|GENERAL PURPOSE, TORPEDO BOMBER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / United Kingdom / Westland|
While the Wapiti and Wallace biplanes were yet giving good service with the Royal Air Force, thoughts were turning towards a successor capable of carrying a still greater load, and, in 1931, the Air Ministry issued a new General Purpose Specification - No. G.4/31 - from which the Westland team produced a pleasing two-seat high-wing monoplane design, known as the P.V.7.
This machine, which was a further link in the Westland high-wing monoplane line, was capable of fulfilling all the standard general-purpose requirements and could, alternatively, be used as a torpedo-bomber, carrying an externally slung 450kg torpedo or an equivalent bomb load.
The preliminary test-flights at Yeovil, in the hands of Mr. H. J. Penrose, produced extremely satisfactory results and there were high hopes that the machine would have a long production run. However, while undergoing extended official trials at Martlesham Heath, the P.V.7 was unfortunately wrecked.
Mr. Penrose, who was flying the machine solo at the time, was engaged in making a series of dives under overload conditions and, while travelling at high speed in rough air, the port rear outrigger strut failed under an unexpected down-load. The resulting fracture brought about the collapse of the complete wing structure and, as it broke away from the machine, it severed the empennage. The pilot made what must be one of the first parachute escapes from an enclosed-cockpit military aeroplane, emerging through one of the small side doors of the coupe and eventually landing unhurt some distance from the wreckage.
The inevitable delay caused by the necessary investigation into the cause of the accident rendered the risk of building a further Private Venture too great, and the type, despite its great promise, was dropped. However, it paved the way for the next design, the Lysander, with results that are now a matter of world history.
A.H.Lukins "The Book of Westland Aircraft", 1943