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Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

Research project: The life of Sir Richard Fairey (1887-1956), aircraft designer and industrialist

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In July 2013 Professor Adrian Smith began a major three-year project on the British aviation industry, building upon previously published research.

In July 2013 Professor Adrian Smith began a major three-year project on the British aviation industry, building upon previously published research.  Private funding of £41,000 is facilitating the biography of the aircraft (and marine) designer, industrialist, diplomat, philanthropist, and pioneer conservationist Sir Richard Fairey.  Until his death in 1956 - the year Fairey Aviation's delta-winged FD2 became the first aeroplane to fly at over 1000mph - Sir Richard headed one of Britain's largest and most innovative aircraft companies.  He also founded Fairey Marine, reflecting his accomplishments as a J-class yachtsman whose challenge for the America's Cup was thwarted by the Second World War.  Representing the Ministry of Aircraft Production in wartime Washington followed Fairey's earlier mission to Moscow, seeking sales and advising on the expansion of aircraft production at the onset of Stalin's first Five Year Plan; in consequence the project involves  archive work in the United States, and possibly also in Russia.  Tranches of Sir Richard's papers will be transferred temporarily from the Fleet Air Arm Museum to the Special Collections, with a website enabling access to galleries of pictorial and documentary material, a blog, and a family home page.  Because of Sir Richard Fairey's close association with the sea, as well as Fairey Aviation's historic partnership with the Fleet Air Arm, the project is being undertaken under the umbrella of the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute, in partnership with the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

Visit The Sir Richard Fairey Biography Blog.

Sir Richard Fairey’s most iconic aircraft
The Fairey Swordfish
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