Miles M.20 “What ifs”

Conceived as an emergency fighter for production in the event that the RAF began to run short of more orthodox fighting aircraft, the M.20 was designed by Walter Capley to Specification F.19/40. Of wooden construction with all emphasis placed on rapidity of manufacture, the M.20 dispensed with a retractable undercarriage, thereby eliminating the need for hydraulics, utilised a one-piece wing, adopted a standard Rolls-Royce Merlin XX installation interchangeable with that of the Beaufighter II and employed standard Master cockpit equipment. The first prototype was designed, built and flown in the remarkably short time of 65 days. Powered by a 1,300hp Merlin XX engine and fitted with eight 7,7mm machine guns (but having provision for up to 12 guns), the M.20 was first flown on 15 September 1940. In the event, the Battle of Britain terminated before the RAF exhausted its available supplies of Hurricanes and Spitfires, and the M.20 was not, therefore, placed in production. However, Specification N.1/41 for a single-seat shipboard fighter covered reconstruction of the prototype with a jettisonable undercarriage, suiting it for use from catapults on the CAM-ships. It was tested in 1941-42 but no further development was undertaken.


Battle of Britain emergency fighter with No.43 Squadron

Miles M20 (RAF)

Replacement aircraft for the Western Desert air forces

Miles M20 (Western Desert)

Fleet Air Arm CAM fighter

Miles M20 (Royal Navy)

Russian North Fleet Air Force example with half completed temporary winter camouflage.

Miles M20 (Soviet Union)

Yugoslavian Air Force, 1941. Scheme based on Yugoslavian Hawker Hurricane I.

Miles M20 (Yugoslavia)


Author: Tony Wilkins

When Man entered the atomic age, he opened a door into a new world. What we’ll eventually find in that new world, nobody can predict.

2 thoughts on “Miles M.20 “What ifs””

    1. I have been curious about that and from what I have found out is that it was lighter than either a Hurricane or Spitfire I/II while having a similar engine. It was faster than the Hurricane but its fixed undercarriage kept it below the Spit. Really this was an aircraft that could be built to keep the fight going rather than win it. You are right – all would have been lost if we had to rely on this but it is still an interesting design

      Liked by 1 person

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