The Westland Pterodactyls were a series of experimental
aircraft developed by Professor Geoffrey Hill while working
at the Westland aircraft company.
The first Pterodactyl, the MKI, made its maiden flight
in 1928 powered by a 70 horsepower Armstrong Siddeley
Genet engine. The MKI, a high wing tailless monoplane
was significantly different in appearance to later versions.
The MKII and MKIII versions were planned but never actually
developed. Instead the program leapfrogged onto the MKIV
model which flew in 1931. This aircraft was powered by
a superior 120 hp engine.
The definitive Westland Pterodactyl model was the MKV.
This version differed greatly from its predecessors in
a number of ways. The propellor was relocated to the front
instead of the rear, and the engine was upgraded to a
much more powerful (600 hp) unit. Shape of the aircraft
was also comprehensively redesigned and unlike the single
wing MKI, the MKV had a biplane like appearance due to
the stubby strut supports which stuck out from the center
of the fuselage.
The MKV Pterodactyl was designed to fulfill a need from
Britain's Air Ministry for a new fighter aircraft. It
had a two seat configuration with a dedicated gunner's
Unfortunately the Pterodactyl program suffered problems
from the start. The most significant of which was the
unstable flight characteristics of the aircraft. It also
proved to be slower and less reliable than its competitors.
However unlike its extinct dinosaur namesake, the Westland
Pterodactyl MKI prototype still survives. It can be seen
at the Science Museum in London.
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