on HMS Campania and was written off .

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Approximately 100 Fulmars were converted to a night fighter variant, but had limited success in this role.

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The Vichy French captured some examples of Fulmar Mk II during wartime for propaganda and evaluation use, and later these were taken over by the Germans.

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Some of the early marks of the aircraft were operated from CAM ships.

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First production variant powered by a 1,035 hp (772 kW) Rolls-Royce Merlin VIII, 250 built.

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Updated variant powered by a 1,300 hp (970 kW) Merlin XXX with a new propeller and the addition of tropical equipment, some finished as night fighters, one prototype converted from a Mk I and 350 built.

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The Fairey Fulmar emerged in 1938 as an adaption to Specification O.8/38 for a two-seat Naval fighter, of the PA/34 day bomber. Differences included a small reduction in wing span, folding wings, deck-arrester gear, catapult points, modified cockpit canopy, Naval equipment and use of a 1,275 hp Merlin VIII. Armament comprised eight Browning 0.303-in (7.7-mm) guns in the wings and provision for a similar Vickers K gun in the rear cockpit. One P.4/34 prototype was converted to test features of Fairey Fulmar in March 1938.

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Fairey Fulmar I: Total of 250 built for FAA, first flight being on January 4, 1940, with Merlin VIII engine. Entered service June 1940 with No 808 Sqn, and first operations Sept/Oct 1940 on Malta convoys. Equipped 14 front-line squadrons by end-1942 including one in Egypt and one in India; also operated as night-intruder from shore bases, including Malta, and as night-fighter with No 813 Sqn ori Russian convoys. One captured and operated by Vichy French forces at Dakar in 1941.

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Fairey Fulmar II: As Fairey Fulmar I but fitted with 1,300 hp Merlin 30, Rotol propeller and tropical filters. One Mk I converted, first flown January 20, 1941, and 350 production aircraft delivered, ending February 1943.

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Two-seat reconaissance fighter, a development of the P.4/34 light bomber. The Fulmar was inferior to modern single-seat fighters, but it was a reliable, sturdy aircraft with long range. At least it provided the RN with a monoplane fighter. 600 built.

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The Fairey Fulmar was designed to meet the Admiralty's urgent need for a modern shipboard fighter. The Fulmar prototype was first flown on 4 January 1940 at Ringway and served as the first production aircraft. Fairey's Fulmar was the Fleet Air Arm's first carrier-based fighter with the same weight and firepower of the RAF's Hurricane and Spitfire. In fact, the Fulmar was developed for the FAA after being being rejected by the RAF.

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The Fulmar, N1855, was delivered for tests at the C squadron A&AEE Boscombe Down in May 1940, in the same month Fulmar N1856 joined 778 squadron at Lee on Solent with the plan to convert it to a seaplane, but in fact it was completed as a landplane version. May 1940 saw many Fulmars being delivered to 778 squadron. The type was delivered to the first operation unit, 806 in June 1940 stationed at Worthy Down and boarded HMS Illustrious in August 1940.

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The Fulmar was also employed in limited numbers by the RAF, inparticular with 273 squadron (eg X8743) in 1942 in China Bay where some aircraft were lost to enemy action.

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With its lack of speed, and the Admiralty's need for a truly modern carrier-based fighter, the Fulmar began being replaced by the Supermarine Seafire by 1943. However, it contined to be useful, being sent to 768, 767 and other squadrons to assist conversion of pilots to Barracudas eg DR664 at Lee on Solent by 810 squadron in April 1943 to May 1943.

The Fulmar was a two-seat Fleet fighter armed with eight 7.7mm Browning machine-guns, four in each wing. It was unusual for a two-seater in having no rear-mounted gun for the observer/radio operator. The prototype flew for the first time on 4 January 1940 and by the latter part of the same year early production Mk Is were firmly in action. A total of 250 853kW Rolls-Royce Merlin VIII-powered Mk Is were built, followed by 350 969kW Merlin 30-powered Mk IIs. During its career, which lasted until the end of the war, it performed many roles including those of escort fighter, convoy protection and reconnaissance, but with the introduction of the faster Supermarine Spitfire its main carrier-borne day-fighter role was substituted for the less demanding night-fighter role.

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