Aircraft History

Fairey Firefly

Fairey FireflyA total of 64 Firefly aircraft served with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) from March 1946 to February 1953. The Firefly was based at HMCS Shearwater and flown from the aircraft carriers HMCS Warrior and HMCS Magnificent by 825 Squadron (March 1946 to May 1951) and 826 Squadron (May 1947 to October 1950). 825 and 826 Squadrons were renumbered 880 and 881 Squadrons respectively in May 1951. In November 1952 these squadrons were redesignated VS 880 and VS 881 to more closely ally their nomenclature with the US Navy with whom they were developing a closer relationship in North American defence.

Five versions of the Firefly were flown by the RCN; the FR I and FR IV were strike-reconnaissance fighters while the T1 and T2 were dual control trainers used to qualify pilots on the Firefly. The AS 5 was an anti-submarine version in keeping with the 1949 NATO accord where Canada assumed a specialized anti-submarine role for the RCN.

The RCN Firefly FR I's originally belonged to the Royal Navy and formed part of the settlement of war claims between Canada and Britain, with the result that no money was actually paid for them by Canadians. A total of 29 Fireflies FR I's were progressively taken on strength by the RCN between June 1946 and April 1947. The first nine Firefly FR I's arrived in Canada aboard the aircraft carrier HMCS Warrior 31 March 1946 and flew off to the Royal Canadian Naval Air Section at RCAF Station Dartmouth. The Firefly was the RCN's sole strike-reconnaissance fighter during the formative years of Canadian naval aviation. The Firefly FR I's were characterized by a large chin radiator and upon delivery were painted in 'Extra Dark Sea Gray and Dark Slate Gray' camouflage. The radar, housed in a canister under the radiator, was operated by the Observer in the rear cockpit to detect ships and submarines.

A total of 13 Fairey Firefly FR IV's were loaned to the RCN by the British Navy until the anti-submarine version, the Firefly AS 5, became available. The first FR IV was taken on RCN strength in February 1948. The Royal Navy paint scheme of 'Extra Dark Sea Gray' upper surfaces and 'Sky Blue' under surfaces, fuselage sides and vertical tail were retained on the FR IV's until returned to Britain in January 1949. Only nine FR IV's were returned as two had ditched and one was retained until 1954.

The Fairy Firefly FR IV, which was externally almost identical to the AS 5, differed from the FR I version in having clipped wings to increase the roll rate and the chin radiator was replaced by coolant radiators in leading edge extensions of the wing roots. The radar was relocated to a fairing extending forward from under the right wing, while a fuel cell was contained in a similar fairing on the left wing. The FR IV also had a more powerful Rolls Royce Griffon engine. The AS 5, used in the anti-submarine role, differed from the FR IV in having upgraded electronics and a capability to detect submerged submarines by dropping sonobuoys into the ocean and transmitting the sounds emitted by the submarine to the aircraft by VHF radio.

Type: Two seat, carrier based maritime reconnaissance and strike aircraft

Wing Span:
12.55 m (41 ft 2 in)

37 ft 11 in.

4.37 m (9 ft 11 in)

Max. Speed:
621 kph (386 mph)

Service Ceiling:
8655 m (28,400 ft)

2092 km (1300 mi)

Max. Weight:
7301 kg (16,096 lb)

Empty Weight:
4388 kg (9674 lb)

Power Plant:
One 1678 kW (2250 hp) Rolls Royce Griffon 74, V-12 cylinder piston engine

Four 20 mm cannons in wings; plus
Up to sixteen 27 kg (60 lb) rockets; or
Two 454 kg (1000 lb) bombs under wings