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Westland Witch

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Westland Witch

The Westland Witch was an unsuccessful British bomber prototype, first flown in 1928. Only a single aircraft of this type was built.

Westland Witch
Role Bomber
National origin United Kingdom
Manufacturer Westland Aircraft
Designer Arthur Davenport
First flight 30 January 1928
Retired 1931
Primary user Royal Air Force
Number built 1

Development

The Witch was developed to specification 23/25 for a single-engined day bomber operating at high altitude.[1] This specification initially requested the use of the Bristol Orion, a turbocharged version of the Bristol Jupiter, but other variants of the Jupiter were substituted after development of the Orion encountered difficulties. All aircraft submitted to 23/25 suffered from engine problems, and none of them was put into production.

The Witch employed a strut-braced parasol monoplane configuration. The wing was of wood and steel construction and spanned a generous 61 ft (19 m). The fuselage was built from duralumin and steel tubes, covered with fabric, and with an uncowled Jupiter engine in the nose. The Witch had a crew of two, pilot and gunner/bombardier. The latter had a cockpit with a Lewis gun on a Scarff ring aft of the pilot, but could also leave this for a prone bomb-aiming position.

A bomb bay was incorporated in the fuselage in front of the pilot, with four doors which could be opened by the bombardier or would open under the weight of the dropped bombs. As specified in 23/25, a single 520 lb bomb could be carried, or a number of smaller weapons.[2] The presence of a bomb bay in the fuselage required a complicated split-axle arrangement for the fixed undercarriage, which was braced to the fuselage and the wing struts. A cross-axle would have been in path of the falling bombs.[3]

The prototype of the Witch, serial J8596, was first flown on 30 January 1928 at RAF Andover, with Louis Paget at the controls. The type was praised for its stability as a bombing platform, and its 138 mph maximum speed was good, although its 62 mph landing speed was felt to be too fast for comfort. However, the Witch was judged unsuitable for service due to structural weaknesses, including a number of failures of the landing gear struts and other components.[4]

The same aircraft was nevertheless presented again in the next year in Mk.II form, with a Jupiter VIIIF engine replace the earlier Jupiter VI, and was used for testing of parachutes until 1931.[3]

Specifications (Witch Mk.I)

Data from F.K. Mason, The British Bomber since 1914, Putnam UK 1994

General characteristics
  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 37 ft 8 in (11.48 m)
  • Wingspan: 61 ft 0 in (18.59 m)
  • Height: 11 ft 6 in (3.51 m)
  • Wing area: 534 sq.ft (49.61 sq.m)
  • Empty weight: 3380 lb ()
  • Loaded weight: 6050 lb ()
  • Powerplant: 1 × Bristol Jupiter VI, 420 hp (314 kW)

Performance

Armament

See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

References

  1. ^ K.J. Meekcoms and E.B. Morgan The British Aircraft Specifications File, Air-Britain, UK 1994.
  2. ^ H.F. King, Armament of British Aircraft 1909-1939, Military Book Society, UK 1971.
  3. ^ a b F.K. Mason, The British Bomber since 1914, Putnam UK 1994
  4. ^ T. Mason, British Flight Testing Martlesham Heath 1920-1939, Putnam UK 1993
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