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In 1940, the Firebrand was conceived as a short range shipboard fighter, but unfortunately that was during a time that the radial engine was supplanting the Hhorizontal engine that was used in the early Firebrand. Several prototypes were tested and it was not until 1943 that the Admiralty found a possible use for the ill-timed fighter as a torpedo bomber because of its high load carrying abilities. The fighter was gradually transformed into a torpedo-fighter and the fuselage was widened to allow an 18-in torpedo to be loaded.
In mock dogfights against Seafires, the H-engine powered Firebrands easily outperformed them. This version of the Firebrand with the NapierSabre 24-cylinder inline was sent to No. 708 Squadron in 1944 for operational duties. However, the high performance Sabre engines were in short supply, and also the need for a radial engine, the Firebrand adopted the Bristol Centaurus radial engine, and this new version of the Firebrand was to see production and service with the RN well after the end of WW2.