BIRTH OF THE
AUSTRALIAN 'DAP' BEAUFIGHTER Mk.21
DAP - Department of Aircraft Production [Australia]
Australians had assembled the British made Beaufighters from parts and designated with an airframe prefix number of "A19", such as A19-141. However it was a risky and time consuming business shipping these to Australia by sea.
The (DAP) in Australia decided to build its own and this was designated an airframe prefix of "A8". Unlike the other Beaufighters it appears more often referenced as 'Mk.21', rather than using Roman numerals.
It was also feared that the powerplants would be in short supply, so the DAP decided to fit the Wright GR-2600-A5B Cyclone engines. In fact, it turned out that the supply of Hercules powerplants were sufficient and although tests were done with Cyclone, Hercules remained the powerplant.
It was both swift and fast, and changes included Hercules CVII engines, a dihedral tailplane, four 20 mm in the nose, four Browning .50 in the wings and the capacity to carry eight five-inch High-Velocity Aircraft Rockets (HVAR), two 250 lb bombs, two 500 lb bombs and one Mk13 torpedo.
Further developments of the DAP Beaufighter resulted in this version: the six × 0.303 inch (7.7 mm) guns were replaced by four × 0.50 inch (12 mm) guns, and a provision was made for a Sperry autopilot. The torpedo hardpoints and radar were removed. The British built Beaufighters assembled in Australia had airframes numbers starting with "A19", such as A19-141. However the DAP Beaufighters commenced with "A8" as in A8-30. The DAP production were generally green, although silver was also used at close of the war and post war era. The last Beaufighter to fly for the RAAF was A8-327 and it is now located at the Moorabbin Air Museum, Victoria, Australia.
Number DAP Beaufighters built: 365
NB. In addition to the 365 produced, a few extra that were not officially completed were sold off after the war as scrap and at least 1 of these, A8-386, survives as a complete aircraft today.