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Boulton & Paul Defiant

An under rated WW2 fighter?

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kc26/05/2020 13:17:13
6511 forum posts
173 photos

Todays Daily Mail Online carries an article suggesting the Defiant was very under rated according to a new book. Worth reading and no doubt Spitfire or Hurricane enthusiasts will perhaps disagree, but the statistics seem fairly convincing. Good vintage photos there and good graphics.

Maybe this will cause some people to reconsider their next warbird project? Be nice to see some models of the Defiant.

Nigel R26/05/2020 13:45:43
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3912 forum posts
678 photos

As I remember reading, it had a good run for a short period of time in the early part of the conflict, then got trounced on a regular basis. Found a new niche later at night time I think?

The "turret fighter" was a bit of a failed experiment, too much weight added by the gunner and the mechanism, knock on limiting of climb rate and speed.

It would make a nice model, the proportions are good, fuselage is long (because of the turret I guess), good size wing with moderate taper, stable wide track U/C, scope to play with twiddly bits in the shape of the rear gunners turret - there is a nice six footer on outerzone:

**LINK**

David P Williams26/05/2020 14:06:40
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913 forum posts
318 photos

Yes, a prominent piece in The Times also plus a leading article, triggered by the publication of a book 'Defiant: The Untold Story of the Battle of Britain' by Robert Verkaik.

Simon Chaddock26/05/2020 14:34:08
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5711 forum posts
3034 photos

As I understand it was the sheer novelty of the layout that was initially successful as the German fighter pilots had been taught to attack other fighters (from the air it looked very similar to a Hurricane) by diving down from the rear which gave the Defiant gunner just about the best possible shot.

As soon as the tactics were altered its lack of maneuverability proved to be too great a penalty for air to air combat.

Radar equipped it became a fairly successful night fighter and evolved the 'fly below and fire upwards' technique which was later adopted by the Luftwaffe night fighters with a fixed upward firing "Schräge Musik" installation.

J D 826/05/2020 15:04:29
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1494 forum posts
84 photos

I think one of the main problems with the Defiant was the pilot was not given any gun's to fire himself.

Was it an attempt to update the success of the Bristol fighter of WW1 ?

My Airfix Defiant was one of my favorite models when I were a lad.

Ron Gray26/05/2020 15:21:22
2166 forum posts
940 photos

Funnily enough the pilot could fire the turret guns and they could face forwards albeit at a lowest angle of 19 degrees. The guns would fire either side of the cockpit and were designed to be fired ‘zero deflection’ via a trigger in the cockpit. Trouble was this technique wasn’t taught!

Mike T26/05/2020 15:51:50
502 forum posts
39 photos

The performance with the early 1030hp Merlin was marginal with the turret - additional forward firing guns would have been out of the question. If the Griffon had been available in 1939...

It's ironic that the design philosophy that the pilot positioned the a/c to give the gunner his best shot is the same doctrine that prevailed for 2-seaters in WW1 until the advent of the Bristol Fighter, which the turret-fighter concept was intended to emulate and update. The Brisfit's early sorties saw it being mauled (and condemned as useless by MvR) until it was realised that it should be flown like a fighter with the gunner taking his chances!

mal brewer26/05/2020 15:57:33
316 forum posts
1 photos
Posted by Mike T on 26/05/2020 15:51:50:

(and condemned as useless by MvR)

What is , or was , MvR ?

Robin Colbourne26/05/2020 16:19:20
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590 forum posts
17 photos

If the Defiant had been kept solely as a night fighter, it would have been a different story. Accounts of side-on attacks suggest it was very successful in its niche role. It could fly alongside the aircraft to be attacked, match its speed, whilst the Defiant gunner raked it from front to rear.

Earlier in the war, when most of the action was in daylight and the RAF was hard pressed, it was just too tempting to send the Defiants up, despite its advantages and shortcomings being already known by both sides.

'From November 1940, an increasing number of new night fighter squadrons were formed on the Defiant. Units operating the Defiant shot down more enemy aircraft than any other night-fighter during the German ‘Blitz’ on London in the winter of 1940-41.'

Aeroflight - Boulton and Paul Defiant

The knowledge gained on electro-hydraulic gun turrets put the Wolverhampton company in a strong position to work on other aircraft products such as flap tracks, servo valves and actuators. After various changes of ownership through the years, they are now Moog, and make the actuator for the Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor to turn the rotors from horizontal to vertical.

Edited By Robin Colbourne on 26/05/2020 16:22:41

Robin Colbourne26/05/2020 16:36:19
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590 forum posts
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Posted by mal brewer on 26/05/2020 15:57:33:
Posted by Mike T on 26/05/2020 15:51:50:

(and condemned as useless by MvR)

 

What is , or was , MvR ?

 

Manfred von Richthofen?

Edited By Robin Colbourne on 26/05/2020 16:36:32

Cuban826/05/2020 16:38:29
2956 forum posts
1 photos

Interesting piece here **LINK**

about Boulton and Paul and their aircraft division Boulton Paul. One learns something every day!

By the way Mal MvR = Red Baron - Manfred von Richthofen.

Steve J26/05/2020 16:40:22
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1907 forum posts
54 photos
Posted by kc on 26/05/2020 13:17:13:

An under rated WW2 fighter?

An example of Betteridge's law of headlines (or in this case, subtitles).

It was a poor aircraft for it's intended role (as were many of the aircraft in RAF service at the start of WWII).

Mike T26/05/2020 16:54:58
502 forum posts
39 photos
Posted by Cuban8 on 26/05/2020 16:38:29:

IBy the way Mal MvR = Red Baron - Manfred von Richthofen.

Yup! His unfavourable opinion of the Brisfit after his Jasta's first (successful) encounter with them led German pilots to believe they were easy meat - and they suffered badly as a result, after the Brisfit crews learned how to properly exploit its performance.

When I was a kid my favourite WW2 fighter was the Defiant. I was most indignant when told they were not very good! Had sufficient fighters been available to provide cover for them, their effect on the German bomber formations could have been devastating.

J D 826/05/2020 17:28:00
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1494 forum posts
84 photos

The Defiant II had its own problems, recounted in a book of WW2 poems/songs I read. This little ditty went.

" You will never get to heaven in a deffy 2

You aught to see the glycol spew. "

David Davis26/05/2020 17:52:08
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3757 forum posts
718 photos
Posted by J D 8 on 26/05/2020 15:04:29:

I think one of the main problems with the Defiant was the pilot was not given any gun's to fire himself.

Was it an attempt to update the success of the Bristol fighter of WW1 ?

My Airfix Defiant was one of my favorite models when I were a lad.

At least the Bristol Fighter had a forward firing machine gun which was more than the Defiant had. It would make an interesting model though. A bit different to all of those ARTF Mustangs and Spitfires.

Colin Leighfield26/05/2020 18:18:03
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5996 forum posts
2503 photos

The Brisfit isn’t a great comparison because it had a forward firing gun and it’s initial fighter attack would be conventional from the rear. The two flexible guns behind then gave enormous opportunity to do a lot more damage on the way through as well as nailing any fighter that came from behind. It’s also true that although less maneouvrable than the German single seaters it was faster than most of them. It was a superior fighting platform, the Defiant definitely wasn’t because it was too slow and couldn’t fire forwards except at an upward angle of 10 degrees.

stu knowles26/05/2020 18:44:35
606 forum posts
49 photos

I can't imagine what the noise was like when the Defiant's turret was turned ahead and the four muzzles were just behind the pilots ears!

kc26/05/2020 19:10:00
6511 forum posts
173 photos

The statistics provided by the Mail are quite interesting when you see the numbers of squadrons compared to Spitfires & Hurricanes.

A dozen Defiant plans on Outerzone in all sizes if a model takes your fancy. The David Andersen one seems the nicest - check out his club website for other warbird free plans and info

Barrie Lever26/05/2020 19:38:09
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243 forum posts
50 photos

My understanding of the Defiant is that it was grossly over weight due to the gun turret and extra crew member,

If it had been successful then it would have been built in huge numbers as was the Spitfire, Hurricane, P51 and ME109.

As it was it could not be considered a success and was using valuable RR Merlins,apart from the above it was just fine.

B.

Richard Clark 226/05/2020 20:49:07
269 forum posts
Posted by Steve J on 26/05/2020 16:40:22:
Posted by kc on 26/05/2020 13:17:13:

An under rated WW2 fighter?

An example of Betteridge's law of headlines (or in this case, subtitles).

It was a poor aircraft for it's intended role (as were many of the aircraft in RAF service at the start of WWII).

Very true. The Defiant was inflicted on the RAF, not chosen nor welcomed by them. A whole lot of aircraft that weren't much good for their designed purpose ended up in other roles, where they were merely 'better than nothing'. Alison engined P-51, Typhoon, Defiant, P-40, and the more recent Tornado are examples. Of course they achieved success against 'easy targets'.

Eric 'winkle' Brown's initial report on the Defiant -

"Access for the pilot is difficult. It should be made impossible"

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