Fairey Firefly FR.I

The Fairey Firefly FR.I was the third version of the aircraft to enter service, and saw radar introduced as a standard feature. The first attempt to fit radar on a Firefly, the NF.II, was a failure, but during 1944 enough examples of the American AN/APS-4 radar set became available to allow them to be installed on the Firefly, producing the NF.I.

By 1945 enough radar sets were available for them to be installed on the day version of the Firefly, producing the FR.I (Fighter-Reconnaissance). The antenna for the AN/APS-4 radar was carried in a pressurised fibreglass pod carried on a boom under the engine cowling, with the remaining equipment in the rear cockpit. The FR.I also had the taller cockpit canopy and windscreen and fully faired 20mm cannon introduced during the F.I production run.

The Firefly FR.I was cleared for service early in 1945, but didn't enter squadron service until 1 July 1945 when No.816 Squadron received eighteen aircraft. As was often the case the Firefly FR.I was used to replace the Fairey Barracuda. No.816 Squadron retained the Firefly FR.I until it disbanded on 28 June 1948. The squadron spent most of that period in the Mediterranean, using its Fireflys to search for ships carrying illegal immigrants to Palestine, and then to cover the British withdrawal from the county in May 1948.

The only other squadron to use the Firefly FR.I in anger was No.827 Squadron, which received the aircraft on 15 August 1946. It too took part in the evacuation from Palestine arriving later than No.816 Squadron and covering the final stage of the British evacuation in June 1948. The squadron then moved to the Far East, where it became involved in the campaign in Malaya and in the early stages of the Korean War.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (31 January 20109), Fairey Firefly FR.I , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_fairey_firefly_FRI.html

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