The Fairey Huntress is Alan Burnard’s elegant design based on the Hunt 23 foot hull, which was to set the style for the whole Fairey powerboat marque which followed.
The first boat was called Rumble, built for Sir Max Aitken. Described as a ‘seagoing sports cruiser’ in the brochures, and like the Christinas, the Huntress was essentially a dayboat with a large cockpit and a two berth cuddy for overnighting. There was provision for a simple galley shelf with a marine wc set forward under the berths, but the cabin had only sitting rather than standing headroom. The long cockpit has the distinctive coamings which continue the cabin sides in a gentle convex curve almost to the transom.
The helm is to port, behind the elegant curved perspex screen, but the engine box occupies the centre of the cockpit, the helm and companion seats spanning from it to the coamings. A full width seat is aft, with a 50 gallon fuel tank under. The transom steps both mask the outside rudder post and act as a cavitation plate above the rudder.
The boats for the Royal Navy had extra fittings including chains for lifting to davits, a standing base and hand rails for an officer, plus demountable access steps each side in the cockpit. The layout of the spray rails evolved several times during the production life of the boats.
The first few Huntresses like Rumble had a small cockpit with seat set into the foredeck, protected by a windscreen – the so called ‘thrill seat’. They were powered by 215hp Ford Dearborn V8 petrol engines on a single shaft.
Twin diesels were fitted to almost all of the Huntsman 28s, and for economy the Huntress followed, initially with the 100hp Perkins S6M diesel, later with the 145hp Perkins T6.354.
Huntress variations included various longer cabins and overall hull lengths of 23, 25 and 26 feet. Hulls destined to have outdrives usually had flat ply transoms. Many hulls were completed by other boatbuilders and private individuals.
The production lists show a total of 240 hulls, of which only 28 were finished as Huntresses by Fairey. Some hulls were were moulded at 25 and 26 feet long, using the extension to the buck added for the Huntsman 28.
An additional 48 hulls were completed as naval and patrol boats, some by other yards. There were also a few Huntress 26s built by Fairey, with a single diesel and Huntsman style cabins.
A further 26 hull shells were sold as unfinished and kits, and 23 hulls as shells for completion by others. The remainder comprised 86 Dell Quay Rangers and 19 Christinas.