The Fairey Battle: A Reassessment of its RAF Career

Author(s): Greg Baughen 

ISBN: 9781781555859
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The Fairey Battle was derided as the worst plane ever to enter service with the RAF. Did it deserve this reputation?
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  • New insights into the early development of the Fairey Battle

  • The truth behind the decision to declare the plane obsolete

  • Based on original documentation

  • The story of what might have been had the Air Ministry used the plane correctly

The Fairey Battle is best known for being one of the worst aircraft to serve in the Royal Air Force.

On operations, it suffered the highest loss rate of any plane in the RAF’s history. The missions flown by its brave crews became a byword for hopelessness and futility.

Born out of muddled thinking, condemned before it even reached the squadrons and abandoned after the briefest of operational careers, the plane seems to thoroughly deserve its reputation. But was the Battle so useless? Why did it suffer such terrible loses? Was there nothing that could have been done to prevent the disasters of 1940?

A fresh look at the documents of the time suggest there was. They reveal a very different story of ignored recommendations and missed opportunities. It was the way it was used rather than fundamental flaws in the design that ensured its operational career was such a dismal failure. It might even be argued that in the desperate days of the summer of 1940, the Fairey Battle was exactly what Britain needed.

BOOK ISBN 9781781555859
FORMAT 234 x 156 mm
BINDING Hardback
PAGES 176 pages
ILLUSTRATIONS 61 black-and-white photographs



Greg Baughen was educated at Sussex University where he obtained a degree in Mathematics. His interest in military aviation was sparked by curiosity over the calamitous defeat of British and French forces in the Battle of France in 1940. For many years, he has delved through public archives in Paris and London seeking explanations. The quest has taken him back to the origins of air power in both countries and forward to what might have been in the Cold War. Baughen is currently working on a series of studies that will trace the history of the RAF from its origins through to the thermonuclear age.