Wednesday, August 3, 2011

WW2 Aircraft Fact Files - RAF Fighters (3)

Encouraged by its success in developing an advanced trainer for the RAF � ordered into quantity production in mid-1938 as the M.9A Master I � the Miles company (Phillips and Powis Aircraft Ltd) turned its attention to the design of a fighter during 1939. Conscious of the RAF's urgent need to expand its fighter force, Miles proposed, initially, an adaptation of the Master design with a similar inverted-gull wing, a retractable undercarriage and a Merlin engine. Construction was to be of wood and a mock-up of this design, designated the M.20/1, was completed at Woodley (near Reading), where it was inspected before the end of 1939 by the then Air Minister, Sir Kingsley Wood. Little official interest was apparent. When the period of the Phoney War gave way in 1940 to the spring offensive by German ground and air forces against France and the Low Countries, Miles again proposed the development of a "panic" lighter � one in which everything, including to some extent performance � was sacrificed to speed of production. With the dynamic Lord Beaverbrook newly installed as the Minister for Aircraft Production, the Miles ideas now received a more favourable response and the company was authorised to proceed with prototype construction.