Single-Seat, Twin-Engine Fighter
The Miles M.22 was certainly a unique fighter proposal by 1939 standards, the design eventually falling by the wayside.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The Miles M.22 was a single-seat, twin-engine, high-performance fighter design originating from Britain during the pre-World War 2 years. This unique entry was developed in 1938-1939 and eventually offered against Air Ministry Specification F.6/39 of 1939. The fighter certainly held unique traits about it, particularly for the period, including a streamlined cockpit placement within the wing mainplanes and a complete 10-machine-gun-battery for standard armament. The design was not adopted for further work.
The M.22 was intended to be powered by a pair of underslung Rolls-Royce "Griffon" inline piston engines, these embedded in streamlined nacelles at each wing leading edge. The wing mainplanes were elliptical in their general shape (similar to the Supermarine "Spitfire" fighter) and housed the engines and cockpit. The cockpit was centered at the mainplane's center mass with a well-streamlined canopy integrated into the rounded fuselage assembly. The fuselage terminated at the extreme rear to which a conventional twin-rudder tailplane arrangement was used (in early drawings, the vertical tailplanes were elegantly curved out from the shared horizontal plane ends while the later M.22 form going with a more conventional triple-plane form in which the vertical fins were set atop teardrop-shaped fairings). Ground-running would involve a "tail-dragger" configuration with the main, single-wheeled legs retracting into each engine nacelle and a tail wheel bringing up the rear.
Beyond this, the aircraft was to be built primarily of wood to save on critical war resources, metal reserved for the wing spars and other crucial components however.
To completed the design, engineers drew up plans for a "gun nest" to feature all of the fixed, forward-firing armament for their M.22. This was to involve no fewer than 10 x 0.303 caliber (7.7mm) air-cooled Browning Machine Guns concentrated at the mainplane's leading edge just ahead of the cockpit - giving the fighter considerable frontal firepower against any target of the day.
While never built nor ever flying, the M.22 was estimated with a maximum speed of 504 miles-per-hour (at 15,000 feet), a service ceiling nearing 37,000 feet (requiring cockpit pressurization), and a rate-of-climb of approximately 5,200 feet-per-minute. Dimensions included a running length of 33 feet and a wingspan of 39 feet (smaller than the classic de Havilland DH.98 "Mosquito" heavy fighter). Power was to come from 2 x Rolls-Royce Griffon engines of 1,600 horsepower each driving three-bladed propeller units in "puller" (tractor) fashion.
In comparison, the Spitfire Mk.VB fighter could manage a maximum speed of 370mph, a service ceiling up to 36,500 feet, and an RoC of 2,600 ft/min. Armament was up to 8 x 0.303 machine guns, 4 x 20mm autocannons or a mix of machine guns and cannon through the "variable wing" approach.
Despite its racer-like performance estimates and futuristic appearance, the M.22 design (at least on paper)was immediate fraught with issues primarily involving pilot vision out-of-the-cockpit especially when taking-off and landing. One solution entertained was in elevating the pilot's seat as much as 12" with the canopy sliding open for the critical ground-running actions. Beyond this, the selection of machine guns for a 500+ mph fighter was interesting, particularly when cannons were becoming the norm in the RAF inventory and elsewhere and offered better hitting power at range and at the expected speeds.
The updated, revised "M.22A" of late-1940 was a cannon-armed, Merlin-powered offshoot proposal of the earlier M.22 with more conventional traits and arranged against Specification F.18/40. This aircraft is detailed elsewhere on this site.