British Bomber since 1914

P.Lewis - British Bomber since 1914 /Putnam/

Among the new types to appear in the course of 1915 was the A.D. Seaplane Type 1000, the result of an Admiralty requirement for a floatplane to operate as a bomber or a torpedo launcher. The design of the 155 ft. span biplane, the largest British-built machine at the time of its conception, was the work of Harris Booth of the Air Department of the Admiralty. J. Samuel White and Company were commissioned to build the massive machine, of which seven appear to have been ordered under the designation A.D. Type 1000 derived from the first serial number allocated. 1358 was the sole example to emerge eventually from the Cowes works. The Type 1000 represented a gigantic leap forward in size from previous British seaplanes and accordingly demanded relatively high power, being given three 310 h.p. Sunbeam engines. These were disposed as two tractors - one each in the nose of the pair of fuselages forming a prominent feature of the design - and a pusher installed at the rear of the centrally situated cabin for the crew, whose quarters contained a lavish amount of glazing. The twin fuselage frames were simple rectangular-section structures lacking any attempt at refinement, the same feeling being expressed by the angularity evident in the cowlings shrouding the Sunbeams. The upper planes overhung the lower surfaces, and the fuselages terminated at the rear in well-rounded twin fins and rudders. To support the heavy machine on the water, twin floats were employed both at the front and at the rear. Success was not forthcoming for the A.D. Type 1000, and 1358 is believed to have been abandoned at Felixstowe after its sojourn at the East Coast marine aircraft base during 1916. As a design the machine embodied a comparatively novel layout and represented an essay into the field of very large aircraft at an early period of evolution and at a time when engines of advanced power ratings, coupled with attendant reliability, were not forthcoming. These factors and a lack of manoeuvrability may well have militated against acceptance of the Type 1000 as an aircraft suitable for use in war, a situation to be encountered many times in the future by designs which made a radical departure from conformity.
Although, as a general design layout, the pusher type of aircraft carrying its tail unit on booms had largely been eschewed by the middle of the 1914-18 War, it was still considered effective enough to be employed in the two-seat A.D. Navyplane which Supermarine built in 1916 for the Air Department of the Admiralty. Overall, the 36 ft. span biplane resembled strongly the Supermarine Patrol Seaplane. R. J. Mitchell and a fellow Supermarine designer, Richardson, co-operated in the project with the Admiralty’s Harold Bolas, whose product the design was. The single prototype, 9095, employed two-bay, unstaggered wings of 36 ft. equal span, in the centre of which a lightweight monocoque nacelle with tandem seats was supported by struts. A flexibly-mounted Lewis gun armed the observer’s cockpit. Twin pontoon main floats were augmented by a smaller pair borne at the rear by the booms.
   9095’s first engine, with which Lt. Cdr. J. W. Seddon conducted the Navyplane’s first flights during August, 1916, was the ten-cylinder, single-row 150 h.p. Smith Static radial. This was later replaced by the 150 h.p. Bentley A.R.1 rotary in which form 9095 underwent further trials in May, 1917, but its relatively low overall performance precluded its production as a reconnaissance or bomber aircraft.
Frederick Koolhoven’s F.K.3 design for Armstrong Whitworth arose out of the firm’s disinclination to undertake production of the Royal Aircraft Factory’s B.E.2c and the company’s conviction that its own designer could evolve a superior machine. The project was started in August, 1913, and the machine emerged as a two-seat tractor biplane of conventional appearance. A fair amount of stagger was incorporated in the equal-span, two-bay wing cellules; the fuselage contained two tandem cockpits with the pilot occupying the rearmost. The 90 h.p. R.A.F.la engine drove a four-blade propeller, and the undercarriage embodied a long central skid.
   The F.K.3’s performance in its trials brought a substantial order for the production version which was modified to have the pilot seated in front of the observer in a large single cockpit. The 105 h.p. R.A.F.Ib was installed as an alternative power plant, and the observer was equipped with a single Lewis gun on a pillar mounting. Several different sizes of bomb - 16 lb., 100 lb. or 112 lb. - could be carried externally, but, when engaged in such a role, the F.K.3 was often flown solo to enable it to lift its bomb load.
May, 1916, saw the first flight of a new two-seat bomber and reconnaissance biplane, the Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 designed by Koolhoven. A compact, clean design, it was to remain relatively little publicized and yet performed well and reliably on active service. A neatly-cowled 120 h.p. Beardmore, flanked by upright radiators which slanted inwards to meet at the upper centre-section, was installed in early F.K.8s, but greater power was available from the 160 h.p. Beardmore which was fitted subsequently. Stagger was built into the equal-span two-bay wings, and the undercarriage at first followed the style of the F.K.3 with a central skid. In the course of its production career various alterations were made, including the adoption of a simpler main undercarriage unit. No. 35 Squadron, R.F.C., was the first to go into action with the F.K.8, popularly called the Big Ack, taking them to France on 24th January, 1917.
   These spirited incursions were not assisted by the poor weather prevailing at the time, and the withdrawal of Allied forces to Dunkirk, forced by the occupation of the Belgian coast by the enemy, brought about a limit to the important targets within striking range of the improvised bombers. Particularly urgent and inviting targets were the Zeppelin hangars alongside the Rhine, but there was no immediate possibility of reaching them with the available types of machine. Reluctantly, for the time being, they had to be abandoned as objectives, but the Admiralty searched for other centres of airship activity which were within reach and lighted upon the Zeppelin factory itself at Friedrichshafen, on the shores of Lake Constance, as a prime target for attention.
   In full implementation of the agreed policy to attack the potential raiders in their lairs, orders were issued immediately instructing the R.N.A.S. to prepare for the adventure. The task itself was not going to be easy, involving as it did a flight over some 250 miles of hostile territory, terrain which was mainly of woods and mountainous country adjacent to the Black Forest. Arrangements went ahead apace in great secrecy and elaborate detail, the organization for the assault being placed in the resourceful hands of Lt. Noel Pemberton Billing, a name of some account in the pre-war development of British aviation and an inventive personage who had now joined the R.N.V.R. The most suitable point for launching the attack was determined to be Belfort, on the Franco-Swiss border, and Pemberton Billing arrived there on 24th October, 1914, having left England on the 21st, to make arrangements with the French commanding general for the use of the aerodrome and its facilities. The large airship shed there was ideal for housing the aircraft to be used, and, to combat the activities of enemy spies thought to be on the alert in the neighbourhood, arrangements were made for the crews of the machines to inhabit the hangar while they were in Belfort and also for the aircraft to be conveyed there by road during darkness. At the same time, Pemberton Billing obtained details of the layout of the Zeppelin factory and other relevant information, all of which he welded into instructions covering the route to be taken and the procedure for the raid itself.
   Four days of strenuous work sufficed, and Pemberton Billing departed again for England on 28th October to conduct the next stage. During his absence men and machines had been gathered together at Manchester, the home of A. V. Roe and Company, whose 504s had been selected as capable of carrying out the raid. Four of the biplanes, numbered 179, 873, 874 and 875 and constituting the first of the type to be taken on R.N.A.S. strength, were formed into a special flight under the direction of Sqn. Cdr. P. Shepherd. The Avros’ pilots were Sqn. Cdr. E. F. Briggs, Flt. Cdr. J. T. Babington, Flt. Lt. S. V. Sippe and Flt. Sub-Lt. R. P. Cannon. The Admiralty’s disturbing habit during the period of taking the serial number of the first machine to be accepted of a specific type ordered was applied in the case of the 504 and led to it being known often in the Service as the Avro 179.
   Together with eleven mechanics, the unit embarked at Southampton on 10th November for le Havre to arrive by special train in darkness at Belfort on 13th November for immediate detraining, uncrating and assembly. By 3.30 p.m. on 14th November, in under sixteen hours after arrival, all four 504s had been erected, loaded with fuel, bombed-up and had their 80 h.p. Gnomes tested.
   The 504 had never been intended to operate as a bomber, but its constructors had risen to the occasion by designing and fabricating improvised under-wing racks for the four raiders, each machine being capable of accommodating four 20 lb. H.E. bombs and four incendiary type. The Avros and their impatient crews were forced by bad weather to stand by for a week until conditions improved early on Saturday, 21st November. Four of the 20 lb. Hale bombs were loaded on to each of the 504s, all of which were ready at 9.30 a.m. for final checking. Finally, at intervals of five minutes, three of the machines took-off - 873 piloted by Briggs left first, 875 was next with Babington, and Sippe left last in 874. 179, flown by Cannon, broke its tailskid and abandoned the attempt, but the others forged on to the north of Basle, then - at around 5,000 ft. - took the path of the Rhine until Lake Constance was reached. To avoid perception the three 504s lost height until they were only 10 ft. above the lake, then some 5 miles from their objective rose to 1,200 ft. and arrived over Friedrichshafen - practically together - at about midday, having flown a course involving several headings before making the run-in. The distance from Belfort to the objective had totalled some 125 miles by the devious route followed. After diving to about 700 ft. eleven of the bombs hurtled down into the main area of the target of 700 yds., two falling on to the sheds housing the Zeppelins. One severely damaged a new Zeppelin being built, while the other destroyed the gasworks by sending it up in colossal flames. The fourth bomb carried by Sippe’s 874 failed to drop from its rack. Briggs’s petrol tank was perforated by machine-gun fire and he was forced to land, but the other two returned safely to their base, although one of them had to land 35 miles south-west of Belfort. After their 250-mile flight the 504s were then dismantled, and the unit arrived back at Southampton on 26th November, well pleased with the destruction and consternation they had wrought.
   The 504 had acquitted itself handsomely in its temporary offensive role as a bomber with but little change from the standard model. An all-wood and fabric, two-bay biplane seating two in tandem, it had achieved instant success and acceptance from its initial appearance in July of 1913, the first public showing taking place at Hendon in the second Aerial Derby two months later on 20th September. Production started in mid-1914 with a War Office order for twelve and an Admiralty order for a single example. The seven-cylinder 80 h.p. Gnome rotary was selected as the 504’s standard power plant, and modifications incorporated in the fuselage of the production R.F.C. and R.N.A.S. machines included the sloping downwards, towards the rear, of the upper longerons as opposed to those on the prototype, which were horizontal. The 504 was designed to be flown from the rear seat, and its manoeuvrability was enhanced by the provision of cable-connected ailerons on each tip of the 36 ft. span staggered wings. Rubber cord springing in the main undercarriage legs took care of loads while taxying, and the typical Avro central hooked skid was a conspicuous feature of the type. A well-proportioned design of very pleasing aspect, the 504 did more than any other of the early Avro creations towards the sound establishment of its constructors and was destined to become a familiar sight in its various forms for many years ahead. Although used comparatively little for offensive work in either Service, the 504s’ daring and successful raid on Friedrichshafen ensured the type of its own particularly glorious moment in the 1914-18 War.
   Another instance of the 504 being used for bombing early in the hostilities was provided by the first one to be delivered to Cdr. Samson’s Eastchurch Squadron. This had joined the unit on 27th November, 1914, and just over two weeks later - on 14th December - Flt. Lt. C. H. Collett took-off in it to attack the U-boat assembly depot at Bruges. Bad weather thwarted Collett in his effort to reach Bruges, so, instead, he dropped his four 16 lb. bombs on the railway line running to Ostend from the medieval canal-crossed town.
   Among other 504 expeditions against the enemy, another raid of note was that mounted early in 1915 when five from No. 1 Squadron, R.N.A.S., piloted by Sqn. Cdr. I. T. Courtney, Flt. Lt. B. C. Meates, Flt. Lt. H. L. Rosher, Flt. Sub-Lt. B. L. Huskisson and Flt. Sub-Lt. F. G. Andreae left Dunkirk to attack the launching slips of the U-boat assembly depot at Hoboken, not far from Antwerp, on 24th March. Taking-off in the morning mist, one 504 came down in Holland with engine trouble, two turned back owing to the bad weather, but the other pair pressed on to drop their four 20 lb. bombs each in the shipyard, the first machine releasing from 350 ft., followed by the second 504, one of those which had performed so well in the previous November’s raid on the Friedrichshafen Zeppelin hangars. Both returned safely to Dunkirk. A further raid on the Hoboken objective was carried out successfully on 1st April, 1915, by another 504 from the same squadron, and again the load consisted of four 20 lb. bombs.
Avro 504 biplane 878, one of the batch of six from which 873, 874 and 875, together with 179, were modified for the raid on Friedrichshafen on 21st November, 1914.
Avro 510
One of the designs of indeterminate purpose but of appearance strongly suggestive of being intended as a bomber was the Avro Type 519 biplane of early 1916. Two prototypes - 1614 and 1615 - were ordered for the R.F.C. and a further pair - 8440 and 8441 - for the R.N.A.S. Unequal-span, two-bay, unstaggered wings were mated to a normal style of fuselage with two cockpits in tandem. Mounted in the nose was the 150 h.p. Sunbeam Nubian, and aft of the cockpits - which were set well back and embedded in the deep curved decking - there was a large curved fin. The pilot’s view was not assisted by the bulky radiator installed above and to the rear of the Nubian. 8441 appeared as a folding-wing single-seater flown from the rear cockpit, that at the front being faired over, and a typical Avro-style single skid was incorporated in the undercarriage. The Type 519 was singularly undistinguished in appearance, and no progress was made with the design beyond the prototype stage.
By 1916 the concept of the multi-seat, twin-engine type had been assessed and accepted as the next inevitable stage in the evolution of the bomber. A. V. Roe made a determined but unsuccessful attempt to enter the field with the Type 523 Pike which was completed in May, 1916, being assembled at Hamble. Roy Chadwick was responsible for the design, and the three-seat Pike was of note as the first Avro type with twin engines, in this case a pair of 160 h.p. Sunbeams mounted at mid-gap as pushers driving two-blade propellers. As a short-range bomber for use by day or night, the bomb load was carried internally and horizontally in the fuselage. The flying surfaces - equal-span, non-staggered, three-bay wings and tail unit - were of typically Avro shape, and the machine was supported on separate undercarriage units beneath the engines. Extension shafts ensured propeller clearance of the trailing edges, and there were rectangular frontal radiators. Cockpits for defensive Lewis machine-guns on rings were installed in the nose and amidships. The Type 523 underwent Admiralty trials on the Isle of Grain.
   A second prototype, designated Type 523A and powered by two tractor-mounted, rear-cooled 150 h.p. Green engines, emerged from the erecting shops at Hamble in August, 1916. Despite apparently excellent prospects of adoption as a very useful bomber, neither version of the Pike was ordered, and projected variants - the Sunbeam-powered Type 523B and Rolls-Royce-powered Type 523C - did not materialize.
   Further Admiralty sponsorship of the long-range bomber was evident in 1916, when two developments of the Avro 523 Pike were ordered as the prototypes 529 and 529A. Both machines were constructed at Manchester and erected on the South Coast at Hamble, the 529 being completed in April, 1917, and the 529A six months later in October.
   3694, the 529, was slightly the smaller of the pair with a span of 63 ft. as opposed to the 64 ft. 1 in. spread of 3695, the 529A. Each followed the same basic layout of the Pike, receiving three-bay unstaggered wings which could be folded to the rear. In place of the earlier design’s square tips, however, those of the new machines were rounded. The three cockpits were disposed similarly to those of the Pike in the same style of fuselage but in one of slightly greater length. A significant difference between the 529 and the 529A lay in their engines; 3694 was equipped with a pair of 190 h.p. Rolls-Royce Falcons mounted without cowlings at mid-gap, fed with fuel under pressure from a single large tank to the rear of the pilot, while each of the two enclosed 230 h.p. B.H.P. engines of the 529A, mounted on the lower wings, received its fuel independently from its own nacelle-mounted tank by way of a gravity tank installed on the underside of the upper planes. Scarff rings fitted in both gunners’ cockpits facilitated the use of the Lewis guns, and a set of controls in the amidships cockpit enabled the gunner to take over in an emergency. The 529A’s offensive load of twenty vertically-stowed 50 lb. bombs was housed inside the fuselage and was released by the front gunner - who doubled as bomb-aimer - from a prone sighting position in the nose. Despite this second attempt by Avro at producing a competent twin-engine, long- range bomber and the good overall handling reports earned by each machine, the effort expended on the 529 and the 529A was in vain and neither was destined for production.
Avro 523 Pike with two 160 h.p. Sunbeam pusher engines, the first prototype of which is illustrated, was intended to meet a requirement for a long-range escort and anti-airship fighter.
Avro 523 Pike
Avro 529A
The disappointing behaviour of the A.B.C. Dragonfly affected A. V. Roe as two 320 h.p. Dragonfly I engines had been selected as the units around which the Avro 533 Manchester fast day bomber was designed in 1918. Basically, the three-seat Manchester - which was built at the Hamble, Hants., factory - was a revision of the 523 Pike and the 529 biplanes. In general aspect, the new machine was cleaner aerodynamically than its lineal predecessors and was slightly smaller both in span and in length.
   The Manchester was to suffer initially in precisely the same way as the other prototypes scheduled to use the Dragonfly; in its own case a pair of water-cooled 300 h.p. high-compression Siddeley Pumas in deep nacelles were chosen as substitutes. These enabled F3492, the 533A Manchester Mk. II, to take to the air early in December, 1918, following the completion of its airframe a few weeks before in October.
   A year later, in December, 1919, the Dragonfly engines arrived at Hamble and were installed in F3493, the machine being allotted its original designation of 533 Manchester Mk. I. Revised tail surfaces accompanied the fitting of the Mk. I’s Dragonfly power plants. F3494, the Manchester Mk. III, was completed as far as the airframe but was not fitted with its intended pair of 400 h.p. Liberty 12 engines. The Manchester’s bomb load was to be 880 lb.; defensive armament comprised two Lewis guns - one in the nose and the other amidships. The Manchester was generally comparable with the Bourges, but its greater size and weight gave it a relatively lower general performance than the Boulton and Paul product. Even so, the Avro machine was still very manoeuvrable and capable of aerobatics.
The Avro Type 533 Manchester I, F3493, with the ill-fated Dragonfly I engines, the second prototype to fly.
Among the least prepossessing in appearance of the diverse prototypes of the period was N525, the solitary Beardmore W.B.I two-seat, long-range bomber intended for the R.N.A.S. An inordinately ungainly and cluttered tractor biplane using the 230 h.p. Beardmore Adriatic as power, the W.B.I was designed by G. Tilghman Richards in 1916. The 61 ft. 6 in. three-bay wings were equal in span and were heavily staggered. The cumbersome undercarriage consisted of two main units, each of which contained a pair of large rear wheels and a pair of smaller front wheels. The W.B.I was designed to carry six 110 lb. bombs and have an endurance of 7-3 hrs. Aiming and release of the bombs was the duty of the observer from his rear-set cockpit. As an alternative to the Beardmore engine, the 240 h.p. Sunbeam was tested in the W.B.I which was delivered to the R.N.A.S. Station, Cranwell, on 8th June, 1917, subsequently being involved in an accident there following a landing by Wg. Cdr. R. E. C. Peirse. Projected only was a revised version of the W.B.I, the W.B.IA, which would have used the 500 h.p. B.H.P. Atlantic engine to carry a crew of two.
Another of the seaplane designs of 1915 was the comparatively unusual Blackburn T.B. biplane which was completed in August of that year. The T.B.’s main contribution to unconventionality lay in its duplicated side-by-side fuselages, each of which housed a 100 h.p. Monosoupape Gnome in the nose in 1510, the first prototype. 1517, the second example, received a pair of 110 h.p. Clerget rotaries. The main purpose behind the design was to meet an Admiralty need for a machine capable of climbing above marauding Zeppelins and attacking the quarry with steel darts, the total load of which was to be 70 lb. The two members of the crew were carried one in each fuselage, the wings were of unequal span, and the pairs of main and rear pontoon floats were mounted independently. An essential requirement of the task which the T.B. was proposed to accomplish was a high rate of climb to achieve interception of its high-flying objective, a performance feature which could not be subject to compromise. The T.B., however, was a relatively large and unwieldy machine, the climb performance of which was not assisted by the comparatively low power of the engines selected. Although tested by the R.N.A.S. at the Isle of Grain, no production ensued.
The ninth and last T.B. built. No 1517 with Clerget engines, at the Isle of Grain (just visible in the right background is a Port Victoria seaplane. Note the T.B. s unmistakable B.E.2C fins and rudders.
From all reports, the cumbersome Blackburn TB was a real pilot frightener from the moment it first appeared in August 1915. Designed around the unsuccessful 150hp Smith radial, the two man TB was meant to serve as a long range, over-water Zeppelin destroyer. As if the failure of the Smith engine was not enough, leaving the TB underpowered as it did, the airframe itself, left much to be desired in terms of structural bracing. During the 1916 flight trials, this weakness manifested itself not just in excessive drag, but, even more alarmingly, in a tendency for the outer wings to warp in opposition to aileron input from the pilot, making for ineffective roll control. Of the nine TBs built, eight ended up using twin 100hp Gnomes, while the final example, serial no 1517 seen here, had twin 110hp Clergets. Top level speed was a desultory 86mph at sea level and of the seven machines delivered and flown by the RNAS, none were put into operational service prior to the TB's early withdrawal from inventory.
Blackburn entered the field of torpedo-carrying, patrol-bomber design during 1916 with the advent of their two large three-seat biplanes, the G.P. and the S.P. One only of each was built - 1415 the G.P. with two 225 h.p. Sunbeam engines and 1416 the S.P. using two 250 h.p. Rolls-Royce Falcons. The 74 ft. 10-25 in. upper wings overhung the lower planes by 21 ft. 9-75 in. and were made to fold. Apart from the power plants used, there was comparatively little to distinguish the machines from each other. Both were mounted on independent main pontoon float units with a single float at the tail, but the S.P. incorporated ailerons in its lower wings also. 1415 was put through its Admiralty trials at the Isle of Grain, but those of 1416 were undertaken at Brough; in the event, neither was ordered for service.
The first Blackburn G.P. seaplane, 1415, at the RNAS experimental establishment, Isle of Grain, in 1916.
In the course of 1917 a landplane development of the Blackburn G.P. and S.P. seaplanes came into being. Apart from the substitution of divided wheel units for floats, the Kangaroo’s airframe differed little from those of the G.P. and the S.P. Under test, the slim fuselage drew adverse criticism; it was found to lack rigidity and was deficient in comfort for its crew. Two 250 h.p. Rolls-Royce Falcons powered the Kangaroo, which carried four 230 lb. bombs inside the fuselage and a further four on external under-fuselage racks. One Lewis gun position was installed in the nose, and there was another midway along the fuselage. Very limited production of the Kangaroo ensued, and it served until the end of the war mainly on anti-submarine patrol from Seaton Carew.
Blackburn Kangaroo B9970.
A requirement was formulated at the close of 1917 for a single-seat torpedo-carrying aircraft able to launch the 1,400 lb. Mk. VIII torpedo, a heavier weapon than that borne by the Cuckoo. Two firms - Blackburn and Short - built prototypes, three of each being ordered.
   The Blackburd N113 was the first Blackburn machine and was particularly distinctive with its fuselage of constant depth from front to rear. Powered by the 350 h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engine and fitted with equal-span, unstaggered wings, the Blackburd accommodated its missile between split undercarriage units and was designed to land on skids after jettisoning its wheels before launching its torpedo. N113 carried internal flotation gear in case of a forced landing on water, but the second prototype N114 was fitted with small floats for the purpose beneath the lower wings.
   Under test, both the Blackburd and the Shirl were found to be inferior to the Cuckoo, and development of each ceased with the war’s end.
First flown at the end of May 1918, three of these Blackburn Blackburd single seat, torpedo bombers were built. Powered by a 375hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII, the machine's top level speed without and with torpedo was 95mph and 90.5mph at sea level, respectively. Later, slower and requiring more power than the existing Sopwith Cuckoo, development of the Blackburd did not proceed beyond the flight trial phase. Seen here is the ill-fated first aircraft, serial no N 113, that crashed during testing at Martlesham Heath at the beginning of July 1918. The pilot may just be seen to the left of the aft interplane strut, showing the great length of fuselage forward of the cockpit.
Three-quarter Front View of the Blackburn Torpedo-carrying "Blackburd" (350 h.p. Rolls-Royce Engine).
N113, the first prototype Blackburn Blackburd.
The company then proceeded to initiate work on its first twin-engine design, a fast reconnaissance day bomber designated the P.7 Bourges, of which three examples were ordered by the Air Ministry. Basically three-seat, three-bay, unstaggered biplanes, each differed in detail. F2903, the first prototype, was scheduled to receive a pair of the 320 h.p. Dragonfly engines in which so much hope resided. Delays with the radial Dragonfly found F2903, the P.7 Bourges Mk.IA, complete but for its engines. Rotaries, in the form of two cowled 230 h.p. Bentley B.R.2s, were therefore installed at mid-gap in the equal-span wings, the four ailerons of which were of plain type. The use of alternative engines, to enable the machine to fly in 1918, brought a revised designation of Bourges Mk.IIA for F2903, the suffix A denoting the conventional upper centre-section supported across the fuselage by struts. Eventually, F2903 received its Dragonflies, installed complete with large-diameter, bluff spinners; the four cable-connected ailerons were altered to include horn-balances, thereby increasing the span from 54 ft. to 57 ft. 4 in. Reverting to its originally intended Mk.IA designation, F2903 was not satisfactory with its spinners, which were removed, nor with its cowlings, which had to be revised.
   F2904 the second prototype - the P.7a Mk.IB - introduced several significant modifications, the most important being the incorporation of gulled upper wings inboard of the engines - sloping down to connect direct with the top longerons, the tailplane mounted at a considerable dihedral angle to match that of the gull section of the upper wings, the installation of the Dragonflies direct on the lower wings, the increase in rudder area and the reduction in the size of the fin. The lowering of the engines dictated an increase in height of the undercarriage; the object of adopting the gull portion of the top wings was to improve the field of fire for the dorsal Lewis gunner. The front Lewis gun was mounted in the extreme nose and the bomb load was carried internally.
   The third Bourges prototype, the P.7b F2905, reverted to the original straight, strut-supported, upper wings’ centre-section and received greatly increased power with its pair of water-cooled 450 h.p. Napier Lions using frontal radiators, four-blade propellers and mounted on the lower wings. Its first take-off was made in December, 1920, tests resulting in a very creditable top speed of 130 m.p.h. at 10,000 ft.
   Another version of the Bourges, the Mk.III with two 290 h.p. Siddeley Puma engines, remained a project only, but F2903, F2904 and F2905 gained a great deal of publicity through their speed and phenomenal degree of manoeuvrability. Boulton and Paul retained the services of Capt. F. T. Courtney as test pilot, and it was in his capable and skilled hands that the remarkable reputation of the Bourges in aerobatics was established. These outstanding qualities were demonstrated for the delight of the public by F2905 at the 1923 R.A.F. Pageant at Hendon when, in a mock dogfight with a pair of Nieuport Nighthawk single-seat fighters, the comparatively large Bourges showed the assembled thousands that it could loop, roll and spin with speed and ease. John North’s memorable Bourges design remains noteworthy as among the first of the twin-engine aircraft with which aerobatics could be safely performed.
Bourges Mk lB, F2904, the second prototype, with gulled centre section and Dragonflies on lower wings instead of at mid-gap.
Gull-wing Bourges with unusual form of Scarff ring-mouniing. The shutter-like bomb doors are just visible between the split axles of the undercarriage.
The third and final Bourges, F2905, in its Mark IIIA configuration with Napier Lion engines. F2905, with the original Lion installation in the form it underwent performance trials at Martlesham Heath; note the transparent panels in the nose, used by the front gunner when acting as bomb aimer.
1913 was a year in which the attempt was made to produce bomb-carrying aeroplanes by equipping existing designs with sights and racks. The British and Colonial Aeroplane Company were early in the field when they converted the Coanda Improved Military Monoplane works number 151 into a T.B.8 biplane on its return to Filton from Halberstadt, Germany, in August, 1913, and sent it out to Rumania in the following October fitted with a bomb-rack.
   Number 198, built from the beginning as a T.B.8, was more ambitious in its equipment and was finished specially for the firm’s stand at the Paris Salon de l’Aeronautique in November, 1913. The work of improvement was carried out under the direction of Mons. Henri Coanda and gave the machine controls in the rear cockpit only, leaving the front cockpit free to accommodate the bomb-release mechanism and a prismatic type of bomb-sight. The offensive load consisted of twelve 10 lb. bombs housed in a revolving container beneath the fuselage. As the lowermost bomb left its mounting, the rack turned to place the next bomb in position and automatically set the fuse. In addition to being released individually, the bombs could also be dropped in one batch.
   Although a conversion from the Coanda Military Monoplane design, the T.B.8 turned out to be a great improvement over its predecessor and a very successful machine in its own right. A fairly long fuselage contained the two cockpits in tandem and carried normal equal-span, two-bay, unstaggered wings. The standard tail assembly and four-wheel main undercarriage unit of the monoplane were retained. The T.B.8s built, numbering fifty-three, were powered by various engines, including the 50 h.p. Gnome, 60 h.p. le Rhone, 80 h.p. Gnome, 80 h.p. le Rhone and the 100 h.p. Monosoupape Gnome. The T.B.8 was not a design which attempted anything spectacular or unusual in construction and used the conventional wire-braced and fabric-covered framework of the period, a style which, owing to its many merits, was to remain firmly entrenched for many years ahead.
   The T.B.8 was evolved by Bristol to meet the Admiralty’s order for a land-based biplane version of the Coanda Military Monoplane, to accompany the central-float biplane works number 120 which the Admiralty had contracted to buy if the machine passed its acceptance tests satisfactorily.
   The landplane T.B.8 was produced by converting monoplane works number 121. Number 121 eventually became a seaplane taking the place of works number 120, and a fresh landplane was obtained by taking yet another monoplane - works number 144 - and using it as the basis for the replacement T.B.8 biplane. This eventually made its first flight on 12th August, 1913, and entered naval service as No. 43. Through placing its order for the T.B.8 landplane, the Admiralty was thus responsible to a considerable degree for the machine’s existence as a design which its builders were then encouraged to develop. It was, perhaps, the earliest example of a British bomber aeroplane suitably equipped for its task, as far as the knowledge of design would permit at the time of its conception.
   Cdr. Samson’s renowned Eastchurch Squadron had three Bristol T.B.8s on strength while it was stationed in France. One, 153, was of earlier type with modified undercarriage and tailskid and fitted with the old-style semicowling over the Gnome, while the two later machines were from the batch of twelve improved versions, incorporating four ailerons replacing the outmoded wing-warping for lateral control, a full engine cowling of circular form and destined originally for the R.F.C. under a War Office order of 4th August, 1914. The first few were completed on 26th September, but, of this batch, all twelve were absorbed instead by the R.N.A.S. bases at Eastchurch and Gosport and numbered from 1216 to 1227.
   One of Samson’s new T.B.8s was used as a raider on 25th November, 1914, when it took-off from Dunkirk and successfully bombed the German gun batteries at Middelkerke. The German batteries installed to the south of Ostend were treated to a fine example of the audacious and buccaneering Samson’s spirit when on 21st December, 1914, making the War’s first flight at night, he took-off in the dark to bomb the U-boats ensconced in Ostend harbour. His Maurice Farman was loaded with eighteen 16 lb. bombs which he unleashed on the enemy’s gun emplacements after being unable to sight the submarines. The furious Germans let fly at the intrepid and aptly-named Samson with a devastating barrage, but, with only a Very pistol and his torch, he landed safely in the night on the sand at Dunkirk.
Early Bristol T.B.8 converted from Bristol Coanda Military Monoplane.
Bristol T.B.8
Bristol F.2B supplied after the 1914-18 War to the Belgian Aviation Militaire for army co-operation duties.
In the course of the closing months of the 1914-18 War a number of new advanced bomber aircraft were under construction as prototypes and were completed soon after the Armistice. In the West Country during October, 1917, Capt. F. S. Barnwell at Bristol spent some time on a scheme for a large triplane bomber with folding wings and a crew of six. The machine was designated B.l and was prepared to possess a minimum range of 1,000 miles to enable it to bomb Berlin. Its capacity was to be such that it would carry internally six bombs of 250 lb. each.
   Technically, the design was of particular interest, as it envisaged the embodiment of a concept which had been considered a number of times previously by other designers, namely the use of a power plant situated in the main fuselage and coupled to wing-mounted propellers. In this case four engines were scheduled for installation in a central engine-room from which gears and shafts would drive a single tractor four-blade propeller on each side of the engine bay. Preoccupation with his fighter design work made it impossible for Barnwell to devote further time to the B.l, so the layout was transferred to W. T. Reid for development. The practicability of the original centralized power-plant scheme was never put to the test by Bristol, as, once on Reid’s drawing-board, considerable revision and simplification took place. The triplane wings were retained, the central planes acting as bearers of a pair of tandem engines on each side. The design was submitted soon to the Air Board, resulting in an order for three prototypes being placed on 26th February, 1918.
   Once the project was accepted, construction of C4296 - the first Type 24 Braemar Mk.I - went ahead rapidly so that a successful initial flight was made by F. P. Raynham on 13th August, 1918. The shortage of 360 h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle engines for which the four-seat Braemar was designed, meant that substitutes had to be found to fly the machine. Four 230 h.p. Siddeley Pumas were selected, but the total output was considerably lower than that with which the Mk. I was intended to show its paces. Nevertheless, the big 81 ft. 8 in. span triplane performed very creditably in its official trials at Martlesham during September, 1918.
   Sweepback was incorporated in the three-bay wings outboard of the centresection, the cellules being mounted on a conventional fuselage with slab sides. The main undercarriage consisted of four wheels installed beneath the lower wings’ centre-section in tandem pairs. Horn-balanced ailerons were incorporated in the centre and upper planes, and the tail unit used biplane horizontal surfaces and triple fins and rudders.
   The second Braemar to be built, the Type 25 Mk. II C4297, was completed early in the following year, making its maiden flight on 18th February, 1919, with Capt. C. F. Uwins at the controls. The Mk. II, fitted with four Liberty 12 engines giving 400 h.p. each, was able to reach a top speed of 125 m.p.h., nearly 20 m.p.h: faster than the Braemar Mk. I. Consideration was given to converting the Mk. II to carry a torpedo beneath its fuselage, but towards the end of 1921 the machine was written off following an accident at Martlesham prior to taking-off.
   The third Braemar prototype was completed in the spring of 1920, not as a bomber but as the Pullman civil transport with a fuselage accommodating fourteen passengers. In its bomber form the Braemar was scheduled to carry six 230 lb. bombs and to be armed with five Lewis guns.
C4296, the Bristol Type 24 Braemar Mk. I.
Following the successful debut of his D.H.2 single-seat fighter, Geoffrey de Havilland turned his talents in the direction of the D.H.3, the first prototype of which was completed at the beginning of 1916. The new machine was notable as the first of many twin-engine de Havilland designs and was powered by a pair of 120 h.p. Beardmores at mid-gap between the folding three-bay wings. Extension shafts bore the two-blade pusher propellers behind the trailing edges. The fuselage was mounted so that its major portion was below the lower wings, resulting in the use of a short main undercarriage supplemented by a pair of wheels set well forward beneath the nose. Defensive positions were provided for two Lewis guns, one in the nose and the other at mid-fuselage.
   7744, a modified D.H.3 designated D.H.3A, was also constructed. Alterations made included provision of two 160 h.p. Beardmore engines still driving pusher propellers but with four blades and without extension shafts. Instead, the trailing edges of the upper and lower wings received cut-outs to accommodate the blades. Other minor revisions were forwards-sloping exhaust pipes above the fronts of the cowlings and a slight increase in the area of the rudder’s balance portion.
   On test the three-seat D.H.3A showed every promise of proving a most capable and efficient bomber, and production was started on an order for fifty when cancellation was made while the first example, A5088, was under construction by the Aircraft Manufacturing Company - Airco.
Another two-seat bomber making its debut in 1916, but one which was destined to make its mark among the most successful and significant British aircraft of the 1914-18 War was Geoffrey de Havilland’s outstanding D.H.4, to the design of which A. E. Hagg made a considerable contribution.
   By this period the basic requirements of performance had brought a fairly definite degree of rationalization and standardization in bomber layout, and the new Airco product followed without deviation the two-seat tractor biplane formula in meeting the requirement for a new advanced day bomber. The disappointment felt at the lack of progress made towards acceptance of the D.H.3 was quickly forgotten in the certain knowledge that in the D.H.4 the team at Hendon were evolving a winner. An excellent appearance characterized the well-proportioned machine which made its initial flight piloted by Geoffrey de Havilland, accompanied by Maj. G. P. Bulman, in the middle of August, 1916.
   The 160 h.p. Beardmore was scheduled in the first instance as the D.H.4’s engine, but advantage was taken of the new unit being developed simultaneously by F. B. Halford and which emerged as the 230 h.p. Beardmore-Halford-Pullinger. The new B.H.P. was installed in the prototype D.H.4, but delays in production of the six-cylinder inline B.H.P. led to the more powerful and first-class twelve-cylinder vee 250 h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle being used for the early production D.H.4s.
   The basic design earned high praise in its official trials, those of the prototype being conducted from 21st September, 1916, until 12th October, 1916, by the Central Flying School’s Testing Flight. In every way, the D.H.4 justified the high hopes of its creators and was taken to France on 6th March, 1917, for its first active service with No. 55 Squadron, R.F.C. No time was lost in developing the basic design through minor airframe modifications and in fitting engines of progressively higher power. Eventually, with the 375 h.p. Eagle VIII, the D.H.4’s top speed reached 133-5 m.p.h. at 10,000 ft., and an absolute ceiling of 23,000 ft. was achieved. Apart from its virtues in allied roles, the D.H.4 was unrivalled as a day bomber in its time and played a great part in taking the war to the enemy. Armament generally comprised a pilot’s Constantinesco-synchronized .303 Vickers mounted to port on the decking and a .303 Lewis on a Scarff No. 2 ring for the observer. The basic offensive load, in racks beneath the lower wings, consisted of two 230 lb. or four 112 lb. bombs or their equivalent. Very successful use of the D.H.4 was made also by R.N.A.S. squadrons.
D.H.4 supplied to the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
Geoffrey de Havilland’s outstanding versatility as a designer was fully demonstrated in the course of the 1914-18 War as - in turn - he evolved fighters, bombers and trainers. It was as a trainer that the extraordinarily angular D.H.6 was designed and served mainly. Alternatively powered by the 90 h.p. R.A.F.1A, 90 h.p. Curtiss OX-5 or the 80 h.p. Renault, according to availability of supplies, the two-seat, two-bay biplane was never to be considered as endowed with enough power. Consequently, when the D.H.6 was adapted early in 1918 for anti-submarine patrol around the coast of the British Isles, it was at a disadvantage from the start and was perforce flown solo to enable it to carry a single 100 lb. bomb or the same load of smaller missiles. Despite modifications carried out from March, 1918, with the object of improving the performance of the D.H.6 to make it more effective against U-boats, all that was achieved was a slight increase in top speed, but the machine was unable to improve its bomb-carrying ability.
Early prototype D.H.6 with curved fin and rudder.
By the autumn of 1916, British defence successes against raiding Zeppelins had forced the Germans to reconsider the ultimate value of such attacks. The conclusion was that the evolution of the aeroplane in its diverse forms had forged ahead of the lighter-than-air weapon, thereby steadily reducing the airship’s potency, and that bombing of the United Kingdom by strong forces of bomber aircraft was the next logical and potentially effective step.
   On 25th May, 1917, heavy German raids were made in daylight on towns in Kent, and again on 5th June when both Kent and Essex were bombed. On 13th June, 1917, a formation of Gothas dropped their lethal loads on London at midday, and another attack took place against the capital three weeks later on 7th July. An immediate revision of the country’s defence system was effected.
   Another swift reaction to these attacks was a demand for a rapid increase in the number and the quality of British bombers. Large orders were placed for the successful D.H.4 and, at the same time, plans were drawn up for a successor - the D.H.9. The promise inherent in the D.H.9 was such that it was decided to order it in place of the D.H.4s for which contracts had just been let. A D.H.4 - A7559 - was immediately taken into the shops at Hendon and modified so as to become the prototype D.H.9. In its new guise A7559 made its first flight at Hendon in July, 1917, powered by the 230 h.p. B.H.P.
   In most respects the new machine was identical with its predecessor, the main exterior differences being the new shape of nose, with the exposed cylinders of the engine, the retractable radiator on the underside of the fuselage just ahead of the undercarriage, and the alteration of the pilot’s cockpit to a rear position adjacent to the gunner. This new location of the pilot’s position removed two of the main adverse criticisms of the D.H.4 namely the inordinate distance between the cockpits, resulting in poor communication, and also the placing of the pilot between the main fuel tank and the engine - a situation far removed from any pilot’s liking.
   Nevertheless, in spite of the promise at first displayed by the D.H.9, the programme ran into trouble through selection of the B.H.P. engine, with which unit the machine was unable to equal the performance of the illustrious Rolls-Royce-powered D.H.4. Notwithstanding, plans for the production of the B.H.P.-powered D.H.9 were too far advanced by the time that the unfortunate facts were known for any further alteration in engine selection and, by the end of 1917, the first production examples had been completed. The main obstacle in the way of success for the D.H.9 was its lack of performance at higher altitudes. It was incapable of carrying its bomb load at a steady 15,000 ft. and often was unable to exceed 13,000 ft. altitude. To reach its target, therefore, the D.H.9 had, perforce, to fight its way through enemy fighters, which found little difficulty in reaching the bombers’ operational level and thereafter conducting affairs to a great extent their own way.
   The D.H.9 went into action during the spring of 1918, working particularly as part of the Independent Force. Persistent engine failure contributed its share to the troubles of the D.H.9 squadrons on the Western Front, and losses during the summer of 1918 were such that cogent doubts eventually arose about the type’s status as a first-line aircraft. Attempts to improve the performance of the D.H.9 by testing airframes fitted with alternative engines, among them the 230 h.p. and 290 h.p. Siddeley Puma, the 250 h.p. Fiat A-12 and the 430 h.p. Napier Lion, fared badly, little progress being made in bestowing a worthwhile performance on the machine, the experimental Lion installation turning out to be the most rewarding.
D.H.9 of the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
D.H.9 of the Belgian Aviation Militaire.
A new twin-engine bomber, the D.H.10, was completed at Hendon at the beginning of 1918. The newcomer revived the layout of the 1916 D.H.3 but was slightly longer. The first prototype of four ordered was C8658, designated Amiens Mk. I, which made its first take-off on 4th March, 1918, powered by a pair of pusher 230 h.p. B.H.P. engines. The next machine, the Amiens Mk. II C8659, was equipped with two 360 h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle VIIIs installed as tractors and first flew on 20th April, 1918. C8660, the third machine and designated Amiens Mk. III, received a pair of tractor 400 h.p. Liberty 12 engines. The fine performance of the Liberty-powered Mk. III resulted in this version being selected for production, and four hundred and fifty were ordered on 10th March, 1918. The Mk. III A version was equipped also with the 400 h.p. Liberty 12 but attached to the lower wings, while the Mk. IIIC used a pair of 375 h.p. Eagle VIIIs, likewise mounted on the lower planes. An excellent bomber design, the D.H.10 arrived too late to play any part in the war.
Second prototype D.H.10, Amiens Mk. II, with two Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines; the aircraft was C.8659.
The first D.H.10A Amiens Mk IIIa, F1869, with Liberty engines mounted on the lower wings, and with larger mainwheels. It was delivered for trials at Martlesham Heath on 17 August 1918, and subsequently 32 examples were built by Mann, Egerton at Norwich.
de Havilland Amiens Mk. IIIA
Current shortage of Eagle engines to meet the demand for such a first-class unit was responsible for the decision to use the American Liberty engine as the power plant in a development of the D.H.9 day bomber, the design of which was undertaken by Westland to become the D.H.9A. Larger wings than those of the D.H.9 were used, and the prototype D.H.9A - B7664 - made its debut with the 375 h.p. Eagle VIII installed, complete with frontal radiator. Eventually the 400 h.p. Liberty 12 arrived on the D.H.9A scene in C6122.
   Despite pressure from the Front, the first D.H.9A squadron - No. 110 - was unable to reach France until 31st August, 1918. Teething troubles with the Liberty were eventually overcome so that the D.H.9A was evolved into a steady and reliable machine for its job. The aircraft’s offensive load consisted of a maximum of 660 lb. of bombs carried beneath the fuselage and lower wings, and its armament comprised a Constantinesco-synchronized Vickers for the pilot and either one or two Lewis guns for the observer.
When the Armistice came in November, 1918, the Aircraft Manufacturing Company at Hendon was part of the way through the construction of the D.H.11 Oxford prototype H5891, a three-seat, long-distance day bomber designed by Geoffrey de Havilland in 1918 around a pair of 320 h.p. A.B.C. Dragonfly engines. The arrival of peace inevitably brought a slowing-up in completion of H5891 so that its first flight did not take place until January, 1920.
   The Oxford was a significant step forward in bomber design, being notably cleaner aerodynamically than its contemporaries. Centre-section struts were eliminated in the three-bay biplane wing cellules by deepening the shapely fuselage so that it filled the gap between upper and lower planes; this feature automatically made it possible to give the mid-upper gunner adjacent to the trailing edge a 360° field of fire in the upper hemisphere and enabled him to reach both the pilot’s and front gunner’s cockpits via a catwalk between all three positions. Another unusual feature in a twin-engine layout was the use of a single main undercarriage unit with transverse axle instead of the divided twin pairs of wheels normally placed one under each engine. The pilot, seated to starboard in a broad cockpit occupying the full width of the fuselage, was endowed with an excellent view. The two gunners’ cockpits were equipped with a Scarff-mounted Lewis gun each and the bomb load - of some 1,000 lb. total weight - was borne inside the fuselage.
   The Oxford was yet another in the sizeable list of British aeroplanes which were designed with high hopes around the air-cooled nine-cylinder radial Dragonfly, an engine conceived during 1917 by Granville Bradshaw and of which 11,050 were ordered in 1918. In spite of all good intentions behind the programme for the engine, its primary feature of high power for light weight was not achieved, and its several other shortcomings also had widespread repercussions among the many new aircraft for which it was scheduled as the power plant. Nevertheless, the Oxford Mk. I flew with its Dragonflies, mounted in neat nacelles fitted to the lower planes of the unstaggered 60 ft. 2 in. span wings.
   As an insurance against the recalcitrance of the Dragonfly units, an unbuilt project - designated Oxford Mk. II - was drawn up around a pair of 290 h.p. Siddeley Puma high-compression engines. H5891 remained the solitary example constructed, as H5892 and H5893 - the two other prototypes - were not proceeded with.
   Still another projected derivative of the D.H.11 was the D.H.12, which, had it been built, would also have used twin Dragonflies but would have had the mid-upper gunner in what was considered to be an even more effective gun position between the main spars of the upper wings.
The sole D.H.11 Oxford H5891.
At the tail end of Airco’s exemplary wartime performance in construction of production and prototype aircraft to Geoffrey de Havilland’s designs, there came two final biplane bombers. The two-seat D.H.14 Okapi day bomber, of which three prototypes were ordered, was in the process of being designed before the Armistice was declared, but construction was carried on at a slower rate after the end of 1918. The intention was that the new machine should take over from its predecessors from Airco, the D.H.4, D.H.9 and D.H.9A, which it resembled, but on a larger scale.
   The Okapi was given two-bay wings of equal span, set with moderate positive stagger and was designed around the Condor I, a powerful new water-cooled, twelve-cylinder vee engine from Rolls-Royce which developed 525 h.p. The nose incorporated a frontal radiator, and the engine drove a four-blade propeller; the necessary ground clearance for the blades made a relatively lengthy undercarriage mandatory. The crew were seated in adjacent tandem cockpits mid-way along the fuselage. Both were armed - the pilot with a Constantinesco-synchronized Vickers set in the coaming and the observer with a pair of Scarff-mounted Lewis guns. Eight 112 lb. bombs formed the Okapi’s load, being carried internally by storing six inside the lower wings and two in the fuselage beneath the pilot.
   Reduction, immediately post-war, of interest in developing new bombers curtailed the rate of completion of Okapis J1938 and J1939, but J1940 was finished late in 1919 in a modified form as the D.H.14A high-speed, long-range mail-carrier G-EAPY powered by a 450 h.p. Napier Lion. A second pair of wheels was added to the undercarriage ahead of the original main wheels prior to the London-to-Cape Town flight which was attempted by F. S. Cotton and W. A. Townsend, who took-off on 2nd February, 1920. A forced landing in Italy at Alessina resulted in the D.H.14A turning over and, during the subsequent repairs, the extra wheels were discarded.
   The two military Okapi prototypes were completed later at Stag Lane by the newly-formed de Havilland Aircraft Company, J1938 in September, 1920, followed by J1939. Official trials were conducted with both machines at Martlesham, whither they went in the spring of 1921, but no further development ensued.
The incomplete D.H.14 bomber modified as the D.H.14A.
Of the pair of D.H.15 Gazelles - J1936 and J1937 - which were ordered, only J1937 was constructed. The airframe was that of a conventional D.H.9A, but was given extra power by installing the water-cooled, twelve-cylinder vee 500 h.p. B.H.P. Atlantic developed by the Galloway Engineering Company through combining two 230 h.p. B.H.P. engines on a single crankcase. The Liberty-style frontal radiator was still used, and the Gazelle was equipped with the standard D.H.9A armament of a Vickers gun for the pilot and a Lewis on a Scarff ring for his observer. The main purpose behind the conversion to D.H.15 form was the testing in flight during 1919-20 of the new engine.
The sole Galloway Atlantic-powered Airco D.H.15 Gazelle, J1937.
A number of D.H.9s (151) were fitted with Jaguar engines and D.H.50 centre section tanks by the South African Air Force but they did not have the airframe improvements of the British D.H.9J.
Contemporary with the Airco D.H.3 and D.H.3A was the twin-engine tractor Dyott Bomber, developed by G. M. Dyott from his pre-war project for a large biplane evolved for exploring in South Africa. Construction of each of the Dyott designs actually built - his monoplane of 1913 and the Bomber - was carried out by Hewlett and Blondeau. 3687, the initial prototype to the order of the Admiralty, was completed in 1916 with two 120 h.p. Beardmore engines installed as tractors between the equal-span wings. The crew numbered three, the gunners manning Lewis machine-guns disposed in the nose and in a cockpit in the top decking to the rear of the wings. Independent single-wheel undercarriage units were mounted between pairs of skids and struts beneath each engine, and the lengthy tailskid was balanced by a large nosewheel under the front cockpit. Second thoughts about the design brought cowlings to cover the hitherto bare engines, together with frontal radiators and a fore-deck of increased depth. Much heavier armament was fitted in the form of four Lewis guns disposed around the nose cockpit and a fifth carried in the cockpit amidships.
   3687 arrived at Hendon on 17th August, 1916, and 3688 - the second prototype - underwent R.N.A.S. trials at Dunkirk. The Dyott Bomber’s promising appearance, however, was not to result in a production order.
By 1917 Fairey enthusiasm for seaplane development was well entrenched, and during the year the two-seat 190 h.p. Rolls-Royce I-powered F.127 N9 to Admiralty Specification N.2(a) made its appearance at Hayes. Designed for seaplane-carrier operation, the single-bay wings folded and incorporated the Fairey Patent Camber Gear in full form; both upper and lower trailing edges were arranged as lift-increasing flaps. Radiators flanked the engine on each side, and the short-span lower wings were without tip floats. N9’s armament consisted of a Scarff-mounted Lewis gun in the rear cockpit. No production ensued, but the F.127 served a useful purpose as the guinea-pig in experiments with the Armstrong catapult installed in H.M.S. Slinger. To withstand the stresses associated with this type of launching, N9 was strengthened for the purpose and performed with complete success.
N9, the Fairey F.127, with original small fin.
The Fairey Aviation Company was destined to have long and close associations with the Royal Navy in the supply of its aircraft, the foundations of which were laid early in the 1914-18 War. Following production of a batch of Short Admiralty Type 827 seaplanes under sub-contract, the firm turned to designing its own aeroplanes. The F.2 long-range fighter was its first attempt at the art, and this was succeeded by a two-seat patrol seaplane designed in 1916. Of special importance was that the machine should be stowed aboard the seaplane carrier Campania, from which the seaplane was to take its name.
   Allotted Fairey airframe number F.16, the first prototype N1000 was fitted with the 250 h.p. Rolls-Royce Mk. IV engine. In overall appearance the Campania - and succeeding Fairey seaplane designs - were far neater and less cluttered than their counterparts of the period from Short Brothers. The Fairey designs did not indulge in the frustrating habit of mounting the radiator block in front of the pilot to the great detriment of his view forwards. Side-mounted radiators cooled the Campania’s engine, and the twin exhausts were taken up through the centre-section. Flush-fitting wingtip floats were used, accompanied by pontoon-style main and rear floats. Folding wings were mandatory, and those on the Campania utilized two-bay bracing with kingposts and wire support for the upper wings’ overhang.
   Second thoughts were evident in the second Campania F.17 N1001, resulting in various alterations. Increased power appeared in the form of the 275 h.p. Rolls-Royce Mk. I incorporating a frontal radiator. The wings embodied an improved aerofoil section, and a cut-out in the upper centre-section aided the pilot’s field of view. Revision of the tail surfaces had taken place, and the tip floats were suspended on short struts. Under-fuselage racks carried the Campania’s bomb load, and the observer’s Lewis gun was installed on a Scarff ring.
   In its F.17 form the Campania passed into production during 1917. From F.22 N1006, the 250 h.p. Sunbeam Maori II engine was also used, owing to a shortage of the Rolls-Royce units brought about by the demand for such an excellent engine. Later on, the Campania was equipped with the 345 h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII, as yet another alternative, and served well in both F.17 and F.22 versions.
N1000, the first Fairey F.16 Campania.
Fairey F.17 Campania
Following the F.127 during 1917, there came the Fairey F.128 N10 two-seat patrol seaplane, as an alternative design to Specification N.2(a), bearing also the designation Fairey III to head the subsequently long list of III-series to emanate from Fairey for nearly two decades. Upper-wing overhang had been discarded in favour of equal span, and the machine was fitted with the 260 h.p. Sunbeam Maori II cooled by side radiators. The two-bay wings embodied the firm’s useful Camber Gear and were mounted on a fuselage matching that used on the F.127. Apart from a larger fin, the F.128’s tail unit was the same as that of the F.127. As a seaplane the F.128 did not go into production, but, towards the close of 1917, N10 was stripped of its floats and equipped with a landplane undercarriage of straightforward V-strut type. The Maori’s radiator became a single frontal block. Fifty of the landplane, redesignated Fairey IIIA, were ordered for shipboard use with the R.N.A.S., commencing with F.220 N2850. External racks housed the bomb load, and the single Lewis gun for the observer formed the IIIA’s armament.
   Designed to the Admiralty Specification N.2(b), the next Fairey product was the IIIB two-seat bomber seaplane. Powered by the 260 h.p. Maori II and using the same fuselage, tailplane and elevators as its predecessors the III and the IIIA, the folding wings of the IIIB were increased in area by the addition of generous upper surface extensions which carried the pair of ailerons; a larger fin and rudder were also fitted. The Camber Gear was retained and the bomb load of about 600 lb. was slung from under-fuselage racks. The production run of the IIIB was relatively short, only twenty-five coming from Fairey.
   Still embracing the same two-seat seaplane category, the IIIC was next in the line of Fairey products. Using the same fuselage and float unit of the earlier III designs, the IIIC changed back to equal-span for its two-bay wings and embodied the IIIB’s tail surfaces. The mixture of two different types resulted in an excellent general-purpose aircraft with a performance enhanced by a first-class engine - the 375 h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII. Increased fuel capacity gave an endurance of six hours, and side radiators were fitted. N2246 was the IIIC prototype and was completed in September, 1918. The IIIC’s pilot was provided with a synchronized Vickers gun, and his observer was armed with the usual Lewis on a Scarff ring. The IIIC’s bomb load was borne in under-fuselage racks. By the time that production was under way November, 1918, had arrived, and the IIIC was too late for active service in the 1914-18 War.
Fairey F.128 III N10, first of the Fairey III series, at Hayes in its original two-bay-wing form and powered by a Sunbeam Maori.
Fairey IIIA.
The Fairey type 3 B N2240 Seaplane (260 h.p. "Sunbeam" engine).
At least four IIICs were civil-registered. G-EAMY, a conversion from IIIA N2876, was operated on skis in Sweden during the winter of 1919-20.
Fairey IIIC
Contemporary with the Short Bomber were two other two-seat tractor biplanes designed as bombers for the Admiralty - the Grahame-White Type 18 and the Wight Bomber. Designed at Hendon during 1915, the Grahame-White machine embodied a similar fabric-covered wooden framework type of construction but was given a greater degree of refinement than others of the period. The single prototype Type 18 also was fairly large, with four-bay equal-span wings attached to a basic rectangular-section fuselage which was faired to an oval section. Power was provided by the twelve-cylinder vee 285 h.p. Sunbeam Maori, designed by Mons. Louis Herve Coatalen - the Sunbeam Motor Car Company’s talented chief engineer - which was cooled by a deep frontal radiator and drove a two-blade airscrew. Folding was incorporated in the mainplanes, which lacked the support of normal centresection struts, their place being taken by the inner pair of interplane struts on each side. The Type 18’s normal two-wheel undercarriage, attached to the fuselage by strong struts, was augmented by a small nosewheel. Underwing racks accommodated the machine’s bomb load, and the observer was armed with a machine-gun carried on a ring-mounting.
During the last year of the 1914-18 War several prototypes in various categories were tested and rejected as service aircraft. In 1918 the Grahame-White firm at Hendon completed the E.IV Ganymede, a long-range, three-engine biplane day bomber of unconventional layout. Two 270 h.p. Sunbeam Maori engines were mounted as tractors in the front of twin fuselages, while a third similar engine was installed as a pusher in the rear of the central nacelle provided for the crew. Three main Lewis gun positions were located in C3481, the sole Ganymede completed - one was in the nose of the nacelle and there was one in each of the pair of fuselages. In addition, each fuselage had a gun-firing opening in the underside towards the rear. Although the Ganymede had been scheduled to use 400 h.p. Liberty engines, these were not forthcoming and its performance suffered accordingly.
The Admiralty’s well-founded and wholly admirable policy of taking the offensive and punishing the enemy by bombing was responsible to a great degree for initiating the development of the Handley Page series of large bombing aircraft. Within the first few months of the start of the war the Admiralty had realized that, to implement such a scheme to the fullest extent, an aircraft was needed which could carry a worthwhile bomb load on patrol over water coupled with good endurance. A requirement was drawn up and issued in December, 1914, for a twin-engine two-seater capable of a minimum top speed of 72 m.p.h. and to carry six 112 lb. bombs.
   Frederick Handley Page was already firmly convinced of the superiority of the large aircraft for load-carrying and was soon able to submit for the Admiralty’s consideration a design for a sizeable biplane with a pair of 120 h.p. Beardmores. The proposal was received with enthusiasm, with such warmth in fact, as to draw from the worthy and uninhibited Director of the Air Department, Commodore Murray F. Sueter, his classic and uncompromising demand for a ‘bloody paralyser’ of a bomber. The challenge was accepted with alacrity by Handley Page and his fellow-designer George R. Volkert, who redesigned the original layout as the H.P.11 designated O/100. Two 150 h.p. Sunbeam engines and a span of 100 ft. were specified. No time was lost in constructing the machine, which was ready in less than a year from receipt of the order.
   Coincident with this activity in the Handley Page factory at Cricklewood was that in the Rolls-Royce works at Derby, where two new engines, eventually to become renowned as the Eagle and the Falcon, were being evolved specifically for aircraft use.
   A pair of Eagles, each developing 250 h.p., were chosen for the O/100 and were installed as tractors in armoured nacelles. The cabin for the crew of 1455, the first prototype, was given bullet-proof glass and armour-plate as extra protection. The load of sixteen 112 lb. bombs was carried vertically internally in the centre part of the flat-sided, rectangular-section fuselage, which was constructed in three portions. To enable the O/100 to be housed in a hangar the wings were designed to fold. Of three-bay form, the upper tips overhung considerably and were braced with the usual kingposts and wire. A biplane tail was used, and the main undercarriage consisted of twin pairs of wheels.
   The O/100 was most impressive in appearance and looked every inch the deadly bomber which it was intended to be. As soon as 1455 was completed it was taken by road in strict secrecy at night on 17th December, 1915, the short distance to Hendon for its first flight. Assembly was carried out rapidly within a few hours, so that, at 1.51 p.m. on 18th December, the O/100 was able to make a successful take-off piloted by Flt. Cdr. J. T. Babington. The attempt to provide improved crew comfort on long flights by the inclusion of the cockpit enclosure was short-lived, as the structure broke up in flight and was subsequently discarded. The major portion of the armour-plating around the crew was also taken away. No armament was fitted to the first few prototype O/100s, but those ordered to equip the R.N.A.S. were modified to incorporate a Scarff ring in the nose and upper and lower positions for Lewis guns in the fuselage to the rear of the wings.
   Training in the use of the fine new bomber began at Manston, Kent, in September, 1916, and two months later, in November, the 5th Wing of the R.N.A.S. took delivery of its first O/100s at Dunkirk. After being employed on daylight coastal patrol and bombing for a few months, the O/100 was transferred to bombing during the hours of darkness, an operation in which it was increasingly successful despite a shortage of the machines.
Handley Page O/100.
Handley Page O/100
Modifications during 1917 of the basic Handley Page O/100 bomber, made by George Volkert, resulted in a new designation - H.P.12 O/400 - being applied. The main alterations were the removal of the nacelle fuel tanks and their transfer to the fuselage and the rearwards position adopted for the fin. The general shortage of Rolls-Royce engines made alternative power plants essential, substitutes being found in the 250 h.p. Sunbeam Maori and the 260 h.p. Fiat A-12bis. Cricklewood was the venue for the initial flight of the first O/400.
   The adoption of the day bomber in quantity was responsible during mid-1917 for the Air Board decision of 23rd July to defer placing orders for new heavy bombers. Opposition to such a policy was such that only a week later - on 30th July - the matter was re-examined, with the result that O/400s - to the tune of one hundred - were ordered on 14th August, 1917.
   Meanwhile, proof had been forthcoming of the efficacy of night bombing, and the O/400 orders were increased substantially. By the spring of 1918, the O/400 had begun to appear in reasonable quantities and, for the succeeding months until the Armistice, made its name operating with the Independent Force of the Royal Air Force in long-range attacks on targets in Germany.
3138, the prototype Handley Page O/400.
Production Handley Page O/400 with Eagle engines.
Another bomber which would, like the Amiens, have acquitted itself well had hostilities lasted a little longer, was G. R. Volkert’s massive Handley Page H.P.15 V/1500 which was ordered and designed in 1917 and completed during 1918. The first prototype, B9463, was constructed by Harland and Wolff at Belfast and was fitted with four 375 h.p. Eagle VIIIs mounted in tandem pairs between the 126 ft. span wings. The intended power plants were Rolls-Royce Condors, but delays in development led to the use of the Eagles. Two-blade tractor and four-blade pusher propellers were installed. B9463 was assembled at Cricklewood and made its first flight there during May, 1918, in the hands of Flt. Lt. V. Busby. Modifications were made as a result of early test flights, but the first V/1500 crashed later in June, 1918.
   The intention was that the gargantuan V/1500 should serve in squadrons based in England and be able to make the return flight to bomb Germany. In the event, by the Armistice, only three V/1500s were in service - with No. 166 Squadron at Bircham Newton - and the machine was never able to demonstrate its power against Germany. The V/1500’s maximum load consisted of thirty 250 lb. bombs, and its armament comprised Lewis guns in the nose, amidships and in the tail.
The first Beardmore-built V/1500, E8287, at Inchinnan in September 1918 with original tail unit and Galloway Atlantic engines
Handley Page V/1500
One of the more unusual developments in the evolution of British heavy bombers was provided by the Kennedy Giant of 1917, an enormous biplane with a span of 142 ft. and powered by four 200 h.p. Salmson engines mounted in tandem pairs between the mainplanes. The aptly-named Giant was constructed jointly at Hayes by Fairey and by the Gramophone Company Ltd. to the design of C. J. H. Mackenzie-Kennedy. Kennedy’s aeronautical experience in Russia prior to the 1914-18 War, culminating in his close association with Igor Sikorsky in the designing of the Russian’s Il’ya Mourom’etz, showed up strongly in the British machine, construction of which was authorized by the War Office following representations by Kennedy. The early serial number 2337 was allocated to the machine, but the aircraft’s components were not ready for assembly until the close of 1916. Northolt was selected as the best place for erecting the huge, square-cut bomber which had to be put together in the open in the absence of a hangar large enough for it. The Giant’s remarkably deep fuselage rested on the shorter lower wings, and its constant depth extended to about mid-way along its length, at which point the lower longerons slanted upwards to provide slight taper in elevation. The crew members were fully enclosed and liberally provided with windows extending to the tail.
   Unable to obtain the powerful engines which the Giant needed, the designer had to be content with the low-powered Salmsons, the combined 800 h.p. of which proved completely unequal to the task of lifting the machine from the ground at Northolt when Lt. F. T. Courtney attempted to fly it towards the end of 1917. Thereafter, the Giant was abandoned.
To augment its strength of Short 184 patrol seaplanes during 1916, the R.N.A.S. bought ten Mann, Egerton Type B aircraft. The Type B was produced by the Norwich firm as their improved version of the Short 184, which they were making as sub-contractors. To a great extent, the Type B incorporated parts of the 184 and used the 225 h.p. Sunbeam as its power. However, Mann, Egerton departed from the basic 184 layout by fitting wings with greatly extended upper surfaces overhanging the lower planes. The batch of two-seat Type Bs produced were numbered from 9085 to 9094.
Among the machines pressed into service by the R.F.C. as a bomber was the Martinsyde G.100, originally employed as an escort for other types engaged in bombing and reconnaissance. The machine’s relatively large size militated against it as a fighter, but it came into its own as a single-seat bomber carrying a 112 lb. bomb, particularly in the hands of the pilots of No. 27 Squadron, R.F.C. The G.100 was powered by the 120 h.p. Beardmore, but a later version designated G.102, which made its appearance during 1916, was given the increased power of the 160 h.p. Beardmore and found itself popularly called the Elephant. The G.102 was able to transport two 112 lb. bombs or one 230 lb. bomb. In addition to its use on the Western Front, the Martinsyde Elephant performed valiant and effective service as a bomber in the Middle East.
In the Battle of Neuve Chapelle which started at 7.30 a.m. on 10th March, 1915, for the first time bombing formed a part of the plan for the conduct of such a ground operation. By attacking from the air the trains carrying reinforcements to the enemy’s army formations, it was expected that a considerable amount of delay would ensue to the Allies’ benefit. A number of raids were carried out with various aircraft against rolling stock and the railway system with excellent results.
   Among the machines used was the B.E.2a. Developed from the B.E.2 two-seat biplane of 1912, the B.E.2a was adapted to carry an offensive load of a single bomb or an equivalent load of smaller bombs and was used in considerable numbers. The type appeared late in 1912 as an improved version of the B.E.2, embodying a new fuel system installed inside the curved decking which had been added to the rear of the 70 h.p. Renault engine. As a result, the gravity tank mounted previously in the centre section had been discarded. The B.E.2a’s unstaggered two-bay wings were equal in span, measured 35 ft. 0-5 in. from tip to tip and retained warping for lateral control. Structurally, no advance was visible on the standard fabric-covered, wire-braced frameworks in vogue. Those taken across to France at the commencement of the War had faithfully taken-off time and time again on their important reconnaissance work for many weeks, but, eventually, the B.E.2a found itself pressed into service as a bomber when three from No. 4 Squadron, R.F.C., set off on 11th March, 1915, to attack the rail junction at Lille. The railway station at Courtrai received attention from 2nd Lt. W. B. Rhodes-Moorhouse’s B.E.2a of No. 2 Squadron, R.F.C., on 26th April, 1915, a 100 lb. bomb falling on the line near by. The exploit resulted in the posthumous award of the Victoria Cross to Rhodes-Moorhouse, the first to be won by either the R.F.C. or the R.N.A.S.
Another of the early Royal Aircraft Factory designs which found itself adapted as a bomber soon after the start of the war was the B.E.8, a well-proportioned two-seat, two-bay, equal-span biplane with 39 ft. 6 in. staggered wings and the 80 h.p. Gnome as its engine. The first prototype was started during 1912, but the Factory built three examples only of the design, the ensuing fairly small production run being undertaken by Bristol, Coventry Ordnance Works and Vickers to contracts placed in 1914. Last of the Factory’s B.E. designation to employ the rotary style of power plant, the B.E.8 sported a rounded cowling over the upper portion of the unit. The three prototypes were turned out without a fin, but this was added to the tail units of the production models. These also were given ailerons on the upper wings in place of the prototypes’ all-warping system. In common with the majority of the early machines adapted as vicarious bombers in the first few months of the conflict, the B.E.8 was flown solo when loaded with its single 100 lb. missile, and this was the case when four ‘Bloaters’ from No. 1 Squadron, R.F.C., launched their attack against the railway bridge at Douai on 12th March, 1915.
During 1913 E. T. Busk, one of the experimental pilots at the Royal Aircraft Factory, commenced trials in an endeavour to endow the B.E.2a with improved stability. His findings were embodied in a new version designated B.E.2c, the first of which took to the air in June, 1914. It was based on the fuselage and undercarriage unit used in the B.E.2b, but fresh wings, incorporating four cable-connected ailerons and stagger, made their appearance. A rounded coaming extended fore and aft of the pair of tandem cockpits, and steel tube framing was introduced into the fin and rudder. The 70 h.p. Renault was retained to power the early production B.E.2c, and the Factory had succeeded well in imbuing the machine with great natural stability, a factor then thought to be greatly advantageous to the aircraft in its expected role of reconnaissance. Later, however, this fallacy was to be exposed and heavily emphasized in combat when the resulting lack of manoeuvrability put the B.E.2c in a position of grave disadvantage on operations over the Western Front. As well as being deficient in this respect, the location of the observer in the front cockpit placed a markedly severe restriction on his ability to wield a machine-gun when such armament was eventually brought into play as a defensive measure.
   To enable the B.E.2c to operate as a bomber, it was flown as a single-seater, and one of its first exploits as an offensive weapon took place on 10th March, 1915, when Capt. L. A. Strange of No. 6 Squadron, R.F.C., flew his to Courtrai railway station to drop three 25 lb. bombs which disrupted movements by rail over three days. Another B.E.2c raid was carried out on 19th April, 1915, when the sheds housing German airships at Gontrode were attacked by Capt. Lanoe G. Hawker, who dropped three bombs on them. The B.E.2c normally housed its bomb load in racks beneath the fuselage and inboard under the lower wings, but those built for the R.N.A.S. and equipped with the R.A.F.Ia as the engine were often fitted with a rack, capable of accommodating three bombs, in an unusual position below the engine’s sump. In some cases the R.N.A.S. bomber B.E.2c had its front cockpit faired over. The B.E.2c was also notable as the first to carry out a night raid by the R.F.C. which was made by two of the type on Cambrai aerodrome on 19th February. Numerous other bombing operations were to stand to the credit of the B.E.2c, an aeroplane pressed by the exigencies of war into performing duties for which it had not been developed. Consequently, despite the greatest gallantry displayed by the crews who flew the B.E.2c on operations, the type was castigated owing to the heavy losses which it suffered through being allotted tasks on active service which were never intended to be its metier.
The R.E.5 flown by Sqn. Cdr. Longmore was one of the small batch of twenty-four only which were built by the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough. Twenty-two of them were completed in 1914 with two more being constructed in 1915. Designed during 1913, the R.E.5 was a sturdy, well-proportioned tractor biplane of equal span with two-bay, staggered wings, and carried its crew of two in tandem. The type came under the Reconnaissance Experimental category, thereby being developed to be as stable as possible to perform its duty as an observation platform for the observer ensconced in the front cockpit. A flat-sided fuselage was surmounted by a fairly deep curved decking which afforded the crew adequate protection and, at the same time, enabled the Beardmore-built, six-cylinder, inline 120 h.p. Austro-Daimler engine to be fully enclosed, complete with the radiator installed to its rear. Cable-connected ailerons were fitted to each wingtip and an advanced feature for the time was the installation of streamline bracing wires, known as Raf-wires and specially developed by the Factory to replace the stranded wire cable hitherto used. The compact twin-wheel unit incorporated the popular pair of wooden skids. A four-blade propeller was fitted, and a silencer formed part of the exhaust manifold which ejected underneath the front cockpit. A few of the R.E.5s built were powered by original Austro-Daimler units. The type’s layout was quite conventional, as was the wooden structure with its fabric covering. The twenty-four R.E.5s produced formed the first sizeable production run of a Factory design and were paid for out of £25,000 handed over to the War Office by the Admiralty when the Navy assumed the responsibility for lighter-than-air development in Britain on 1st January, 1914. The relatively short production sequence of the R.E.5 prevented any wide-scale use as a bomber, but two of those belonging to No. 7 Squadron, R.F.C., carrying three 20 lb. Hale bombs each, took-off from St. Omer on 26th April, 1915, accompanied by seven of No. 8 Squadron’s B.E.2cs, to attack German troop trains steaming from Ghent.
Among the designs to make their debut at the Factory during 1915 was the R.E.7, a two-seat development of the R.E.5, which was evolved into a fairly useful bomber for the R.F.C. despite an ungainly, unprepossessing appearance. The deep fuselage housed a 120 h.p. Beardmore in the nose, and the unequal-span, two-bay wings were slightly staggered. Ailerons were mounted in the upper wingtips, the overhang of which was braced by a pair of parallel struts. In the absence of a centre-section, the upper wing panels met at the centre-line at the apices of the centre-section struts. The relatively short moment arm dictated the provision of tail surfaces of large area. The R.E.7 was mounted on oleo main legs preceded by a small nosewheel set well to the fore. Basically the machine utilized a conventional wooden frame with fabric covering; the fuselage, however, was formed from steel tubing in the front matched to a wooden structure to the rear of the cockpits. Another unusual feature for an aircraft of the period was the inclusion on a number of R.E.7s of airbrakes in the form of panels hinged vertically to the fuselage sides a little to the rear of the engine.
   The R.E.7 was introduced at a time when the importance of adequate defensive armament was just being appreciated. In spite of this, the observer was placed in the front cockpit, where it was well-nigh impossible for him to wield his Lewis machine-gun with any effect. This drawback was eliminated in the small number of R.E.7s which were converted to contain a third cockpit, to the rear of the pilot, which was surmounted by a Nieuport ring-mount for a single Lewis gun. Several alternative engines were installed in the R.E.7, and the machine was able to carry either a single R.A.F. 336 lb. bomb or two 112 lb. bombs, supplemented by a quantity of 20 lb. bombs. Superseded comparatively soon by aircraft endowed with superior qualities, the R.E.7 was flown on the Western Front for some seven months, chiefly by No. 21 Squadron, R.F.C., the sole unit to be equipped with the machine and which had arrived in France on 23rd August, 1916.
This advance Christmas present for the Germans heralded a spectacular, daring and carefully-planned R.N.A.S. raid which took place on 25th December, 1914, and was launched against the Zeppelin hangars at Nordholz, south of Cuxhaven, and had the double purpose of reconnoitring the enemy shipping and installations at the mouth of the River Elbe, in the Schillig roads and at Wilhelmshaven. Nine seaplanes were transported in three carriers, the Empress, Engadine and Riviera, escorted by the light cruisers H.M.S. Arethusa and H.M.S. Undaunted and a protective force of eight destroyers of the Third Flotilla and submarines which departed from Harwich at 5 a.m. on 24th December. By 6 a.m. on Christmas Day the expedition was some twelve miles north of Heligoland. Just after 7 a.m., in very cold weather, seven out of the nine aircraft took-off from the calm water and headed for Cuxhaven. The remaining two aircraft failed to rise and were again taken aboard the carriers. The supporting ships cruised about awaiting the return of the seven seaplanes so that they and their crews could be picked up, but it was not until 10 a.m. that three of the machines returned. Able to linger no longer, the main force headed homewards, but three more of the awaited pilots were later rescued by E.11 one of the British submarines. The fourth machine had alighted on the water, and the pilot was held for a while in Holland after rescue by a Dutch trawler. It transpired that heavy fog and mist had combined to prevent the Zeppelin sheds being located, but the machines had instead dropped their bombs on ships and gun emplacements at Wilhelmshaven and had brought back valuable details of the concentration of German shipping in the area.
   Among the floatplanes employed in the raid were three Shorts, Admiralty Type 74 - 811 flown by Flt. Lt. C. H. K. Edmonds, 814 Flt. Sub-Lt. V. Gaskell-Blackburn and 815 Flt. Cdr. D. A. Oliver. Short Brothers gave the type the designation Improved S.41, but its Admiralty Type 74 came from the initial serial of the first production batch.
   Although the designation implied a direct connection with the S.41 of 1912, there was little to support any such contention of relationship, the 100 h.p. Gnome constituting the main common factor. The 1913 Short Admiralty No. 42 showed a far more direct resemblance to the Type 74, a number of which had joined the Navy by the summer of 1914 before the start of the War. This latest Short floatplane’s appearance suggested that it was much sturdier than its predecessors from the same firm. The unequal-span, three-bay wings were unstaggered and had the fuselage mounted direct on to the lower pair. The overhang of the upper planes was strut-braced, split pairs of wide-span ailerons without balance cables being incorporated also only in the top surfaces. The crew were accommodated in tandem in cockpits without the benefit of a deck coaming. The Type 74’s main undercarriage consisted of a pair of unstepped pontoon floats, supplemented by a tail float and a cylindrical air-bag under each lower wingtip.
   Included also among the seven aircraft which took-off to attack Cuxhaven on 25th December were two Short Folder Seaplanes - Nos. 119, flown by Flt. Cdr. R. P. Ross, and 120, pilot Flt. Lt. A. J. Miley. Generally reminiscent of the Type 74, the first Folders built had two-bay wings of 56 ft. upper span, but later examples appeared with an upper span of 67 ft. and three bays. These last versions embodied facilities for folding the wings from the cockpit. A 160 h.p. Gnome was installed as the standard power plant, and the float arrangement followed that of the Type 74. Some of the Folders were equipped with crutches accommodating a 14 in. Whitehead torpedo, and external racks carried the bombs.
Short Folder Seaplane.
The two other Short seaplanes which, together with the three Type 74s and two Folders, made up the force which attacked Cuxhaven on Christmas Day, 1914, were Admiralty Type 135s, Nos. 135 and 136. Evolved from the 160 h.p. Gnome Folder, design work on 135 started late in 1913 following the order from the Admiralty in September, 1913. The machine’s unequal-span, 54 ft. 6 in. upper and 40 ft. lower, folding wings utilized two-bay bracing with struts supporting the generous upper extensions, and a rounded decking conferred a refinement on the previous stark style of slab-sided fuselage. No. 135 appeared in 1914 for delivery to the R.N.A.S. before the War began, powered by the Swiss-designed single-row, water-cooled 135 h.p. Salmson radial. 136, the second Type 135 constructed, was given the extra power of the two-row, fourteen-cylinder Salmson which developed 200 h.p. 135’s engine was cooled by a massive rectangular radiator mounted vertically on the fore-deck ahead of the front cockpit and was surmounted by a small lip-type portion of curved cowling.
   In the attack on Cuxhaven Flt. Cdr. C. F. Kilner piloted No. 136, accompanied by Lt. Erskine Childers as his observer, both officers being particularly successful in the value of their reconnaissance reports made as a result of the raid.
Sqn. Cdr. Longmore’s success with releasing a torpedo at Calshot from the adapted Short Folder just prior to the commencement of hostilities had provided convincing proof of the practical possibilities of such a technique. Short Brothers thereupon put in hand a development of the Admiralty Type 135, the new design being evolved specifically for the carriage and launching of a torpedo.
   In common with the second Type 135 No.136, the Admiralty Type 166 - as the newcomer came to be known - retained the 200 h.p. Salmson engine, cooling of which was by a prominent radiator block mounted on the foredeck. Little alteration was visible in the fuselage, but revision had taken place in the support of the upper extensions of the two-bay wings. The previous bracing struts had been discarded and replaced by kingposts and wire. To provide additional lift for transporting the extra load of a torpedo, the wings of the Type 166 were increased in area, the upper span reaching 57 ft. 3 in. The very large fin, which had by now become a prominent characteristic of Short seaplanes, was evident at the tail and provided support for the top of the balanced rudder. The convenience of wing-folding was retained, and the undercarriage system used the standard layout of two main and one rear pontoon floats, together with wingtip cylindrical air-bags. A water-rudder was hinged to the tail pontoon, and the steel tube spacers bracing the main floats were curved upwards to take the 14 in. 810 lb. torpedo. Six only Type 166s - Nos. 161-166 - were built by Short Brothers; a second batch - Nos. 9751-9770 - was produced during 1916 by the Westland Aircraft Works at Yeovil, differing from the parent firm’s version in omitting the arch in the floats’ horizontal struts so that a torpedo could not be accommodated. Instead, the Westland-built Type 166 carried three 112 lb. bombs, and the observer was provided with a Lewis machine-gun.
During mid-1914 an initial order for twelve floatplanes of a new design was placed with Short Brothers, half of which were to be powered by the 135 h.p. Salmson, while the other half were to receive the more powerful water-cooled eight-cylinder vee 150 h.p. Sunbeam Nubian. The Admiralty designations applied were Type 827 to the Nubian version and Type 830 to the Salmson model. There was basically little difference in the Types 827 and 830 from the Type 166, one of the main alterations being a reduction in span to 53 ft. 11 in. The compound taper of the 166’s ailerons was abandoned in favour of straight taper on the 827 and 830, while the newly-adopted kingpost-and-wire bracing of the overhanging upper wingtips was embodied once again. The two-bay wings incorporated folding as a standard feature, but no provision was made for a torpedo as a missile. Underneath the fuselage, however, bomb-racks were installed.
Short 830
In pursuance of its vigorous policy of attacking the enemy by bombing, the Admiralty promoted a contest in 1915 to select a landplane bomber in which Short Brothers entered an extensively modified adaptation of their Type 184. 3706, the prototype, retained the 225 h.p. Sunbeam in a normal 184 fuselage but had the crew positions reversed. The pilot was transferred to the rear cockpit so that the observer could stand up to fire the single Lewis gun installed above the upper centre-section. 3706 received unequal-span wings with two bays and extensive overhang of the upper tips, for which kingpost-and-wire bracing was provided. Wings of ample area were fitted with the express object of conferring adequate weight-lifting qualities on the machine. The undercarriage was a somewhat complex arrangement containing four wheels, the front pair of which were of slightly smaller diameter than those at the rear. The two-bay wings were shortly replaced by new surfaces of increased span and three-bay bracing. The Short Bomber was sufficiently successful in its trials for a production order to be placed with Short Brothers and four sub-contractors, eighty-three examples being built. Those produced by Mann, Egerton, Parnall, Phoenix Dynamo and Short were fitted with the 250 h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle, but Sunbeam installed their own lower-power 225 h.p. Sunbeam engine. Other changes in the production versions included the substitution of side radiators for the prototype’s awkward upper-nose unit, the armouring of the fuel tanks and the transfer of the observer to the rear cockpit, where he was provided with a set of controls and a Lewis gun. Later production Short Bombers were drastically altered by a considerable extension of the length of the fuselage, but the machine still retained its characteristic feature of a generous curved fin. Racks beneath the lower wings housed the bomb load, normally an alternative of four 230 lb. or eight 112 lb. missiles.
   Short Bombers went into service in the closing weeks of 1916, and No. 7 Squadron, R.N.A.S., the first unit to receive them, sent four from Coudekerque on their initial sortie during the night of 15th November, 1916, to bomb Ostend with eight 65 lb. bombs apiece. For the ensuing few months, the naval pilots continued to mount attacks against the enemy with their large 85 ft. span Shorts until the arrival of even more effective equipment.
9306, first of the initial production batch of Short Bombers, with short fuselage, was the subject of emergency surgery to lengthen its tail.
Eastchurch-built Bomber 9315 with Rolls-Royce engine and lengthened fuselage; this was the first type flown by John Parker at Eastchurch in 1916.
Short Landplane Bomber
The assiduous pursuance of the Navy’s aggressive bombing policy brought in its train a steady demand for the means of delivery both of bombs and of torpedoes. Voice was given by Commodore Murray F. Sueter, head of the Air Department at the Admiralty, to requests for new machines to be developed, capable of taking the war to the enemy ever more effectively. The torpedo constituted a most potent weapon for dealing with enemy shipping, and it was considered that an improved version of the Short Type 166 would prove a worthwhile investment. Horace Short was consequently approached by Commodore Sueter to evolve the new torpedo-carrier to take the 14 in. weapon.
   The result, the Short Type 184, was destined to become one of the most ubiquitous and successful in its category during the 1914-18 War. In appearance the new machine perpetuated the established lines of Short seaplanes, with three-bay, equal-span, unstaggered wings attached to the typical style of fuselage set by its predecessors. Folding wings had become an integral feature of the larger shipborne types and were applied automatically to the Type 184. The prototype 184 underwent several modifications to its lateral control system. Ailerons were fitted at the outset, but in unbalanced form to the upper planes only. They were eventually given the benefit of a balancing cable, then finally superseded by cable-connected ailerons on all four wingtips, a feature carried on through the production machines. The prototype 184 flew with the 225 h.p. Sunbeam engine driving a two-blade propeller and fully cowled. The rectangular box-style radiator occupied its usual view-obscuring position ahead of the pilot on the fore-deck. The standard three pontoon floats made up the undercarriage, augmented by wingtip cylindrical air-bags. The Type 184 carried its torpedo suspended beneath the arched spacers connecting the main floats and its bomb load borne in a rack mounted on the underside of the front portion of the fuselage. On operations the Type 184 achieved its greatest success in the Dardanelles when one of three which had arrived there in the seaplane-carrier Ben-my-Chree took-off on 12th August, 1915, piloted by Flt. Lt. C. H. K. Edmonds and sank a Turkish steam vessel with its 14 in. torpedo. To the Short Admiralty Type 184 thus went the honour of being the first aircraft to sink a ship by air-launched torpedo in action. Five days later, on 17th August, Flt. Lt. Edmonds repeated his success by sinking another Turkish ship from an increased range. Encouraged by these successes, another Type 184 attack in the Dardanelles was made on 17th August, this time by Flt. Lt. G. Bentley Dacre, resulting in the sinking of a Turkish tug. These first-class results, obtained at such an early stage in the torpedo-carrier’s career, were not achieved easily. The Type 184 was not by any means endowed with a surfeit of power and was able to lift its torpedo only when flown solo from calm water with the assistance of a breeze and with a reduction in fuel aboard. These shortcomings inevitably led to a lower rate of use of the machine as an operational torpedo-carrier, but the Type 184 performed valiant service as a bomber, particularly in the Dardanelles, the Mediterranean, in raids on the Belgian coast and on patrol against U-boats. A solitary Type 184, 8359, piloted by Flt. Lt. F. J. Rutland, achieved prominence as the aircraft which reconnoitred the German warships for the British Grand Fleet in the Battle of Jutland on 31st May, 1916.
   It was natural that, in the course of its production life, modifications should be made to the Type 184. 8103 appeared as the Type D, a single-seat bomber seaplane with the original front cockpit area transformed into an internal bomb-bay housing nine 65 lb. bombs stowed vertically. The 250 h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle displaced the Sunbeam engine in 8104, and 8105 was perched some distance above its main floats on extended undercarriage struts. A good view for the pilot had not been a strong point in the Type 184, but a decisive improvement was effected in the Dover Type equipped with the 260 h.p. Sunbeam cooled by a frontal radiator in place of the obstructive box-style unit hitherto installed on the coaming. Total production of the Short Type 184 in its various forms reached over six hundred and fifty.
8081, a Short Type 184.
N1091, a Short Improved 184.
Short 184 Dover Type (N 1098) with 260 hp Sunbeam and nose radiator, built by Short Brothers.
Short 184
The feature of extensive upper wings’ overhang was perpetuated in another single-engine seaplane of 1916, the Short 320, which was intended to launch the 18 in. Mk. IX 1,000 lb. torpedo. Two prototypes - 8317 and 8318 - were built, and the 320 was ordered into production for the R.N.A.S., being fitted with the Sunbeam Cossack engine of either 310 h.p. or 320 h.p. The pilot was accommodated in the rear cockpit, a fact which accentuated the difficulty of the observer in using his Lewis gun to advantage. To enable him to do this, the bizarre expedient was resorted to of mounting a strut-supported Scarff ring in line with the upper centre-section, from which the unfortunate gunner was expected to fire his Lewis by climbing out of his seat to stand in the cockpit. In addition to acting as a torpedo-carrier, the Short 320 was employed on reconnaissance and anti-submarine patrol, its bomb capacity being two of 230 lb. each.
Short 320 N1397.
View of a Type 310-A4 which well illustrates the wings' considerable overhang. Production aircraft reverted to two-blade propellers.
Short 320
Most prolific producers of seaplane designs during the war, Short Brothers built two examples - N66 and N67 - of the N.2B patrol-bomber, their final floatplane to appear before the Armistice. A far tidier design than were most of those emanating from Rochester in the course of the 1914-18 War, N66 made its bow on 22nd September, 1917, powered by a neatly-cowled 275 h.p. Sunbeam Maori. Although the N.2B was cleaner than its predecessors, one of the less happy aspects of the design was that of the considerable gap which separated the two cockpits - already established clearly as a bad feature in a multi-seater.
   The N.2B departed from previous Short practice in several respects. Although it retained the usual unequal-span, two-bay wing cellules, bracing of the upper tips’ overhang was by a pair of splayed struts instead of the wire and kingpost arrangement employed hitherto. A frontal radiator took the place of the customary view-obstructing box type so often installed on the fore-decking before the pilot. Flush-fitted wooden floats served under the wingtips instead of the old style of wrinkled air-bags, but the main floats followed the normal pattern of flat-sided pontoons. Those fitted to N66 were shaped with one step and concave undersides, but N67 received a pair with unbroken bottoms. The N.2B’s offensive load consisted of two 230 lb. bombs stored beneath the fuselage; a Scarff ring around the rear cockpit held the observer’s Lewis gun.
Another Short floatplane design which remained simply a prototype was the S.364, a two-seat, two-bay, equal-span biplane which represented a complete breakaway from the usual intricate type of seaplane layout which had succeeded design after design from Rochester. Remarkably clean folding wing cellules, with a straight trailing edge and elliptical tips, housed upper and lower ailerons, and the 200 h.p. Sunbeam Afridi engine and its frontal radiator were neatly cowled into the fuselage of simple lines. The centresection struts were exceedingly slim and encompassed the pilot’s cockpit. His observer sat some way aft of the trailing edges in a cockpit surmounted by a Scarff ring-mounting for his Lewis gun. The S.364 was out of the factory in March, 1917, but made no headway towards a production order, despite its promising appearance.
A requirement was formulated at the close of 1917 for a single-seat torpedo-carrying aircraft able to launch the 1,400 lb. Mk. VIII torpedo, a heavier weapon than that borne by the Cuckoo. Two firms - Blackburn and Short - built prototypes, three of each being ordered.
   The Short answer to the single-seat torpedo-carrying requirement was the Shirl, N110 being the first prototype flown initially in mid-1918 by John Lankester Parker. The Shirl was far more conventional in appearance than the Blackburd. Two-bay, folding, equal-span wings were fitted to a slim fuselage, the nose of which housed the 345 h.p. Eagle VIII. In place of the simple V-type undercarriage of N110, N111 - the second Shirl - received a complicated structure incorporating skids, together with swept-back wings; the third prototype - N112 - differed once again in its landing-gear.
   Under test, both the Blackburd and the Shirl were found to be inferior to the Cuckoo, and development of each ceased with the war’s end.
N112, third prototype Short Shirl.
Sopwith special torpedo seaplane Type C (RNAS No. 170) was not able to fly with a torpedo and was abandoned after unsatisfactory trials.
The photograph of the Sopwith Special Seaplane, referred to in the text and which for many years was said to depict the Sopwith Type C. The aeroplane appears to be moored alongside the Sopwith workshops at Woolston, up-river from Calshot.
The Sopwith Type C experimental torpedo-dropping seaplane, as evident here, was a very large aircraft, and had an engine installation of uncommon interest. The "half-hoops' seen above the floats were probably for springing, and not associated with the torpedo gear.
A 1915 design which was produced for R.N.A.S. service in small numbers was the Sopwith Admiralty Type 860, a two-seat tractor seaplane capable of carrying the 810 lb. 14 in. torpedo. Powered by the 225 h.p. Sunbeam engine cooled by a frontal radiator, the Type 860 had equal-span, three-bay, folding wings incorporating cable-connected ailerons on each surface. The machine’s pilot occupied the rear cockpit. Pontoon main floats, each with a single step and sprung, were accompanied by a tail float and one at each wingtip. A version of the Type 860 was constructed with wings of unequal span, kingposts and wire supporting the upper overhanging tips; ailerons were in the top wings only.
Another manifestation of the Admiralty’s determination to adhere to its policy of keeping the R.N.A.S. on the offensive came with its order for the Type 9700 from Sopwith. The prototype, 3686, was completed at Kingston in mid-December, 1915, and emerged as a single-bay staggered biplane with equal-span wings of 33 ft. 6 in.
   The designation Type 9700 lapsed into obscurity immediately, as the appearance of the newcomer brought the name of 1 1/2-Strutter, by which it was to be known ever afterwards. The unusual appellation is generally conceded to have arisen from the use of pairs of short and long centre-section struts. A second noteworthy feature of the 1 1/2-Strutter lay in its introduction of the urgently-needed and long-awaited synchronizing gear to allow a front gun - in this case a single Vickers machine-gun - to fire ahead through the propeller arc. Two further innovations in the 1 1/2-Strutter were the ability to adjust in flight the incidence of the tailplane and the incorporation of airbrakes in the trailing edge of the lower wings’ centre-section. These consisted of a pair of panels hinged to turn upwards in opposition to the airflow. The 1 1/2-Strutter was without any particularly radical features in its design and followed the firmly established Sopwith style of a well-proportioned conventional layout, a practice which had already demonstrated itself as a sound formula for success in the majority of projects.
   Success was certainly to attend the 1 1/2-Strutter in its career, both in the R.N.A.S., which ordered one hundred and fifty initially, and in the R.F.C., which subsequently took the machine into its ranks. The R.N.A.S. received its first Type 9700s in the early part of 1916 and immediately put them to use as bombers and bomber-escorts. As was often the case with the early two-seaters, the 1 1/2-Strutters were at times flown solo to enable a reasonable load of bombs and fuel to be carried. The early naval versions utilized the Scarff-Dibovski gear to synchronize the pilot’s Vickers, but, later on, both Ross and Sopwith-Kauper gears were installed. The observer defended the machine with the usual Lewis gun, at first on a Scarff pillar mounting and subsequently on Nieuport and Scarff No. 2 rings.
   The 1 1/2-Strutter was regarded with enough favour by the Admiralty for a special single-seat version to be developed as a long-range bomber. The machine was flown from the front seat and the load of up to twelve bombs was housed in a compartment to the rear of the pilot. Occasionally, a single Lewis gun was mounted on the upper centre-section in addition to the standard Vickers on the nose. 1 1/2-Strutters were responsible also for carrying out many patrols against U-boats.
Two-seat Sopwith 1 1/2-Strutter built by Westland.
Sopwith 1 1/2-Strutter.
Although by 1917 the concept of the multi-seat bomber was accepted generally, the advantages inherent in the small, faster single-seater were still not neglected. Sopwith set to work to design a competent single-seat bomber, and the result emerged in the spring of 1917 as the B.1 B1496, a shapely two-bay, equal-span biplane fitted with the 200 h.p. Hispano-Suiza engine in a clean cowling. To endow the pilot with a good view for conducting his bombing attacks, the cockpit was set well forward between the centre-section struts. The bomb load of 560 lb. was borne internally and hung vertically in the fuselage bay which extended from the rear centre-section struts to the lower wings’ trailing edge. Armament for the B.1’s pilot consisted of a single Lewis gun mounted centrally to fire forwards from the top of the engine cowling. The first-class results obtained in the B.1’s tests of April, 1917, prompted service trials with the 5th Wing of the R.N.A.S. at Dunkirk. The original promise shown by the B.1 was not, however, rewarded by subsequent production.
The Sopwith Aviation Company had shown an early interest in the torpedo-carrying aeroplane, and, at the instigation of Commodore Murray F. Sueter in his capacity as Superintendent of Aircraft Construction at the Air Department of the Admiralty, T. O. M. Sopwith discussed with him in October, 1916, the idea of designing a machine with an endurance of four hours and the capacity to transport one or even two torpedoes, taking into account the possibility of catapult launching from ships.
   For the period, the assignment was a tough one, but, shortly, the Kingston firm came forth with the Sopwith T.1 design. The layout envisaged was that of a single-engine biplane carrying a pilot only. Authority was given to proceed with construction of a prototype, but with Sueter’s departure from the Air Department in January, 1917, the fire went out of the project as far as official circles were concerned and was not revived until the partly completed airframe was noticed at Kingston during February, 1917, by Wg. Cdr. A. M. Longmore, who managed to press for its completion.
   The T.1 N74 was finished on 6th June, 1917, and - although somewhat greater in span - bore the strongest possible resemblance to the B.1. Three-bay folding wings were incorporated, the pilot sat in line with the trailing edges, and separate main undercarriage units enabled the 18 in. 1,000 lb. Mk. IX torpedo to be accommodated in the optimum launching position. The nose housed the 200 h.p. Hispano-Suiza engine under a circular cowling.
   Trials with N74 were satisfactorily carried out from the Isle of Grain during July, 1917, and were followed in August by an order for one hundred T.1s to be produced by the Glasgow firm of Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co. Ltd. The name Cuckoo was applied to the T.1, and modifications were drawn up for the production aircraft. To counter the shortage of Hispano-Suiza engines the 200 h.p. Sunbeam Arab was specified, an enlarged tailskid was fitted to ensure sufficient clearance for the torpedo while on the ground, and minor alterations were made to the tail unit.
   The Cuckoo’s passage into production was far from smooth, however. Delays occurred, particularly in developing the Arab into a satisfactory operational power plant, and the entire programme lagged. Eventually, the first squadron was ready to take its place with the Fleet some three weeks before the Armistice, but it was too late then for the Cuckoo to be used operationally. As the Mk.I’s Arab engine was so fractious, a Mk. II version of the Cuckoo was prepared using the 200 h.p. Wolseley W.4A Viper, and October, 1919, saw yet another version - using the 275 h.p. Rolls-Royce Falcon III - under test.
Sopwith Cuckoo I
The Sopwith 2.B.2 Rhino was a Kingston prototype of 1917 intended as a two-seat day bomber. A return was made to the triplane formula in the design which consisted of equal-span, single-bay wings mounted on a fuselage, the fore portion of which was particularly deep in order to form an internal bomb-bay. X8 was the sole example constructed and carried the 230 h.p. B.H.P. engine in its nose, flanked by low-set radiators. The ponderous and ungainly Rhino relied on the ground on a tiny undercarriage unit which further contributed to the machine’s unlovely appearance.
   One redeeming and laudatory feature, however, in an otherwise uninspired design lay in the Rhino’s self-contained bomb-pack, which was calculated to reduce rearming time between raids. The pilot’s cockpit was situated immediately above the bomb-bay, and the pack was lifted into place by hoisting gear fitted inside his cockpit. The pack contained alternative loads of four 112 lb., nine 50 lb. or twenty 20 lb. bombs; armament for the pilot consisted of a single forwards-firing Vickers, while that of the observer to his rear was a Lewis gun on a pillar mounting, later exchanged for a Scarff ring. In the course of its existence an alteration was made to the ailerons of the Rhino. Carried on all three planes, the first surfaces were horn-balanced, but these were later superseded by the same number in plain form, still retaining the upper wire and lower strut connections between them.
   The prefix of the X8 serial number of the Rhino, granted under Licence No. 14, indicated that the machine was entirely a Private Venture but which was considered as a design project showing sufficient promise for the parent firm to be granted permission to proceed to construct a prototype at a time when materials and labour were at a premium.
   Tests performed with the Rhino during February and March, 1918, failed to promote the machine’s chances of adoption, and the design was ultimately abandoned.
Early version of Sopwith 2.B.2 Rhino using ailerons equipped with horn balances.
Sopwith 2.B.2 Rhino X8 with plain ailerons.
Representative also of the temporary incursion at the end of the war into the realm of the triplane as a formula for a three-seat bomber was the Sopwith Cobham. Sopwith had been the main exponent of the triplane in Britain, with five other triple-wing designs to their credit prior to the appearance of the 54 ft. span Cobham. Three were ordered and built - H671, the Mk. II with two 290 h.p. Siddeley Pumas, and H672 and H673, Mk. Is both fitted with a pair of 360 h.p. A.B.C. Dragonfly IA engines.
   Besides being the largest of the Sopwith triplanes, the Cobham was also of note as the only machine with two engines to be built by the company. The power plant around which the Cobham was designed was the ill-starred Dragonfly and, in common with several other designs scheduled to receive it, development delays were circumvented by fitting the Cobham H671 with Pumas and changing its designation from Mk. I to Mk. II. The cowlings of the water-cooled Puma installation occupied completely the gap between the centre and lowest wings, which were unstaggered, while the uppermost planes were set a short distance to the rear. Cable-connected ailerons were incorporated in all six wings, and the tail surfaces retained the typical Sopwith outline. The Cobham’s fuselage was set between the centre and lowest wings. The pilot’s cockpit was just ahead of the leading edge; the gunners used a Lewis gun in the nose cockpit and another in a position immediately aft of the wings.
   When H672 was completed with its Dragonflies as the Mk. I some modifications to the airframe were apparent. The rudder was considerably larger in area, and its extension - complete with a second horn-balance - below the fuselage necessitated a longer tailskid to ensure ground clearance. The nacelles for the Dragonflies fitted flush beneath the centre wings and the top mainplanes were rigged with a little forwards stagger.
The single-seat Sunbeam Bomber came from a firm which had been producing Shorts and Avros to meet Admiralty orders during the war and eventually decided to design its own bomber for the R.N.A.S. The result was the inauspicious single N515, a two-bay 42 ft. span biplane fitted with the 200 h.p. Sunbeam Arab engine. The pilot was located mid-way along the fuselage and was armed with one synchronized Vickers gun well out of his reach on the fore-decking; the bomb load was borne externally. The proportions of the Sunbeam Bomber did little to inspire confidence in the machine and, although tests were carried out in 1917 at Castle Bromwich and during the following year at Martlesham, it failed to earn a production order.
Designed during the closing months of the 1914-18 War with the object of operating on bombing raids against Berlin from England, the gargantuan Tabor F1765 was built by W. G. Tarrant Ltd. of Byfleet, and exceeded in immensity even the enormous Handley Page V/1500, evolved for the same purpose.
   Apart from its great size, the overall appearance of the Tabor was of exceptional interest. Largest of the group of bomber triplanes which had suddenly sprung into popularity as prototypes, the Tabor was the possessor of a beautifully conceived circular-section monocoque fuselage which was suspended between the centre and lowest mainplanes. The top and bottom wings were 98 ft. 5 in. in span, but those in the centre measured 131 ft. 3 in. from tip to tip and carried the machine’s pair of ailerons. The elegant fuselage terminated in a biplane tail unit which incorporated twin fins and rudders.
   The Tabor was scheduled to be fitted with four water-cooled Siddeley Tiger engines, from which it was hoped to obtain 600 h.p. each, but unexpected development problems with the new power plants dictated the use of an alternative type. The engine selected was the Napier Lion, six of which - at 450 h.p. each - would provide the necessary thrust to fly the colossus. The Lions were installed as two tractors at mid-gap between the upper and centre wings and as two pairs in tandem mid-way between the centre and lowermost wings. Two-blade 12 ft. 6 in. propellers were used on the four tractor engines, while the pair of pushers turned four-blade 10 ft. 7-25 in. propellers. The undercarriage units, each with three wheels abreast, were installed under the bottom wings and in line with the power plants. The R.A.E. had co-operated with W. G. Tarrant in the course of construction of the Tabor, and the components were eventually brought together at Farnborough in the balloon shed there, in which they were assembled, so that the Tabor was completed in the spring of 1919. When finished the length was 73 ft. 2 in., and the height reached 37 ft. 2 in. By May, 1919, all was ready, and the 26th of the month was chosen for the maiden flight. The two pilots aboard were Capts. F. G. Dunn and P. T. Rawlings, who, after the usual taxying tests had been carried out satisfactorily, prepared to take-off. The opening up of the upper pair of Lions during the initial run was followed by a sudden rise of the tail past the horizontal so that the Tabor tipped up on to its nose, which was crushed as far back as the wings. Both pilots, seated well forward in the pointed nose, died after the crash. As a design feature for Service aircraft the triplane - despite its good weight-lifting qualities - was thereupon abandoned so that the biplane was still to hold its own for the next fifteen years or so before it was forced to give way to the monoplane.
Testing the six Napier Lions of the Tarrant Tabor.
Prototype F.B.27 B9952 with original elevators fitted with horn balances and Hispano Suiza engines before its first flight, made by Gordon Bell on 30 November, 1917; the F.B.19 Mk II was presumably one of the first known chase planes.
A further result of the decision of the Air Board on 30th July, 1917, to reverse its policy and to proceed again with development of the heavy night bomber was that contracts were placed forthwith for prototypes of new machines with Vickers and Handley Page. R. K. Pierson undertook the design of the Vickers bomber, three of which were ordered on 16th August, 1917, and which was designated F.B.27.
   Pierson retained in the three-seat biplane the basic layout which he had earlier shown to Maj. J. S. Buchanan of the Air Board, and in under four months the prototype B9952 was ready. Twin tractor 200 h.p. Hispano-Suiza engines were mounted at mid-gap between the three-bay, equal-span wings, and the fuselage terminated in a biplane tail. The bomb load was accommodated inside the fuselage about the lower centre-section. Defensive armament was in the form of one Lewis gun in the nose position and another in the cockpit amidships. Four horn-balanced ailerons of generous area provided lateral control.
   B9952’s first flight was at the Vickers aerodrome at Joyce Green on 30th November, 1917, piloted by Capt. Gordon Bell. B9953, the second prototype F.B.27, used a pair of 260 h.p. Sunbeam Maoris as power and exhibited several alterations compared with B9952. Two 300 h.p. Fiat A-12bis engines were fitted to B9954, the third F.B.27. Official trials were satisfactory, and the Vimy, as the F.B.27 was eventually called, was put into full-scale production, falling in the category of R.A.F. Type VII Short Distance Night Bomber. One Vimy only had reached the Independent Force in France before the war ended, and the type was never able to fly operationally against Germany.
Prototype F.B.27 B9952 with original elevators fitted with horn balances and Hispano Suiza engines before its first flight, made by Gordon Bell on 30 November, 1917; the F.B.19 Mk II was presumably one of the first known chase planes.
H5066, second of twenty-five Westland-built Vickers F.B.27A Vimys.
The final prototype Vimy Mk.IV, F9569, with Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines which ensured the success of the new bomber.
Among the machines from J. Samuel White and Company which achieved quantity production was the Wight Admiralty Type 840 seaplane, a two-seat tractor biplane fitted with the 225 h.p. Sunbeam. The 61 ft. span, four-bay, folding wings possessed a moderate amount of overhang of the upper planes, in which were incorporated the long-span ailerons. The wing section embodied the double-camber idea with its depression in the upper curve of the aerofoil. Twin main floats were attached to the simple type of fuselage by a complex arrangement of struts; as a torpedo-carrier the cross-braces between the floats were arched, but later examples which were not intended to launch a 14 in. torpedo appeared with straight cross-struts. The Sunbeam received its cooling through twin radiators, one of which flanked the engine on each side. The Type 840 was employed at a number of R.N.A.S. coastal stations, but was unable to match the lustre which attached to its contemporary, the Short Type 184.
   A landplane version of the Wight Type 840 was constructed using, among other modifications, a nosewheel main undercarriage reminiscent of the Grahame-White Type 18.
During 1914 Howard T. Wright designed a large Wight biplane with a span of 117 ft. and powered by two 200 h.p. Salmson radial engines mounted as tractors in a pair of side-by-side fuselages attached to the lower wings. The machine’s crew were carried in a nacelle placed on the lower centresection between the engines. The wings, braced in five bays, incorporated folding; a pair of radiators for cooling the Salmson radials were installed on the flanks of each fuselage at the trailing edge of the wings. After modifications had been made to the somewhat complicated tail unit, the Wight biplane crashed.
   The twin-fuselage concept, however, was retained in the seaplane version, also of 117 ft. span, which followed the earlier landplane design. The first prototype Wight Twin, 187, was equipped to launch a single 18 in. Mk. IX torpedo which it bore beneath the lower centre-section. The central nacelle for the crew was discarded, and they were accommodated in each of the pair of fuselages. Support on the water was provided by a pair of long main floats supplemented by a cylindrical one at each lower wingtip. The two 200 h.p. Salmson engines were cooled by vertical side radiators and transmitted their power through extension shafts to two-blade wooden propellers.
   Two additional torpedo-carrying Wight Twin seaplanes, 1450 and 1451, were completed in September, 1915, differing from 187 in having modified fins and rudders and extended undercarriage struts. Using the same 200 h.p. Salmsons, both machines were found under test to lack sufficient power for their great size and to be incapable of leaving the water armed with a torpedo and with full tanks. Under such conditions the type was unable to accomplish its set task and development ceased.
The third Wight Twin seaplane, No 1451, at East Cowes with an 18in Mk. IX torpedo mounted beneath the lower wing centresection.
Far less prepossessing in aspect than the Grahame-White Type 18 was the angular and ungainly Wight Bomber N501, which was completed in 1916 as a single prototype by J. Samuel White of East Cowes. In general layout the Wight product resembled the Short Bomber to a degree. Three-bay, unequal-span wings, 65 ft. 6 in. upper and 55 ft. lower in spread, were fitted to a simple flat-sided slim fuselage, surmounted by a curved decking, which housed two cockpits in tandem and a 275 h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle in the nose. N501’s wings could be folded, incorporated the double-camber section originated by the firm’s designer Howard T. Wright and carried the four 112 lb. bombs in racks beneath the innermost interplane struts. A Lewis machine-gun on a Scarff ring was provided for the observer in the rear cockpit.
   Numerous patrol seaplanes performed valiantly for long periods over cold, unfriendly expanses of open water in the course of many months of bitter and relentless struggle for supremacy at sea during the 1914-18 War. Among the lesser-known types employed by the R.N.A.S. was the Wight Converted Seaplane, an adaptation on floats of the unsuccessful Wight Bomber N501 of 1916. 9841 served as the prototype seaplane conversion and appeared in 1917 mounted on a pair of lengthy floats, supplemented by the usual wingtip floats which were - on the Wight - fitted flush beneath the lower wings without connecting struts. Apart from the 275 h.p. Rolls-Royce Mk. II engine normally used, the Wight was - in a few cases - powered by the 265 h.p. Sunbeam Maori. Production totalled thirty-seven, a relatively short run. The bomb load of the Wight Converted Seaplane was carried on racks fitted beneath the fuselage, and defensive armament consisted of a Lewis gun on a Scarff ring for the observer in the rear cockpit, a position giving him a fairly broad field of fire.
Wight Converted Seaplane