F.Manson British Bomber Since 1914 (Putnam)
Grahame-White E.IV Ganymede
It is necessary here to return to 1918 to make brief mention of three other aircraft intended for consideration by the Air Ministry as very heavy long-range bombers, cast in a similar mould to that of the Bristol Braemar, but which, for various reasons of difficulty or misfortune, failed even to attract academic interest. Their manufacturers persevered mainly in the hope of recovering some of their losses suffered by contract cancellations at the end of the War or in an attempt to retain as much of their workforce as possible until better times arrived for the aircraft industry.
Indeed, if they possessed a common design weakness, it was on account of their designers allowing the basic configuration of their aircraft to be compromised by attention to relatively unimportant elements in the Air Ministry requirements. The companies were also probably misguided in attempting to achieve too much, by means of unjustified ingenuity, at a time when the design staffs should have sought to improve and combine the best of existing design configurations.
Chronologically, the first of these big bombers to be completed was the Grahame-White Ganymede, an aircraft originally intended to be powered by three 400hp Liberty 12 engines. It was a four-bay biplane with horn-balanced ailerons, two o f the three engines driving tractor propellers and located at the front of twin fuselages attached to the lower wings, and the third engine driving a pusher propeller at the rear of a central nacelle, which also accommodated the pilots and front gunner; the latter was also the bomb aimer. Each engine was provided with a large rectangular radiator mounted above it.
Two midships gunners were also carried, in a mistaken belief that importance would be attached to a significant gun defence to the rear, whereas the Air Ministry seldom placed much emphasis on such a defence in night bombers. One gunner was located in each of the fuselages aft of the wing, and was provided with a Scarff ring. The biplane tail unit featured three fins and rudders, the outer surfaces being situated at the rear of each fuselage, the large triangular fins extending forward of the sternposts to which the rudders were hinged; the tailplanes were mounted one below the rear of the fuselages and the other several inches clear of the top of the fins; horn-balanced elevators were hinged to each, and each fuselage was fitted with a sprung tailskid.
Uncertainty surrounding delivery of the Liberty engines in the late summer of 1918 resulted in recourse being made to three 270hp Sunbeam Maori engines, with the result that the Ganymede was inevitably underpowered, and it is doubtful whether the aircraft ever carried a bomb load. The Maoris were enclosed in square-section cowlings, neatly faired to the contours of large spinners fitted over the four-blade propellers; the overall effect was, however, marred by huge exhaust stacks extending upwards from the branch-manifolds to direct the exhaust gases over the upper wing - so as to pass well clear of the midships gunners. The undercarriage comprised four mainwheels arranged in separate pairs, one under each fuselage, and each with its own crossaxle. The wheel-mounting V-struts, incorporating oleos, were very short, and it is clear from photographs that the pilot would need to be very careful not to raise the tail too high during take-off, to avoid grounding the propellers.
Three prototypes of this fairly large bomber, C3481-C3483, were ordered, and C3481 was completed before the end of 1918, although it may not have been flown until early in 1919. In any event flight trials went ahead as it was particularly important that Grahame-White received the contracted payment when so many production contracts were being summarily cancelled - including the second and third Ganymedes.
Unfortunately C3481 suffered some damage in a forced landing when it dug its nose into soft ground. Either then, or shortly after, the Air Ministry notified Grahame-White that it would not be purchasing the Ganymede and, in an effort to recoup some of the financial loss, the company determined to examine the feasibility of modifying C3481 as a commercial aircraft, removing the centre engine altogether and rebuilding the nacelle as a long, glazed cabin capable of accommodating twelve passengers. The remaining Maoris were replaced by two 450hp Napier Lion engines, and the aircraft received its Certificate of Airworthiness on 12 September 1919, being re-registered G-EAMW - only to be destroyed by fire twelve months later.
Type: Three-engine (two tractor and one pusher), five-crew, four-bay biplane heavy night bomber.
Manufacturer: The Grahame-White Aviation Co Ltd, Hendon, London NW9.
Powerplant: Three 270hp Sunbeam Maori twelve-cylinder water-cooled engines (two tractor engines located at forward end of outboard fuselages, and one pusher engine at rear of central nacelle). Later two tractor 450hp Napier Lion engines (in commercial conversion).
Dimensions: Span, 89ft 3in; length, 49ft 9in; height, 16ft 0in; wing area, 1,660 sq ft.
Weights: Tare, 11,500 lb; all-up, 16,000 lb.
Performance: Max speed, 105 mph at sea level, 93 mph at 10,000ft; endurance, 9 hr.
Armament: Three 0.303in Lewis machine guns with Scarff rings, one in nose of central nacelle, and one amidships in each outboard fuselage; details of bomb load not recorded.
Prototype: C3481, first flown late in 1918 or early 1919. Two others, C3482 and C3983, ordered, but cancelled. No production.
H.King Armament of British Aircraft (Putnam)
Ganymede. Designed before the Armistice for long-range day bombing, and completed during 1918/19, this three-engined biplane was laid out to provide effective defensive firepower, which its intended mission would obviously demand. In the nose of the central nacelle was the bomb-aimer's station, with windows, and a gunner at a Scarff ring-mounting, and there were similar gun mountings dorsally placed on each of the two fuselages. In the bottom of each fuselage was a hatch, affording downward and rearward protection, but further details of defensive armament and bomb load are unknown.
Jane's All The World Aircraft 1919
This machine was designed prior to the signing of the Armistice, as a long-range day bomber
It is of the twin fuselage, three engine type, two motors, one in the front of each fuselage driving tractor air screws, and a third, in the rear end of a central nacelle, driving a pusher air screw.
Particulars of dimensions are given in the following table:
Fitted with three 270 h.p. Sunbeam "Maori" motors.
Type of machine Twin fuselage, three-engined.
Name or type No. of machine "Ganymede."
Purpose for which intended Day Bomber.
Span 89 ft. 3 in.
Gap, maximum and minimum 9 ft. 3 In.
Overall length 49 ft. 9 in.
Maximum height 16 ft.
Chord 10 ft. 3 in.
Total surface of wings 1,660 sq. ft.
Span of tail 29 sq. ft.
Total area of tail 254 sq. ft.
Area of elevators 114 sq. ft.
Area of rudders 50 sq.ft.
Area of fin 30 sq. It.
Area of each aileron and total area 200 sq. ft.
Engine type and h.p. 3 Sunbeam "Maori" 270 h.p. each.
Airscrew, diam., pitch and revs 3.140 diam., 2.570 pitch, 1,050 r.p.m.
Weight of machine empty 11,500 lbs.
Load per sq. ft. fully loaded 9.65 lbs. sq. ft.
Weight per h.p. fully loaded 19.7 lbs. h.p.
Tank capacity in hours 9 hours at 10,000 feet.
Tank capacity in gallons 400 gallons.
Speed low down 105 m.p.h.
Speed at 10.000 feet 93 m.p.h.
Landing speed 52 m.p.h.
Disposable load apart from fuel 3,100 lbs.
Total weight of machine loaded 16,000 lbs.
The makers state that the machine had been designed for 3-400. h.p. Liberty engines, which would have increased the speed to 120 miles per hour.