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, eliminating 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 65 days. Using many Master components and powered by a 1,300 hp Merlin XX engine and fitted with eight 0.303-in (7.7-mm) machine guns (but having provision for up to 12 guns), the M.20 was first flown from Woodley on 14 September 1940.
Despite its fixed tailwheel undercarriage it proved faster than the Hurricane, with a maximum speed of 350 mph. The M.20 was not placed in production, however, issue of specifica-tion N.1/41 for a single-seat shipboard fighter led to construc-tion of a second prototype in 1941 which was submitted to service trials, this differing essentially in the shapes of the mainwheel and leg fairings and spinner. No further development was undertaken.
Engine: Rolls-Royce Merlin XX
Wingspan: 10.54 m / 34 ft 7 in
Length: 9.17 m / 30 ft 1 in
Height: 3.81 m / 12 ft 6 in
Wing area: 21.74 sq.m / 234.01 sq ft
Loaded weight: 7,758 lb / 3519 kg
Empty weight: 5,870 lb / 2 663 kg
Max. speed at 20,600 ft (6 280 m): 536 km/h / 333 mph
Initial climb: 3,200 fpm / 16,25 m/sec
Ceiling: 6280 m / 20600 ft
Range: 885 km / 550 miles