In 1930 the Belgian Aéronautique Militaire wanted to find a replacement for the obsolete Bréguet 19 in the observation/bomber role to no avail.
However, some time later the Belgian engineer and co-founder of Fairey Aviation Company Ernest Oscar Tips presented the Fairey Fox IIM prototype to Belgian authorities at Evere. The presentation convinced the Belgians to order 12 Fox IIMs, however with the more powerful Kestrel IIS engine, where it was now designated as the Fairey Fox II in Belgium.
From there onwards, many variants were produced in Belgium, including the Fox IIIC
Fairey Fox? Isn’t that British?
While the Fairey company is British (even though it was co-founded by a Belgian engineer as stated earlier), the Fairey Fox is more Belgian than you would think!
First of all, Belgium was one of the biggest user and producer of the Fox (probably the biggest, but i don’t have the numbers to prove it), the Fox’s designer, Marcel Lobelle, was Belgian and most of the Fox variants were built in Belgium, by Belgium and for Belgium. Fairey even had a subsidiary in Belgium, Avions Fairey
All of this leads me to suggest the Fox as a Belgian plane, but only the variants built and used by Belgium!
The Fairey Fox IIIC:
Fairey Fox IIIC
The Fox IIIC is the third Fairey Fox variant that is specific to Belgium, being based on the Fox III. The first Fox III was made on December 28th 1933 and its only major difference with the Fox II is an additional 7.62 mm FN-Browning machine gun, giving it a total of 3 machine guns including the one for the rear gunner. This Fairey Fox III is not to be confused with the British Fox III designation, which is actually a trainer variant fitted with a different engine! The Belgian Fox III simply doubled its offensive firepower, with a machine gun on either side of the fuselage.
Now the Fairey Fox IIIC (“C” for Combat) was created in mid-1934 and had a few important changes over the standard Fox III. It now had to perform a secondary light bomber role on top of its primary reconnaissance and army co-operation tasks. For this, it retained the Kestrel IIS engine and the two FN-Browning machine guns, but could carry four 25 kg bombs under the wings and was fitted with a glass canopy over the cockpit.
The last 12 produced Fox IIICs (last few that i will refer to as the Fox IIIC late) also had a different engine, the fully supercharged Kestrel V engine with a maximum output of 640 hp, a massive improvement over the 480 hp of the previous versions.
Engine: Rolls-Royce Kestrel IIS (480 hp) or Kestrel V (640 hp, IIIC late)
Wingspan: 11.58 m
Length: 9.09 m
Height: 3.51 m
Wing area: 33.6 m²
Loaded weight: 2116 kg
Wing loading: 63 kg/m² - Est. Turn time: 13 s
Max speed: 304 km/h at 5000m (est. 350 km/h w/ IIIC late)
Armament: 2 × 7.62 mm FN-Browning machine guns (ammo: 500) and 1 × 7.62 mm FN-Browning machine guns (ammo: 250) in the rear
Payload: 4 × 25 kg bombs
Service ceiling: 8800 m
This would make for a decent reserve biplane for a future BeNeLux tree, or an event vehicle for Britain or France. It wouldn’t play any differently than any biplane in any nation, but i figured it’d be nice to suggest it as it was the Belgian Air Force’s main aircraft. If anything, it’s like a slightly slower Fury with better machine guns. Indeed, the FN-Browning is already present on the Fokker aircraft in the Swedish tree, chambered in a slightly different caliber. Its high rate of fire and decent incendiary rounds should make short work of other poorly armored biplanes!
“Fighters” by William Green
“1939-1940 / La bataille de France, Volume VII: L’Aéronautique militaire Belge”, Icare