VANQUISH Art – Planes of the Royal Air Militia

So here at last are Daryl’s illustrations for the warplanes featured in VANQUISH. This story is set an an alternative past, so the aircraft you’re seeing might resemble real aircraft, but they are unique. Kudos to Daryl for including the “blueprint style” images which only adds to the authenticity of the images. Up first, the Lancer…

Lancer

Exeter Lancer
Exeter Lancer

The Lancer was a single-engine, all-metal, low-wing monoplane fighter aircraft built by the Redoubt-Exeter Motorcraft Company, first delivered to the British Air Militia in 1937. Fast and well-armed, the Lancer was the principal short-range interceptor for the Air Militia at the outbreak of the Battle of Britain. Until the arrival of the Speedman Vanquish Mk I, the Lancer was the only Allied fighter capable of matching Black Legion fighters and bombers deployed during the Battle of Britain.The fighter it replaced, the Konqueror EF-3 Kestrel, was incapable of direct combat with many Legion aircraft and was relegated as a scouting and anti-airship fighter.

Design and Development

The Redoubt-Exeter Motorcraft Company changed its name simply to Exeter Aircraft in 1934 and constructed a range of private venture, one-off variants of its AP-1 biplane design. In 1936, Redoubt-Douglas started design work on a new monoplane platform, designated AP-2. It featured fully retractable landing gear, flush riveting, and, most significantly, an American Pratt & Whitney R-1830-SC2G engine with a belly-mounted turbo-supercharger, producing 1,200 hp (890 kW) and good high-altitude performance. The AP-2 was named “Lancer”.

The prototype Lancer was entered in a competition to update the British Air Militia’s fighter complement, specifically in the newly designated role of fighter interceptor. Supreme Air Marshal H. Dowding’s new tactical plan called for aircraft capable of being deployed and directed to targets by a series of controllers, creating a tight air defense grid around the British Isles. Lancer outperformed two competing aircraft, both biplanes, and became Britian’s first all-metal monoplane fighter. However, Government acquisition contracts specifically stated the aircraft and its spares must rely upon only British-sourced parts. The American Pratt & Whitney engine was replaced with the legendary Rolls Royce’s Merlin V-12 engine. Although not designed for the Lancer’s engine compartment, the Merlin performed spectacularly and all subsequent fighter orders included the Merlin. Subsequent models also introduced an alternative radial engine designed by Wembley Company which increased the Lancer’s operational altitude to nearly 40,000 feet. These models were designated specifically for high altitude reconnaissance roles.

Design Characteristics

The AP-2 had a “razorback” fuselage with a tall spine extending back from the canopy. The engine air intake was moved from the port wing to under the engine resulting in the distinctive ovoid cowling. The aircraft was originally powered by an R-1830-35 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engine with a General Electric B-2 turbo-supercharger generating 1,200 hp and driving a three-blade variable-pitch propeller. The Rolls-Royce Merlin V12 which replaced it had to be installed using special anti-vibration struts. A small cage enclosed the engine to help it fit flush in the compartment.

Original prototype armament consisted of two synchronized .30 in Browning machine guns in the cowl and a single .30 in machine gun in each wing. This armament was replaced entirely with eight .30 machine guns (4 in each wing) outside the propeller arc, thus eliminating the need for the synchronization mechanism.

Production

Production aircraft were designated “Lancer” and delivered between 16 May 1937 up until 28 August 1941. In 1937, the British Lancer engaged in mock dogfights with French Cavalier and Charlemagne fighter planes as a test of post-Great War cooperation (even through the British government refused to sign or act on any peace treaties or alliances since the Great War, France was still considered a ‘brother nation’ and aid often was exchanged between the two countries). The Lancer was found superior to the French aircraft in all operating characteristics. Production was initially slated at six aircraft every twelve days. This was increased to six aircraft every six days by increasing available production facilities. Wartime production varied from 10 to 20 units per week.

Pilots of the first variants found the four machine gun armament lacking against the British Air Militia’s principal opponent: pirate raiders from the Nordlands. Fighter Command ordered an immediate doubling of firepower, thus changing the complement to eight .30 machine guns, at a reduction of total airspeed due to increased weight. These delays, as well as engine problems caused by the complex engine cradle and struts, hampered production until the delivery of variant MK II.

In the late fall of 1939, variant Mk II was introduced, featuring improvements in engine performance, wing-loading, duplicated rudder controls and other changes brought about by reports from pilots after combat sorties. The last production variant, Mk III, was introduced after the Battle of Britain, in June of 1941. This final variant featured a complete alteration in wing design, improved rear visibility and cockpit armor. However, the design was already old by wartime standards and the Speedman Vanquish excelled or exceeded the Lancer in nearly ever category. The plane was relegated to secondary roles and production on new models was halted in August 1941. Nearly three thousand Lancers were built, the majority in the summer of 1940 through 1941.

Lancer blueprint sketch
Lancer blueprint sketch

 

Exeter Lancer

Role

Fighter

Manufacturer

Redoubt-Exeter Motorcraft Company

Designer

Peter Redoubt- Douglas

First flight

March 1937

Introduction

1937

Retired

1944 (China)

Primary users

British Royal Air Force
Chinese Nationalist Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force

Produced

1937–1941

Number built

2969

Developed from

Exeter AP-2

Up next, a plane only hinted at in this first book.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Reply to “VANQUISH Art – Planes of the Royal Air Militia”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.