|Manufacturer||Boulton Paul Aircraft Ltd|
|Primary Role||Heavy Fighter|
|Maiden Flight||11 August 1937|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseThe P.82 Defiant turret fighters were designed in response to British Air Ministry Specification F.9/35 that asked for a turret fighter design capable of reaching 290 miles per hour in speed and reaching 15,000 feet in altitude. The design centered around the theory that hostile bombers would attack en masse, without long range fighter escorts (because they did not exist), thus turret fighters would be able to penetrate the formation with their agility and shoot down enemy bombers with the turret-mounted guns. The prototype took flight on 11 Aug 1937, and the order for production was granted by the Royal Air Force later in the same year. A carrier variant design, P.85, was tested by the Fleet Air Arm, but the naval air branch chose the B.25 Roc turret fighters made by competing firm Blackburn Aircraft Limited, instead (interestingly, however, the B.25 Roc fighters would be built by Boulton Paul factories). The Fleet Air Arm would use only a small number of P.82 Defiant fighters as target tugs.
ww2dbaseEach of the P.82 Defiant turret fighters had a license-built SAMM electro-hydraulically powered turret which housed four electrically-fired 7.7-millimeter Browning machine guns. They lacked nose- or wing-mounted forward-firing weapons common to typical fighters; however, the gunners could rotate the turrets directly forward and transfer firing control to the pilot, thus making up this weakness. In the forward-firing mode, however, the guns pointed 19 degrees upward, and the pilots did not have gun sights, thus making accurate firing difficult.
ww2dbaseWhen the European War began in Sep 1939, only three P.82 Defiant Mk. I turret fighters had been delivered, but the war soon caused production to step up, and eventually 713 Mk. I variant fighters were built. On 8 Dec 1939, the No. 264 (Madras Presidency) Squadron RAF was reformed at RAF Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire, England, United Kingdom and received these fighters. Night fighter training began in Feb 1940. The first operational sortie took place on 12 May 1940 when they, together with six Spitfire fighters of No. 66 Squadron RAF, attacked a German bomber formation and shot down a Ju 88 bomber over the Netherlands. On the following day, P.82 Defiant turret fighters shot down four German Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers, but six of them were lost to Bf 109E fighters in frontal attacks. The best day for P.82 Defiant fighters was 29 May 1940, when No. 264 Squadron RAF claimed 37 kills in two sorties, including 19 Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers, 9 Bf 110 heavy fighters, 8 Bf 109 fighters, and 1 Ju 88 bomber without any losses. Early Defiant successes were attributed to their resemblance to Hurricane fighters, leading to German pilots attempting to attack them from above and behind, thus in perfect line of fire from the quad-gunned turrets. As German fighter pilots learned to identify them with accuracy, Defiant fighters became extremely vulnerable as German fighters attacked them from the front or from below. On 19 Jul 1940, of the 9 Defiant fighters launched by the No. 141 Squadron RAF to protect a convoy, 6 of them were shot down, and the remaining 3 might had survived only because Hurricane fighters arrived on the scene as reinforcements. In late Aug 1940, with losses mounting, they were retired from day time service and were transferred to night fighter units. While obsolete as traditional fighters, they were effective as night fighters. Later in the war, the Mk II variant design entered production; Mk II variant fighters had AI Mk IV airborne interception radar equipment installed. They were gradually removed from front line service starting in 1942, but continued to serve in the rear as trainers, target tugs, and air-sea rescue aircraft; the turrets were often removed when used in these rear area roles.
ww2dbaseIn 1940, Boulton Paul created a variant design of the P.82 Defiant aircraft that had the turret removed and 12 7.7-millimeter Browning machine guns or 4 20-millimeter Hispano cannons plus 4 7.7-millimeter Browning machine guns, all installed as fixed forward-firing armament. Although this design had a theoretical top speed of 579 kilometers per hour (360 miles per hour) which rivaled the Spitfire fighters, the RAF already had enough fighter aircraft in service by that time and was not interested in yet another model.
ww2dbaseDuring the design's production life, 1,064 aircraft were built.
Last Major Revision: Jul 2010
P.82 Defiant Timeline
|11 Aug 1937||The first flight of the Boulton Paul Defiant aircraft was made at Wolverhampton, England, United Kingdom with Chief Test Pilot Cecil Feather at the controls. This first prototype was flown without the gun turret and with ballast added to compensate for the turret and its gunner. As such it achieved a satisfactory 302 mph, and the flying characteristics were pronounced as excellent.|
|29 May 1940||No. 264 Squadron RAF based at Manston, England, United Kingdom claimed no less than thirty-eight enemy aircraft destroyed in a single day. The Luftwaffe fighter pilots having mistaken No. 264 Squadron's two-seat Defiant fighters for Hurricane fighters and had dived on the supposedly defenceless tails of the British fighters only to be greeted by a withering concentration of fire. By the end of the month No. 264 Squadron's Defiant fighters would have claimed some sixty-five kills, but the German pilots had learned from their mistakes and adopted new tactics to deal with the Defiant fighters.|
|Machinery||One Rolls-Royce Merlin III liquid-cooled V12 engine rated at 1,030hp|
|Armament||4x7.7mm Browning machine guns in dorsal turret|
|Wing Area||23.20 m²|
|Weight, Empty||2,763 kg|
|Weight, Loaded||3,781 kg|
|Weight, Maximum||3,909 kg|
|Speed, Maximum||489 km/h|
|Speed, Cruising||417 km/h|
|Service Ceiling||9,250 m|
|Range, Maximum||749 km|
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Winston Churchill, 1935