F.Manson British Bomber Since 1914 (Putnam)
The product of a gifted young man, Chessborough J H Mackenzie-Kennedy, the Giant was of impressive proportions, but of doubtful structural integrity and badly underpowered. As an eighteen-year-old and with three pounds in his pocket, Kennedy had left England for Russia, convinced of aviation's future and, in particular, the potential of very large aeroplanes. In 1908 he completed the design of Russia's first aeroplane, and formed the Kennedy Aeronautic Company the following year. Becoming associated with Igor Sikorskii in 1911, he was involved in the design of the first Sikorskii four-engine biplanes before returning to England on the outbreak of war.
Kennedv discussed his ideas for very large aeroplanes with the War Office, by which he was promised support, and established his design office at 102 Cromwell Road, South Kensington, together with T W K Clarke, G C McClaughlin and E A Vessey.
The fruits of this encouragement were the Giant, whose manufacture was undertaken by the Gramophone Company Ltd and the Fairey Aviation Co Ltd, both of Hayes, Middlesex. Final assembly took place at Hendon but, owing to its great size, the aircraft had to be erected in the open. The four-bay, unstaggered wings spanned 142 feet; ailerons were fitted to the upper wings only, their control rods extending along the top of the leading edge, and the wing overhang being braced by pairs of outraked struts. The four engines, mounted in tandem pairs in nacelles on the lower wings, were very early British-built examples of the Canton-Unne/Salmson Z9 nine-cylinder water-cooled radials, each of which was provided with a pair of large vertical radiators on the sides of the nacelles.
The fuselage, of singularly bizarre appearance, was of rectangluar section over its entire length and tapered towards the tail only in plan. It provided fully-enclosed accommodation for the crew, the pilot being situated in the extreme nose, with individual compartmented cabins aft. The tail surfaces were clearly of inadequate area, the tiny rudder (later enlarged) being unbalanced and without a fixed fin. The undercarriage was an extraordinarily complicated structure of multiple V-struts and skids. One is left to conjecture that the bomb load would have been suspended beneath the aeroplane, though exactly where it is difficult to imagine.
Supply of the Sunbeam engines, manufactured under licence by the Dudbridge Iron Works Ltd of Stroud, were afforded very low priority (and were not subject of official trials until May 1919). Early examples were rated at only 200hp and, with these, the Giant was made ready for flight at Hendon late in 1917. This power proved insufficient to gain true flight, and despite being taxied at full throttle downhill, the pilot, Lieut Frank Courtney, only managed to lift the mainwheels off the ground for a short hop with the tailskid still dragging along the ground.
Although no further attempts were made to fly the Giant, Kennedy was not discouraged from designing a second, smaller version, and construction was underway at the works of John Dawson & Co Ltd, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in 1920 when the venture was abandoned owing to financial failure.
Type: Four-engine (two tractor, two pusher), three-crew, four-bay biplane bomber.
Manufacturers: Fairey Aviation Co Ltd, and the Gramophone Co Ltd, both of Hayes, Middlesex, to the design of Kennedy Aeroplanes Ltd, South Kensington, London W.7
Powerplant: Four 200hp Canton-Unne Salmson Z9 nine-cylinder water-cooled radial engines driving two tractor and two pusher two-blade propellers.
Dimensions: Span, 142ft 0in; length, 80ft 0in; height, 23ft 6in.
Weight: Tare, 19,000 lb.
Performance: No true flight achieved.
Prototype: One, No 2337. One partial flight made by Lieut Frank T Courtney late in 1917.
H.King Armament of British Aircraft (Putnam)
Giant. No armament was ever fitted to this great biplane (142 ft span) of 1916, but mention is warranted because of the designer's earlier association with Igor Sikorsky (see under Handley Page V/1500) and the clear intention to install a tail turret, as betokened by the depth of rear fuselage. The following item in The Aeroplane of 28 February, 1923, is relevant:
'On Feb. 21 the trustee in bankruptcy of Mr Chessborough J. Mackenzie Kennedy, the author of the famous super-Sikorsky which has so long decorated or disfigured (according to taste) the landscape at Northolt, sued the Air Council in respect of the rights to use the idea of a gun-pit in the tail of an aeroplane. The Plaintiff alleged that the War Office agreed with one Hamilton Edwards to take an aeroplane designed by Mr. Kennedy, having a gun-pit in the tail and engines mounted on the wings... It was further alleged that in the autumn of 1917 the Air Board lent their designing and technical staff to Handley Page Ltd., who disclosed to that firm Kennedy's confidential reports and that the Handley Page V/1500, which had a gun-pit in the tail, was the result. Mr. Frederick Handley Page applied for a patent for the tail gun-pit on March 15, 1918, and Mr Kennedy applied for a patent on March 16.'
The action was dismissed.
The ultimate layout as planned by Kennedy was remarkably advanced. In the nose of the fuselage was a gun position, and there was an enclosed flight deck immediately behind. A second gun position was on top of the fuselage aft of the wings, and behind the tail (which had twin fins and rudders) was the controversial 'gun-pit'. The designer schemed for this position a kind of cushion, which could be arranged to act as a knee-pad or seat, according to the direction in which the gunner was firing. Two guns were planned for this station, but Kennedy was mindful of the weight problems involved and spoke of extending the nose accordingly.
Careful attention was likewise paid to the bomb installation. Each bomb was to be carried vertically, nose-down, by a pair of arms, pivoted laterally at one end and formed with interlocking cups at the other end to hold the nose of the bomb. The arms were to be controlled through selector gear, associated with an indicator, in the form of a figured drum, which showed the number of bombs dropped or still held.
Jane's All The World Aircraft 1919
Mr. Kennedy was one of the pioneers of aviation in Russia, and was largely concerned with the development of the Sikorsky biplane.
Returning to England soon after the outbreak of War, he was responsible for the design of the machine illustrated herewith, which was built by the Gramophone Company, Ltd., at their works at Hayes, and was erected in the open at Northolt Aerodrome, there being no shed in the country sufficiently large to house it.
The machine was equipped with 4-200 h.p. British-built Salmson engines, as the only ones which the authorities would issue, and the power was inadequate for more than straight flights.
The following are the leading dimensions:
Span 142 ft.
Chord 10 ft.
Gap 10 ft.
Overall length 80 ft.
Maximum height 23 ft 6 in.
Weight of machine empty 19,000 lbs.
Engine type and h.p. 4-200 h.p. Salmson.