The Firefly would enter service with the Fleet Air Arm in October 1943 and would be used as a night fighter during the Second World War as well as take part in operations against the
Tirpitz. Seeing action during the Korean War the Fairey Firefly would be retired from service in the 1950s.
First flight 22nd December 1941
Entered service 1st October 1943
Total built 1,700
H.E. Chaplin and his design team submitted their design calling for a two-seat reconnaissance fighter meeting Admiralty Specification N.5/40 during September 1939 and nine months later on
the 12th June 1940 200 Fireflys were ordered. This new aircraft had both increased firepower and speed over the plane it was intended to replace, the Fairey Fulmar, and three production
aircraft would be used for testing. So on the 22nd December 1941 flying from Fairey's Great West Aerodrome and piloted by Christopher Staniland the Fairey Firefly made its maiden flight.
A second Firefly flew the following year on the 4th June, however this would crash, leading to minor changes to the third aircraft before it flew two months later on the 26th August. By
the end of 1942 carrier trials on the new aircraft had been carried out aboard HMS Illustrious.
During March 1943 deliveries of the Firefly Mk I began at first powered by the 1,730-hp Griffon IIB although during the planes production run a number of changes were made to the plane
including the removal of a two man dinghy in the rear fuselage and the installation of the 1,990-hp Griffon XII engine. A number of Fireflys also had ASH radar installed in a pod under
the engine and were known as the FR Mk I. With the installation of A.I Mk 10 radar and the fuselage increased by eighteen inches the NF Mk II night fighter Fairey Firefly appeared
although with the radar able to be housed under the engine like the FR Mk I it was this Mk which would be converted to the role and these, along with the 37 NF Mk IIs converted back to
Mk I specification, would be known as the NF Mk I.
The Firefly Mk III was to be powered by the Griffon 61 engine and only a prototype of this was produced during 1944 despite an order for 100 of the type placed. Instead thoughts turned to
the Mk IV which featured a four-blade propeller, clipped wings and power supplied by the 2,100-hp Griffon 74 engine. 160 Fireflys Mk IV would be produced but would not see service during
World War 2 with deliveries beginning in July 1946.
The Fairey Firefly Mk 5 followed and looked similar to its predecessor and flew for the first time on the 12th December 1947 and fifteen months later on the 23rd March 1949 the Mk 6
Firefly flew for the first time. The A.S. Mk 6 and A.S. Mk 7 featured a larger bulged canopy to house two radar operators although most would end up as T. Mk 7 observer training aircraft.
On the 1st October 1943 the Fairey Firefly started to enter service with No. 1770 Squadron based first at Yeovilton before embarking on HMS Indefatigable being the first to receive the
Mk I version of this new aircraft. However it would not be until nine months later during July 1944 when the Firefly would become operational, taking part in the attack against the
Tirpitz based in Norway where they would provide air cover, with the first victory for the type achieved by Lt. D.Levitt of No. 1770 Squadron when on the 2nd January 1945 he shot
down a Nakajima Ki-43 'Oscar'. Fireflys would also take part in operations against Japan including rocket attacks on oil refineries in Sumatra.
By the time production ended 1,700 Fairey Fireflys had been built serving in a number of different roles including training and target tug roles and as well as seeing service during
World War 2 the Firefly would also participate in the Korean War and Malaya and would serve with airforces around the world including Australia.