Crowood Aviation Series

Bristol Beaufighter

by Jerry Scutts

reviewed by Kevin Batterman


The Beaufighter is one of my two favorite planes of all time so it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to review Crowood’s recently released book on it.  There is a lot of information packed in the 192 pages.

It is divided into 14 chapters covering its career in the RAF and with other air forces.  For instance, the history of the Beau is traced from its inception on the drawing board to its post-war career.  There are many photos of excellent quality and many which were new to me.

Some of the noteworthy chapters include one dedicated to the Merlin engine equipped Mk II and the Mk V with the Boulton Paul turret.  The Polish, Canadian use of the Beau is covered as well as the FAA’s birds, which is new to me (The FAA actually used the Mk II in combat).  Another chapter discussed the modifications and new models including the TFX, radar enhancements, armaments including the torpedo and rockets, dive brakes, etc.  There are some really nice photos of the radar, torpedo mount and rockets that would help the modeler.  One chapter is exclusively on the US operated Beaus that is very interesting accompanied by some very nice photos.

In the first few chapters, the reader will find detailed information about the various Beaufighter modifications, and the weapons carried by the Beaufighter throughout its life span.  For example, there is interesting information on the addition of the rear gunner's pit, revised noses, radar, bombs, rockets and torpedoes.

Eight of the twelve chapters detail the Beaufighter’s combat history.  There are discussions on its use in the various theaters around the globe.  These theaters include Europe, North Africa and the Mediterranean, China-Burma and the Pacific.  The Beau's use as a night fighter, strike fighter, ground attack and other roles are discussed in each of these theaters. The final three chapters have information on the Beau's post-war RAF use.  This includes its combat service in Malaya and subsequent more peaceful use in other countries such as the Dominican Republic, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey for example.  In the final chapter, there is information of the various surviving Beaus and restorations.

In the back of the book are several useful appendices covering the aces, production and, squadrons and codes.  These will be very useful for those wishing to do any research.

I think this is a great book and it is packed with information and photos and worth adding to your library if you are a Beaufighter fan.  You will not be disappointed and it makes a great companion to the Beaufighter Modeler's Datafile, Beaufighter at War and the other references published on it.