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Westland P.12 Wendover

Westland P.12 Wendover

The Westland P.12 Wendover was a prototype aircraft developed by the British during World War II. The aircraft was a development of the Westland Lysander, a workhorse aircraft used by the RAF for a variety of roles.

The robust yet lightly armed Lysander was used for message delivery, picking up agents from behind enemy lines, artillery spotting, light bombing and supply dropping. However it was an outdated and slow aircraft which proved easy picking for enemy fighters. The loss rate for the aircraft was shocking, in just two months, May and June of 1940, 118 were lost over France or Belgium out of 175 deployed. After that summer the aircraft was moved back from frontline duty and more capable aircraft like the Curtiss Tomahawk and North American Mustang filled took its place.

It was during this time that Westland tried to come up with a version of the aircraft which would be more capable in combat. The P.12 Wendover was the result. The front half was more of less identical to the Lysander. However the rear half was heavily modified. The rear portion of the glazed cockpit was deleted, and the fuselage was modified to feature a twin tail unit and with a tandem wing configuration. The conventional tail was removed and in its place a power-operated 4-gun Nash & Thompson gunners turret was added.

Westland P.12 Wendover

The Westland P.12 Wendover was also fitted with a pair of 20mm cannons mounted above the wheel fairings for strafing runs.

The intended role of the aircraft was primarily as a ground-attack. It was during the German buildup and planned invasion of Britain that the aircraft was designed and tested. Its targets would have been the troop-carrying invasion barges and later columns of invading German soldiers.

The P.12 Wendover first flew on July 27, 1941. During test flights the pilot, Harold Penrose, reported that the aircraft handled well, with similar characteristics to the standard Lysander. The rudders were less effective at low speed, however it was easy to fly, steady and dives were described as remarkably smooth.

In the end the RAF decided not to order any production aircraft, and the project was abandoned in 1944 as its intended role became increasingly irrelevant, and the outdated design was surpassed by the far more advanced aircraft being brought into play during the later stages of the war.

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Westland P.12 Wendover
Westland P.12 Wendover

Westland P.12 Wendover
Westland P.12 Wendover

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