1949 to 1956



In 1949, the company had another look at the civil field.  In the A.W.A. tradition, it produced another revolutionary airliner design.  This was the Apollo, the world's first axial flow turboprop airliner to the Brabazon IIb Specification.


Two Apollos were built, but the type did not go into production.


It is interesting to note that a third Apollo was built as a test specimen and used for complete static and fatigue tests, including tests of fuselage sections in a special water tank built at Baginton for the purpose.


One of the reasons why the Apollo did not go into production was that A.W.A. was fully occupied in meeting the urgent demand for a night fighter aircraft.  This was a development of the Meteor carrying a large amount of radar.


A.W.A. put a considerable amount of development work into the Meteor Night Fighter, re-designing several sections to cope with the increased all up weight.  In all, 592 NF 11's, 12's, 13's, and 14's were produced for the R.A.F. and foreign air forces.


While Night Fighters were coming off the assembly line at a peak rate of 32 a month, work began on the development of the Sea Hawk naval fighter, taken over from Hawker Aircraft Limited.


This was developed into an extremely versatile aircraft, very popular with pilots for its handling and deck landing qualities.  Sea Hawks of eight different types were supplied to the Indian, Dutch and German Navies and, in addition, more than 500 were delivered to the Royal Navy.


As the post-war re-armament drive continued, still more production orders came to A.W.A. and, before work began on the Argosy series, more than 270 Hunters and more than 130 Javelins had been delivered.


The coming of the high speed aircraft meant that the grass airfield adjoining the Baginton factory was no longer suitable for test flying and a tenancy was obtained from the Ministry of Supply of two hangars at Bitteswell, near Lutterworth in Leicestershire.


Since 1952, all final assembly and flight testing was done at Bitteswell, and the company finally purchased the complete airfield in 1956.   It became one of the best equipped private airfields in the country at the time.


The original home of A.W.A. (Whitley) had dropped into the background in the immediate post war years but, always with an eye on the future, Managing Director, Mr. Woodhams, insisted on retaining it as a "store".


This foresight paid off when the "toe hold" which A.W.A. had prudently established for itself in the early researches into "rocketry" swiftly developed into a firm "foothold" when the company won the first contract to be awarded for development of a large size guided weapon.


A.W.A. was able to prove it had the necessary capacity for research and development, and in 1955 work began on a £1M scheme to build Whitley into one of the finest independent research centres in the country.


In 1953, to assist its work on the Seaslug ship to air guided weapon, the company opened an Australian Division with headquarters at Salisbury, South Australia, and flight trials facilities on the Woomera range. It was the first independent commercial firm to set up such division.


The success of Seaslug was firmly established as a weapon with a remarkable record for accuracy. 






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Meteor Night Fighter

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Sea Hawk

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Prone Pilot Meteor

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