Firefly Aircraft 2

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Inside Port Phillip Wreck Dive Site

A RAN Fairey Firefly
A RAN Fairey Firefly
© Royal Australian Navy

Fairey Firefly 2 was a Second World War-era, carrier-borne, fighter aircraft that was lost on 20 July 1947 in an accident. As the British aircraft carriers HMS Theseus and HMS Glory were departing on Sunday 20th 1947 after their visit to Melbourne, two squadrons of Firefly and Seafire aircraft from the HMS Theseus took off for an exercise over the bay out from Frankston. As they climbed to 1,500 feet (457 metres) and moved into formation, two Fireflys collided.

The Argus newspaper recorded the following the next day: "In a flash the two planes were one. Locked together they turned slowly and fell. Near the water they dropped like stones and disappeared. The destroyer Cockade steamed at full speed to the scene and lowered a boat. The body of one of the four crew was recovered. When the Theseus arrived the only sign was a patch of oil."

There are two aircraft, some 150 metres apart. See Firefly Aircraft 1.

Fairly Firefly Grave Site

In July 2017, human skeletal remains missing for 60 years were found near the wrecks of two war planes in Port Phillip. Four people were killed when the two Fairly Firefly planes crashed on 20 July 1947, but only the body of one of the pilots was recovered at the time. Aged 31, he had been a prisoner of war in Germany for five and a half years.

Divers Paul Roadknight and Steve Boneham located the remains of one of the aircrew still inside one of the wrecked aircraft about 20 metres below the surface. They found the remains of another airman next to the wreck of the second aircraft. There was no information about the possible whereabouts of the fourth victim.

The wreckage of the two single engined Fairy Firefly trainers is considered a significant archaeological find. Heritage Victoria warns that diving near the wrecks is an offence that carries a heavy fine.

Fairey Firefly History

The Firefly was designed as a fleet reconnaissance aircraft for the UK's Royal Navy, and was derived from the Fairey Fulmar. First flown on 22 December 1941, the first versions were delivered in March 1943 to RNAS Yeovilton. The main version of the aircraft used during WWII was the Mk.1, which was used in all theaters of operation. Throughout its operational career, it took on increasingly more demanding roles, from fighter to anti-submarine warfare.

After WWII, the Firefly remained in service in both the UK and Australia, flying anti-ship missions off various aircraft carriers in the Korean War and serving in the ground-attack role in Malaya. In 1956, the Firefly's frontline career ended with the introduction of the Fairey Gannet.

The Firefly was built at London's Great Western Aerodome (Heathrow), United Kingdom.

Fairey Firefly General Characteristics

  • Crew: Two (Pilot and Observer)
  • Length: 37 ft 7.25 in (11.46 m)
  • Wingspan: 44 ft 6 in (13.57 m)
  • Height: 13 ft 7 in (4.14 m)
  • Wing area: 328 ft sq (30.5 m sq)
  • Empty weight: 9,750 lb (4,432 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 14,020 lb (6,373 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 x Rolls-Royce Griffon IIB liquid-cooled V12 engine, 1,730 hp (1,290 kW)

Fairey Firefly Performance

  • Maximum speed: 316 mph (275 kn, 509 km/h) at 14,000 ft (4,300 m)
  • Range: 1,300 mi (1,130 nmi, 2,090 km)
  • Service ceiling: 28,000 ft (8,530 m)
  • Climb to 10,000 ft (3,050 m): 5 min 45 sec

See also, Wikipedia: Fairey Firefly,
Heritage Council of Victoria: Frankston - Fairey Firefly 2, and
Australian National Shipwreck Database: Frankston - Fairey Firefly 2.

Latitude: 38° 5.980′ S   (38.099667° S / 38° 5′ 58.8″ S)
Longitude: 145° 0.692′ E   (145.011533° E / 145° 0′ 41.52″ E)

Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2019-03-23 03:48:10 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Firefly Aircraft 1, 55 m, bearing 144°, SE

DISCLAIMER: No claim is made by The Scuba Doctor as to the accuracy of the dive site coordinates listed here. Should anyone decide to use these GPS marks to locate and dive on a site, they do so entirely at their own risk. Always verify against other sources.

The marks come from numerous sources including commercial operators, independent dive clubs, reference works, and active divers. Some are known to be accurate, while others may not be. Some GPS marks may even have come from maps using the AGD66 datum, and thus may need be converted to the WGS84 datum. To distinguish between the possible accuracy of the dive site marks, we've tried to give each mark a source of GPS, Google Earth, or unknown.

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