11/30/2010. Remarks by Ray Watkins: "Air Ministry Specification 26/27 was issued in 1927 to replace the ageing fleet of de Havilland D.H.9A's being used to maintain order in India and the Middle East. The specification called for a two-seat General Purpose (GP) aircraft for bombing, reconnaissance and Army co-operation duties. The concept of the GP aircraft was a product of post WW I budgetary restrictions and the desire to make the little money allocated for Defense spending go as far as possible.
To utilize the large holdings of D.H.9A components and spares, the new design was to incorporate as many of these as possible, especially the Napier Lion engine; with a preference for an all-metal airframe to better withstand the rigors of operation in tropical climates. As Westland had been responsible for development of the D.H.9A model, and the subsequent manufacture of 550 examples, it was in a favored position to comply with the tender.
Seven companies responded and prototype aircraft were produced by Bristol (Beaver), de Havilland (Hound), Fairey (Ferrett III), Gloster (Goral) and Vickers (Valiant) as well as Westland with its Wapiti. All underwent testing by the A&AEE at Martlesham Heath and the evaluators preferred the Valiant, with the Ferrett a close second. However neither incorporated enough D.H.9A components and as the Valiant was much more expensive than the Ferret or the Wapiti, the production contract was eventually awarded to Westland.
The photo shows the first production aircraft of a batch of 25 Wapiti Mk.Is, s/n J9078 to J9102, fitted with a Bristol Jupiter engine. In all Westland produced 563 Wapiti's in eleven variants, while 27 were license-built in South Africa."