The Survivors: Bristol Beaufighter – The “Whispering Death” of the Pacific and Beyond!

Reportedly dubbed “Whispering Death” by Japanese ground forces due to its quiet engines (courtesy of engine sleeve valves), fast and powerful Bristol Beaufighter heavy fighters were flown by Allied pilots to strike Axis shipping and ground targets in the European, North African, Mediterranean and South West Pacific theatres of World War Two. I can picture Beaufighter pilots attacking in waves, one wave knocking out flak guns, with others following, firing rockets and torpedoes along the way without mercy! By the way, that nickname was most likely given by an Australian wartime journalist rather than the enemy but has pretty much stuck ever since!

RAF Coastal Command Beaufighters attack a German ship with devastating force!
Mayhem! RAF Coastal Command Beaufighters attack a German ship with devastating force! (RAF Photo via Asisbiz.com)

The Bristol Type 156 Beaufighter was a development of the Bristol Beaufort torpedo bomber, utilising common components such as the wings, undercarriage and tail – commonality was a huge bonus for simplified production to a nation effectively under siege by the Germans! The first Beaufighter prototype flew on July 17th, 1939 and first entered Royal Air Force service on July 27th, 1940.

The first Bristol Type 156 Beaufighter prototype R2052 in July 1939 (Photo Source: BAE Systems)
The first Bristol Type 156 Beaufighter prototype R2052 in July 1939 (Photo Source: BAE Systems)

Beaufighter variants included night fighters (Mk.IF variants were fitted with early AI Mk.IV interception radar and first successfully used against Luftwaffe bombers during the Battle of Britain Blitz in 1940), strike fighters and “Torbeau” torpedo fighters. The Beaufighter had a crew of two – pilot and observer/radio operator (radar operator in night fighter variants).

During the war they served in large numbers with the Royal Air Force and Coastal Command (including a Free Polish Air Force night fighter squadron), Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force (four squadrons operated in Europe, three in the night fighter role), Royal New Zealand Air Force, South African Air Force and the United States Army Air Force (USAAF 414th, 415th, 416th and 417th Night Fighter Squadrons operated 100 Beaufighter’s in Italy and later France from the Summer of 1943, until the last Squadron re-equipped with Northrop P-61 Black Widow night fighters in March 1945). Turkey also operated a small number from 1944.

RAAF Beaufighter strafes Japanese Air Field WW2
Chaos personified as an RAAF Observer snaps a shot of the mayhem caused by a Beaufighter strafing run on an Imperial Japanese airfield in the South West Pacific during World War Two (Photo Source: State Library of Western Australia via ADF-Serials Facebook page)

Beaufighter’s were generally powered by a pair of Bristol Hercules 14 cylinder radial engines, which provided a top speed of 515 km/h (320 mph). However, due to engine unavailability, 597 early production Mk.IIF night fighter aircraft were fitted with Rolls Royce Merlin XX engines, with exhaust ducting and later shrouds to cover exhaust flames at night. The Merlin engines resulted in a very unfamiliar appearance!

Bristol Beaufighter Mk.IIF night fighter of RAF No. 255 Squadron at Hibaldstow, Lincolnshire on September 5th, 1941 - note the AI Mark IV interception radar and Merlin XX inline engines (Photo Source: Imperial War Museum © IWM ATP 10603B)
Bristol Beaufighter Mk.IIF night fighter of RAF No. 255 Squadron at Hibaldstow, Lincolnshire on September 5th, 1941 – note the AI Mark IV interception radar and Merlin XX inline engines (Photo Source: Imperial War Museum © IWM ATP 10603B)

Close to 6,000 Beaufighters were built between 1940 and 1946, with aircraft rolling off production lines in Great Britain and also under licence in Australia at Department of Aircraft Production (DAP) factories. British production included 553 Mk.IF night fighters that would later be replaced by 597 Mk.IIF and 1,078 Mk.VIF variants. The strike and torpedo fighters included 397 Mk.Ic, 693 Mk.VIc, 60 Mk.VI (ITF – Interim Torpedo Fighter), 2,205 TF Mk.X “Torbeau” torpedo fighters fitted with a search radar and 163 TF Mk.XIc (similar to the Mk.X but did not carry a torpedo).

British built Beaufighters were armed with 4 x 20 mm Hispano Mk.II cannons under the nose and 6 x 0.303 Browning machine guns in the wings, along with a rear mounted 0.303 machine gun for the observer. Standard underwing ordnance included 8 air to ground rockets or up to four 500 lb bombs. The “Torbeau” variants could carry a single centreline mounted torpedo.

Mk.X, NE543 'UB-E' of RAF Coastal Command based at Langham, Norfolk firing a salvo of rockets over the North Sea in 1944 (Photo Source: Imperial War Museum © IWM MH 5117)
RAAF No. 455 Squadron Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk.X, NE543 ‘UB-E’ of RAF Coastal Command based at Langham, Norfolk firing a salvo of rockets over the North Sea in 1944 (Photo Source: Imperial War Museum © IWM MH 5117) – This squadron was raised under the Empire Air Training Scheme in 1941 and originally flew Handley Page Hampden bombers before transferring to the Beaufighter to target German shipping off Norway and in the Baltic Sea (between 1942 and 1945, they sunk 18 ships including a U-Boat, often under heavy ground fire the squadron lost 91 aircrew)
RAF Beaufighter Mk.Ic prototype (EL233G) armed with an 18in torpedo (Photo Source: Imperial War Museum MH4558 via Asisbiz.com)
RAF Beaufighter Mk.Ic prototype (EL233G) armed with an 18in torpedo (Photo Source: Imperial War Museum MH4558 via Asisbiz.com)

To complement those in service built by the Brits, DAP in Australia produced 365 Mk.21 Beaufighters for the RAAF between 1944 and 1946. Based off the TF Mk.X design, the armament of the Australian built attack and torpedo fighters armament differed with 4 x 0.50 calibre Browning machine guns mounted in the wings. In case of a shortage in war time supply of Hercules engines, Australian tests were also conducted with Wright Cyclone GR-2600 radial engines but these were apparently noisier and didn’t handle as well as the Hercules and were ultimately not required for production aircraft.

RAAF DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-99) over Melbourne in 1944. This aircraft served with No. 22 Squadron from January 1945 until damaged upon take-off on Morotai Island in the Dutch East Indies in September 1945. It was converted to parts in November 1945 (RAAF Photo)
RAAF DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-99) over Melbourne in 1944. This aircraft served with No. 22 Squadron from January 1945 until damaged upon take-off on Morotai Island in the Dutch East Indies in September 1945. It was converted to parts in November 1945 (RAAF Photo via ADF Serials Facebook page)

The Beaufighter remained in RAF service as TT Mk.10 target tugs until 1960 and in the same role with the RAAF until the mid 1950’s. Otherwise, those not lost in combat and accidents were mostly reduced to parts during the war or scrapped after it.

RAAF DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-265) was converted to a target tug in 1945 and served in that role until put into storage in 1955 and sold off in 1956 (RAAF Photo)
RAAF DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-265) was converted to a target tug in 1945 and served in that role until put into storage in 1955 and sold off in 1956 (RAAF Photo)

Post war a number of Ex-RAF TF Mk.X torpedo fighters were sold to foreign buyers. Portugal received 16 aircraft in 1945, with a further attrition replacement delivered in 1946 (serviceability issues meant they only served until 1949), Turkey supplemented the 9 TF Mk.X delivered in 1944, with a further 23 aircraft obtained in 1946 and the Dominican Republic purchased 10 in 1948, which remained in service until 1954. Israel clandestinely obtained 4 TF.Mk.X in 1948 but presumably with minimal spares, they remained in service for less than 6 months.

The Survivors

Despite the large numbers produced, just seven complete or near complete Beaufighter aircraft survive today – they are either on display in museums, in storage or under restoration. Another is being restored from an incomplete airframe at the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) in Australia.

Two of the survivors are Australian built RAAF DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 aircraft, three are Bristol TF Mk.X torpedo fighters (two former Portuguese Navy examples and a former RAF example), then there are two RAAF Bristol built Mk.Ic strike fighters. Given Australia scrapped so many World War Two aircraft for their precious metal post war, it is fascinating that so many of the survivors served with the RAAF.

AUSTRALIA

Regardless of where they served, currently only two complete Beaufighters can be found in Australia – both are DAP Mk.21 examples (with a third hybrid restoration on the way). The first is the elusive A8-186 within the private collection of the long closed to the public, Camden Museum of Aviation in New South Wales and the other is A8-328 at the Australian National Aviation Museum (Moorabbin Air Museum) in Victoria.

Camden Museum of Aviation

DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-186) at Cambden was built by the Department of Aircraft Production (DAP) in 1945 and served out the final days of World War Two with RAAF No. 22 Squadron conducting operational flights in the South West Pacific. Post war it went into storage in November 1945, became a RAAF Ground Instructional Airframe in 1947 and was sold off as surplus to a farmer in New South Wales in 1950 – fortunately it was used as a playground for his children and not cut up for spare parts!

A8-186 was acquired by the Camden collection in 1965 and restored using parts from many sources to become “Beau-gunsville“. They also have a nose section for Mk.21 A8-386 dubbed “Harry’s Baby” which never entered RAAF service and the incomplete airframe was later sold as surplus. Unfortunately I have never been to this private museum.

Beaufighter A8-186 at Camden in 2005 - Photo kindly shared by fellow aviation history enthusiast Dean Alexander
DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 “Beau-gunsville” (A8-186) at the Cambden Aviation Museum in 2005 – Photo kindly shared by fellow aviation history enthusiast Dean Alexander
DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 "Beau-gunsville" (A8-186) at the Cambden Aviation Museum in 2005. That looks like the nose section for Mk.21 A8-386 "Harry's Baby" to the left - Photo kindly shared by fellow aviation history enthusiast Dean Alexander
DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 “Beau-gunsville” (A8-186) at the Cambden Aviation Museum in 2005. That looks like the nose section for Mk.21 A8-386 “Harry’s Baby” to the left – Photo kindly shared by fellow aviation history enthusiast Dean Alexander

Australian National Aviation Museum

DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-328) on display in the Australian National Aviation Museum at Moorabbin Airport in Victoria is the most accessible one to view in Australia and takes pride of place within the museum. We are lucky to have this one, delivered in September 1945 and too late to see service during the war, it went into storage until 1950, then it saw out its RAAF career as a target tug until 1956.

DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-328) at the Australian National Aviation Museum, Moorabbin Airport, Victoria (May 2019)
DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-328) at the Australian National Aviation Museum, Moorabbin Airport, Victoria (May 2019)
DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-328) at the Australian National Aviation Museum, Moorabbin Airport, Victoria (May 2019)
DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-328) at the Australian National Aviation Museum, Moorabbin Airport, Victoria (May 2019)
RAAF Department of Aircraft Production (DAP licence built Bristol) Mk.21 Beaufighter (A8-328) heavy fighter and Beaufort (A9-13) torpedo bomber nose section — at The Australian National Aviation Museum (May 2019)
RAAF Department of Aircraft Production (DAP licence built Bristol) Mk.21 Beaufighter (A8-328) heavy fighter and Beaufort (A9-13) torpedo bomber nose section — at The Australian National Aviation Museum (May 2019)

Following storage and then disposal in 1956, this Beaufighter ended up at the Lord Mayor of Melbourne’s Children’s Camp in Portsea, Victoria as part of a playground, where it slowly deteriorated away! The airframe was in a bad state by the time the Australian Aircraft Restoration Group acquired it for the Moorabbin collection in 1962 but they restored the aircraft back to its former glory as a tribute to RAAF No. 31 Squadron that operated the type alongside No. 22, 30 and 93 Squadrons in the Southwest Pacific theatre of war. In the past ANAM would even conduct engine runs but this rare bird is not going to fly again!

A post card view of the Lord Mayor of Melbourne's Children's Camp in the 1950's highlights the dilapidated state of DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 A8-328!
A post card view of the Lord Mayor of Melbourne’s Children’s Camp in the 1950’s highlights the dilapidated state of DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 A8-328!

RAAF No. 31 Squadron was formed at RAAF Forest Hill (Wagga Wagga) in August 1942, equipped with Beaufighter’s, they relocated to the Northern Territory in October 1942 and conducted their first operational mission on November 17th, 1942. For the next three years the squadron smashed Imperial Japanese ground targets and shipping in an around the Dutch East Indies, Timor and Borneo.

A famous strike by No. 31 Squadron saw them hit the Japanese held airbase at Penfoei in Timor on December 2nd, 1942. An irresistible target of 40 Japanese aircraft were lined up before them and the RAAF boys destroyed 18 aircraft and heavily damaged the rest, without loss of a Beaufighter! Mission success!

Thanks to the volunteers at ANAM, I was recently extremely fortunate to be able get inside the crew compartment of this heavy fighter and was immediately struck by how tight a space it was inside – imagine getting through the small rear underside fuselage hatch with all your gear and a parachute! I had enough trouble with just a camera – I take it no one moved around in there too much once it took flight! The restoration is a beauty inside and out, and a true treasure.

DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-328) at the Australian National Aviation Museum, Moorabbin Airport, Victoria (May 2019)
DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-328) at the Australian National Aviation Museum, Moorabbin Airport, Victoria (May 2019)
I had a great opportunity to get up inside the mighty DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-328) at the Australian National Aviation Museum in May 2019
I had a great opportunity to get up inside the mighty DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-328) at the Australian National Aviation Museum in May 2019 – Originally 4 x 20 mm Hispano Mk.II cannons were mounted under the nose.
I was fortunate to be allowed inside the cramped crew compartment of DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-328) at the Australian National Aviation Museum at Moorabbin Airport in Victoria (May 2019). The Beaufighter had a crew of two - pilot and observer/radio operator
I was fortunate to be allowed inside the reasonably cramped crew compartment of DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-328) at the Australian National Aviation Museum at Moorabbin Airport in Victoria (May 2019). The Beaufighter had a crew of two – pilot and observer/radio operator
The Observer/Radio Operator position within the RAAF DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-328) at the Australian National Aviation Museum at Moorabbin Airport in Victoria (May 2019).
The Observer/Radio Operator position within the RAAF DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-328) at the Australian National Aviation Museum at Moorabbin Airport in Victoria (May 2019). Note the small entrance hatch below the radios!
Beaufighter cockpit Moorabbin Air Museum
A Beaufighter pilot had to enter the aircraft via the rear hatch under the fuselage, then climb over that bulkhead to get to the cockpit – Australian National Aviation Museum, Moorabbin Airport, Victoria (May 2019)
The busy pilots cockpit of the RAAF DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-328) at the Australian National Aviation Museum at Moorabbin Airport in Victoria (May 2019).
The busy pilots cockpit of the RAAF DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-328) at the Australian National Aviation Museum at Moorabbin Airport in Victoria (May 2019).
DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-328) at the Australian National Aviation Museum, Moorabbin Airport, Victoria (May 2019)
DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-328) at the Australian National Aviation Museum, Moorabbin Airport, Victoria (May 2019)
DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-328) at the Australian National Aviation Museum, Moorabbin Airport, Victoria (May 2019)
DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 (A8-328) at the Australian National Aviation Museum, Moorabbin Airport, Victoria (May 2019)

Historical Aircraft Restoration Society

The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society at Albion Park in New South Wales has been collecting Beaufighter parts for many years, including the recovery of the remains of Bristol Beaufighter Mk.XIc A19-144 and A19-148 fuselage centre sections and other parts from northwest Australia in 1981, which found an overseas home for restoration (see The Fighter Collection restoration below). In 1997 a Beaufighter wing centre section, outer wings and numerous parts were recovered from a farm in Dubbo, NSW. They have also completed Beaufighter nose sections for other museums.

HARS have their own DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 restoration project underway using the fuselage from A8-384. This aircraft was not delivered to the RAAF and remained an incomplete airframe at the end of World War Two. Bristol Hercules engines are being restored and they have acquired the nose section of RAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk.IF (X7688) from the UK, along with a large quantity of engine spare parts from New Zealand. The intention is to restore this to be a flyer some day.

CANADA

The Canada Air and Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario has a 1945 RAF Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk.X (RD867) torpedo fighter under restoration but requires Hercules engines and other parts. Built after the end of World War Two, this aircraft went into storage in 1945 but was operated by the RAF in the UK and Malta as a target tug from the late 1940’s until retired in 1958.

Restored by the RAF for display as a night fighter in 1966, the Beaufighter was swapped with the RAF Museum in 1969 for a RCAF Bristol Bollingbroke (Blenheim) but for whatever reason did not include Bristol Hercules engines, cowlings or internal components in the trade (the engines sit on RD253 at the RAF Museum – see below)! I wish I had been able to see this project when I was at this excellent museum in 2013!

1945 RAF Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk.X (RD867) at the Canada Air and Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario - Photo by fellow aviation enthusiast Dean Alexander
1945 RAF Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk.X (RD867) at the Canada Air and Space Museum Reserve Hangar in Ottawa, Ontario – Photo by fellow aviation enthusiast Dean Alexander

UNITED KINGDOM

RAF Museum Hendon

The RAF Museum in Hendon has on display a Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk.X torpedo fighter (RD253), which was built in October 1944 and destined for the Portuguese Navy Air Arm. It was ferried to Portugal in March 1945 and operated there on maritime patrol duties. Serviceability appears to have been an issue and most were grounded by 1946 and the last Portuguese Beaufighter was officially retired by 1949.

Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk.X torpedo fighter (RD253) at the RAF Museum in Hendon (2012)
Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk.X torpedo fighter (RD253) at the RAF Museum in Hendon (2012)
Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk.X torpedo fighter (RD253) at the RAF Museum in Hendon (2012)
Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk.X torpedo fighter (RD253) at the RAF Museum in Hendon (2012)

By 1950 RD253 had been acquired as a ground instructional airframe for the Lisbon Technical Institute. In 1965 the aircraft was presented to the RAF for preservation and shipped to the United Kingdom. Restoration began in February 1967 with parts sourced from other components held and recovered by the RAF and was completed in 1968. The aircraft went on display at RAF Museum Hendon in 1971. It is displayed in RAF livery and markings. D-Day stripes were added in 1994.

A former Portuguese Navy Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk.X torpedo fighter (RD253) in RAF markings at the RAF Museum in Hendon (2012)
A former Portuguese Navy Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk.X torpedo fighter (RD253) in RAF markings at the RAF Museum in Hendon (2012)
Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk.X torpedo fighter (RD253) at the RAF Museum in Hendon (2012)
Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk.X torpedo fighter (RD253) at the RAF Museum in Hendon (2012)

IWM Duxford

Members of The Fighter Collection are undertaking a long term restoration of an RAAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk.Ic at the Imperial War Museum Duxford in the UK. This is intended to be a flying restoration but has been hampered for many years by a lack of serviceable Bristol Hercules engines, as was the case when I was at the museum in 2012.

RAAF Bristol Mk.Ic Beaufighter under restoration at IWM Duxford (2012)
RAAF Bristol Mk.Ic Beaufighter under restoration at IWM Duxford (2012)

This aircraft is depicted as A19-144, a British built Beaufighter that served with RAAF No. 31 Squadron in the South West Pacific from 1943 to 1944 and was credited with shooting down an Imperial Japanese Army Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu (“Dragonslayer”) heavy fighter (Allied Codename “Nick”), and damaging another over Timor in December 1943. You can see the Japanese Rising Sun flag painted under the cockpit.

The aircraft is actually a composite of RAAF Beaufighter components sourced primarily from HARS in Australia. The restoration comprises the centre fuselage of Mk.XIc A19-144 (following a landing accident in October 1943 in northwest Australia, the aircraft was approved for conversion to parts in December 1944), the wing centre section of Mk.XIc A19-148 (RAAF No. 31 Squadron 1943-1944, shot down a Mitsubishi Ki-21 Sally in 1943, damaged in a forced landing in northwest Australia in January 1944 and converted to components), the tail section of Mk.Ic A19-36 (delivered 1942, crashed 1944) and the cockpit section of DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 A8-324 (delivered 1945, put into storage 1946, became surplus in 1949).

Nose guns of the Beaufighter and an Imperial Japanese "kill mark" - IWM Duxford (2012)
Nose guns of the Beaufighter and an Imperial Japanese “kill mark” – IWM Duxford (2012)
Piecing a Beaufighter back together at IWM Duxford (2012)
Piecing a Beaufighter back together at IWM Duxford (2012)
Restoring the Beaufighter to its former glory - IWM Duxford (2012)
Restoring the Beaufighter to its former glory – IWM Duxford (2012)

National Museum of Flight

Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk.X (RD220) is under restoration at the National Museum of Flight in Scotland. I haven’t seen this one in person but it is one of the former Portuguese Navy examples and was acquired in 2000 by National Museums Scotland.

By the 1950’s this aircraft was also used as a ground instructional airframe for the Lisbon Technical Institute. From 1966 to 1983 it was in the Portuguese Air Force Museu do Ar collection and later at the South African Air Force Museum. It was in a bad way but relatively intact and will be a long term restoration project.

UNITED STATES

In a somewhat unusual location and guise, RAAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk.Ic (A19-43) today resides within the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio (acquired in 1988). It was restored between 2000 and 2006 to represent USAAF Beaufighter T5049 “Night Mare of the 415th Night Fighter Squadron as flown by Commanding Officer Captain Harold Augspurger, who in September 1944, shot down a Luftwaffe Heinkel He 111 transport carrying German staff officers over France.

Former RAAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk.Ic (A19-43) at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio in 2009. Acquired in 1988 and restored between 2000 and 2006, the aircraft is painted to represent USAAF Beaufighter T5049
Former RAAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk.Ic (A19-43) at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio in 2009. Acquired in 1988 and restored between 2000 and 2006, the aircraft is painted to represent USAAF Beaufighter T5049 “Night Mare” of the 415th Night Fighter Squadron as flown by Commanding Officer Captain Harold Augspurger, who in September 1944, shot down a Luftwaffe Heinkel He 111 transport carrying German staff officers over France.
Bristol Beaufighter Mk.Ic (A19-43) in USAAF 415th Night Fighter Squadron livery and markings and depicted as T5049
Bristol Beaufighter Mk.Ic (A19-43) in USAAF 415th Night Fighter Squadron livery and markings and depicted as T5049 “Night Mare” at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio in 2009.
Bristol Beaufighter Mk.Ic (A19-43) in USAAF 415th Night Fighter Squadron livery and markings and depicted as T5049
Bristol Beaufighter Mk.Ic (A19-43) in USAAF 415th Night Fighter Squadron livery and markings and depicted as T5049 “Night Mare” at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio in 2009.
Bristol Beaufighter Mk.Ic (A19-43) in USAAF 415th Night Fighter Squadron livery and markings and depicted as T5049
Bristol Beaufighter Mk.Ic (A19-43) in USAAF 415th Night Fighter Squadron livery and markings and depicted as T5049 “Night Mare” at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio in 2009.
Depicted as USAAF Beaufighter T5049, this is actually an RAAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk.Ic (A19-43) at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio in 2009.
Depicted as USAAF Beaufighter T5049, this is actually an RAAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk.Ic (A19-43) at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio in 2009.

This aircraft was built in Great Britain in 1942 and shipped to Australia that same year. During World War Two it mainly served with RAAF No. 5 Operational Training Unit (5OTU) and No. 31 Squadron. Following landing damage in August 1944 this aircraft was repaired and sent to No. 3 Air Armament Gunnery School at RAAF Nhill in Victoria as a ground instructional airframe. Sold off as surplus to a local famer in 1947, the remains of the fuselage sat on that same property near Nhill until recovered by the Australian Aircraft Restoration Group for the Moorabbin Air Museum in 1971.

Bristol Beaufighter Mk.Ic (A19-43) in USAAF 415th Night Fighter Squadron livery and markings (depicted as T5049
Bristol Beaufighter Mk.Ic (A19-43) in USAAF 415th Night Fighter Squadron livery and markings (depicted as T5049 “Night Mare”) at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio in 2009.
RAAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk.Ic A19-43 during World War Two (RAAF Photo via ADF-Serials)
RAAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk.Ic A19-43 during World War Two and now in the USAF Museum (RAAF Photo via ADF-Serials)
RAAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk.Ic (A19-43) under restoration at the National Museum of the US Air Force - Photo provided by Dean Alexander from his visit to the restoration hangar in 2005
RAAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk.Ic (A19-43) under restoration at the National Museum of the US Air Force – Photo provided by Dean Alexander from his visit to the restoration hangar in 2005

This blog article was originally posted on Aces Flying High – The Survivors on July 7th, 2019.

References:

ADF Serials – Beaufighter

Australian National Aviation Museum – Beaufighter A8-328

Australian War Memorial – No. 31 Squadron

BAE Systems – Bristol 156 Beaufighter

Canada Aviation and Space Museum – Bristol Beaufighter T.F.X

Friends of the Canadian War Museum – Beaufighter Fact Sheet

Geoff Goodall – Kimberley War Relics

National Museum of the USAF – Bristol Beaufighter

Pacific Wrecks – Bristol Beaufighter Mk.Ic Serial Number A19-43

RAF Museum – Bristol Beaufighter TFX

Virtual War Memorial Australia – No. 455 Squadron (RAAF)

Warbirds Online – Bristol Beaufighter News (HARS)

Wikipedia – Bristol Beaufighter

13 thoughts on “The Survivors: Bristol Beaufighter – The “Whispering Death” of the Pacific and Beyond!

  1. Thanks again for an interesting and informative article on the Beaufighter.
    My Dad was in the RAAF from 1931 to 1936 but (somewhat to his disgust) was an aircraft inspector with AID during the war. I remember him telling me stories about the Beauforts built by DAP and the Beaufighters being called “Whispering Death”. I think he may have been an inspector at the Mascot assembly plant where they were assembled. He was also stationed at Bankstown and had a great interest in the Bell Airacobras stationed there with the USAAF, and loaned to Australia (?) for a short time in 1942(?)
    Thanks for the great articles.
    Colin Smeal

    Liked by 1 person

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