INDEX OF NAVAL AIRCRAFT
|Blackburn B-37 Firebrand|
The Firebrand was originally designed as a naval fighter N.11/40. The Firebrand was designed as a carrier fighter powered by a Napier Sabre engine, but because of engine unreliability and poor handling it was unacceptable. It was then redesigned to become a fast strike aircraft carrying a large torpedo, and powered by a Bristol Centaurus radial.
Three protypes were built. The first prototype, DD804, was flown on 27 February, 1942 at Leconsfield. It was then sent to A Flight A&AEE, Boscombe Down in April 1942 and undertook its initial service trials in October 1942 at Machrihanish. The Firebrand undertook deck landing trials in February 1943 on HMS Illustrious. Unfortunately, the Firebrand was never much of a carrier aircraft. Its powerful Bristol Centaurus engine and thirteen-foot diameter propeller produced extreme torque swing on takeoff, which could only be countered by the abnormally large vertical tail fin and rudder. The Firebrand was also very difficult to deck land, since the pilot sat closer to the tail than the nose, with predictably poor visibility. While many of its pilots appreciated the fact that the aircraft was built like a battleship, particularly during landing accidents, they did not care for its bulky weight. Finally, the Naval Staff's concept of a torpedo-bomber/fighter combination to which the aircraft was designed was just too much of a compromise, with the end result that the Firebrand was never successful in either role. Still it had a service life from 1945 to 1953. 156 built.
F.Mk.I - first production version, a heavy fighter
TF.Mk.II - torpedo bomber based on F.Mk.I
TF.Mk.III - upgraded torpedo bomber with radial engine, scrapped because of extreme instability at landing speeds
TF.Mk.IV - reworked TF.Mk.III with fixed control problems
The first aircraft, DK365, was delivered to IFD Flight at A&AEE, Boscombe Down for intensive flight trials in July 1943, and also for radio tests and Carbon Monoxide contamination (DK365). In September 1943 the Royal Navy evaluations were carried out at Lee on Solent with Firebrand DK3709.
In October 1944, 708 squadron was formed at Lee On Solent, as the Firebrand
Tactical Trials Unit. It was equipped with Firebrand TF.IIs, some of the
aircraft being fitted with 8 rocket projectiles and flew combat sorties
against Seafires which were also attached to the squadron. 708 squadron
received Firebrand from November 1944 and carried out Deck landing trials
on HMS Glory and HMS Pretoria Castle. In August 1945 the first Firebrand
TF.IIIs arrived (eg EK613), and following torpedo trials at Stokes Bay,
708 squadron moved to Ford in September 1945, where the Commanding Officer
and pilots provided the nucleus to form 813 squadron, the first operational
Firebrand squadron. The squadron received most of its Firebrand TF.IV in
August and September 1945 at Ford. These aircraft were used till at least
1946. The type saw service with the FAA until 1956.
None with FAA 1939-1945
Fleet Air Arm Firebrand TF Mk5 of 827 squadron in 1952
No complete Firebrand exists anyway in the world, however a cockpit section of a Mk TF. 4 is preserved in the Fleet Air Arm Museum.
Associations and reunions