The Beaufighter was a direct descendant of the Bristol Beaufort bomber/torpedo bomber adopting the plane’s main wing, tail assembly and landing gear designs without significant modification. Initial production run Mk.I types, fitted with intercept radar gear in the Mk.If night fighter configuration, took part in the heavy “Battle of Britain” air combat of the summer of 1940. The Beaufighter really found its true element, though, with its assignment in the Mk.Ic configuration to Coastal Command beginning in the autumn of 1941, given the dual mission of attacking enemy shipping and escorting Allied ship convoys. The 12-degree upwardly angled elevators on the tail assembly of the main production run Mk.II model and all subsequent Beaufighter types were the result of stabilization measures taken after the engines of the Beaufighter were upgraded for the earlier Hercules type to the more powerful Rolls-Royce Merlin 20. The Mk.VI, which went into full production in 1942, was a further upgraded model carrying even more powerful Hercules VI engines which afforded the plane greatly improved performance. The Mk.VI was also equipped with additional fuel storage capacity in the main wings and nacelles, greatly increasing range. This type also had a considerably increased armament load, with a 7.7mm machine gun added in the navigator’s position for rearward defense. The coastal attack Mk.Vic model had a payload capacity of either two bombs or eight air-to-ground rockets. The Mk.VIf night fighter model, with its heavy armament, performed admirably in both night fighter and long range escort roles.
The Mk.X was specifically designed as an anti-shipping attack plane, and it inflicted heavy damage on German naval forces in the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean during WW2. The aircraft was assigned mainly to coastal defense units in Great Britain. A special dorsal fin for stability when flying with torpedo ordnance is one of the more notable characteristics of the aircraft.
Wingspan: 17.64 meters
Length: 12.71 meters
Height: 4.83 meters
Weight fully loaded: 11,441 kg
Powerplant: Hercules XVII (1,735 HP) x2
Top speed: 531.1 km/h
Cruising range: 2,367 kilometers
Armament: (4x)20mm cannon, (1x) 7.7 machine guns