Aeroplane Monthly 1978-02
H.Penrose - Dreadnought
Dreadnought J6986 complete and ready for trials in May 1924. The manner in which the fuselage merged into the wings is well portrayed.
The poor but unique amateur snapshot of the Dreadnought just after take-off on May 9, 1924, seconds before the disastrous crash.
The root end of the port wing, showing one of the fuel tanks and the multi-spar construction.
The complete airframe during application of the corrugated aluminium skin over the cabin area.
Static test of the wing and centre-section in April 1925.
The extremely handsome Westland Dreadnought postal monoplane, of which only one example, J6.986, was built. Seen here at Westland's Yeovil airfield prior to its first and only flight of 9 May 1923, the Dreadnought incorporated a blended wing/fuselage structure and was powered by a 450hp Napier Lion II with accommodation for two pilots and up to eight passengers, or the equivalent in mail. Certainly, in comparison with contemporaries, the Dreadnought appeared to look the part. However, the Dreadnought was to prove spectacularly unsuccessful: shortly after take-off the machine stalled and crashed, maiming its test pilot, Stuart Keep. A contributory factor was the use of a low-set, knife-sharp leading edge to the wing's airfoil section, something calculated to make any stall just that little bit more vicious. Despite the Dreadnought's fate, the blended wing/fuselage concept has re-surfaced on several occasion since, with the Miles Y series, McDonnell's XP-67 and most recently in the General Dynamics originated F-16.
One of the Dreadnought's wing panels, its conventional fabric covering concealing the advanced, six-spar construction inside.
The crumpled nose and cockpit of the Dreadnought.
Looking like a stranded whale, the Dreadnought languishes after its first and final “flight”. The centre-section and undamaged wing were later used for structural testing.