The aircraft we present today is the Fairey Gannet which was the carrier borne aircraft that was developed for the British Royal Navy to serve after the World War II era. The aircraft was part of the Royal navy’s FAA (Fleet Air Arm) and was developed by the company known as Fairey Aviation Company.
The Fairey Gannet was a monoplane with mid wing design that had a tricycle undercarriage along with ability to be operated by 3 crew members. As for the engine installation, it houses a double turboprop engine for driving its 2 contra-propelling propellers.
The Fairey Gannet was developed by Fairey Company to fulfill the roles of anti-submarine warfare as well as striking. In later years of the Fairey Gannet’s service, the aircraft was used for carrier onboard delivery and electronic countermeasure aircraft. A variant of the Fairey Gannet was designated as Gannet AEW.3 which was used as the carrier based aircraft used as an AEW (Airborne Early Warning) System. s
The Fairey Gannet was developed to serve the British Navy back in the Cold War Era as a part of their Fleet Ari Arm. The project for the Fairey Gannet was started as a part of the initiative started by the British Admiralty back in 1945 under designation GR. 17/45. The initiative required an aircraft that could be an advanced fighter hat had carrier based capabilities for being an Anti-Submarine warfare aircraft.
2 companies presented their prototypes for this initiative of Royal navy which were Fairey Aviation Company and Blackburn Aircraft. Fairey presented the model Fairey 17 while Blackburn presented the model B-54. Both of these aircraft were quite similar in their designs, airframes, bombing bays and tricycle undercarriage arrangement.
The name Gannet:-
The name Gannet is the Fairey Gannet was derived for the aircraft from the large seabird species that were commonly residing in North Atlantic, South Pacific and the southern areas of the Africa. These birds were known for their predatory nature which they made lethal with amazing diving speeds to catch the prey underwater and also chasing the said prey if it escaped them still being underwater.
Cancelled the Blackburn B-54 and B-58 project:-
The prototype for the Blackburn B-54 was featured with a piston engine while another model B-58 featured a gas powered turbine engine to rotate the large contra rotating propellers. The internal bombing bay for the B-054 and B-58 was affixed on the fuselage’s underside while the pilot and the observer sat under the framed canopy. As for the radar scanner, it was mounted under the cylindrical fitting at base of empennage. First flight for these 2 Blackburn models took place on September 20th 1949. Despite their impressive performance, these two aircraft were shelved in favor of Fairey Gannet.
The design of Fairey Gannet made by the engineer named HE Chaplin featured the Armstrong Siddeley Mamba Gas powered turbine engine which was seated near the gearbox to power the aircraft’s contra rotating propellers fitted at the nose section. The engine of the aircraft could be fueled with both diesel and kerosene oil as compared to the high-octane fuel common to all the position engines of that time.
The initial crew member placement was to house a pilot in the forward area of the cockpit while the observer was seated in the rear cockpit. Just like the Blackburn models, the Fairey Gannet also presented the retractable radome assembly as well as the internal bombing bay under the aircraft’s fuselage.
The wings of the aircraft were cranked upward of the man landing gear legs. As the aircraft was designed to operate from atop the British aircraft carriers, the wings were designed with ability to be folded for providing optimal storage option. The nose leg of the tricycle landing arrangement of the aircraft was slightly elongated than the rear legs which gave the aircraft a nose up like appearance.
After the Fairey Gannet’s prototype was created, slight modification was carried out to add an additional space for a third observer which led to creation of a third separate cockpit behind the wings but still ahead of the tail section. This led to problems like disruption in airflow along the stabilizers near the tail. This led to creating small finlets along sides of the fuselage to counter this issue.
After this added modification in the design, the aircraft was ready for its first flight. The prototype for the Fairey Gannet took its first flight back on 19th September 1949.
Entering service of the Royal Navy:-
As for the first evaluation flight of the Fairey Gannet to land on the deck of the British carrier named HMS Illustrious, it occurred on 15th June 1950. The British officers were satisfied with the performance of this Gannet prototype and allowed it for mass production. The aircraft’s first deliveries started back in April 1954.
Total number of aircraft produced:-
The production of the Fairey Gannet started from year 1953 till then end of year 1959 and during that time, nearly 348 of these Fairey Gannet aircraft were manufactured and delivered by Fairey Aircraft.
Powerplant and other specs:-
A single Fairey Gannet was powered by the Armstrong Siddeley Double Mamba ASMD 3 turboprop engine. This engine generated the power of 3145 HP which propelled the aircraft at a top speed of 300 mph for a range of 944 miles at service ceiling of about 21298 feet.
In addition to multiple squadrons of the British Royal navy, the Fairey Gannet was also operated by the few squadrons of the Royal Australian Navy. Some units of the Fairey Gannet were also operated by the German Navy along with their fleets of Marinefliegergeschwader 2 and 3 until 1966. Other than these 2 foreign operators, some units were also purchased by the Indonesian Navy.
Replacement of Fairey Gannet:-
Until the mid 1960s era, the Fairey Gannet served the British Royal navy but after that the aircraft was replaced in its tasks by the helicopters of the Westland Whirlwind Series for both the land and carrier based roles. This el dot the primary use of the Fairey Gannet to e switched from an antisubmarine warfare aircraft to an Electronic Countermeasure aircraft along with few models serving roles of transport aircraft for both passengers and the cargo. The last of the Fairey Gannet aircraft was retired from its service entirely back on 15th December 1978.