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Boulton Paul P.121

Swing-Wing Fighter Proposal

OVERVIEW
HISTORY
SPECIFICATIONS
ARMAMENT
VARIANTS
DATA
Overview



Boulton Paul drew up its P.121 project aircraft as a proposal for a potential future swing-wing based platform.
History



Detailing the development and operational history of the Boulton Paul P.121 Swing-Wing Fighter Proposal.  Entry last updated on 3/21/2019. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
As early as 1948, British engineers were drawing up plans for aircraft to make use of variable-sweep / variable-geometry (the "swing wing"). This design of mainplane allowed a singular airframe to benefit from the capabilities of a mechanized mainplane system in which the members could fold out straight for low-speed, high-drag flight envelopes (such as landing and take-off) and sweep-back for high-speed, reduced-drag flight envelopes (general cruising, interception). Eventually this system was the featured quality of such Cold War-era types as the PANAVIA "Tornado", Grumman F-14 "Tomcat", and General Dynamics F-111 "Aardvark" (all detailed elsewhere on this site). Indeed, many-a-project was penciled out by British industry in the road that eventually led to the Tornado strike fighter itself, the P.121 project aircraft from Boulton Paul being one of them.

The proposal emerged around 1951 (the company would go defunct in 1961) and company engineers elected for a twin, side-by-side engine arrangement utilizing and afterburning turbojet engines (2 x Rolls-Royce "Avon" R.A.8 units). These would be installed within the lower-aft section of the fuselage. With its squat oblong fuselage shape (when viewed in the forward profile), the nose was cut-off (and bifurcated) to aspirate the engines installed down the length of the design. Under the forward fuselage / cockpit was a space for a single 30mm ADEN autocannon (a rather modest armament to be sure). The mainplanes were to be fitted at mid-height along the sides of the fuselage while the tail would rely on a single vertical fin mounting low-mounted horizontal planes for control. Control surfaces were to be featured at the trailing edges of both the mainplanes as well as the tailplanes in the usual fashion. The tail unit extended noticeably beyond the engine exhaust ports, which were seated along the fuselage's ventral line.

The swing-wing feature of this aircraft was to employ an "inflating tube" at the wing roots (to fill the resulting gap) when the mainplanes were fully extended. This, in turn, resulted in mainplanes that retained their sweepback at both leading and trailing edges but sweepback was reduced as a whole to encourage drag and lift. When collapsed, the mainplanes offered a much sleeker planform for cutting through the skies at-speed.

Before the end, Boulton Paul drew up two slightly different forms of its P.121 fighter - one with the swing-wing functionality and the other with fixed main members, though neither progressed beyond line drawings and whatever studies were had involving the pair.

As proposed, the P.121 was to have an overall length of 65 feet, 3 inches with a wingspan of 54 feet, 3 inches. Gross weight would reach 34,100lb. The power of 2 x Rolls-Royce Avon RA.8 reheated turbojet engines would have given the sleek aircraft a maximum speed of 887 miles-per-hour, reaching March 1.34 at altitude (around 45,000 feet).




Specifications

YEAR: 1951
STATUS: Cancelled
MANUFACTURER(S): Boulton Paul - UK
PRODUCTION: 0
CREW: 1
LENGTH: 65.29 ft (19.9 m)
WIDTH: 54.30 ft (16.55 m)
MTOW: 34,172 lb (15,500 kg)
POWER: 2 x Rolls-Royce Avon R.A.8 afterburning turbojet engines developing between 7,000lb and 9,000lb of thrust each.
SPEED: 889 mph (1,430 kph; 772 kts)
CEILING: 50,033 feet (15,250 m; 9.48 miles)
OPERATORS: United Kingdom (abandoned)
Armament



PROPOSED:
1 x 30mm ADEN autocannon under forward fuselage.
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Variants / Models



• P.121 - Base Project Designation.








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.

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Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 1000mph
Lo: 500mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (889mph).

Graph average of 750 miles-per-hour.
Aviation Era
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Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (0)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
0
0

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


Altitude Visualization
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Supported Roles
A2A
Interception
UAV
Ground Attack
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Anti-Ship
AEW
MEDEVAC
EW
Maritime/Navy
SAR
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
VIP
Passenger
Business
Recon
SPECOPS
X-Plane/Development
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
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 pioneering aircraft
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 representing modern aircraft
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 War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.




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