Talk:Bristol Beaufighter

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Centre of gravity[edit]

Does anyone know the source of the comment that having the c-of-g too far forward is an undesirable attribute in aircraft design? Generally, the reverse is true; a too-far-forward c-of-g can be trimmed while remaining stable, albeit at the expense of higher drag. A too-far-aft s-of-g will make the aircraft longitudinally unstable; this was a common fault in later Spitfire models. If no-one can provide a citation for this comment, then I suggest it be removed as unsubstantiated. KiwiBiggles 12:22, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

This problem on Spitfires was only due to incorrect loading on the squadrons and the installation of extra equipment behind the CofG. When the loading regulations were more strictly adhered-to the 'problems disappeared' - see Quill's book Spitfire: A Test Pilot’s Story. Ian Dunster (talk) 12:04, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
Having the C of G too far forward results in the aircraft weathercocking, making it difficult to steer and change course or attitude, as it is too stable, and the stability may be such that it over-rides the authority of the controls. Having the C of G too far aft makes the aircraft dangerous, as, apart from making the aeroplane over-sensitive in pitch and tiring to fly, it will tend to 'snap' into a dive or climb or tighten into turns at high speeds. This can tear the wings off due to the suddenly increased loads. It also makes stalling and spinning more likely with the spins flatter, making recovery more difficult, if not actually impossible.
An aircraft's C of G range is usually worked out by the Types' initial flight test pilots flying the aeroplane with the C of G progressively further forwards or aft, to the point where the aeroplane becomes difficult to fly. The 'Safe' C of G range is then designated as between the two extremes such that an 'average' pilot can safely fly the type. The result of going past these limits during initial testing can be seen here: 1963 BAC One-Eleven test crash.
Of the two out-of-limit movements, having the C of G too far aft is perhaps the most dangerous, with it too far forward the aeroplane may on take-off arrive at the end of the runway still on the ground and piling-in at the overshoot, with the occupants perhaps walking away from the accident, whereas with the C of G too far aft the aeroplane will either stall immediately after unsticking (lift off) or, if the pilot manages to control it long enough, stall after the pilot tires and loses control of the aeroplane completely. This will usually be after a height has been reached which ensures that no-one will walk away from the subsequent unwelcome and unintended premature contact with terra firma. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:54, 2 February 2012 (UTC)

Ewart Poem[edit]

The plane, and apparently one of its less desirable characteristics, is commemorated in a poem by Gavin Ewart(?), which used to be in a set anthology of war poetry for O-level English - from the web, the first verse (of three) is


When a Beau goes in
Into the drink
It makes you think,
Because, you see, they always sink;
But nobody says "Poor lad!"
Or goes about looking sad;
Because, you see, it's war,
It's the unalterable law.

...' Anyone else remember it? (It appears to be fairly well known still). Is it founded on fact? Linuxlad 19:41, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

  • seems to go
When a Beau goes in
Into the drink
It makes you think,
Because, you see, they always sink;
But nobody says "Poor lad!"
Or goes about looking sad;
Because, you see, it's war,
It's the unalterable law.
Although it's perfectly certain
The pilot's gone for a Burton
And the observer too,
It's nothing to do with you;
And if they both should go
To a land where falls no rain nor hail nor driven snow--
Here, there, or anywhere,
Do you suppose THEY care?
You shouldn't cry
Or say a prayer or sigh.
In the cold sea, in the dark
It isn't a lark
But it isn't Original Sin--
It's just a Beau going in.

Dirk P Broer 23:56, 24 September 2007 (UTC) [1]

Dihedral Tailplane[edit]

The dihedral tailplane was by no means unique to the Australian Mk.21 version[2] it was also to be found on the following Mks:

  • Mk I R2057 (1st prototype for dihedral tailplane)
  • NF Mk If T3032 (2nd prototype for dihedral tailplane, later back to normal tail and extended dorsal fin)
  • NF Mk IIf R2270 (3rd prototype for dihedral tailplane)
  • Most of the production Mk VIf batch
  • The entire production Mk VIc batch
  • The entire production Mk X batch

Dirk P Broer 23:47, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

It was originally devised for the night fighter versions to counteract a strong tendency to swing on take off which was particularly dangerous in the dark. IIRC it later became standard for all versions. Ian Dunster (talk) 11:55, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
IIRC it was the Merlin-engined Mark II night fighter version that the dihedral tailplane was developed for. The modification was later applied to them all, or most. The swing was caused/exacerbated IIRC by the lower thurst-line of the Merlin nacelle compared to the Hercules one.
IIARC, the extended fin-fillet was developed to counteract the increased nose side-area of the later sea strike Beaufighters with the thimble-nosed (centimetric radar) radome and a torpedo - increasing the side area in front of the CofG reduces directional stability, so you need more fin area to compensate. This is also why floatplane conversions often need extra fin area, as the area of the nose of the floats is ahead of the CofG and tends to de-stabilise the aeroplane directionally. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:03, 21 October 2012 (UTC)


  1. ^
  2. ^ Franks 2002, p. 57-72.

Israeli Flag[edit]

I'm pretty sure it isn't a swastika —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:07, 26 February 2008 (UTC)

Recent review[edit]

I would like to enlist other editors in assessing this article which had recently been classed as a "start" and to my mind, does not fit that category. See examples of start articles. FWIW, the example of a "start" article is 1st Battalion 2nd Marines. Bzuk (talk) 05:00, 9 April 2008 (UTC).

Applying the B category checklist,the article fails badly on having very few citations, with most of the article uncited - I think that this would knock it back down to a startNigel Ish (talk) 18:43, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

Asymmetric armament?[edit]

The Bristol Beaufighter had four 0.303 inch (7.7 mm) Browning guns in the starboard wing and two in the port wing. Why this asymmetry? --Regards, Necessary Evil (talk) 15:01, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

The port wing contained the landing light in the position where the two other guns would have been. Ian Dunster (talk) 11:51, 18 July 2008 (UTC)

Whispering Death[edit]

What is the source of this nickname? Japanese prisoners? Drutt (talk) 12:41, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

I have created a disambiguation page, Whispering Death (disambiguation), since more than one aircraft has received this nickname. Drutt (talk) 07:04, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

See Wings Of the Phoenix, HMSO 1949, Innes Beaufighters Over Burma 1985 and Bowyer Beaufighter at War 1976 and Beaufighter 1987 Clearly, without shadow of doubt, an RAF Squadron invention promptly taken up by journalists. Summarised here: —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:38, 12 April 2009 (UTC)

I concede, an appropriate footnote will garnish the article. FwiW Bzuk (talk) 03:14, 13 April 2009 (UTC).
Contemporary 1943 Flight mentions of Beaufighter "Whispering Death" nick-name; [1], [2], [3], [4], and a 1945 one; [5] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:39, 12 February 2014 (UTC)

I've heard the hercules and taurus engines in action, and they were really noisy. A hercules idling makes more noise than a PW R1820 at take off power. You can hear a BF 170 coming from about 2 miles away. The P38 was about the quietest fighter as it had substantial mufflers behind the engines, hidden in the booms, and vented the gas upwards. (talk) 03:25, 7 February 2015 (UTC)

A 1936 Flight article here [6] on engine silencing stating "The sleeve-valve engine has affected a considerable reduction in sound".
And a 1939 article by Roy Fedden on "Sleeve-valve development" here: [7] stating an advantage of "More silent operation".
BTW, the Hercules is nine-litres bigger than an R-1820, and in size more comparable to an R-1830. ... and if you think that a Hercules idling makes more noise than an R-1820 at take-off power then you have my sympathy, as your hearing may need looking at. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:29, 9 February 2015 (UTC)

Comparable aircraft: P-38?[edit]

I'm wondering what the consensus would be for putting the P-38 Lightning into the "Comparable aircraft" list. The Lightning never operationally used torpedoes, nor did it cover night fighter duties. However, it was used as a twin-engine heavy fighter (in addition to its use as a dogfighter in the thick of single-engine fighters) and, in late 1941, a P-38F was tested by Lockheed with two dummy torpedoes, each weighing 1927 lbs. With full gun ammo, maximum internal fuel, and twin dummies on external pylons, the Lightning had a gross takeoff weight of 19,970 lbs and achieved a maximum speed of 364 mph in level flight at 10,000 feet; a 16.7% reduction from unloaded performance. For long range flights, 200–215 mph speeds were employed to get 960 mile range with no load dropped; the load was changed to one torpedo and one large 300 gallon drop tank which extended zero-wind range to 2160 miles if neither load was dropped. Speed loss with one torpedo and one drop tank was 12.6%, because the drop tank was more aerodynamically neutral than the fish. If the drop tank was jettisoned when empty and the torpedo was loosed at max radius, the aircraft could extend its radius of action to attack a ship 1150 miles away and then land back at home, because the return flight would be cleaner in trim and lighter in mass. Do we count potential usage as comparable? Binksternet (talk) 18:28, 18 April 2009 (UTC)

Actually, there were 75 "P-38M Night Lightning" conversions, per P-38 Lightning#Pathfinders, Night Fighter and other variants. However, while the P-38 was only slightly smaller than the Beaufighter (about 4000 lbs. MTOW lower, it was over 100 mph faster. I think this puts it in a different class of fighter, as the P-38 was definitely high performance, and I doubt anyone would make that claim for the Beaufighter. I wouldn't list them as being comparable. - BillCJ (talk) 23:52, 18 April 2009 (UTC)
Right, right, it was a night fighter. My bad. Binksternet (talk) 00:38, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

Beaufighter in movies[edit]

just watching "The Mummy 3" and there's a Beufighter in it. Could this be it's only appearancein a movie? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:56, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

no. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 04:01, 21 February 2011 (UTC). Perhaps, I should relate the entire tale. A film company was set up in England in June 1948, ostensibly to film a story using four surplus Beaufighters. The ruse led to the aircraft being flown to Israel via Corsica and Yugoslavia. FwiW Bzuk (talk) 22:26, 21 February 2011 (UTC).

Personal anecdote[edit]

Copyedit from recent submission:"My father, Micky Ogden, was a Beaufighter pilot with 272 Squadron, from February to September 1942 and he told me that in the Western Desert, the Beau was also known as "the Whispering Death". The main ground strafing technique was to fly from base with two Beau's up the coast several hundred miles and then turn east and fly down the coast road with each aircraft 1 mile astern of the other and they also flew down the edge of the road. The Beau in the lead travelling at 350 mph at 50 feet, caught many vehicles unawares with enemy troops trying to jump into the cover at the side of the road. And then the Beau a mile astern would appear to finish them off!" FwiW Bzuk (talk) 17:10, 28 December 2011 (UTC).

Heavier artillery[edit]

Didn't some Coastal Command Beaus carry the Molins version of the QF 6-pounder (57 mm)? The picture in the infobox has what looks like a large bore cannon in the nose, and the picture of RD253 in the RAF Museum has a Molins sitting out in front of the aircraft. (talk) 01:48, 9 February 2013 (UTC)

No - only the Mosquito carried the 6 pounder. While Beaufighters were used to test Vickers S or the equivalent Rolls-Royce 40 mm guns, but they saw no operational service with that armament. The "lump" in the nose of the infobox photo is probably a camera - it certainly isn't a large calibre cannon as there isn't room to fit large guns between the nose and the pilot.Nigel Ish (talk) 16:30, 9 February 2013 (UTC)
IIRC, the feature on the nose of the Beaufighter pictured is a strike camera intended to film anti-shipping attacks. In other words, it's a gun camera but optimised for viewing attacks on ship targets rather than other aircraft. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:36, 2 November 2013 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Whu did the Merlin engine make the aircraft swing to port on takeoff ?[edit]

"... Merlins left the Beaufighter underpowered and gave it a pronounced tendency to swing to port, making take-offs and landings difficult and resulting in a high accident rate..."

Readers will ask "why ?" so the article should state why. Was it because the Merlin engines both turned in the same direction i.e. no left/right versions available ? Rcbutcher (talk) 22:09, 7 October 2015 (UTC)

IIRC, it was because the Merlin installation had a lower thrust-line in relation to the aircraft CofG than the Hercules one, i.e., the Merlin was mounted slightly lower on the wing. This affects the handling due to changes in power settings, etc. The problem was exacerbated by Beaufighter's very short nose.
Both Beaufighter versions swung on take-off but on the Beaufighter II the swing was more pronounced and as the main use at that time was as a night fighter this increased swing of the Mk II was thought very dangerous when taking off at night because the pilot - perhaps an inexperienced one - might not notice the extent of it in the dark on a blacked out airfield with few or no external points of reference. Hence the dihedral tailplane for the Mk II, which was later introduced on all Beaufighters.
The swing BTW is due - among other things - to gyroscopic precession because of the rotating masses of the propeller(s) as the tail is raised during the take-off run. In daylight you notice it and add some opposite rudder, but in the dark you may not be aware of how much you have swung off the intended course and may even veer off the runway and collide with something off to one side without being aware of it until impact. That's why it was regarded as dangerous in the Mk II. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:42, 17 October 2015 (UTC)