The AW 52 




This twin jet, tailless "flying wing", of which two prototypes were built for research purposes, was the first of its kind in the world.  The first aircraft, fitted with Rolls Royce Nene engines, flew on 13th November 1947 with E. G. Franklin as pilot at Boscombe Down.


Some aerodynamic data and flight experience had been gained by the trials on the glider version of the flying wing which was to a linear scale of about 0.6 to the AW 52.  Design of the glider commenced in 1943 and made its first glide on 2nd March 1945, using a Whitley as its tug, 'free' flight lasting about 25 minutes after release at 12,000 ft. 




Span               90 ft. 11 in.

Length             37 ft. 4 in.

Height             14 ft. 4 in.

Wing Area      1,314 sq. ft. gross 


19, 662 lb. Empty.

34,154 lb. Loaded.







Power Plant:


1st Prototype: 2 Rolls Royce Nene engines, each of 5,000 lb. thrust.


2nd Prototype: 2 Rolls Royce Dewent engines, each of 3,500 lb. thrust.




With Nene Engines: -


Max. Speed                 500 mph at Sea Level.

Max. Rate of Climb     4,800 ft. / min. at Sea Level



One of the main reasons for the AW 52 was to provide data on laminar flow wings with boundary layer control by suction. To this end, new methods of construction were employed to provide the desired wing smoothness.


Incidentally, the new compartment was the first pressurised cabin that the firm had built and it provided much experience for future products.  Another novel feature was the thermal anti-icing system for the wing leading edges which used hot gas obtained from the engine exhaust.  Longitudinal control was unconventional in that intermediate moveable surfaces were provided in the wing just forward of the elevators.


In May 1949, the first aircraft was on a test flight to investigate flutter characteristics, when the pilot was forced to bale out, using the Martin Baker Seat for the first time ever in an emergency.  The aircraft was destroyed.


The second prototype continued with its programme for some considerable time after, mainly at Farnborough.