A.Jackson Blackburn Aircraft since 1909 (Putnam)
Blackburn Single-Seat Monoplane
On 19 October 1912 Mr Cyril E. Foggin qualified for Aviator's Certificate No. 349 on a Bleriot monoplane of the Eastbourne Aviation Co and soon afterwards placed an order with Robert Blackburn for a private aeroplane. This was a single-seat monoplane built of selected English ash, fabric-covered and powered by a 50 hp Gnome rotary. It was smaller, more compact and streamlined than the Mercury but retained the triangular-section fuselage and wire-braced, square-cut warping wing which was rectangular in planform with I-section spars machined out of straight-grained ash over which were slipped silver spruce ribs with cottonwood flanges. The fabric was held in place by a beading of split cane along each rib. The mainplane was braced to the undercarriage by three flying wires and also to the top of a central pylon which also carried the pulleys for the upper warping cable.
External features which gave the new single-seater a modern appearance were the curved top-decking, the aluminium-plated front fuselage, the one-piece rudder with divided elevator, and the simplified, two-wheel, bungee-sprung undercarriage. For the first time in a Blackburn aeroplane the rudder was operated by a foot bar, and a small, universally mounted, wing-warping wheel was situated on top of the control column. From the pilot's point of view a most disconcerting feature was a crossbar, joining the root ends of the rear wing-spar, which clamped across his lap after he had taken his seat.
The machine was completed with commendable speed and first flew unpainted, in the hands of Harold Blackburn, at the end of 1912. Its rate of climb was a marked improvement on that of its predecessors, and the machine appeared for the first time in public at Lofthouse Park, Leeds, on Good Friday, 21 March 1913, when Blackburn began ten days of demonstration flying which included circuits of Wakefield. The owner, Cyril Foggin, flew it for the first time on Easter Monday, 24 March, and was airborne for 20 min. Exhaust fumes and hot oil, when thrown back into the cockpit do not make for safe and enjoyable flying, and after a few flights the rather abbreviated engine cowling was extended down to the line of the top longerons.
Further demonstration flying with Harold Blackburn at the controls then took place at Lofthouse Park (later known as the Yorkshire Aerodrome) at intervals until the end of May. Cross-country flights were also made to Stamford on 2 and 3 April, when he dropped 2,500 leaflets from 1,200 ft. With the aid of map and compass - one of the earliest attempts at accurate navigation - he flew to Harrogate on 29 April and landed on the Stray in front of the Queen's Hotel, having covered the 18 miles in as many minutes and reached a height of 4,000 ft en route. Finally, on 23, 24 and 25 July, he made daily newspaper flights between Leeds and York to deliver bundles of the Yorkshire Post.
The original hooked undercarriage skids were later replaced by the more usual and less lethal hockey stick variety, and a new mainplane with rounded tips similar to that used on its two-seat derivative, the Type I, was also fitted. Foggin then sold the machine to Montague F. Glew, whom he had met at the Blackburn School, Hendon, earlier in the year. Glew, who on 4 February 1913 had qualified on a Blackburn Mercury for Aviator's Certificate No. 410, flew and eventually crashed the ex-Foggin machine on his father's farm at Wittering, Lines., adjacent to the site of the present RAF aerodrome.
Reconstruction began by cutting 18 in off the fuselage longerons behind the engine bearer plate and this has been interpreted as a C.G. adjustment consistent with an attempt to install a heavier and more powerful engine, but such a scheme was never mentioned by M. F. Glew.
When war came later in 1914, the components were stored in a farm building, where they were discovered by the late R. O. Shuttleworth almost a quarter of a century later, in 1938. Several of the major airframe assemblies were lying under hay but all were collected together and conveyed to the Shuttleworth headquarters at Old Warden Aerodrome, Biggleswade, Beds. The dismantled Gnome engine and parts of a second were found in a barrel, but during the very considerable work of restoration (including the re-insertion of the missing 18-inch fuselage bay) it was decided to fit a 'new' engine. This was the 50 hp Gnome No. 683 which had formerly powered the single-seat Sopwith Type SL.T.B.P. biplane, Harry Hawker's 1914-18 war personal transport. This engine bore the date stamp 6.8.1916 and was sold to R. O. Shuttleworth by Mr R. C. Shelley of Billericay, Essex, who had owned the SL.T.B.P. for a time in 1926.
Work was held up by the outbreak of the 1939-45 war, and it is a tribute to the patience and skill of the Shuttleworth engineers, led by the indefatigable Sqn Ldr L. A. Jackson, that when the work was eventually completed the monoplane flew very well despite the low power output of the old Gnome engine. All the secondary structure of the mainplane, the fittings and wing tip bends are the originals, but new mainspars were made and fitted. The old engine cowlings, quite unserviceable, were replaced by replicas but, apart from this, a few small wooden members and the fabric, all the rest of the structure remains just as it was in 1913.
The first post-restoration flight was made by Air Commodore (then Grp Capt) A. H. Wheeler at Henlow on 17 September 1949 and by 1966 the Blackburn Single-Seat Monoplane had completed 10 hrs in the air. During two decades it has flown in public on many occasions, one of the first being the RAE At Home of 25 September 1949 when Air Commodore Wheeler made three very successful circuits of Farnborough. It performed well in the hands of Sqn Ldr Gordon Banner at the RAF Display, Farnborough, on 7-8 July 1950 and at the RAeS Garden Party, White Waltham, on 6 May 1951. More recently it posed alongside the latest Blackburn Buccaneer strike-fighter at Holme-on-Spalding Moor on 16 April 1962, to mark the 50th anniversary of military aviation, and at Booker among sundry replica aircraft of the period during the filming of 'Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines'. Built well over 50 years ago, it is the earliest British design in the Shuttleworth Collection and the oldest flyable British aircraft. For this reason it is regrettable that there is no record of its Blackburn type letter, the brass plate on its dashboard which reads Type B No. 725 being completely meaningless in any Blackburn context.
SPECIFICATION AND DATA
Manufacturers: The Blackburn Aeroplane Co, Balm Road, Leeds, Yorks.
Power Plant: One 50 hp Gnome
Span 32 ft 1 in Length 26 ft 3 in
Height 8 ft 9 in Wing area 256 sq ft
Weights: Tare weight 550 lb. All-up weight 980 lb
Performance: Maximum speed 60 mph Endurance 21-3 hr
Production: One aircraft only, first flown at Leeds March 1913; crashed at Wittering 1914; rebuilt by the Shuttleworth Trust 1938-47; preserved in airworthy condition at Old Warden, Beds.
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)
Blackburn Single-seat Monoplane
The evolution of the Blackburn series of monoplanes was carried a stage further with the building in 1912 of a single-seater for Cyril Foggin, who qualified for his Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate No. 349 on a Bleriot Monoplane at Eastbourne on 29th October, 1912. The general layout of the Mercury was retained in the new machine, but the appearance and performance were improved in many ways. A wooden airframe covered with fabric was used, apart from the front portion of the triangular fuselage, which was sheeted in aluminium as far aft as the rear wall of the cockpit. One of the most noticeable of the alterations was the change to a one-piece rudder and divided elevators. The low aspect-ratio fin was braced strongly to the tailplane and through to the fuselage. A two-wheel main landing-gear was adopted and mounted on a simpler arrangement than hitherto of wooden struts and hooked skids. Wings of parallel chord were fitted, with warping rather than ailerons still favoured for lateral control.
After taking delivery early in 1913, Foggin, accompanied by Harold Blackburn, gave exhibition flights in the Leeds area at Easter. The under-carriage was modified shortly afterwards so that the hooked skids were replaced by a straight pair with simple upturned ends. The cowling over the 50 h.p. Gnome engine was extended so that it reached down to the thrust-line, affording better protection to the pilot from the oil and exhaust gases blown back from the engine than did the original very small covering. Fabric covers were a refinement added to the wheel spokes. The machine then passed into the hands of Montague F. Glew, who had taken h is Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate No. 410 on a Blackburn monoplane at
Hendon on 4th February, 1913. He crashed his acquisition on his father's farm at Wittering, Lincs., and it was stored there until it was acquired by the Shuttleworth Trust in 1937. The machine was rebuilt, and is now housed with the Collection at Old Warden Aerodrome, Beds. It is still capable of flying nearly fifty years after it was constructed, and is occasionally seen in the air at flying shows.
Description: Single-seat tractor monoplane. Wooden structure, fabric covered.
Manufacturers: Blackburn Aeroplane Co., Balm Road, Leeds, Yorkshire.
Power Plant: 50 h.p. Gnome.
Dimensions: Span, 35 ft. 8 ins. Length, 26 ft. 3 ins. Height, 8 ft. 9 ins. Wing area, 236 sq. ft.
Weights: Empty, 550 lbs. Loaded, 800 lb.
Performance: Maximum speed, 60 m.p.h. Endurance, 2.5 to 3 hrs.
Flight, March 29, 1913.
FROM THE BRITISH FLYING GROUNDS.
The Blackburn at Leeds.
DURING Easter week Mr. Harold Blackburn has been giving exhibition flights at Leeds. On Good Friday and Saturday he made several ascents on Mr. Foggin's new 50-h.p. Gnome-Blackburn, rising on one occasion to a big altitude. This machine climbs exceedingly quickly and shows a speed of about 60 m.p.h. At noon on Monday Mr. Blackburn made his first ascent, flying around Wakefield and the surrounding country. During the whole afternoon flying was in progress, no less than seven ascents being made by Mr. Blackburn. The final flight was made by Mr. Foggin, who mounted his machine for the first time, and made a splendid flight of nearly 20 mins. duration. He rose to a good altitude, and handled his machine in such excellent style that one could hardly believe that this was his first flight on this type of machine. On Tuesday afternoon Mr. Blackburn made a long flight on Mr. Foggin's machine. He made some very fine banked turns with his usual skill, finishing off with a neat vol plane. The flights were witnessed by hundreds of spectators, who were very enthusiastic in showing their appreciation of the flights of Mr. Blackburn and Mr. Foggin.
Flight, May 3, 1913.
MR. HAROLD BLACKBURN, flying a new type 50-h.p. Blackburn monoplane, left on Tuesday, last week, the Yorkshire Aerodrome, near Wakefield, at 1.34 p.m., for Harrogate. When he reached Leeds he had the town on his left, and was then flying beautifully at an altitude of 2,000 ft. The machine was fitted with map and compass, and Mr. Blackburn made a perfect course for the Queen's Hotel, in front of the Stray, at Harrogate - the ground used for alighting in the Circuit of Britain. He had never been to Harrogate before, but he arrived exactly at the appointed place at 1.52, about the time expected. The distance is some 18 miles. When he arrived over the Stray, he was flying at all 4,000 ft. altitude, and made a very fine spiral glide down, landing just in front of the Queen's Hotel. The descent took 5 minutes.
Unfortunately when he was about to make the return journey, owing to the enormous crowd which had collected on the Stray, he had the misfortune to smash the machine before getting away. Mr. Blackburn was, however, not hurt in the slightest, although greatly disappointed, as this was his first smash.
Flight, August 2, 1913.
BRITISH NOTES OF THE WEEK.
Mr. H. Blackburn Carries Newspapers.
FOR some time, Mr. Harold Blackburn has been doing quite a lot of flying on his 50 h.p. Blackburn monoplane at Leeds, and on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of last week he carried a large bundle of the Yorkshire Evening Post from Leeds to York, landing at the ground of the Yorkshire Agricultural Show. On the first day he had to fight his way through a gale, as is shown by the fact that he took an hour for the trip, whereas on the two following days his time was 35 mins. Each day a large crowd gathered at York to welcome Mr. Blackburn, and needless to say the papers were eagerly sought after as souvenirs.