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An aeroplane to dominate the sea lanes The double page spread in the current Airfix catalogue which announced the existence of our new 1/72nd scale Bristol Beaufort Mk.I tooling As an island nation, one of the most crucial battles Britain had to be win during the dark days of the Second World War was to maintain the integrity of her merchant shipping lanes whilst at the same time, denying her enemies the ability to obtain supplies by sea. In the months which preceded the beginning of WWII, the most effective anti-shipping torpedo equipped aircraft available to the British was the Fairey Swordfish biplane and whilst this proved to be an exceptional aircraft during the war, the RAF were in desperate need of a powerful, modern torpedo bomber, capable of mounting long range strike missions. The second in a successful trio of twin engined aircraft designed by the Bristol Aeroplane Company during the 1930s, the Beaufort is significant by the fact that it was the only monoplane produced for the Royal Air Force designed from the outset as a torpedo bomber and reconnaissance platform. An aircraft which can trace its development lineage to the Blenheim light bomber, which was one of the most important aircraft in British aviation history, the Beaufort was unusual in that it was ordered by the Air Ministry whilst the project was still ‘on the drawing board’, a move which showed they had great faith in the Bristol Company, whilst at the same time highlighting the RAF’s urgent need for the aircraft. Although originally intended as an evolutionary development of the existing Blenheim bomber design, it quickly became apparent that the new aircraft would look quite different to its predecessor, possessing a much deeper front fuselage section to accommodate its crew of four and the requirement to carry a torpedo in a semi-recessed position under the fuselage. These modifications resulted in a gross weight increase of around 25 percent over the Blenheim and required the adoption of more powerful engines, so this extra weight did not hamper the performance of the new aircraft.