Miles M.20

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Miles M.20.jpg
Second prototype of the Miles M.20
Role Lightweight fighter
Manufacturer Miles Aircraft
Designer Walter G. Capley
First flight 15 September 1940
Primary users Royal Air Force (intended)
Fleet Air Arm (intended)
Number built 2 prototypes
Developed from Miles Master

The Miles M.20 was a Second World War fighter developed by Miles Aircraft in 1940. Designed as a simple and quick-to-build 'emergency fighter' alternative to the Royal Air Force's Spitfires and Hurricanes should their production get disrupted by bombing. In the event, due to dispersal of manufacturing, the Luftwaffe's bombing of the Spitfire and Hurricane factories did not seriously affect production, and so the M.20 proved unnecessary and was cancelled.

Design and development[edit]

During the Battle of Britain, the Royal Air Force was faced with a potential shortage of fighters. To meet the Luftwaffe threat, the Air Ministry commissioned Miles to design the M.20, to specification F.19/40; nine weeks and two days later the first prototype flew.[1]

To reduce production times the M.20 was of an all-wood construction, used many parts from the earlier Miles Master trainer, lacked hydraulics, and had spatted fixed landing gear. The engine was a complete Rolls-Royce Merlin XX "power egg", and was identical to those used on Merlin-powered Avro Lancasters and Bristol Beaufighters. The design also featured a bubble canopy for improved pilot visibility, one of the first fighters to do so.[2]

Testing and evaluation[edit]

The first prototype, with the B-class serial U-9 first flew on 15 September 1940,[3] and was tested at the A & AEE under the military serial number AX834 against Specification F.19/40. Armed with eight .303 Browning machine guns like the Hawker Hurricane, the M.20 prototype was faster than the Hurricane but slower than Spitfire types then in production, but carried more ammunition and had greater range than either. As the Luftwaffe had been defeated over Britain, the need for the M.20 had vanished and the design was abandoned without entering production. The first prototype was scrapped at Woodley.

A second prototype, U-0228 and later serialed as DR616, was built to Specification N.1/41 for a Fleet Air Arm shipboard fighter, equipped with an arrestor hook and catapult launch points. It first flew on 8 April 1941.[4] This variant could be catapulted from Catapult Aircraft Merchant ships, which lacked flight decks so the aircraft were to be ditched after their mission, and to facilitate this the undercarriage was jettisonable. Obsolete Hawker Hurricanes filled this role, rendering the M.20 superfluous and consequently leading to the scrapping of the shipboard variant.

Specifications (M.20/4)[edit]

Miles M.20 3-view.svg

Data from The British Fighter since 1912[5]

General characteristics



See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists



  1. ^ Bridgeman 1946, p. 133.
  2. ^ Jarrett 1992, pp. 54—55.
  3. ^ Jarrett 1992, p.55.
  4. ^ Jarrett 1992, p. 57.
  5. ^ Mason 1992, pp. 292–293.


  • Bridgeman, Leonard. “The Miles M.20.” Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II. London: Studio, 1946. ISBN 1-85170-493-0.
  • Brown, Don Lambert. Miles Aircraft Since 1925. London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1970. ISBN 0-370-00127-3.
  • Green, William. Warplanes of the Second World War, Fighters, Vol. 2. London: Macdonald, 1961.
  • Jarrett, Philip. "Nothing Ventured..." Part 21. Aeroplane Monthly, Volume 20 No, 1, Issue 225, January 1992, pp. 54–60. London: IPC. ISSN 0143-7240.
  • Mason, Francis K. The British Fighter since 1912. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1992. ISBN 1-55750-082-7.
  • Mondey, David. The Hamlyn Concise Guide to British Aircraft of World War II. London: Chancellor Press, 2002. ISBN 1-85152-668-4.
  • Swanborough, Gordon. British Aircraft at War, 1939-1945. East Sussex, UK: HPC Publishing, 1997. ISBN 0-9531421-0-8.

External links[edit]