Boulton Paul P.82 Defiant
RAF Defiant coded PS-A


The Boulton Paul Defiant was respondiing to Air Ministry issued specification (F.9/35). It was an elegant low-wing cantilever monoplane two-seater fighter of all-metal construction, with retractable landing gear, looking not unlike the Hurricane.

It was also powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. Boulton Paul had already a competitive edge, possessing an effective four-gun gun powered turret of their own design which was used in the Defiant.  The first Defiant prototype flew on 11 August,1937. The first production Defiant was flown on 30 July, 1939 and deliveries to the first operational RAF unit, 264 squadron, began in December, 1939.

As the the weight of the gun turret detoriated performance, after the initial operational success heavy losses followed; it was then used as a night fighter for some time and later as a target tug. The total number built 1064.

        P.82 Defiant : prototype
        Defiant F.Mk I : first production version
        Defiant NF. Mk IA : night-fighter version, Al radar installed
        Defiant Mk II : Merlin XX engine
        Defiant TT.Mk I : target tug
        Defiant TT.Mk III : Mk IIIs converted to target tugs

The total number of the two marks of Defiant, Defiant  TT.I and TT.III in the FAA was 295. The FAA aircraft were primarily conversions from Mk I and II and transferred atr various times from the RAF. The first Definat to be delivered to the RN was in January 1943 to the RNDA (eg N1559). However, the aircraft was not distributed for a year, and the first second-line squadron to receive a Defiant was in January 1944 to 792 squadron at St Merryn (eg L1631)

Most of the Defiants were equipped to 791and 792 squadrons; earlier examples going to 776 and 794 squadrons, the latter at Charlton Horethorne. The single operational squadron to be equiped with Defiant TT.I was 1830 squadron from March to April 1944, in the Eastern Fleet. During that month 1830 squadron took part in attacks in the Bay of Bengal with its Corsair.

The last Defiants in FAA service included DS147 with 778 squadron in December 1944 with detachments in Pomigliano,  and DS121 of 733 squadron in Trincomalee in April 1946.

Fleet Air Arm history

Total FAA 1939-1945:      295
First delivered to RN:       1943
First squadron 1939-1945: January 1944 to 793 sqdn (N1631)
Operational squadron:        1830 squadron
Last served with RN          April 1946

Aircraft Type:
Boulton Paul P.82 Defiant
T.T. III conversions from Mk I and II 
Primary Role:
Fighter trainer
First Flight: 
Prototype 11.8.1937
Date operating with FAA squadrons:
Boulton Paul Aircraft Ltd.
One 12cylinder water-cooled Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. 
Merlin III (Mk.I) 1,030 Hp
Merlin XX (Mk.II) 1,260 Hp
 Wing Span: Length: Height: Wing Area: 
Wingspan: 12.05 m
Length: 10.70 m
Wing area: 23.23 sq m
Empty Weight: Max.Weight:
3900 kg



Max. speed: 485 km/h 
Ceiling: 9200 m
Range: 743 km
Four 7.69mm guns  (600 rounds each)
Battle honours:
None with FAA
Additional references and notes:

Battle Honours and Operational History

The Defiant saw no operational action with the Fleet Air Arm although it operated with one front-line squadron, 1830 squadron in the Eastern Fleet in 1944.

The Defiant had a significant but brief operational career with the RAF. The first front-line RAF Defiant squadron was also the first to be deployed into battle on 12 May, 1940 over the beaches of Dunkirk, its fighters claiming 38 enemy aircraft in one day.  The squadron totalled 65 enemy aircraft shot down by the end of May, 1940. When the RAF Defiants were moved to night fighter operations, many of them carried the then-new AI airborne interception radar. In this role the Defiant again proved itself in combat, achieving more "kills" per interception that any other of the improvised night fighter aircraft of the period.

Surviving aircraft and relics

There is almost certainly no more than 4 Defiants left in the world, the only known complete example is in the RAF Museum (UK), a wreck with the Boulton Paul Association in Wolverhampton (UK) and a wreck in the Moray Firth (UK). The Boulton Paul Association also has a replica Defiant.

RAF Museum Boulton Paul P.82 Defiant I N1671
The Boulton Paul Association in Wolverhampton have the remains of RAF Defiant N3378 which crashed on the Moors in the English Peak District and are currently working on a static replica. The Defiant Replica: a full-size replica of a Defiant for static display is under construction in the Heritage Centre, with the fuselage, centre section of the wings and the tail unit nearing completion in 2000.
There is also a possible complete wreck of Defiant Mk1 , L7035 of the Dalcross based 2nd Air Gunner School. Ditching happened on May 4 , 1942 in the Moray Firth. The ditching was controlled and successful, reasonably near the shore. It would surely warrant a search with only one survivor extant (Flypast Magazine).

The history of Defiant Mk I L7035 - Construction Number 87. Manufactured by Boulton Paul in Wolverhampton. Delivered to 19 Maintenance Unit 7.7.1940; Delivered to 307 (Lwow) Polish Squadron at Jurby Isle of Man 14.9.1940 (coded EW-); Cat. M Accident 5.10.1940 at 16:00 - Pilot Error:

"Retracted undercarriage instead of raising flap at end of landing run, after cross-country at Kirton-in-Lindsey".
Cat. R Accident 2.12.1940 at 15:15 - "Overshot base due to oil on windscreen. 1 injured at Jurby, Isle of Man". Pilot (Sgt Mikszo) was returning from Patrol over North Sea. As aircraft approached Jurby, one of the hydraulic pipes in the cockit fractured, spraying oil over the pilot and his instrument panel. Unable to see his instruments properly, Mikszo attempted a landing but his approach was to fast, and this caused him to overshoot so that the aircraft came to rest on the boundary hedge adjoining the Ballaworrey Road. Both airmen were slightly injured. Repaired at Reid & Sigrist SAS, Desford from 6/12/1940. With 46 MU 10.10.1941. Finally engine cut on camera gun exercise, ditched in Moray Firth 4.5.1942 at 17:50. Sgt C.S.U Finney rescued; passenger drowned while with 2 AGS at Dalcross.

Associations and reunions

Boulton Paul Association. Its website includes information on The Defiant Project, the Defiant Replica, and the Boultin Paul Archives. The Association has acquired the entire Company technical library, and administers and is in the process of cataloguing all remaining archives, including an enormous collection of photographic negatives.

Boulton Paul Association. Summary of information about the association and its projects to restore the second last Defiant in the world as well as its project to rebuild a Defiant replica.
Boulton Paul Defiant in Detail  by Martin Waligorski, IPMS Stockholm Details of the defiant in IPMS article. Includes close up photographs.
Model Defiant in 1/48th scale model collection  Modelling the Boulton-Paul Defiant Mk II from the Classic Airframes 1/48th Scale kit - Introduction.
Flightline profile the Defiant History and specifications about the Defiant with profiles of different squadron aircraft
Aircraft Profiles by FAUCONBERG AEROGRAPHICS  An A-Z of Aircraft Profiles by FAUCONBERG AEROGRAPHICS including BOULTON PAUL DEFIANT Mk.I, 264 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Martlesham Heath, Suffolk, February 1940
Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995) 'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to 1945'  Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1995 ISBN: 085130 232 7 
Aircraft Crash Log. No 5 - Boulton Paul Defiant compiled by Nichols Roberts - July 1979

The Defiant File by Alex Brew - Air Britain 1996 

Rough Landing or Fatal Flight - A History of aircraft accidents around the Isle of Man by Steve
Poole 1999

Created 3-4-1999, Modified 3-4-2000


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