A.Jackson Blackburn Aircraft since 1909 (Putnam)
Blackburn White Falcon
Very few technical and historical details of the Blackburn White Falcon monoplane have survived and little is known of it apart from the fact that it was built for the personal use of the firm's test pilot W. Rowland Ding.
A photograph taken inside the Olympia works showing it under construction at the same time as the two A.D. Scout biplanes fixes the date as mid-1915, and comparison with an adjoining Blackburn-built B.E.2c shows that the machine used the B.E.2c undercarriage and tail skid. Otherwise it bore a striking resemblance to the float-equipped Type I derivative which preceded it and which Ding flew at Windermere. Like this machine, it was powered by a 100 hp Anzani radial driving a 9-ft diameter four-bladed airscrew and carried the pilot's monogram on the rudder. It used the same type of mainplane, one foot greater in span, and rigged and warped from the same type of pylon. It also had the same curved decking over a 30-gallon fuel tank and the same deep, roomy cockpits, but there the similarity ended because the fuselage, like those of most Blackburn aircraft subsequent to the Type I, was of square instead of triangular section.
Unlike the wire-braced structure of the B.E.2c, the fuselage of the White Falcon was typically Blackburn and took the form of a precision-built Warren girder with wooden diagonal members secured by plywood 'biscuits'. The top of the rudder continued upwards as a rearward projection of the line of the fin, and all struts were this time of wide-chord streamlined section. The engine exhaust collector ring was removed during the early part of the aircraft's career. It is doubtful if it ever flew with the B.E.2c main undercarriage; this was replaced by a neat, wire-braced structure without skids, but the bungee-sprung tail skid and its supporting pyramid of steel tubes was plainly a standard B.E.2c assembly. During the early stages of construction, the flying controls were grouped in the front cockpit but seem to have been repositioned in the rear before the machine flew.
There is no definite information as to why a one-off type of this kind should have been constructed during a major war but it is significant that in the few photographs of the machine which exist it is invariably shown outside the little wooden hangar at Soldiers' Field, Roundhay Park, or by the park's distinctive iron railings. With so many B.E.2c aircraft to be test flown at Soldiers' Field, it is probable that the White Falcon was intended as a communications aircraft in which Ding could liaise with RNAS stations to which Blackburn-built B.E.2cs had been delivered and as a means of returning the firm's ferry pilots to base. Later in its career the machine had the exhaust collector ring replaced and was painted up in Service roundels with the name White Falcon on the engine cowlings, but it did not receive a military serial number.
SPECIFICATION AND DATA
Manufacturers: The Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd, Olympia Works, Roundhay Road, Leeds, Yorks.
Power Plant: One 100 hp Anzani
Span 39 ft 6 in Length 26 ft 11 1/4 in
Wing area 209 sq ft
Production: One aircraft only, built 1915.