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Blackburn Firebrand

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Centaurus IX-powered Firebrand TF Mk. IV.
Type Strike fighter
Manufacturer Blackburn Aircraft
Designed by G. E. Petty
Maiden flight 1942-02-27
Introduced 1943
Retired 1953
Primary user Fleet Air Arm
Produced 1942-1947
Number built 193
Variants B048 Firecrest

The Firebrand was a single-engine fighter aircraft designed to Air Ministry Specification N.11/40 by Blackburn Aircraft. It was designed around the Napier Sabre III 24-cylinder H-type engine as a single-seat fleet fighter for the Royal Navy.


Work on the B-37 Firebrand proceeded slowly. An unarmed prototype first flew on 27 February, 1942, the armed Firebrand F Mk. I prototype not flying until July of that year. The Sabre engine was also used in the Hawker Typhoon, a fighter already nearing production, and was earmarked for that aircraft. A new engine was needed, along with airframe improvements to handle it; along with these modifications it was deemed appropriate to convert the Firebrand into a strike fighter capable of carrying torpedoes, bombs, and rockets as well as engaging in air to air combat. Only nine production F Mk. I aircraft were built. The Firebrand was unusual in that there was an airspeed gauge mounted outside of the cockpit so that during landing the pilot would not have to look down into the cockpit to take instrument readings, presaging the development of the modern heads up display.

The first strike variant, the Firebrand TF Mk. II (B-45), flew on 31 March 1943, and was an adaptation of the Mk. I. It incorporated slightly wider wingspan that allowed carriage of a torpedo between the retracted main landing gear. Like the Mk I, the TF Mk. II only saw a very limited production of 12, and was followed by the Firebrand TF Mk. III with the Bristol Centaurus VII radial engine. After the first flight on 21 December, 1943, problems arose: the new engine produced more torque than the Sabre, and rudder control was insufficient on takeoff. The TF Mk. III was determined to be unsuitable for carrier operations, and work began on an improved airframe that would be better-suited for the Centaurus.

The Firebrand TF Mk. IV (B-46), as the new development was designated, featured a newer Centaurus IX engine and larger tail surfaces for better low-speed control. The enlarged rudder was horn balanced, and the wings now featured dive brakes on both upper and lower surfaces. The TF Mk. IV first flew on 17 May, 1945, and was the first version of the Firebrand to enter mass production, with 102 built. The later Firebrand TF.5 featured minor aerodynamic improvements and was also built in large numbers, with 68 entering service. A further 40 TF Mk. IVs were converted to the TF.5 standard. The final production version was the Firebrand TF Mk. 5A.

Operational history

File:Fairey Firefly taking off from HMS Illustrious (IWM A 14671).jpg
A Fairey Firefly takes off from HMS Illustrious in the River Clyde in 1943. In the background a Sabre-engined Firebrand Mk.II is running up its engine on the deck lift.

The Firebrand did not see action in World War II, but it remained in front-line service on Royal Navy carriers until 1953.



Specifications (Firebrand TF Mk. IV)

Data from Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II[1]

General characteristics

  • Crew: One pilot
  • Length: 39 ft 1 in (12 m)
  • Wingspan: 51 ft 3½ in (15.62 m)
  • Height: ft in (m)
  • Wing area: 381.5 ft² (35.44 m²)
  • Empty weight: 11,357 lb (5,150 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 15,671 lb (7,100 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 16,227 lb (7,360 kg)
  • Powerplant:Bristol Centaurus IX 18-cylinder radial engine, 2,500 hp (1,865 kW)



  • Guns:20 mm (0.787 in) Hispano Mk.II cannon, two in each wing
  • Bombs:
    • 1× 1,850 lb (840 kg) torpedo, or
    • 2× 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs, one under each wing, in place of torpedo

See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Related lists



  1. Jane, Fred T. “The Blackburn B.37 Firebrand.” Jane’s Fighting Aircraft of World War II. London: Studio, 1946. p. 108-109. ISBN 1 85170 493 0.


  • Brown, Eric, CBE, DCS, AFC, RN.; Green William and Swanborough, Gordon. "Fairey Swordfish". Wings of the Navy, Flying Allied Carrier Aircraft of World War Two. London: Jane's Publishing Company, 1980, p. 157–167. ISBN 0-7106-0002-X.
  • Buttler, Tony. Blackburn Firebrand - Warpaint Number 56. Denbigh East, Bletchley, UK: Warpaint Books Ltd., 2000.
  • Mondey, David. The Hamlyn Concise Guide to British Aircraft of World War II. London: Chancellor Press, 1982. ISBN 1-85152-668-4.

Template:Blackburn aircraft

cs:Blackburn Firebrand de:Blackburn Firebrand ja:ブラックバーン ファイアブランド

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Blackburn Firebrand".