In 1931 Air Ministry Specification G.4/31 called for a General Purpose aircraft, capable of level bombing, army co-operation, dive bombing, reconnaissance, casualty evacuation and torpedo bombing. The Vickers Type 253 won against the Fairey G.4/31, Westland PV-7, Handley Page HP.47, Armstrong Whitworth AW.19, Blackburn B-7, Hawker PV-4 and the Parnell G.4/31.
The Westland team produced the two-seat high-wing monoplane design, the P.V.7. This machine 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.
Engine: 1 x 722hp Bristol Pegasus III M.3 9-cyl air-cooled radial
Max take-off weight: 3395 kg / 7485 lb
Empty weight: 2048 kg / 4515 lb
Wingspan: 18.36 m / 60 ft 3 in
Length: 11.88 m / 39 ft 0 in
Height: 3.65 m / 12 ft 0 in
Wing area: 49.8 sq.m / 536.04 sq ft
Max. speed: 278 km/h / 173 mph
Ceiling: 6900 m / 22650 ft