Fairey III

Fairey III

Infobox Aircraft
name = Fairey III
type = reconnaissance aircraft
manufacturer = Fairey Aviation

caption = Fairey IIIF on HMS Furious
designer =
first flight = 14 September 1917
introduced = 1918
retired =1941
status =
primary user = Royal Air Force
more users = Fleet Air Arm
produced =
number built = 964
unit cost =
developed from =
variants with their own articles = Fairey Gordon
Fairey Seal
The Fairey III was a family of British reconnaissance biplanes that enjoyed a very long production and service history in both landplane and seaplane variants. First flying on September 14 1917, examples were still in use during World War II.

ervice history

The prototype of the Fairey III was the N.10 floatplane, which was designed and built in 1917 by Fairey Aviation (along with the smaller N.9) to meet Admiralty specification N.2(a) for a carrier based seaplane for the Royal Naval Air Service during the First World War. N.10, also known by its constructer's number F.128 was a two bay biplane with folding wings and powered by a 260 hp (194 kW) Sunbeam Maori engine.It first flew from the Port Victoria seaplane station on the Isle of Grain, Kent on 14 September 1917. Taylor 1988, p.71.]

The first two production models were the IIIA and IIB of which 50 and 30 respectively were built. They saw little, if any service towards the end of the war. The IIIC bomber/reconnaissance model followed, of which 36 were produced, including some converted IIIBs, and a small number of this type operated from Arkhangelsk as bombers for the North Russian Expeditionary Force in 1919.

The first major production model was the IIID which first flew in 1920 and was operated by the Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm as well as the air forces of Portugal (11 aircraft) and Australia which received six IIIDs, the first being delivered in August 1921. In 1924, the third of the Australian IIIDs, designated "ANA.3" (or "Australian Naval Aircraft No. 3"), won the Britannia Trophy for circumnavigating Australia in 44 days. By 1926 a total of 224 Fairey IIIDs had been built. The IIID had a wooden, fabric-covered fuselage and usually a wooden, twin-blade, fixed-pitch propeller. One IIID was built with metal wings and floats.

Most Fairey IIIs were powered by Napier Lion 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engines but some, including the Australian IIIDs, were powered by the 375-hp (280 kW) Rolls-Royce Eagle VII. The naval variants were usually three-seaters; pilot, observer and gunner and the wings would could be folded back parallel to the fuselage for storage aboard ship. In floatplane configuration, carrier-borne Fairey IIIs would be launched from the deck using a trolley and would land on the water upon their return. The Fairey III floatplane could also be catapult-launched from a ship.

The most prolific and enduring of the Fairey IIIs was the final model, the IIIF which entered service with the RAF in Egypt in 1927, and with the Royal New Zealand Air Force shortly after. The IIIF had an all-metal fuselage and later all-metal wings and a metal propeller. Over 300 IIIFs were operated by the FAA, making it the most widely used type of aircraft in FAA service between the wars. In fact, of the British military aircraft in the inter-war years, only the Hawker Hart was produced in greater numbers.

The IIIF remained in service well into the 1930s some were still in use as target tugs as late as 1941. Three IIIFs were modified as a radio-controlled gunnery trainer, known as the Fairey Queen. The Fairey IIIF was also the basis for development of the Fairey Gordon and Fairey Seal.

A single example of the Fairey III is preserved in Portugal's "Museu da Marinha" (Naval Museum). The British Fleet Air Arm Museum has a fuselage.


;Fairey N.10:The first Fairey III prototype.;Fairey IIIA:Two-seat reconnaissance biplane, powered by a 260 hp (194 kW) Sunbeam Maori II piston engine; 50 built.;Fairey IIIB:Three-seat patrol, bomber seaplane, powered by Sunbeam Maori II piston engine; 30 built.;Fairey IIIC:Two-seat reconnaissance, bomber and general-purpose seaplane, powered by a 375 hp (280 kW) Rolls-Royce Eagle piston engine; 36 built.;Fairey IIID:Two-seat general-purpose biplane, powered by a 375 hp (280 kW) Rolls-Royce Eagle or 450 hp (336 kW) Napier Lion piston engine; 227 built. Taylor 1988, p.94.] ;Fairey IIIE:Designation sometimes used for Fairey Ferret radial engined reconnaissance and general purpose aircraft. Three built. Taylor 1988, p.129.] ;Fairey IIIF:Two-seat general-purpose biplane or three-seat spotter-reconnaissance biplane, powered by a Napier Lion piston engine. ;;Fairey IIIF I::First production version of the Fairey IIIF. Three-seat spotter-reconnaissance biplane, powered by a Napier Lion VA piston engine, of composite wood and metal construction. 55 built. Taylor 1988, p.165.] ;;Fairey IIIF II::Three-seat spotter-reconnaissance biplane, powered by a Napier Lion XIA piston engine, of composite wood and metal construction; 33 built. ;;Fairey IIIF III::Three-seat spotter-reconnaissance biplane, powered by a Napier Lion XIA piston engine, with a fabric-covered all-metal structure; 291 built. ;;Fairey IIIF IV::Two-seat general purpose biplane for the RAF, in both composite construction and all-metal versions. Powered by a Napier Lion XIA piston engine; 243 built.;;Fairey IIIF Mk V::The original designation of the Fairey Gordon.;;Fairey IIIF Mk VI::Original designation of the Fairey Seal.;Queen IIIF:Radio-controlled gunnery training aircraft; Three built.;Fairey IIIM:Civil version; three built.


* Royal Australian Air Force - IIID; ARG
* Irish Air Corps - IIIF; NLD
* Royal Netherlands Navy - IIID; NZL
* Royal New Zealand Air Force - IIIF; POR
* IIIF (1 aircraft); SWE
* Royal Air Force - IIIA, IIIB, IIIC, IIIF
** No. 8 Squadron RAF
** No. 14 Squadron RAF
** No. 24 Squadron RAF
** No. 35 Squadron RAF
** No. 45 Squadron RAF
** No. 47 Squadron RAF
** No. 202 Squadron RAF
** No. 203 Squadron RAF
** No. 207 Squadron RAF
** No. 219 Squadron RAF
** No. 229 Squadron RAF
** No. 230 Squadron RAF
** No. 267 Squadron RAF
* Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm - IIID, IIIF

pecifications (Fairey IIIF IV)

aircraft specifications
plane or copter?= plane
jet or prop?= prop
ref=Fairey Aircraft since 1915 Taylor 1988, p.166.]
crew= two or three
length main= 36 ft 9 in
length alt= 11.20 m
span main= 45 ft 9 in
span alt= 13.95 m
height main= 14 ft 2 in
height alt= 4.32 m
area main= 439 ft²
area alt= 41 m²
empty weight main= 3,855 lb Mason 1994, p.179.]
empty weight alt= 1,752 kg
loaded weight main= 6,041 lb
loaded weight alt= 2,746 kg
useful load main=
useful load alt=
max takeoff weight main=
max takeoff weight alt=
more general=
engine (prop)= Napier Lion XI
type of prop=12-cylinder W-block inline engine
number of props=1
power main= 570 hp
power alt= 423 kW
power original=
max speed main= 104 knots
max speed alt= 120 mph, 192 km/h
max speed more=at 10,000 ft (3,050 m)
cruise speed main=
cruise speed alt=
never exceed speed main=
never exceed speed alt=
stall speed main=
stall speed alt=
range main= 1313 NM [ Maximum fuel, no bombs]
range alt= 1,520 mi, 2,432 km
ceiling main= 20,000 ft
ceiling alt= 6,098 m
climb rate main= 833 ft/min
climb rate alt= 254 m/min
loading main= 13.8 lb/ft²
loading alt= 67.2 kg/m²
power/mass main= 0.094 hp/lb
power/mass alt= 0.15 kW/kg
more performance=

* 1 × forward firing .303 Vickers machine gun
* 1 × .303 Lewis machine gun in flexible mount for observer
bombs= Up to 500 lb (227 kg) bombs can be carried under wings

ee also

*Fairey Gordon
*Fairey Seal

similar aircraft=


see also=




*Jarrett, Philip. "Fairey IIIF: Part 1" "Aeroplane Monthly", March 1994, Vol 22 No 3 Issue 251. London:IPC. pp.58—63.
*Jarrett, Philip. "Fairey IIIF: Part 2" "Aeroplane Monthly", April 1994, Vol 22 No 4 Issue 252. London:IPC. pp.50—55.
*Mason, Francis K. "The British Bomber since 1914". London:Putnam, 1994. ISBN 0 85177 861 5.
*Taylor, H.A. "Fairey Aircraft since 1915". London:Putnam, 1988. ISBN 0-370-00065-x.
*Thetford, Owen. "Fairey IIIF and Gordon in Service: Part 1" "Aeroplane Monthly", June 1994, Vol 22 No 5 Issue 253. London:IPC. pp.32—38.

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