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Beaufighter Mk.VIf 415th Night Fighter Squadron, 12th U.S. Army Air Force, Le Vallon, Southern France, Sept. 1944 "KW147"
General Background
The Bristol Beaufighter was developed in about 8 months by using sections from the earlier designed Bristol Beaufort. It was given more powerful engines and a variety of modifications making the aircraft capable of many tasks. It was a night fighter, fighter bomber and torpedo bomber performing anti-shipping duty as well as ground attack and long range interdiction. The different variants, 14 in all, were capable of carrying bombs, torpedoes, rockets, canons and machine guns. The Beaufighter was operated by 11 countries.
The Aircraft
The 415th NFS (Night Fighter Squadron) known as “The Nitefiters” was activated on February 8, 1943 with its first posting to Algeria in June. As part of the 12th USAAF the squadron flew reverse lend-lease night-fighter Bristol Beaufighters that retained the standard RAF night fighter scheme but with US markings. During 1943 the 415th flew in the MTO and in 1944 and 1945 they moved to France and eventually into Germany. Their first station in France was Le Vallon from September 1st – 25th 1944. The squadron was inactivated September 1, 1947.
Specifications :
Crew: 2 X (1) pilot (1) radio/radar operator
Engines: 2 X Bristol Hercules XI engines / 1,500 hp
Fuel: 100 octane
Capacity 550 Imp gallons / (660 US gallons) / (2,500 liters)
Maximum speed: 321 mph at 15,800 feet / (520 km/h at 4,572 m)
ICR: 1,850 ft/min at sea level / (564 m/min at sea level)
Climb to 20,000 ft: 214 minutes 6 seconds / (6,095 m in 14 min 6 seconds)
Ceiling: 26,500 ft / (8077 m)
Range: 1,170 miles at 5,000ft at 182 mph / (1,883 km at 1.524 km at 292.9 km/h)
Length: 41ft 8in / (12.6 m)
Wingspan: 57ft 10in / (17.63 m)
Height: 15 ft 10 in / (4.83 m)
Wing area: 503 sq. ft. / (46.73 m2)
Empty weight: 14,069 lb / (6,382 kg)
Operational: 21,100 lb / (9,571 kg)
Armament: 4 X 20mm cannon under nose 240 rounds per gun
6 X .303 machine guns in wings 1000 rounds per gun.