FAIREY

Young electrical engineer Richard Fairey made such good flying models he sold rights to A.W. Gamage's toystore 1910 and organized subsequent production. Joined Blair Atholl Syndicate (see Dunne) but poached by Short Brothers 1912 and became their factory manager and chief engineer. Fairey Aviation Co. set up 15 July 1915 with urgent order for 12 Short 827. Leased part of factory at Clayton Rd, Hayes, Middlesex, many workers Belgian refugees, bought field south of GWR railway to test landplanes, and tested 827s on Hamble River. Then followed F.2 twin-engined fighter, Campania patrol seaplane, Hamble Baby (with variable-camber flaps), and Fairey III (1917) from which sprang other III versions, to total of 957 in 1930, plus 185 Gordons and 91 Seals with radial engines. New factory built 1918 at North Hyde Rd, Hayes, and designer Maj Barlow joined by Belgian refugees Marcel Lobelle and E.O. Tips. Post-war Fawn bomber to official specification so ungainly Fairey built streamlined Fox 1925, faster than RAF fighters. Only one squadron for RAF, but led to Avions Fairey. For Fleet Air Arm 196 Flycatcher fighters built 1923-7. Company went public 5 March 1929, and in 1930 opened Great West Aerodrome at Harmondsworth, christened by first flight of Hendon heavy bomber November 1931. Major Second World War types were: Swordfish torpedo biplane (694 Fairey, 1,699 Blackburn), Battle land-based bomber (1,169 Fairey, 1,032 Austin), Barracuda torpedo bomber (1,161 Fairey, 692 Boulton Paul, 700 Blackburn, 18 Westland), Albacore torpedo biplane (800 Fairey), Fulmar 2-seat fighter (602 Fairey) and Firefly 2-seat fighter (1,702 Fairey). Massive complex operated comprising Hayes, Heaton Chapel (Stockport) and nearby Errwood Park, Austin at Longbridge, Hamble, Weybridge (ex-Saro), and 5 other Midlands plants plus Ringway (Manchester) flight development centre and Burtonwood (Warrington) repair and modification centre. Litigation 1945-64 finally compensated Fairey for conversion of Great West Aerodrome into London Heathrow Airport, Fairey moving to White Waltham, near Maidenhead, where Gyrodyne, Jet Gyrodyne and Rotodyne rotary-wing aircraft tested. FD.1 jet delta 1951 led to FD.2 which on 10 March 1956 increased world speed record by unique 310 mph to 1,132 mph. Final fixed-wing programme was Gannet anti-submarine and AEW aircraft (416). Growing diversification led to new parent The Fairey Co. Ltd formed March 1959, but government forced sell-out to Westland May 1960. Fairey-Clyde, later Fairey Aviation Co. of Australasia, and Fairey Aviation Co. of Canada handled repair, modification and conversion.

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