Beaufighter TF Mk X
|World War II aircraft|
|Beaufighter TF Mk X|
|Country of origin||Britain|
|Dimensions||Wing span 57 ft 10 in (17.65 m)|
Length 41 ft 4 in (12.6 m)
Height 15 ft 10 in (4.84 m)
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The Beaufighter TF Mk X in World War II
The Bristol Type 156 Beaufighter, often referred to as simply the Beau, was a British long-range heavy fighter modification of the Bristol Aeroplane Company's earlier Beaufort torpedo bomber design. The name Beaufighter is a portmanteau of "Beaufort" and "fighter". Unlike the Beaufort, the Beaufighter had a long career and served in almost all theatres of war in the Second World War, first as a night fighter, then as a fighter-bomber and eventually replacing the Beaufort as a torpedo bomber.
The Hercules Mk XVII engine, developing 1,735 hp at 500 feet, was installed in the Beaufighter Mk VIC airframe to produce the TF Mk.X (Torpedo Fighter) - commonly known as the "Torbeau." The Mk X became the main production mark of the Beaufighter. The strike variant of the "Torbeau" was designated the Mk.XIC.
British Coastal Command
Beaufighter TF Xs would make precision shipping attacks at wave-top height with torpedoes or rockets. Early models of the Mk Xs carried metric-wavelength ASV (air-to-surface vessel) radar with "herringbone" antennae carried on the nose and outer wings, but this was replaced in late 1943 by the centimetric AI Mark VIII radar housed in a "thimble-nose" radome, enabling all-weather and night time attacks.
The North Coates Strike Wing (Coastal Command), based at RAF North Coates on the Lincolnshire coast, developed attack tactics combining large formations of Beaufighters on anti-flak suppression with cannon and rockets while the Torbeaus attacked on low level. These tactics were put into practice in mid 1943 and in a 10 month period 27,000 tonnes of shipping were sunk. Tactics were further adapted when shipping was moved from port during night hours. North Coates Strike Wing operated as the largest anti-shipping force of the Second World War, and accounted for over 150,000 tons of shipping and 117 vessels for a loss of 120 Beaufighters and 241 aircrew killed or missing. This was half the total tonnage sunk by all strike wings between 1942-45.
The Beaufighter arrived at squadrons in Asia and the Pacific in mid-1942. It has often been said — although it was most probably a propaganda invention — that Japanese soldiers referred to the Beaufighter as "whispering death", supposedly because attacking aircraft often were unheard (or seen) until it was too late. The Beaufighter's Hercules engines featured sleeve valves which lacked the noisy valve gear common to poppet valve engines. This was most apparent in a reduced noise level at the front of the engine.