8116 Flycatcher

The Fairey Flycatcher

Orange • 2016
AuthorsMatthew Willis
IllustratorChris Sandham-Bailey
Release date2016-05-25
Cat. No.8116
CategoryAvailable CategoryDostępne
FormatB5, 96 pages (16 in colour)
Price65.00 PLN Price15.00 GBP

The Fairey Flycatcher was the archetypal between-the-wars Fleet Air Arm fighter. The idiosyncratic biplane was loved by crews and public alike, despite its unlikely appearance and moderate performance, and it was famed more for its aerobatic prowess and public demonstrations than glory on the field of battle. The Flycatcher was agile yet forgiving, tough, reliable, and fully aerobatic, and, bedecked in a dazzling range of bright, colourful markings, was the perfect mount for expressing the youthful high spirits of naval pilots in the 1920s and 30s.

The Flycatcher was never engaged in a war, though it played a significant role in ‘colonial policing’ of trouble spots in the British Empire, and served the Royal Navy doing everything from tackling pirates off the Chinese coast to entertaining crowds at Schneider Trophy events with aerobatic displays.

This book is the most comprehensive on the Flycatcher yet published, with numerous photographs of the aircraft in service, several of which have never been published before, walkaround photographs of the replica built by John Fairey, illustrations from contemporary manuals, and colour artwork.


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  • speedreaders.info • 2016-10-28

    Fairey Flycatcher

    by Matthew Willis


    “If the RAF between the wars was the ‘world’s finest flying club’, then the Fleet Air Arm was unquestionably its yachting branch—and the Flycatcher was the perfect mount for expressing the youthful high spirits of its members.”


    Cute name—awkward plane, or, as the author so politely puts it, “its odd appearance seemed endearing rather than ugly.

    This single-seat biplane was never used for the purpose for which it was developed—outright war—but remained in production for a decade and was well liked by pilots although only a modest 200 were built. Its utility lay, not least, in the fact that it could be launched, in landplane configuration (read: wheels), from a patch of real estate as small as the top of a big ship’s gun turret or, in floatplane guise, be lowered overboard and launch itself.

    Followers of this publisher’s prodigious output may notice the numeral 1 on the cover, and this book is indeed the first of a new series, Orange. No matter how many examples of any one series (BlueWhiteYellow etc.) you see, it is never entirely conclusive what sets one apart from the other in terms of contents or organization. To varying degrees, all have the scale modeler in mind which often means the reader with strictly historical interests is presented with layers of detail about things that are not quite relevant to him. Absent any guidance from the publisher, and strictly extrapolating from the format of this first book in the new series one may conclude that here the approach is reversed. If you are familiar with the books by Osprey, this one has a similar flavor but a higher price point. It is illustrated with several highly detailed color profiles and b/w line art (mostly 1/48) by Chris Sandham-Bailey, a well-known name. Their captions are very specific as to paint and markings. Some of the photos are new to the record, several technical illustrations are reproduced from period manuals.

    The Flycatcher is certainly a topic that has not yet been fully exhausted in the literature. Readers from the car world will recognize the name Armstrong Siddeley and it is that firm’s Jaguar series of engines that propelled the Flycatcher.

    The introductory quote is representative of Willis’ breezy, clever writing style. If you recognize his name as that of the author of novels you’ll know why (his university thesis was on Joseph Conrad)! But, he also has a decade of nonfiction work in naval and aviation history (and, more peripherally, motorsports) under his belt. At any rate, this is a solid book, with a purpose and a plan, and when you’re done reading it you’ll indeed know why the Flycatcher belongs in the history books and you’ll also be up to speed on the single existing aircraft (which is actually a—once airworthy—replica).

    No Bibliography or Index.


    Copyright 2016, (speedreaders.info)

  • The Aviation Historian • 2016-10-13
    Flycatcher TAH
  • Scale Aviation Modeller International 08/2016 • 2016-10-03
    Scale Aviation Modeller International 2016 08 1
  • Airfix Model World 70 • 2016-09-11
    Airfix Model World 70 1
  • IPMSUSA.org • 2016-06-25

    The Fairey Flycatcher

    Published: June 24th, 2016      
    Product Image
    Author: Author- Matthew Willis; Drawings- Chris Sandham-Bailey; Plans- Dariusz Karnas
    Reviewed by: 
    Frank Landrus, IPMS# 35035
    Company: Mushroom Model Publications
    ISBN #: 8363678929
    E-Book ISBN #: 978-83-63678-92-0
    Other Publication Information: Softbound, B5 [5.9” x 8.3:], 96 pages
    Price: $35.00
    Product / Stock #: Orange 8116


    Matthew Willis was born in the historic naval town of Harwich, Essex in 1976. Matthew studied Literature and History of Science at the University of Kent, where he wrote an MA thesis on Joseph Conrad and sailed for the University in national competitions. He subsequently worked as a journalist for Autosport and F1 Racing magazines, before switching to a career with the National Health Service, where he wrote everything from press releases to consultation papers. His first non-fiction book, a history of the Blackburn Skua WW2 naval dive bomber, was published in 2007. He currently lives in Southampton with his University lecturer wife Rosalind, and writes both fiction and non-fiction for a living. This is Matthew Willis fourth book, and third with Mushroom Model Publications. He has also authored many feature articles in aviation and scale modeling magazines

    The Fairey Flycatcher was a carrier and floatplane fighter that was designed to replace the Gloster Nightjar. The Flycatcher was designed to British Specification N6/22 and made its first flight on November 28, 1922. In service trials the Flycatcher beat its only competitor, the Parnall Plover, and was ordered into production. The Flycatcher never saw combat, but did serve from 1923 to 1934.

    The Flycatcher was one of the earliest aircraft specifically designed for carrier operation and featured flaps along the entire trailing edges of both wings. This provided the Flycatcher the ability to take-off or land in only fifty yards, critical for carrier operations. The complex undercarriage could be swapped out for twin floats. The all-metal Fairey Flycatcher Mark II was first flown on October 4, 1926 but was never placed into production.

    This tome is probably the most thorough coverage on the Flycatcher yet published. The color walk-around of John Fairey’s replica captures some of the unique details of the Flycatcher. Contemporary illustrations from manuals help expand this detail. Chris Sandham-Bailey provides well captioned color side views, and a few top views. Dariusz Karnas provides 3-D drawings in 1/48 scale of the different variations along with a few scrap drawings.

    The Table of Contents includes the following sections:

    • Introduction
    • Genesis and Development
      • A Need For Renewal
      • The Competitors
      • Deck-Landing Difficulties
    • The Flycatcher in Service
      • Training the Fighter Flights
      • ‘Youthful High Spirts’
      • Take-offs and Landings
      • Protecting Shipping in China
      • Flash Points and Flashy Flying
      • Readiness for Combat
      • Policing Palestine
    • Advancing the State of the Art
      • Platforms and Catapults
      • Metal Floats and Airscrews
    • The End
    • The Only ‘Survivor’
    • Flycatcher Description
    • Flycatcher Colours
    • Flycatcher Data
    • Flycatcher in Detail
    • Colour Profiles

    Matthew Willis has delivered a great history on the Fairey Flycatcher that not only covers the development and operational history, but provides a good basis for the modeler with nice detail shots. I counted 78 black and white photographs and an additional 16 color pics. You also get 24 color plates and 25 black and white drawings. Mushroom Model Publications’ has provided a page by page preview at: http://mmpbooks.biz/ksiazki/320. Silver Wings produces a nice 1/32 Fairey Flycatcher (http://www.silverwings.pl/fairey-flycatcher.html ) and of course you have the older, but still a very fine 1/48 kit originally issued in 1968 by Inpact (and subsequently re-issued by Life-Like, Pyro, and Lindberg). In 1/72, you may still be able to find the mixed media Aeroclub kit. Karaya has issued a series of resin kits that covers the carrier, float, and amphibian versions in 1/72.

    My thanks to Mushroom Model Publications and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

    Highly recommended!

  • InterenetModeler.com • 2016-06-15

    By Chris Banyai-Riepl


    Author: Matthew Willis
    Publisher: Mushroom Model Publications
    ISBN: 978-83-63678-92-0
    Binding: Softcover
    Pages: 96

    The 1920s saw rapid evolution of aviation as nations sought to re-arm themselves after the First World War. While some designs came and went, others managed to survive a while. The Fairey Flycatcher was one of the latter designs, operating with the Royal Navy well into the 1930s. The Flycatcher was not an attractive aircraft, nor was it a hot performer, but it was solid and popular as a public demonstrator. The latest in the Mushroom Model Publications' Orange Series covers this classic British biplane in what is likely the most thorough coverage in print.

    The book begins with the origins and development of the Flycatcher, including the wheeled and float variants. Following that is the Flycatcher in service, which fills up a significant portion of the text. With the Flycatcher serving until 1932, one would think that at least one would have survived, but sadly there are no original Flycatchers. There is a replica, though, and this book provides a brief history on that airplane.

    The remainder of the book provides a construction description, Flycatcher colors, and details. These sections will be invaluable to the scale modeler, particularly the color profiles as these highlight just how colorful the Flycatcher was in service. Further adding to these are the photos spread throughout the book, making this both a great visual reference in addition to the written word.

    This is a very welcome addition to the Orange Series and a nice history on the Fairey Flycatcher that will be a good reference for the large Silver Wings 1/32 Flycatcher. Hopefully with this newfound interest we'll see a new-tool Flycatcher in 1/72. My thanks to MMP for the review copy.

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