ORIGINAL: G T
Role Lightweight fighter
Manufacturer Miles Aircraft
Designer Walter G. Capley
First flight 15 September 1940
Primary users Royal Air Force (intended)
Fleet Air Arm (intended)
Number built 2 prototypes
Developed from Miles Master
The Miles M.20 was a Second World War fighter developed by Miles Aircraft in 1940.
Great job, G T; right on the money! The Miles M.20 it is. You are up, Sir. Thanks; Ernie P.
What warbird do I describe?
(1) It was designed as a â€ścontingencyâ€ť backup to other aircraft already in production.
(2) Government leaders were concerned factories might be bombed, affecting the production of the other aircraft.
(3) It was designed to use non-strategic materials (wood), both as a means of cutting production times and to avoid using materials needed for other war efforts.
(4) It was specifically intended to be a very simple design, quick and easy to construct.
(5) It used parts drawn from other, older, but related aircraft.
(6) It also deliberately used an old, out dated feature, to make the design simple, light and rugged.
(7) From the time the order was given to design the aircraft, only a bit over two months passed before the prototype flew.
(8) This was a fighter, intended as a backup to two fighters already in production, whose production was in danger.
(9) This aircraft, perhaps surprisingly, proved to be faster than one of the two standard fighters; and slower than the other. But it carried more ammunition, and had a greater range, than either.
(10) In the end, it was decided this aircraft wasnâ€™t needed, since the shortage of fighter aircraft never developed..
(11) But, a second prototype was built; this one a sea going version.
(12) And again, it was decided the second aircraft wasnâ€™t needed.
(13) Neither aircraft used hydraulic controls.
(14) And neither had retractable landing gear.
(15) But the sea going version had disposable landing gear.
Answer: The Miles M.20
The Miles M.20 was a Second World War fighter developed by Miles Aircraft in 1940. Designed as a simple and quick-to-build 'emergency fighter' alternative to the Royal Air Force's Spitfires and Hurricanes should their production get disrupted by bombing. In the event, due to dispersal of manufacturing, the Luftwaffe's bombing of the Spitfire and Hurricane factories did not seriously affect production, and so the M.20 proved unnecessary and was cancelled.
During the Battle of Britain, the Royal Air Force was faced with a potential shortage of fighters. To meet the Luftwaffe threat, the Air Ministry commissioned Miles to design the M.20, to specification F.19/40; nine weeks and two days later the first prototype flew.
To reduce production times the M.20 was of an all-wood construction, used many parts from the earlier Miles Master trainer, lacked hydraulics, and had spatted fixed landing gear. The engine was a complete Rolls-Royce Merlin XX "power egg", and was identical to those used on the Avro Lancaster and some Bristol Beaufighter marks. The design also featured a bubble canopy for improved pilot visibility, one of the first fighters to do so.
The first prototype, with the B-class serial U-9 first flew on 15 September 1940, and was tested at the A & AEE under the military serial number AX834 against Specification F.19/40. Armed with the same eight .303 Browning machine guns as the Hawker Hurricane, the M.20 prototype was faster than the Hurricane and slower than the Spitfire types then in production, but carried more ammunition and had greater range than either. As the Luftwaffe was defeated over Britain, the need for the M.20 vanished and the design was abandoned without entering production. The first prototype was later scrapped at Woodley.
A second prototype, U-0228 and later serialed as DR616, was built to Specification N.1/41 for a Fleet Air Arm shipboard fighter, equipped with an arrestor hook and catapult launch points. It first flew on 8 April 1941. This variant was also fitted with jettisonable undercarriage so it could be used from catapults on Catapult Aircraft Merchantmen, however these ships had no flight decks so the aircraft had to be ditched into the sea after just one mission. Old Hawker Hurricanes took on this role, relegating the M.20 as superfluous and consequently leading to the scrapping of the shipboard variant.