The Bristol Beaufort is a British twin-engined torpedo bomber designed by the Bristol Aeroplane Company, and developed from experience gained designing and building the earlier Blenheim light bomber.
The Bristol Beaufort was the only monoplane produced for the Royal Air Force that was designed from the start to satisfy the dual role of general reconnaissance and torpedo bomber.
The prototype flew for the first time on 15 October 1938 and Beauforts entered service with No.22 Squadron in November 1939, remaining Coastal Command’s standard torpedo bomber until 1943. Beauforts first saw service with Royal Air Force Coastal Command and then the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm from 1940. They were used as torpedo bombers, conventional bombers and mine-layers until 1942, when they were removed from active service and were then used as trainer aircraft until being declared obsolete in 1945. Total Beaufort production was 1380, including 700 built in Australia.
While operating in Coastal Command, Beauforts saw action over the North Sea, the English Channel and the Atlantic. In 1942 all Beaufort squadrons were deployed to the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean to meet a changing enemy threat. Malta-based aircraft were particularly successful in attacks on Axis shipping at a critical time in the war in North Africa.
Beauforts also saw considerable action in the Mediterranean; Beaufort squadrons based in Egypt and on Malta helped interdict Axis shipping supplying Rommel’s Afrikakorps in North Africa.
The Beaufort was adapted as a long-range heavy fighter variant called the Beaufighter, which proved to be very successful and many Beaufort units eventually converted to the Beaufighter.
The Bristol Beaufort at RAF London is a Beaufort Mk.VIII A9-559 – a composite of several RAAF aircraft.