Valiant Wings Publishing: The Fairey Firefly


Richard A Franks


Valiant Wings Publishing


19.95 MSRP at


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 162 pages, A4 Format, softcover,
ISBN: 978-1-912932-28-3, Airframe Album #18

This latest edition of Airframe Album concentrates on the Fairey Firefly naval fighter. Development began once the Fulmar was well underway. The Fleet Air Arm always wanted their fighters to be multi-purpose so those designed specifically for naval use were two seaters with the rear seat for the observer/radio operator. As a fighter, it had no rearward facing armament. The specifics for this particular plane were unmet the first time designs were submitted so it took an additional amount of time to get things going.

One thing that was required was the use of a Griffon engine. This powerplant was showing a lot of promise and was a lot easier to maintain than other options such as the Sabre. As usual, getting the airframe right took a fair amount of work as the type had the usual teething issues. By the time it was considered ready for prime time, it was fairly obvious that it could not match the performance of land based fighters so was initially adapted for other roles.

The role with the greatest need was night fighter, however, British airborne intercept radars added a considerable amount of weight and were not particularly good. The installation of a US system reduced the weight, but still, it wasn't all that great. The biggest issue was that the pod (which for the US system was mounted under the forward fuselage, had issues with the metal props being used. To say it wasn't a very successful night fighter would be about right. However, one place it did do quite well was as a ground attack platform and it is in this role that the Firefly did well. Later developments did better as both night fighter and ground attack and served with distinction during the British involvement in the Korean war.

Post war the Firefly was used by a number of nations as well as early planes being converted into two seat trainers. Both the Dutch and Australians used them aboard carriers with the Swedes using a fairly large number of them as target tugs. In fact, it is thanks to these tugs that there are extant airframes as most were sourced from there once their service was complete.

The book follows the usual script with a history of the type, the different variants, close up images using technical manuals, museum planes, and period images. There is a section on the differences between airframes and one on the various camouflage schemes worn by the aircraft.  This series is not specifically a model building offering but there is a full build article of the Trumpeter kit as two smaller half page builds of other kits. We also are provided with the usual listing of kits, decals and accessories near the end.

In all, a most welcome addition to what is a superb series of books and well worth the effort of picking up.

July 2022

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