This 1941 dated British Pathé news footage shows the production and introduction of the Bristol Beaufighter.
The Beaufighter had actually entered service in the summer of 1940 and was envisaged as a heavy fighter variant of the Beaufort light bomber. However, the aircraft was rather slow for a day fighter, but it was the large and powerful and therefore well suited to the night fighter role as it could carry a heavy armament and radar with little performance loss. More than 70 RAF pilots became ‘aces’ on the type.
However, the Beaufighter found its niche as a strike aircraft. Bristling with rockets and cannon, and able to drop a torpedo, it soon replaced the Beaufort as a torpedo bomber, and RAF Coastal Command and the Royal Australian Air Force made good of the aircraft as a highly effective anti-ship aircraf . Although a more difficult aircraft to fly than others, aircraft’s toughness and reliability won many pilots and ground crews over.
The Beaufighter saw service with at least 94 Allied squadrons – including four USAAF ones –and more than 5,900 were built. They were retired from RAF and Australian service in 1960.