Several four-engine aircraft have flown from carriers. Two such quadruple-engined planes intended from the outset for carrier operation were developed by the Royal Navy during World War II: the Airspeed AS 39 and General Aircraft Limited’s GAL 38. They were produced in response to a British Air Ministry specification of 28 October 1937, based on an Admiralty requirement for a carrier-based aircraft to shadow or maintain contact with an enemy fleet at night.1 The specification called for the plane to fly at 44 mph at 1,500 feet for not less than six hours! Total mission endurance was to be 11 hours.
Five companies responded to the proposal, and Airspeed and GAL were awarded contracts to each produce two prototypes. The first to fly was the GAL 38, a high-wing monoplane, constructed almost entirely of wood, with a fixed tricycle landing gear; the wings folded for carrier stowage. Four low-horsepower (130-hp) engines were mounted on the wings. The crew consisted of a pilot, observer, and radio operator. The prototype GAL 38 first flew on 13 May 1940.