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Blackburn Firebrand

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The Firebrand was conceived in 1939 but would not enter service with the Fleet Air Arm until six years later in September 1945. Once in service the Blackburn Firebrand would go on to spend eight years as a front line fighter.

Quick Facts
Sorry, no image available
First flight
27th February 1942
Entered service
September 1945
Total built

Front view
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Side view
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Rear view
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During December 1939 a Naval Staff Requirement N.9/39 was issued which called for a four-gun single-seat Fleet Air Arm fighter and the Blackburn Firebrand was submitted to meet this requirement and thirteen months later during January 1941 and to a different specification of N.11/40 three prototypes were ordered and all three of the Firebrand prototypes would have a 2,305-hp Napier Sabre III engine. On the 27th February 1942 the first of these prototypes took to the sky, unarmed, with Flt Lt Arthur Thompson at the controls. The 15th July 1942 would see the second prototype make it's maiden flight and this had two 20-mm cannons in each wing and could also carry two 500-lb bombs. The third prototype flew on the 15th September 1942.

The following year in February 1943 the second prototype Firebrand was sent to HMS Illustrious to undertake deck landing trials however it suffered an accident and as a result was rebuilt with a number of changes. The wing was widened by a further 1 ft 6 in to enable a 1,850-lb torpedo to be installed and this new Firebrand prototype was designated the TF.II and flew for the first time a month later on the 31st March 1943 and a dozen production versions were produced. It would be No. 708 Squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service who were based at Lee-on-Solent who became a trial unit for the Mk TF.II and thus became the only squadron who were allocated the type during the Second World War.

Whilst originally having a Napier Sabre powerplant the 2,400-hp Bristol Centaurus VII would be used instead, as the Sabre was needed for the Hawker Typhoon, and this gave birth to the Firebrand Mk TF.III and on the 21st December 1943 the prototype made it's maiden flight. A small number of this Mk were produced, however during take-off they suffered from directional instability leading to the development of the TF.4 which had it's rudder area increased and a tail fin installed. The 17th May 1945 would see the TF.4 fly for the first time and on the 1st September that year the Firebrand finally entered operational service with No. 813 Squadron based at RNAS Ford. This would be followed by the TF.5 with Nos 813 and 827 Squadron receiving the type with the Mk 5A the last version produced.

Too late to see service in World War 2 the Blackburn Firebrand remained in front line service with the Royal Navy aboard its aircraft carriers until 1953 and by the time production had ended 193 Firebrands had been produced.


Click on the aeroplane image to view a larger version.

Max Speed Range Service Ceiling Armament
Firebrand Mk F.I 353 mph 805 miles 32,500 ft four 20mm cannons
Firebrand Mk TF.II 355 mph 770 miles 31,000 ft four 20mm cannons
plus either one 1,850lb torpedo or
two 1,000lb bombs or
rocket projectiles
Firebrand Mk TF.III 319 mph 650 miles 29,400 ft four 20mm cannons
plus either one 1,850lb torpedo or
two 1,000lb bombs or
rocket projectiles
Firebrand Mk TF.4 342 mph 745 miles 34,000 ft four 20mm cannons
plus either one 1,850lb torpedo or
two 1,000lb bombs or
rocket projectiles
Firebrand Mk TF.5 340 mph 740 miles 28,500 ft four 20mm cannons
plus either one 1,850lb torpedo or
two 1,000lb bombs or
rocket projectiles


Sorry, we have no photos of this aircraft

On Display

(C) = Cockpit only exhibit. (F) = Fuselage only exhibit. (R) = Remains of an aircraft.

Variant Location
No known examples currently on public display in the UK.

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