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.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
31.5 ft (9.60 m)
35.9 ft (10.95 m)
10.8 ft (3.30 m)
6,834 lb (3,100 kg)
9,755 lb (4,425 kg)
+2,921 lb (+1,325 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Folland Fo.117A production variant)
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.
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