Westland Pterodactyl IV

1931

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  TAILLESS CABIN MONOPLANEVirtual Aircraft Museum / United Kingdom / Westland  

Westland Pterodactyl IV

Although the Pterodactyl produced in 1931 was given the designation of Mark IV it was the third basic design actually made in this unique series, and was in service for several years.

Designed primarily for research purposes, it was a high-wing three-seat cabin monoplane, powered with an inverted D.H. Gipsy III engine mounted as a pusher, its accommodation being similar in arrangement to that of the D.H. Puss Moth and other cabin monoplanes of that period, but with a wider cabin and better view for the pilot.

In the second of the Pterodactyl designs, the Mark IA and IB monoplane, steering effect was obtained by horizontal "electroscope" rudders, but in the Mark IV, although this system was originally employed, control was altered to vertical rudders at the wing-tips. The rudders operated independently, but if used together provided an air-brake. It was found that all normal manoeuvres could be performed by the use of the "stick" alone.

The main feature, however, was a gear by which it was possible to sweep the wings backward and forward through an angular range of 4.75. This operation, which enabled the machine to be trimmed when the centre of gravity was varied by alternative loadings, could be effected by the pilot while in flight.

The gear itself was in the nature of a large turnbuckle, connecting the front spars of the wings at their root, the rear spar roots being hinged by a ball joint and the bottom of the main Vee lift struts being similarly pivoted.

The machine was initially flight-tested by Flt.-Lt. L. G. Paget, A.F.C., but development test flying was continued by Mr. F. J. Brunton and Mr. H. J. Penrose, both of whom frequently carried out aerobatics with this unusual aircraft, and a Farnborough pilot, who spun it.

A.H.Lukins "The Book of Westland Aircraft", 1943

Westland Pterodactyl IV

Specification 
 CREW3
 ENGINE1 x 120hp D.H. Gipsy III four-cylinder air-cooled engine
 WEIGHTS
  Take-off weight952 kg2099 lb
  Empty weight599 kg1321 lb
 DIMENSIONS
  Wingspan13.5 m44 ft 3 in
  Length5.9 m19 ft 4 in
  Height2.2 m7 ft 3 in
  Wing area24.0 m2258.33 sq ft
 PERFORMANCE
  Max. speed182 km/h113 mph
  Ceiling5180 m17000 ft

3-View 
Westland Pterodactyl IVA three-view drawing (801 x 754)

Comments
Daniel Kaplan, e-mail, 04.12.2014 08:57

I'm stunned by the existence of a tailless aircraft with variable geometry wings so long ago. It's even more surprising how obscure it is. I've never seen it before today and I've been an aviation enthusiast since the late-60s. Westland had some brilliant designs.

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Redherringz, e-mail, 24.01.2014 11:09

I can remember seeing an aircraft of similar shape (obviously not this one)with an escort, flying over Keynsham towards Bristol, in the 50's I would love to know which model it was.

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Brian Reid, e-mail, 14.05.2012 11:16

I have a poor quality photo of what I believe is a Mk IV. Are yopu interested?

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Stuart Willard, e-mail, 26.08.2010 16:25

They certainly were innovative at Westland and in something of an irony they are the last independent remaining because of that. The fact that they made the decision to give up fixed wing to go into helicopters was because of their desire not to be subsumed into a larger less independent aircraft conglomerate which to them would be a decidedly less innovative organisation.

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Stuart Willard, e-mail, 26.08.2010 16:25

They certainly were innovative at Westland and in something of an irony they are the last independent remaining because of that. The fact that they made the decision to give up fixed wing to go into helicopters was because of their desire not to be subsumed into a larger less independent aircraft conglomerate which to them would be a decidedly less innovative organisation.

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Bill Hendrickson, e-mail, 27.03.2010 18:59

Really amazing! Years before the American flying-wing airplanes were cratering desert landscapes, these guys were doing stunt-plane in them.

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leo rudnicki, e-mail, 23.04.2009 02:19

Variable sweep wings, adjustable in flight, is there anything they didn't invent at Westlands?

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