The Fairey Battle

A Reassessment of its RAF Career

Greg Baughen

The Fairey Battle is best known for being the worst plane ever to serve with the RAF. Disastrous losses in combat seemed to confirm this assessment. Does it deserve its reputation? A fresh look at the documents of the time reveal that solutions to the problems were known and, if they had been applied, the story might have been very different.
Date Published :
June 2017
Publisher :
Fonthill Media
Illustration :
black and white photographs
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781781555859
Pages : 176
Dimensions : 9.25 X 6.15 inches
Stock Status : In stock


The Fairey Battle is best known for being one of the worst aircraft ever to serve in the Royal Air Force. On operations, it suffered the highest loss rate of any plane in the RAF's history, and 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 losses? 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 the plane 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.

About The Author

Greg Baughen was educated at Sussex University where he obtained a degree in Mathematics. In a varied teaching career, he has taught Maths and English as a Foreign Language, to children and adults, in Britain and abroad. His interest in military aviation was sparked at a very early age by curiosity over the defeat of British and French air forces in the Battle of France in 1940. For forty years, he has delved though public archives in Britain and France seeking explanations. The quest has taken him back to the origins of air power in both countries and forwards to what might have been in the Cold War. He then set to work writing a definitive history of air power in both countries.


“This is certainly a bold little book for students of 1940's Blitzkrieg. Get a fresh slant on one of WWII's most maligned machines – and grab this ripping read. Photos, appendices and annotations augment the absorbing account.”

- Cybermodeler

"...a very interesting look at the Fairy Battle, and one which challenges the common perception of it as a failure."

- Military Model Scene, June 2017

"an interesting and well argued examination of why the Battle was so spectacular a failure [...] the reasons clearly go much deeper than the Battle simply having been 'an obsolete aircraft."

- Aeroplane, October 2017

"[...] an excellent and readable book which goes a long way towards explaining some of the strange decisions made in the 1939/1940 period, as well as finally rehabilitating the much-maligned Fairey Battle."

- Aero Modeller, November 2017

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