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Armstrong Whitworth


Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd was a major British manufacturing company of the early years of the 20th century. With headquarters in Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne, Armstrong Whitworth engaged in the construction of armaments, ships, locomotives, automobiles, and aircraft.

In 1847, engineer William George Armstrong founded the Elswick works at Newcastle, to produce hydraulic machinery, cranes and bridges, soon to be followed by artillery, notably the Armstrong breech-loading gun, which re-equipped the British Army after the Crimean War. In 1882, it merged with the shipbuilding firm of Charles Mitchell to form Armstrong Mitchell & Company and at the time its works extended for over a mile (about 2 km) along the bank of the River Tyne. Armstrong Mitchell merged again with the engineering firm of Joseph Whitworth in 1897. The company expanded into the manufacture of cars and trucks in 1902, and created an "aerial department" in 1913, which became the Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft subsidiary in 1920.
In September 1914 built the unsuccessful F.K.1 single-seater. Later (during the war) the F.K.3 and F.K.8 two-seat observation aircraft were delivered in quantity, as improvements on the Government designed B.E.2c. Experimental First World War types included quadruplanes and Armadillo and Ara biplane single-seat fighters. The Airplane Department closed in late 1919, but a new company, named Armstrong Whitworth, was formed in 1920. Products between the wars were the Siskin single-seat fighter and Atlas army cooperaton aircraft for the RAF, both introducing some steel construction. The Scimitar fighter (1934) was among the world's fastest with a radial engine, partly due to company's associations with engine-builder Armstrong Siddeley.
In 1927, it merged with Vickers Limited to form Vickers-Armstrongs.

Notable airliners were the three-engined Argosy biplane (1926), four-engined Atalanta monoplane (1932), and the much larger Ensign (1938). The company's most famous product was the Whitley twin-engined bomber of 1936, in which year Hawker Siddeley Group was formed, with Armstrong Whitworth as a member company. In July 1943 the 1,824th Whitley left the assembly line at Baginton, Coventry, the type having achieved several historic "firsts" in RAF service. The Albemarle (600 built) was used as glider-tug and transport, and Avro Lancaster bombers were built in dispersed factories. After the war, from the basic Gloster design, the company developed and produced in quantity Meteor two-seat nightfighters. When this type was well advanced they undertook development of the Hawker Sea Hawk naval fighter. Avro Lincolns, Hawker Hunters, and Gloster Javelins also produced. Experiments made with flying-wing aircraft and prone-pilot position were undertaken. The Apollo turboprop airliner (1949) had no commercial success, though the Argosy twin-boom four-turboprop freighter (1959) gained limited civil and military orders.

Gloster, Armstrong Whitworth and Avro joined Hawker Siddeley Aviation in 1965.

 

 


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