Vickers Type 432 High-Altitude Heavy Fighter Prototype
The single-seat, twin-engined Type 432 heavy fighter of World War 2 marked the last notable foray for the Vickers company into military fighter development.
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Since 1911, the Vickers concern of Britain delivered aircraft for military and civilian market use. The company became more focused on larger bomber projects in the years following World War 1 (1914-1918) and this commitment was ever more apparent during World War 2 (1939-1945) with the arrivals of the Vickers Wellington (11,461 produced) and the Vickers Warwick (842 produced). In the Cold War-era, the company went on to deliver the iconic Vickers "Valliant" as one-third of the "V-bomber" triumvirate (a nuclear-capable bomber trio that included the classic Avro "Vulcan" and Handley Page "Victor"). Company work into smaller fighter-class developments during World War 2 were few and far between though there was one development of note - the "Type 432" - that emerged as a contender for the high-altitude fighter role.
Even before the start of the war in September of 1939, Vickers attempted to answer British Air Ministry Specification F.6/39 which called for a two-seat fighter platform capable of 400 mile per hour speeds. The timing was such that the company had already been working on a similar form with armment centered on a large caliber 40mm automatic cannon fitted to the nose. The cannon's mounting was designed to be slightly trainable for tactical flexibility and increased first-hit capability than simply pointing the aircraft to a target and shooting. The 40mm cannon offered single-hit destructive power against most any aerial threat of the period. To help sell the idea further, Vickers engineers drew up varying designs of the concept including a version with fixed cannon armament.
The Air Ministry showed enough interest in the fixed armament version that Specification F.22/39 of 1939 was created and two prototypes ordered as "Type 414". Their layout would be conventional in that a centralized fuselage would be used to house the multi-person crew and many of the major onboard systems. The tail used a twin-finned unit and the wing mainplanes were elliptical in their general shape - reminiscent of the classic Supermarine Spitfire fighter. The cockpit held its piloting crew in a side-by side arrangement similar to that as seen in the competing twin-engined de Havilland Mosquito heavy fighter. The 40mm cannon's barrel protruded a considerable distance from the point of the nose. The twin-engine arrangement fitted each powerplant into streamlined nacelles running well-ahead of the wing leading edges and cancelling at the respective trailing edges. A tail-dragger wheeled undercarriage would have been used.