|Manufacturer||Austin Motor Company|
The Austin A.F.T.3 Osprey was a prototype British fighter triplane of the First World War. Developed by the motor car manufacturer Austin as a replacement to the Sopwith Camel, only one was built, the Sopwith Snipe being preferred.
Development and design
In 1917, Britain's War Office issued Specification A.1.A for a single seat fighter to replace the Sopwith Camel. To meet this requirement, the Austin Motor Company, already a large scale manufacturer of aircraft to Royal Aircraft Factory designs, produced its own design for a single-engined triplane, the A.F.T.3 Osprey, receiving a licence to build three prototypes as a private venture.
The Osprey was of conventional wood and fabric construction, with single-bay triplane wings. It was powered by a Bentley BR2 rotary engine, and featured the required armament of two Vickers machine guns and a single Lewis gun. The synchronised Vickers guns were mounted ahead of the pilot, while the Lewis gun was mounted on a movable mounting on the centre section of the middle wing, where it had a very limited field of fire, with the large diameter propeller blocking any forward fire. Like a similar gun mounted on the Snipe it would probably have been deleted had the type gone into production.
The first Osprey flew in February 1918, being tested at Martlesham Heath in March. It was heavier than expected, and its performance was inferior to Sopwith's Snipe. When the Snipe was selected as the winner of the competition for the new fighter, Austin abandoned development of the Osprey, with the second and third prototypes not completed. The first prototype was briefly used for trials at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough until at least June 1918.
Data from British Aeroplanes 1914-18 
- Crew: 1
- Length: 17 ft 7 in (5.36 m)
- Wingspan: 23 ft (7.01 m)
- Height: 10 ft 8 in (3.25 m)
- Wing area: 233 ft² (21.7m²)
- Empty weight: 1,106 lb (503 kg)
- Loaded weight: 1,888 lb (858 kg)
- Powerplant: 1 × Bentley BR2 rotary engine, 230 hp (172 kW)
- Maximum speed: 118.5 mph (103 knots, 191 km/h) at 10,000 ft (3,050 m)
- Service ceiling: 19,000 ft (5,790 m)
- Endurance: 3 hours
- Climb to 10,000 ft (3,050 m): 10 min 20 s
- Guns: 2× forward firing, synchronised .303 in Vickers machine guns and one Lewis gun on semi-free mounting on rear of middle wing
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Mason 1992, p.128.
- Bruce 1965, p.27.
- Bruce 1965, p.28.
- Bruce 1957, p.33.
- Mason 1992, p.273.
- Bruce 1965, p.29.
- Bruce, J.M. British Aeroplanes 1914-18. London:Putnam, 1957.
- Bruce, J.M. War Planes of the First World War:Volume One: Fighters. London:Macdonald, 1965.
- Mason, Francis K. The British Fighter since 1912. Annapolis, USA:Naval Institute Press, 1992. ISBN 1-55750-082-7.
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