Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   www.SilverHawkAuthor.com   
 
Canadian Warplanes 3: Bristol Beaufort

Bristol Beaufort

Data current to 19 April 2021.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, PB-1406, MIKAN No. 3225024)

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. N1030), coded N, No. 149 (Torpedo Bomber) Squadron, RCAF, on patrol over Patricia bay, British Columbia, 18 June 1943.

The Bristol Beaufort Type 152 was a British twin-engined torpedo bomber At least 1,180 Beauforts were built by Bristol and other British manufacturers.  Beauforts first saw service with RAF Coastal Command and then the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm from 1940.  They were used as torpedo bombers, conventional bombers and mine-layers until 1942, when they were removed from active service and were then used as trainer aircraft until being declared obsolete in 1945.

Although it was designed as a torpedo-bomber, the Beaufort was more often used as a medium day bomber.  The Beaufort also flew more hours in training than on operational missions and more were lost through accidents and mechanical failures than were lost to enemy fire.  The Beaufort was adapted as a long-range heavy fighter variant called the Beaufighter, which proved to be very successful and many Beaufort units eventually converted to the Beaufighter. 

No. 149 (TB) Squadron, RCAF, was formed as a Torpedo Bomber unit at Patricia Bay, British Columbia, on 26 October 1942.  This squadron was the only home unit to be equipped with the Bristol Beaufort to meet the Japanese naval threat from the Aleutians.  When the Japanese withdrew in the summer of 1943, the squadron was redesignated Bomber Reconnaissance (BR) and re-equipped with Lockheed Ventura aircraft.  It was employed on West Coast anti-submarine duty until it was disbanded at Terrace, BC, on 15 March 1944.  (S. Kostenuk and J. Griffin)

The RCAF’s overseas experience with torpedo bombers differed greatly from the sporadic and often ineffective operations on the home front.  Although the RCAF carried only one torpedo bomber squadron in its overseas Order of Battle, many Canadians flew with British squadrons in this role.

Nos. 22 and 42 squadrons were the first RAF units to receive the type, and among the first to fly them were British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) graduates. These men, who were trained under the Canada-based BCATP, began arriving in Britain in November 1940. One of them, Pilot Officer Lawrence Stanley Hill, a navigator from Calgary, had barely reported to No. 42 Sqdn. when he was dispatched on a Dec. 28 Beaufort mission to locate an enemy tanker off Trondheim, Norway. The aircraft was last seen on a homeward track off Scotland’s Shetland Islands. Hill and the other four crew members are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial west of London, England.

Torpedo bombing required both skill and nerves of steel. The “fish” were dropped from an altitude of roughly 80 feet, approximately 1,000 yards from target. Close for sure, but if a ship had shallow draught the torpedoes could pass harmlessly underneath. The attack itself demanded a straight and level approach which made the aircraft an easy target for enemy gunners, and so it was not uncommon for a strike force to lose a third of its planes. The death of Warrant Officer Alan Morris of Ottawa, a wireless operator in No. 42 Sqdn., is particularly tragic. Not only had the wireless operator in No. 42 Sqdn. completed his tour and participated in several attacks, he was ready to leave the squadron when asked to replace a sick man for a May 17, 1942, strike on the cruiser Lutznow. The mission was a disaster. Three Beauforts in the first wave were shot down. Four more - in the second wave - were destroyed by German fighters, and the cruiser escaped.

Torpedo bombers were dispatched in response to sighting reports, but more often Beaufort offensive operations consisted of mine-laying operations which caused the most aircrew casualties. Nevertheless, Sergeant James Philip Scott of Toronto, a RCAF navigator in No. 22 Sqdn., died during one of the most daring RAF torpedo bomber sorties. On April 6, 1941, Beauforts penetrated Brest harbour and attacked the German battle cruiser Gneisenau. The British pilot, Flying Officer Kenneth Campbell, ran a gauntlet of flak before launching his torpedo which put the vessel into dry dock for eight months. The Beaufort crew perished in the mission; Campbell was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

No. 415 Squadron, RCAF, formed at Thorney Island, Sussex, on 20 Aug 1941, worked up on Beauforts, and became operational on Hampdens in April 1942.  (Hugh A. Halliday)

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (15), (Serial Nos. L9938 coded Y-AW, L9967 coded K, L9968 coded L, N1005, N1006, N1007 coded A, N1021 coded B, N1026, N1027 coded C, N1029 coded D, N1030 coded N, N1045 coded F, N1078 coded G, N1107 coded H, W6473, W6484, W6848 coded M).  Unit code ZM.

 (RCAF Photo) 

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. N1172), coded S-AW, No. 42 Squadron, RAF.

 (IWM Photo, CH 2775) 

Pair of Bristol Beaufort Mk. Is, including (Serial No. N1172), coded S-AW, No. 42 Squadron, RAF, based at Leuchars, Fife, in flight with (Serial No. L9834), another aircraft of the Squadron.

 (RAF Photo)

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. L3339), rear view.

 (RAF Photo)

Beaufort Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. AW245), August 1941.

(Shearwater Aviation Museum Photo)

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. L9938), coded Y-AW with No. 42 Squadron, RAF, later serving with the RCAF at Patricia Bay, British Columbia, c1941.

(BCAM Photo via Mike Kaehler)

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. N1006), 32 OTU, damaged, Patricia Bay, British Columbia, 1 Feb 1942.

 (British Columbia Archives Photo)

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. unknown), No. 149 (Torpedo Bomber) Squadron, Patricia Bay, British Columbia.

 (British Columbia Archives Photo)

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. N1021), coded B. No. 149 Squadron RCAF, possibly previously operated in combat by 32 OTU under RCAF control, coded RD and later OP.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3581951)

Bristol Beaufort bomber interior, cockpit view. 

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3581953)

Bristol Beaufort bomber interior, radio operator compartment.

 (RAF Photo)

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. L9878), copded MW-R, No. 217 Squadron, RAF.

RCAF Beauforts in Canada

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. L9967) was taken on strength on 7 Aug 1941 by No. 3 Training Command.  It was assembled by Canadian Associated Aircraft at St. Hubert, Quebec.  Taken on strength at No. 1 Wireless School, at Montreal.  To Western Air Command on 17 Sep 1941, for use by No. 32 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, British Columbia.  To No. 149 (Torpedo Bomber) Squadron at Patricia Bay, BC on 8 Oct 1942.   Coded K.  To storage on 3 Nov 1943.  To No. 1 Training Command, and classified as Instructional Airframe A397 on 22 Feb 1944, used at the Technical Training School at RCAF Station St. Thomas, Ontario.  Declared of no further instructional value on 30 Mar 1946.  Held in whole state after disposal, pending transfer to War Assets Corporation.

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. L9968) was taken on strength on 7 Aug 1941 by No. 3 Training Command.  It was assembled by Canadian Associated Aircraft at St. Hubert, Quebec.  Taken on strength at No. 1 Wireless School, at Montreal.  To Western Air Command on 17 Sep 1941, for use by No. 32 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, British Columbia.  Category C14 damage at 14:20 on 4 Feb 1942, at Patricia Bay.  To Boeing Aircraft in Vancouver for repairs, 18 Mar to 24 Jun 1942.  Had 69:20 logged time when it arrived there.  Back to Western Air Command when completed.  To No. 149 (TB) Squadron at Patricia Bay on 8 Oct 1942.  Coded L.  To storage on 3 Nov 1943.  To No. 1 Training Command on 1 Apr 1944, for use at No. 5 Radio School at Clinton, Ontario.  Classified as Instructional Airframe A387 on 3 Apr 1944.  To No. 1 Air Command on 15 Jan 1945, still at Clinton.  Retained in whole state after strike off, pending transfer to War Assets Corporation.

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. N1005) was taken on strength on 7 Aug 1941 by No. 3 Training Command.  It was assembled by Canadian Associated Aircraft at St. Hubert, Quebec.  Taken on strength at No. 1 Wireless School, at Montreal.  To Western Air Command on 17 Sep 1941, for use by No. 32 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, British Columbia.  Category C10 damage at 15:40 on 31 Dec 1941, at Patricia Bay.  Crashed at 12:00 on 2 Jan 1942, also at Patricia Bay.  Assigned to Boeing Aircraft in Vancouver for repairs, 27 Jan to 11 May 1942.  Back to No. 32 OTU when completed.  To No. 149 (TB) Squadron at Patricia Bay on 8 Oct 1942.  Destroyed in crash on take off on 2 Dec 1942.

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. N1006) was taken on strength on 7 Aug 1941 by No. 3 Training Command.  It was assembled by Canadian Associated Aircraft at St. Hubert, Quebec.  To Western Air Command on 17 Sep 1941, for use by No. 32 Operational Training Unit at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC.  Crashed into the sea on 15 Feb 1942.

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. N1007) was assembled on 7 Aug 1941 by Canadian Associated Aircraft at St. Hubert, Quebec.  Taken on strength at No. 1 Wireless School, at Montreal.  To Western Air Command on 2 Sep 1941, for use by No. 32 Operational Training Unit at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC.  Assigned to No. 149 (TB) Squadron at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC on 8 Oct 1942, may have arrived there on 13 Dec 1942.  Coded A.  To storage with WAC on 3 Novr 1943, to No. 1 Training Command on 28 Feb 1944.  Classified as Instructional Airframe A 377 on that date, for use at RCAF Station Aylmer, Ontario.

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. N1021) was taken on strength on 7 Aug by Canadian Associated Aircraft at St. Hubert, PQ.  Taken on strength at No. 1 Wireless School, at Montreal.  To Western Air Command on 11 Sep 1941, for use by No. 32 Operational Training Unit at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC.  Assigned to No. 149 (TB) Squadron at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC on 8 Oct 1942.  Coded B.  Category A crash at Patricia Bay at 15:03 on 23 Feb 1943.

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. N1026) was taken on strength on 4 Sep 1941 at Clark Ruse Aircraft in Nova Scotia.  With Test & Development Establishment at RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ontario, dates unknown.  To Western Air Command on 21 Nov 1941, for use by No. 32 Operational Training Unit at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC.  Category A crash at Sydney, BC at 13:30 on 29 May 1942.  Aircraft crashed into sea shortly after take off, engine failure suspected.  Pilot Sgt. P. Stillwell and 3 other crew drowned.

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. N1027) was taken on strength on 4 Sep 1941 at Clark Ruse Aircraft in Nova Scotia.  With Test & Development Establishment at RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ontario.  To Western Air Command on 17 Nov 1941, for use by No. 32 Operational Training Unit at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC.  Assigned to No. 149 (TB) Squadron at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC on 8 Oct 1942.  Coded "C".  To No. 1 Training Command on 10 Mar 1944.  Converted to Instructional Airframe A 383 on that date, for use by the Technical Training School at RCAF Station Aylmer, Ontario.  To No. 1 Air Command on 15 Jan 1945, still in use at Aylmer.  Pending disposal from 15 Feb 1945, stored at the Flight Engineers School at Aylmer.  Declared of no further use on 28 Mar 1947, retained in whole state pending disposal.

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. N1029) was taken on strength on 7 Aug 1941.  Built by Canadian Associated Aircraft at St. Hubert, PQ.  Taken on strength at No. 1 Wireless School, at Montreal.  To Western Air Command on 2 Sep 1941, for use by No. 32 Operational Training Unit at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC.  Assigned to No. 149 (TB) Squadron at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC on 8 Oct 1942.  Coded D.

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. N1030) was taken on strength on 7 Aug 1941.  Built by Canadian Associated Aircraft at St. Hubert, PQ.  To Western Air Command on 14 Oct 1941, for use by No. 32 Operational Training Unit at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC.  Assigned to No. 149 (TB) Squadron at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC on 8 Oct 1942.  Coded N.  To storage with Western Air Command on 3 November 1943.  To No. 1 Training Command on 16 Feb 1944.  Converted to Instructional Airframe A 395 on the next day, for use by the Technical Training School at RCAF Station Aylmer, Ontario.  Declared of no further use on 30 Mar 1946, retained in whole state pending disposal.

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. N1045) coded F, was taken on strength on 21 Aug 1941.  To Western Air Command on 14 Oct 1941, for use by No. 32 Operational Training Unit at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC.  Assigned to No. 149 (TB) Squadron at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC on 8 Oct 1942.  Coded N.  To storage with Western Air Command on 3 Nov 1943.  To No. 1 Training Command on 16 Feb 1944.  Converted to Instructional Airframe A 395 on the next day, for use by the Technical Training School at RCAF Station Aylmer, Ontario.  Declared of no further use on 30 Mar 1946, retained in whole state pending disposal.

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. N1078) coded G, was taken on strength on 7 Aug 1941.  Built by Canadian Associated Aircraft at St. Hubert, PQ.  Taken on strength at No. 1 Wireless School, at Montreal.  To Western Air Command on 2 Sep 1941, for use by No. 32 Operational Training Unit at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC.  Coded RD-H and later OP-H.  Category C6 damage to airscrews at Patricia Bay, at 15:30 on 7 Nov 1941, when the aircraft jumped the chocks while ground running and struck wooden trestles.  To Boeing Aircraft in Vancouver for repairs, 8 Dec 1941 to 17 Jan 1942.  Back to No. 32 OTU when completed.  Assigned to No. 149 (TB) Squadron at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC on 8 Oct 1942.  Coded N.  To storage with Western Air Command on 3 Nov 1943.  To No. 1 Training Command on 16 Feb 1944.  Converted to Instructional Airframe A 396 on the next day, for use by the Technical Training School at RCAF Station Aylmer, Ontario.  Declared of no further use on 30 Mar 1946, retained in whole state pending disposal.

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. N1107) coded H, taken on strength 21 Aug 1941 by Canadian Associated Aircraft at St. Hubert, PQ.  To Western Air Command on 17 Sep 1941, for use by No. 32 Operational Training Unit at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC.  Coded RDJ.  Category C12 damage on 14 Jan 1942, when aircraft swung on landing and starboard landing gear struck a ditch.  Repaired on site.  Had 62:15 logged time on this date.  To No. 149 (TB) Squadron at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC on 8 Oct 1942.  Coded H.  To storage on 3 Nov 1943, possibly following a crash.  To No. 1 Training command on 22 Mar 1944, converted to Instructional Airframe A376 the following day.  To No. 1 Air Command in Jan 1945.  Struck off at No. 5 Radio Direction Finding School at Clinton, Ontario.

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. W6473), was taken on strength on 7 Aug 1941.  With No. 32 Operational Training Unit at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC.  Coded OP-N.  Written off in forced landing at Rodeo, New Mexico on 27 Mar 1942.  Port engine failed, and then fell off.

Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. W6484), was taken on strength on 7 Aug 1941.  With No. 32 Operational Training Unit at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC.  Coded RD-N and later OP-N.  Ground looped while taking off at Patricia Bay on 20 Jun 1942, landing gear collapsed.  Starboard propeller and gear box came off when aircraft struck the ground.  With No. 149 (TB) Squadron at RCAF Station Patricia Bay, BC in 1942/43.  Coded M, date not known.  Classified as Instructional Airframe A384 on 9 Mar 1944.

 (R.W.R. Walker files)

7 August 1941 - Taken on strength by No. 3 Training Command

 

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