WW1 Planes
An encyclopediae of 1914-18 aircraft types


Fairey Aviation Company Limited 1915-1960

The company best known product perhaps for WW2 was Swordfish, the "stringbag" which sank to the bottom so many Axis capital ships it is hard not to have admiration of such obsolete-looking aircraft. The company started operations in 1915, funded by Charles Richard Fairey (later made a Sir) and Belgian engineer Ernest Oscar Tips. Both left the Short Brothers. At first in their factory, Fairey built under licence otger models, and produced parts as subcontractor. Fairey first created the Fairey Campania, a patrol seaplane which first flew in February 1917 and was reserved for the aircraft carrier of the same name. Many more will followed. Fairey had its own Propeller Division (Fairey-Reed Airscrews), the Hayes factory, that produced Sylvanus Albert Reed patended models in the 1920s, when Charles Richard Fairey studied the use of the Curtiss D-12 engine. The also made use of the flaps designed by Robert Talbot Youngman. Production took place at first at the factory in North Hyde Road, Hayes (Middlesex). Tests were generally carried out at the Northolt Aerodrome from 1917.

Fairey F2 Fighter
The Fairey F2 was a prototype of Royal Naval Air Service long range fighter, probably intended to chase Zeppelins, but never passed the prototype stage.

HMS Singer seaplane Fairey would take part in the production of the Short Type 827 (12 manufactured), and a hundred Sopwith 1-1/2 Strutter. Experienced with Sopwith Planes, the company designed a single-seat naval patrol floatplane Hamble Baby, produced for the Royal Naval Air Service (about 180) in 1917. Fairey also designed the F.2 fighter originally ordered by the Admiralty in 1916. This was not a small, fast and agile machine but rather a massive, three-seat long-range fighter powered by two Rolls-Royce Falcon engines, but only stayed at prototype stage. The Fairey Campania, after the HMS Campania, first British aircraft carrier, was a patrol floatplane propelled by a Rolls-Royce engine Eagle (various series) or the Sunbeam Maori II. It also flew with three RAF squadrons. 62 were delivered in all. In between, Fairey would also tried the N.9, a prototype carried out the first shipborne catapult launches from RN ships. It was one of two separate designs prepared for the Admiralty Specification N.2(a), asking for a two-seat carrier-based seaplane. One was propelled by a Rolls-Royce Falcon engine, and the other had a more powerful Sunbeam Maori. But of course the model that would be called to fame was the Fairey III, a traditional sesquiplan biplane derived from the N.10 floatplane the larger version answering the same specification that approached the N.9. It was basically a carrier-based seaplane with folding wings, propelled by a 260 hp (190 kW) Sunbeam Maori engine that first flew in September 1917. It was declined rapidly with a conventional wheeled undercarriage and from there was produced to 964 units through 10 main variants and five sub-variants and served with many naval aviations for most of the twenties.

The Fairey III (Here a F type floatplane) was a fast and successful naval airplane declined later in the 1920s Fairey Gordon and Fairey Seal.


Production in bold, numbers between brackets.
  • Fairey Hamble Baby – 1917 (180)
  • Fairey F.2 – 1917
  • Fairey Campania – 1917 (62)
  • Fairey III – large biplane family, starting late 1917 (964)
  • Fairey N.9 – 1917

Read More/Links

Fairey Aviation