The Westland Wallace was a general purpose aircraft that was developed from the earlier Westland Wapiti. The aircraft that would become the first Wallace was originally a modified Wapiti, built by Westland to take part in a British Empire Exhibition in Buenos Aires. It was powered by an Armstrong Siddeley Panther IV engine, and had a 20in longer fuselage. On its return to Britain, the aircraft was given a Townend ring (engine cowling), an improved undercarriage and the designation P.V. 6 (Private Venture). This aircraft was offered to the Air Ministry, who were impressed with its improved performance. An order was placed for twelve Wapitis to be converted to the new design, under the name Wallace. This order was followed by one for 56 more conversions and then in 1935 by an order for 75 purpose-built Wallace Mk IIs.
The Wallace had a much shorter front line service career than the Wapiti. It was used by No. 501 Squadron (1933-1936), No. 502 Squadron (1935-1937), No. 503 Squadron (1935-1936) and No. 504 Squadron (1934-1937), all originally Special Reserve squadrons that then became part of the Auxiliary Air Force. These squadrons were then reequipped with the Hawker Hart and Hawker Hind.
Of the just over 170 aircraft ordered, around 80 were still in use at the start of the Second World War, mostly serving as target tugs, a role they performed until 1943.
68 Wallace Mk Is were produced by converting existing Wapiti aircraft to match specification 19/32. They were powered by 570hp Bristol Pegasus IIM3 engines.
Two orders were placed for newly built Wallaces, under specification G.31/35. The first, for 75 aircraft, was placed in June 1935, with a second smaller order for 29 aircraft placed in February 1936. All 104 aircraft were completed by October 1936. The main distinguishing feature of the Wallace Mk II was that it was the first RAF aircraft to feature covered cockpits.
Specifications (Mk II)
Engine: Bristol Pegasus IV radial
Span: 46ft 5in
Length: 34ft 2in
Empty weight: 3,840lb
Max take-off weight: 5,750lb
Maximum speed: 158mph at 15,000ft (180mph given in some sources)
Range: 470 miles
Armament: One 0.303in forward firing machine gun, one Lewis gun in rear cockpit
Bomb load: 580lb