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Vickers Type 143 (Bolivian Scout)

Biplane Fighter Aircraft

Six Vickers Type 143 biplane fighters were built by Vickers Limited for service with the Bolivian Air Force.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 3/19/2019
National Flag Graphic


Year: 1930
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Manufacturer(s): Vickers Limited - UK
Production: 6
Capabilities: Fighter;
Crew: 1
Length: 27.89 ft (8.5 m)
Width: 33.96 ft (10.35 m)
Height: 11.32 ft (3.45 m)
Weight (Empty): 2,249 lb (1,020 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 3,120 lb (1,415 kg)
Power: 1 x Bristol Jupiter VIA 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine developing 450 horsepower.
Speed: 149 mph (240 kph; 130 kts)
Ceiling: 20,013 feet (6,100 m; 3.79 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 1,310 ft/min (399 m/min)
Operators: Bolivia; United Kingdom (evaluated)
By the end of the 1920s, Bolivia was in need of modern aircraft as a deterrent against neighboring Paraguay - embroiled in a growing border dispute. It contracted the British Vickers aircraft company for six fighters based on the earlier Type 141, itself forged from the single-seat, single-engine Type 123. the Type 123 became a biplane fighter existing as a single prototype and managed a first-flight on September 11th, 1926. While the Type 123 went nowhere, the Type 141 was realized when the original Hispano-Suiza T52 400 horsepower engine was replaced with a Rolls-Royce F.Xi series of 480 horsepower in 1927. This design failed to net British interest during a formal competition in early 1928, was modified for carrier trials in 1929 and ultimately scrapped in 1930.

With the Type 141 as the starting point, the Type 143 "Bolivian Scout" was born for Bolivian service. The Rolls-Royce engine was superseded by the Bristol Jupiter VIA line of 450 horsepower, an engine already in the logistical pipeline of the Bolivian and the aircraft had its structure reinforced for rough-field operations. It retained the single-bay biplane wing arrangement. The pilot sat in an open-air cockpit and the undercarriage was fixed in place. A first-flight of this form was witnessed on November 26th, 1929.

The lot of six aircraft made their way to Bolivia but conditions there were such that only three were available for frontline service in the ensuring Chaco War. These gave good service for their time in the air until replaced by more modern types. On the whole, they were well-received by pilots.

The Fleet Air Arm (FAA) of Britain trialed one example of the Vickers design, as the Type 177 (Specification N.21/26 of 1926), but did not exercise serial production. The revised model was given a four-bladed propeller, Jupiter XF engine and improved steering. A first-flight was recorded on November 26th,1929.

Performance specs for the Type 143 fighter included a maximum speed of 150 miles per hour and a service ceiling up to 20,000 feet from the Jupiter VIA air-cooled engine. It carried 2 x 7.7mm Vickers air-cooled machine guns as primary armament.


2 x 0.303 in Vickers air-cooled machine guns in fixed, forward-firing mountings over nose, synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun

Variants / Models

• Type 143 - Base Series Designation; fitted with Bristol Jupiter VIA engine of 450 horsepower; delivery of six to Bolivia.
• Type 177 - Navy prototype fighter for the British Fleet Air Arm (FAA); fitted with Bristol Jupiter XFS engine of 540 horsepower; not adopted.
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