Armstrong Whitworth A.W.16

The Armstrong Whitworth A.W.16 was a British single engined biplane fighter aircraft designed and built by Armstrong Whiteworth Aircraft. Problems with the Armstrong Siddeley Panther engine delayed the aircraft. by the time various design and development problems were resolved, the A.W.16 was considered out of dated. 

Eighteen examples of the A.W.16 were produced late in 1931, 17 of these for delivery to the Chinese Kwangsi Air Force. These A.W.16s were (along with the rest of the Kwangsi Air Force) incorporated in the main Chinese Nationalist Air Force in 1937. The other production example was used as an engine test bed before being passed to the Alan Cobham circus.

Armstrong Whitworth A.W.16
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Armstrong Whitworth
Production Period 1930 - 1938
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1930
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Armstrong Whitworth 1930 1938 20 View

The A.W.16 was developed by Armstrong Whitworth to meet the requirements of Specification F9/26. With the first prototype flying in 1930, it was too late for consideration against this specification, and was submitted against specification Specification N21/26 for a naval fighter for the Fleet Air Arm.

It was a single bay biplane with wings of unequal span braced with N-type interwing struts, and bore a close family resemblance to the A.W.XIV Starling Mk I, though with a less Siskin-like, humped fuselage. The undercarriage was fixed, undivided and spatted. The Armstrong Siddeley Panther radial engine, earlier known as the Jaguar Major was enclosed by a Townend ring.

Problems with the Panther engine delayed the aircraft, and the competing Hawker Nimrod was purchased before the AW.16 could be delivered for evaluation. When it was evaluated, it showed inferior performance to the Nimrod, and had poor handling on an exposed carrier deck.

Armstrong Whitworth continued to try to sell the aircraft, and produced a second prototype (G-ACCD) fitted with a more reliable Panther IIA engine for submission against Specification F7/30 for an order from the Royal Air Force. However, by this time the A.W.16 was out of date, and was quickly discarded from consideration, which was eventually won by the Gloster Gladiator. A number of production aircraft were made, however, with 17 ordered by the Kwangsi Air Force in China.

The first prototype A.W.16 was in 1933 experimentally fitted with the 15-cylinder 3-row radial Armstrong Siddeley Hyena, but this engine suffered from cooling problems and was abandoned.

The 16 A.W.16 fighters for the Kwangsi air force were produced late in 1931, and were delivered via Hong Kong. While initially serving in the air force of the local Warlords, the A.W.16s were (along with the rest of the Kwangsi Air Force) incorporated in the main Chinese Nationalist Air Force in 1937.

General characteristics

  • Crew: One
  • Length: 25 ft 0 in (7.62 m)
  • Wingspan: 33 ft 0 in (10.06 m)
  • Height: 11 ft 6 in (3.50 m)
  • Wing area: 261 ft (24.2 m)
  • Loaded weight: 3,520 lb (1,597 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 x Armstrong Siddeley Panther IIA 14 cylinder radial engine, 525 hp (391 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 174 knots (200 mph, 322 km/h) at 15,000 ft (4,570 m)
  • Range: 235 nm (270 mi, 435 km)
  • Service ceiling 26,100 ft (8,000 m)
  • Wing loading: lb/ft (kg/m)
  • Power/mass: hp/lb (W/kg)
  • Climb to 10,000 ft (3,050 m): 6 min
  • Endurance: 2 hours


  • Two forward firing .303 in Vickers machine guns in sides of fuselage with 500 rounds per gun

End notes