Originally Posted by Redback
OK here's anpother
Apart from being one of the fastest aircraft around at its time this twin engined bomber had one unsual characteristic that set it apart.
First flew in 1944 but did get into operational service
How about the Bristol Brigand? Twin tails, dive bombing, torpedo bomber and over 350 MPH. Thanks; Ernie P.
The Bristol Brigand
was a British
attack aircraft developed by the Bristol Aeroplane Company
as a replacement for the Beaufighter
. A total of 147 were built, and they served with the Royal Air Force
during the Malayan Emergency
until replaced by the de Havilland Hornet
in Malaya and the English Electric Canberra
jet bomber elsewhere.
The Bristol Type 164
was the outcome of the 1942 Air Ministry specification H.7/42
calling for a faster edition of the Beaufighter
for long-range torpedo
work and anti-shipping strikes.
Bristol design team under Leslie J. Frise used the wings, tail and undercarriage
of the Buckingham
with a new fuselage
of oval cross-section. The three crew - pilot, navigator/bomb aimer and radio-operator/gunner were grouped together in the forward cockpit. In spite of the official change in its role to a bomber
, the first 11 Brigands off the production line were completed as torpedo bombers
. These initial aircraft served with the RAF Coastal Command from 1946–1947 before being converted to bombers.
The first unit to convert from Beaufighters to the Brigand was 45 Squadron
, then based at RAF Station Tengah
on the Island of Singapore
and flying operations in support of British forces against the Communist Guerrillas
then engaged in an insurgency
in Malaya. The first Brigand was flown to Tengah from RAF St Athan
in November 1949, a 16-day trip. After test flights, the first combat operation was conducted by this single Brigand, piloted by Flight Lieutenant
Dalton Golding and crewed by radio/radar operator Peter Weston, together with four Beaufighters of No. 45 Squadron against CT targets in jungle west of Kluang, Malaya
on 19 December 1949. On this flight, the Brigand carried three rockets, one 500 lb (230 kg) and two 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs. The operation was successful, and No. 45 Squadron soon completed its transition to the Brigand as more aircraft arrived.
Thereafter, Brigands of 45 Squadron and, soon thereafter, 84 Squadron
were routinely engaged in strikes against Communist Insurgent targets throughout Malaya, both direct and in close support
of ground forces, as well as providing air cover as needed to convoys on the ground against possible ambushes.
Problems with the Brigand became apparent during its operations in Malaya. The first problem to arise were undercarriages failing to lower. This was traced to rubber seals in the hydraulic
jacks gradually breaking up because of the hot, humid climatic conditions, for which they weren't suitable. Just as this problem was being resolved another problem arose, more serious because it led to fatalities; a propensity for aircraft damage and loss during strafing runs employing the four 20 mm cannon. It was ascertained that a build up of gases in the long cannon blast tubes, which ran under the cockpit, were igniting through use of high-explosive shells. This in turn severed hydraulic lines, which would burn. In effect, the Brigands were shooting themselves down. This was cured by drastically reducing the ammunition loads and using only ball rounds. The Brigand also had a propensity to shed one propeller blade leading to complete propeller failure, which in turn would lead to the engine being wrenched off the wing, and an inevitable crash. This was found to be caused by corrosion in the propeller locking rings. More frequent maintenance helped alleviate this problem. When everything was working properly the Brigand was considered to be a good aircraft to fly by its pilots:
"The Brigand was pleasant to fly, having nicely balanced flying controls and a wide range of power in the two Bristol Centaurus
engines. These features made the aircraft splendid for formation flying, which was important to our method of operation. The aircraft also had sufficient range to reach targets all over Malaya from the Squadron's new base at Tengah, on Singapore Island."
As the Brigand became hedged in with more restrictions both unit commanders had serious doubts about continued use of the aircraft. It was decided to keep on operating them - as long as thorough maintenance was carried out it was felt that nothing else could go wrong.
Unfortunately, another design flaw did arise in the leather
bellows used to deploy air brake
during dives. In the tropical climate in which the Brigand found itself in Malaya, the leather would rot away, causing the brakes to fail. This led to Brigands losing wings in dives due to excessive airspeed or rotation as only one brake deployed. When this problem was discovered, the air brakes of all Brigands were wired shut, decreasing the aircraft's dive bombing capabilities. No. 45 Squadron converted to de Havilland Hornets
in January 1952 while 84 Squadron was disbanded in February 1953. Soon after this, the Brigands were grounded and withdrawn from service.
Brigands were also used operationally over Aden
by 8 Squadron
from 1950 through to 1952. In 1952, after it was found that the Brigand's mainspars were suspect the Brigands were replaced by de Havilland Vampires