Armstrong Whitworth A.W. 41 Albemarle

Armstrong Whitworth A.W. 41 Albemarle

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Armstrong Whitworth A.W. 41 Albemarle

The Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle began life as a Bristol Aeroplane Company design for a twin engined bomber, developed to fit a 1938 specification. When it became clear that the RAF would not be ordering any more twin engined bombers, instead preferring the four engined heavies, the project transferred to the Armstrong Whitworth Company. There the design was adapted to serve as a reconnaissance bomber, before it was eventually decided to produce the Albemarle as a gilder tug and paratrooper transport aircraft.

The Albemarle was designed to make the best use of limited resources. It was constructed from steel and wood, rather than the light alloys used by higher performance aircraft. Its design also allowed a large number of companies to take part in the construction process, including many outside the aircraft industry. The Albemarle was powered by two 1,590 hp Bristol Hercules XI radial engines, and had a top speed of 265 mph at 10,500 ft. Of the six hundred Albemarles constructed between 1942 and December 1944, 359 were used as transport aircraft (including the paratrooper role) and 197 as glider tugs. Ten were provided to the Russians for use as transport aircraft.

The first prototype flew in 1939, but was destroyed in a crash. The second, more successful prototype, flew in 1 March 1939, and the first production aircraft appeared in December 1941, but it would take another year for the first aircraft to reach the RAF, in January 1943. The first squadrons to receive the aircraft were Nos. 296 and 297. They were first used in action in large numbers during the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, but individual aircraft (and possibly larger formations) were used on a mix of operations from Britain as early as May, including a night bombing raid on 21 May and a leaflet dropping mission over the Brest peninsula on 27 May.

The Albemarle took part in D-Day in both of its main roles. Four squadrons were involved in towing Horsa gliders to France, while six aircraft from No. 295 squadron carried paratroopers. The Albemarle was also used at Arnhem. The Albemarle is a good example of the many aircraft that saw more service in an unexpected role during the Second World War than in the role they had originally been designed for.

Length: 59 ft 11 in
Wingspan: 77 ft 9 in
Engines: Two Bristol Hercules XI radial engines, giving 1,590 hp
Range: 1,350 miles
Maximum Speed: 256 mph at 10,500 feet (in tug duty)
Cruising Speed: 170 mph
Ceiling: 18,000 ft.
Armament: two .303 in Vickers “K” guns in dorsal turret (early bomber version had four guns)

Armstrong Whitworth A.W. 41 Albemarle - History

I have just seen your comment as to where the Albermarle was built.
I believe Gloster Aircraft in Gloucestershire.

A former pilot once said of the Albermarle that it had "no virtues and no vices".

Ultimately the Albemarle was a strategic success - it did much of the donkey work of towing gliders without taking up vital air industry manufacturing resources and facilities.

The purpose of a war industry is to produce the correct tool for the job - not to create aeronautical sublimity for the benefit of connoisseurs regardless of context.

"The Albemarle was the first British production airplane to have a tricycle landing gear"

"The Albemarle was the first British production airplane to have a tricycle landing gear,"

Many negative comments have been made about this misbegotten aircraft, and they are undoubtedly justified. However, it should be understood that the original concept was to create a bomber that could be produced from non-strategic materials at facilities, and by workers, outside the normal aircraft production industry. Under those circumstances, it was therefore virtually inevitable that the resulting airframe was somewhat overweight.

In addition, the design process was begun by the design staff at one company (Bristol) and then transferred for completion to the design staff at another company (Armstrong-Whitworth). Consequently, it was hardly surprising that the result was less than stellar.

World War II Database

ww2dbase The Albemarle originated as the Bristol type 155 design to meet an Air Ministry requirement of 1938 for a twin engined bomber. Production was transferred to Armstromg Whitworth when it became clear that the latter had spare design and production capacity. A design team under the supervision of John Lloyd was set the difficult task of taking over another company's creation and adapting it to meet a revised Ministry requirement for a reconnaissance bomber.

ww2dbase The revised Armstrong Whitworth design was very different from the original Bristol concept in detail and construction. The airframe was of mixed composite steel and wood (thereby reducing demand for strategic light alloys). Most of the components were produced by subcontractors (one source mentions almost 1,000 sub contractors even to small companies outside the aircraft industry), with final assembly being made by A.W. Hawksley Ltd.

ww2dbase The Albemarle was the first operational aircraft in RAF service to have a tricycle undercarriage. This was of Lockheed design.

ww2dbase The first of two prototypes flew on 20 March 1940 but proved to be a poor performer as a result of its great structural weight. This machine was destroyed in a crash before the flight of the second prototype in January 1941. The first three aircraft(after considerable delay in establishing production lines)emerged from the factory in December 1941.

ww2dbase The first 32 production aircraft were built as bombers, although they were not used as such. These aircraft were installed with a four-gun Boulton Paul dorsal turret, but weight considerations dictated the removal of this in later aircraft, being replaced by a pair of Vickers 'K' hand operated machine guns. Deliveries to the Royal Air Force began in January 1943 when No.295 Squadron received its first aircraft. By this time the decision had been made to adapt the type as a glider tug and airborne forces transport.

ww2dbase The Albemarle was blooded by No.296 and 297 Squadrons RAF (part of No.38 Wing) operating from North Africa, in the invasion of Sicily in July 1943. On D-Day (6 June 1944) six of No.295 Squadron's Albemarle aircraft. Operating from Harwell, served as pathfinders for the 6th Airborne Division's paratrooper drop over Normandy. In addition four squadrons of the type acted as glider tugs. In September 1944 two Squadrons of Albemarles towed gliders carrying troops of the 1st Airborne Division as a part of the Arnhem operation.

ww2dbase Production ceased in December 1944 after the completion of 602 aircraft. An order for a second batch of 478 machines was canceled. Albemarle deliveries to the RAF consisted of 310 transport aircraft (78 Albemarle ST Mk.I, 99 Albemarle ST Mk.II and 133 Albemarle ST Mk.VI) and 246 glider tugs (80 Albemarle GT MkI, one Albemarle GT MkII, 49 Albemarle GT Mk V, and 117 Albemarle Mk VI ). In addition to these were the original 32 bonbers which were later converted to transport standard, and 10-12 Albemarle transports aircraft which were delivered to the Soviet Air Force from RAF stocks. All Albemarles utilised the same Bristol Hercules XI engine, with the exception of the sole Albemarle Mk IV prototype which was tried with a pair of Wright Double Cyclone radial engines. Albemarle marks mainly differed only in their equipment.

ww2dbase Whilst not a particularly significant type, the Albemarle did perform a useful role and therefore released other types for more vital tasks. In addition, because of Its method of construction and the materials used, production did not unduly disrupt the flow of more important aircraft at a time when these were vital to Britain's survival.

ww2dbase Sources: Aircraft of World War II by Chris Chant (Dempsey-Parr, 1999), World Aircraft Information Files (Aerospace Publishing Peridical).

Last Major Revision: Sep 2007


MachineryTwo Bristol Hercules XI 14-cylinder two row radial engines rated at 1,590hp
Armament2x7.7mm trainable rearward firing dorsal machine guns
Span23.47 m
Length18.26 m
Height4.75 m
Wing Area74.60 m²
Weight, Empty10,270 kg
Weight, Loaded16,556 kg
Weight, Maximum16,590 kg
Speed, Maximum426 km/h
Speed, Cruising274 km/h
Rate of Climb5.00 m/s
Service Ceiling5,486 m
Range, Normal2,092 km

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Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle

The Armstrong Whitworth A.W.41 Albemarle was a twin-engine transport aircraft developed by the British aircraft manufacturer Armstrong Whitworth and primarily produced by A.W. Hawksley Ltd, a subsidiary of the Gloster Aircraft Company. It was one of many aircraft which entered service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the Second World War.

The Albemarle had been originally designed as a medium bomber to fulfil Specification B.9/38 however, military planners decided to deemphasis the bomber role in favour of aerial reconnaissance and transport missions, leading to the aircraft being extensively redesigned mid-development. Performing its maiden flight on 20 March 1940, its entry to service was delayed by the redesign effort, thus the first RAF squadron to operate the Albemarle, No.� at RAF Harwell, did not receive the type in quantity until January 1943. As a consequence of superior bombers, such as the Vickers Wellington, having arrived in quantity, all plans for using the Albemarle as a bomber were abandoned.

Instead, the Albemarle was used by RAF squadrons primarily for general and special transport duties, paratroop transport and glider towing, in addition to other secondary duties. Albemarle squadrons participated in Normandy and the assault on Arnhem during Operation Market Garden. While the Albemarle remained in service throughout the conflict, the final examples in RAF service were withdrawn less than a year after the war's end. During October 1942, the Soviet Air Force also opted to order 200 aircraft of these, only a handful of Albemarles were delivered to the Soviets prior to the Soviet government deciding to suspend deliveries in May 1943, and later cancelling the order in favour of procuring the American Douglas C-47 Skytrain instead.

Armstrong Whitworth A.W. 41 Albemarle - History

Armstrong Whitworth AW.41 Albemarie

With a possible shortage of light alloys Air Ministry Specification B.9/38 for a twin-engined medium bomber, was issued. This required that the aircraft was to be of simple construction, using materials other than light alloy wherever possible. AWA's chief designer, John Lloyd, and his team were able to submit the initial proposals for their project, the AW.41, to the Air Ministry in February 1938. These initial proposals were for a mid-wing monoplane of 61ft 8in span powered by two Rolls Royce Merlin engines and capable of carrying the normal bomb load of 1,500 lb for a range of 1,500 miles cruising at 320 mph at 20,000ft. The sole defensive armament consisted of a four-gun power-operated turret in the tail. From the outset the AW.41 was to have a retractable tricycle undercarriage. The construction of the airframe was to have been almost exclusively of wood and steel.
The project was changed to meet Specifica-tion B.18/38 for a twin-engined reconnaissance bomber. The design study to meet B.18/38, although using the same type of construction, was very different to the original concept. The wing span was increased to 67ft and the Rolls-Royce Merlins were replaced by Bristol Hercules XI radial engines driving three-bladed de Havilland constant-speed hydromatic airscrews.

On August 18, 1938, Contract 816726/38 was placed with AWA for the manufacture of two prototypes.

Construction of the two prototypes was transferred to AWA's factory at Hamble, and it was provisionally planned that the ensuing production would he undertaken at the new “shadow" factory being built at Yeadon, near Leeds. The plan for Yeadon was abandoned and in November 1939, production contract No B40671/39 for 198 aircraft was placed with Gloster Aircraft at Brockworth. A second contract, No B53250/39 for a further 800 aircraft, was placed with Gloster on January 30, 1940. Shortly after this the Hawker Siddeley Group formed a new company at Brockworth, A. W. Hawkesley Ltd, to be responsible for the assembly of the AW.41, which by then had been named the Albemarle.

The first prototype, P1360, com-menced taxiing trials at Hamble on March 18, 1940, and AWA's chief test pilot, F1t Lt C. K. Turner Hughes, continued the trials of P1360 on March 20, when, after satisfactorily completing the taxiing tests, he carried out a series of straights before taking P1360 off on its maiden flight.

Retraction of the undercarriage was carried out for the first time during the second flight on April 5.

The company's flight trials showed take-off performance to be unsatisfactory and in July and August 1940, P1360 was grounded while the wings were modified, increasing the span by 10ft to 77ft.

In September an A&AEE crew from Boscombe Down started the official performance and handling trials. During a flight on September 30 the pilot became lost and was compelled to make a forced landing in a small field. This was successfully accomplished with only minor damage to the aircraft.

October was to see further modifica-tions to P1360, when the areas of the fins and rudders were increased. On November 16 the machine was delivered to the A&AEE at Boscombe Down for continuation of its official trials. It was during a flight from Boscombe Down on February 4, 1941, that a portion of plywood upper skin broke away from the port mainplane. The noise and effect of this led the pilot to believe that the aircraft was having engine trouble, so he immediately shut down the port engine. As a result the aircraft broke away into a spin from which the pilot was unable to recover. He ordered his two observers to abandon the aircraft, and the first cleared the aircraft safely, but the "D" ring of the other's parachute caught in the fuselage, the observer finding that he was suspended by his harness from the fuselage. The parachute released and developed over the tailplane, acting in an anti-spin role and enabling the pilot to regain control.

Unaware of the drama being enacted behind him, the pilot found that he could control the aircraft if he did not allow the speed to fall below 30 or 40kt above stalling speed. With this knowledge the pilot decided to make a wheels-up landing, still unaware that his observer was suspended below the fuselage. Just prior to landing, and when he was some 6 to 8ft above the ground, the observer released himself and fell to the ground. Although seriously injured, he sur-vived, the pilot completed his wheels-up landing with only minor injuries to himself, although the aircraft was totally destroyed in the ensuing fire.

The second prototype, P1361, first flew on April 20, 1941, continued the flight test programme. This machine also had the 77ft span wing, and was the only Albemarle to be fitted with the ventral power-operated turret.

Production problems were caused by over 1,000 sub-contractors who lacked aircraft experience but were to manufacture all the details and sub-assemblies required for the Albemarles. The technical problems with the prototype, particularly the increased wing span, required many of the jigs to be rebuilt.

Only two Albemarles, the prototypes, had flown by June 1941, the first 200 were not completed until March 1943, and production ceased with the completion of the 602nd Albemarle in March 1945. Although contracts were placed for 1,000 Albemarles, this quantity was reduced to 602, including the two prototypes, in June 1943, when it was decided that the facilities at Brockworth were required for Meteor production.

In 1941 the Albemarle programme was investigated by a Select Committee on National Expenditure, chaired by Sir John Wardlow-Milne. The Committee issued its report on August 20, 1941, and it concluded that the Albemarle was not value for money, calling for immediate and urgent reconsideration of the programme." It is interesting to note that an Albemarle airframe, less engines and equipment, cost £24,950, compared with £19,159 for a Lancaster.

The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, was concerned about the Committee's findings, and on August 26, 1941, asked the Secretary of State for Air to provide him with the current views and intentions of the departments involved with the Albemarle. Explanations from the Air Staff and the Ministry of Aircraft Production, defending the Albernarle and their decisions made in regard to it, did not appear to satisfy Churchill, and it apparently took a letter from Lord Beaverbrook on October 12 to finally reassure him. In his letter, Beaverbrook advised that the Alhemarle would be useful for short-range work, and would supplement the Wellingtons in attacks on invasion ports, for bombing in France and for bombing in the event of an invas on. He also explained that the tooling was practically complete at a cost of over £1,500,000, and that more than 75 per cent of the raw materials had been delivered and 50 per cent of the details manufactured.

Deliveries of production aircraft from Brockworth commenced in September 1941, although it was not until June 1942 that monthly deliveries exceeded double figures, with 14 aircraft being delivered. The first 32 production aircraft were completed as B.Mk.1's, but the delays had already rendered the Albemarle obsolete as a bomber, and consequently no further aircraft were completed as such, all subsequent machines being produced as glider tugs or special transports.

Projects to cater for any shortage of Hercules engines that may have arisen were the Mk.III with Merlins and the Mk.IV with Wright GR2600 Double Cyclone engines. Cyclones were installed in Mk.I P1406, and a single GTIV, V1760, was completed. The Merlin installation was not proceeded with.

Albemarle I V1599 was experimentally fitted with a long-travel undercarriage by AWA during 1943. This was to enable it to fly directly on to the ground without the necessity of a flare-out before touch-down. Flight testing commenced on November 8, 1943, but it did not prove to be a complete success because the undercarriage oleos failed to compress sufficiently under drag load during flight.
600 Albemarles were produced between 1941 and 1943.

It was widely used as a glider tug, although it suffered from overheating through sustained high power at low airspeed.

There were many GT (general transport) and ST (special transport) versions, some equipped with four-gun dorsal turrets (a few had a two-gun belly turret) or twin manually aimed dorsal guns. Most could carry freight, paratroops or special equip-ment. The first ST.I and GT.I entered RAF service in mid-1942 and early 1943 respectively, and subsequent versions brought the total number of Albemarles built to 600.

One batch was supplied to the Soviet Union.

The Albemarle took part in the invasion of Sicily to which they were used to tow support gliders into action. Additionally, the aircraft took part in the D-Day invasion landings of June 1944 (again as glider tugs) and served with airborne elements during the airdrops over Arnhem campaign to end the war before Christmas.

Armstrong Whitworth AW 41 Albemarle
Engine: 2 x Bristol Hercules XI, 1568 hp
Length: 59 ft 11 in / 18.26 m
Height: 15 ft 7 in / 4.75 m
Wingspan : 77.00 ft / 23.47 m
Wing area : 803.533 sqft / 74.65 sqm
Max take off weight : 22603.5 lb / 10251.0 kg
Max. speed : 230 kts / 426 km/h
Cruising speed : 148 kts / 274 km/h
Service ceiling : 17995 ft / 5485 m
Wing load : 28.09 lb/sq.ft / 137.00 kg/sq.m
Range : 1130 nm / 2092 km
Crew : 4
Armament: 2x cal.303 MG Vickers "K" (7,7mm)

Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle Mk II
Engines: 2 x Bristol Hercules XI 14-cylinder radial, 1,590hp each.
Length: 59.91 ft (18.26m)
Width: 77.00 ft (23.47m)
Height: 15.58 ft (4.75m)
Empty Weight: 22,600 lbs (10,251kg)
Maximum Take-Off Weight: 36,500 lbs (16,556kg)
Maximum Speed: 256mph (412kmh 222kts)
Maximum Range: 1,350miles (2,173km)
Service Ceiling: 17,999ft (5,486m)
Armament: 2 or 4 x 7.7mm Vickers machine guns
Up to 4,500lbs internal ordnance
Crew: 4


Over the course of its production life, a number of variants of the Albemarle were built:

  • ST Mk I - 99 aircraft
  • GT Mk I - 69
  • ST Mk II - 99
  • Mk III - One prototype only.
  • Mk IV - One prototype only.
  • ST Mk V - 49
  • ST Mk VI - 133
  • GT Mk VI - 117

Most Marks were divided into "Series" to distinguish differences in equipment. The ST Mk I Series 1 (eight aircraft) had the four gun turret replaced with hand operated twin-guns under a sliding hood. As a special transport, a loading door was fitted on the starboard side the rear fuel tank was removed. [4] The 14 ST Mk I Series 2 aircraft were equipped with gear for towing gliders. The Mk II could carry 10 paratroops and the Mk V was essentially the same but with a fuel jettison capability. All production Albemarles were powered by a pair of 1,590 hp (1,186 kW) Bristol Hercules XI radial engines.

The Mk III and Mk IV Albemarles were development projects for testing different powerplants the former used the Rolls-Royce Merlin III, and the latter used the 1,600 hp (1,190 kW) Wright Double Cyclone.

Armstrong Whitworth A.W. 41 Albemarle - History


1916 F.K.3 BI-PLANE. 4 photos incl 2 as shown above. Sold

1916 F.K.8 BI-PLANE. 8 photos. Sold

F.K.10 TRI-PLANE. 3 photos. Sold

1916 F.K.12 TRI-PLANE. 1 photo. Sold

APE BI-PLANE. 1 photo. Sold

1917 F.M.4 ARMADILLO BI-PLANE. 2 photos. Sold

1919 ARA BI-PLANE. (successor to Armadillo). 1 photo. Price US$3

1920 TADPOLE BI-PLANE. 2 photos as per above illustrations. Price US$5

ATLAS 1 FLOATPLANE. 3 photos incl 2 Shown above. Price US$8

ATLAS TRAINERS. 11 photos. Price US$25

SISKIN. 25 photos. (Including 1 postcard) various models. Price US$50

AJAX. 2 photos. Price US$5

AW 14 STARLING. 3 photos. (including 2 shown above). Price US$5

AW. ARGOSY. 5 photos various models. Price US$10

A.W. ATALANTA. 4 photos. Price US$10

1923 WOLF BI-PLANE. 4 photos. Price US$10.

AWANA PASSENGER LINER. 2 photos as shown above. Price US$5


Over the course of its production life, a number of variants of the Albemarle were built:

  • ST Mk I - 99 aircraft
  • GT Mk I - 69
  • ST Mk II - 99
  • Mk III - One prototype only.
  • Mk IV - One prototype only.
  • ST Mk V - 49
  • ST Mk VI - 133
  • GT Mk VI - 117

Most Marks were divided into "Series" to distinguish differences in equipment. The ST Mk I Series 1 (eight aircraft) had the four gun turret replaced with hand operated twin-guns under a sliding hood. As a special transport, a loading door was fitted on the starboard side the rear fuel tank was removed. [ 4 ] The 14 ST Mk I Series 2 aircraft were equipped with gear for towing gliders. The Mk II could carry 10 paratroops and the Mk V was essentially the same but with a fuel jettison capability. All production Albemarles were powered by a pair of 1,590 hp (1,186 kW) Bristol Hercules XI radial engines.

The Mk III and Mk IV Albemarles were development projects for testing different powerplants the former used the Rolls-Royce Merlin III, and the latter used the 1,600 hp (1,190 kW) Wright Double Cyclone.

Armstrong Whitworth A.W.41 Albemarle

Albemarle - dva prototypy sériových čísel P1360 a P1361
Albemarle B Mk.I - bombardovací a průzkumná verze, 42 kusů
Albemarle GT Mk.I - letoun byl vybaven zařízením Malcom pro vlek kluzáků, hřbetní střelecká věž byla nahrazena střelištěm se dvěma kulomety Vickers K, 80 kusů
Albemarle ST Mk.I - letoun byl upraven k seskoku výsadkářů, ponechal si vybavení bombardovací verze, 78 kusů
Albemarle GT Mk.II - letoun vybaven zařízením Malcolm a otvorem pro seskok výsadkářů
Albemarle ST Mk.II - verze ST Mk.I vybavená zařízením Malcolm, celkem 100 kusů
Albemarle GT Mk.IV - jeden prototyp, poháněn motory Wright GR-2600-A5B, přestavěn z Mk.I P1460
Albemarle ST Mk.V - odpovídá verzi ST Mk.II, vybavena odhazovatelnými nádržemi, 49 kusů
Albemarle ST Mk.VI - odpovídá verzi ST Mk.V, zvětšený otvor pro naložení objemnějších nákladů, 133 kusů
Albemarle GT Mk.VI - jako ST Mk.VI, přidáno specialní rádio vybavení, bez výzbroje, 117 kusů

Celkem postaveno 602 kusů, 14 letounů verze Mk.I bylo dodáno do SSSR

Střední bombardovací letoun Armstrong Whitworth A.W.41 Albemarle vznikl na základě technických specifikací B.9/38. Ministerstvo letectví oslovilo těmito požadavky čtyři výrobce letadel, ale pouze firmy Armstrong Whitworth Limited (dále jen AW) a Bristol se soutěže zúčastnily. AW nabídl projekt A.W.41 a Bristol zase svůj Type 155.

Technické požadavky B.9/38 byly formulovány v době, kdy Velká Británie vedla vůči Německu politiku ústupků, na Ministerstvu letectví však bylo jasné, že RAF potřebuje nutně posílit početní stavy svých bombardovacích perutí, proto vznikl požadavek na střední bombardér, který by bylo možno vyrábět především z nedeficitních domácích surovin, zde ministerstvo počítalo se skutečností, že by se německým ponorkám podařilo blokovat námořní cesty a Velká Británie by měla zablokován přístup k důležitým surovinám. Dalším požadavkem byl způsob výroby - letouny, jednotlivé díly a komponenty mělo dodávat velké množství drobných dodavatelů. Toto řešení bylo sice velmi náročné na logistiku zajišťující výrobu, ale v případě války bylo téměř nemožné výrobu zcela zlikvidovat, např. nálety.

Zajímavé bylo také, že ministerské požadavky nevyhovovaly zcela požadavkům RAF. Ministerstvo požadovalo například obrannou výzbroj soustředěnou do zadní střelecké věže, konstruktéři i velení RAF, ti byli spíše nakloněni k řešení se hřbetním a spodním střelištěm. Předložené projekty obou účastníků soutěže byly natolik odlišné, že v červnu 1938 došlo k upravení požadavků nově B.17/38 pro Bristol Type 155 a B.18/38 pro A.W.41. Koncem roku však Bristol ze soutěže odstoupil a tak se projekt firmy AW stal vítězem.

Finální projekt A.W.41 představoval středoplošník smíšené konstrukce, hlavní nosník křídla byl ocelový, stejně tak trup byl tvořen ocelovými profily a krycí panely byly z překližky, řídící plochy a zadní část trupu byla potažena plátnem. Pětičlenná osádka měla pro svou obranu k dispozici čtyři kulomety Browning Mk.II ve hřbetní věži Boulton-Paul a pod trupem vysunovatelnou věžičku se zdvojenými Browningy. Pohon letounu zajistila dvojice motorů Bristol Herkules XI.

Po objednávce na dvou prototypů přišla takřka bezprostředně objednávka na 298 sériových bombardérů, označených A.W.41 Albemarle B Mk.I, tato objednávka byla po vypovězení války Německu rozšířena na celkem tisíc letadel, to vše pouze na základě projektu a dvou rozestavěných prototypů! K prvnímu vzletu došlo až 20. 3. 1940, bezprostředně po prvních zkušebních letech bylo zjištěno, že letoun má příliš malou nosnou plochu a hmotnost překročila propočtené hodnoty. Konstruktéři byli nuceni zásadně změnit základní rozměry, rozpětí křídel bylo u devátého sériového stroje zvětšeno o více než tři metry a hmotnost byla po důsledné redukci snížena o 1 360 kg.

Komplikovaná byla výroba, závěrečná montáž probíhala v nově postavené továrně v Gloucesteshire ve městě Brockworth, zde se výroba značně zdržovala. RAF však na druhou stranu o nové letouny Albemarle příliš nestála, bylo to díky jejich výkonům, které byly pro bombardér této kategorie spíše podprůměrné. Vliv na zhoršení vypočtených výkonů měl opětovný nárůst vzletové hmotnosti. Nový letoun nechtělo pro své jednotky ani velitelství pobřežního letectva, které vidělo zásadní problém v krycích překližkových panelech. Překližka ve vlhku rychle ztrácela pevnost, v důsledku svého nabobtnání. Z obří zakázky na 1 000 bombardérů bylo nakonec postaveno celkem pouze 44 letadel (včetně dvou prototypů). Ve verzi Albemarle B Mk.I. V bombardovacím provedení byl postaven ještě jeden prototyp Mk.IV, který byl poháněn americkými motory Wright Cyclone.

Po neúspěchu Albemarle jako bombardéru došlo k jeho úpravě na verzi ST a GT, úprava ST byla určena pro dopravu výsadkářů a verze GT zase pro vlek nákladních kluzáků. Bombardovací verze B byla upravena na verze ST nebo GT. Transportní verze měly pouze čtyřčlennou osádku, ta se mohla bránit kulometným dvojčetem Vickers K v horním střelišti (střelecká věž byla odstraněna). Celkem tak bylo vyrobeno 602 letounů Albemarle, včetně prototypů a jejich výroba byla ukončena až koncem roku 1944. Letouny sloužily u 161, 295, 296, 297, 511, a 570 perutě RAF a 14 letadel tohoto typu bylo odesláno do SSSR jako dar královské rodiny.


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