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Fairey Gordon
Role Light bomber and general aircraft
Manufacturer Fairey Aviation
First flight 3 March 1931
Primary users Royal Air Force
Fleet Air Arm (Royal Navy)
Number built 186
Developed from Fairey III

The Fairey Gordon was a British light bomber ("2 seat day bomber") and utility aircraft.

The Gordon was a conventional two-bay fabric-covered metal biplane. It was powered by 525–605 horsepower (391–451 kW) variants of the Armstrong Siddeley Panther IIa engine. Armament was one fixed, forward-firing .303 inches (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun and a .303 inches (7.7 mm) Lewis Gun in the rear cockpit, plus 500 pounds (230 kg) of bombs. The aircraft was somewhat basic; instruments were airspeed indicator, altimeter, oil pressure gauge, tachometer, turn and bank indicator and compass.


The Gordon was developed from the IIIF, primarily by use of the new Armstrong Siddeley Panther engine. The prototype was first flown on the 3 March 1931, and around 80 earlier IIIFs were converted to a similar standard, 178 new-built aircraft were made for the RAF, a handful of IIIFs being converted on the production line. 154 Mark Is were produced, before production switched to the Mark II with larger fin and rudder; only 24 of these were completed before production switched to the Swordfish. The naval version of the Gordon, used by the Royal Navy, was known as the Seal.


The type had mostly been retired from Royal Air Force and Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm service prior to the Second World War, although No. 6 Squadron RAF, No. 45 Squadron RAF, and No. 47 Squadron RAF, still operated the type in Egypt. Six of these aircraft were transferred to the Egyptian Air Force.

49 Gordons were dispatched to the Royal New Zealand Air Force in April 1939, 41 entering brief service as pilot trainers. The RNZAF found the aircraft worn out and showing signs of their service in the Middle East - including at least one scorpion. The last of these - and the last intact Gordon anywhere - was struck off RNZAF service in 1943.

7 Gordons were stationed at No 4 Flying Training School, (RAF Habbaniya), Iraq in early 1941.[1] This flight, adapted from the target towing role to which it had by then been relegated back to a bombing role, played a part in the defense of Habbaniya against the Iraqi forces threatening and then attacking the School.


The only known survivor is RNZAF Gordon Mark I NZ629, which is under restoration in New Zealand. On 12 April 1940 two trainee pilots Wilfred Everist and Walter Raphael of 1 Service Flying Training School were flying NZ629 from Wigram when they encountered thick cloud and were blown towards the Southern Alps. The aircraft crash landed in beech forest just beneath the snowline on Mount White. Everist and Raphael tramped to a shearers hut. The airframe, minus instruments, guns and engine, was left suspended in trees at the crash site, (part of a large sheep station). In 1976, it was relocated - still largely suspended from trees - by Charles Darby, with assistance from Walter Raphael, (Everist was killed in action over France). NZ629 was recovered by Aerospatiale Lama. It was stored for over twenty years before restoration commenced. As of 2005 the restorers were looking for an engine.[2]


  • Fairey IIIF Mk V : Prototype.
  • Fairey Gordon Mk I : Two-seat day bomber and general purpose aircraft.
  • Fairey Gordon Mk II : Two-seat training version.


Brazil purchased 20 Gordons, comprising 15 land planes and five float planes[3]
 Republic of China (1912–1949)
 New Zealand
 United Kingdom

Specifications (Mark I)

Data from Fairey Aircraft since 1915 [5]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 36 ft 9 in (11.20 m)
  • Wingspan: 45 ft 9 in (13.95 m)
  • Height: 14 ft 2 in (4.32 m)
  • Wing area: 438 ft² (40.69 m²)
  • Empty weight: 3,500 lb (1,589 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 5,906 lb (2,679 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Armstrong Siddeley Panther IIa radial engine, 525 hp (391 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 145 mph (240 km/h, 126 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 110 mph (177 km/h, 96 kn)
  • Range: 600 mi (966 km, 521 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 22,000 ft (6,700 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,000 ft/min (5.1 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 13.5 lb/ft² (65.8 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.089 hp/lb (0.15 kW/kg)


  • Guns: 1 × fixed, forward-firing .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun and 1 × flexible .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis Gun in the rear cockpit
  • Bombs: 500 lb (227 kg) of bombs carried under wings

See also


  1. Dudgeon CBE DFC, Air Vice Marshal A. G. (1991). The War That Never Was. Airlife Publishing. ISBN 1-85310-256-3. 
  2. "Fairey Gordon Mk I NZ629" (pdf). April 2004. p. 9. Archived from the original on 2006-11-04. 
  3. Taylor 1988, p. 220
  4. Mason 1994, p. 224
  5. Taylor 1988, p. 221
  • Mason, Francis K. (1994). The British Bomber since 1914. London: Putnam. ISBN 0-85177-861-5. 
  • Taylor, H.A. (1988). Fairey Aircraft since 1915. London: Putnam. ISBN 0-370-00065-X. 
  • Thetford, Owen (1978). British Naval Aircraft Since 1912. London: Putnam and Company. ISBN 0-370-30021-1. 

External links

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