P.Lewis The British Fighter since 1912 (Putnam)
Another little-known single-seat fighter design which came to naught was the Whitehead Comet of 1916. An 80 h.p. le Rhone was fitted to the single-bay, staggered biplane which had a well-formed fuselage of circular section but an indifferent view from the cockpit.
F.Mason The British Fighter since 1912 (Putnam)
Another company better known for its sub-contract manufacture of other firms’ designs than its own was Whitehead Aircraft Co Ltd of Townshend Road, Richmond, Surrey. No fewer than 720 Sopwith Pups had been ordered from this relatively modest manufacturer during 1916, yet this considerable workload did not deter the company from venturing to design a single-seat scout of its own that year.
It was perhaps surprising that the Whitehead Scout did not reflect its manufacturer’s familiarity with the highly successful Pup, but the two aircraft could hardly have been more different; indeed, it appears to have owed more to the unsuccessful Vickers E.S.2, which it closely resembled with its circular-section fuselage, gracefully curved fin and rudder and rounded wingtips.
Thus it was a not unattractive little aeroplane, powered by an 80hp Le Rhone, with slightly staggered, parallel chord, single-bay wings. The cockpit, however, was located at the point of the fuselage’s greatest girth so that the pilot could have had scarcely any downward field of vision owing to the width of the side fairings; he was nevertheless provided with a generous cutout in the upper wing trailing edge. The engine cowling featured four external stiffening ribs with oil drainage apertures at the bottom; it is likely that engine overheating would have resulted from the limited frontal cooling air aperture.
Although no pictures have been located which show the sole example of the Whitehead fitted with armament, there seems no reason to suggest that a synchronized Vickers gun could not have been fitted, nor that a more powerful engine would not have been introduced in due course. The aircraft was not, however, selected for production, and was probably rejected on the same grounds as the Vickers E.S.2 - inadequate field of vision from the cockpit.
W.Green, G.Swanborough The Complete Book of Fighters
WHITEHEAD COMET UK
At the end of 1916, the Whitehead Aircraft Company completed, at its Richmond, Surrey, works, a small single-seat fighting scout. Not unlike the Camel in general appearance - and perhaps inspired by the Sopwith type, for the production of which Whitehead was a major contractor - the aircraft was a compact single-bay biplane, with ailerons on all four wings. The fuselage was faired to a near-circular cross section and the engine was an 80 hp Le Rhone nine-cylinder rotary. The name Comet was bestowed upon the fighter by its manufacturer, although it was also known within the works as the Boyle Scout, in an allusion to its principal designer, Edwin Boyle. No details of the planned armament appear to have survived, nor of any flight testing, although the Comet was reported to have flown. No data are available.
J.Bruce British Aeroplanes 1914-1918 (Putnam)
THE Whitehead Aircraft Company were contractors for several types of aeroplane during the 1914-18 war; their principal product was the Sopwith Pup. In 1916 the company designed and built a singleseat scout which, like the standard Pup, was powered by an 80 h.p. Le Rhone rotary engine.
The Whitehead Scout was a single-bay, equal-span biplane which bore a resemblance to the Vickers E.S.2. The likeness lay chiefly in the fuselage, which was carefully faired out to a circular cross-section throughout its length and was of good aerodynamic form. The pilot’s forward and downward vision must have been obstructed by the fullness of the fairing on either side.
The wings were slightly staggered, and ailerons were fitted to upper and lower mainplanes. The centre-section was supported on two substantial N-struts, and aft of the rear spar it was cut away to improve the pilot’s view in an upward and forward direction. There can be little doubt, however, that the generally poor outlook from the cockpit would not make the Whitehead machine acceptable for Service use.
Manufacturers: Whitehead Aircraft Co., Ltd., Townshend Road, Richmond.
Power: 80 h.p. Le Rhone.