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Boulton Paul Defiant

Old 23rd Oct 2009, 07:34
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Boulton Paul Defiant

Gentlemen...

May someone who was never anything more than a limited ground hugging pongo please ask a question of you....

In relation to the Boulton Paul Defiant of years past.

It could rotate its turret fully forward, putting its four guns either side of the pilots canopy, with the pilot able to fire the guns. But with the guns unable to fire directly ahead, only at a minimum angle of something like 19 degrees above horizontal and with no gunsight for the pilot, I wonder if it was a practical proposition to use it as a fighter, given that it had no other fixed forward firing armament.

I know someone who takes the view that it could operate as a conventional fighter aircraft of the day, and that the real problem it had was that the pilot was over the wing rather than pretty much behind it, so had a big blind spot beneath. I would have thought rolling the aircraft would have helped, and with the turret gunner providing a second set of eyes able to look in a different direction, located pretty much behind the wing visibility would not be such a problem.

Can anyone offer wise counsel to the ignorant but interested?
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Old 23rd Oct 2009, 07:48
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ab, I don't know anything directly about the Defiant but it was more a bomber destroyer than a fighter. As a fighter it lack the svelte shape of the single engine fighters of the day and was thus slower and less manoeuvrable.

As for the turret gunner, other aircraft had similar gunners but few would have been quite as agile as the Defiant.

The following article would explain things better.

Boulton Paul Defiant - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 23rd Oct 2009, 09:22
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Decent radar equipped night fighter judging by some articles...
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Old 23rd Oct 2009, 09:34
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Schräge Musik
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Old 23rd Oct 2009, 09:40
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Try getting a copy of Flypast for November, there is an interesting article about the Defiant and 141 Squadron's slaughter in 1940.

The aeroplane was very similar to the Hurricane to look at in the air and it had initial success when attacked from the rear as the attackers thought they were taking on Hurricanes, but the Luftwaffe quickly learned to attack from below and the rear, the guns couldn't bear and the rest is history.

It went on to be a reasonably sucessful night fighter.

The last survivor N1671 is on display at the RAF Museum Hendon.

Brave men giving all in extraordinary days.

Last edited by percyprune; 23rd Oct 2009 at 10:50.
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Old 23rd Oct 2009, 10:07
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The rationale was, as Pontius says, to use it as a bomber destroyer, the German fighters not having the range to reach UK from Germany, except perhaps the 110.

Anyone see the flaw in this splendid plan?
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Old 23rd Oct 2009, 10:10
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How was the MkII used as a night fighter?

I assume that the AI MkIV was in the back and the gunner turned the turret to the 'Schräge Musik position, completed the intercept, then had to get his night vision back before shooting at the target?

Or was there a repeater display in the front?

Whichever way, it must have been very difficult.

My brother's godfather was a wartime FAA pilot. He once described to me how he nearly flicked out of control in a Defiant whilst trying to land behind a Swordfish at some shore station - it seems the Defiant had quite a high wing loading and wasn't very forgiving at the stall.....
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Old 23rd Oct 2009, 10:11
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Originally Posted by Hermann Göring
Nope, I see no flaw




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Old 23rd Oct 2009, 11:43
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Can't claim any experience, but I did speak to a BP Defiant pilot who was on the staff (either Duxford or Hendon) and he had a few types under his belt.

He suggested that the BPD was a pig and that in the limited times he had engaged, he just spent a long time on the other side of the circle trying to shoot upwards!

DOn't believe the hype about it's success at night either...Didn't it get moved into that role because the daylight utility was poor?
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Old 23rd Oct 2009, 12:02
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Originally Posted by The Equivocator View Post
he just spent a long time on the other side of the circle trying to shoot upwards!

DOn't believe the hype about it's success at night either...Didn't it get moved into that role because the daylight utility was poor?
If you read the wikipedia article it will become clear. The circle was a defensive or protective manoeuvre adopted by 264.

At night it was highly effective given we didn't have any other night fighter . Once we had the Blenheim and Beaufighter . . . but that is in the same article.

You may recall the other night-fighter was the Hurricane with a Leigh light. Reading recent posts one wonders
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Old 23rd Oct 2009, 12:03
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It got moved to nights because it was blatted out of the skies once the Luftwaffe realised it wasn't a Hurri.

The weight of the turret -- as related above -- made it a bugger to fly and slowed it up as well. Seem to recall a problem with it when it came to ditching as well.

The above is as IIRC and does not mean I don't have huge respect for the folk that were given the job of flying them at any time of the day.
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Old 23rd Oct 2009, 14:44
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Thanks Wader, had missed the link to the Wikipedia article. Confirms that I must have been chatting to one of the ex-drivers at Hendon.

Rather them than me!
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Old 23rd Oct 2009, 18:49
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The last survivor N1671 is on display at the RAF Museum Hendon.
Boulton Paul are restoring one in Wolverhampton IIRC. It has been that way for a number of years.

AL1: Its a full size replica, copyright as per photo.

Last edited by Tiger_mate; 23rd Oct 2009 at 19:14.
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Old 23rd Oct 2009, 19:19
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BEagle

Are you sure it was a Defiant?

The RN had the Blackburn Roc which was the same concept as the Defiant but based on the Blackburn Skua. It was considerably slower than the Defiant - which is saying something.
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Old 23rd Oct 2009, 19:41
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Pardon an idiot posting, but it didn't look that bad an aeroplane (you know the saying) except for that triangular tailplane ...

Second or third Airfix kit I ever constructed ...
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Old 23rd Oct 2009, 20:05
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caz, yes. The FAA used the Defiant as a target tug and brother's godfather borrowed one to take him wherever it was he was going.
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Old 23rd Oct 2009, 20:13
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Patrick Bishops Fighter Boys, covers it pretty well and sums up the usefullness of the Defiant as limited at the beginning of the war, later on it was useless and I think he deemed it as essentially sending the crews up to get killed
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Old 24th Oct 2009, 08:31
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We should, at least, be grateful that it was the Defiant which was chosen as the standardbearer for this particular aircraft specification. The alternative was the Hawker Hotspur, the selection of which would have had a deletirious effect on Hurricane production and development prior to the Battle of Britain.
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Old 24th Oct 2009, 09:58
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Most reports that I have read state that the Defiant was a dreadful aircraft and only showed early promise whilst the Luftwaffe pilots confused it with the Hurricane and got a 4 gun shock whilst attacking from the rear.

Below is the Gloster entry for the same competition that the Hurricane won. It is a shame that it wasn't picked up at the same time as the Hurri. One thing that I would like to know is.....Did one of the Gloster engineers have a Japanese uncle who worked at Mitsubishi?

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Old 24th Oct 2009, 13:21
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GPMG

The aircraft that were chosen all had one thing in common - the Rolls Royce "Merlin" engine. Don't forget it was a case of playing "catch up" after years of appeasement. Different engines for each type would have meant several different supply chains all competing for funds - not to mention the training of specialist Technical Personnel for each type of engine.
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