M.Goodall, A.Tagg British Aircraft before the Great War (Schiffer)
Deleted by request of (c)Schiffer Publishing
P.Lewis British Aircraft 1809-1914 (Putnam)
Short S.41 Hydro-biplane
The S.41 was a two-seat tractor hydro-biplane produced by Short Brothers in 1912. The original machine appeared early in the year as a landplane, but was soon fitted with twin floats and was tested successfully by Cdr. C. R. Samson, R.N. The machine was the progenitor of the numerous types of Short twin-float tractor seaplanes which were later to render such valuable service in the conflict which lay only two years ahead.
The prototype S.41 was fitted with single-step twin main floats, and three smaller auxiliary floats of the air-bag type were mounted on the wings and at the tail. As the machine was without a fin, the balanced rudder was braced to the fuselage by a forward strut. All of the flying surfaces were of very square-cut appearance, and the lower centre-section was left uncovered. The fuselage was mounted part of the way up the centre-section struts, leaving a gap between itself and the lower wings. The fuselage was a simple structure of rectangular section, and was without the refinement of decking along the top surface.
The machine was demonstrated at the Review of the Fleet held at Weymouth on 8th May. 1912, and was flown extensively by Cdr. C. R. Samson, who used it in June of that year to transmit wireless messages from the air to the ground, achieving a range of up to 10 miles. Late in 1912 the serial number 10 was bestowed upon the original S.41.
In the light of experience with No. 10 the next two S.41s were altered in several respects, and reached the Naval Wing of the R.F.C. during 1913. As with the original S.41, the new versions were fitted with the 100 h.p. Gnome engine. They were given the numbers 20 and 21, the former going into service in May. Double-acting ailerons replaced the former single-acting type, and king-posts and wire-bracing were used instead of struts to the upper-wing extensions. The new floats were without steps, and the wing floats had been moved outboard to the tips from their mid-wing position. In addition to the pilot, it was possible to carry two passengers in the rear cockpit.
During its first month of operation No. 20 was equipped with the lightweight Rouzet wireless transmitter and was flown by Sub.-Lt. J. T. Babington, R.N., in experiments from the Isle of Grain. Difficulty had been experienced in beaching seaplanes without damaging their floats, and Lt.-Cdr. R. Gregory, R.N., Eng.-Lt. E. W. Riley, R.N., and Mr. White, an official employed at Chatham Dockyard, set to work to devise a suitable method of obviating the trouble. Their remedy consisted of releasable pairs of wheels on the main floats together with a single wheel on the tail float, which enabled the aircraft to taxi into the water and out of it again when the wheels were in position. The originators used their initials to name the apparatus the G.R.W. wheel float attachment. The S.41 No. 20 was employed to test the gear early in 1914. During their service with the Naval Wing of the R.F.C. the S.41s operated from the Naval Air Stations at Great Yarmouth and Eastchurch.
Description: Two-seat tractor hydro-biplane. Wooden structure, fabric covered.
Manufacturers: Short Brothers, Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey, Kent.
Power Plant: 100 h.p. Gnome.
Dimensions: Span, 50 ft. Length, 39 ft. Height, 11 ft. 9 ins.
Weights: Empty, 1,100 lb.
Performance: Maximum speed, 60 m.p.h. Endurance, 5 hrs.
O.Thetford British Naval Aircraft since 1912 (Putnam)
Developed from Short S.41 (No.10) which first appeared early in 1912 as a landplane; later it was fitted with floats and was flown in the Review of the Fleet at Weymouth on 8 May 1912. An improved version (No.20, illustrated) entered service at Great Yarmouth in July 1913 and took part in the Naval Review of that year. No.20 remained in service on North Sea patrols until June 1915. It was used in early wireless experiments. One 100 hp twin-row Gnome engine. Maximum speed, 60 mph. Span, 50 ft. Length, 39 ft.
H.King Armament of British Aircraft (Putnam)
A fact of the greatest interest in the present context, and one which seems to have eluded historians hitherto, is that the famous S.41 was fitted with a machine-gun and was the first British naval aircraft to be so armed. Thus, Shorts may claim yet a fourth type of pioneering armament development aircraft. In 1930 Cdr Sampson declared:
'It was in 1912 that we made our first seaplane, known first as Hydro-aeroplane H 1 and later as Short No.10.... She was an historic machine. I used her from March 1912 till the war came and never broke a piece of wood in her. I flew her in the Army manoeuvres of 1912 took her to Scotland by train for submarine experiments at Scapa Flow, used her for similar work at Harwich, and made the seaplane duration flight with her from Sheerness to Portsmouth. She was the first machine to which folding wings were fitted and the first from which a machine gun was fired'.
Samson added that the gun was a 0.45-in Maxim.
Jane's All The World Aircraft 1913
SHORT BROS. Works and flying grounds: Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey, Kent. London office: Queen's Circus, Battersea Park. Took up construction at a very early date. Wright agents in 1909. Have built numerous biplanes and monoplanes to specifications. Produced their own first machine (see 1911 edition) in 1910.
S 41. 1913. Hydro Biplane.
80 h.p. 100 h.p. 160 h.p.
2-seater. 2-seater. 4-seater.
Length...............feet(m.) 35 (10.67) 39 (11.90) 45 (13.70)
Span.................feet(m.) 40 (13.70) 50 (15.25) 50 (15.25)
Area............sq.feet (m?.) 390 (36) ... ...
Weight, machine.....lbs.(kg.) 1200 (545) 1700 (764) 2000 (09)
useful......lbs.(kg.) 771 (350) ... ...
Motor....................h.p. 80 Gnome 100 Gnome 160 Gnome
Speed, max...........(m.p.h.) 65 (105) 60 (97) 74 (120)
min...........(m.p.h.) 50 (80) 50 (80) 56 (90)
Endurance................hrs. 4 5 6
Number built during 1912 ... ... ...
Remarks.--Floats are two long pontoons. Subsidiary floats at tips of
lower plane, Small tail float with water rudder. W.-t. compartments to floats. Tandem seated, pilot in front. The observer's seat can accommodate two if necessary.
Flight, May 11, 1912.
Naval Aeroplanes at the Review.
THE battleship "Hibeinia," which, as we mentioned in our last issue had been fitted in the bows with a launching platform and had four aeroplanes on board, duly arrived at Portland to act as mother ship to the aquaplanes during the Naval Review. Three of the machines were landed on the 3rd inst., and Commander Samson immediately tested "H.M.S. 'Amphibian,'" officially supplied as Short No. 41, which had been fitted with three torpedo-shaped floats thus converting it into a hydro-biplane. He got away from the beat-slip in front of the hangar at Portland, circled round the Fleet at anchor, and then returned to his starting point. He made three trips on the following day on this machine, in one of which he was accompanied as passenger by Admiral Callaghan's daughter, when Capt. Gerrard and Lieuts. Grey and Longmore were also flying over Ike Fleet. Lieut. Grey was up over two hours on the Deperdussin.
On Monday, the ships in the harbour moved out to meet the remainder of the Fleet so that they might all come in together and as a preliminary to the flight to be carried out late in the week, Commander Samson flew out on his hydroaeroplane to escort them in. The fleet was met about twelve miles out at sea, and Commander Samson then returned to Portland, circling over the harbour once or twice before alighting on the water, just by his shed. Earlier in the morning he had been flying the Short monoplane at Lodmoor, where the other naval aviators had been practising. Besides the Short machines there is also a Deperdussin and a Nieuport. In the afternoon Lieut. Gregory made a long flight over the Fleet on an ordinary Short biplane.
Flight, May 18, 1912.
THE NAVAL REVIEW AND THE AVIATORS.
THE feats performed by the naval aviator, during the King's review of his ships, must have convinced the Naval authorities, if they needed any convincing, of the practical stage attained by aviation, and also that the Navy does not lack officers who are quite competent to rank with any aviators in the world. Although the conditions were far from ideal, yet the flyers were able to carry out their arrangements, even although other portions of the programme had to be abandoned. As soon as word was received on Wednesday of last week, that the Royal yacht was within a dozen miles of Admiral Callaghan's flagship, intimation was given to Commander Samson and the other aviators, and all four at once set off to find the "Victoria and Albert," Commander Samson starting from Portland on H.M.S. "Amphibian," and Lieut. Gregory on the Short biplane, Lieut. Longmore on the Deperdussin and Captain Gerrard on the Nieuport, followed one another in quick succession from Lodmore. All were quickly swallowed up in the fog, and the first to actually find the Royal Yacht was Commander Samson who, after circling above it, returned to his headquarters, having been in the air about an hour. Lieut. Gregory, Lieut. Longmore, and Capt. Gerrard also circled above the yacht, the first named during a flight which lasted 1 hr. 10 mins.
A further display was given in the afternoon, when Commander Samson took up a naval officer tearing a letter for the King. The waterplane came down on the sea alongside the Royal Yacht, and the messenger was taken off in a dinghy. Alter the machine had been resting on the sea for some time, it was restarted and carried out several manoeuvres before returning to its shed. In the meantime, Lieut. Gregory appeared at a safe distance from the Royal Yacht and discharged a dummy bomb, weighing 300 lbs. from a height of 500 ft. While manoeuvring over H.M.S. "Neptune," Lieut. Gregory detected a submarine which was submerged to its periscope, and, by way of diversion, suddenly swooped down until he was within 20 ft of the sea, a manoeuvre which created a good deal of speculation. Lieut. Longmore and Capt. Gerrard were likewise out on their machines in the afternoon, and Mr. Grahame-White on a Nieuport, and Mr. Hucks on a Bleriot, both of whom had brought machines down specially, were also flying over the Bay. On the following day the fog made havoc of the arrangements, and the only flying accomplished was in the evening, when Commander Samson on the Short biplane, which had been piloted by Lieut. Gregory, took off from the special launching platform erected on H.M.S. "Hibernia." The machine rose easily, and flew round the bay before landing at Lodmore. On Friday the operations were concluded by Commander Samson making a trip round the fleet on a waterplane, while Lieut. Gregory flew the other Short biplane. On returning to Lodmore this machine was run down to the beach and placed on a raft, which was towed to the "Hibernia."
Lieut. Longmore, on the other hand, forthwith set out to fly the Deperdussin back to Brooklands, while Capt. Gerratd's Nieuport had its wings taken oft and packed up to be returned to Eastchurch.
Commander Samson had the honour of being included among the naval officers who dined with the King on the Royal Yacht in the evening.