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Vickers 279 Venom


In 1935, to meet Air Ministry Specification F5/34, calling for a single-seat monoplane interceptor armed with six or eight machine-guns, a retractable undercarriage was required and an enclosed cockpit; a speed of at least 275mph (442kph) at 15,000ft (4,572m) was stipulated. This requirement was taken up by a number of firms. Bristol produced the Type 146 (835hp/622kW Bristol Perseus). Vickers brought their Jockey Mk II into approximate line with the requirements as the Venom (625hp/466kW Bristol Aquila). Henry Folland produced his last design for Gloster, the G.38 (840hp/626kW Bristol Mercury IX). James Martin also looked at F5/34 and surprisingly found it to his taste. None of the aircraft built to this specification achieved production status.

Fundamentally a redesigned and improved Type 151 Jockey and, indeed, initially known as the Jockey II, the Type 279, for which Vickers adopted the name Venom, was intended to meet the requirements of Specification F.5/34. Powered by a 625hp Bristol Aquila AE.3S nine-cylinder sleeve-valve radial engine enclosed by a long-chord NACA cowling, the Venom was a highly sophisticated aircraft, with a metal monocoque fuselage, its stressed skin being affixed by countersunk rivets. It was unique at the time it entered flight test, on 17 June 1936, in having 90°-deflection flaps. The Venom retained the sideways-hinging engine feature of the Type 151, and a battery of eight 7.7mm machine guns was mounted in the wings from the start of test flying. The Venom proved exceptionally manoeuvrable, with outstanding roll rate and turning radius, but it lacked the power to compete seriously with its Rolls-Royce liquid-cooled Vee-type-engined contemporaries, and, as no sufficiently compact British air-cooled radial of adequate power was available for installation, it was scrapped in 1939.

Engine: Bristol Aquila, 625hp/466kW
Max take-off weight: 1885 kg / 4156 lb
Wingspan: 9.98 m / 33 ft 9 in
Length: 7.36 m / 24 ft 2 in
Height: 3.27 m / 11 ft 9 in
Wing area: 13.56 sq.m / 145.96 sq ft
Max. speed: 502 km/h / 312 mph
Ceiling: 9755 m / 32000 ft

Vickers 279 Venom



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