Miles M.20


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M.20 prototype

Conceived as an emergency fighter for production in the event that the RAF began to run short of more orthodox fighting aircraft, the M.20 was designed by Walter Capley to Specification F.19/40. Of wooden construction with all emphasis placed on rapidity of manufacture, the M.20 dispensed with a retractable undercarriage, thereby eliminating the need for hydraulics, utilised a one-piece wing, adopted a standard Rolls-Royce Merlin XX installation interchangeable with that of the Beaufighter II and employed standard Master cockpit equipment. The first prototype was designed, built and flown in the remarkably short time of 65 days. Powered by a 1,300hp Merlin XX engine and fitted with eight 7,7mm machine guns (but having provision for up to 12 guns), the M.20 was first flown on 15 September 1940. In the event, the Battle of Britain terminated before the RAF exhausted its available supplies of Hurricanes and Spitfires, and the M.20 was not, therefore, placed in production. However, Specification N.1/41 for a single-seat shipboard fighter covered reconstruction of the prototype with a jettisonable undercarriage, suiting it for use from catapults on the CAM-ships. It was tested in 1941-42 but no further development was undertaken.

Small differences in the undercarriage design distinguished the rebuilt M.20

  Take-off weight3519 kg7758 lb
  Empty weight2663 kg5871 lb
  Wingspan10.54 m35 ft 7 in
  Length9.17 m30 ft 1 in
  Height3.81 m13 ft 6 in
  Wing area21.74 m2234.01 sq ft
  Max. speed536 km/h333 mph
  Ceiling6280 m20600 ft
  Range885 km550 miles

The navalised M.20A three-view drawing of The navalised M.20 (1648 x 1168)

Andy Perks, e-mail, 17.07.2016 19:24

The point of the aircraft was to be available at short notice if production of the Spitfire and Hurricane had been interrupted by enemy action, this never happened so they weren't needed. As for the Buffalo the fastest climbing and most manuoeverable models were the original ones that were sent to Finland. The later models were overloaded and despit being faster suffered in all other aspects of their performance.


sven, 30.09.2015 18:18

And that particular mark of the Buffalo was yet to gain the weight that was its downfall in terms of performance.


BHH, 30.09.2015 05:43

@ John Blackburn-
The Buffalo did so well for the Fins because it was up against aircraft even MORE primitive than it! Literally biplane soviet fighters in many cases.


brian hope, e-mail, 21.07.2013 00:21

According to information I have, the M20 was faster than the hurricanes, slower than the spits (at the time of its first flight) but more manouverable than both and had a greater range than both and carried more ammunition.

Seeing as it was an almost all wood construction aircraft, I doubt it would have been very successful in the far east or any other humid climate. No doubt it would have suffered as the early Mosquitos did with the glue problem.

None-the-less, a great airplane that missed its chance because the Luftwaffe was beaten in the BofB.I'm sure it could have been developed into a very formidable fighter.


Barry, 14.05.2012 11:49

The reason the Finns did so well with a plane that really was a heap of junk was that they were up against a badly trained force using even more inferior equipment.Whereas the RAF were outflown and out performed by superior planes and superior pilots (at that time).


Concerned Observer, 22.07.2011 16:19

"...and even in a service that never received a decent domestic fighter"

[cough]Sea Harrier[cough]


Ward Emigh, e-mail, 27.04.2011 00:37

I drew plans(23%)and built the Miles M.20 /4. Powered by a 3W-80 gas engine. Flies like a pattern plane and has exceptional low speed performace because of the 21% thich wing (NACA 23021). Color: upper side camouflage (RAF Dark Earth & RAF Dark Green with underside Trainer Yellow.


John Blackburn, e-mail, 13.04.2011 15:23

A side issue, but IF the Brewster Buffalo was so hopeless, why did the Finns do so WELL with theirs?


Kadesh, 16.02.2011 19:14

Some sources say it carried ten .30 cals, where does that come from?


Tim Harris, e-mail, 04.04.2010 00:00

Fantastic Aircraft which shows that Britain didn't think it was doing too bad in the Battle of Britain or it would have been produced. There is a free card model in 1 /72 scale at and at there is a model of the Martin Baker MB2 at a modest price which is very similar and the foreunner of the MB5 which according to Eric Brown it was the best propellor driven aircraft of WW2 - and he should know, he flew all of them.



Martin, e-mail, 27.03.2010 13:38

I'd guess it was the standard brown and green camouflage of the time with pale blue undersides


angel, e-mail, 21.02.2010 23:28

Does anyone know of plans /kit with a 75-80 inch wing span?


angel, Spain


Art deco, 10.07.2009 04:55

Although relatively appealing, the M.20 wasn't a good handler. It was tested for naval use, and even in a service that never received a decent domestic fighter, was rejected, even for throw-away cam-ship use. It's use in tropical climate would have subjected it to the same problems that befell the Mossie. Dissimilar wood shrinkage and glue that becomes cheese. Perhaps, if it were fitted with something aerodynamically similar to DH Mossie outer wing panels, it coulda been a contender...


Rich, e-mail, 16.02.2009 18:43

Does anyone know of plans /kit with a 75-80 inch wing span?


Bill Krouwel, e-mail, 15.01.2009 21:19

What a brilliant aircraft - faster (and appaently more manoevrable) than a Hurricane, aand with better range.

It's a shame that MIles weren't allowed to produce it for , e.g. the far East where it would have been far more effective against Japanese Zeroes than the appalling Brewster Buffalo proved to match, possibly, but a muich better chance of doing a fair bit of damage...


ward emigh, e-mail, 18.05.2007 06:09

What is the color scheme of this M.20 ( U-0228 )aircraft?
I am drawing plans for an 8 ft. wing span R /C model.


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