Armstrong Whitworth Ara

The Armstrong Whitworth Ara was an unsuccessful British single-seat biplane fighter aircraft of the First World War built by Armstrong Whitworth.

Armstrong Whitworth Ara
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Armstrong Whitworth
Production Period 1919 - 1919
Quantity 2
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1919
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1919 1919 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Armstrong Whitworth 1919 1919 2 View

In early 1918, the British Air Ministry wrote RAF Specification Type 1 for a single-seat fighter to replace the Sopwith Snipe. The specified engine was the ABC Dragonfly, a new radial engine which had been ordered into production based on promised performance before any testing had been carried out. To meet this specification, Armstrong Whitworth's chief designer, Fred Murphy, produced the Armstrong Whitworth Ara, three prototypes being ordered.

The Ara was a two-bay biplane. It had a square fuselage, the engine was covered in a pointed cowling, but with the cylinder heads exposed. The upper wing was low to give the pilot a better upwards view.

As with the other fighters built to meet the Type 1 specification, the Dragonfly engine proved to be the Ara's undoing, demonstrating hopeless reliability. Two of the three prototypes were completed, the first flying in mid-1919. The Ara was abandoned towards the end of the year when Armstrong Whitworth closed down its aircraft department.

Role Fighter
National origin United Kingdom
Manufacturer Armstrong-Whitworth
Designer Fred Murphy
First flight 1919
Status Prototype
Number built 2

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 20 ft 3 in (6.17 m)
  • Wingspan: 27 ft 5 in (8.36 m)
  • Height: 7 ft 10 in (2.39 m)
  • Wing area: 257 ft (23.9 m)
  • Empty weight: 1,320 lb (600 kg)
  • Gross weight: 1,930 lb (877 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 x ABC Dragonfly air cooled radial engine, 320 hp (239 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 150 mph (242 km/h)
  • Endurance: 3 hours
  • Service ceiling: 28,000 ft (8,500 m)
  • Rate of climb: 2,200 ft/min (11 m/s)


  • Two .303 in Vickers machine guns

End notes