Westland PV-3


Role Torpedo bomber
Manufacturer Westland Aircraft
Designer Arthur Davenport
First flight February 1931
Introduction 1933
Primary users Royal Geographical Society
Royal Air Force
Number built 1

The Westland PV-3 was a British two-seat torpedo bomber of the 1930s built by Westland Aircraft Works. The aircraft was a private venture development and based on the Westland Wapiti. It never entered production. The aircraft is best known as one of the first two to fly over Everest as part of the Houston-Mount Everest Flight Expedition.


The PV-3 design was produced in 1930 as a private venture two-seat aircraft that could be used as either a carrier-based torpedo bomber intended to carry a new lightweight torpedo being developed by the Admiralty, or as an army-co-operation aircraft.[1] As such, it was a development of the Wapiti, with an all-metal structure and folding two-bay wings. It was powered by a 575 hp (429  kW) Bristol Jupiter XFA radial engine, having a defensive armament of one forward-firing Vickers machine gun and a Lewis gun on a Scarff ring on the observer's cockpit. It could carry either the planned 1,000 lb (455 kg) torpedo under the fuselage or an equivalent weight of bombs under the wings.[2]

It first flew in February 1931, showing good performance (in particular, a high ceiling) and handling when tested by the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Martlesham Heath. Despite this, no orders resulted, and the lightweight torpedo was cancelled.[3]

In November 1932, the PV-3 was chosen, together with the Westland PV-6 (the prototype of the Westland Wallace) for the Houston Mount Everest Flying Expedition to fly over and photograph Mount Everest.[3] The aircraft, now registered G-ACAZ, was remodelled with a rear cabin and a 630 hp Bristol Pegasus engine driving a large diameter propeller.[4] It was test flown from Yeovil in the new configuration, and on 25 January 1933 reached a height of 35,000 ft.[5]

Flown by Lord Clydesdale with Stewart Blacker as observer and photographer,[6] it was accompanied by the Wallace as, on 3 April 1933, the two aircraft became the first to fly over Mount Everest, flying over Kangchenjunga on 4 April and making a second flight over Everest (as the initial flight had produced inadequate photographs for map-making) on 19 April 1933.[7] The PV-3 was later exhibited at Selfridges department store in London in July 1933. In December 1933 the aircraft, given the military serial K4048, was issued to Bristol Aircraft as an engine testbed.[8] The aircraft is also referred to as the Houston-Westland in honour of Lady Houston who had financed the 1933 expedition.

The pre-Everest PV.3


 United Kingdom

Specifications (Houston Westland)

Data from Westland Aircraft since 1915 [9]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 34 ft 2 in (10.41 m)
  • Wingspan: 46 ft 6 in (14.17 m)
  • Height: 11 ft 8 in (3.56 m)
  • Wing area: 500 sq ft (46 m2)
  • Empty weight: 3,420 lb (1,551 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Bristol Pegasus IS3 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine, 630 hp (470 kW)
  • Propellers: 2-bladed fixed-pitch propeller


  • Maximum speed: 163 mph (262 km/h, 142 kn)
  • Service ceiling: 35,000 ft (11,000 m)
  • Time to altitude: 20,000 ft (6,100 m) in 20 minutes


  1. ^ Mason 1994, p.221.
  2. ^ James 1991, pp.195–197.
  3. ^ a b James 1991, p.197.
  4. ^ James 1991, p.198.
  5. ^ James 1991, p.200.
  6. ^ "Book Reviews", Flight, p. 1248, 7 December 1933
  7. ^ James 2008, pp24-25.
  8. ^ Jackson 1988, p.365.
  9. ^ James 1991, pp.200–201.
  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft (Part Work 1982–1985). Orbis Publishing.
  • James, Derek (April 2008). "To the Top of the World". Aeroplane. Vol. 36, no. 4. London: IPC. pp. 20–25. ISSN 0143-7240.
  • James, Derek N. (1991). Westland Aircraft since 1915. London: Putnam. ISBN 0-85177-847-X.
  • Jackson, A.J. (1988). British Civil Aircraft since 1919 Volume 3. London: Putnam. ISBN 0-85177-818-6.
  • Mason, Francis K (1994). The British Bomber since 1914. London: Putnam Aeronautical Books. ISBN 0-85177-861-5.

External links

  • Westland Data Sheet
  • Westland PV.3 – British Aircraft Directory