DescriptionThe Armstrong Whitworth AW.15 Atalanta was a 1930s British four-engine airliner built by Sir W.G. Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft Limited at Coventry.
The AW.15 Atalanta was designed to meet a 1930 Imperial Airways requirement for a four-engined airliner for its African lines, in particular for the service between Kisumu in Kenya and Cape Town, South Africa. The specification called for an airliner that could carry nine passengers, three crew and a load of freight for 400 mi (640 km), cruising at 115 mph (185 km/h) at 9,000 ft (2,740 m). Imperial Airways had decided to standardise on four-engined aircraft to prevent the failure of a single engine causing forced landings. The prototype, G-ABPI, was named Atalanta and first flown on 6 June 1932, by Alan Campbell-Orde from Whitley Abbey.
The Atalanta was a high-wing monoplane with four 340 hp (250 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Serval III ten-cylinder (two rows of 5 cylinders) radial engines. Its composite construction included steel, plywood and fabric; the undercarriage was fixed but was streamlined to minimize drag. The overall design of the aircraft was rather modern, and somewhat closed the performance gap between British and American airliners.
The aircraft had few design flaws and any teething problems were quickly overcome. The prototype was flown to Croydon Airport for acceptance by Imperial Airways, and on 26 September 1932, it flew a commercial service from Croydon to Brussels and Cologne.
The Atalanta could carry up to 17 passengers but Imperial Airways limited the seating to nine for the planes on the Indian route and 11 on the African route.
On 20 October 1932, the prototype was damaged in a test flight due to fuel starvation. Armstrong Whitworth was embarrassed by the accident and renamed the third production machine (G-ABTI, Arethusa) as Atalanta, hoping nobody would notice the swap.
Two derivatives of the Atalanta were proposed: the Jaguar-powered AW.25 and Panther-powered AW.26, but neither left the drawing board.
For details of the operational history of the Atalanta, click here.
A film clip of the aircraft on the ground and in the air.
- Crew: 3 Capacity: 9–17 passengers
- 71 ft 6 in (21.79 m)
- 90 ft 0 in (27.43 m)
- 14 ft 0 in (4.27 m)
- Wing Area:
- 1,285 sq ft (119.4 sq m)
- Empty Weight:
- 14,832 lb (6,728 kg)
- 21,000 lb (9,525 kg)
- 4 × Armstrong Siddeley Serval III 10-cylinder two-row air-cooled radial engine, 340 hp (250 kW) each
- Maximum speed: 156 mph (251 km/h, 136 kn) at 3,000 ft (910 m)
- Cruise Speed:
- 118 mph (190 km/h, 103 kn) at 9,000 ft (2,700 m)
- Stall Speed:
- 51 mph (82 km/h, 44 kn)
- 640 mi (1,030 km, 560 nmi)
- Rate of Climb:
- 700 ft/min (3.6 m/s). Time to altitude: 21.5 min to 9,000 ft (2,700 m)
- Service Ceiling:
- 14,200 ft (4,300 m)