Fairey Battle R3950 Project

When the Fairey Battle entered service with the RAF in 1937, it was one of the most advanced bomber available motored with the same Merlin engine as the Spitfire or the Hurricane. It was a logical equipment for the Belgian air force which already used Fairey Foxes and Fireflies produced locally by Avions Fairey in Gosselies.and 16 exemplars were ordered for observation duties. Contrary to some rumors, Battle were never build in Belgium but delivered from the UK. Production under license was discussed but never happens.

However, in May 1940, the Fairey Battle was already obsolescent and the fact the Battles operated in a sky controlled by the German Lutwaffe leaded to disastrous raids by Belgian and British Battles on the bridges of Veldwezelt and Vroenhoven. The Belgian lacked of training to operate as bombers, the results was six aircraft shotdown on a total of nine sent to attack the bridges.

Most of the Battles were then transferred to training duties and some of the first Belgian pilots arriving in the UK just before the Battle of Britain were checked on Battles before to be send to Hurricane squadrons. Other Battles were transferred to Canada for use in the Commonwealth training scheme. The Battle was also used successfully as test aircraft for advanced engines.

The Battle at the Museum

There were very few hopes our Museum will ever acquired aircraft used by the Belgian Air Force in 1940. The presence of a Fairey Battle in Brussels is so a small miracle. The aircraft is a compromise between the techniques of the years 1930ís and the technologies of the Spitfire generation. The souvenirs of the sacrifices of some British and Belgian airmen to stop the invasion in 1940 are still vivid in some memories. It is so logical many efforts were accumulated to acquire and display a Fairey Battle in the Army Museum in Brussels. A first wreck was acquired in the year 1980ís but no restoration works never started on this.

In 1988, a Spitfire was exchanged to acquire our Fairey Battle in the UK. Some parts of the history of this aircraft are still uncertain. A first restoration team started, the work focusing on rebuilding the cockpit and on tollery but the works stopped

Today, there is new team is constituted and study what has already be done to write a restoration plan according to the last museology good practices.

You are welcome to join, please contact Pascal Giltay (Tel 0499 340 944 or email aeroconcept.@hotmail.com).

 

More about our Battle

 

The Fairey Battle R3950 was build in 1939 by Austin Motors in Longbridge (UK).

The aircraft was delivered to Canada on April, 7th 1941 (RCAF 1899) and used until February 16th, 1945 to be sold to Mr MacDonald in Alberta. In 1970, the aircraft was acquired by Tony Voll who planned to restore the aircraft to airworthy condition. Sold in 1972 to the Strathallan Collection and later to Charles Chrurch in 1987. Loaned to the Imperial War Museum in Duxford and painted as HA-L in 1988, later sold to Historic Aircraft Collection and exchanged with the Museum.

 

Delivered by a Belgian Air Force C130 H Hercules on May 3rd, 1990.

 

The ex Charles Church Fairey Battle R3950 at point of exchange with Spitfire RN201 at RAF Coltishall circa 1991, Brussels bound in a Belgian Air Force transporter. Pictures,courtesy of Peter Arnold

 

 

 

The ex Charles Church Fairey Battle R3950 at point of exchange with Spitfire RN201 at RAF Coltishall circa 1991, Brussels bound in a Belgian Air Force transporter. Pictures,courtesy of Peter Arnold

 

 

More pictures of the Battle

 

 

Sources :

 

Belgium Military wrecks & Relics, Daniel Brackx, Flash Aviation

The Battle file, Air Britain