Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.I

Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.I

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Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.I

Here we see an Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk I (probably K7207) in flight. The Mk II used a different version of the Tiger, and the Mk III had a powered nose turret.

Armstrong Siddeley

Armstrong Siddeley was a British engineering group that operated during the first half of the 20th century. It was formed in 1919 and is best known for the production of luxury vehicles and aircraft engines.

The company was created following the purchase by Armstrong Whitworth of Siddeley-Deasy, a manufacturer of fine motor cars that were marketed to the top echelon of society. After the merge of companies, this focus on quality continued throughout in the production of cars, aircraft engines, gearboxes for tanks and buses, rocket and torpedo motors, and the development of railcars. Company mergers and takeovers with Hawker Aviation and Bristol Aero Engines saw the continuation of the car production which ceased in August 1960.

The company was absorbed into the Rolls-Royce conglomerate which was interested in the aircraft and aircraft engine business. Eventually, the remaining spares and all motor car interests were sold to the Armstrong Siddeley Owners Club Ltd, which now owns the patents, designs, copyrights and trademarks, including the name Armstrong Siddeley.

Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.I - History

Type:Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk I
Owner/operator:9 AGS Royal Air Force (9 AGS RAF)
Registration: K7252
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 9 / Occupants: 9
Other fatalities:8
Aircraft damage:
Location:RAF Llandwrog, Gwynedd - United Kingdom
Departure airport:RAF Llandwrog
RAF Llandwrog
Collided with Whitley K9041 & both aircraft crashed onto the airfield.

Both Whitleys were returning from a gunnery exercise over Caernarfon Bay, K7252 made a standard recovery to the circuit whilst K9041 made an approach without flying a circuit. Unbeknownst to Sqn/Ldr Barker flying K7252 the other Whitley was immediately beneath him, it is believed both pilots saw the other aircraft late on & initiated avoiding action - K7252 climbing to the right, however the prop of Whitley K9041 cut through the tailplane. The aircraft turned on it's back & crashed onto the airfield & burst into flames.
The crash killed 17 in all. Barker was Officer Commanding 9 AGS whilst a civilian - James Thompson worked for Marshalls Air School Ltd. Barker, Harding & Thompson are believed to have been on K7252. K9041 was piloted by Flt/Lt Martin with Sgt Cullen as his gunnery instructor. It is uncertain which of the trainees was on each aircraft.
Sqn/Ldr Herbert Victor BARKER (70044), 42, RAF - Middlesbrough (Acklam) Cemetery
Cpl Edwin Marcus HARDING (359172) RAF - Caerphilly (St Martin) Churchyard
LAC John POLLOCK (1340619), 20, RAFVR - Neilston Cemetery
LAC Thomas Albert PRYCE (966681) RAFVR - Shrewsbury General Cemetery
Cpl Peter Edward PURDY (986859), 24, RAFVR - Stockport Crematorium
LAC Henry William RIGLEY (1206996), 28, RAFVR- Bedford Cemetery
LAC Raymond Bryan ROFFE (1199517) RAFVR - Wittering (All Saints) Churchyard
LAC David Noel Pearman ROGER (1313459), 18, RAFVR - Llanbeblig Cemetery, Caernarfon
LAC Ronald William SEYMOUR (1131157), 21, RAFVR - Sutton Bridge (St Matthew) Churchyard
LAC John William STONEHAM (1208585), 27, RAFVR - Chelmsford (Writtle Road) Cemetery
LAC Charles William STUBBERFIELD (1166142), 30, RAFVR - Fulham Palace Road Cemetery
LAC Bert William TUCKER (1382261), 21, RAFVR - Islington Cemetery & Crematorium
LAC Joseph Cromwell SMITH (1152497), 27, RAFVR - Merthyr Tydfil (Cefn) Cemetery
LAC William Arthur SMITH-CROSS (943141), 22, RAFVR - Heanor Cemetery
James Henry THOMPSON, 22, civilian

Flying K9041
Flt/Lt Evelyn John Bentick MARTIN (78845), RAFVR - Llanbeblig Cemetery, Caernarfon
Sgt Charles CULLEN (1053357), 29, RAFVR - Bury Cemetery


Background Edit

The origins of the Albemarle can be traced back to the mid 1930s and the issuing of Specification B.9/38 by the British Air Ministry. [3] This sought a twin-engine medium bomber of wood and metal construction, without the use of any light alloys, in order that the aircraft could be readily built by less experienced manufacturers from outside the aircraft industry. Furthermore, the envisioned aircraft had to be engineered in a manner that would allow it to be divided into relatively compact subsections, all of which had to fit on to a standard Queen Mary trailer to facilitate the adoption of a dispersed manufacturing strategy. [4] At the time, the Air Ministry was particularly concerned that, in the event of a major conflict arising, there would be restrictions on the supply of critical materials that could undermine mass production efforts. [4]

Several aircraft manufacturing firms, including Armstrong Whitworth, Bristol and de Havilland, were approached to produce designs to meet the specification. Bristol proposed two designs - a conventional undercarriage and an 80 ft (24 m) wingspan capable of 300 mph and a tricycle undercarriage design with 70 ft (21 m) span with a maximum speed of 320 mph (510 km/h). Both designs, known as the Type 155, used two Bristol Hercules engines. The rival Armstrong Whitworth AW.41 design used a tricycle undercarriage and was built up of sub-sections to ease manufacture by firms without aircraft construction experience. [4] The AW.41 was designed with Rolls-Royce Merlin engines in mind, but also with provisions for the use of Bristol Hercules as an alternative ("shadow") powerplant. [5]

In June 1938, mock-ups of both the AW.41 and Bristol 155 were examined, while revised specifications B.17/38 and B.18/38 were drawn up for the respective designs de Havilland opted against submitting a design. The specification stipulated 250 mph (400 km/h) at 15,000 ft (4,600 m) economical cruise while carrying 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) of bombs. Bristol was already busy with other aircraft production and development and stopped work on the 155. [2] [3] Changes in policy made the Air Staff reconsider the Albemarle as principally a reconnaissance aircraft capable of carrying out bombing. Among other effects, this meant more fuel to give a 4,000 mi (6,400 km) range. An upper dorsal turret and a (retractable) ventral turret for downward firing were added. [6]

Into production Edit

In October 1938, 200 aircraft were ordered "off the drawing board" (i.e. without producing a prototype). The aircraft was always expected to be of use as a contingency measure, and was considered by numerous officials to be less than ideal. [ citation needed ] Furthermore, according to aviation author Oliver Tapper, the brief was a relatively difficult one for any company to fulfil. [3] Initially, physical work centred around the construction of a pair of lead aircraft, which were to be test flown prior to the commencement of full-rate manufacture of the type. The first Albemarle, serial number P1360, was assembled at Hamble Aerodrome by Air Service Training the aircraft performed its maiden flight on 20 March 1940. [7] [3]

This first flight has actually been unintended, the test pilot having picked up too much speed during a ground taxi run, and had only taken off with the barest margin after traversing the entire runway. [8] Months later, P1360 was damaged after a forced landing during the test flight programme, but was promptly repaired. Early flights of the type by test pilots typically described it as being relatively average and being free of flaws. [8] A number of modifications were made to the design during this late stage of development, including the extensive redesign of the aircraft's structure by Lloyd at Coventry. [3] Further measures were made to improve the Albemarle's take-off performance, such as the adoption of a wider span 77 ft (23 m) wing, and the thickening of the rudder's trailing edge to correct a tendency to over-balance. Occurrences of the engines overheating were never fully resolved, the main change in this area being the raising of the maximum permissible operational temperature from 280C to 300C. [9]

The Albemarle's production run was principally undertaken by A.W. Hawksley Ltd of Gloucester, a subsidiary of the Gloster Aircraft Company, which was specifically formed to construct the Albemarle. [5] Originally, Gloster was to have undertaken this work itself at its Brockwood facility. Both Gloster and Armstrong Whitworth were member companies of the Hawker Siddeley group, one of the largest aircraft manufacturing interests in Britain. [5] Individual parts and sub-assemblies for the Albemarle were produced by in excess of 1,000 subcontractors. [5] [10] Amongst the companies that were subcontracted were MG Motors, to produce the forward fuselage, Rover, which constructed the wing centre section, and Harris Lebus, which built the tailplane units. [5] Production of the Albemarle was terminated during December 1944, by which point 602 aircraft had been completed. [1]

The Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle was a mid-wing cantilever monoplane with twin fins and rudders. The fuselage was built in primary three sections the structure being composed of unstressed plywood over a steel tube frame, including four circular steel longerons most elements were bolted together via gusset plates. [11] [12] The structure was intentionally divided in order that it may readily permit individual sections to be removed and replaced in the event of battle damage being sustained. The centre section of the wing was a single piece that ran through the fuselage, being built around a steel tube girder it formed the attachment points for the central and nose fuselage sections, as well as the engines, main undercarriage legs, and extension wings. [13] Aside from a portion of the leading edge that used light alloys, the majority of the wing was covered in plywood. The extension wings were almost entirely made of wood, save for the bracing of the two spars by steel tubing the Frise-type ailerons and tailplane were also composed of wood. [13] The structure of the forward section used stainless steel tubing as to reduce interference with magnetic compasses. [14]

The Albemarle featured a Lockheed-designed hydraulically-operated, retractable tricycle undercarriage, the main wheels retracting back into the engine nacelles, and the nose wheel retracting backwards into the front fuselage, while the tail wheel was fixed in position, albeit semi-concealed by a "bumper" configuration. It was one of the particularly notable design features of the Albemarle, according to Tapper, it was the first British-built aircraft with a retractable nose-wheel to be built in quantity for the Royal Air Force. [5] Power was provided by a pair of Bristol Hercules XI air-cooled radial engines, each capable of 1,590 hp and drove a three-blade de Havilland Hydromatic propeller unit. [5] Fuel was typically stored in four tanks, two in the center fuselage and two within the wings centre section in circumstances where extended range would be required, a maximum of additional auxiliary tanks could be installed within the aircraft's bomb bay. This sizable bomb bay was equipped with hydraulically-operated doors and spanned from just aft of the cockpit to roughly half way between the wings and the tail. [13]

The two pilots sat side by side in the forward portion of the cockpit, while the radio operator was seated behind the pilots. The navigator's position was within in the aircraft's nose, and thus was forward of the cockpit. The bomb aimer's sighting panel was incorporated into the crew hatch in the underside of the nose. In the rear fuselage, several glazed panels were present so that a "fire controller" could help coordinate the aircraft's defensive turrets against attackers. The dorsal turret was a Boulton-Paul design, which was electrically-operated and originally armed with four Browning machine guns. [6] A fairing forward of the turret automatically retracted as the turret rotated to fire forwards. [15] The original bomber configuration of the Albemarle required a crew of six including two gunners one in the four-gun dorsal turret and one in a manually operated twin-gun ventral turret but only the first 32 aircraft, the Mk I Series I, were produced in such a configuration. [16] [17]

As a bomber, the Albemarle was commonly considered to be inferior to several other aircraft already in RAF service, such as the Vickers Wellington [18] according to aviation author Ray Williams, the type was only used ever used as a bomber on two occasions. [16] Accordingly, later built aircraft were configured as transports, called either "General Transport" (GT) or "Special Transport" (ST). Amongst the modifications made was the elimination of the ventral turret, while the dorsal unit was downgraded to a manually-operated twin gun arrangement the internal space was heavily altered by the elimination of bomb-aiming apparatus and the rear fuselage tank. Additions included a quick-release hook was also installed at the rearmost part of the fuselage for the towing of gliders. [13] When used as a paratroop transport, a maximum of ten fully armed troops could be carried these paratroopers were provided with a dropping hatch in the rear fuselage along with a single large loading door in the starboard side of the fuselage. [19] [13]

Ambitions to use Albemarle in the bomber role were dropped almost immediately upon the type reaching service this was due to it not representing an improvement over current medium bombers (such as the Vickers Wellington) and possessing inferior performance to the new generation four-engined heavy bombers that were also about to enter service with the RAF. However, the aircraft was considered to be suitable for general reconnaissance and transport duties, and thus was re-orientated towards such missions. [2]

The Soviet Air Force placed a contract for delivery of 200 Albemarles in October 1942. An RAF unit - No. 305 FTU, at RAF Errol near Dundee - was set up to train Soviet ferry crews. [20] [21] During training, one aircraft was lost with no survivors. The first RAF squadron to operate the Albemarle was No. 295 at RAF Harwell in January 1943. [21] Other squadrons to be equipped with the Albemarle included No. 296, No. 297 and No. 570. The first operational flight was on 9 February 1943, in which a 296 Squadron Albemarle dropped leaflets over Lisieux in Normandy. [ citation needed ]

A Soviet-crewed Albemarle flew from Scotland to Vnukovo airfield, near Moscow, on 3 March 1943, and was followed soon afterwards by eleven more aircraft. [20] Two Albemarles were lost over the North Sea, one to German fighters and the other to unknown causes. Tests of the surviving Albemarles revealed their weaknesses as transports (notably the cramped interior) and numerous technical flaws in May 1943, the Soviet government suspended deliveries and eventually cancelled them in favour of abundant American Douglas C-47 Skytrains. The Soviet camp at Errol Field continued until April 1944: apparently the Soviet government had hoped to secure de Havilland Mosquitos. [ citation needed ] Tapper speculated that a major reason for the Soviet's interest in the Albemarle had been its Bristol Hercules engines, which were reverse engineered and subsequently copied by Soviet industries. [21]

From mid-1943, RAF Albemarles took part in many British airborne operations, beginning with the invasion of Sicily. [22] The pinnacle of the aircraft's career was a series of operations for D-Day, on the night of 5/6 June 1944. 295 and 296 Squadrons sent aircraft to Normandy with the pathfinder force, and 295 Squadron claimed to be the first squadron to drop Allied airborne troops over Normandy. On 6 June 1944, four Albemarle squadrons and the operational training unit sent aircraft during Operation Tonga 296 Squadron used 19 aircraft to tow Airspeed Horsas 295 Squadron towed 21 Horsas, although it lost six in transit 570 Squadron sent 22 aircraft with ten towing gliders and 42 OTU used four aircraft. For Operation Mallard on 7 June 1944, the squadrons towed 220 Horsas and 30 Hamilcars to Normandy. On 17 September 1944, during Operation Market Garden at Arnhem, 54 Horsas and two Waco Hadrian gliders were towed to the Netherlands by 28 Albemarles of 296 and 297 squadrons 45 aircraft were sent the following day towing gliders. [23] Of the 602 aircraft delivered, 17 were lost on operations and 81 lost in accidents. [ citation needed ]

The final RAF unit to operate the Albemarle was the Heavy Glider Conversion Unit, which replaced its examples with Handley Page Halifaxes during February 1946, at which point the type was formally retired from all operational units. [ citation needed ]

Over the course of its production life, a number of variants of the Albemarle were built: [24]

  • ST Mk I – 99 aircraft
  • GT Mk I – 69
  • ST Mk II – 99
  • Mk III – One prototype only.
  • Mk IV – One prototype only.
  • ST Mk V – 49
  • ST Mk VI – 133
  • GT Mk VI – 117

Most Marks were divided into "Series" to distinguish differences in equipment. The ST Mk I Series 1 (eight aircraft) had the four gun turret replaced with hand-operated twin-guns under a sliding hood. As a special transport, a loading door was fitted on the starboard side and the rear fuel tank was removed. [15] The 14 ST Mk I Series 2 aircraft were equipped with gear for towing gliders. The Mk II could carry ten paratroops and the Mk V was the same but for a fuel jettison system. All production Albemarles were powered by a pair of 1,590 hp (1,190 kW) Bristol Hercules XI radial engines. The Mk III and Mk IV Albemarles were development projects for testing different powerplants the former used the Rolls-Royce Merlin III and the latter used the 1,600 hp (1,200 kW) Wright Double Cyclone. [25]

  • Twelve aircraft were exported to the Soviet Union (two more lost in transit).
  • Transport arm of 1st Air Division, later 10th Guards Air division (to 1944) naval air units until retirement in 1945. [citation needed]
    – Albemarle I from October 1942 to April 1943 at RAF Tempsford. operated one aircraft at Doncaster between October 1942 and April 1943. – Albemarle I from November 1943 to July 1944 at RAF Hurn and then RAF Harwell. Albemarle II from October 1943 to July 1944 at RAF Hurn and then RAF Harwell. Albemarle V from April 1944 to July 1944 at RAF Harwell. – Albemarle I from January 1943 to October 1944 at RAF Hurn, RAF Stoney Cross including operations in North Africa. Albemarle II from November 1943 to October 1944 at RAF Hurn and then RAF Brize Norton. Albemarle V from April 1944 to October 1944 at RAF Brize Norton. Albemarle VI from August 1944 to October 1944 at RAF Brize Norton. – Albemarle I from July 1943 to December 1944 at RAF Thruxton, RAF Stoney Cross and then RAF Brize Norton. Albemarle II from February 1943 to December 1944 at RAF Stoney Cross and then RAF Brize Norton. Albemarle V from April 1944 to December 1944 at RAF Brize Norton. Albemarle VI from July 1944 to December 1944 at RAF Brize Norton. – Albemarle I from November 1942 to March 1944 at RAF Lyneham. – Albemarle I from November 1943 to August 1944 at RAF Hurn and then RAF Harwell. Albemarle II from November 1943 to August 1944 at RAF Hurn and then RAF Harwell. Albemarle V from May 1944 to August 1944 at RAF Harwell. used three aircraft at RAF St Eval from September 1942 to March 1943 used two aircraft at RAF Wick from September to October 1942. at RAF Finmere (two aircraft between October 1942 and April 1943) at RAF Ashbourne from September 1943 to February 1945.
  • Heavy Glider Conversion Unit at RAF Brize Norton and RAF North Luffenham from January to April 1943 and August 1944 to October 1944 when it became No. 21 Heavy Glider Conversion Unit.
  • No. 21 Heavy Glider Conversion Unit at RAF Brize Norton from 1944, moved to RAF Elsham Wolds in December 1945 and withdrew the last operational Albemarles in February 1946.
  • No. 22 Heavy Glider Conversion Unit at RAF Keevil and RAF Blakehill from October 1944 to November 1945.
  • No. 23 Heavy Glider Conversion Unit at RAF Peplow from October to December 1944.
  • No. 3 Glider Training School operated eight Albemarles at RAF Exeter between January and August 1945.
  • No. 301 Ferry Training Unit operated four Albemarles at RAF Lyneham from November 1942 to April 1943.
  • No. 305 Ferry Training Unit bases at RAF Errol from January 1943 to train Soviet Air Force crews, disbanded in April 1944.
  • Torpedo Development Unit at Gosport used one aircraft between April and September 1942
  • Telecommunications Flying Unit at RAF Defford used one aircraft during May 1943, at RAF Ringway and RAF Sherburn-in-Elmet between May 1942 and October 1944.
  • Coastal Command Development Unit used two aircraft at RAF Tain between September and December 1942.
  • Central Gunnery School at RAF Sutton Bridge used one aircraft between September and November 1942.
  • Bomber Development Unit used three aircraft at RAF Gransden Lodge between August and November 1942.
  • Operation Refresher Training Unit at RAF Hampstead Norris from May 1944 to February 1945

Aircraft were also operated for tests and trials by aircraft companies, the Royal Aircraft Establishment, and Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment. One was operated by De Havilland Propellers for research into reversing propellers. [ citation needed ]

Data from The Unloved Albemarle, [26] Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft since 1913 [27]

Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.I - History

Airfix's 1/72 scale
Armstrong Whitworth Whitley

Airfix's 1/72 Whitley is available online from


When war began in 1939, newly formed Bomber Command counted three potent twin engine bombers in its inventory. Beside Wellington and Hampden, Armstrong Withworth Whitley made the mainstay of RAFs bomber force.

Intended from the outset as a night bomber, the Whitley was rather slow but had a good range the Mk.V could fly about 2600 kilometres with a bomb load of around 1300 tons, the long range version Mk.VII could cover even 3700 kilometres.

The Whitley flew 9000 reported sorties with Bomber Command in the early days of the conflict, later it was also extensively used with Coastal Command, as a glider tug or for dropping paratroopers.
1466 Whitleys had been built when production ended in June 1943.

My model depicts one of them, N1380, a Whitley Mk.V from No.102 Squadron No. 4 Group (Bomber Command), which had been flown from RAF Driffield, Yorkshire in March 1940. It was the personal aircraft of Squadron Leader John Charles McDonald.

Airfix did a real good job on designing its new kit on this important airplane. Beautiful details complement with a nearly perfect fit to a lovely building experience. The modeller is surprised &ndashand then pleased- with an uncommon layout of the fuselage.

You can have a look at this here:

The decals are a joy to use apart from one fact I do not understand: the fuselage roundels are placed on a carrier film much too wide. This configuration is also shown on the construction manual- if there is sense behind it, I did not get it. Anyway, it was rather easy work to get this into a seemingly more fitting size.

I am totally amazed and pleased by Airfix recent releases- this beautiful kit bears witness to this high level. After this lovely build I am looking forward getting my hands on the recently announced Coastal Command Whitley!

Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.I - History

Post by Metodi » Wed Dec 23, 2015 7:15 am

this is my current project and yesterday I uploaded part I of my build video in YouTube, if you are interested please visit the link and don't forget to subscribe: VIDEO BUILD

It has been a so so build do far, while its not Tamiya the kit goes together halfway decent, given it is limited run kit thats ok.
The inbox review is here: INBOX REVIEW

I started the build from the wings and wheel wells assemblies because they seem the most difficult part of the build. time will show
some more work is needed here.

To my knowledge MK.Is had two control columns so I build one myself as there was only one in the kit. I think it'll do the job.

I am going to build the turret-less version but from the bombers window there will be some visibility towards the interior so I installed those parts too. Whats more they'll help with fuselage halves assembly.

I thinned the trailing edges of the horizontal stabilizers

And moved the control surface a bit

I also cut and built the housing for the landing lights

Well that's it for now, all comments are welcome.
Best regards
Metodi Private First Class
Posts: 41 Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2015 1:17 pm Contact:

Re: Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.I. 1/72 Fly

Post by Metodi » Sun Jan 10, 2016 4:49 pm

Hello lads
Thanks dknights
I made some slight progress over the past week so decided to share it.

I primed the interior, the wheel wells and various other parts with AK white primer, then painted them with interior green (mixture of LifeColor interior green and some gray)

Then I highlighted the raised details with lighter shade of the base color and painted the details. Later I did pin wash with MIG dark green-grey panel line wash.

I painted the instrument panel with flat black and then drybrushed it.

I decided to try a new approach to painting the canopy. I always paint the internal part and its almost always PITA. This time painted only a portion which was easy and fast to mask and painted a piece of leftover white decal with the interior color. To "paint" the frames I cut thin stripes of decal and applied them. I haven't done the whole canopy yet but I am happy with the method so far.

That's all for now. All comments are appreciated.
Best regards
Metodi Private First Class
Posts: 41 Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2015 1:17 pm Contact:

Re: Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.I. 1/72 Fly

Post by Metodi » Fri Jan 15, 2016 2:26 pm

Here it is - part II of the video build:

Hope you enjoy watching it and don't forget to subscribe
Metodi Private First Class
Posts: 41 Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2015 1:17 pm Contact:

Re: Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.I. 1/72 Fly

Post by Metodi » Sun Mar 27, 2016 3:18 pm

Hi there, it's been a while.
Well a lot of boring panel line work and sanding has been done but finally the Whitley is ready for paint.
As I said, quite a lot of work hours went on deepening every single panel line and then sanding the complete model to get rid of the shiny finish and give some grip to help the primer.
I employed almost every filling method I know - regular putty, dissolved putty, milliput, CA glue and plastic strips were used to fill or blend areas of trouble.
Major PITA in this kit is wings to fuselage assembly so I made myself some reinforcement/location pins from paperclips.
The landing lights were scratch-built as mentioned in earlier posts.. I made video tutorial on that: . orial.html

Part III of the video build is also ready and you can see it here: . video.html
Now some pictures:

This picture made me realize that I have misplaced one of the oil coolers. that was remedied later.

It is finally ready for paint
That will be for the next episode.


The first production Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk I (K7183) on it's maiden test flight, over Martlesham, at the point of Shingle street and the entrance to the river Alde, April 1937.

34 MK I's were delivered between March 1937 and June 1938. The unit to equipped with the type was No,10 RAF at Dishforth in 1937, to help form part of the newly created No. 4 Group of RAF Bomber Command.

Following the outbreak of war in September 1939, the Whitley participated in the first RAF bombing raid upon German territory and remained an integral part of the early British bomber offensive. By 1943, it was being superseded as a bomber by the larger four-engine bombers such as the Avro Lancaster. Its front line service included maritime reconnaissance with Coastal Command, glider-tug, trainer and transport aircraft.

The Whitley holds the distinction of having been the first RAF aircraft with a semi-monocoque fuselage, which was built using a slab-sided structure to ease production. This replaced the tubular construction method traditionally employed by Armstrong Whitworth, who instead constructed the airframe from light-alloy rolled sections, pressings and corrugated sheets. According to aviation author Philip Moyes, the decision to adopt the semi-monocoque fuselage was a significant advance in design many Whitleys surviving severe damage on operations.

Photographer: Charles E. Brown.
Credit: Authors own collection (via RAF Museum).

Image Repair & Colourisation - Nathan Howland @howdiColourWorks.

I'm absolutely loving these colour images that you're doing, please keep them coming, they add a new dimension for generations that will never experience this piece of history :)

HowdiColour Image Recovery & Colour

Grace, Henry Albert (1885–1966)

Man and daughter at the Royal National Park 1947.

Henry Albert Grace (1885-1966), electrician and bird enthusiast, was born on 28 June 1885 at Moree, New South Wales, eldest of five children of native-born parents Albert Henry Grace, solicitor, and his wife Catherine Ruth, née Muirson. Henry worked as an electrician on shift work for the New South Wales Government Railways and Tramways for forty-five years. In 1910, however, he was in England, for on 2 August that year in the parish church at Erdington, Warwickshire, he married Deborah Watling Carter, from Norfolk. Next year he worked as an electrical switchboard attendant at Wolverhampton. Back in Sydney the family lived at Willoughby after World War II they moved to Jannali.

Grace had first taken up his hobby of bird watching in 1917. With an old police bicycle (given to him by his father in 1896), he took the steam train south from Sydney to the (Royal) National Park, where he was an honorary ranger for twenty-seven years. During his working life he maintained a love for the bush and nature. After retiring, he devoted himself to bird watching or more precisely bird listening, for which purpose he designed his own whistles so that he might 'talk with the birds'.

From his backyard workshop, Grace painstakingly constructed a series of extraordinary instruments, fashioned from old brass tubing, wire and rubber bands. In the National Park he would test the whistles in the wild, using his own birdcall notation (said to be a cross between Morse code and shorthand) to record the songs he heard in reply. He could imitate some sixty native species with his whistles, often with such perfection that he would fool the birds themselves—they would imitate each other. Sometimes he ranged further afield, catching the train to Otford or Thirroul loaded with bicycle, whistles, firewood and supplies and then riding into the bushland, often camping out overnight. His favourite sound was the dawn chorus: 'First the yellow robin, then the coachwhip, the currawongs, and the kookaburras. Finally the wonga-wonga and bronze-wing pigeons and orioles would join in . . . The chorus only lasts about 20 minutes, but it was worth camping out all night to hear', he said.

When his hearing became impaired, Grace built himself metal ear trumpets, which enabled him to hear the sounds he had cherished throughout his lifetime. As he aged and his memory became rusty, he would increasingly refer to his exercise books full of birdcall notation, to remind himself of the calls.

Grace visited the Minimurra falls regularly until his eightieth year, travelling by train to Wollongong then pushing his bike thirty miles (48 km) to the reserve. He died on 4 July 1966 in hospital at Caringbah and was cremated with Anglican rites. His wife, four daughters and one son survived him. In 1999 Grace's whistles, notebooks, bicycle and a 16-mm film of him in the Royal National Park featured in an exhibition at the State Library of New South Wales, 'Sydney Eccentrics: A Celebration of Individuals in Society'.

A.W.38 Whitley

ARMSTRONG WHITWORTH AW.38 WHITLEY - The Armstrong Whitworth Whitley was designed under the direction of J Lloyd to the requirements of Specification B.3/34 for a five-seat 'heavy bomber' replacement for the Heyford and Hendon, to carry a 2,500-lb (1,135-kg) bomb load over 1,250 mi (2,010 km) at 225 mph (362 km/h) at 15,000 ft (4,575 m). First of two prototypes (K4586) with 795 hp Tiger IX engines flown at Whitley, Coventry, aerodrome on March 17, 1936. Second prototype (K.4587) with Tiger XIs flown February 11, 1937.

Armstrong Whitworth Whitley I: First contract for 80 Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk Is placed 'off the drawing board' in June 1935. First example flown December 23, 1936 deliveries to No 10 Sqn, RAF, on March 9, later to Nos 51 and 78 Sqns. Tiger IX engines armament of single 0.303-in (7.7-mm) Lewis gun each in front (AW. or Nash and Thompson) and rear (AW.) manual turrets. Production terminated at 34th aircraft.

Armstrong Whitworth Whitley II: Final 46 aircraft on initial contract completed with 920 hp Tiger VIIIs with two-speed superchargers, to Specification B.21/35. Deliveries mid-1938, to Nos 7, 51, 58 and 97 Sqns. One Armstrong Whitworth Whitley II (K7243) test-bed for AS Deerhound 21-cyl air-cooled radial engine, flown Jan 1939-March 1940.

Armstrong Whitworth Whitley III: Second production batch of 80, to Specification B.20/36, similar to Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk II but with powered Nash and Thompson single-gun nose turret and retractable ventral 'dustbin' turret with two 0.303-in (7.7-mm) Brownings. Bomb-bay and racks modified for larger bombs. Deliveries second half of 1938 to replace Mk Is and IIs and also to Nos 77, 97, 102 and 166 Sqns. Early marks of Armstrong Whitworth Whitley from Nos 51 and 58 Sqns flew first RAF Nickel (leaflet) raid over Germany on night of September 3/4, 1939.

Armstrong Whitworth Whitley IV: Final 40 aircraft on second production contract (additional to 80 Mk Ills) fitted with Merlin in-line engines and extra fuel tanks. Prototype (converted Mk I K7208) first flown at Hucknall on February 11, 1938 first production Armstrong Whitworth Whitley IV flown on April 5, 1939 with Merlin IVs final seven aircraft had 1,070 hp Merlin Xs and designated Armstrong Whitworth Whitley IVA.

Armstrong Whitworth Whitley V: Contracts placed in 1938 for 312, in 1939 for 150 and in 1940 for 1,150 Armstrong Whitworth Whitleys, of which 1,466 completed as Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk V and 146 as Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk VII (see below). As Mk IV with Nash and Thompson powered tail turret mounting four 0.303-in (7.7-mm) Browning guns 15-in (38.1-cm) rear fuselage extension to improve rear gunner's field of fire modified fin shape wing leading-edge rubber de-icers and fuel capacity increased to 837 Imp gal (3,805 1). First production Mk V flown August 8, 1939, and initial deliveries to No 77 Sqn in September. Many Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Vs (and some earlier marks) used as glider tugs, with towing gear in place of rear turret or fitted beneath rear fuselage, and as para-troop transports also used to drop agents into occupied territory. Fifteen Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk Vs transferred (with civil registrations) to BOAC for Gibraltar-Malta supply flights, 1942/43.

Armstrong Whitworth Whitley VII: Total of 146 Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk VII built on final production contract, plus some Mk V conversions, to serve with Coastal Command squadrons on maritime reconnaissance duties, carrying ASV Mk II radar (with four dorsal radar masts plus lateral and underwing aerials), sixth crew member and extra fuel in bomb bay and fuselage to a total of 1,100 Imp gal (5,000 l) for a range of 2,300 mi (3,700 km). Initial CC squadrons were Nos 502 (GR) and 612 (GR), using standard Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Vs from 1940 and 1941 respectively, with Armstrong Whitworth Whitley VIIs introduced 1942.

Armstrong Whitworth A.W. 38 Whitley in flight

Whitleys of No 58 Squadron at Linton-on-Ouse under threatening clouds, summer 1940. P5028/GE:R outlasted most of her kind to be broken up in 1945. N1469/GE:H, usually flown by Flt Lt O'Neill's crew while at Linton, was later transferred to 19 OTU and flew into high ground near Arckiestown, Morayshire, during bad weather on 3 January 1943.

No 58 had spent the winter of 1939-40 on detachment to assist Coastal Command in oceanic patrols before participating in Bomber Command's night bombing operations. As one of the last Whitley-equipped squadrons in No 4 Group, it did not convert to Halifaxes within the Command as did the others, for it was permanently transferred to Coastal Command in April 1942.

The steel ringlet in the foreground is for tying down aircraft in high winds. (IWM CH222)

Installing the guns in the rear turret of a No 58 Squadron Whitley at Linton-on-Ouse. The four .303 calibre Browning machine guns delivered 80-plus bullets a second but the effective range was around 700yds and of little use against armour. Although numbers of enemy aircraft were shot down by these turret weapons, standard on all the main heavy bombers of the Command, the .303 machine gun was quickly rendered outclassed by the advances in German gun technology. (IWM CH246)


Click on the aeroplane image to view a larger version.

Top Speed Range Service Ceiling Armament
Whitley Mk I 192 mph 1,250 miles 19,200 ft two 0.303-in machine-guns
3,365lb bombs
Whitley Mk II 215 mph 1,315 miles two 0.303-in machine-guns
Whitley Mk III 215 mph 1,300 miles 17,000 ft four 0.303-in machine-guns
4,000lb bombs
Whitley Mk IV 245 mph 1,800 miles five 0.303-in machine-guns
Whitley Mk V 230 mph 1,500 miles 26,000 ft five 0.303-in machine-guns
7,000lb bombs
Whitley Mk VI Proposed version to be powered by Pratt & Whitney engines. None produced.
Whitley Mk VII 215 mph 2,300 miles 20,000 ft five 0.303-in machine-guns
upto 6 depth charges

Watch the video: IL2 1946 Armstrong Whitworth Whitley MKV, MKVII