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Austin A.F.T.3 (Osprey)


Triplane Fighter Aircraft Prototype


United Kingdom | 1918



"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."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/03/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
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.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Austin A.F.T.3 Triplane Fighter Aircraft Prototype.
1 x Bentley BR.2 rotary engine developing 230 horsepower and driving two-bladed propeller at the nose.
Propulsion
118 mph
190 kph | 103 kts
Max Speed
19,029 ft
5,800 m | 4 miles
Service Ceiling
354 miles
570 km | 308 nm
Operational Range
980 ft/min
299 m/min
Rate-of-Climb
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Austin A.F.T.3 Triplane Fighter Aircraft Prototype.
1
(MANNED)
Crew
17.6 ft
5.35 m
O/A Length
23.0 ft
(7.00 m)
O/A Width
10.7 ft
(3.25 m)
O/A Height
1,102 lb
(500 kg)
Empty Weight
1,896 lb
(860 kg)
MTOW
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
RANGE
ALT
SPEED
Armament
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Austin A.F.T.3 (Osprey) Triplane Fighter Aircraft Prototype .
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
Notable series variants as part of the Austin A.F.T.3 (Osprey) family line.
A.F.T.3 "Osprey" - Base Series Designation; single prototype completed.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Austin A.F.T.3 (Osprey). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1 Units

Contractor(s): Austin Motor Company - United Kingdom
National flag of the United Kingdom

[ United Kingdom (cancelled) ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 120mph
Lo: 60mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (118mph).

Graph Average of 90 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
1
36183
44000
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
EarlyYrs
WWI
Interwar
WWII
ColdWar
Postwar
Modern
Future
1 / 1
Image of the Austin A.F.T.3 (Osprey)
Image from the Public Domain.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
AIR-TO-AIR COMBAT
X-PLANE
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Austin A.F.T.3 (Osprey) Triplane Fighter Aircraft Prototype appears in the following collections:
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