Fairey Battle MK I

Fairey Battle MK I    P2204   PH-K  12 Squadron,
Fg Off D E Garland,   Sgt T Grey,   LAC L R Reynolds
Veldzewelt Bridge,  Albert Canal, 12 May 1940

The origins of the Fairey Battle were in Air Ministry specification P.27/32, intended to produce a more modern successor to the Hawker Hart light bomber, with a similar two man crew. It produced responses from seven manufacturers, including three designs from Fairey, originally using their Prince engine; the first prototype of the selected Fairey design was ordered in June 1934, and first flew on the of 10th March 1936, with a Rolls-Royce Merlin 1 engine and provision for a wireless operator/ air gunner. Fairey Battle deliveries to the RAF started in May 1937, when K7559 joined 63 Squadron; 12 Squadron's re-equipment with the Fairey Battle started in February 1938, and on 2 September 1939 - a day before the declaration of war - the squadron flew from Bicester to Berry-au-Bac in the Reims area where with nine other Fairey Battle squadrons they formed the bomber element of the Advanced Air Striking Force. Until 9th of May, 1940 operations were limited and sporadic, principally reconnaissance and leaflet-dropping; Fairey Battle Mk I P2204, flown by Fg Off Don Garland who was by now commanding 'B' flight, carried out such a mission on night of the 20th/21st of April, dropping leaflets on Koblenz and reconnoitring the east side of the Rhine valley.
On the first day of the German offensive on the 10th of May 12 Squadron were based at Amifontaine; two pairs of Fairey Battles were sent to attack road transport but only one returned to its base. There were no operations on 11th of May, but orders were received at 0700 on the 12th for six volunteer crews to attack the bridges across the Albert Canal at Veldwezelt and Vroenhoven. Every crew volunteered, so the next six on the duty roster were picked. One aircraft, and its spare, had radio unserviceability, so the sortie was launched with a pair and a three, the latter led by Fg Off Garland in P2204 with Sgt Grey as observer and LAC Reynolds as Wireless Operator/Air Gunner. The second section made a low-level attack on the Veldzewelt bridge to be met by intense and well-prepared anti-aircraft fire, reputedly from up to three hundred guns of all calibres; after dropping their bombs Garland's aircraft crashed near the bridge - which had suffered some damage - with the whole crew being Killed. Garland and Grey were subsequently awarded posthumous Victoria Crosses but the gunner, LAC Reynolds, received no award (gunners were not given SNCO rank until 27th of May, 1940, possibly as a belated reaction to the action in France). Fairey Battle operations from French bases continued until 15th of June, when the remaining aircraft and personnel were withdrawn; 12 Squadron returned to Harwell with eight aircraft.

FAIREY BATTLE


Scale 1:72    Wingspan 9" (229 mm)
Base size 9.33" (237 mm) square (No. 6)
Weight not including base 1lb 2.25 ozs (515 grams)
Limited edition of 50 only
Price £125.00 plus delivery   Figures optional at £15 each.

Fairey Battle MK I of 12 Squadron. Fairey Battle MK I of 12 Squadron. Fairey Battle MK I of 12 Squadron.