The years following the conclusion of the First World War were notable for an official lack of attention to the needs of the fighting services. The Westland design staff was asked to produce, in 1920, a carrier-borne fleet reconnaissance biplane for the Royal Navy.
The machine required had to be, basically a D.H.9A, but was to have a 450hp Napier Lion engine in place of the 400hp Liberty motor, and to be equipped with the various items of gear as a naval aircraft.
Westland Aircraft produced thirty-six aircraft of the type demanded. The machine, which was given the name of Walrus, carried a crew of three. The pilot's cockpit was situated immediately aft of the wing trailing edge, with a Scarff-mounted Lewis gun over the cockpit behind him. The floor of the rear fuselage was fitted with a glazed observation blister, for use in the prone position, while a radio transmitter - operated by the observer - was situated in a third cockpit, aft of the rear gunner's position.
Features of the machine included rubber flotation bags, which could be inflated from compressed air bottles, a patent jettison valve on the main fuel tank, which allowed the petrol to be discharged in a few seconds and then, if the machine alighted on the sea, would automatically re-seal the tank into an additional flotation chamber. The aircraft had folding wings. Another special feature was the undercarriage, capable of being dropped by the pilot in the event of an emergency and fitted with a set of jaws for gripping the carrier's deck arresting-wires. These wires ran along the length of the flight-deck and not across the beam of the ship.
The prototype Walrus, and the subsequent production machines, were flight-tested by Captain A. S. Keep, M.C., who reported the aircraft as being somewhat vicious in its behaviour. In Service use the Walrus did not shine and the type was not produced beyond the original contract number - which in those days was regarded as a big order.
Engine: 1 x 450hp Napier Lion
Wingspan: 14.06 m / 46 ft 2 in
Length: 9.14 m / 30 ft 0 in
Height: 3.52 m / 12 ft 7 in
Armament: 1 x Vickers gun, 1 x Lewis gun