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Austin A.F.T.3 (Osprey)

United Kingdom (1918)
Picture of Austin A.F.T.3 (Osprey) Triplane Fighter Aircraft Prototype

The Austin Motor Company of Britain tried its hand at an in-house triplane fighter design as the Osprey - it lost to the Sopwith Snipe in competition.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Austin A.F.T.3 (Osprey) Triplane Fighter Aircraft Prototype.  Entry last updated on 7/3/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

Heading into 1918 during World War 1, there was already work being done to find a viable successor to the classic Sopwith Camel biplane fighter. The Camel appeared in June of 1917 and, by wartime standards, it lived a healthily long service life amidst changing technologies and tactics concerning the air war. The Austin Osprey, a single-seat triplane fighter - was developed with the hopes that it could follow the veteran design but it eventually lost out to the Sopwith Snipe - of which nearly 500 were produced from 1918 onward. For the Osprey, only a single prototype was ever made by the Austin Motor Company and the design quickly forgotten.

The original requirement was made by British authorities in 1917 (Specification A.1.A) calling for a single-seat, twin-gunned mount to succeed the venerable Camel. At this point in the war, the Austen Motor Company, like other concerns in British industry, were already helping in the war effort by producing other company's aircraft designs to meet demand. When the specification came down, Austen decided to try its hand in the design and development of a suitable fighter. The result was the A.F.T.3 "Osprey" of which three prototypes were ordered. Interestingly, engineers elected for a triple-wing arrangement over the standard two wings common to many fighters of the period.

On the whole, the Osprey utilized proven construction internally and out as well as traditional design techniques which did little to set it apart from the competition. Dimensions included a length of 17.6 feet, a wingspan of 23 feet and a height of 18.7 feet. Empty weight was 500 kilograms to a loaded weight of 860 kilograms. Power was served from a Bentley BR2 series rotary engine of 230 horsepower fitted to the nose and driving a two-bladed wooden propeller. Performance specs included a maximum speed of 119 miles per hour, a service ceiling of 19,000 feet and endurance up to three hours in the air. The triple-wing arrangement was all equal-span with a forward cant and parallel strut works.

Armament was the usual pairing of 2 x .303 Vickers machine guns in fixed, forward firing positions over the nose and synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades. Another interesting quality of the Osprey was the placement of a third machine gun, this being a Lewis Gun, set upon the center section of the middle wing assembly. Additionally this installation was trainable to an extent but its flexibility added little.

A first-flight of a prototype Osprey was had during February of 1918 as the war raged and testing followed into the coming weeks. As it stood, the Osprey simply could not compete, performance-wise, with the speedy, two-winged Snipe (fitting the same engine). Its three-winged arrangement created drag despite offering increased agility, this during a time when speed for fighter aircraft was the rule of the day. As such, the Osprey never advanced beyond the prototype stage and its two remaining prototypes were never built.

Any available statistics for the Austin A.F.T.3 (Osprey) Triplane Fighter Aircraft Prototype are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 120mph
Lo: 60mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (118mph).

    Graph average of 90 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Austin A.F.T.3's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
1
1


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
  Compare this entry against other aircraft using our Comparison Tool  
National Flag Graphic
Origin: United Kingdom
Year: 1918
Type: Triplane Fighter Aircraft Prototype
Manufacturer(s): Austin Motor Company - United Kingdom
Production: 1
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
United Kingdom (cancelled)
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Austin A.F.T.3 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
17.55 ft


Meters
5.35 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
22.97 ft


Meters
7 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
10.66 ft


Meters
3.25 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
1,102 lb


Kilograms
500 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
1,896 lb


Kilograms
860 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Bentley BR.2 rotary engine developing 230 horsepower and driving two-bladed propeller at the nose.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
118 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
190 kph


Knots
103 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
354 mi


Kilometers
570 km


Nautical Miles
308 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
19,029 ft


Meters
5,800 m


Miles
3.60 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
980 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
299 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Armament - Hardpoints (0):

STANDARD:
2 x .303 Vickers machine guns in fixed, forward-firing positions over the nose and synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.

OPTIONAL:
1 x .303 Lewis Gun in central wing assembly on trainable mounting.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• A.F.T.3 "Osprey" - Base Series Designation; single prototype completed.