Alternative British pre 1939 military specifications


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4 June 2006
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The British C.26/32 bomber transport specification led to the Bristol Bombay, Handley Page HP43 and HP51 and Armstrong Whitworth AW23 designs of which the Bombay was built.

The specification limited the wingspan to 100ft due to earlier problems with ground handling of the Gloster TC33 and Vickers Type 163 but doesn't seem to have said anything about the number of engines.

Would the RAF have been able to accept a 4 engined bomber at this time?

The AW23 was very helpful in designing the Whitley to the B.3/34 specification. This was laid down after the Geneva tare weight restriction had been officially abandoned in June 1934 and again the only limit seems to have been wingspan and not the number of engines.

If the AW23 had been a 4-engined aircraft, what are the chances of the Whitley being a 4-engined aircraft and what effect does that have on the following specs - B.1/35 (Warwick) abd B.12/36?

How useful would a 4-engined Whitley be to Coastal Command after it had left Bomber Command?
It's a slightly odd Q: 4-motor boats were in service; 4 is not inherently better than 2 and is worse in cost/serviceability. Lancaster was better than Manchester not due to 4 (Man had 4, driving 2 props) but due to (4x) good engines. Neptune was a superb MR type, Atlantique acceptable to F/D/I/NL. Warwick was called a Heavy Bomber in 1935; Hyper power (to be Sabre/Griffon) was scarcely a dream at that time; less than a dream was erecting halls for bigcraft - financing Whitley assembly bankrupted AWA and caused their takeover by Hawker.

4, on good engines, can give greater payload/range than 2, as a juicy target costing much. In 1932 RAF's job was Trade Routes MR Protection, best by boats, and Empire "pacification", best by Army Co-Op smallcraft. 1936 Specs that became Viermotoren Heavies, 2 firstly as big twins, attracted funds for the new Task of aerial blockade across the Siegfried Line. Not a Task in 1932. If UK had chosen in 1932, say, to range onto USSR's Baku oilfields, a 4-motor Spec. would have been funded and built by an established bomberist - a Short, a BPA, an HP. AWA had a patented alloy mono-wing, but no monopoly of large structure.
My understanding is that the Avro Type 646 Sea Tutor was also proposed on the same competition.

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