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Miles M.39B Libellula
The Miles M.35 and M.39 Libellula (from Libellulidae, the taxonomic name for dragonflies) were a pair of tandem wing aircraft built by Miles Aircraft. The first was a fighter-sized aircraft, and the latter a scaled version of a proposed bomber type.
There were two designs, the smaller fighter-sized M.35 and the larger M.39. In the end, only the prototype M.35 and a reduced-scale M.39B were built and tested. Both designs used one wing at the rear of the fuselage and a smaller one at the front in a tandem wing arrangement; the configuration was like that on canard aircraft designs, but with the front wing contributing lift rather than solely acting as a control. The wings were set at different heights – the front at the top of the fuselage and the rear at the bottom on the M.35, and the other way around for the M.39B.
The Miles M.39 was a proposal by Miles to meet Air Ministry specification B.11/41 for a fast bomber. Miles had already schemed an idea for an aircraft with exceptional forward visibility in the light of losses of carrier-based aircraft during landing. The M.35 was designed and built as a private venture, and after proving the idea's validity Miles suggested it as the basis for a naval fighter. Miles felt the idea had a lot of merit and put forward a larger design, the M.39, to the Ministry of Aircraft Production.
The M.35, drawn up in 1941 was powered by a single pusher engine, the pilot sat at the front with the fore wing just behind and level with his head giving a clear view in most directions. The wings and oval section fuselage were of all-wood construction, and the design featured a fixed tricycle landing gear. Elevators and flaps were hinged at the trailing edge of the front wings; and the rear wings carried ailerons and flaps, as well as a fin with a rudder on each wing tip. A flying example was built with typical Miles speed, in six weeks. The first flight was on 1 May 1942.
Miles M.35 Libellula
Though it had some problems, the M.35 proved sufficient to show the idea had merits, and the larger M.39 was drawn up. This would be a twin-engined design. A scale version at 5/8ths, the M.39B, was built, flying in mid-1943. Miles continued testing privately, but passed this aircraft over to the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough in 1944, where it carried the serial SR392. It was damaged in two accidents and repaired each time, but was later broken up with the project’s cancellation.
Miles M.39 Libellula
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