Warplane Wednesday

Warplane Wednesday: Bristol Beaufighter

Paddy fired a burst from 250 yards and watched as the German aircraft exploded in midair – the four 20mm cannons and six machine guns on a Beaufighter packed a punch.

– Excerpt from Eagles over Husky


The Allied air forces employed the Bristol Beaufighter in two roles during Operation Husky. First, the Northwest African Coastal Air Force used the Beaufighter Mk VIC in an anti-shipping attack fighter role. These aircraft were equipped with cannons, rockets, torpedos, or bombs to take on the surface fleet of the Regia Marina or the supply ships of the Italian and German merchant navies. The Beaufighter Mk VIF was a night fighter variant used by Air Headquarters Malta and the Coastal Air Force in air defence and intruder roles.

Specifications (Mk VIF)

Type: two-seat night fighter

Powerplant: Two 1219kW (1635hp) Bristol Hercules VI 14-cylinder two-row radial engines

Performance: maximum speed 536km/h (333mph); climb rate 586m/m (1923 ft/m); service ceiling 8083m (26519ft); range 2381km (1479 miles)

Weights: empty 6631kg (14619lb), maximum take-off 9810kg (21627lb)

Wingspan: 17.65m (57ft 10in)

Length: 12.6m (41ft 4in)

Height: 4.84m (15ft 10in)

Armament: four 20mm (0.79in) fixed forward-firing cannon in the underside of the forward fuselage and six 7.7mm (0.303in) forward-firing machine guns in the wings, plus an external torpedo, bomb, and rocket load of 1111kg (2450lb)

Sensors: one Air Interception Mk VIII series radar system in the nose


The following units in Mediterranean Air Command flew Beaufighters:

Northwest African Coastal Air Force

  • No. 219 Squadron RAF (Mk VIF)
  • No. 153 Squadron RAF (Mk VIF)
  • No. 255 Squadron RAF (Mk VIF)
  • No. 39 Squadron RAF (Mk VIC)
  • No. 47 Squadron RAF (Mk VIC)
  • No. 144 Squadron RAF (Mk VIC)

Air Headquarters Malta

  • No. 600 Squadron RAF (Mk VIF)
  • No. 108 Squadron RAF (Mk VIF)
  • No. 272 Squadron RAF (Mk VIC)