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Fairey Firefly Airframe Album #18 ISBN: 978-1-912932-28-3


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Fairey Firefly Airframe Album #18

ISBN: 978-1-912932-28-3

Valiant Wings Publishing




The Firefly was developed as a replacement to the Fulmar that was also from the Fairey stable, and although it saw some service during WWII, its long development period meant that it was a little late to the fray.  It was designed as a two-seat reconnaissance aircraft and fighter, but the extra weight gave the powerful Rolls-Royce Griffon engine more work to do, resulting in a slower aircraft that wasn’t particularly effective as a fighter by the time it entered the war because of the march of technology.  Thankfully, it was a more versatile aircraft than that, and was a docile performer that made take-off and landing on a carrier a less daunting affair.  It could get close to 400mph under the right circumstances, and performed well in its given tasks after introduction into service just following the D-Day landings.  It was also equipped with four 20mm cannons and had the capability of carrying rockets and bombs, so packed a substantial punch if the enemy strayed into range.


After the war, the type continued to perform its many given functions in Korea, but was relieved of its fighter role by the new jet engine fighters that were coming on-stream.  It was tasked with ground-attack, strike operations and anti-submarine warfare, where its radar and night-flying capabilities came in useful.  It soldiered on during the 50s, eventually reaching Mk.9, which was sadly a remote-controlled target drone, which was the final task for many airframes.  On the way to retirement, it was given other jobs to do, such as target towing, and trainer for various non-pilot roles in other aircraft types.


The Book

The eighteenth volume of the popular and interesting Airframe Album series by Richard A Franks details this multi-role aircraft, its variants, and dead-end projects that didn’t reach service.  It spans 160 real pages and is perfect bound in an A4(ish) portrait format.  If you are familiar with the series you will know what to expect, with the book broken down into sections, as follows:


i. Introduction

A brief narrative history of the development and operational use of the Fairey Firefly by the FAA, as well as those used by other nations.

1. Technical Description

Detailed coverage of construction and equipment

2. Evolution – Prototype, Production and Projected Variants

3D isometrics illustrating differences between variants

3. Camouflage & Markings

Colour side profiles, notes and photographs

4. Models

A build of the 1:48nd scale Mk.I from Trumpeter by Steve A Evans.


I Firefly Kit List

II Firefly Accessories, Decals & Masks List

III Bibliography








As usual with Valiant's books, the pictures are both high quality and some are unusual, with lots of "behind the scenes" shots of production, testing and in-service airframes as well as the ramshackle aircraft that were cast off and unloved after years of service.  I always find the 3D Isometrics very interesting to quickly discern the differences between variants, especially as I have the memory of a goldfish.  My favourite is the solitary jet engine equipped aircraft that was tested using a Rolls Royce X45 Pennine jet engine aft of the cockpit, with pop-out intakes on the fuselage sides, and a re-located tail-wheel under the rear due to the exhaust trunking’s exit through the back.  It’s a definite DIY project though, as there are no kits of this one-off available in my chosen scale of 1:48.  Some of the variants are just a mass of scabbed on parts and bits dangling off the wings, which is also quite appealing to my strange imagination.








There are a host of drawings, official photos and diagrams to whet your appetite for detailing too, and the author has gone to great lengths to include many, many of them to help educate and entertain.  There are a number of colour photos of preserved airframes in service due to the increasingly common use of colour photography post-war, in museums and preserved airframes.  There are also plenty of photos of aircraft that were in service of other nations, of which there were quite a number, and they sometimes benefited from some more unusual paint schemes.








Valiant Wings publish good books about interesting subjects, and this is yet another one that piqued my interest right away, as I don’t actually know much about the Firefly (correct that to “didn’t” for today only, as I’ll have forgotten by tomorrow), despite having the Special Hobby kit in my stash and now another different version from eBay after reading the book gave me additional interest – I really need to stop reading things.  Whether I’ll remember buying it tomorrow is another matter. 


If you're a modeller, aviation buff or even just interested in engineering, this will make an interesting read, which you'll come back to again when you need it for references.  More regularly, if you’re a goldfish like me and/or have more than one kit.  Oh, that’s me again.


Very highly recommended.




Review sample courtesy of



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