Armstrong Whitworth's AW 52 started as a twinkle in Chief Designer, John Lloyd's eye towards the end of 1943. Following flight testing with the AW 52G glider, the Ministry of Supply sanctioned the construction of two AW 52 to serve as 3/4-scale flight test machines for a proposed tailless airliner. The first of the pair, TG 363, seen here, took off for its maiden flight on 13 November 1947, followed by TG 368 on 1 September 1948. Incorporating a laminar airfoiled wing and powered by twin 5.000lb s.t. Rolls-Royce Nenes. These expensive machines proved a bitter disappointment, their laminar wings becoming instantly far less efficient the moment a fly struck their leading edges. To compound matters, the lack of adequate tail moment arm damping produced pitch axis control problems at high speed, leading to the imposition of a 288mph indicated limitation.
Panoramic view of the participants of the 1948 SBAC Farnborough show, headed by one of the two A.W.52s present. The aircraft are assembled on the north side of the airfield and 50 took part in the flying programme.