Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft

Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft Company, or Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft, was a British aircraft manufacturer.

Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft Company
private company limited by shares 
FateMerged with Gloster Aircraft Company & Hawker Aircraft
SuccessorHawker Siddeley
Founded1912 (as Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth (Aerial Department))
HeadquartersGosforth, Parkside, Whitley, Baginton, Bitteswell
OwnerArmstrong Whitworth 


Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft was established as the Aerial Department of the Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth & Company engineering group in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1912, and from c. 1914 to 1917 employed the Dutch aircraft designer Frederick Koolhoven (hence the "F.K." models).[1]

In 1920, Armstrong Whitworth acquired the engine and automobile manufacturer Siddeley-Deasy. The engine and automotive businesses of both companies were spun off as Armstrong Siddeley and the aircraft interests as the Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft Company.[2] When Vickers and Armstrong Whitworth merged in 1927 to form Vickers-Armstrongs, Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft and Armstrong Siddeley were bought out by J. D. Siddeley and did not join the new grouping.[3] This left two aircraft companies with Armstrong in the name – Vickers-Armstrongs (usually known as just "Vickers") and "Armstrong-Whitworth".

The most successful aircraft made by Armstrong-Whitworth in the inter-war period was the Siskin which first flew in 1919 and remained in RAF service until 1932, with 485 produced.[3]

In 1935, J. D. Siddeley retired and Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft was purchased by Hawker Aircraft, the new group becoming Hawker Siddeley Aircraft. The component companies of Hawker Siddeley co-operated, but operated as individual entities.[4]

In March 1936, the first Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bomber aircraft made its maiden flight and a total of 1,814 were produced for the RAF, ending in July 1943.[5] During the war, Armstrong Whitworth also produced 1,328 Avro Lancasters and designed the Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle reconnaissance bomber which was then made by A. W. Hawksley Ltd, part of the Hawker Siddeley group.[6]

Armstrong Whitworth built 281 Avro Lincolns at Baginton from 1945 to 1951.[7] Then, during the 1950s Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft built many Gloster Meteor,[8] Hawker Seahawk, Hawker Hunter and Gloster Javelin jet fighters at their Bitteswell and Baginton factories for delivery to the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy and the Royal Belgian Air Force.[8]

The Armstrong Whitworth Apollo airliner was unsuccessful[9] and the company was eventually merged with another Hawker Siddeley company, Gloster Aircraft Company, to form Whitworth Gloster Aircraft in 1961. In 1963 Hawker Siddeley dropped the names of the component companies from its products, the last Armstrong Whitworth product, the Argosy, becoming the Hawker Siddeley Argosy.[10]



Date of first flight in parenthesis.

Armstrong Whitworth Aerial Department
Armstrong-Siddeley Aircraft
Armstrong-Whitworth Aircraft


  • R25r airship
  • R29 – airship
  • R33 – airship


See also



  1. Tapper 1988, pp. 5–10.
  2. Tapper 1988, pp. 17–18.
  3. Tapper 1988, pp. 25–26.
  4. Tapper 1988, p. 34.
  5. Tapper 1988, pp. 38–41.
  6. Tapper 1988, p. 42.
  7. Tapper 1988, p. 357.
  8. Tapper 1988, pp. 358–362.
  9. Tapper 1988, p. 307.
  10. Tapper 1988, p. 326.
  11. "The Armstrong-Siddeley Sinaia" FLIGHT page 605, 8 September 1921


  • Tapper, Oliver. Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft since 1913. London:Putnam, 1988. ISBN 0-85177-826-7.
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