Beaufighter as a Malta-based interceptor?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Oct 14, 2012.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Hello,
    I wonder if the Beaufighter could have been an useful interceptor, in 1941-42, to provide fighter cover to British/allied Mediterranean convoys? Used roughly beyond of range of Axis' single engined fighters combat range, to pounce the Ju-87/88, SM.79 and likes?
    In case someone has some good data that Beau was historically used in such role, please post that :)
     
  2. jjp_nl

    jjp_nl Member

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    #2 jjp_nl, Oct 14, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2012
    I've read plenty of stories about Beaufighters operating in exactly that role in exactly that area. Dunno about them being based on Malta and if so, around which time this was the case, but I think they certainly operated from the African shores in the area roughly stretching from Malta, to Crete to Cyprus. Flying cover for Convoys and trying to keep various german anti-shipping and bomber units from pounding convoys into oblivion, and perhaps also trying to take on German/Italian convoys supplying Rommel in North Africa

    I've read about Beaufighters from the German point of view so to speak, more precisely elements of NJG.2 that operated from Sicily around Malta in 1942/1943 I think. Multiple accounts of German nightfighters engaging Beaufighters.
     
  3. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Dont have any info to add apart from two of my favourite aviation pictures of Malta based Beaus.


    Bristol-Beaufighter-RAF-Malta-01.jpg
     

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  4. claidemore

    claidemore Member

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    Talked to a ex malta Beaufighter pilot (Dallas Schmidt) a few years ago, he mentioned anti-shipping strikes with Beaus, but no mention of interceptor missions. Course that doesn't mean they didn't do them, he just didn't mention them. Malta based Mosquitos performed those kind of missions though, Mk IIs I believe.
     
  5. jjp_nl

    jjp_nl Member

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    I'm not totally aware of the nature of their operations in the area either, but since I have a Beaufighter model kit waiting in the wings I need to look it up. Since I've been to Malta last year I'd love to turn it into an aircraft that operated in the area. I was just reasoning that a heavy fighter such as a beaufighter prolly could hold it's own if pitted against a Ju-88, Bf-110, Stuka or Sparviero
     
  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    By the time Mosquitos were available the Med was already an Allied lake. If you want a long range Malta based fighter aircraft prior to 1944 when it's actually needed then you must use something else.

    What's wrong with the Mustang? Britain had plenty available by 1942.
    618 Mustang Mk.1 purchased during 1941.
    93 Mustang Mk.1A.
    50 Mustang Mk.II.
    952 Mustang Mk.III.
    283 Mustang Mk.IV.
    595 Mustang Mk.IVA.
     
  7. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    try and get your hands on "The Armed Rovers" by Roy C Nesbitt, it chronicles Beaufighter and Beaufort operations in the med.

    Beaus were used as heavy fighters interdicting axis air traffic, night fighters , as flak supressors and escorts for the strike aircraft and as strike aircraft themselves, it was it was a very successful aircraft in the med.
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I suspect the Mustang had just as much range/endurance. However it might be nice to have a navigator when flying 500 miles over the open ocean.
     
  9. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    9 tons of mass to absorb damage, 4x20mm cannon + 6x .303 to add to your torps, bombs and later rockets made the Beau a very flexible aircraft, two engines are a help over water too!
     
  10. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    And the RAF didn't get Mustang IIIs or IVs (Merlin engines) until 1944. The Mustang I and II (Allison engines) were relegated to photo recce and Army cooperation.
     
  11. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    How much of that weight consisted of armor to protect the crew?
     
  12. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    #12 Kryten, Oct 15, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2012
    If the Adrian Warburton story is to be believed it amounts to around a ton and a half on a mkIV onwards, this was the approx amount stripped out of beaus they used for photo recon?

    Early Beaus were lighter with less armour , had a straight tail as opposed to the later dihederal (to make them more stable when ground strafing) , lower powered engines but better maneuverability and roll.
     
  13. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Armour plate bulkhead and folding doors in the centre section - a few hundred pounds? Plus additional armour beneath the cockpit - got the figures somewhere.
     
  14. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    Early Beaufighters had 303 lb of armour, not including bullet proof glass.

    Later Beaufighters had about 460-485 lbs of armour, added in the wings and rear fuselage to provide additional crew and fuel tank protection.

    The ton and a half is not just armour. It also included taking out the four Hispanos and fittings and the six Brownings and fittings, as well as ammunition for both. All together, the armament package would weight in at least 1200 lbs, maybe a touch more once all the ancillaries are accounted for.
     
  15. Rick65

    Rick65 Member

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    "had a straight tail as opposed to the later dihederal (to make them more stable when ground strafing)"

    I thought it was to try to control swing on takeoff - later models had both the increased dihedral and a strake added to the tailfin.
    Which is right or is it both?
     
  16. jjp_nl

    jjp_nl Member

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    As for Malta, a quick scan of what reference material I've gathered sofar on the Beaufighter suggests that variety of Beaufighter units operated from Malta starting with a detachment of Mk.IC's from 252Sqn as early as spring '41. Used in many different roles, from interceptor, to escort, to ground/naval attack and just about everything in between. The more I think about it, the more it seems the Beau was one of these examples of the right plane at the right time and right place as far as the MTO 1941-1943 goes.
     
  17. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    Victor Binghams book on the Beau states the dihederal was to reduce pitch instability which made the aircraft more predictable during strike missions, the strake was to improve lateral stability!

    early beaus were very much intended as long range heavy fighters as well as strike, but you can see the design evolving into a more strike oriented aircraft and by the time the TFX was deployed it was primarily a strike aircraft!
     
  18. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    The 1C was very much the right plane at the right time, range, firepower and a usefull air to air capability put it in a class of it's own in the first years of the war.
    apparently Mosquitos were tried in Malta but suffered overheating problems and were withdrawn in favour of Beaus after a short period.
     
  19. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    always thought that quote was a Bit tongue in cheek, I suspect the ton and a half reffered to both beaus that were modified!
     
  20. glennasher

    glennasher Member

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    As far as operating over water, there was a nice little ditty called "When a Beau goes in" that I read somewhere a long time ago, that amused me at the time. Perhaps someone can dig it up?
     
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