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Great Britain's Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bomber

Photos

  • Armstrong Whitworth Whitley
  • Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk III
  • Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk III
  • Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk III
  • Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk III
  • Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk V

Design

In 1934 a requirement, Specification B.3/34, was given that the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley was designed to meet. It was to replace the Handley Page Heyford biplane bomber.

The Whitley was an all-metal plane.

Fuselage

The box like shape was for ease of manufacturing. The Whitley was distinctive in flight as it looked like it was always flying nose down because of its positive incidence.

Wings

The wing had a small amount of dihedral on the outer wing.

Prototype

The prototype first flew on June 4, 1935 / March 17, 1936 / March 1936.

It flew on March 17, 1936 and was powered by Armstrong Siddeley Tiger radial engines.

Production

An initial order of 80 Whitleys was placed before the prototype flew.

In 1942 the Whitleys were withdrawn from production.

  • Prototypes, A.W. 38: 2
  • Whitley Mk I: 34
  • Whitley Mk II: 46
  • Whitley Mk III: 60, 80
  • Whitley Mk IV: 33, 40, 50
  • Whitley Mk IVA: 7, 40
  • Whitley Mk V: 1,466, 1,476, 1,500
    • Production: 1939 - 1943, 1939 - summer 1943, ? - June 1943
  • Whitley Mk VII: 146
  • Whitley Mk VIII: 146
  • Whitley Mk I, II, III: 160
  • Total: 1,476, 1,814
    • Manufacturer: Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft Ltd.

Variants

  • AW.38: Prototype.
  • Whitley Mk I: Entered service in March 1937. By September 1939 relegated to training. Did not have dihedral in the outer wings. The nose and ventral turrets were hydraulic and the tail turret manual.
  • Whitley Mk II: First delivered to RAF in January 1938. By September 1939 relegated to training.
  • Whitley Mk III: Had first power operated nose turret. Became operational in August 1938. In the nose and tail were gun turrets. Bombs were carried internally.
  • Whitley Mk IV: Powered turret in tail. Arrived with RAF in May 1939.
  • Whitley Mk IVA: Had powered Nash or Thompson four machine gun tail turret.
  • Whitley Mk V: Longer fuselage to extend tail gunner's field of fire. Had new vertical tail surfaces. Larger fuel tanks installed to increase range. In the nose and tail were power operated turrets. First delivered in August 1939.
  • Whitley Mk VII: Used by Coastal Command with long range search radars. First use was in March 1941 over the Atlantic. A crew had the first kill on November 30, 1941. It had ASV radar installed. Crew of 6.
  • Whitley Mk VII (Naval Conversion): Used to train flight engineers.

Usage

In the early years of the war the Whitley's were used for leaflet raids. In 1940 they joined in the night bombing.

The Whitleys were withdrawn from frontline service in the spring of 1942.

Whitleys were also used as paratroop trainers and glider tugs starting in 1940.

Twelve Mk Vs were converted to freighters and used by British Airways.

First Squadron

The Whitley Mk I became operational with the No. 10 Squadron in March 1937.

Beginning of War

The Whitleys equipped six squadrons when World War II started in September 1939.

In their first raid over Germany the No. 51 and No. 58 Squadrons dropped leaflets on the night of September 3 and September 4, 1939.

Bombing raid on Berlin

Whitley Mk Vs of the No. 51 and 78 Squadrons took part in the first raid on Berlin on the night of August 25 and August 26 1940. The squadrons dropped leaflets.

First Raid on Italy

On June 11, 1940 / June 1940, Whitleys bombed Genoa and Turin, which was the first bombing of Italy.

Airborne raids

On February 10, 1940, Whitleys were used on paratroop raids against the Italian viaduct at Tragino.

On the night of February 27 and February 28, 1942, Whitleys were used in the Bruneval raid. This raid was led by Wing Commander P. C. Pickard.

Whitleys were also used as tugs for the Horsa glider.

Winner of the DSO

On the night of November 12 and 13, 1940 Leonard Cheshire was awarded the DSO.

RAF Coastal Command

The No. 502 Squadron was the first to use the ASV Mk II radar equipped Whitley Mk VIIs. They had their first success on November 30, 1941 by sinking U-206 in the Bay of Biscay.

Last bombing raid

The last raid conducted by the Whitley was on Ostend on the night of April 29 and April 30, 1942.

Specifications

  Armstrong Whitworth Whitley
Type Heavy night bomber
Crew 5
Dimensions  
Span 84'
25.6 m
Length 70' 6"
21.48 m
Height 15'
4.57 m
Armament 5: 0.303" MG
Bombs 7,000 lb
3,175 kg
  Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk I
Engine (Type) 2: Armstrong Siddeley Tiger
2: Armstrong Siddeley Tiger IX
Cylinders Radial, Radial 14
Cooling Air
HP 790, 795, 920
Propeller blades D.H. two position variable pitch
Fuel Capacity 519 gallons
Weight  
Loaded 23,300 lb
10,569 kg
Performance  
Speed @ 17,700' /
5,395 m
176 mph
286 kph
  Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk II
Engine (Type) 2: Armstrong Siddeley Tiger
2: Armstrong Siddeley Tiger Mk VIII
Cylinders Radial
HP 845, 920
Performance  
Speed @ 17,700' /
5,395 m
176 mph
286 kph
  Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk III
Engine (Type) 2: Armstrong Siddeley Tiger
2: Armstrong-Siddeley Tiger VIII
Cylinders Radial
Cooling Air
HP 845 each, 920
Dimensions  
Span 84'
Length 69' 3"
Height 15'
Weight  
Loaded 24,000 lb, 24,430 lb
11,081 kg
Performance  
Speed 215 mph
Speed @ 17,700' /
5,395 m
176 mph
286 kph
Range 1,300 miles
  Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk IV
Engine (Type) 2: Rolls Royce Merlin IV
Cylinders V 12
Cooling Liquid
HP 990, 1,030
Propeller blades Rotol constant speed
Fuel Capacity 705 gallons
  Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk IVA
Engine (Type) 2: Rolls Royce Merlin X
HP 1,030, 1,145
  Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk. V
Type Bomber, Reconnaissance, Anti-submarine
Crew 5
Engine (Type) 2: Rolls-Royce Merlin X piston
Cylinders Inline, V 12
Cooling Liquid
HP 1,145 each, 1,200 each
Propeller blades 3, Rotol constant speed full feathering
Fuel Capacity 837 gallons
Dimensions  
Span 84'
25.6 m
Length 69' 3", 70' 6", 72' 6"
21.11, 22.1 m
Height 15'
4.57 m, 4.58 m
Wing area 1,137 ft2 , 1,138 sq ft
105.63 m2 , 105.7 sq m
Weight  
Empty 19,310 lb, 19,330 lb, 19,350 lb
8,759 kg, 8,768 kg, 8,777 kg
Loaded 25,000 lb, 28,200 lb
12,790 kg
Max loaded 33,431 lb, 33,500 lb
15,164 kg, 15,195 kg, 15,196 kg
Performance  
Speed 240 mph
Speed @ 16,400' /
5,000 m
230 mph
370 kph
Speed @ 17,000 ' /
5,180 m
222 mph
357 kph
Speed @ 17,700' /
5,395 m
228 mph
367 kph
Speed @ 17,750' /
5,410 m
228 mph
367 kph
Cruising speed 185 mph
298 kph
Cruising speed @ 15,000' /
4,575 m
210 mph
338 kph
Climb 800'/min
244 m/min
Climb to 12,000' /
3,660 m
21 minutes
Climb to 15,000' /
4,570 m
16 minutes
Service ceiling 17,600', 17,700', 20,000', 26,000'
5,364 m, 5,365 m, 5,395 m, 6,100 m, 7,925 m
Range 1,500 miles, 1,600 miles, 1,650 miles, 1,900 miles
2,415 km, 2,540 km, 2,655 km
Range - Maximum @ 12,000' /
3,660 m
2,400 miles
3,860 km
Range - with 3,000 lb /
1,361 kg bombs
1,650 miles
2,655 km
Range with maximum load 470 miles
756 km
Armament 5: MG
5: 7.7 mm MG
Nose turret 1: 7.7 mm MG
Tail turret 1: 7.7 mm MG
4: 7.7 mm MG
Bombs 6,985 lb, 7,000 lb
3,168 kg, 3,175 kg
Usually 14: 500 lb
Usually 14: 227 kg
  Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk VII
Crew 6
Engine (Type)  
Fuel Capacity 969 gallons
Weight  
Loaded 33,950 lb
15,408 kg

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  4. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  6. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
  7. Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II, 1989
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