A brief history of the Fairy Gannett

By Willie Bodenstein


The Gannet, a mid-wing monoplane with a tricycle undercarriage and a crew of three powered by a double turboprop engine driving two contra-rotating propellers is a British carrier-borne aircraft of the post-Second World War.

Originally developed by the Fairey Aviation Company to meet the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm (FAA) dual-role anti-submarine warfare and strike requirement the Gannet was later adapted for operations as an electronic countermeasures' aircraft. A variant the AEW.3 was later developed as a carrier-based airborne early warning platform.

As a powerplant Fairey selected an engine based on the Armstrong Siddeley Mamba turboprop; the Double Mamba (or "Twin Mamba"), two Mambas mounted side-by-side and coupled through a common gearbox to coaxial contra-rotating propellers.

The prototype first flew on 19 September 1949 and made the first deck landing by a turboprop aircraft, on HMS Illustrious on 19 June 1950. A further change in operational requirements resulted in the addition of a radar and extra crew member.

This version entered production in 1953 and initial deliveries were made of the variant designated AS.1 at RNAS Ford in April 1954

In 1958 the Gannet was selected to replace the Douglas Skyraider in the AEW role. In order to accommodate the systems required, the Gannet underwent a significant redesign that saw a new version of the Double Mamba installed, new radome mounted under the aircraft, the tailfin increased in area, the undercarriage lengthened and the weapons bay removed.

A total of 44 aircraft (plus a single prototype) of the AEW.3 version was produced. The Gannet was retired from service on 15 December 1978

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