Vickers Type 131
Valiant

A two-seat all metal general-purpose biplane offered as a replacement for the Airco DH9A.
Vickers Type 131 Valiant port front metal prop The Vickers Type 131 Valiant undergoing initial tests at Martlesham Heath.
 
By the mid-1920s, the Air Ministry was seeking to move from wooden to all-metal aircraft structures, due to the latter’s superior durability in hot and humid conditions.
 
Vickers (Aviation Department) had already experienced some criticism from Chile regarding the vulnerability of the wooden wings of the Vickers Vixen to environmental extremes. Consequently, an all-metal Vickers Vixen variant was designed (initially known as the Vickers Vixen VII) and later given the name Vickers Vivid. In parallel, Vickers designed a general-purpose, all metal biplane, designated Vickers Type 131 Valiant, an aircraft derived from the Vickers Vixen / Vickers Vivid.
 
A single prototype was built as a private venture by Vickers (Aviation Department) and offered against Specification 26/27, which sought a replacement for the Airco DH9A.
 
Despite a general desire to move toward all-metal airframe structures, the Specification indicated a preference for a design that incorporated a significant number of existing Airco DH9A components, as large quantities of these were being held by the RAF as spares. Despite this indication Vickers offered its Vickers Valiant prototype for evaluation.
 
The Vickers 131 Valiant was a single-bay biplane of all-metal construction, powered by a 492 hp Bristol Jupiter VI engine. Its armament comprised a fixed forward-firing Vickers machine gun and a defensive Lewis gun ,mounted on a Scarff ring in the rear cockpit. A single 250 lb bomb could also be carried under each lower wing.
 
The unmarked prototype made its first flight at Brooklands on 5th March 1927, undertaking official trials shortly after at the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Martlesham Heath where it flew against several competitors.
 
The private venture Valiant showed enough promise to be selected for Squadron Trials along with the Fairey Ferret and the Westland Wapiti.  The performance,  handling and ease of maintenance of the Vickers 131 Valiant received favourable comment throughout, although there was some criticism of the pilot’s view and the armament layout.
 
Most critically, the Vickers design made no use of the stocks of Airco DH9A components and it was therefore judged to be more expensive than the winning Westland Wapiti, which was able to make extensive use of the same.
 
Vickers Type 131 Valiant port side The private venture Type 131 Valiant was offered as a replacement for the DH9A.
 
On its return from Martlesham, the Vickers 131 Valiant prototype received the civil markings (G-EBVM) and was modified to have a split axle undercarriage.
 
The Vickers 131 Valiant was shipped to Valparaiso, Chile in 1928, for a demonstration to the Chilean Air Force. The prototype was actually retained in Chile, where it served with the School of Aviation.
 
Sadly, it was destroyed in an accident on 29th March 1929.
 

Numbers built


Single prototype only, initially unmarked, but later registered (G-EBVM).
 

Specification


Powerplant
One 492 hp Bristol Jupiter VI engine
Span
45 ft 7 in
Maximum Weight
4,519 lb (5,105 lb with desert equipment)
Capacity
Two crew pilot and gunner; fixed forward firing Vickers guns and Lewis gun on Scarff ring in rear cockpit; carriage of two 250 lb bombs.
Maximum Speed
129 mph at 6,500 ft

 

Survivors


None
 

More information