The Fairey Battle is a British single-engine light bomber that was designed and manufactured by the Fairey Aviation Company. It was developed during the mid-1930s for the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a monoplane successor to the Hawker Hart and Hind biplanes. The Battle was powered by the same high-performance Rolls-Royce Merlin piston engine that powered various contemporary British fighters such as the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire. As the Battle, with its three-man crew and bomb load, was much heavier than the fighters, it was therefore much slower. Though a great improvement over the aircraft that preceded it, its relatively slow speed, limited range and inadequate defensive armament of only two .303 (7.7 mm) machine guns left it highly vulnerable to enemy fighters and anti-aircraft fire.
The Fairey Battle was used on operations early in the Second World War. During the "Phoney War" the type achieved the distinction of scoring the first aerial victory of an RAF aircraft in the conflict. In May 1940, the Battles of the Advanced Air Striking Force suffered many losses, frequently in excess of 50 per cent of aircraft sorties per mission. By the end of 1940 the type had been withdrawn from front-line service and relegated to training units overseas. As an aircraft that had been considered to hold great promise in the pre-war era, the Battle proved to be one of the most disappointing aircraft in RAF service.
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