Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   www.SilverHawkAuthor.com   
 
Canadian Warplanes 3: Fairey Fulmar

Fairey Fulmar

Data current to 23 Feb 2021.

 (RN Photo)

Fairey Fulmar flown by RCN and RCNVR pilots in service with the Fleet Air Arm, Royal Navy.

The Fairey Fulmar was a British carrier-borne reconnaissance and fighter aircraft.  It was named after the northern fulmar, a seabird native to the UK.  The Fulmar served with the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm (FAA) during the Second World War.

The Fulmar was developed in 1936 as a replacement for the Fairey Battle light bomber.  Although its performance (like that of its Battle antecedent) was unspectacular, the Fulmar was a reliable, sturdy aircraft with long range and an effective armament of eight machine guns.  It was also possible to put the type into production relatively quickly. On 4 January 1940, the first production aircraft made its first flight and delivery commenced shortly thereafter, while production of an improved model, the Fulmar Mk. II, began in January 1941.  Fairey produced a total of 600 Fulmars at its Stockport factory between January 1940 and December 1942.

During July 1940, No. 806 Squadron became the first FAA squadron to received the Fulmar.  It participated in the pursuit and sinking of the German battleship Bismarck, acting as a spotter for the chasing fleet.  The Fulmar was heavily used in the North African Campaign, flying convoy protection patrols to and from the island of Malta, and providing air cover for Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers during attacks, including the Battle of Taranto and the Battle of Cape matapan.  By the autumn of 1940, it had been recorded as having shot down ten Italian bombers and six enemy fighters.  The Fulmar was also deployed to the Fr East, where it proved largely incapable of matching the Japanese-built Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters.  During the later stages of the conflict, it was replaced in the fighter role by Supmarine Seafires and Grumman Martlets.  While continuing service as a trainer and reconnaissance aircraft for a time, the Fulmar was withdrawn from front line service in February 1945.

 

 (TSRL Photo)

Fairey Fulmar (Serial No. N1854).  This was the first Fulmar to be flown (on 4 January 1940) was later modified to Mk. II standard and then civilianised as Fairey's hack, G-AIBE.  In June 1959 it reverted to Service markings and is pictured here at Farnborough at the SBAC show on 8 September 1962.  Its last flight was three month later on 18 December 1962.  It is now in the FAA museum at Yeovilton and is the only surviving airframe.

 (Rodw Photo)

Fairey Fulmar (Serial No. N1854), in the FAA museum at Yeovilton.  It is the only surviving Fulmar airframe.

 (Alan Wilson Photo)

Fairey Fulmar (Serial No. N1854), in the FAA museum at Yeovilton.  It is the only surviving Fulmar airframe.

 (Alan Wilson Photo)

Fairey Fulmar (Serial No. N1854), in the FAA museum at Yeovilton.  It is the only surviving Fulmar airframe.

 (IWM Photo, A 1976)

Fairey Fulmar I (Serial No. N2005), in which some WRNS were conveyed, on the ground. The Fleet Air Arm worked in conjunction with the WRNS by transporting Wren officers to various stations at a moments notice in case of emergency.

 (IWM Photo, A15153)

Fairey Fulmars on Board HMS Illustrious, in the Indian Ocean.  HMS Valiant in the background is conducting a Practice Shoot, 22 December 1942.