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 VIR
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 VIR:
Fairey Fox VIR
The Fairey Fox VIR (“R” for Reconnaissance) has the most complicated story of all the Fox variants.
In summary, it was first named “Fox IV” on December 31st 1934. It is a Belgian-built Fox II fitted with a 860 hp Hispano-Suiza 12Ybrs engine, a massive improvement compared to the previous Kestrel engines. After a few trials in Belgium, it was loaned to Britain after they fitted the Fox IV with the same canopy found on the Fox IIIC and there it was fitted with streamlined spats enclosing the landing gears, temporarily becoming the Fox V.
After some testing at Hayes, it was returned to Belgium where the wheel spats were removed and a Hispano-Suiza 12Ydrs was installed in place of the 12Ybrs, giving it more horsepower at sea level, then finally becoming the Fox VIR.
In summary, the Fairey Fox VIR is a Fox II fitted with a Hispano-Suiza 12Ydrs, massively improving acceleration, handling and max speed, and the same canopy found on the Fairey Fox IIIC was installed.
The armament consisted of two 7.62 mm FN-Browning machine guns in the front and an additional two for the rear gunner. It also could carry four 25 kg bombs.
Engine: Hispano-Suiza 12Ydrs (860 hp)
Wingspan: 11.58 m
Length: 9.09 m
Height: 3.51 m
Wing area: 33.6 m²
Loaded weight: 2345 kg
Wing loading: 70 kg/m² - Est. Turn time: 13 s
Max speed: 365 km/h at 4000m
Climb rate: 12.8 m/s
Armament: 2 × 7.62 mm FN-Browning machine guns (ammo: 500) and 2 × 7.62 mm FN-Browning machine guns (ammo: 500) in the rear
Payload: 4 × 25 kg bombs
Service ceiling: 8800 m
In game it could be a nice reserve for a future BeNeLux tree or an event vehicle to France or Great Britain, its improved speed and handling over previous Fox models and an additional rear machine gun certainly give it a welcome boost in performance while four little bombs can be used in self defence in mixed battles against annoying SPAA or light tanks.
Otherwise, it’s a standard reserve biplane, not especially different than any other biplane.
“Fighters” by William Green
“1939-1940 / La bataille de France, Volume VII: L’Aéronautique militaire Belge”, Icare