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Folland Fo.148


Swing-Wing Trainer / Light Strike Aircraft Proposal


The Folland Fo.148 was proposed as a light strike and general trainer aircraft modeled after the in-service Folland Gnat.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 6/21/2019
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Specifications


Year: 1963
Status: Cancelled
Manufacturer(s): Folland Aircraft - UK
Production: 0
Capabilities: Fighter; Ground Attack; X-Plane; Training;
Crew: 2
Length: 47.08 ft (14.35 m)
Width: 34.94 ft (10.65 m)
Height: 8.86 ft (2.7 m)
Weight (Empty): 11,905 lb (5,400 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 16,535 lb (7,500 kg)
Power: 1 x Rolls-Royce RB.153-61 afterburning turbojet engine developing 6,720lb of thrust dry and 11,750lb of thrust with reheat; thrust-reverser capability.
Speed: 1,572 mph (2,530 kph; 1,366 kts)
Ceiling: 49,213 feet (15,000 m; 9.32 miles)
Range: 1,118 miles (1,800 km; 972 nm)
Rate-of-Climb: 20,000 ft/min (6,096 m/min)
Operators: United Kingdom (abandoned)
The final official entry into military aviation history concerning the Folland Aircraft Company became the "Fo.148". This aircraft was proposed against a standing Royal Air Force (RAF) requirement calling for a "combination" airframe capable of primary/advanced pilot training as well as light strike sorties. While the requirement was ultimately fulfilled by a modified, trainer-oriented form of the SEPECAT "Jaguar" jet aircraft, the Fo.148 followed Folland's other proposal, the Fo.147 (detailed elsewhere on this site), in an attempt to woo RAF authorities.

Unlike the twin engine Fo.147 proposal, which was based in the proposed Gnat Mk.5 model, the F.148 was set to feature the single engine installation of the Gnat Mk.1. The same high-winged mainplane arrangement was to be used though modified with an inherent "Variable Geometry" (VG) - or "swing-wing" - capability. The swing-wing nature of the mainplanes allowed the aircraft to more efficiently operate at both low- and high-speed flight envelopes by changing the sweepback of the mainplanes in real-time / mid-flight.

Folland engineers proposed the Fo.148 as something of a "one-size-fits-all" solution, capable of fulfilling both basic and advanced jet trainer roles for RAF airmen as well as having a secondary light attack function. The relative simplicity of the Gnat framework was also to have enticed foreign operators to purchase the type in number. All of this planning led to three distinct forms of the base Fo.148 being proposed: the basic trainer sans a radar fit and afterburning engine along with fixed wing mainplanes, the advanced trainer model with full swing-wing functionality but lacking the afterburning engine and any advanced weapons/avionics support, and the light attack platform having access to all advanced systems (including nose-mounted radar) and afterburning engine to make for a sound low-level attacker.

In any case, the aircraft's design was to carry a single Rolls-Royce RB153-61 turbojet engine offering 6,720lb thrust on dry and 11,750lb with reheat engaged. The engine was installed in the aft-section of the fuselage and aspirated by side-mounted intakes. Along with this the aircraft would feature two crewmen seated in tandem and a retractable tricycle undercarriage for ground-running. The tail unit incorporated a single vertical fin with low-set horizontal planes - this was in contrast to the earlier Fo.147 which was to make use of a unique rotating/retractable canard arrangement, resulting in the deletion of the horizontal tailplane members. All wing surfaces were given sweepback in the Fo.148 design.

Beyond its multi-faceted airframe, the aircraft's engine was to feature a "thrust-reverser" quality to help shorten landing runs (this feature was prominently seen in the contemporary, Cold War-era Swedish Saab JAS 37 "Viggen" fighter detailed on this site), an inherent missile-carrying capability for possible interception duties, and an advanced Fire Control System (FCS) found in then-top-flight RAF platforms such as the English Electric "Lightning" supersonic interceptor. Two hardpoints were to be featured in the Fo.148, these found along the lower sides of the fuselage and supporting either the "Red Top" air-to-air missile or the "Bullpup" air-to-surface missile depending on attack role needed (up to 2,000lb of externally-held stores possible).

As drawn up, the aircraft was given a running length of 47 feet with a wingspan of 35 feet. Gross weight was to reach 16,500. Proposed maximum speed was just above Mach 2.0.

In any event, the Fo.148 failed to net interest just as the Fo.147 before it - neither making it to the prototype stage. A first-flight of the Fo.148 prototype was, indeed, being planned for the end of 1963 or early 1964 but this fell to naught and both designs ended up as nothing more than proposals destined to never see the light of day.

With the end of the Fo.148 proposal came the end of Folland as a brand label for the company was absorbed into Hawker Siddeley during 1959-1960.






Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of an aircraft air-to-surface missile

Armament



PROPOSED:
2 x "Red Top" air-to-air missiles OR 2 x "Bullpup" air-to-surface missiles.

Variants / Models



• Fo.148 - Base Project Designation; encompassing primary trainer form lacking radar, afterburning engine and swing-wing capability, advanced trainer form with full swing-wing capability and minimal avionics package, and light strike model with nose-mounted radar, afterburning engine, and complete weapons/avionics suite.
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