Armstrong Whitworth Starling

The Armstrong Whitworth A.W.14 Starling was a British single engined biplane fighter developed for the Royal Air Force in the 1920s. It was unsuccessful, with the Bristol Bulldog being selected instead. The Starling was an all-metal biplane with staggered wings of unequal span. Two prototypes were ordered. Performance of the first prototype, Starling I, was unimpressive. The second prototype, while showing better performance than the first, was unsuccessful too. The design was rejected by the Royal Air Force.

Armstrong Whitworth Starling
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Gothaer Waggonfabrik
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1927
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Gothaer Waggonfabrik 230 View

The A.W.14 Starling was developed by Armstrong Whitworth in order to meet the requirements of Specification 28/24, for a single-seat fighter capable of operating in day and night-time conditions to replace Armstrong Whitworth's earlier Siskin. It was a single-bay sesquiplane (a biplane with the lower wing much smaller than the upper) with staggered unequal span wings. The fuselage had a bolted steel-tube structure, while the wings had steel spars and wooden ribs and were fitted with ailerons on the upper wings only. The wings used the experimental RAF 30 aerofoil section, which is symmetrical, with zero camber. Armament was two synchronised .303 in Vickers machine guns.

Two prototypes were ordered, with the first J8027, powered by a 385 hp (287 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar VII radial engine flying on 12 May 1927. It proved to be underpowered with this engine, and was therefore re-engined with a 460 hp (340 kW) Jaguar V engine. Performance was still unimpressive however, with the first prototype not exceeding speeds of 160 mph (260 km/h) rather than the expected 180 mph (290 km/h), while low speed handling was poor. The prototype was evaluated against the later Specification F.9/26 in February 1926, but was rejected by the RAF, who instead selected the Bristol Bulldog. J8027 was returned to Armstrong Whitworth, who fitted it with new wings with Clark YH aerofoil section and leading edge slots fitted on the upper wings. It was given the civil registration G-AAHC in May 1929, and was shown at Olympia in London in July 1929. It was cancelled from the register in December 1930.

The second prototype, J8028 was heavily redesigned, with a more streamlined fuselage and revised wings, which although retaining the Clark YH aerofoil section, had smaller lower wings. It was powered by a 525 hp (391 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Panther II engine, first flying on 5 December 1929. It was evaluated as both a land-based interceptor and as a naval fighter to meet the requirements of Specification N.21/26. While showing better performance than the first prototype, it too was unsuccessful, although it did carry out useful development work for the Armstrong Whitworth A.W.16.

Role Fighter
Manufacturer Armstrong Whitworth
First flight 12 May 1927
Status Prototype only
Number built 2

General characteristics

  • Crew: One
  • Length: 25 ft 2 in (7.67 m)
  • Wingspan: 31 ft 4 in (9.55 m)
  • Height: 10 ft 6 in (3.20 m)
  • Wing area: 246 ft (22.9 m)
  • Empty weight: 2,060 lb (936 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 3,095 lb (1,407 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 x Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar V 14 cylinder radial engine, 460 hp (343 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 139 knots (160 mph, 258 km/h) at 10,000 ft (3,050 m)


  • Two 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine guns

End notes