The Whitley 





This twin engine bomber was the first British example of an all-metal stressed skin aircraft to go into production. 


It was also the first aircraft of the Royal Air Force to have a retractable undercarriage, this component being designed and manufactured by the Company.


The first prototype, powered by A-S Tiger engines, flew on 17th March 1936 from Whitley in the hands of A.C. Campbell-Orde, under registration K4586.


This was the first of 1,824 Whitleys to be made during the next six years, under five marks. 


A total of 162 aircraft were fitted with A-S Tiger engines, these have aircraft designation Mk I, Mk II and Mk III.  All the remainder were powered by Rolls Royce Merlin engines, with aircraft designation Mk IV, Mk V and Mk VII.






A ventral retractable cupola was fitted to the Whitley Mk III only, to provide gun fire protection athwartships, but this was discontinued on later marks.  The Whitley Mk IV and Mk V were fitted with a Nash and Thompson 4 gun turret in the tail and the bomb aiming station in the nose.


Whitleys based at Dishforth and Linton-on-Ouse were used in the leaflet raids in the early days of World War II, also having the distinction of being the first aircraft to raid Berlin, this being the night of the 1st / 2nd October 1939.  


The last operation carried out for Bomber Command took place on 30th April 1942, meantime the Whitley had been prepared for other duties, i.e. paratroop jumping, glider towing, Coastal Command reconnaissance etc.


Conversion of 15 Mk V's to freighting was made in 1942 to assist B.O.A .C. in breaking the siege of Malta, but this proved very inefficient and later the aircraft were handed back to the R.A.F.


A Whitley Mk VII accounted for the first U-boat to be sunk by an aircraft of Coastal Command unassisted by any other branch of the Services, this action taking place on 30th November 1941 in the Bay of Biscay.



Power Plant: 


Mk I: 2 x Armstrong Siddeley Tiger IX, 14 cylinder radial air cooled engines rated 790 h.p. at 6,5000 ft.


Mk II & Mk III: 2 Armstrong Siddeley Tiger VIII rated 845 hp. each at 6,200 ft.

                                          & 760 h.p. at 12,750 ft. with 2 speed supercharger.


Mk IV: 2 Rolls Royce Merlin IV - 12 cylinder Vee liquid cooled engines rated

                                           990 h.p. each at 12,250 ft.


Mk V: 2 Rolls Royce Merlin X rated at 1,010 h.p. each .




Span:               84 ft.  

Length:             70 ft. 6 in. (Mk IV & Mk V) 

Height:             15 ft.


Wing Area:        Mk I, Mk II, Mk III & Mk IV            1,137 sq. ft.

                            Mk V                                            1,233 sq. ft.


Weight (lb.):


                   Mk  I          Mk II           Mk III         Mk IV          Mk V


Empty:      14,275      15,474      15,750      17, 520      19,360


A.U.W.       21,660      22,991      24,000      25,900      33,500




Max. Speed:             Mk I               129 mph  at   7,000 ft.

                                   Mk II & III        215 mph at 15,000 ft.

                                   Mk IV             245 mph at 16,250 ft.

                                   Mk V              230 mph at 16,250 ft.


Climb to 15,200 ft.: 16 min. (Mk IV & Mk V).


Service Ceiling:       26,000 ft. (Mk V).


Max. Range:              Mk I                 1,600 miles.

                                    Mk IV              1,800 miles.

                                    Mk V               2,400 miles.