(Photo provided by Shannan Hendricks,
owner of Gannet
History: Britains near-catastrophic
experiences with German U-boats during World War Two led to increased awareness and
respect for anti-submarine warfare (ASW). In 1945 a challenging naval specification for a
carrier-based ASW/strike aircraft was issued. Ten years of design and development led to
the adoption of the Fairey Gannet, a highly successful three-man aircraft built around a
most unusual engine.
The Armstrong-Siddeley Double Mamba coupled turboprop engine
boasted two independent power sections driving separate propellers. After both sections
were used in the crucial take-off phase, one could be shut down to extend range and patrol
time. Additionally, the engine could refuel from its aircraft carriers' own diesel fuel
bunker, eliminating special aviation gas tanks on board. Fully armed with torpedoes, depth
charges or rockets the plane had a maximum speed of 311 mph and a 662 nautical mile range.
Fully ten years after the initial specification, the Fairey
Gannet reached the active fleet, in service with HMS Illustrious, HMS Ark
Royal and HMS Eagle. Eventually, 255 of the up-rated version (Gannet AS
Mk4) satisfied the Fleet Air Arms need to replace aging Fireflies and
In 1958, the first prototype of the Gannet AEW
Mk3 reached the fleet, fulfilling the need for an airborne early warning
aircraft. The Mk3 incorporated major re-designs including a new fuselage and longer
undercarriage to allow for a radome. The problems of fixed-wing aircraft on small decks
led to the Gannets replacement by Wessex helicopters in the 1970s, but a number
have survived in museums. One survivor, a two-seat T5 model, flies in the USA (see Links below).
Specifications (AS.Mk I):
Engine: One 2,950-shp Armstrong Siddeley Double-Mamba 100 turboprop
Weight: Empty 15,069 lbs., Max
Takeoff 21,600 lbs.
Wing Span: 54ft. 4in.
Length: 43ft. 0in.
Height: 13ft. 8.5in.
Range: 943 miles
Armament: Up to approximately 2,000
pounds of torpedoes, depth charges and sonobuoys in bomb bay; plus underwing hardpoints
Number Built: ~414
Number Still Airworthy: One,
with at least two more restorations possible.
Fairey Gannet AEW.3
(N752XT) -- The world's last flying Gannett! [
Facebook page ]
Aviation Museum: Gannet page
Greg Goebel's Gannet page
and Lightnings" Gannet Page -- Everything you'll ever need to know about the
Virtual Aviation Museum:
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Doublestar Group, unless otherwise noted.
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