Aviation of Word War II
The Albemarle, designated the Type 155 by the Bristol Airplane Company, was originally designed in accordance with Air Ministry R.9/38 requirements for a twin-engine bomber. After changes in the official performance requirements, responsibility for the project was assigned to Armstrong Whitworth, a group led by John Lloyd.
The group was given the difficult task of converting the project of another company to the requirements of B.18 / 38 for a reconnaissance bomber. This aircraft became naturally identified as the Armstrong Whitworth A.W.41 Albemarle. Both in detail and in design, it was very different from the original concept of the Bristol aircraft.
Albemarle had a combined wood-steel construction, which is important, without the use of strategic materials. The first prototype took to the air in 1939, but shortly before the departure of the second prototype, which took place on March 20, 1940, it crashed. The first 32 aircraft were built as bombers. But when the three production Albemarle aircraft left the factory in December 1941, the decision was made to use this aircraft as a glider tug and military transport. Deliveries to the Royal Air Force began in January 1943. Albemarle received his baptism of fire during the invasion of Sicily in July 1943. On D-Day (6 June 1944) six Albemarles from 295 Squadron operating out of Harwell were clearing the route for the 6th Air Division, which was trooping into Normandy.
Although Albemarle aircraft were not among the best aircraft in the UK, they played their part, freeing up other types of aircraft for important tactical tasks.
Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle I: Initial bomber-reconnaissance version with BP powered dorsal turret carrying four 0.303-in (7.7-mm) Brownings and provision for two similar guns in retractable dorsal manual turret. Fuel tanks in wing and centre fuselage.
Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle ST Mk I: Special transport version (troop carrier) with operational bombing equipment, ventral turret and fuselage fuel tanks removed; dorsal turret replaced by hand-operated Rose two-gun installation with sliding hood. Freight loading doors in starboard fuselage side and paratroop jump doors in rear fuselage floor. Malcolm glider towing hook at rear of fuselage. Built in Srs 1, Srs 2 and Srs 3 versions with small equipment changes. 12 supplied to Soviet Union, 1943/44.
Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle GT Mk I: Glider towing version with similar modifications to ST Mk I but with paratroop provision. Built in Srs 2 and Srs 3 versions.
Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle GT Mk II: Single example of glider tug variant similar to GT Mk I.
Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle ST Mk II: Similar to ST Mk I special transport with equipment changes and dorsal turret re-introduced. Ninety-nine built.
Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle IV: Single prototype with R-2600-A5B Double Cyclone engines and dorsal turret, flown on December 12, 1942, and one production conversion.
Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle ST Mk V: Special transport similar to ST Mk II with changed fuel jetti-son system, flown July 27, 1943. Fifty built.
Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle ST Mk VI: Final production special transport version, with dorsal turret. One hundred and thirty-three Srs 1 built.
Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle GT Mk VI: Final production glider tug version, with dorsal turret. One hundred and seventeen Srs 2 built.