Airspeed Fleet Shadower

Airspeed Fleet Shadower

infobox Aircraft
name = Airspeed A.S.39 Fleet Shadower
type = Special observation monoplane
manufacturer = Airspeed Ltd

caption =
designer =
first flight =17 October 1940
introduced =
retired = 1941
status =
primary user =
more users =
produced =
number built = 1
unit cost =
developed from =
variants with their own articles =
The Airspeed A.S.39 Fleet Shadower was a British long-range patrol aircraft design that did not go beyond the prototype stage. While the concept of a fleet shadower had some promise, the resulting prototypes were soon overtaken by wartime developments in airborne radar.

Design and development

The Royal Navy envisaged a need (Operational Requirement OR.52) for an aircraft that could shadow enemy fleets at night and the resulting Specification S.23/37 called for a slow-flying low-noise aircraft with a long range, capable of operating from an aircraft carrier's flight deck. The specified performance was to be a speed of 38 knots at 1500 ft for not less than six hours.

Five companies showed interest:
*Short Brothers
*Fairey Aviation
*General Aircraft Ltd

General Aircraft submitted the G.A.L.38, of very similar general design to the A.S.39. General Aircraft and Airspeed were selected to build two prototypes each and Airspeed received awarded a contract on 10 August 1938.

The A.S.39 was a high-wing, semi-cantilever, strut-braced (on the outer panels) monoplane with wooden wings and tail unit and an all-metal monocoque fuselage. It had a fixed, divided type landing gear and tailwheel. The observation aircraft had a crew of three: pilot, observer and radio operator. The A.S.39 had a unique crew configuration with the observer accommodated in the nose with clear-vision windows on three sides and the pilot's compartment raised to allow passage to the radio operator's compartment. Four small 130hp Pobjoy Niagara V seven-cylinder radial air-cooled engines were mounted on the wings. Each wing and an engine could be folded for storage when used on an aircraft carrier.Bridgman, Leonard. "Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II". New York: Crescent Books, 1988. ISBN 0-517-67964-7.]

Of two prototypes started, only one was completed, flying on 17 October 1940, the first flight was delayed due to problems with the Niagara V engines which had a vibration problem. The prototype had stability problems and poor stall handling not helped by the under-powered engines. Airspeed were asked to respond to a proposal to re-engine the aircraft with two Armstrong Whitworth Cheetah XI radial engines and add rear-facing machine guns. Only a preliminary proposal had been made and the second aircraft was not complete when on 17 February 1941 the Navy cancelled the fleet shadower program along with the AS.39, [ [ GAL38] ] the company were requested to scrap both aircraft. The competing G.A.L.38 flew for a few months before it was cancelled and scrapped in March 1942. The requirement for such aircraft had been made obsolete due to the introduction of radar on long-range patrol aircraft such as the Liberator I.

pecifications (A.S.39)

aircraft specifications

plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=prop

ref= [] []

crew=3 (Pilot, observer, radio operator)
payload main=
payload alt=
length main= 40 ft
length alt=12.2 m
span main=53 ft 4 in
span alt=16.25 m
height main=10 ft 5 in
height alt=3.17 m
area main= 472 ft²
area alt= 43.85 m²
empty weight main= 4592 lb
empty weight alt= 2083 kg
loaded weight main=6935 lb
loaded weight alt= 3147 kg
useful load main=
useful load alt=
max takeoff weight main=
max takeoff weight alt=
more general=

engine (prop)=Pobjoy Niagara V
type of prop=seven cylinder air cooled radials
number of props=4
power main= 130 hp
power alt=97 kW
power original=

max speed main= 126 mph at 5000 ft
max speed alt= 185 km/h at 1500 m
cruise speed main= 113 mph at 5000 ft
cruise speed alt= 181 km/h at 1500 m
stall speed main= 37.5 mph at 5000 ft
stall speed alt= 60 km/h at 1500 m
never exceed speed main=
never exceed speed alt=
range main=
range alt=
ceiling main= 14,700 ft
ceiling alt= 1,830 m
climb rate main= 865 ft/min
climb rate alt= 264 m/min
loading main=
loading alt=
power/mass main=
power/mass alt=
more performance=
*Endurance: 6 hours


ee also


similar aircraft=
*General Aircraft GAL.38




* Bridgman, Leonard, ed. "Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft 1945-1946". London: Samson Low, Marston & Company, Ltd 1946.
* Butler, Phil. "The Night Shawdowers." "Air-Britain Aeromilitaria" Vol. 32, Issue 125, Spring 2006, p. 19-22. ISSB 0262-8791.
* [ Fleet Air Arm archive, Access date: 2 February 2007]
* Winchester, Jim, ed. "General Aircraft Fleet Shadower (1940)". "The World's Worst Aircraft: From Pioneering Failures to Multimillion Dollar Disasters". London: Amber Books Ltd., 2005. ISBN 1-904687-34-2.

External links

* [ Profile - Flying Slow - Fleet Shadower concept]
* [ As.39 showing folded wings]

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