The Vickers Type 131 Valiant was a general purpose biplane produced by Vickers as a private venture, and was designed to satisfy Air Ministry specification 26/27. The Air Ministry wanted a metal aircraft to replace its aging fleet of D.H.9As, but also wanted to be able to use as many parts from the D.H.9A as possible.
Vickers was already working on producing all-metal aircraft. Their Vixen V, which had been sold to Chile, featured a metal-frame fuselage but wood-frame wings and the wooden wings had not performed well in the extreme climate of northern Chile. In 1926 they designed the all-metal Vixen VII (soon renamed the Vivid), while at the same time working on the prototype Valiant.
Rex Pierson, Vickers’ chief designer, had decided not to use the D.H.9A wings preferred by the Air Ministry, and so no official funding was available to produce the prototype Valiant. Other than the metal construction the Valiant was a fairly typical biplane design for the period, with slightly staggered wings of unequal length (the top wing being longer). The rear gunner had a good range of fire, but the pilot’s view was not particularly good. Performance was not particularly impressive, but the aircraft was apparently docile in the air
The aircraft designed to Specification 26/27 were tested against each other at Martlesham Heath in the second half of 1927. The Valiant made the last three, all of which underwent a series of service tests. The Valiant lost out to the Westland Wapiti, which was designed to use the same wings, ailerons and interplane struts as the D.H.9A, making it cheaper to build and maintain, but which also outperformed the Valiant. The Valiant’s handling was almost as good, but its climb rate and service ceiling were much worse.
In 1928 the single Valiant was shipped to Chile where it was tested as a possible replacement for the Vickers Vixen V already in service. No order followed, although the prototype remained in Chile. The name would later be reused on the Vickers Valiant jet-bomber, one of the post-war V bombers.
Engine: Bristol Jupiter VI nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engine
Power: 492hp or 455hp (sources differ)
Span: 45ft 7in
Length: 34ft 0in
Empty Weight: 2,896lb
All-up Weight: 5,105lb
Max Speed: 129mph at 6,500ft
Time to 10,000ft: 17m 12sec
Service Ceiling: 16,400ft
Armament: One synchronized 0.303in Vickers gun on port side of fuselage and one Lewis gun in rear cockpit
Bomb load: Four 112lb bombs