The operational requirement for the Canberra replacement, OR.339, was issued in 1956. It called for an aircraft capable of operating from small airfields at supersonic speeds and at all levels, especially close down; by now the threat to high flying aircraft was appreciated. The complexity of the requirement was such that no single aerospace company, except possibly Hawker Siddeley, was capable of designing and producing a solution. Thus Bristol, English Electric and Vickers merged to form British Aircraft Corporation in 1960. The accepted Vickers design, built to the revised GOR.343, was nearly 90ft long with a shoulder wing and two Olympus engines each delivering 30,610lbs thrust. Intended peformance was Mach 2.25 at above 36,000ft and Mach 1.1 at sea level with a tacticial operating radius of around 800 miles. Maximum weapons load would have been 6,000lbs internally and 4,000lbs on underwing pylons. The aircraft was constructed at Weybridge and transported to Boscombe Down for the first flight (XR219) on 27 September 1964. For a variety of reasons, political and military, the TSR.2 was cancelled in April 1965 by which time over 13 hours of flight had been achieved in 24 sorties. Five airframes were complete (two of which XR220 and XR222 have been preserved), four were nearly completed and eleven pre-production aircraft and 30 production aircraft were on the production line. Replacement of the programme was determined in the form of the AFVG, and as an interim measure 50 F-111K. The AFVG was abandoned in 1966 and the F-111 order cancelled in 1968.
The Spearfish was designed to specification O.5/43 as a replacement for the Barracuda torpedo fighter. The aircraft was powered by a single Centaurus engine driving a five-bladed propellor. Stores were carried in a bomb-bay and could include a single torpedo or 2,000lb of bombs or mines. Armament comprised two .5in Browning guns in the wings and two more in a remotely controlled dorsal barbette while sixteen RPs could be carried under the wings. ASV radar would be contained in a retractable 'dustbin' aft of the bomb-bay. The first prototype (RA356) flew on 5 July 1945. Five aircraft were completed (four of which flew) before the end of the war with Japan determined the programme. Although not specially fast, with a wingspan exceeding 60ft the Spearfish was one of the largest single-engined aircraft designed for carrier operations. Several were used for trials for some years after the war by the CTU.
The War Office and Air Ministry in 1953 expressed an interest in a light reconnaissance helicopter for Army use against which specification H.144T was written. Fairey won the contract for four protoypes, the first of which, XJ924, flew on 14 August 1955. The Ultra-light was extremely small - the specification required that the type could be transported on a standard 3 ton truck - and it was powered by a Palouste providing rotor tip drive. Trials continued over several years and even after the War Office lost interest the manufacturer continued to demonstrate the helicopter in a range of military settings including conducting over 70 landings on HMS Grenville.
Folland Midge and Gnat
The Fo.139 was an attempt to produce an economic fighter but with high performance. The sole prototype (G-39-1) flew on 11 August 1954 and it was destroyed in a fatal accident a year later after 220 flights with the A&AEE. The aircraft was built around the Armstrong-Siddeley Viper of just 24in diameter and 1,640 lbs thrust. Notwithstanding the small size and power, the type was flown supersonically in a dive. The Fo.140 Gnat was marginally larger than the Midge but fitted with the much more powerful Orpheus engine. The type was built as a private venture and the first (G-39-2) flew on 18 July 1955. Six development aircraft (XK724, 739, 740, 741, 767 and 768) were then ordered by the Ministry of Supply and a further two were built for India and Finland in which countries the type was built and operated. The fighter version was flown only by the AAEE.
The Fury was developed as a lightweight Tempest, designed to confer relatively low wing loading on a powerful fighter. Originally designed to specification F.6/42, later refined in F.2/43, the prototype, NX798, first flew on 1 September 1944. Its relationship to the Tempest II was clear but the aircraft featured a revised fin and rudder. It was hoped that the Fury would more than match the manouvreability of the Japanese fighters then in production but before problems with the Centaurus engine could be resolved the war had ended. With a surplus of piston-engined fighters now available and the the introduction of jet types an order for 200 was cancelled, although in naval form the type served with the Royal Navy for some years as the Sea Fury. Four prototypes were constructed. NX798 had the Centaurus XII, rigid mounted and driving a four-blade airscrew. LA610 was first fitted with a Griffon 85 driving three-blade contra-rotating propellors. It was later fitted with the Sabre VII with which it attained a top speed of 485 mph. NX802 employed the Centaurus XV on a dynamic mounting. The fourth, and final Fury, VP207 also flew with the Sabre VII.
Short Shetland Mark I
The Type S.35 Shetland was built as a long range patrol flying boat to specification R.14/40. The prototype (DX166) did not fly until 14 December 1944 and only two were built. The need for the Shetland diminished with the end of the war and although the type was tested at the MAEE it did not enter production.
The SA.4 Sperrin was built to specification B.14/46. It was a four-jet bomber to a relatively conventional design with straight wings and the engines mounted in vertical pairs in wing nacelles. It was intended as a stop-gap in the event of problems with the more advanced swept-wing V-bombers. The Sperrin was unarmed and would have carried a 16,000lb bomb load but in the event the Valiant was on time and the type served for some time as an engine test-bed. Two prototypes were built, the first, VX158 flying on 10 August 1951 and the type was used for trials with RAE and as an engine test-bed for some years.
The SB.6 Seamew was a remarkable aircraft designed to a naval specification but also intended for land-based use by the RAF. The type was intended to be a robust and simple anti-submarine aircraft for use on small carriers, with a crew of two, good range and capable of carrying and operating the latest radars. The Mamba ASM.6 turboprop was able to run on virtually any fuel and the tailwheel undercarriage was fixed. After a number of development machines was built and tested - stated to be up to ten flown - the Seamew was scrapped in 1957. The Seamew AS Mark 1 was the intended naval version with arrester and catapult hooks and manual wing-folding. It could carry up to 1,100lbs of munitions. The prototype, XA209, first flew on 13 August 1953 and at least four were built and flown; it served only with ATDU and 700 NAS. The MR Mark 2 was similar in every respect to the AS Mk 1 except that it was optimised for land-based use from hastily prepared airstrips. It thus had oversize tyres and was slightly heavier than the naval version; although naval equipment was deleted it was cleared to carry a higher weapons load. Two were built including XA213 but it was not put into service before being cancelled.
Supermarine was engaged in developing a new, laminar flow, wing for the Spitfire, where the thickest part of the wing would be much further from the leading edge than in the original wing. The design of a new fighter to incorporate the wing was undertaken against specification F.1/43. The new aircraft was sufficently different from the Spitfire as to merit a new name; Victor, proposed for the Griffon-engined Spitfires, was rejected in favour of Spiteful. The first prototype was a converted Mark XIV, NN660, which in common with the second prototype retained the Spitfire tail unit. The first true prototype, NN664, first flew in June 1944 followed by NN667. Aircraft built toproduction standard (RB515 to RB520) featured the new wing, an inward-retracting undercarriage and a fin and rudder and tailplane of increased area to improve directional stability. The early aircraft displayed a number of problems, none of which would have been insurmountable, although the type was probably taking piston-engine design to the limits. 373 were ordered from a revised Spitfire F21 contract, but production was cancelled with the war's end and with the introduction into service of the new jet types, the Meteor and Vampire.
The Type 383 Seafang was designed to N.5/45 as a navalised Spiteful which itself was based on the Spitfire Mk XIV mated to a new laminar flow wing. The first step was to add a sting-type arrester hook to Spiteful RB520 and the first Seafang prototype flew in 1946. Unlike the Seafire, the Seafang had an inward retracting main undercarriage. In the event the Seafang was not put into production, since the Seafire F Mk 47 was deemed to be adequate until the first generation of jet fighters was available. The F Mark 31 was fitted with the Griffon 61 driving a five bladed propellor. The first of ten (VG471) was delivered to the RAE on 15 January 1946. Armament comprised four 20mm cannon and provision for two 1,000lb bombs or rockets. The F Mark 32 had wing folding, increased fuel capacity and a Griffon 89 driving two three-bladed contra-rotating propellors. Of this variant eight were built but only two were completed (VB893 & 895) and there is doubt about whether the type flew.
Supermarine Seagull ASR Mark I
The Type 381 Seagull was designed to specification S.14/44 to replace the Walrus and Sea Otter as a short-range ASR flying-boat. It was powered by a Griffon 29 and employed a variable-incidence wing. The prototype (PA143) flew on 14 July 1948 and three were built. The type did not enter service, its role being assumed by helicopters.