The Boulton Paul’s Defiant Mark II has the distinction of being the Royal Air Force (RAF) first four gun fighter. When the Defiant entered front line service in 1937, it was a very different fighting machine. A complete departure from the early 1930s fighter designs. First, all four of its heavy machine guns were housed on a turret mechanism. Second, no forward armament was installed. Quite a departure indeed.
The Defiant first saw combat action in the morning of May 12th 1940 over the skies above a beleaguer France. In just under a month, the Defiant was credited with the downing of 65 enemy aircraft. Unfortunately for the Defiant’s pilots, the Germans caught adjusted their strategy. Instead of the classic tail attack, Luftwaffe pilots began to engage the Defiant head on. With no forward armaments and antiquated engines, the Paul fighter was a sitting duck for any German airplane.
Losses began to mount after a successful May. So much so, that the aircraft was removed from front line service in August 1940. But this was not the end of the Defiants. Fitted with an experimental and highly secret interception radar array provided by the Americans, the Mark IIs resurfaced in the winter of 1940-41 as a dedicated night interceptor.
By the height of the Blitz, the now venerable Defiants equipped no less than thirteen RAF interception squadrons. They proved to be a critical, albeit less know, part of the RAF’s air defenses until the end of the war.
Engine: Rolls-Royce 1280hp Merlin XX piston engine
Total Wing Area: 23.23m2
Maximum Take-off Weight: 382kg
Top Speed: 504kph
Operational Ceiling: 9250m
Climb Rate: 580m per minute