The Westland Wizard failed to sell the British Air Ministry on the idea of a monoplane-winged frontline fighter during the late 1920s.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Credit: Image from the Public Domain; early-winged Wizard fighter pictured.
Westland began its contribution to the aviation world by license producing the Short Type 184 floatplane during World War 1 (1914-1918). From there it evolved to manufacture a myriad of aircraft forms into the inter-war period and the Westland "Wizard" became its first try at a monoplane design. The type was formed from the earlier private venture "Racer" model built solely for speed and utilized a parasol (high-mounted, strutted) wing mainplane. A mixed-construction (metal and fabric skinning) approach was had for the structure and power was served through a sole Rolls-Royce Falcon III inline engine of 275 horsepower.
The Racer went airborne for the first time in November of 1926 but a landing accident in 1927 caused considerable damage to the frame. Despite this setback, the original plan was retained and the proven Racer was reconstituted to become a frontline fighter design as the Westland Wizard. More metal construction was used for strength and a cowling devised to offer complete streamlining of the nose over the inline engine. A Rolls-Royce F.XI 12-cylinder supercharged inline of 490 horsepower now replaced the original Falcon III engine - though still driving a two-bladed propeller assembly. A retractable radiator assembly was fitted under the fuselage, just ahead of the cockpit floor. The cockpit itself remained of single-seat design and open-air. The wheeled undercarriage also retained its fixed configuration. One key carry-over quality of the fighter was its twin-strutted parasol monoplane wing structure, this fitted ahead of midships and ahead and over the cockpit.
For its intended fighter role, the Wizard was outfitted with 2 x 7.7mm Vickers machine guns in fixed, forward-firing mounts recessed into the fuselage sides and synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades (by way of an interrupter system).
The Wizard was already in flight trials as soon as late-1927 and proved the design sound on the whole. Rate-of-climb was excellent and handling deemed good enough to warrant attention from the British Air Ministry. A review found forward visibility (mainly due to the wing's positioning and the fuselage's long nose) to be rather poor and this forced Westland engineers back to the drawing boards.
During this period a new wing mainplane was developed that featured a revised strut work, planform and reduced thickness. The F.XI engine was also succeeded by the Rolls-Royce F.XIS ("Kestrel II") engine now offering 500 horsepower output and promising performance gains. However, this did not prove to be the case as the "Wizard II" fared poorly with the changes in place. This setback led to waning interest by the Air Ministry which, in turn, led to the Wizard falling away to the pages of British aviation history.
The Air Ministry continued to champion proven biplane forms for the foreseeable future as a result and relied on them into the 1940s - some classic examples even seeing notable service during World War 2 (1939-1945).
Performance for the Wizard II included a maximum speed of 188 miles per hour, a service ceiling up to 17,500 feet and a rate-of-climb nearing 1,945 feet per minute. Proposed armament was 2 x 7.7mm Vickers machine guns (fixed, forward-firing) and support for 4 x 20lb conventional drop bombs.
[ 1 Units ] : Westland Aircraft - UK
United Kingdom (canceled)
- X-Plane / Developmental
26.84 ft (8.18 m)
39.53 ft (12.05 m)
9.35 ft (2.85 m)
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the Westland Wizard II (Mk.II) production model)
2,469 lb (1,120 kg)
3,340 lb (1,515 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Westland Wizard II (Mk.II) production model)
1 x Rolls-Royce F.XI liquid-cooled 12-cylinder engine developing 490 horsepower.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the Westland Wizard II (Mk.II) production model)
188 mph (303 kph; 164 kts)
17,388 feet (5,300 m; 3.29 miles)
404 miles (650 km; 351 nm)
1,945 ft/min (593 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Westland Wizard II (Mk.II) production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
2 x 7.7mm Vickers machine guns semi-recessed into fuselage sides.
4 x 20lb Conventional Drop Bombs held underwing.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Westland Wizard II (Mk.II) production model)
Wizard - Base Series Name
Racer - Racing airplane on which the Wizard was formed from; fitted parasol wing mainplane; fitted with Rolls-Royce Falcon III inline engine of 275 horsepower.
Wizard Mk I - Original form outfitted with Rolls-Royce F.XI 12-cylinder inline engine of 490 horsepower.
Wizard MK II - Revised prototype with Rolls-royce F.XIS (Kestrel II) inline engine of 500 horsepower; revised wing mainplanes and strutting.
The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com.
Part of a network of sites that includes AnvilOfWar.com, GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, and WDMMA.org, the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft.