Fairey Firefly II

The Fairey Firefly IIM was a British fighter of the 1930s. It was a single-seat, single-engine biplane of all-metal construction. Built by Fairey Aviation Company Limited, it served principally with the Belgian Air Force throughout the 1930s until the outbreak of World War II.

Fairey Firefly II
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Fairey Aviation Company
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1929
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Belgium View
Russia (USSR) View
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Fairey Aviation Company 91 View

The Firefly was a private-venture design, penned by Marcel Lobelle. A completely new design, it shared little with the Firefly I beyond the name. Making use of experience gleaned from the earlier machine, it was developed in response to Specification F.20/27 for a single-seat interceptor. It first flew on 5 February 1929.

The Firefly II competed for the RAF contract against the Hawker Fury, showing superior speed but was criticised for having heavier controls. Crucially, it retained a mainly wooden structure despite the Air Ministry's demands for metal structures. This led to the Fury being selected. Afterwards, the prototype was rebuilt and renamed Firefly IIM, the "M" denoting the all-metal construction of the rebuilt machine.

A revised prototype with longer-span wings, the Firefly III was built to Specification N21/26 as a carrier-based fighter to replace the Fleet Air Arm's Fairey Flycatchers, first flying on 17 May 1929. Like the land-based fighter, it was rebuilt with more metal components as the Firefly IIIM, and again like the Firefly II, was beaten by a design produced by Hawker, in this case the Hawker Nimrod. Although no production orders ensued, the Firefly IIIM was fitted with floats and used as a trainer by the RAF's High Speed Flight preparing for the 1931 Schneider Trophy race.

A contract was won for 25 IIM aircraft for Belgium's Aéronautique Militaire, followed by a contract for a further 62 to be constructed by Avions Fairey, Fairey's Belgian subsidiary. The Belgian aircraft served briefly in the Second World War from May to June 1940.

Two of the Belgian aircraft were converted to Firefly IV, with 785 hp (585 kW) Hispano-Suiza 12Xbrs engines but the improvement was not deemed sufficient to warrant development. One was restored to its original form, while the other passed to Fairey for trials. One aircraft was supplied to the Soviet Union.

Role Fighter
Manufacturer Fairey Aviation Company Limited
Designer Marcel Lobelle
First flight 5 February 1929
Introduction 1931
Primary users Belgium
Number built 91

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 24 ft 8 in (7.52 m)
  • Wingspan: 31 ft 6 in (9.60 m)
  • Height: 9 ft 4 in (2.85 m)
  • Wing area: 236.8 ft² (22.0 m²)
  • Empty weight: 2,387 lb (1,083 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 3,285 lb (1,490 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 3,404 lb (1,544 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Rolls-Royce F.XIS 12-cylinder inline liquid-cooled, 480 hp (358 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 175 mph (152 kn, 282 km/h) at sea level (223 mph (193 kn, 359 km/h) at 13,125 ft (4,000 m))
  • Range: 240 mi (209 nmi, 386 km)
  • Service ceiling: 30,840 ft (9,400 m)
  • Wing loading: 13.9 lb/ft² (67.7 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.15 hp/lb (0.24 kg/kW)
  • Time to 19,700 ft (6,000 m): 10.9 min


  • Guns: 2 × 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine guns

End notes