Vickers Type 161, the Throwback Uppercut

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A quirky biplane with a powerful gun to punch holes into the bellies of low-tier bombers.


In 1927, the British Air Ministry issued the specification F.29/27 for a single-engine bomber interceptor that utilized the Coventry Ordnance Works 37mm (also known as the C.O.W Gun) as its primary armament. In a similar line of thought as German’s Schräge Musik concept, the cannon is to be mounted at 45 degrees upwards, with the intention to hit the target from below. Two companies came forward with designs to meet these requirements: Westland and Vickers. While Westland produced a design that was modern at the time, Vickers’ approach was seemingly a throwback to the First World War such as the FB5 Gunbus - also developed by Vickers. The Jupiter VIIF radial engine driving the four-bladed propeller was placed in the middle of the aircraft in a pusher configuration, while the cockpit sat forward on a nacelle connected to the upper wing.
That isn’t to say that the aircraft doesn’t lack advancements the aviation industry has made in the decades since the Great War, as the aircraft has an all-aluminum airframe and a monocoque nacelle.
The first flight was conducted in January 21, 1931 which revealed a minor yaw instability. This was quickly resolved with the installation of fins above and below the tailplane as well as broader-chord rudder. Official trials were carried out in September by the Armament and Aircraft Experimental Establishment at Martlesham Heath.
Despite it being well received by the service pilots and the test firing of its main gun resulted in no detrimental effect on the airframe or performance, the Royal Air Force’s interest in the C.O.W gun had begun to wane and development of both entry aircraft ceased soon after.




Length: 23 ft 6 in

Wingspan: 32 ft (top wing)

Empty Weight: 2,381 lbs

Gross Weight: 3,350 lbs

Top Speed: ranges from 169 to 185 mph, depending on sources, likely the former as it is an older design.

Powerplant: Bristol Jupiter VIIF, 9-cylinder radial. (Horsepower rating varies between the sources, ranges from 480hp to 530 hp)

Crew: 1 pilot

Armament: x1 Coventry Ordnance Works 37mm gun, fires 1.5 pounds high explosive shells at one round per second. 50 rounds (in a magazine of 5 rounds, although I’m not sure this is significant for WT interpretation).

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The Vickers 161 is likely to be a Rank 1 interceptor with notably punchy gun against the bombers of that BR. The C.O.W gun’s unique arrangement would likely fall under the keybinds set up for the Schräge Musik so using it effectively will be something of a learning curve and with no backup forward armament, it isn’t advisable to engage in a dogfight.


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+1, would be a funny low-tier aircraft


+1. Wow, it’s so unique. Could be decent at taking down low-tier bombers and bigger aircraft in general.


While I can’t find footage of the 161, I did find this, which amply demonstrate the sheer recoil of the C.O.W gun: