The Boulton Paul Defiant was a British interceptor aircraft that served with the Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II. The Defiant was designed and built by Boulton Paul Aircraft as a “turret fighter”, without any forward-firing guns. It was a contemporary of the Royal Navy‘s Blackburn Roc. The concept of a turret fighter related directly to the successful First World War-era Bristol F.2 Fighter.
In combat, the Defiant was found to be reasonably effective at its intended task of destroying bombers but was vulnerable to the Luftwaffe‘s more manoeuvrable, single-seat Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters.
The lack of forward-firing armament proved to be a great weakness in daylight combat and its potential was realised only when it was converted to night fighting. It was supplanted in the night fighter role by the Bristol Beaufighter and de Havilland Mosquito. The Defiant found use in gunnery training, target towing, electronic countermeasures and air-sea rescue. Among RAF pilots it had the nickname “Daffy”.
Defiant Mark I N3313 of No. 264 Squadron, 1940
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