The Fairey Flycatcher

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Author- Matthew Willis; Drawings- Chris Sandham-Bailey; Plans- Dariusz Karnas
Other Publication Information
Softbound, B5 [5.9” x 8.3:], 96 pages
Product / Stock #
Orange 8116
Product Picture

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: Silver Wings produces a nice 1/32 Fairey Flycatcher ( ) 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!


Add new comment

All comments are moderated to prevent spam

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.