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The principal types of aircraft operated by R.A.F. during WW2 and crashed in Belgium

Armstrong Whitworth A.W.38 Whitley

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Last update: 25/06/23

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The Armstrong Whitworth A.W.38 Whitley was one of three British twin-engined, front line medium bomber types that were in service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) at the outbreak of the Second World War. Alongside the Vickers Wellington and the Handley Page Hampden, the Whitley was developed during the mid-1930s according to Air Ministry Specification B.3/34, which it was subsequently selected to meet. In 1937, the Whitley formally entered into RAF squadron service; it was the first of the three medium bombers to be introduced.

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Following the outbreak of war in September 1939, the Whitley participated in the first RAF bombing raid upon German territory and remained an integral part of the early British bomber offensive. In 1942 it was superseded as a bomber by the larger four-engined "heavies" such as the Avro Lancaster.[2] Its front line service included maritime reconnaissance with Coastal Command and the second line roles of glider-tug, trainer and transport aircraft. The type was also procured by British Overseas Airways Corporation as a civilian freighter aircraft. The aircraft was named after Whitley, a suburb of Coventry, home of one of Armstrong Whitworth's plants.



General characteristics

Crew: 5
Length: 70 ft 6 in (21.49 m)
Wingspan: 84 ft 0 in (25.60 m)
Height: 15 ft 0 in (4.57 m)
Wing area: 1,137 sq ft (105.6 m2)
Empty weight: 19,300 lb (8,754 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 33,500 lb (15,195 kg)
Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce Merlin X liquid-cooled V12 engines, 1,145 hp (854 kW) each


Maximum speed: 230 mph (370 km/h; 200 kn) at 16,400 ft (5,000 m)
Range: 1,650 mi (1,434 nmi; 2,655 km)
Ferry range: 2,400 mi (2,086 nmi; 3,862 km)
Service ceiling: 26,000 ft (7,900 m)
Rate of climb: 800 ft/min (4.1 m/s)


1 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers K machine gun in nose turret
4 × .303 in Browning machine guns in tail turret
Bombs: Up to 7,000 lb (3,175 kg) of bombs in the fuselage and 14 individual cells in the wings, typically including
12 × 250 lb (113 kg) and
2 × 500 lb (227 kg) bombs
Bombs as heavy as 2,000 lb (907 kg) could be carried



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