I noticed this plane in the background of this car advert. Can anyone identify it? I'm assuming that may have been used on an aircraft carrier, hence the elaborate folding wings?

enter image description here

  • 55
    $\begingroup$ That is a 944 cabriolet and it can really fly. $\endgroup$
    – Dave
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 15:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Dave I am trying to find something untrue about this comment... but I simply can not $\endgroup$
    – YAHsaves
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 13:58

4 Answers 4


Fairey Gannet ECM.6, c/n F9311, stored at White Waltham Airfield in the county of Berkshire in England. This place is incidentally where the Fairey Aviation Company built and test-flew the Gannet. An aerial picture from Google Maps:

Farey Gannet XA 459 at White Waltham Airfield

Farey Gannet XA 459 at White Waltham Airfield. Google Maps

In Feb. 2020 the aircraft was Finally moved to Solway Aviation Museum to be heavily restored for public display. The museum published at this time this video about the history of Farey Gannet in general and this airframe in particular.

The wings can be folded in order to park the aircraft on a carrier deck, or on its storage areas. Unfolding the wings (video).

Fairey Gannet ECM.6

Fairey Aviation was a manufacturer which worked a lot with the British Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm (FAA). With the role played by German and Japanese submarines during WW2, the FAA reinforced its anti-submarine warfare. Fairey Aviation developed the carrier-borne Type Q, later renamed Gannet version AS.1 quickly upgraded to a more powerful AS.4.

Fairey Gannet AS.4

Fairey Gannet AS.4. Source

The prototype first flew on 19 September 1949 and made the first deck landing ever by a turboprop aircraft, on HMS Illustrious in June 1950. The anti-submarine role was later taken by helicopters, and AS.4 versions were converted for electronic countermeasures (ECM.6). A third seat was later added over the wing trailing edge for a second observer. This disturbed the airflow over the horizontal stabilizer, requiring the addition of small finlets:

Fairey Gannet ECM.6 with three seats

Fairey Gannet ECM.6 with three seats. Source: Gothic-Air

Fairey Gannet landing on HMAS Melbourne

Fairey Gannet landing on Australian HMAS Melbourne. Picture David Tomkinson, source

The Fairey Gannet was powered by a dual Armstrong Siddely Mamba, driving two contra-rotating propellers. One engine could be shut down in flight to conserve fuel if required:

Fairey Gannet with one engine shut down

Fairey Gannet with one engine shut down, source

XA 459 RN

A total of 348 Gannet were built, this particular airframe is c/n F9311 registered XA 459 RN for the Royal Navy. It entered 814 NAS in March 1957 as AS.4. Here at RNAS Culdrose in 1976, after it was converted into ECM.6:

Fairey Gannet ECM.6 at RNAS Culdrose, 1976

Fairey Gannet ECM.6 at RNAS Culdrose, 1976. Photo by Ray Barber at flickr

The aircraft was decommissioned in 1978 and later displayed at Wales Aircraft Museum (Cardiff EGFF):

Fairey Gannet ECM.6 at Wales Aircraft Museum, 1982

Fairey Gannet ECM.6 at Wales Aircraft Museum, 1982. Photo by Chris England at ABPic

The museum was disbanded in 1996. The Gannet was then acquired by private individuals in order to restore it. However tragical events prevented the restoration. It was finally bought by White Waltham airfield in 2006.

White Waltham from 2006 to Feb. 2020

XA 459 at White Waltham

XA 459 at White Waltham. Photo by Renegade53 at ipernity

XA 459 at White Waltham

XA 459 at White Waltham. Photo by Jon Wickenden at Flicr

Ian Meredith told us in February 2020 the Gannet was moving to a new place:

Tonight the Gannet and its spare engine(s?) was aboard a low loader for a UK museum. A place of restoration, a place in the dry.

This place is the Solway Aviation Museum at Carlisle Lake District Airport. On the move:

Fairey Gannet XA 459 moving to Solway Aviation Museum, Feb 2020

Fairey Gannet XA 459 moving to its new place, Feb 2020. Source.

Solway Aviation Museum since 2020

More about the aircraft:

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    $\begingroup$ Very impressive that you found not only the type of plane, but the actual plane in the picture. Nicely done. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 20:49
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    $\begingroup$ shame to see an aircraft left to deteriorate so badly, especially one earmarked for a museum. At the very least put a tarp or some other shelter over it... $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 7:05
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    $\begingroup$ Wow, fantastic. I am very impressed that you answered both my question and all the questions that I hadn't even thought about asking until now! Thanks for your time. $\endgroup$
    – tallpaul
    Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 15:43
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    $\begingroup$ how in the seven heavens did you find the specific airframe? $\endgroup$
    – E.P.
    Commented Dec 2, 2016 at 1:19
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    $\begingroup$ This answer deserves to commemorated in the Hall of Good Answers $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 13:02

The aircraft is the Fairey Gannet. It can be identified easily by its distinctive Z-shaped double folding wings, which makes it extremely compact for storage aboard aircraft carriers. The image below shows the aircraft with the wings unfolded.

Fairey Gannet

Fairey Gannet T.2 (XA508) in Midland Air Museum; image from plane-crazy.k-hosting.co.uk

The aircraft was used primarily by RN as an ASW aircraft (which appears to be the version in question), though it was also used in other roles like AEW, COD etc. The aircraft also has distinctive contra-rotating propellers driven by Armstrong Siddeley Double Mamba engine, which is basically two Mambas mounted side-by-side and coupled through a common gearbox to coaxial contra-rotating propellers.

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    $\begingroup$ The Double Mamba?!?!? MegaMind would LOVE this!!!!! $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ And there is one left flying Gannet, AKA "Janet" $\endgroup$
    – Gerry
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 18:00
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    $\begingroup$ That is without a doubt the ugliest airplane I have ever seen. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 19:04

It's a Fairey Gannet. British airplane used for anti submarine warfare

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    $\begingroup$ Has two engines also. $\endgroup$
    – LuftBier
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ @LuftBier it doesn't. It's a single engine that's built out of bolting 2 smaller engines together. Was done more often at the time, the Germans started doing it for their largest bombers in WW2. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 4:48

It looks like a Fairey Gannet to me, but I'm not 100% certain.




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