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Fairey Campania

Fairey F.22 Campania N1006 at Calshot, England
Role Carrier-borne patrol and reconnaissance aircraft
Manufacturer Fairey Aviation
First flight 16 February 1917
Retired August 1919
Primary users Royal Naval Air Service
Royal Air Force
Number built 62[1]

The Fairey Campania was a British ship-borne, patrol and reconnaissance aircraft of the First World War and Russian Civil War. It was a single-engine, two-seat biplane with twin main floats and backward-folding wings. The Campania was the first aeroplane ever designed specifically for carrier operations.[1]


The Royal Navy was an early leader in carrier aviation and, in the autumn of 1914, purchased the liner Campania for conversion into a seaplane carrier. Operating seaplanes required the carrier to stop to hoist the aircraft out- and in-board by crane, leaving the ship exceedingly vulnerable to U-Boat attacks; this technique fell into disfavour with the Admiralty, who began to seek alternatives.[2] By the middle of 1916, Campania had been fitted with a 200 ft (61 m) flight deck forward and experiments were being carried out in launching aircraft from this.[1] Against this background, the Admiralty issued a specification for a purpose-built, two-seat patrol and reconnaissance aircraft.

The aircraft that Fairey Aviation designed in response first flew on 16 February 1917. It was a single-engined tractor biplane of fabric-covered wooden construction. The two-bay wings folded rearwards for storage. The crew of two sat in separate cockpits, with the observer's cockpit provided with a single Lewis gun on a Scarff ring[3] This was the first of two prototypes, designated F.16 and powered by a 250 hp (190 kW) Rolls-Royce Eagle IV. The second, powered by an Eagle V of 275 hp (205 kW), was designated F.17. Both prototypes would later see active service operating from Scapa Flow.[1]

Operational history

Trials proving satisfactory, the type went into production and service. Most of the F.17s shipped aboard the carriers HMS Campania, HMS Nairana and HMS Pegasus; the first aircraft joined Campania and the type took its name from her. Only Campania possessed a flight deck; Campanias operated from this using jettisonable, wheeled bogies fitted to the floats. The aircraft in the other ships took off from the water in the normal way.

The 27 F.22s operated from Royal Naval Air Service air stations. The Campania had an undistinguished career, but performed useful work as a spotter aeroplane. In all, 100 aircraft were ordered, but only 62 were completed.[1]

On 1 August 1918, during the North Russia Campaign in support of the British intervention in the Russian Civil War, Campanias from Nairana participated in what was probably the first fully combined air, sea, and land military operation in history, joining Allied ground forces and ships in driving Bolsheviks out of their fortifications on Modyugski Island at the mouth of the Northern Dvina River in Russia, then scouting ahead of the Allied force as it proceeded up the channel to Arkhangelsk. The appearance of one of the Campanias over Arkhangelsk induced the Bolshevik leaders there to panic and flee.[4] Campanias from Nairana then operated against the Bolsheviks from Arkhangelsk,[1] as well as against the White Finnish defensive positions in Uhtua in the autumn of 1918 from Kem.[5]

The Campania was declared obsolete in August 1919.


  • F.16 - 250 hp (190 kW) Rolls-Royce Eagle IV
  • F.17 - 275 hp (205 kW) Rolls-Royce Eagle V or 345 hp (257 kW) Eagle III
  • F.22 - 260 hp (194 kW) Sunbeam Maori II


 United Kingdom

Specifications (F.22)

Data from Fairey Aircraft since 1915[6]

General characteristics
  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 43 ft 1 in (13.11 m)
  • Wingspan: 61 ft 7 in (18.77 m)
  • Height: 15 ft 1 in (4.59 m)
  • Wing area: 674.6 ft² (62.3 m²)
  • Empty weight: 3,672 lb (1,669 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 5,329 lb (2,422 kg)
  • Useful load: 666 lb (303 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Sunbeam Maori II water cooled V-12 engine, 260 hp (194 kW)


  • Guns: 1 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis Gun on Scarff ring in rear cockpit
  • Bombs: Up to 6 × 116 lb (53 kg) bombs under wings and fuselage.

See also

Related lists




  • Bruce, J.M. "Fairey Campania". Air Pictorial, May 1963. pp. 142–145.
  • Taylor, H.A. Fairey Aircraft since 1915. London:Putnam, 1988. ISBN 0-370-00065-X.
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