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

  • 42
    $\begingroup$ That is a 944 cabriolet and it can really fly. $\endgroup$ – Dave Nov 30 '16 at 15:36
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Dave I am trying to find something untrue about this comment... but I simply can not $\endgroup$ – YAHsaves Sep 27 '19 at 13:58

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

enter image description here
Source: Google Maps

Fairey Gannet ECM.6

Fairey Aviation, which is well known for the famous Swordfish which bombed the Bismarck, was a manufacturer which worked a lot with the British fleet air arm.

With the role played by German and Japanese submarines during WW2, the British Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm (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.

enter image description here

The prototype first flew on 19 September 1949, it then also made the first deck landing ever by a turboprop aircraft, on HMS Illustrious in June 1950. Anti-submarine role was later taken by helicopters, and AS.4 versions were converted to ECM.6 (electronic countermeasures). The aircraft was originally designed with two seats, but a third one was later added over the wing trailing edge for a second observer:

enter image description here
Source: Gothic-Air

This disturbed the airflow over the horizontal stabilizer, requiring the addition of small finlets.

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.

XA459 RN

A total of 348 Gannet were built, this particular airframe is c/n F9311 registered XA459 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:

enter image description here Photo by Ray Barber at flickr

In 1982 at Cardiff:

enter image description here
Photo by Chris England at ABPic

From Stephen Metcalf's page:

XA459 was built as an AS.4 but had a short career, joining 814 NAS in March 1957 and being grounded in June the same year after a sonobuoy failed to release properly and damaged the rear fuselage. Repaired by October 1958, she was flown to the Aircraft Holding Unit at Abbotsinch and not re-issued to a squadron. She was then flown to NARIU at Lee-on-Solent and converted to an ECM.6 before being issued to 831 NAS at Culdrose in May 1961. She finished her active career with the same unit in 1966, by now based at RAF Watton. Initially used as a ground instructional airframe at Lee and later Culdrose, she was then used by the School of Aircraft Handlers also at Culdrose before being earmarked for preservation and dismantled in late 1978 ready for a move to a museum [...]
Continue reading on the original site.

Full history from South Wales Aviation Group:

29/12/56 at Ringway as AS.4 - dd 15/01/57 to RDU Anthorn - 814 NAS Culdrose 04/03/57 - AR Culdrose 13/06/57 - AHU Culdrose 12/11/57 - AHU Abbotsinch 18/10/58 - NARIU Lee-on-Solent converted to ECM.6 - 831 NAS Culdrose 02/05/61 "-/274", "CU/394" - NARIU Lee-on-Solent 28/10/63 - 831 NAS Watton 09/04/64 "R/394", "R/396" - total flying hours 1005.05 - to GIA AES Lee-on-Solent 21/07/66 - to NASU Culdrose 09/07/68 - SoC 18/11/70 - to SAH Culdrose - A2608 31/11/70 - wfu & dismantled by 23/11/78 - to WAM by road 04/04/79 - sometime coded "E/-" - to Gloucester area late 89, damaged going under low bridge enroute - auctioned 08/11/90 - to Cirencester, Gloucs - to Lambourn, Berks 99 - to Woodlands St Mary, Berks - to White Waltham, Berks 05/11/06 - current.

Current location: White Waltham

Stored at White Waltham airfield since 2006:

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here
Photos by Renegade53 at ipernity


  • Fairey Gannet, White Waltham Airfield (link)
  • Warpaint Series 23 (link)
  • The Info List (link)

Update on February 6th 2020:

Due to the minimal reputation required to post a comment, this interesting information was posted yesterday as an answer now deleted by reviewers, by Ian Meredith who created an account for this purpose:

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

Thanks Ian, this is good news.

  • 46
    $\begingroup$ Very impressive that you found not only the type of plane, but the actual plane in the picture. Nicely done. $\endgroup$ – Michael Seifert Nov 30 '16 at 20:49
  • 12
    $\begingroup$ 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 Dec 1 '16 at 7:05
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ 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 Dec 1 '16 at 15:43
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ how in the seven heavens did you find the specific airframe? $\endgroup$ – E.P. Dec 2 '16 at 1:19
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ This answer deserves to commemorated in the Hall of Good Answers $\endgroup$ – Code Whisperer Dec 4 '16 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.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The Double Mamba?!?!? MegaMind would LOVE this!!!!! $\endgroup$ – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Nov 30 '16 at 17:29
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ And there is one left flying Gannet, AKA "Janet" $\endgroup$ – Gerry Nov 30 '16 at 18:00
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ That is without a doubt the ugliest airplane I have ever seen. $\endgroup$ – Carlo Felicione Nov 30 '16 at 19:04

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

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Has two engines also. $\endgroup$ – LuftBier Nov 30 '16 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 Feb 8 '19 at 4:48

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




Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.