Miles M20...if given a chance

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by R Pope, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. R Pope

    R Pope Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Messages:
    318
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Could it have become a competitive fighter? It had better performance in most respects than a Hurricane even with non retractable gear. Designed with easy cheap mass production in mind, and using the power egg of the Beaufighter II with eight Brownings in the wings and a speed just a bit less than a Spitfire, Wouldn't it nave been a better use of Merlins than all those Defiants and even Hurricanes that were built?
     
  2. woljags

    woljags Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,358
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    glazier/vintage car restoration
    Location:
    maidenhead uk
    Miles aircraft were always slightly outside the box in terms of thought and design ,i doubt that these would have done as many roles as the hurricane
     
  3. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2009
    Messages:
    2,342
    Likes Received:
    408
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Motor Mechanic
    Location:
    Lancashire
    The M20s problem is the first flight wasnt till mid september 40 and by the time series production would have started the RAF was up to its eyeballs in Spitfires and Hurricanes. An interesting what if and it might have been a useful carrier fighter if the problems of wooden construction had allowed its use at sea. Not sure how that very thick wing would have worked in a dive though, it looks thicker than a Typhoons.
     
  4. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,529
    Likes Received:
    947
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Archibald Sinclair effectively killed the M.20 in a letter of 30th December 1940 in which he stated that the M.20's performance was "not good enough for day use".

    He did hold out the possibility of the M.20 being used as a disposable convoy protection fighter,with small wheels projecting beneath the fuselage instead of the normal fixed undercarriage to make landings in the sea safer.
    A second prototype was built to this end,the first having overshot the runway and crashed into a gravel pit in February 1941. The role was eventually filled by the "Hurricat".

    The prototype was the altered to meet specification N.1/41 issued in July 1941 for a naval fighter. In April 1942 the aircraft went to A+AEE at Boscombe Down for assessment. It got a pretty good report though a strong swing to the left on take off,which could not be corrected if allowed to develop,and heavy controls with overbalanced ailerons were criticised. The fixed undercarriage was considered very dangerous in the event of a ditching,not ideal for a naval fighter.

    The potential roles for the aircraft were filled by other types so it never entered production. The prototype (DR616) was struck of charge on 22 May 1942 and broken up in November of that year.

    Steve
     
  5. yulzari

    yulzari Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2010
    Messages:
    777
    Likes Received:
    76
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Occupation:
    Gentleman
    Location:
    Limousin
    I think the significance of the M20 has often been misinterpreted. It was not expected to replace Hurricanes and Spitfires. It's performance was good, but not as good as the designs expected to supercede the Hurricane and the planned Spitfire upgrades. But, if existing aircraft factories were destroyed by bombing, then the M20 could be made by other types of factories to fill in the fighter supply gap in the meantime. Hence it avoided normal suppliers like retractable undercarriage makers, relied on existing .303 Brownings and could use bomber Merlin power egg production.

    A bomber counterpart was the AW Albermarle. Designed in case aluminium production became unavailable for bombers.

    By 1941, and certainly 1942, the factories that could make M20s would have been the same as were being put to making Mosquitos.

    Miles did a first class job but fortunately, the need never arose.
     
  6. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,529
    Likes Received:
    947
    Trophy Points:
    113
    That's partly true. It was to be what the Air Ministry termed a "utility" fighter.
    It was developed against the backdrop of the battle of Britain. The meeting between the Miles design staff and the Air Ministry took place on 13th July 1940. The Air Ministry demanded that the prototype be completed within three months of this date and it was only when Miles Aircraft agreed to this that contract B140247/40 was placed for one prototype.

    It was to assist a rapid design and construction that it was decided to.

    i) Use wooden construction,wood working labour was readily available.
    ii)Non-retracting undercarriage.
    iii)Deletion of all hydraulics,hydraulic equipment was in short supply.
    iv)Use standard parts. For example,Hurricane gun mounting fittings and Miles Master flying controls.
    v)Use an existing power plant. The fuselage was designed to fair in with a standard Bristol Beaufighter MkII's Merlin XX power plant.

    The fighter was covered by specification F.19/40 and so was required to have a maximum speed not less than 350 mph at 21,000ft and a service ceiling of 32,000ft despite these severe austerity measures.

    Miles did it. The prototype ordered flew on 15th September 1940. It was later given the serial AX834 and it was this aircraft that ended up in a gravel pit after brake failiure.
    I agree that Miles did a very good job. Despite the thick wing (21% thickness/chord ratio) Miles managed to reduce drag with a very slippery surface. They also made construction as simple as possible,the fuselage skinning was made very simple by avoiding any double curvature for example.
    They also made a very good looking aeroplane!

    It's a shame that the type never saw even limited production. Ultimately,by 1941,there was simply no need for a "utility" fighter and it was never really suited to the alternative roles suggested by Sinclair and others.

    Steve
     
  7. woljags

    woljags Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,358
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    glazier/vintage car restoration
    Location:
    maidenhead uk
    don't forget that Handley Page aircraft were also at the same airfield in Woodley n/r Reading Berkshire,this might have been a factor as well
     
  8. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,529
    Likes Received:
    947
    Trophy Points:
    113
    #8 stona, Oct 24, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2012
    Which reminds me that though the M.20 was a Miles design the company was still called Philips and Powis Aircraft Ltd. I shan't edit my post above :)

    The Company was building aircraft at a furniture factory in Princes Risborough(about 25 miles North of Reading) during the war but I'm not sure where the M.20 prototypes were built.

    Steve
     
  9. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,995
    Likes Received:
    438
    Trophy Points:
    83
    The M-20 was to use the engine that was powering (or was to power) a vast number of British-built planes, namely the Merlin XX. We can remember that the Spitfire V was a better performer with the Merlin 45, a single speed variation of the XX. So, if the British have surplus of the XX (or other 20 series Merlin), the Spitfire is to get them?
    About same situation as the Packard Merlin:the P-51 was the right airframe, not the P-40.
     
  10. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,529
    Likes Received:
    947
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Yes,but the M.20 was a sort of stop gap,easy to produce,fighter and has to be understood in that context.
    In July 1940 when representatives from Miles were meeting with the Air Ministry only about 30 Spitfires had been produced at Castle Bromwich. The Supermarine works around Southampton were badly bombed in September and December,so much so that in December 1940 Supermarine moved its headquarters away from Southampton and production was spread out across an incredible sixty five different units along the South Coast! Castle Bromwich would eventually take the strain,but not in the summer of 1940. The Air Ministry was doing what today we might call "covering its arse". When the need for something like the M.20 no longer existed it was quietly dropped.

    The Spitfire V didn't fly until December 1940 and the first Vbs went to squadrons in March 1941 IIRC.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  11. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,995
    Likes Received:
    438
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Agreed on what you've said. My point is that 'giving the M.20 a chance' (as a mass production design) would mean that RAF the allies would receive yet another Hurricane II, albeit with increased range.
     
  12. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,529
    Likes Received:
    947
    Trophy Points:
    113
    That's fair enough. The M.20 had an internal fuel capacity of 148 gallons (all in the wings) and was to be equipped to carry auxiliary tank(s) under the fuselage. For some reason it appears that the A+AEE did their tests with only 110 gallons,no idea why.

    Its chance was gone when the BoB was won and then production of the Spitfire and Hurricane was able to supply the needs of the RAF. There was no need for another single engined fighter whose performance was inferior (if only slightly in the case of the Hurricane) than both and which certainly did not have the development potential of the Spitfire.

    It's not the only promising design to have gone this way. The British Air Ministry seems to have been a lot better at backing winners and rationalising aircraft production than the RLM. The AM didn't even pay for the second M.20 prototype which was not covered by the contract I cited above.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  13. woljags

    woljags Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,358
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    glazier/vintage car restoration
    Location:
    maidenhead uk
    the unit i rent at present in lane end near h/wycombe also built furniture,i wonder if any aircraft were built there,the site is big enough and near 2 old RAF bases
     
  14. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,529
    Likes Received:
    947
    Trophy Points:
    113
    It must be a possibility. Wood working skills,like those found in the furniture industry,were what was needed to construct the various wooden types used throughout the war and a pool of this skilled labour was readily available.
    Of course some furniture businesses carried on making furniture! People still needed things to sit on and eat off even with a war on.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  15. woljags

    woljags Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,358
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    glazier/vintage car restoration
    Location:
    maidenhead uk
    are there any records of what they did and where as it might be an interesting thing to follow up
     
  16. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,529
    Likes Received:
    947
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I think your best bet might be local records,business directories or even press.
    Phillips and Powis/Miles are long gone and many records will have been lost. There used to be an aviation museum at Woodley. If that still exists it would be worth contacting.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  17. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,995
    Likes Received:
    438
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Even if the M.20 is not my favourite might-have-been, it's perceived development use can bring in some interesting opportunities for it's intended users.
    The fuel tankage is same as of pre-1944 P-51s, and with some decent drop tank(s), it can provide a defensive escort, mainly vs. bombers torpedo planes pounding Med convoys, even better once the Hispanos are mounted some time in 1941/42. It should beat the early war Italian fighters, and hold it's own vs. the MC.202 and 109E, so offensive escort fighter sweep vs. Sicily (from Malta) are within capabilities. It should been easier to deploy into MTO as well, due to increased fuel tankage.
    In Asia/Pacific, the 2 speed engine should allow better climb (to catch Darwin raiders?), and there the combat range is a paramount. The main Japanese types should hold no advantage in performance, other than usual (initial) RoC.
    By 1941/42 the Merlin 20 series will be authorised for greater boost, so the plane's performance is to be decent, even if not great.
     
  18. Edgar Brooks

    Edgar Brooks Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2011
    Messages:
    727
    Likes Received:
    41
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Occupation:
    professionally retired
    Location:
    High Wycombe, England (home of the Mosquito)
    Get "Britain at War" Issue 67 (November 2012,) which has an article on the M.20. Almost certainly, any chance it might have had was scuppered by the resurgence of the Hurricane II, which also used the Merlin XX.
    Probably out of print, but due for a (third, if memory serves) reprint, there's a council-produced book "High Wycombe's Contribution to Aviation," ISBN 978-0-9558241-0-4 (at £10 when I got my copy,) which gives a fairly full account of High Wycombe's work, during the war, in fact the town was known as the "Home of the Mosquito," since the vast majority of major parts were built here, then shipped out for final assembly by de Havilland. Virtually all of the town's furniture factories were involved with the Mosquito, plus some parts for Miles aircraft. A garage, in the High Street (now Argos) repaired and re-covered Wellington fuselages.
    Wycombe Abbey (now returned to use as a girls' school) was headquarters of the 8th. Air Force. Naphill (4 miles away) was H.Q. of Bomber Command; Hughenden Manor (Benjamin Disraeli's former home) was turned into a map-making facility allied to Bletchley Park. Medmenham (about 2 miles the other side of Marlow) was a Photographic Interpretation Unit, allied to Benson's P.R. Squadrons.
    Edgar
     
  19. woljags

    woljags Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,358
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    glazier/vintage car restoration
    Location:
    maidenhead uk
    just noticed your close by Edgar,if you want to meet up just pm me as my garage is in The Row,Lane End
     
  20. CobberKane

    CobberKane Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2012
    Messages:
    706
    Likes Received:
    34
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I think the most interesting thing about this aircraft is its design philosophy: use a state of the art power-plant in a modular form, matched with an airframe made of non-strategic materials designed for ease of construction – the whole package necessitated by a desperate strategic situation. In this respect I think the M20’s closest contemporary would be the Heinkel 162.
     
Loading...

Share This Page