SECRET PROJECTS:Rolls-Royce’s own fighter concept

The involvement of Rolls-Royce’s Hucknall plant in fitting the North American P-51 Mustang with its Merlin engine, thus turning the aeroplane into one of the world’s great fighters, is well-known. Less so, however, is the British engine manufacturer’s effort to produce a fighter design of its own based in part around the Mustang, which could also have been used as an engine testbed

The Rolls-Royce Flying Test Bed mock-up shows how the design looked just prior to cancellation, except for the introduction of the Tempest empennage which was never added to this structure. This rear view illustrates the engine installation beautifully.

Rolls-Royce’s Installation Design Department was established at Derby in the late 1920s, specifically to look after all elements of installing the firm’s products in new aircraft. Towards the end of 1942 the department began to examine fitting a piston engine within the body of a fighter-type aeroplane — in other words, a buried installation along similar lines to early single-engine jet fighters. The piston powerplant would be positioned in the centre fuselage behind the pilot, with its tractor propeller driven by a long connecting shaft.

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