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Boulton Paul Bittern

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The Boulton Paul Bittern was a 1920s British night-fighter aircraft from Boulton Paul Limited of Norwich, named after the marsh bird of the same name

Design and development

Designed to Air Ministry Specification 27/24, which called for a single-seat night fighter for use against enemy bomber aircraft, the Bittern design was different from others in that it was a twin-engined shoulder wing monoplane rather than the usual single-engine biplane.

Two prototypes were built, both very underpowered. As a result, during testing performance was so poor that further development was abandoned.[1]

The first prototype had fixed .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine guns, the second had guns that could be angled from 0-45° upwards so the fighter could attack bombers from below without having to put the aircraft into a climb. The wingspan of the second prototype was increased by about 5 ft (1.5 m).[2][3]

Specifications (Second prototype)

Data from The British Fighter since 1912 [4]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1 (pilot)
  • Length: 32 ft 4 in (9.86 m)
  • Wingspan: 41 ft 0 in (12.50 m)
  • Height: ()
  • Empty weight: 3,215 lb (1,461 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 4,500 lb (2,045 kg)
  • Powerplant:Armstrong Siddeley Lynx seven cylinder air-cooled radial engine, 230 hp (172 kW) each




  1. The Encyclopedia of World Aircraft: pg 118. (1997). Ed. Donald, David. Prospero Books. ISBN 1-85605-375-X.
  2. Boulton-Paul P.31 Bittern - night fighter
  3. The WWII Fighter Gun Debate: Upward firing guns
  4. Mason 1992, p.187.


  • Mason, Francis K. (1992). The British Fighter since 1912. Annapolis, Maryland, US: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-082-7. 

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Boulton Paul Bittern".