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Folland Fo.117 Single-Seat Lightweight Monoplane Fighter Aircraft Proposal


Intended to best the German Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighter in capability, the lightweight Folland Fo.117 did not proceed beyond the drawing board.

 Updated: 12/22/2016; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

By the 1942, the German Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighter was fully entrenched as one of the two best fighters of the Luftwaffe (the other being the Messerschmitt Bf 109). This lightweight platform proved to be fast, agile and capable of bringing down nearly anything in the skies - indeed the Fw 190 is regarded as one of the classic designs in the whole of the war. For the British, the fighter cause was primarily handled by the likes of the sleek Supermarine Spitfire and the aging Hawker Hurricane.

In September of 1942, Specification F.6/42 was drawn up calling for a single-seat fighter able to match (or exceed) the compact Fw 190. In turn, this design would be also lightweight, showcase stellar agility and be armed through 4 x 20mm automatic cannons. Maximum speed was estimated at 450 miles per hour when cruising at 20,000 feet and rate-of-climb was also a key consideration of the new fighter.

Several of the usual British concerns threw their hats into the ring with Folland and Hawker coming out on top. Folland Aircraft was a relative newcomer to the field as it set up shop only recently in 1937. Comparatively Hawker Aircraft had been in business since 1920 (as H.G. Hawker Engineering).

The Folland proposal centered around the "Fo.177". This aircraft was of conventional arrangement with the engine at front, a single-finned tail unit at the rear and a mid-set placement for the pilot. A bubble canopy was proposed for excellent vision out-of-the-cockpit. The wing mainplanes were low-mounted with rounded tips and seated just ahead of midships. Each wing was slated to carry the requisite 2 x cannon installations. A traditional tail-dragger undercarriage (of wide-track arrangement) would be used for ground running - the main legs retracting towards fuselage centerline. Loaded weight of the fighter was estimated at 9,170lb.




One of the more notable traits of the Folland proposal was the 2 x three-bladed contra-rotating propellers fitted to the nose - a relatively new quality for a fighter of the period. This allowed smaller diameter propellers to be fitted and promised to increase performance.

The Fo.117 found a few supporters in the British Air Ministry ranks but not enough faith was seen in the small company to produce an all-new fighter in the schedule allotted and in the numbers that would be required. By March of 1943, the Fo.117 was given the death knell but, before the end of the year, it was resurrected as the "Fo.117A" with new wings. The engine of choice became the Bristol Centaurus XII engine of 2,500 horsepower and English Electric was set to offer its production facilities following the six prototypes contracted for from Folland.

Despite this, nothing came of the commitment and the Fo.117 never saw the light of day. The competing Hawker design found better results as it became the "Fury / Sea Fury" in British service. Eight hundred sixty-four of these navy fighter-bombers were built from 1945 to 1955.

Estimated specs for the Fo.117 included a maximum speed of 468 miles per hour, a service ceiling of 39,800 feet and rate-of-climb of 4,950 feet-per-minute.



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Folland Fo.117A Technical Specifications



Service Year: 1943
Type: Single-Seat Lightweight Monoplane Fighter Aircraft Proposal
National Origin: United Kingdom
Manufacturer(s): Folland Aircraft - United Kingdom
Production Total: 0


Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)



Operating Crew (Typical): 1
Overall Length: 31.50 feet (9.6 meters)
Overall Width: 35.93 feet (10.95 meters)
Overall Height: 10.83 feet (3.30 meters)

Weight (Empty): 6,834 lb (3,100 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 9,755 lb (4,425 kg)

Installed Power and Standard Day Performance



Propulsion: 1 x Bristol Centaurus XII inline piston engine developing 2,500 horsepower and driving 2 x three-bladed propeller units in contra-rotating fashion at the nose.

Maximum Speed: 469 mph (755 kph; 408 knots)
Maximum Range: 513 miles (825 km)
Service Ceiling: 39,797 feet (12,130 meters; 7.54 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 4,950 feet-per-minute (1,509 m/min)

Armament / Mission Payload



PROPOSED:
4 x 20mm automatic cannons in wings (two per wing).

Global Operators / Customers



United Kingdom (cancelled)

Model Variants (Including Prototypes)



Fo.117 - Base Series Designation
Fo.117A - Revised design with all-new laminar-flow wings; Bristol Centaurus XII inline piston engine of 2,500 horsepower fitted..