Avro 694 Lincoln

Early production Avro 694 Lincoln RA638 on flight test in August 1945.

Although the Avro Lancaster was still the spearhead of Bomber Command’s offensive power in 1943, the Air Ministry drew up specification B14/43 to cover its replacement. Known originally as the Lancaster IV, Avro’s new design was for a long-range high-altitude development of the earlier aircraft, to be powered by Rolls-Royce Merlin 85 engines.

A number of Lancaster components were used, but the extent of the changes was such that the machine became identified as the Type 694 Lincoln. A new wing of increased span and higher aspect ratio was fitted to a longer fuselage, heavier armament was to be carried and, as gross weight rose, a stronger landing gear was required. The unarmed first prototype was flown by Captain H. A. Brown at Ringway, Manchester, on 9 .June 1944 and four days later was delivered to Boscombe Down for service trials. A Martin dorsal turret was later added, although this was to be replaced by a Bristol turret in the other prototypes and production Lincolns. The second prototype was flown on 13 November 1944 and plans were made to produce a total of 2,254 aircraft by Avro at Chadderton and Yeadon, by Metropolitan Vickers at Trafford Park, and by Armstrong Whitworth’s factories at Baginton and Bitteswell. In fact, British production totalled three prototypes, 72 Mk Is and 465 Mk IIs: the last of the 168 Avro-built Lincolns was delivered in the spring of 1946 and the last of 299 from Armstrong Whitworth’s line on 5 April 1951. In 1947, 40 aircraft were exported to Argentina and remained in service with the Argentine Air Force until 1967. 12 of these aircraft were diverted from RAF orders with the remaining 18 being new-built aircraft manufactured by Armstrong Whitworth. One Mk XV was completed by Victory Aircraft in Canada and the Government Aircraft Factory in Australia produced 43 Mk 30s and 30 Mk 30As. In 1951 20 Australian aircraft were fitted with a 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) nose extension to house two radar operators and their equipment, with the designation Mk 31.

Three prototypes and 162 production Lincoln bombers were built by Avro in Manchester with a further 6 at Yeadon, 80 at Metropolitan-Vickers and 229 at Armstrong Whitworth in Coventry (18 of these being for export to Argentina).  In addition, 73 were constructed by the Australian Government Aircraft Factory in Melbourne with a further single example being built by Victory Aircraft Ltd in Canada.

The first Australian Lincoln B.Mk 30 built by the Beaufort Division of the Department of Aircraft Construction, flew on 17th March 1946.

Around a dozen Lincolns acted as engine flying test beds for the Armstrong Siddeley Python, Bristol Phoebus, Theseus and Proteus engines as well as the Napier Naiad and Rolls-Royce Derwent. 2 aircraft (RF342/G-36-3/G-APRJ/G-29-1 and RF402/G-APRP) were used extensively for icing trials conducted by Napier Ltd, flying with test aircraft wing sections mounted sail-like on the upper fuselage behind a spray rig. RF342 was used in support of types including the Beverley, Caravelle, Britannia and Comet.

The major user, however, was the Royal Air Force and production Lincoln B. Is were delivered from February 1945. By VE-Day about 50 had been test flown and delivered to maintenance units or to specialist organisations such as the Telecommunications Flying Unit at Defford, the Aircraft Torpedo Development Unit at Gosport, to Rolls-Royce at Hucknall for engine trials and, of course, to Boscombe Down. The Bomber Development Unit at Feltwell received its first Lincolns on 21 May 1945 and the first RAF squadron. No. 57 at East Kirby, received an initial allocation of three Lincoln B. IIs for its Lincoln Trials Flight in August 1945. The B. II was powered by Merlin 66 or 68 engines and was fitted with the Bristol B17 dorsal turret, Boulton Paul ‘D’ rear turret, and Mk IIIG H2S radar.

The surrender of the Japanese and the disbandment of the “Tiger Force” destined for the Pacific, coupled with delays in getting the Lincoln into service, meant that the type was not used operationally during World War II, although it was to see the RAF into the jet era, operating in Malaya and Kenya until it was replaced by the Canberra. The last was withdrawn in 1963. The last operational use of the Avro Lincoln by the Argentenian Air Force in 1967 where after they were retired.


Avro Type 694

    Prototypes to Air Ministry Specification 14/43, three-built

Lincoln I

    Long-range bomber version for the RAF. Powered by four 1,750 hp (1,305 kW) Rolls-Royce Merlin 85 inline piston engines.

Lincoln II

    Long-range bomber version for the RAF. Powered by four Rolls-Royce Merlin 66, 68A and 300 inline piston engines. Built by Avro, Armstrong-Whitworth and Vickers-Metropolitan

Lincoln III

    The Lincoln III was intended to be a maritime reconnaissance, anti-submarine warfare aircraft. The aircraft later became the Avro Shackleton.

Lincoln IV

    Lincoln II converted to Merlin 85 power.

Lincoln Mk 15 (B Mk XV)

    This designation was given to one aircraft, built by Victory Aircraft in Canada.

Lincoln Mk 30

    Long-range bomber version for the RAAF.

Lincoln Mk 30A

    Long-range bomber version for the RAAF, fitted with a longer nose and Merlin 102s.

Lincoln Mk 31 (GR 31)

    General reconnaissance version of Mk.30 for the RAAF, fitted with a longer nose. Four Rolls-Royce Merlin 85 or 1,650 h.p. Merlin 102 powerplants.

Lincoln MR 31

    Anti-submarine warfare/maritime reconnaissance version of Mk 31 for the RAAF.

Avro 695 Lincolnian

    Transport derivative similar to the Avro Lancastrian

Lincoln ASR.3.

    Initial designation of the Avro Shackleton, which was based on the Lincoln.

Specifications (Lincoln I)

General characteristics

    Crew: 7 (pilot, flight engineer/co-pilot, navigator, wireless operator, front gunner/bomb aimer, dorsal and rear gunners)

    Length: 78 ft 3½ in (23.86 m)

    Wingspan: 120 ft (36.58 m)

    Height: 17 ft 3½ in (5.27 m)

    Wing area: 1,421 ft² (132.01 m²)

    Empty weight: 43,400 lb (19,686 kg)

    Loaded weight: 75,000 lb (34,020 kg)

    Max. takeoff weight: 82,000 lb [22] (37,195 kg)

    Powerplant: 4 × Rolls-Royce Merlin 85 V piston engine, 1,750 hp (1,305 kW) each


    Maximum speed: 319 mph (513 km/h) at 18,800 (5,730 m)

    Cruise speed: 215 mph (346 km/h) at 20,000 ft (6,096 m)

    Range: 2,930 mi (4,714 km) with maximum bomb-load 1,470 miles (2,365 km)

    Service ceiling: 30,500 ft (9,296 m)

    Rate of climb: 800 ft/min (245 m/min)


    Guns: 2 × .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns in nose and tail turrets, and dorsal turret with either twin .50 in machine guns or twin 20 mm Hispano cannon.

    Bombs: Up to 14,000 lb (6,400 kg) of bombs [5] (normal maximum). Exceptionally one 22,000 lb (10,000 kg) DP bomb.

USAAF Blue and Yellow Period









The Boeing P-26 became the standard single-seat pursuit plane in the mid-1930s. General Andrews, as previously mentioned, assigned these aircraft to the 1st and 20th Pursuit Groups when he became Commanding General, GHQ Air Force. The Air Corps had already announced competition for designing new planes. Seversky won a contract in May 1936 for 77 P-36. Shortly afterwards, the Air Corps ordered 3 P-36s from Curtiss for testing and the following year placed an order for 210 P-36As. The P-35 and P-36 were the first single-seat pursuit planes with enclosed cockpits and retractable landing gear available to Air Force units. They cost a lot more but performed much better than the P-26s.”

The 1st Pursuit Group got the P-35s, the first arriving at Selfridge Field, Michigan, at the end of December 1937. All three pursuit groups in the United States accepted P-36As after deliveries to Air Force units commenced in September 1938. When the first P-36 reached Barksdale Field, Louisiana, the 20th Group reported it soon would be “flying on silver wings instead of the old faithful blue and yellow.”79 Since adoption of chrome yellow for wings and tails in 1927, fuselage coloring had changed from olive drab to light blue. Besides, squadrons now used identifying coloring on their aircraft. Orange paint on a motor cowling at Selfridge Field, for instance, identified the plane as belonging to the 27th Pursuit Squadron; red indicated the 94th Pursuit Squadron. Upon receiving all-metal aircraft, the Air Corps continued to paint them yellow and blue until 1937.

The Peashooter was 23 feet 7 inches long, and its wing spanned 28 feet. The fighter weighed 2,271 pounds empty and just over 3,000 pounds loaded. It was armed with two synchronized machine guns in the floor of the cockpit, either two .30 calibers or one .30 and one .50 caliber. The plane also could carry up to 200 pounds of bombs in a rack under the fuselage. The Peashooter appeared at the height of the Depression, when the various branches of the military were competing for the limited funds available from the government. Many people still did not take military aviation seriously, and the Army Air Corps was anxious to show off its capabilities in the hope of gaining public support for expanding the service. As a result, the mid-1930s became arguably the most colorful period in American aviation history.

The standard finish applied to Army aircraft included chrome-yellow wings and tail and a blue fuselage. The rudder was painted with a blue vertical stripe on the leading edge and 13 horizontal alternating red and white stripes on the trailing edge. There were also colored stripes on the wings and fuselage, denoting the individual aircraft’s position in its flight, squadron and group. In addition, squadrons and groups added their own dazzling markings to their planes. Aircraft in many of the regular service squadrons during the 1930s were decorated more elaborately than any military aircraft since, with the possible exception of those operated by special aerobatic units. Particularly flamboyant were the P-26s flown by the 17th Pursuit Group at March Field in Southern California, which consisted of the 34th, 73rd and 95th Pursuit squadrons. The 34th Pursuit Squadron members were the original “Thunderbirds,” and their P-26s bore that famous insignia 13 years before the U.S. Air Force was created.

Only two P-26 Peashooters exist in collections today — one at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum and the other in the collection of the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, California. The U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, has a full-scale reproduction incorporating as many real P-26 components as possible. The P-26A on display is painted in the markings (c.1933-39) of the 19th Pursuit Squadron, 18th Pursuit Group, based at Wheeler Field, Hawaii. The Light Blue fuselage and Chrome Yellow wings were standard for the 1934-1938 time period, although Olive Drab was an accepted alternate color for the fuselage.

Blu and Yella

The use of two color schemes, Light Blue for trainers, and Olive Drab for tactical aircraft, caused logistical headaches for Air Corps maintenance facilities. Quantities of O.D. and Light Blue paints were required in stock at all time. Another problem was the need to know an aircraft’s ultimate destination before paint could be applied: examples of many aircraft served in the training roles, and thus could require blue fuselages.

The solution, as recommended by the Chief of the Material Division in January 1934, was to standardize one paint scheme for all aircraft, regardless of role. His choice was Light Blue fuselages and Yellow wings and tails, reasoning that high visibility was essential for trainers, while temporary water paint camouflages made the lower-contrast Olive Drab for tactical aircraft unnecessary. Stocks of Olive Drab were at the reorder point, making a timely decision that much more important, and in February the recommendation was approved by the Chief of the Air Corps. Revised specifications and T.O’s were printed in May, and shortly afterward, tactical aircraft were noted with Light Blue fuselages.

Overnight repainting of the entire inventory was not suggested, and certainly did not occur: the added burden on depots would have been far too expensive. Instead as aircraft went through periodic depot overhaul, old paint was to be replaced with a fresh coat of Light Blue. It took several years for the process to be completed.

Black and white photos give the impression that several hues of Light Blue were being applied by the Air Corps. Although several shades of Light Blue were used, they did not vary as much as photographs would indicate. Tonal shifts of contemporary films are the root of the confusion; the two standard films of the day either lightened (Orthochromatic) or darkened (Panchromatic) any blues photographed. Light Blue appears so dark on Panchromatic film that is often difficult to tell from Drab Olive.

Misinterpretation of black and white photos may have led to the contention that a light green paint was used by the Air Corps in the mid-‘30s. Certainly, records of this period do not support this, and those fuselages alleged to be light green were probably light blue.

Hawker Tornado

Orthographic projection of the second prototype Tornado, with the distinctive “beard” radiator, modified tail and fitted for four cannons. Inset profile of the first prototype in the original configuration looking very much like an enlarged Hurricane.

Hawker’s proposals for a Hurricane replacement comprised two alternative projects, one with a Napier Sabre engine, known initially as the Type N, and the other with a Rolls-Royce Vulture, referred to as Type R. The former later became the Typhoon and the latter the Tornado, both developed to Air Ministry Specification F. 18/37 which called for a high performance single-seat fighter with 12 0.303-in (7.7-mm) machine-guns. It was to have a minimum speed of 400 mph (644 km/hi at 15,000 ft (4570 m), and a service ceiling of 35,000 feet (10 670 ml.

Two prototypes of each design were ordered on 3 March 1938, both structurally similar the major differences being dictated by the characteristics of the respective engines. The front fuselage of the Tornado was extended by 1 ft (0.30 m), the wings fitted three inches (0.08 m) lower on the fuselage, and the radiator located beneath the fuselage; the general appearance was, therefore, very similar to that of the Hurricane.

The first prototype was moved from Kingston to Langley for completion and its first flight was made on 6 October 1939, the pilot being P. G. Lawrence. Flight trials revealed airflow problems around the radiator, which was relocated to a chin position, and the aircraft was test-flown in its new configuration on 6 December. Later changes included increased rudder area, and the installation of a Rolls-Royce Vulture V engine.

The second prototype, completion of which was delayed by concentration on Hurricane production, featured the chin radiator, additional window panels in the fairing behind the cockpit, and four 20-mm cannon in place of the 12 machine-guns. Its first flight was made on 5 December 1940, powered by a Vulture II, although as in the case of the first machine, a Vulture V was later installed.

Five hundred production aircraft were ordered in late 1939, and sub-contracted to Avro at Manchester; only one was actually completed and flown, at Woodford, on 29 August 1941. Shortly afterwards the Vulture programme was abandoned, closely followed by cancellation of the Tornado order. One other Tornado, the third prototype, was flown on 23 October 1941, powered by a 2,120-hp (1581-kW) Bristol Centaurus CE. 4S engine, and this was the progenitor of the Hawker Tempest II.


General characteristics

    Crew: One, pilot

    Length: 32 ft 10 in (10.01 m)

    Wingspan: 41 ft 11 in (12.78 m)

    Height: 14 ft 8 in (4.47 m)

    Wing area: 283 ft² (26.3 m²)

    Empty weight: 8,377 lb (3,800 kg)

    Loaded weight: 9,520 lb (4,318 kg) for P5219

    Useful load: 2,291 lb (1,039 kg)

    Max. takeoff weight: 10,668 lb (4,839 kg)

    Powerplant: 1 × Rolls-Royce Vulture II or V [C 1] X-24 piston engine, 1,760 hp (1,312 kW) Vulture II

    (Vulture V: 1,980 hp (1,476))[C 2]

    Propellers: 3 or 4 bladed propeller

        Propeller diameter: 13 feet 3 in (Vulture: 12 feet 9 in)

    Fuel capacity: 140 gallons (636 Litres)


    Maximum speed: 398 mph (641 km/h) for Vulture V at 23,300 ft (7,102 m).[C 3]

    Service ceiling: 34,900 ft (10,640 m)

    Wing loading: max takeoff: 37.7 lb/ft² (184.81 kg/m²)

    Power/mass: max takeoff 5.38 lb/hp (3.58 kg/Kw)

    Time to height: 7.2 min to 20,000 ft (6,100 m)


    Guns: Provision for 12 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns (1st prototype P5219) or 4 × 20 mm Hispano cannon. (2nd and Centaurus prototypes P5224, HG641).


TR 9 VHF R/T fitted (P5224)

    or Bristol Centaurus CE 4S

    Centaurus: 2,210 hp (1,648 kW)

    Centarus gave 402 mph (647 km/h) at 18,000 ft (5,486 m)

BOOK: Hawker Tornado, Typhoon, Tempest V

Spotlight ON • 2016 Authors Janusz Światłoń Illustrator Janusz Światłoń

Janusz Swiatlon authors the ninth book in Mushroom Model Publications’ series that presents detailed illustrations of celebrated aircraft (and in one case, AFV). This volume’s focus is on the Hawker Tornado, Typhoon, and Tempest V fighters that display a variety of authentic camouflage schemes and markings. A native of Krakow Poland, Janusz Swiatlon, is an aviation history enthusiast and military modeler. He has retired for the Polish military after serving with the 6th Airborne Brigade. He has a long history of being published as an illustrator and as an author for many magazines and books from publishing houses as Osprey, Kagero, AF Editores, Chevron, and Mushroom Model Publications.

There are forty-six color profiles of Hawker Tornados, Typhoons, and Tempests along with several top and front views. Where appropriate, enlarged scrap views focus on unique markings. All of the subject aircraft have a short biography that discusses the camouflage in British colors as well as the pilots and service history where available. Although not advertised on the cover, this edition includes “Extra 1 Big Profile”. This huge side profile is a fold out of four pages and features a Hawker Typhoon Mk Ib of 609 Squadron RAF. I particularly enjoyed a Hawker Typhoon Mk Ib that where Janusz Swiatlon provided left and right profiles as well as a top view and a frontal view. This aircraft was the personal aircraft of 145 Squadron Leader Anthony Zweigbergk, MP197, and featured a big shark mouth painted on the radiator scoop. Mushroom Model Publications’ has provided a page by page preview at: http://mmpbooks.biz/ksiazki/317

The Table of Contents includes the following sections:

  1. Introduction (Page 1)
  2. Hawker Tornado (Page 3)
  3. Hawker Tornado Mk Ia (Page 6)
  4. Hawker Typhoon Mk Ia
  5. Hawker Typhoon Mk Ib (Page 11 and 31)
  6. Hawker Typhoon TT Mk I
  7. Hawker Tempest Mk I
  8. Hawker Tempest Mk V (Page 47)

This edition of ‘Spotlight On’ provides an interesting view into a chapter of aviation history. A quick search of the wild world web shows that there are plenty of Typhoon and Tempest decals, so re-creating any of the featured aircraft should be of no issue. The Hawker Tornado is a separate issue since only four airframes were produced and to my knowledge has only been kitted in 1/72 (LF Models 7213 kit of the first prototype, P5219, with the belly radiator.

Armstrong Whitworth A.W.38 Whitley

Designed to Air Ministry Specification B. 3/34, which was circulated in July 1934, the Armstrong Whitworth A. W. 38 Whitley was the most extensively built of the company’s designs, production reaching a total of 1,814 aircraft. It also marked a departure from Armstrong Whitworth’s traditional steel-tube construction, the Whitley’s fuselage being a light alloy monocoque structure.

Production was authorised while the aircraft was still in the design stage, an order for 80 aircraft being placed in August 1935. Alan Campbell-Orde flew the first prototype at Whitley Abbey on 17 March 1936, the machine’s two Armstrong Siddeley Tiger X engines turning the then-new three-blade, variable-pitch de Havilland propellers. A second prototype built to Specification B.21/35 had the more powerful Tiger XI engines and was flown by Charles Turner Hughes on 24 February 1937.

Trials at the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment at Martlesham Heath were undertaken in the autumn of 1936, and the first production Whitley Mk Is were delivered early in 1937, including the second aircraft which was flown to RAF Dishforth on 9 March for No. 10 Squadron. Thirty-four Mk Is were built before the Mk II was introduced. This mark had Tiger VIII engines with two-speed superchargers, the first fitted to an RAF aircraft; 46 Whitley Mk IIs completed the initial order for 80.

Mk I and Mk II Whitleys had Armstrong Whitworth manually-operated nose and tail turrets, each with a 0.303-in (7.7-mm) Vickers machine-gun, but in the Mk III the nose turret was replaced by a power-operated Nash and Thompson turret, and a retractable ventral turret with two 0.303-in Brownings was added. The 80 Whitley IIIs also had modified bomb bays to accommodate larger bombs.

By far the most numerous of the Whitley variants were those with Rolls-Royce engines. A Whitley I was fitted with Merlin IIs and test-flown at Hucknall on 11 February 1938, although engine failure prematurely concluded the second flight. The programme was quickly resumed, however, and during April and May the aircraft carried out trials at Martlesham Heath.

Merlin IVs of 1,030 hp (768 kW) were installed in production Whitley IVs, the first of which flew on 5 April 1939. Other changes incorporated in this version included a power-operated Nash and Thompson tail turret with four 0.303-in Browning guns, a transparent panel was added in the lower nose to improve the view for the bomb-aimer, and two additional wing tanks were fitted to bring total capacity to 705 Imperial gallons (3205 litres). Production totalled 33, together with seven Mk IVAs which had 1,145-hp 854-kW) Merlin X engines.

The same engines were retained for the Whitley V, which incorporated a number of improvements. The most noticeable of these were modified fins with straight leading-edges and an extension of 1 ft 3 in (0.38 m) to the rear fuselage to provide a wider field of fire for the rear gunner. Rubber de-icer boots were fitted to the wing leading-edges, and fuel capacity was increased to 837 Imperial gallons (3805 litres), or 969 Imperial gallons (4405 litres) if extra tanks were carried in the bomb bay. Production totalled 1,466 aircraft.

The Whitley VI was a projected version with Pratt & Whitney engines, .studied as an insurance against short supply of Merlins. It was not built , however, and the ultimate production Whitley was the Mk VII which was essentially a Mk V with auxiliary fuel tanks in the bomb bay and in the rear fuselage to bring the total capacity to 1,100 Imperial gallons (5001 litres), increasing the range to 2,300 miles (3701 km for maritime patrol duties. Externally the Mk VIIs could be distinguished by the dorsal radar aerials of the ASV Mk II air-to-surface radar. Production reached 146, and some Mk Vs were converted to the later standard.

As noted above. No.10 Squadron at RAF Dishforth was the first to equip with the Whitley, which replaced the Handley Page Heyford in March 1937. Nos. 51 and 58 Squadrons at RAF Leconfield soon followed and, during the night of 3 September 1939, 10 Whitley IIIs from these two squadrons flew a leaflet raid over Bremen, Hamburg and the Ruhr. Just under a month later, during the night of 1 October, No.10 Squadron flew a similar mission over Berlin. The first bombs were dropped on Berlin during the night of 25 August 1940, the attacking squadrons including Nos. 51 and 78 with Whitleys. To mark the entry of the Italians into the war, 36 Whitleys drawn from Nos. 10, 51, 58, 77 and 102 Squadrons were tasked to raid Genoa and Turin during the night of 11 June 1940, although only 13 actually reached their targets, weather and engine troubles taking their toll.

The Whitley was retired from Bomber Command in April 1942, the last operation being flown against Ostend during the night of 29 April, although some aircraft from operational training units were flown in the ‘1,000 Bomber’ raid on Cologne on the night of 30 May 1942.

Coastal Command’s association with the Whitley began in September 1939 when No. 58 Squadron was transferred to Boscombe Down to operate antisubmarine patrols over the English Channel. This lasted until February 1940, when the unit returned to Bomber Command, but during 1942 it took up patrol duties once again, flying over the Western Approaches from St Eval and Stornoway. Other units similarly occupied at that time included Nos. 51 and 77 Squadrons, the latter operating in the Bay of Biscay area.

Mk V Whitleys replaced the Avro Ansons of No. 502 Squadron at RAF Aldergrove in the autumn of 1940 and a second Coastal Command Whitley unit. No. 612 Squadron, formed in May 1941. The Mk Vs were replaced by the ASV Mk II-equipped Whitley VII, and an aircraft of No. 502 Squadron sank the type’s first German submarine when it attacked U-205 in the Bay of Biscay on 30 November 1941.

Whitleys were also used at No. 1 Parachute Training School at Ringway, Manchester, and were adapted for use as glider tugs, becoming attached to No. 21 Glider Conversion Unit at Brize Norton for the training of tug pilots. The paratroop raid on the German radar site at Bruneval used Whitleys of No. 51 Squadron, and the aircraft of ‘special duty’ units at RAF Tempsford (Nos. 138 and 161 Squadrons) flew numerous sorties, dropping agents into occupied territory and supplying Resistance groups with arms and equipment. Fifteen Whitley Vs were handed over to BOAC in May 1942 and, stripped of armament, but with additional fuel tanks in the bomb bays, flew regularly from Gibraltar to Malta carrying supplies for the beleaguered island.


Following the two prototypes (K4586 and K4587), at the outbreak of the war the RAF had 207 Whitleys in service ranging from Mk I to Mk IV types, with improved versions following:

Mk I

    Powered by 795 hp (593 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Tiger IX air-cooled radial engines: 34 built


    Powered by 920 hp (690 kW) two-stage supercharged Tiger VIII engines: 46 built


    Powered by Tiger VIII engines, retractable “dustbin” ventral turret fitted aft of the wing root armed with two .303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns, hydraulically operated bomb bay doors and ability to carry larger bombs: 80 built


    Powered by 1,030 hp (770 kW) Rolls-Royce Merlin IV inline liquid-cooled engines, increased fuel capacity, extended bomb-aimer’s transparency, produced from 1938: 33 built


    Powered by 1,145 hp (854 kW) Merlin X engines: seven built

Mk V

    The main wartime production version based on the Mk IV, modified fins, leading edge de-icing, manually operated tail and retractable ventral turrets replaced with a Nash & Thompson powered turret equipped with four .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns, tail fuselage extended by 15 in (381 mm) to improve the field of fire. First flew in December 1938, production ceased in June 1943: 1,466 built


    Proposed Pratt & Whitney- or Merlin XX-powered version: none built


    Designed for service with Coastal Command and carried a sixth crew member, capable of longer-range flights (2,300 mi/3,700 km compared to the early version’s 1,250 mi/2,011 km) having additional fuel tanks fitted in the bomb bay and fuselage, equipped with Air to Surface Vessel (ASV) radar for anti-shipping patrols with an additional four ‘stickleback’ dorsal radar masts and other antennae: 146 built

Specifications (Whitley Mk V)

General characteristics

    Crew: 5

    Length: 70 ft 6 in (21.49 m)

    Wingspan: 84 ft (25.60 m)

    Height: 15 ft (4.57 m)

    Wing area: 1,137 ft² (106 m²)

    Empty weight: 19,300 lb (8,768 kg)

    Max. takeoff weight: 33,500 lb (15,196 kg)

    Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce Merlin X liquid-cooled V12 engine, 1,145 hp (855 kW) each


    Maximum speed: 200 kn (230 mph, 370 km/h) at 16,400 ft (5,000 m)

    Range: 1,430 nmi (1,650 mi, 2,650 km)

    Ferry range: 2,100 nmi (2,400 mi, 3,900 km)

    Service ceiling: 26,000 ft (7,900 m)

    Rate of climb: 800 ft/min (4.1 m/s)

    Max. wing loading: 29.5 lb/ft² (143 kg/m²)

    Minimum power/mass: 0.684 hp/lb (112 W/kg)



        1 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers K machine gun in nose turret

        4 × .303 in Browning machine guns in tail turret

    Bombs: Up to 7,000 lb (3,175 kg) of bombs in the fuselage and 14 individual cells in the wings, typically including

        12 × 250 lb (113 kg) and

        2 × 500 lb (227 kg) bombs

        Bombs as heavy as 2,000 lb (907 kg) could be carried

The Dornier Do 26 and Northern Missions

The Dornier Do 26A (V-1, D-AGNT “Seeadler”) flying boat.

Dornier Do 26V4

In the 20s and 30s of last century, the firm Dornier was the leading one in German flying boat construction. The chosen configuration, engines in tandem and wing stubs (“sponsons”) on the lower fuselage for water stability proved very successful, and so Dornier flying boats, especially the “Wal” (= “whale” in English) played a major role in establishing early airborne connections over the Atlantic Ocean.

Normally the Wal was a two engined machine, and so were its successors Do 15 and Do 18. But Dornier also had built four-engined versions, as the Do R4 “Superwal” and the experimental Do S. With prospected increase of Atlantic traffic, Dornier renewed this configuration for another type, the Do 26.

The new flying boat became a special aerodynamic beauty. The wing stubs were omitted, and stabilizer floats retractable to the wings were foreseen instead. In the position of the bend of the gull wing, the machine carried the four Jumo 205 C Diesel engines, delivering 600 hp each. The rear propeller were driven by elongated shafts and hinged to rotate upwards 10° on take-off to avoid damage by spray water. The aircraft was an all-metal construction. First flight of the V-1, civil registration D-AGNT was on 21 May 1938 with Flight Captain Erich Gundermann on the controls, the second’s one, V-2 D-AWDS, on 23 November 1938 in the hands of Egon Fath. The aircraft were overtaken by the Deutsche Lufthansa and became baptized “Seeadler” and “Seefalke” (“Sea Eagle” and “Sea Falcon”, remark by RT: ornithologically “Seeadler” is “white-tailed eagle”, Haliaetus albicilla, while a “Seefalke” is no distinct species).

The new aircraft gained attention when in early 1939 an earthquake in Chile happened and the “Seefalke” transported 580 kg of medicines there. Under the control of Flight Captain Graf (= earl) Schack von Wittenau, it needed 36 hours for the 10.700 km distance. But the civil career of the Do 26 remained short. Although the Boeing 314 was already serviceable in May 1939, so there have been no fair economic reasons, the USA refused to permit a regular service route over the North Atlantic between Lisbon and New York for the Do 26. Because of this, the Do 26 only operated on the South Atlantic route. The V-1 did six, the V-2 twelve times the tour between Bathurst (now Banjul, capital of Gambia) and Natal (Brasil). Two Passengers could be carried alongside to the mail, one time even three.

When WWII broke out, both aircraft were out in the Atlantic and returned home on “adventurous ways” (Neitzel says, they were ordered together with catapult ship “Ostmark” to Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain, from where it was planned to keep on doing transport service and reconnaissance in one, but this proved impossible). After their return, they received a military equipment, including a 20 mm cannon in a rotating turret on the bow and some machine guns in blister-formed glazed stations on both sides of the fuselage right behind the wing. Together with the Blohm & Voss Ha 139s, they formed the “Transozeanstaffel” (=”transoceanic squadron”). Four more samples were built, now under the designation Do 26 C, what meant receiving military equipment from the beginning together with Jumo 205 D engines of 880 hp performance.

In the following time, they were used during “Unternehmen Weserübung”, the occupation of Norway, where they had to deliver supplies. But they soon had to suffer heavy losses. V-2 “Seefalke”, still under command of Graf Schack, was shot down on 9 May 1940 at Tepkölenfjord (location could not be verified, RT). The crew including Graf Schack survived and were taken POW by the British. V-1 and V-3 (“Seemöwe”, = sea gull) were destroyed on 28 May at Rombakkenfjord, Norway on 28 May 1940 by British fighters (Hurricanes from 48 (F) Squadron) (location confirmed as “Rombaksfiord” near Narvik by http://www.skovheim…./do26/do26.html, this means, V-1 and V-3 ran into heaviest fighting around the city of Narvik, including temporary German retreat. The aircraft were strafed on the ground and sunk. One wreck in comparably good condition was found in 1991).

The qualities of the Dornier Do 26 suggested use as long-range reconnoiter. In fact, they were the only German aircraft at that time, besides the Focke-Wulf FW 200, capable to perform such actions at all. On 31 July 1940, two Do 26 were stationed at Brest to do reconnaissance for the German U-Boat operations, since convoys supplying Britain now used the northern approach. The third one followed some time later. Until 30 September, the Do 26s flew 17 sorties on 12 days. They found no convoys, only single ships. For a short time, two Do 26 were sent again to Norway from where they flew reconnaissance over the Denmark Strait (between Iceland and Greenland) for a planned outbreak of German heavy cruiser “Admiral Hipper”.

The service from Brittany was a difficult time for the Do 26s. The aircraft proved technically trouble-stricken. Supply of spare parts was not easy for a small-series aircraft, so often two of three Do 26 were unserviceable. Long-distance flights would have meant to return and land at night, what was impossible because the Bay of Brest is surrounded by bigger hills and there were no light buoys to mark a landing runway. Taking off at night was also impossible because the fully loaded machine lacked climb capability. Morning take off delay by fog meant the cancellation of the whole flight because it would have meant a return at night.

To improve the range of the Do 26, take-off help by catapult was considered. Germany in general and Dornier especially had a long experience in aircraft catapulting for civil traffic, i.e. Atlantic crossing, and special catapult ships were available and now in military use. First, “Ostmark” was detached, but sunk by British submarine “Tuna” on 24 September 1940. Instead, “Friesenland” reached Brest on 11 October. The first effort to catapult the V-5 was scheduled for 23 November. But as one engine failed, V-5 was smashed to pieces on the water and the whole crew killed.

After this, “Friesenland” and the two remaining Do 26s were ordered south to the Gironde mouth near Bordeaux. But the Do 26s never flew reconnaissance again. In January 1941, the “Transozeanstaffel” was disbanded and in March 1941, both Do 26 were ordered back to Germany. The rest of the war, they lived a rather unspectacular life at the German proving base for seaplanes at Travemünde near Lübeck. This was only interrupted in summer 1943, when the V-6 first had to supply, than to evacuate the crew of a German weather station on Sabine Island off the icy east coast of Greenland (6-7 rsp.16-17 June 1943).

The somewhat peaceful scenes we see on some pictures suggest V-4 and V-6 were used for linking flights to Norway, and for to connect the German-controlled seaplane industry (Sartrouville on the river Seine is home of the French firm SCAN). Both V-4 and V-6 were still in the stock of the proving base Travemünde in 1944. Their final fate is unknown. Travemünde, the harbour of Lübeck, belongs to the British occupation zone, and before Lübeck was reached by British troops on 4 May 1945, all aircraft attached to the proving base were damaged beyond repair. Maybe the Do 26s had been scrapped already before or their wrecks were not worth mentioning for the British troops when they took over the place.

Specifications – Do 26V6

General characteristics

    Crew: Four

    Payload: 500 kg or 12 fully equipped troops (1,102 lb)

    Length: 24.6 m (80 ft 5 in)

    Wingspan: 30 m (98 ft 5 in)

    Height: 6.85 m (22 ft 8 in)

    Wing area: 120 m² (1,291.67 ft²)

    Empty weight: 11,300 kg (24,912 lb)

    Loaded weight: 22,500 kg (49,601 lb)

    Powerplant: 4 × Junkers Jumo 205D Diesel, 656 kW (880 hp) each


    Maximum speed: 324 km/h (175 kn, 201 mph)

    Range: 7,100 km (3,834 nmi, 4,412 mi)


1 × 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon in a bow turret, 3 × aft-firing 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15 machine guns


• Jörg-M. Hörmann: Flugbuch Atlantic, German catapult flights 1927-1939, Delius Klasing Verlag, 2007

• Grey, Duggan: LUFTHANSA GERMAN, South Atlantic Airmail Service 1934-1939, Zeppelin Study Group, 2000

• Manfred Griehl: Dornier flying boats in World War II – Thurs 18 – Thurs 24 – Thurs 26 -, arsenal band 171, Podzun-Pallas Verlag, Woelfersheim 1998, ISBN 3-7909-0628-X.

• Siegfried Graf Schack of Wittenau: pioneer flights of Lufthansa-Captain 1926-1945, engine book publishing, 1981 ISBN 3-87943-764-5

• Wilhelm Küppers: Green Light – Atlantic, longing – Conquest – mastery, Hoffmann & Campe Verlag, 1955

Grumman F4F Wildcat

The US Navy’s requirement of 1936 for a new carrier-based fighter resulted in the Brewster Aeronautical Corporation receiving an order for a prototype of its Model 39 under the designation XF2A-1. This became the US Navy’s first monoplane fighter in squadron service, but so tentative was the US Navy in its decision to order this aircraft that it ordered also a prototype of Grumman’s competing biplane design under the designation XF4F-1. However, a more careful study of the performance potential of Brewster’s design, plus the fact that Grumman’s earlier F3F biplane was beginning to demonstrate good performance, brought second thoughts. This led to cancellation of the biplane prototype and the initiation of an alternative Grumman G-18 monoplane design. Following evaluation of this new proposal, the US Navy ordered a single prototype on 28 July 1936 under the designation XF4F-2.

Rolled out of Grumman’s Bethpage, Long Island, assembly shed and flown for the first time on 2 September 1937, the XF4F-2 was powered by a 1,050 hp (783 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-66 Twin Wasp engine, and was able to demonstrate a maximum speed of 290 mph (467 km/h). Of all-metal construction, with its cantilever monoplane wing set in a mid-position on the fuselage, and provided with retractable tailwheel landing gear, it proved to be marginally faster than the Brewster prototype when flown during competitive evaluation in the early months of 1938. Speed, however, was its major credit. In several other respects it was decidedly inferior, with the result that Brewster’s XF2A-1 was ordered into production on 11 June 1938.


Although the new ship was not a true “aerobatic” performer, it was stable and easy to fly and displayed excellent deck-handling qualities. One problem that would remain with the F4F throughout its life, however, was its manual landing gear retraction mechanism. The gear required 30 turns with a hand crank to retract, and a slip of the hand off the crank could result in a serious wrist injury.

Clearly the US Navy believed the XF4F-2 had hidden potential, for it was returned to Grumman in October 1938, together with a new contract for its further development. The company adopted major changes before this G-36 prototype flew again in March 1939 under the designation XF4F-3. These included the installation of a more powerful version of the Twin Wasp (the XR-1830-76 with a two-stage supercharger), increased wing span and area, redesigned tail surfaces, and a modified machine-gun installation. When tested in this new form the XF4F-3 was found to have considerably improved performance. A second prototype was completed and introduced into the test programme, this aircraft differing in having a redesigned tail unit in which the tailplane was moved higher up the fin, and the profile of the vertical tail was changed again. In this final form the XF4F-3 was found to have good handling characteristics and manoeuvrability, and a maximum speed of 335 mph (539 km/h) at 21,300 ft (6490 m). Faced with such performance, the US Navy had no hesitation in ordering 78 F4F-3 production aircraft on 8 August 1939.

With war seemingly imminent in Europe, Grumman offered the new G-36A design for export, receiving orders for 81 and 30 aircraft from the French and Greek governments respectively. The first of those, intended for the French navy, powered by a 1,000 hp (746 kW) Wright R-1820 Cyclone radial engine, flew on 27 July 1940 but by then, of course, France had already fallen. Instead, the British Purchasing Commission agreed to take these aircraft, increasing the order to 90, and the first began to reach the UK in July 1940 (after the first five off the line had been supplied to Canada), becoming designated Martlet Mk I. They first equipped No. 804 Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm, and two of the aircraft flown by this squadron were the first American-built fighters to destroy a German aircraft during World War 11, in December 1940.

Subsequent Grumman-built versions to serve with the FAA included the Twin Wasp-powered folding-wing Martlet Mk II; 10 F4F-4As and the Greek contract G-36A aircraft as Martlet Mk III; and Lend-Lease F4F-4Bs with Wright GR-1820 Cyclone engines as Martlet Mk IV. In January 1944 they were all redesignated as Wildcats, but retained their distinguishing mark numbers.

The first F4F-3 for the US Navy was flown on 20 August 1940, and at the beginning of December the type began to equip Navy Squadrons VF-7 and VF-41. Some 95 F4F-3A aircraft were ordered by the US Navy, these being powered by the R-1830-90 engine with single-stage supercharger, and deliveries began in 1941. An XF4F-4 prototype was flown in May 1941, this incorporating refinements which resulted from Martlet combat experience in the UK, including six-gun armament, armour, self-sealing tanks, and wing-folding. Delivery of production F4F-4 Wildcat fighters, as the type had then been named, began in November 1941, and by the time that the Japanese launched their attacks on Pearl Harbour a number of US Navy and US Marine Corps squadrons had been equipped, As additional Wildcats entered service they equipped increasing numbers of US Marine and US Navy squadrons. In particular they served with the carriers USS Enterprise, Hornet and Saratoga, being involved with conspicuous success in the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, and the operations in Guadalcanal. They were at the centre of all significant action in the Pacific until superseded by more advanced aircraft in 1943, and also saw action with the US Navy in North Africa during late 1942.


The final production variant built by Grumman was the long-range reconnaissance F4F-7 with increased fuel capacity, camera installations in the lower fuselage and armament deleted. Only 20 were built, but Grumman also produced an additional 100 F4F-3s and two XF4F-8 prototypes. With an urgent need to concentrate on development and production of the more advanced F6F Hellcat, Grumman negotiated with General Motors to continue production of the F4F-4 Wildcat under the designation FM-1. Production by General Motors’ Eastern Aircraft Division began after finalisation of a contract on 18 April 1942, and the first of this company’s FM-ls was flown on 31 August 1942. Production totalled 1,151, of which 312 were supplied to the UK under the designation Martlet Mk V (later Wildcat Mk V).

At the same time, General Motors was working on the development of improved version, designated FM-2 which was the production version of two Grumman XF4F-8 prototypes. Its major change was the installation of 1,350 hp (1007 kW) Wright R-1820-56 Cyclone 9 radial engine, but a larger vertical tail was introduced to maintain good directional stability with this more powerful engine, and airframe weight was reduced to the minimum. A total 4,777 FM-2s was built by General Motors, 370 of them supplied to the UK these entering service with the FAA a designated Wildcat Mk VI from the outset.

Combat History
First combat for the F4F was not with the U.S. Navy but with Britain’s Royal Navy, and its first victim was German. The British had shown great interest in the Wildcat as a replacement for the Gloster Sea Gladiator, and the first were delivered in late 1940. On Christmas Day 1940, one of them intercepted and shot down a Junkers Ju-88 bomber over the big Scapa Flow naval base. The Martlet, as the British also called it, saw further action when 30 originally bound for Greece were diverted to the Royal Navy following the collapse of Greece and were used in a ground attack role in the North African Desert throughout 1941.

The Wildcat’s American combat career got off to a more inauspicious start. Eleven of them were caught on the ground during the December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbour attack, and nearly all were destroyed. It was with Marine squadron VMF-211 at Wake Island that the Wildcat first displayed the tenacity that would bedevil the Japanese again and again. As at Pearl Harbour, the initial Japanese attacks left seven of 12 F4F3s wrecked on the field. But the survivors fought on for nearly two weeks, and on December 11, Captain Henry Elrod bombed and sank the destroyer Kisaragi and helped repel the Japanese invasion force. Only two Wildcats were left on December 23, but the pair managed to shoot down a Zero and a bomber before being overwhelmed.

Carrier-based F4F3s engaged the enemy soon after. On February 20, 1942, Lexington came under attack from a large force of Mitsubishi G4M1 Betty bombers while approaching the Japanese base at Rabaul. The F4F fighter screen swarmed over the unescorted bombers, and Lieutenant Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare shot down five of them. He was awarded the Medal of Honour and became the first Wildcat ace.

During the Coral Sea battle in May, F4Fs from the carriers Lexington and Yorktown inflicted heavy losses on the air groups from Shokaku, Zuikaku and Shoho but could not prevent the sinking of Lexington. While the air battles were by no means one-sided, they were clearly a shock to many Zero pilots, who had faced little serious opposition up to that time.

By the time of the Midway engagement in June, the fixed-wing F4F-3 had been replaced by the folding-wing F4F-4. Although the new wings enabled the carriers to increase their fighter complement from 18 to 27, the F4F-4’s folding mechanism, coupled with the addition of two more machine guns, raised its weight by nearly 800 pounds and caused a fall-off in climb and manoeuvrability.


Nearly 85 Wildcats flew from Yorktown, Enterprise and Hornet during Midway, but it was the Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber that was destined to be the hero of the battle, sinking the carriers Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu and Soryu, and dealing the Imperial Navy a disastrous defeat.

When news of the U.S. invasion of Guadalcanal reached the Japanese on August 7, 1942, they launched air strikes from Rabaul. Flying escort was the elite Tainan Kokutai (air group), which counted among its pilots Sakai (64 victories), Nishizawa (credited with 87 before his death in October 1944) and other leading aces. But over Guadalcanal, the Zeros were off-balance from the start. Their first glimpse of the new enemy came when Wildcats of Saratoga’s VF-5 dived into their formation and scattered it. Sakai and Nishizawa recovered and claimed eight Wildcats and a Dauntless between them, but they were the only pilots to score. The Navy F4Fs, in return, brought down 14 bombers and two Zeros.

Although exact Japanese losses over Guadalcanal are not known, they lost approximately 650 aircraft between August and November 1942 and an irreplaceable number of trained, veteran airmen. It is certain that the F4Fs were responsible for most of those losses. During the Battle of Santa Cruz on October 26, 1942, Stanley W. “Swede” Vejtasa of VF-10 from the carrier Enterprise downed seven Japanese planes in one fight. Marine pilot Joe Foss racked up 23 of his 26 kills over Guadalcanal; John L. Smith was close behind with 19; and Marion Carl, Richard Galer and Joe Bauer were among other top Marine aces.

A large part of the Wildcat success was tactics. The agile Zero, like most Japanese army and navy fighter craft, had been designed to excel in slow-speed manoeuvres. U.S. Navy aviators realized early on that the Zero’s controls became heavy at high speeds and were less effective in high-speed rolls and dives. Navy tacticians like James Flatley and James Thach preached that the important thing was to maintain speed, whenever possible, no matter what the Zero did. Although the Wildcat was not especially fast, its two-speed supercharger enabled it to perform well at high altitudes, something that the Bell P-39 and Curtiss P-40 could not do. The F4F was so rugged that terminal dive airspeed was not redlined. The A6M2’s 7.7 mm (0.303 in) cowl guns and slow-firing 20 mm cannons were effective against an F4F only at point-blank range. But F4F pilots reported that hits from their 12.7 mm (0.50 in) calibre wing guns usually caused complete disintegration of a Zero.

The Zero and Wildcat shared one serious liability, though. Neither could be modified successfully to keep pace with wartime fighter development. It was determined that the F4F airframe could not accommodate a larger engine without an almost complete redesign, which ultimately did take shape as the new 2,000 hp (1492 kW) F6F Hellcat. The Wildcat’s air combat role began to wane when the Chance-Vought F4U Corsair arrived at Guadalcanal in February 1943. Nevertheless, the stalwart F4F was still the front-line fighter when Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto launched Operation I-Go against Allied forces in the Solomons in April, and Marine Lieutenant James Swett shot down seven (and possibly eight) Aichi D3A1 Val dive bombers in a single combat.

As 1943 wore on, the Wildcat gradually was relegated to a support role as the F6F replaced it aboard fleet carriers. The F4F’s small size, ruggedness and range (enhanced by two 58 gallon drop tanks) continued to make it ideal for use off small escort carrier decks. The little warrior, in both US and Royal Navy markings contributed to eliminating the U-boat menace in the Atlantic.

A General Motors­built version of the F4F received a marginal boost when a Wright 1,350 hp (1007 kW) single-row radial was installed in place of the 1,200 hp (895 kW) Pratt & Whitney. The first production models of the new variant, designated the FM-2, arrived in late 1943. The FM-2’s new engine, coupled with a 350 pound weight reduction, produced improvements in performance over the F4F. In fact, postwar tests revealed the late-model A6M5 Zero to be only 13 mph (21 km) faster.

FM-2s were normally teamed with TBF Avengers in so-called VC “composite” squadrons on small escort carriers. During the Battle of Savo on 25 October 1944, FM-2s and Avengers from several “baby flattops” aided destroyers in disrupting an overwhelming Japanese battleship task force that surprised the American invasion fleet off the Philippines. The aircraft, although handicapped by a lack of anti-shipping ordnance, so demoralized the Japanese that a potential American disaster was averted.

Although opportunities for air combat were few, FM-2s notched a respectable 422 kills (many of them kamikaze aircraft) by the end of the war. On 5 August 1945, a VC-98 FM-2 from USS Lunga Point shot down a Yokosuka P1Y1 Frances recon bomber to score the last Wildcat kill of the war.

XF4F-1: Grummans biplane design with the Navy designation XF4F-1. This was cancelled in favour of the monoplane design.
XF4F-2: Grummans first monoplane design (Grumman G-18) with the Navy ordering one example designated XF4F-2.
XF4F-3: further development of the XF4F-2 led to the XF4F-3 (Grumman G-36) with many new design changes. Powered by a XR-1830-76 Twin Wasp engine and a two-stage supercharger.
F4F-3: designation given to the production aircraft of XF4F-3 prototype.
F4F-3A: designation given to US Navy aircraft with the R-1830-90 engine with a single stage supercharger.
G-36A: export version which flew as the Martlet Mk I, II, III, IV. Later they all reverted back to the Wildcat designation.
XF4F-4: prototype incorporating changes learned from Marlet combat experiences.
F4F-4: US Navy production aircraft of the above.
F4F-7: final production variant built as a long range reconnaissance aircraft. Only twenty were built.
XF4F-8: two prototype aircraft.
FM-1: F4F-4 aircraft built by General Motors Eastern Aircraft Division. Export aircraft of this type served as the Martlet V (later the Wildcat V).
FM-2: The General Motors built production aircraft based on the XF4F-8 prototypes. Powered by a 1,350 hp (1007 kW) Wright R-1820-56 Cyclone 9 radial engine.


Specifications (Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat)
Type: Single Seat Carrier Based Fighter
Design: Grumman Design Team Manufacturer: Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation and also built by the General Motors Eastern Aircraft Division
Powerplant: (XF4F-2) One 1,050 hp (783 kw) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-66 Twin Wasp 14-cyclinder two row radial engine. (G-36A, Martlet I) One 1,200 hp (895 kw) Wright R-1820-G205A Cyclone 9-cyclinder radial engine. (F4F-3) One 1,200 hp (895 kw) Wright R-1830-76 Twin Wasp 9-cylinder radial engine. (F4F-4, FM-1) One 1,200 hp (895 kw) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-86 Twin Wasp radial engine. (FM-2) One 1,350 hp (1007 kW) Wright R-1820-56 Cyclone 9-cylinder radial engine.
Performance: Maximum speed 318 mph (512 km/h) at 19,400 ft (5915 m); cruising speed 155 mph (249 km/h); service ceiling 39,400 ft (12010 m).
Range: 770 miles (1239 km) with internal fuel stores.
Weight: Empty 5,785 lbs (2612 kg) with a maximum take-off weight of 7,952 lbs (3607 kg).
Dimensions: Span 38 ft 0 in (11.58 m); length 28 ft 9 in (8.76 m); height 9 ft 2 1/2 in (2.81 m); wing area 260 sq ft (24.15 sq m).
Armament: Six 12.7 mm (0.50 in) Browning-Colt machine guns, and underwing racks for two 250 lbs (113 kg) bombs.
Avionics: None.
History: First flight (XF4F-2) 2 September 1937; (XF4F-3) 12 February 1939; production (G-36 and F4F-3) February 1940; (FM-2) March 1943; final delivery August 1945.
Operators: RCAF, RN, USMC, USN, France, Greece.

Myasishchev M-50

To quote Bill Gunston in one of his many books on Soviet aircraft, this huge aeroplane was ‘one of the most breathtaking aircraft of its day’. The seeds for the M-50’s relatively brief moment of glory were first planted in 1954. Soon after Myasishchev’s M-32 was dropped in 1953, the Soviet Union received its first news of the forthcoming American Convair B-58 Hustler bomber, which essentially comprised a relatively small aircraft with all of the disposable load, fuel and bombs, housed in an external pod underneath the fuselage; this was key because the pod helped to keep down the bomber’s overall size. In response, the Myasishchev OKB, backed up by a new SovMin resolution dated 30th July 1954, began work on a ‘composite long-range bomber’, of its own (composed of a strike aircraft and a launch aircraft) which it designated the M-50.

The aircraft, powered by four Dobrynin or Mikulin jet engines, was to be capable of 1,119mph (1,800km/h) and achieve a range approaching 8,080 miles (13,000km) when carrying a 11,023 lb (5,000kg) load. Early studies included a twin-boom carrier aircraft that looked more like a contemporary airliner with the supersonic bomber attached underneath, or the attachment of a large float to allow the bomber to take-off from water. Another design had a droop nose (somewhat similar to the Concorde supersonic airliner) and another used ten engines – four in pairs in two underwing nacelles, four stacked in pairs in two wingtip nacelles plus one either side of the fin root. Other preliminary projects looked at using between two and ten engines with the NK-6, VD-9 and AL-9 as the possible alternative engines.

However, some of the basic problems to appear during the first quarter of 1955 included a lack of sufficient knowledge for the stability and controllability afforded by the canard over such a wide speed range, that it was impossible to obtain a higher relative weight/load for the attack component of the composite bomber, the difficulties in flight testing this type of combined aeroplane (especially after separation since the attack element would not be recovered) and the difficulties of creating a launch system that could reach a speed of 404mph (650km/h) for a launch weight of at least 551,146 lb (250,000kg). TsAGI wind tunnel test also showed that the aerodynamic efficiency of a combined aeroplane was inferior to a conventional aircraft. In March 1955 the M-50 ‘composite bomber’ was halted and replaced by a more conventional aeroplane.

The first ‘single aircraft’ designs were actually completed in February 1955 and on 19th July a new SovMin resolution upgraded the M-50 to a conventional long-range type with a powerplant of four VD-9 turbojets or NK-6 bypass turbofans, giving a maximum speed of 1,243mph (2,000km/h) and a service ceiling approaching 52,493ft (16,000m). I P Tolstykh was nominated as the chief designer and on 28th March 1956 another resolution was passed authorising the installation of 46,295 lb (205.8kN) Zubets RD16-17 engines or VD-9As. The RD16-17 could sustain supersonic flight without afterburning and it also offered a fuel consumption that did not exceed the requirements. Designed by OKB-16 led by P F Zubets, the engine offered 40,785 lb (181.3kN) of dry thrust and 46,295 lb (205.8kN) in reheat. The M-50 was to begin its state acceptance trials in the first three months of 1958.

Despite Myasishchev’s heavy commitments on the M-4/3M series of bombers, the huge programme that this new aircraft represented meant there was no possibility of a competition between prototypes from different OKBs. One of the key factors in achieving the required performance was a big reduction in the weight of equipment carried, plus a crew of only two. Myasishchev and TsAGI conducted a joint research programme which analyzed no less than 39 possible configurations, each tunnel tested in model form, and these embraced tailless and canard formats and tandem wing designs, but the final choice centred on a more conventional delta plus swept tail layout.

The design and development of the M-50, both through its advanced shape and capability but also its sheer size, presented many new problems for which no existing data was available to help in solving them. For example, new calculations and formulae had to be devised by the Myasishchev design bureau to determine the resistance to deformation exhibited by this type of wing. In fact this was the first time that such logarithmic structural stress calculations were used in the USSR to determine the properties of a new aircraft’s wing, but the task was still so complex that it took four years to complete, from 1955 to 1959. Other features that needed to be designed from scratch included the nacelles and their intakes and the need to ensure optimum stability and controllability at all speeds, for which the all-flying tailplane and tailfin were essential. Several fatal crashes of early supersonic aircraft types had occurred because the centre of lift forces moved rearwards when an aircraft passed from subsonic into supersonic flight; for the M-50 longitudinal stability and controllability were vital.

New methods of construction were also required including the employment of large stringers and milled skin panels, the structural materials used in the greatest quantities being V-95 light alloy and 30KhGSNA steel. Another substantial task was to match these features with the huge amount of fuel needed to achieve a satisfactory range because current jet engines were still heavy consumers of fuel. Since there were only two crew members, to keep down the workload many of the flight systems had to be made to operate automatically which meant much better and lighter electronics had to be created to prevent this new equipment from being too heavy, thus cancelling out the progress in weight reduction already achieved. Nevertheless, despite these measures, the final structure weight was 39,683 lb (18,000kg) higher than required; the empty weight was estimated to be 131,393 lb (59,600kg). Thanks to the extreme performance demands coupled with the size of the aircraft, the M-50 did have a new control system that was capable of transmitting signals electronically to the control surfaces. In addition an automatic system was used to adjust the balance of the CofG by transferring fuel between the various internal tanks. The airborne requirements included the ability to fly at between 168mph and 1,243mph (270km/h and 2,000km/h) while the unrefuelled range had to be 7,458 miles (12,000km) maximum. Normal cruise speed would fall within the range 1,056mph to 1,119mph (1,700km/h to l, 800km/h) but the M-50 had to be capable of a dash at 1,180mph to 1,243mph (1,900km/h to 2,000km/h) over the target. A long-range mission would require at least two in-flight refuelling operations (the first after 1,243 miles [2,000km]) but the aircraft itself could carry 385,8021b (175,000kg) of fuel at take-off (in an all-up-weight of 557,760 lb [253,000kg]), although it would need RATOG to help get it off the ground.

Although first designed as a bomber, there were soon plans to adapt the type as a cruise missile carrier as well, with Myasishchev’s own ’45B’ missile the favoured choice. The M-50’s preliminary project was concluded in December 1955 and work began on a mockup early in the new year; when complete an official inspection by a Commission led by Marshal of Aviation V A Sudets was held in July 1956. It appeared that the aircraft should meet most of its requirements except for its unrefuelled range (which was eventually reduced to 6,215 miles [10,000km]) and a take-off run which was too long if RATOG was not used. The lower range meant IFR was essential which, because it was carried out at subsonic speed, also made the M-50 more vulnerable to enemy defences. Due to these weaknesses the Commission was unable to approve the M-50 mock-up but its findings were a surprise to the designers.

The M-50A made its maiden flight on 27th October 1959 and performed well. Initial flights were made without afterburning on any of the engines, but this facility was added when the inner VD-7s were replaced by VD-7MAs, giving 35,2751b (156.8kN) of thrust with reheat, in April 1961. It was hoped that these would deliver a top speed of Mach 1.35 but, in the event, reheat was only ever used on take-off. In 1958 the Myasishchev OKB was released from its obligation to present the M-50 for state testing because a decision had now been taken to use the two M-50s as part of the development programme for a derived follow-on design called the M-52. The limited power of the substitute flight test engines meant that the M-50 was never flown at weights above 253,527 lb (115,000kg); reports also suggest that flying the beast made massive demands on the crew.

A total of eleven sorties had been completed when the decision was taken in 1960 to abandon both the M-50 and M-52. A number of factors influenced this move but the shortfall in performance, despite the achievement of completing such a massive aeroplane to such a tight schedule, was especially important. However, there was also plenty of politics behind the issue because, by this time, the VVS was now considered to be less important for the Soviet Union’s planning for future warfare than in the past, strategic missiles were the way forward.

In late May 1961, after the Myasishchev OKB had been closed, it was decided that the M-50 should be displayed at that year’s Tushino Show. The aircraft had been lying idle for about a year and quite a bit of preparation was needed to make it airworthy again. Seven practice flights were completed before the M-50 made its final trip over Tushino on 9th July 1961, although Western observers did not know this and the aircraft received considerable attention from the world’s newspapers (and was eventually codenamed Bounder). The M-50 performed a roll over Tushino’s spectators, leaving behind its escorting MiG-21 fighters, but it was never to be seen in the air again. Despite making such a big technical advance and introducing many new features, the M-50 actually proved to be relatively free of major problems. Its weakness were the engines which could not combine the large thrust the aircraft needed together with an acceptably low fuel consumption.

Westland Wessex






In 1956, Westland acquired a license to build the S-58 and developed a turbine-engined version called the Wessex. Initially Westland imported an HSS-1 and flight tested the aircraft with its original Wright engine. The company then modified the machine with a 1,100-horsepower Napier Gazelle gas turbine engine and improved metal rotor blades, designed to sustain more combat damage. On May 17, 1957, the modified rotorcraft made its first flight, and on June 20, 1958, two preproduction Wessex Mk 1s, designed for naval trials, followed. Upgraded with a 1,450-horsepower Gazelle Mk. 161 engine and equipped with a dipping sonar and homing torpedoes, the HAS Mk. 1 went into production in 1959 for the Royal Navy (RN) as an ASW helicopter. RN No. 700H Flight received the first models in April 1960, and the next year six RN squadrons added the new aircraft to their inventory; the first No. 815 Squadron received theirs in July 1961. The RN equipped 848 Squadron with Wessex designed for commando assaults and stationed them aboard HMS Albion. These aircraft carried sixteen fully equipped Royal Marine commandos or eight stretchers and a medical attendant in the cargo area. Optionally, the commando version could deliver a 3,600- pound slingload on an external hook. In January 1967 the HAS Mk. 3 entered service. Powered by a 1,600-horsepower Gazelle Mk 122, Westland installed advanced search gear in a large dorsal radome. In August 1962, Westland began supplying the Royal Australian Navy with a Wessex model similar to the HAS Mk 1 but powered by a 1,540-horsepower Gazelle Mk 162 engine. Westland delivered a total of 320 military variants to UK armed forces and another 42 versions to foreign militaries. The Queen’s Flight detachment received all-red HCC 4s with VIP interiors and advanced avionics.

Countries of origin: USA and UK

Type: Utility transport/SAR helicopter

Powerplants: HC. 2 – Two 1005kW (1350shp) Rolls-Royce (Bristol Siddeley) Gnome Mk 110/111 turboshafts, driving a four bladed main rotor and four bladed tail rotor.

Performance: HC. 2 – Max speed at sea level 212km/h (115kt), max cruising speed 195km/h (105kt).

Max initial rate of climb 1650ft/min.

Hovering ceiling out of ground effect 4000ft.

Ferry range with auxiliary fuel 1040km (560nm).

Range with standard fuel 770km (415nm).

Weights: HC. 2 – Operating empty 3767kg (8304lb), max takeoff 6123kg (13,500lb).

Dimensions: HC. 2 – Main rotor diameter 17.07m (56ft 0in), length overall rotors turning 20.04m (65ft 9in), fuselage length 14.74m (48ft 5in), height overall 4.93m (16ft 2in), height to top of rotor head 4.39m (14ft 5in). Main rotor disc area 228.1m2 (2643.0sq ft).

Accommodation: Two pilots on flight deck with up to 16 equipped troops in main cabin. In medevac configuration can be fitted for eight stretcher patients, two seated patients and a medical attendant.

Armament: None usually.

Operators: UK, Uruguay. History: The Wessex is a re-engined and re-engineered development of Sikorsky’s S-58, developed initially for the Royal Navy as an ASW platform. The Sikorsky S-58 arose from a 1951 US Navy requirement for an ASW helicopter. The Wright R-1820 radial piston engine powered S-58 flew for the first time on March 8 1952 and was adopted by the US Navy as the HSS-1 Seabat (or SH-34G from 1962). Other S-58 variants include the US Army’s CH-34 Choctaw and the US Marine Corp’s UH-34 Seahorse. All piston powered S-58s have now been retired from military service, although small numbers of twin Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6T turboshaft S-58T conversions serve in Thailand and Indonesia. UK interest in the S-58 came about when the Royal Navy cancelled development of the twin Napier Gazelle turboshaft powered Bristol 191 in 1956. The 191 was being developed to meet an ASW helicopter requirement but instead the RN opted for the development of a single Napier powered development of the S-58 to meet its requirement. A Westland re engined Napier powered S-58 flew for the first time on May 17 1957, and the type was ordered into production as the Wessex HAS. 1 (with dunking sonar and armed with torpedoes). Now retired Wessex variants include the HAS. 1, more powerful HAS. 3 with a new automatic flight control system, the Royal Marines’ HU. 1 troop transport and the RAF’s HC. 5, a transport conversion of RN HAS. 1/HAS. 3S. The RAF’s major Wessex variant is the HC. 2, which differs significantly from the Royal Navy’s Wessexes in that it is powered by two Bristol SidJeley Gnome turboshafts joined through a combining gearbox. About 60 HC. 2s still serve with the RAF for search and rescue and utility transport, while HC. 2s exported to Brunei (as the Mk 54), Iran (Mk 52) and Ghana (Mk 53) have all been retired.