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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.3/345, was given that the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley was designed to meet.1,2,4 It was to replace the Handley Page Heyford biplane bomber.5

The Whitley was an all-metal plane.4

Fuselage

The box like shape was for ease of manufacturing.1 The Whitley was distinctive in flight as it looked like it was always flying nose down because of its positive incidence.3,5

Wings

The wing had a small amount of dihedral on the outer wing.1

Prototype

The prototype first flew on June 4, 1935 / March 17, 19363,4,5 / March 19367.2

It flew on March 17, 1936 and was powered by Armstrong Siddeley Tiger radial engines.1

Production

An initial order of 80 Whitleys was placed before the prototype flew.4

In 1942 the Whitleys were withdrawn from production.7

  • Prototypes, A.W. 387: 23
  • Whitley Mk I: 343,4,5
  • Whitley Mk II: 463,4,5
  • Whitley Mk III: 605, 803,4
  • Whitley Mk IV: 333, 404, 501
  • Whitley Mk IVA: 73, 405
  • Whitley Mk V: 1,4663,4, 1,4765, 1,5001
    • Production: 1939 - 19431, 1939 - summer 19434, ? - June 19435
  • Whitley Mk VII: 1461
  • Whitley Mk VIII: 1463
  • Whitley Mk I, II, III: 1601
  • Total: 1,4762, 1,8143
    • Manufacturer: Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft Ltd.4

Variants

  • AW.38: Prototype.3
  • Whitley Mk I: Entered service in March 1937.3 By September 1939 relegated to training.2 Did not have dihedral in the outer wings.5 The nose and ventral turrets were hydraulic and the tail turret manual.7
  • Whitley Mk II: First delivered to RAF in January 1938.7 By September 1939 relegated to training.2
  • Whitley Mk III: Had first power operated nose turret.3 Became operational in August 1938.5,7 In the nose and tail were gun turrets.6 Bombs were carried internally.6
  • Whitley Mk IV: Powered turret in tail.1 Arrived with RAF in May 1939.7
  • Whitley Mk IVA: Had powered Nash or Thompson four machine gun tail turret.5
  • Whitley Mk V: Longer fuselage to extend tail gunner's field of fire.1,4,5 Had new vertical tail surfaces.3 Larger fuel tanks installed to increase range.4 In the nose and tail were power operated turrets.6 First delivered in August 1939.7
  • Whitley Mk VII: Used by Coastal Command with long range search radars.1,2,3,4 First use was in March 1941 over the Atlantic.1,2 A crew had the first kill on November 30, 1941.1,2 It had ASV radar installed.3,4 Crew of 6.
  • Whitley Mk VII (Naval Conversion): Used to train flight engineers.7

Usage

In the early years of the war the Whitley's were used for leaflet raids.1,2,7 In 1940 they joined in the night bombing.1,2

The Whitleys were withdrawn from frontline service in the spring of 1942.1

Whitleys were also used as paratroop trainers and glider tugs starting in 1940.1

Twelve Mk Vs were converted to freighters and used by British Airways.1

First Squadron

The Whitley Mk I became operational with the No. 10 Squadron in March 1937.5

Beginning of War

The Whitleys equipped six squadrons when World War II started in September 1939.3

In their first raid over Germany the No. 51 and No. 58 Squadrons dropped leaflets on the night of September 3 and September 4, 1939.5

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 1940.1,2,4 The squadrons dropped leaflets.3,4,5

First Raid on Italy

On June 11, 1940 / June 19407, Whitleys bombed Genoa and Turin, which was the first bombing of Italy.4,5

Airborne raids

On February 10, 1940, Whitleys were used on paratroop raids against the Italian viaduct at Tragino.2

On the night of February 27 and February 28, 1942, Whitleys were used in the Bruneval raid.2,5 This raid was led by Wing Commander P. C. Pickard.5

Whitleys were also used as tugs for the Horsa glider.2

Winner of the DSO

On the night of November 12 and 13, 1940 Leonard Cheshire was awarded the DSO.5

RAF Coastal Command

The No. 502 Squadron was the first to use the ASV Mk II radar equipped Whitley Mk VIIs.2 They had their first success on November 30, 1941 by sinking U-206 in the Bay of Biscay.2

Last bombing raid

The last raid conducted by the Whitley was on Ostend on the night of April 29 and April 30, 1942.2,5

Specifications

  Armstrong Whitworth Whitley
Type Heavy night bomber3
Crew 53
Dimensions  
Span 84'3
25.6 m3
Length 70' 6"3
21.48 m3
Height 15'3
4.57 m3
Armament 5: 0.303" MG3
Bombs 7,000 lb3
3,175 kg3
  Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk I
Engine (Type) 2: Armstrong Siddeley Tiger1
2: Armstrong Siddeley Tiger IX2,3,4,5,7
Cylinders Radial1,2,3,4,5, Radial 147
Cooling Air7
HP 7907, 7952,3,4, 9205
Propeller blades D.H. two position variable pitch7
Fuel Capacity 519 gallons7
Weight  
Loaded 23,300 lb7
10,569 kg7
Performance  
Speed @ 17,700' /
5,395 m
176 mph1
286 kph1
  Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk II
Engine (Type) 2: Armstrong Siddeley Tiger1
2: Armstrong Siddeley Tiger Mk VIII2,3,4,5,7
Cylinders Radial1,2,3,4,5
HP 8457, 9202,3,4,5
Performance  
Speed @ 17,700' /
5,395 m
176 mph1
286 kph1
  Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk III
Engine (Type) 2: Armstrong Siddeley Tiger1
2: Armstrong-Siddeley Tiger VIII1,3,5,6
Cylinders Radial1,3,5,6
Cooling Air6
HP 845 each6, 9201,3
Dimensions  
Span 84'6
Length 69' 3"6
Height 15'6
Weight  
Loaded 24,000 lb6, 24,430 lb7
11,081 kg7
Performance  
Speed 215 mph6
Speed @ 17,700' /
5,395 m
176 mph1
286 kph1
Range 1,300 miles6
  Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk IV
Engine (Type) 2: Rolls Royce Merlin IV3,5,7
Cylinders V 127
Cooling Liquid7
HP 9907, 1,0303,5
Propeller blades Rotol constant speed7
Fuel Capacity 705 gallons7
  Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk IVA
Engine (Type) 2: Rolls Royce Merlin X3,5,7
HP 1,0307, 1,1453,5
  Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk. V
Type Bomber1,2,4,5, Reconnaissance1, Anti-submarine1
Crew 52,4,5
Engine (Type) 2: Rolls-Royce Merlin X piston1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Cylinders Inline1,2, V 123,4,5
Cooling Liquid4,6
HP 1,145 each2,3,4,5,6, 1,200 each1
Propeller blades 33, Rotol constant speed full feathering7
Fuel Capacity 837 gallons7
Dimensions  
Span 84'1,2,4,5,6,7
25.6 m1,2,5,7
Length 69' 3"2,5, 70' 6"4,6, 72' 6"1,7
21.112,5, 22.1 m1,7
Height 15'1,2,4,5,6,7
4.57 m1,2,5, 4.58 m7
Wing area 1,137 ft2 1,2,5, 1,138 sq ft7
105.63 m2 1,2,5, 105.7 sq m7
Weight  
Empty 19,310 lb1, 19,330 lb2, 19,350 lb3,5
8,759 kg1, 8,768 kg2, 8,777 kg3,5
Loaded 25,000 lb6, 28,200 lb3,4
12,790 kg3
Max loaded 33,431 lb1, 33,500 lb2,3,5,7
15,164 kg1, 15,195 kg3, 15,196 kg2,5,7
Performance  
Speed 240 mph6
Speed @ 16,400' /
5,000 m
230 mph5,7
370 kph5,7
Speed @ 17,000 ' /
5,180 m
222 mph2,4
357 kph2
Speed @ 17,700' /
5,395 m
228 mph1
367 kph1
Speed @ 17,750' /
5,410 m
228 mph3
367 kph3
Cruising speed 185 mph3
298 kph3
Cruising speed @ 15,000' /
4,575 m
210 mph7
338 kph7
Climb 800'/min1,2,3
244 m/min1,2,3
Climb to 12,000' /
3,660 m
21 minutes7
Climb to 15,000' /
4,570 m
16 minutes5
Service ceiling 17,600'2,3,4, 17,700'1, 20,000'7, 26,000'5
5,364 m3, 5,365 m2, 5,395 m1, 6,100 m7, 7,925 m5
Range 1,500 miles1,5, 1,600 miles3, 1,650 miles4, 1,900 miles6
2,415 km5, 2,540 km1, 2,655 km3
Range - Maximum @ 12,000' /
3,660 m
2,400 miles7
3,860 km7
Range - with 3,000 lb /
1,361 kg bombs
1,650 miles2
2,655 km2
Range with maximum load 470 miles3
756 km3
Armament 5: MG4
5: 7.7 mm MG1
Nose turret 1: 7.7 mm MG2,5
Tail turret 1: 7.7 mm MG2
4: 7.7 mm MG5
Bombs 6,985 lb1, 7,000 lb2,4,5
3,168 kg1, 3,175 kg2,5
Usually 14: 500 lb1,2
Usually 14: 227 kg1,2
  Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk VII
Crew 67
Engine (Type)  
Fuel Capacity 969 gallons7
Weight  
Loaded 33,950 lb7
15,408 kg7

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
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site