Blackburn Aircraft since 1909

A.Jackson - Blackburn Aircraft since 1909 /Putnam/

Blackburn Triplane

   While the batch of T.B. seaplanes was going through the Blackburn works, the firm was also engaged in the construction under contract of two examples of another anti-Zeppelin fighter, the A.D. Scout (later known as the Sparrow), designed by Harris Booth of the Air Department of the Admiralty. This aircraft was a heavily-staggered, single-bay biplane of extremely unorthodox appearance, built to meet an Admiralty requirement for a fighter built from commercially obtainable materials and which could be armed with the Davis two-pounder quick-fire recoilless gun. This lay in the bottom of a short, single-seat nacelle, the top longerons of which were bolted directly to the main spars of the upper wing. With the 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape rotary driving a 9-ft pusher airscrew behind his back, the pilot had a superlative view in nearly every direction.
   The aircraft's extraordinary appearance stemmed from the fact that the abnormally large mainplane gap was below instead of above the nacelle, and because the twin fins and rudders, no less than 11 ft apart, were mounted on two pairs of parallel outriggers and supported a vast tailplane of 21-ft span. A suitably bizarre undercarriage reversed the usual pattern, the three points of contact with terra firma being widely spaced skids under the fins and a pair of small wheels mounted close together centrally under the lower mainplane. In this respect it was similar to the Armstrong Whitworth F.K.12 triplane and the projected Bristol F.3A escort and anti-Zeppelin fighters, for it seems that Harris Booth believed in the 'pogo stick' type of landing gear as a means of simplifying cross-wind landings at night.
   Four prototype aircraft only were ordered, 1452 and 1453 from Hewlett and Blondeau Ltd of Leagrave, Beds., and two others, 1536 and 1537, from Blackburns. They were all delivered to RNAS Chingford, but being considerably above their estimated all-up weight and difficult to handle in the air, were scrapped.

   Manufacturers: The Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd, Olympia Works, Roundhay Road, Leeds, Yorks.
   Power Plant: One 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape
   Span 33 ft 5 in Length 22 ft 9 in
   Height 10 ft 3 in
   Performance: No confirmed details
   Four aircraft only, 1452 and 1453 by Hewlett and Blondeau Ltd; 1536 and 1537 by Blackburn, to Contract 38552 15
The first Blackburn-built A.D. Scout, 1536, at RNAS Chingford in 1915 with H. C. Watt in the cockpit.
The First Blackburn Monoplane

   As might have been expected, Robert Blackburn's first aeroplane, being the product of a trained engineering mind, was no stick and string freak. Highly original in concept, it was a wire-and-kingpost braced high-wing monoplane built for strength rather than for economy in weight and in consequence was referred to in later years as the Heavy Type Monoplane to distinguish it from its successor. The parallel-chord square-cut mainplane was bolted across a wooden, wire-braced rectangular box structure which ran on three pneumatic-tyred, rubber-sprung wire wheels, the front being mounted on cantilevers whose trailing ends formed (as an additional safety measure) two long flat skids. A wicker chair from father's garden was pressed into service as a pilot's seat and was mounted on the floor of the box on runners as a means of C.G. adjustment. A 35 hp Green water-cooled engine (one of Gustavus Green's four-cylinder masterpieces and owing nothing to the firm of Thomas Green) was mounted on the floor ahead of the pilot and cooled by two side radiators under the wing. It drove a slow running 8 ft 6 in diameter airscrew of Blackburn's own make through a strong 2 to 1 roller chain and sprocket reduction gear. The overhead airscrew shaft ran in bearings at the front end of a long Warren girder boom which carried a fixed tailplane and, at the extreme end, a cruciform, all-moving, non-lifting, Santos Dumont type empennage mounted on a universal joint.
   Not content to copy other experimenters, Blackburn dispensed with the feet for controlling direction, and fitted his patent 'triple steering column' consisting of a single car-type steering wheel which turned to operate the all-moving tail as a rudder, moved up and down when it functioned as an elevator and from side to side when warping the wings. He intended originally to fit his patented stability device in which a pendulum admitted air from an engine-driven compressor to one end or the other of a cylinder, according to which way the machine was banking, and an internal piston then operated the control surfaces so as to maintain straight and level flight. Although brilliantly anticipating the automatic pilot of the future, the device was not proceeded with and in any case would not have worked when the aeroplane was accelerating or decelerating.
   The designs having been completed in Paris in 1908, the aircraft was built quite rapidly in the small workshop at Benson Street, Leeds, with the assistance of Harry Goodyear, and in April 1909, and in the face of much scepticism, Blackburn began his trials along the wide stretch of sand between Marske-by-the-Sea and Saltburn on the northeast Yorkshire coast. Painstaking taxying trials continued at intervals and the occasional absence of tyre marks proved that short hops were being made, but the 35 hp Green gave insufficient power for sustained flight and Blackburn dismissed these attempts as 'sand scratching'.
   He had suspended such weighty items as engine, tanks and pilot, well below the mainplane in order to obtain a low C.G. position, but the disadvantages of such a pendulous arrangement were not immediately obvious and it was not until 24 May 1910 that he attempted a turn and paid the price. The aircraft sideslipped, dug in the port wing, skidded into a hole and threw the pilot from his seat.
   One wing was a write-off, the airscrew broken and the undercarriage twisted and there was no alternative but to take the aeroplane back to Benson Street. There work began on an entirely new design and when the works moved to larger premises in Balm Road, Leeds, the fuselage of the First Monoplane went too. Illustrations in the company's 1911 catalogue show it being dismantled in stages at the end of 1910 during the overhaul of two Bleriot monoplanes for the Northern Automobile Co Ltd and the construction of Robert Blackburn's second monoplane. For no obvious reason it also received a two page descriptive write-up as the firm's new Military Type, increased in span and length and 'specially built for speed, with seating accommodation under the mainplanes and possessing thereby the chief advantage of the biplane - that of an unobstructed view'. The historic but undoubtedly defunct aircraft was then declared eminently suitable for warlike purposes!
   Known as the '1909 Replica Group', enthusiastic Blackburn employees at the Brough works of Hawker Siddeley Aviation Ltd were preparing in 1966 to build a full-size replica for exhibition purposes.

   Construction: By Robert Blackburn and Harry Goodyear at Benson Street, Leeds, Yorks.
   Power Plant: One 35 hp Green
   (First Monoplane)
   Span 24 ft 0 in Length 23 ft 0 in
   Wing chord 6 ft 5 in Wing area 170 sq ft
   (Military project) Span 30 ft 0 in Length 26 ft 0 in
   Weights: All-up weight 800 lb
   Performance: Estimated maximum speed 60 mph
   Production: One aircraft only, completed September 1909, damaged beyond repair at Saltburn Sands 24 May 1910, dismantled at Balm Road, Leeds, about December 1910.
Robert Blackburn's First Monoplane in the workshop at Marske-by-the-Sea where it was housed between attempts to fly from the nearby sands, 1909-10.
Front view of the First Blackburn Monoplane on the sands at Marske in 1909.
The fuselage of the Second Monoplane under construction in the Benson Street works, with the partly dismantled First Monoplane behind.
First Blackburn Monoplane
The Second Blackburn Monoplane

   Although Robert Blackburn's second aeroplane bore a marked resemblance to M. Levavasseur's Antoinette monoplane which he had seen in France, so many detailed improvements were incorporated that the resemblance was purely superficial. It was a single-seat, fabric-covered, wooden monoplane with a square-ended, constant-chord mainplane wire-braced to a central kingpost at a considerable dihedral angle, and the fuselage was of triangular cross-section tapering rearwards from the pilot's seat.
   The 'triple steering column' was used again but the little all-moving tail was abandoned in favour of the Antoinette's long dorsal fin and its diminutive triangular rudders above and below the elevator. Blackburn also fitted an untried British engine of advanced design then being developed by R. J. Isaacson, a skilled engineer employed by the Hunslet Engine Co of Leeds. The Isaacson engine was a seven-cylinder air-cooled radial of 40 hp arranged so that valves and other working parts were readily accessible for maintenance, and its many novel features (for those days) included pushrod-operated overhead valves and a 2 to 1 reduction gear within the airscrew hub. Being a stationary unit there were none of the gyroscopic problems with which the rotary engine continually plagued designers and pilots alike.
   The development of such an engine inevitably took a long time, so that although Blackburn and Goodyear took the monoplane to the Blackpool Flying Meeting of 28 July - 20 August 1910, it could not participate because the engine was unfinished even though installed in the airframe. This was perhaps fortunate, for the undercarriage was so weak that the wing tips had to be supported with timber when in the hangar.
   In its original form the undercarriage consisted merely of a downward extension of the wooden kingpost which terminated in a socket carrying a tubular-steel cross-member. Two ash skids, with pneumatic-tyred wire wheels in forks at the rear ends, pivoted about this steel cross member, all landing shocks being taken by a powerful coil spring at the apex of a triangle of struts under the engine. However, after Blackpool, and while he was awaiting the completion of the engine, Blackburn added a stout pair of main undercarriage struts and refitted the wheels on an overlength axle to give a measure of sideways movement under the control of coiled springs. He then took the monoplane to a new stretch of sands on the Yorkshire coast at Filey, but the undercarriage was still unsatisfactory. The front struts with their central coiled spring were removed almost immediately and replaced by four skeins of bungee rubber connecting the ends of each skid via cables to the longerons of the fuselage.
   Not long after reaching Filey, the machine attracted the attention of B. C. Hucks who thereupon joined forces with Blackburn to try out the machine and, on Tuesday, 8 March 1911, taxied it for a distance of three miles along the sands before making the initial take-off. He then headed for Filey Brigg at a height of 30 ft and at an estimated speed of 50 mph, but in attempting a turn, always a hazardous manoeuvre when there is negligible difference between maximum speed and stalling speed, he sideslipped into the ground.
   After repairs the Second Monoplane flew well and saw a great deal of service as an instructional aircraft at Filey and established Robert Blackburn as one of the foremost British designers of the day.

   Construction: By R. Blackburn and H. Goodyear at Benson Street, Leeds, Yorks.
   Power Plant: One 40 hp Isaacson
   Dimensions: Span 30 ft 0 in Length 32 ft 0 in
   Weights: All-up weight 1,000 lb
   Performance: Maximum speed 60 mph
   Production: One aircraft only, completed July 1910, first flown at Filey 8 March 1911.

Blackburn Mercury

   The Mercury, Robert Blackburn's next aeroplane, was a larger, two-seat development of his Second Monoplane powered by a new 50 hp version of the Isaacson radial. It was built with the assistance of Harry Goodyear, Mark Swann and George Watson in large premises which Blackburn acquired in Balm Road, Leeds. Whereas the earlier machine (with which the Mercury is still frequently confused) had a two-wheeled undercarriage, the Mercury had four wheels mounted in pairs on short, bungee-sprung axles astride two long ash skids attached to the fuselage by a substantial wire-braced, 12-strut, multiple A frame calculated to resist the efforts of the most inexpert pupil. Steel springs projecting sideways under the axle were intended to counteract the effects of landing with drift.
   To make wire bracing unnecessary, the triangular-section lattice-work fuselage, also of English ash, was precision-built with vertical and diagonal struts butting accurately on the longerons. The forward part accommodated pilot and passenger in tandem and was planked with polished, veneered wood, but the tapering rear fuselage was fabric-covered.
   Constant-chord, shoulder-mounted mainplanes were built up from closely spaced ribs supported on two I-section ash main spars and two subsidiary spars. To reduce the stresses associated with wing warping the mainplane was pivoted about the rear spar and wire-braced to a kingpost built into the fuselage in line with the front spar. The patent 'triple steering column' was used again and the tail surfaces were similar to those of the second Blackburn monoplane, with the long dorsal fin, the 10 ft bird-like tailplane, and the one-piece semi-octagonal elevator moving between two small triangular rudders.
   The first Mercury (which for convenience will be referred to hereinafter as the Mercury I) was exhibited at the Olympia Aero Show during the last two weeks of March 1911 and then went to Filey to join the Blackburn Second Monoplane at the newly established Blackburn Flying School, where a new airscrew with wider blades was fitted. On 17 May B. C. Hucks flew it to Scarborough and back in 19 min, averaging 50 mph and reaching a height of 1,200 ft, the highest flight made in North England up to that time. Next day he flew the handling and height tests for his Aviator's Certificate, but differences of opinion between the Aero Club observers about the validity of doing both tests in the course of one flight led Hucks to make a second takeoff. Minutes later the airscrew sleeve overheated, seized up and broke, allowing the airscrew to fly off. Hucks received slight injuries when he sideslipped into the ground but nevertheless was granted Certificate No. 91, no mean achievement for a pilot who was entirely self-taught.
   In the repaired machine Hucks (by then the Filey School instructor) made several remarkable flights, notably a cross-country to Scarborough and back on 7 July and a 40 mile moonlight trip over the same route on 10 July. Leaving Filey at 10.10 pm he circled Bridlington, reached Scarborough without difficulty, nursed a failing engine which picked up when he was about to make a forced landing in a cornfield, and landed on the beach by the light of bonfires 45 min after take-off.
   Hubert Oxley who succeeded Hucks as the Filey School's instructor, flew Mercury I for the first time on 3 September 1911, and to give new pupils (one of whom was engine designer R. J. Isaacson) an opportunity of watching his control movements, the front passenger seat was turned round to face aft. The aircraft was also used for joyriding, as on 11 October when a local resident, Miss Cook, became the first lady passenger in Yorkshire.
   Robert Blackburn was now calling himself 'The Blackburn Aeroplane Co' and advertised the Mercury at ?825 with 50 hp Isaacson; ?925 with 50 hp Gnome; ?730 with 35 hp Green; and ?1,275 with 100 hp Isaacson. None was in fact ever fitted with the Green or the big Isaacson, the first of a production run of eight aircraft which appeared at intervals during the next couple of years being two single-seaters (referred to in this book as Mercury IIs), built for the Daily Mail ?10,000 Circuit of Britain contest, powered by 50 hp Gnome rotaries. They had reduced span and shorter fuselages, the space normally occupied by the front seat was faired over with fabric, and fuel and oil tanks were lowered partially into the fuselage and covered by a curved metal fairing to reduce drag.
   Both were entered for the contest by Stuart A. Hirst of the Yorkshire Aeroplane Club - racing No. 22 to be flown by F. Conway Jenkins and No. 27 by B. C. Hucks - and each made its maiden flight at Filey early in July 1911. During the first flight of No. 22 on 7 July, Hucks made a return flight to Scarborough, 15 miles in 15.1 minutes, and reached 3,000 ft, but on the 14th, while attempting to win Hirst's ?50 prize for a flight to Leeds in a Yorkshire-built aeroplane, he damaged it extensively in avoiding grazing cattle and carried away the undercarriage on a barbed-wire fence during a forced landing at East Heslerton Grange. By a prodigious effort it was repaired on site by Robert Blackburn's working party in time for it to be on the line at Brooklands on 22 July, but although Hucks reached Hendon successfully, he retired the next morning after a forced landing with engine trouble at Barton-in-the-Clay, near Luton. Conway Jenkins' machine turned over and was wrecked while taxying out at Brooklands, but there are conflicting reports on the cause, one blaming a strong cross-wind, another crossed warping controls.
   Mark Swann and Harry Goodyear once again repaired No. 27 on site and Hucks flew it back to Hendon. It was then converted to two-seater, dismantled and sent by train from Paddington to Taunton where Hucks began a West Country tour in aid of charity, taking with him a portable hangar, Harry Goodyear as mechanic and C. E. Manton Day as manager. After two opening flights before 10,000 people at Taunton Fete on Bank Holiday Monday, 7 August, the aircraft was sent by train to Burnham-on-Sea, but, late on 17 August, because of a railway strike, Hucks flew the next 25 miles across to Minehead in 22 minutes, outflying the telegram which was to have announced his arrival. The next port of call was Locking Road aviation ground, Weston-super-Mare, where considerable publicity attended his 5.10 am take-off on 1 September for a nonstop flight to Cardiff, Whitchurch, Llandaff and back. Attired in a cork life-jacket, he reached 2,250 ft, dropped handbills over Cardiff and landed at Weston 40 minutes later, having made the first double crossing of the Bristol Channel by air. The Weston visit over, Hucks made another early start on 11 September, flew 16 miles to Cardiff in 16 1/2 minutes and landed at Whitchurch polo ground at 6.01 am. Static exhibition for two days at the Westgate Road skating rink was a prelude to daily flying from Cardiff's Ely Racecourse and, while flying at 85 mph at a height of 700 ft on 23 September, Hucks made further history by receiving wireless telegraphy signals transmitted by H. Grindell Matthews.
   The tour continued with a 6.16 am take-off for Newport, Mon., on 27 September and on to Cheltenham on 1 October where the aircraft was put on show at the Drill Hall, North Street. Flying took place from Whaddon Farm, Cemetery Road, from 4 October until his departure for Gloucester on 16 October where, two days later, he caused a sensation by flying higher than the cathedral tower, although an attempt to better his personal record of 3,500 ft failed. Eventually, on 21 October, a gale lifted the travel-stained aircraft and its hangar completely clear of the ground, but quick repairs enabled the last three flights of the tour to be completed the same afternoon.
   In three months, weather had prevented flying on only two of the 30 advertised flying days and an estimated 1,000 miles had been covered in 90 flights, impressive figures for those days particularly when it is remembered that all take-offs and landings were from unprepared surfaces. The wings, originally white but now black with signatures, were replaced while the aircraft was at Cheltenham. Apart from this, the only other major replacement was the result of a forced landing at Cheltenham during which Hucks ploughed up yards of cabbages with his skids until eventually a wheel came off and rolled forward, breaking the airscrew.
   From 7 to 10 January 1912 the aircraft flew at Holroyd's Farm, Moortown Leeds, and was then sent to Shoreham, Sussex, by rail on loan to Lt W. Lawrence of the 7th Essex Regiment pending the delivery of a special steel-framed monoplane he had ordered from Blackburn for service in India. His immediate objective was a cross-Channel flight with society hostess Mrs Leeming as passenger. Taxying practices, begun on 25 January under the watchful eye of Hucks, led to first solos on 29 January and on 26 February to a half hour, 28-mile flight to Eastbourne where he landed down wind on the beach with engine trouble. F. B. Fowler of the Eastbourne Aviation Co gave the Gnome a complete overhaul and fitted a hand pump to overcome fuel starvation in the climb, but test flights on 30 March ended in a bad landing which put the machine on its back with sufficient damage to end Lawrence's cross-Channel aspirations. While under repair in Leeds, the opportunity was taken to modify it for school work and it emerged a month or so later as a single-seater with wing span increased to 36 ft, the wing roots cut away to improve the pilot's downward view, the undercarriage simplified, and the engine cowling extended rearward to form a scuttle over the instrument panel and afford some protection for the pilot. In this form it was historically important as the first Blackburn aircraft to exhibit a designation, each rudder bearing the inscription 'Blackburn Monoplane Type B'. One of the first pupils to fly it at the Filey School in April 1912 was M. G. Christie, DSc, for whom a special Blackburn aircraft was built in the following year.
   With the possibility of military contracts looming ahead, it was considered expedient to bring the Blackburn monoplanes more closely to the notice of the War Office. The School therefore moved to Hendon in September that year under a new instructor, Harold Blackburn (no relation of Robert). There the 'brevet' machine, as it was called, was allotted racing No. 33 for the frequent weekend competitions and also bore the maker's name in large capitals on the fuselage. In this guise it was flown by Harold Blackburn on 28 September at the Hendon Naval and Military Aviation Day and on 22 February 1913 in the Aero Show Trophy Race in which he came third.
   The soundness of the Mercury design, well-proven by the Hucks tour, prompted the construction of a third variant inscribed 'Mercury Passenger Type' with 60 hp Renault vee-8 air-cooled engine, now usually known as the Mercury III. This was a three-seater structurally similar to the earlier marks but with mainspars of wood-filled tubular-steel around which the cottonwood ribs were free to swivel and thus reduce twisting strains during wing warping. Other refinements included a foot accelerator which could override the hand throttle, and aluminium panels covering the engine bay. Although ready for flying at Filey on 29 October 1911, bad weather prevented Hubert Oxley from making the first flight until 9 November when the machine took off in 30 yards with one passenger and fuel for four hours. It proved very manoeuvrable and had a top speed around 70 mph.
   Oxley, who began a series of passenger flights over the sands in bright moonlight at 1 am on 27 November, was the only pilot to fly this machine. On 6 December, with Robert Weiss in the passenger seat, he passed low over Filey bent on his favourite trick of diving steeply over the edge of the 300 ft cliff and then suddenly flattening out to land. This occasion was the last, for on pulling out of a particularly steep dive at a speed estimated at 150 mph, the fabric stripped from the wings which immediately broke up, leaving the wingless fuselage to plummet into the sands with fatal results for both occupants.
   At first this machine had a constant-chord mainplane, but at some point during its brief six-week existence it was fitted with new wings having a root chord of 9 ft and tapering to 7 ft at the tip. Despite statements to the contrary made in the Press at the time, this was the only Blackburn Mercury fitted with a tapered wing.
   A second Mercury III, with 50 hp Isaacson and faired tanks as on Mercury II, was then built for Oxley's successor Jack Brereton who attempted the Filey-Leeds flight on 29 May 1912. This machine further differed from the Isaacson-powered Mercury I in having the top rudder raised above the fin, removable inspection panels behind the engine, and no wing tip skids. After a 6 am take-off, Brereton forced landed 22 miles away at Malton with engine trouble, and the flight ended in a second forced landing at Welham Park later in the day. The machine went back to Filey by rail and after this episode R. J. Isaacson modified the engine and fitted ball bearings to the connecting rods and crankshaft. It was flying again on 9 June and went to Hendon with the Type B in the following September.
   The third Mercury III, built for naval flying pioneer Lt Spenser Grey, RN, had polished aluminium side panels as far aft as the cockpit and for this reason has been continually misrepresented as one of the all-steel monoplanes which Blackburn built in 1912. Redesign of the front fuselage, which began when the tanks on the Mercury IIs and the second Mercury III were lowered and covered, reached finality in Spenser Grey's machine. This had a curved decking over the tanks which continued the line of the circular cowling over the 50 hp Gnome back as far as the cockpit where it formed a 'scuttle-dash' to deflect some of the slipstream from the pilot. This modification was embodied in the Hucks tour machine when it was rebuilt as Type B in 1912. Grey's Mercury III was delivered by rail to Brooklands where Hucks made the first engine runs on 16 December 1911, and the owner flew it for the first time on 25 December. A few days later he made a cross-country flight to Lodmoor, near Weymouth, where he had had a hangar built and on 7 January 1912 crossed Weymouth Bay to Portland and circled over the Home Fleet. Unfortunately, after exhibition flights on 10 January, he returned to find his landing ground full of sightseers and the machine was damaged in the ensuing avoiding action. After repairs at Leeds the redoubtable Harry Goodyear took the machine to Eastchurch by train and re-erected it. Spenser Grey then made the first of many flights there on 21 February. The aircraft was eventually repurchased by Blackburns, fitted with the simplified Type B undercarriage, and put to work as a school machine at Hendon where it took part in the Naval and Military Aviation Day on 28 September 1912.
   The fourth Mercury III, identified by a combination of cut-away wing roots and six-strut undercarriage, was built for the Blackburn School and flew at Filey in March 1912. Yet another is said to have had a 50 hp Anzani radial. For the summer season that year, a special single-seat machine with partially cowled 50 hp Gnome, similar to the Type B and with 'Blackburn' in bold lettering under each wing, was built to enable Jack Brereton to give demonstrations similar to those of B. C. Hucks the year before. Although it had the cut-away wing roots of Mercury III No. 4, its undercarriage differed from those of all other Mercury monoplanes. Basically of the simplified type fitted to the Type B, it had a tubular-steel spreader bar between the front struts and laminated skids with turned-down rear ends. It was first flown at Filey on 7 June 1912, and initial engagements were at Bridlington on 15 July and the Lincolnshire Agricultural Show, Skegness, two days later.
   Despite the oft repeated assertion that nine Mercury Ills were built, careful research has failed to identify more than six, so that in the absence of further information it can only be assumed that the total of nine included the Mercury I and the two Mercury IIs. The company's Flying School activities seem to have been maintained throughout by four aircraft. At Filey they appear to have been Blackburn's second monoplane, the Mercury I and Isaacson- and Gnome-powered Mercury IIIs, but at Hendon the veteran second monoplane and the old Mercury I were replaced by the Type B and the modified ex-Spenser Grey two-seater. They remained in service until the School closed in the spring of 1913 and were flown by a select band of pupil pilots, only three of whom actually gained Royal Aero Club Aviators' Certificates on the Blackburn types on which they had learned, viz:
   No. 91 B.C.Hucks Filey 30 May 1911
   No. 409 H.A.Buss Hendon 4 February 1913
   No. 410 M.F.Glew Hendon 4 February 1913

   Constructors: The Blackburn Aeroplane Co (the Aeroplane Dept of Robert Blackburn and Co, Engineers), Balm Road, Leeds, Yorks.
   Power Plants:
   (Mercury I) One 50 hp Isaacson
   (Mercury II) One 50 hp Gnome
   (Mercury III)
   One 60 hp Renault
   One 50 hp Isaacson
   One 50 hp Gnome
   One 50 hp Anzani

Dimensions, Weights and Performances:
   Mercury I Mercury II Mercury III
Span 38 ft 4 in 32 ft 0 in* 32 ft 0 in
Length 33 ft 0 in 31 ft 0 in 31 ft 0 in
Height 6 ft 9 in 8 ft 6 in 8 ft 6 in
Wing area 288 sq ft 200 sq ft* 195 sq ft
All-up weight 1,000 lb** 700 lb 800 lb
Maximum speed 60 mph 70 mph 75 mph***
   * Second aircraft later rebuilt with 36 ft span, 220 sq ft mainplane
** With Isaacson engine
*** With Renault engine

   (a) Mercury I
   One aircraft only, 50 hp Isaacson, shown at Olympia March 1911 and used by the Blackburn Flying School, Filey, until 1912.
   (b) Mercury II
   Two aircraft only, both with 50 hp Gnome engines:
   1. Racing No. 22, first flown at Filey in July 1911, wrecked at Brooklands 22 July 1911.
   2. Racing No. 27,first flown at Filey 7 July 1911, converted to two-seater August 1911, crashed at Eastbourne 23 March 1912, rebuilt as a single-seat school machine for the Filey School April 1912, to the Hendon School September 1912 as racing No. 33, withdrawn from use when the school closed June 1913.
   (c) Mercury III
   Six aircraft as follows (in approximate production order):
   1. 60 hp Renault First flown 9 November 1911, crashed at Filey 6 December 1911.
   2. 50 hp Isaacson First flown May 1912, identified by raised top rudder, used by the Blackburn Flying School, Hendon, until June 1913.
   3. 50 hp Gnome First flown 25 December 1911, built for Lt Spenser Grey, RN, damaged at Weymouth 10 January 1912, first flown at Eastchurch after repair 21 February 1912, to the Blackburn Flying School, Hendon, by September 1912.
   4. 50 hp Gnome School machine, cut-away wing roots, first flown at Filey March 1912.
   5. 50 hp Anzani No details.
   6. 50 hp Gnome Exhibition machine first flown 7 June 1912.
The completed Second Monoplane with fuel and oil tanks in position, narrow-bladed airscrew, and the first undercarriage modification.
Robert Blackburn (standing right) and B. C. Hucks with ihe Mercury I in the cliff-top hangar, Filey 1911.
B.C.Hucks fuelling the Mercury I before the Filey-Scarborough flight of 17 May 1911. The high-mounted tanks which identify this machine are clearly illustrated.
One of the Blackburn Mercury monoplanes being manhandled down the slipway to Filey beach in 1911.
F. Conway Jenkins in the first single-seat Mercury II at Filey in July 1911.
Hucks at Taunton with the Mercury II two-seater on 7 August 1911.
Lawrence's all-steel monoplane (right) under construction in the Balm Road works in April 1912, next to his damaged Mercury II which was awaiting conversion to Type B.
The Blackburn Type B monoplane at Hendon in 1913.
Laurence Spink at the controls of the Type B, Hendon 1913. Details of the Blackburn patent triple steering column are clearly visible.
Robert Blackburn beside the Type B, racing number 33, before the start of the Aero Show Trophy Race at Hendon on 22 February 1913.
The Mercury Passenger Type (the first Mercury III) with 80 hp Renault and the original parallel-chord mainplane
Hubert Oxley and passenger in the ill-fated Mercury Passenger Type outside the Filey hangar after the tapered mainplane was fitted.
Jack Brereton climbing into the second Mercury III (50 hp Isaacson) at Filey in May 1912. The raised top rudder distinguished it from the Isaacson-powered Mercury I.
The fuselage of Lt Spenser Grey's two-seat Mercury III (50 hp Gnome) outside the Balm Road works ready for despatch to Brooklands, December 1911. These views show clearly the third and final stage in Mercury fuselage evolution.
Mark Swann (no hat) and Jack Brereton (right) with the last of the Mercury monoplanes on the promenade at Bridlington on 15 July 1912. The machine is identified by the undercarriage modification.
Jack Brereton flying the fourth Mercury III (50 hp Gnome, cut-away wing roots and six-strut undercarriage) at Filey in May 1912.
Second Blackburn Monoplane
Blackburn Mercury I
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.

   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.
Cyril Foggin (right) and Harold Blackburn with the Single-Seat Monoplane at Lofthouse Park, Leeds, in March 1913. The original square-cut wing tips and hooked undercarriage skids are noteworthy.
The Blackburn Single-Seat Monoplane, new and unpainted, out for its first engine run at Leeds late in 1912, with Harold Blackburn at the controls.
The Single-Seat Monoplane outside the flying school hangar at Brough in 1950.
The Single-Seat Monoplane after restoration by the Shuttleworth Trust, flying at the RAF Display, Farnborough, July 1950, piloted by Sq Ldr G. Banner.
The 1912 Blackburn Monoplane and a production Buccaneer S. Mk 1, XN924, at Holme-on-Spalding Moor, 16 April 1962.
M. F. Glcw (cloth cap) sitting on the engine of the Single-Seat Monoplane after the crash at Wittering in 1914.
Blackburn Single-Seat Monoplane
Blackburn Type E

   During 1911 the efforts of Robert Blackburn and other British pioneers produced a number of sturdy aeroplanes with good flying characteristics which challenged the supremacy of French machines to the point where the placing of military contracts for British-built aircraft could not long be delayed. As expected, the War Office issued its first military aircraft specification in November that year and called for a reconnaissance two-seater able to carry a useful load of 350 lb over and above essential equipment and to have an initial rate of climb of 200 ft min, 4 1/2 hr endurance, 55 mph maximum speed and able to maintain 4,500 ft for 1 hr. It also had to be transportable in a crate from one operational area to another. Competing firms were given just nine months in which to design, build and test before the commencement of competitive trials on Salisbury Plain in August 1912.
   To meet these requirements Robert Blackburn designed a two-seat 'military' aeroplane in metal which retained most of the principal features of his successful Mercury series. The mainplane was built up from two 18 swg tubular-steel spars, respectively 2 in and 1/2 in in diameter, with ribs of 1/4 in cottonwood fretted out for lightness and edged with 1 in by 1/4 in ash. A number of light ash strips ran transversely and the leading and trailing edges were reinforced with the same material. The tubular spars were filled at the root ends and securely bolted to steel plates through which passed the stout kingpost carrying the wing warping and bracing wires.
   For durability and to expedite repairs, the triangular fuselage had 32 detachable and interchangeable vertical struts and 58 cross-members, all of oval-section steel tubing, joined by specially riveted clips and covered with sheet aluminium. The tail unit was formed from fabric stretched over a steel-tube framework and ending in an ash trailing edge to which were hinged steel rods carrying the elevator and twin triangular rudders. Control wires ran inside the fuselage, and the much simplified, twin-skid, four-wheeled undercarriage was of oval steel tubing and incorporated built-in anchorages for the flying wires.
   The new monoplane was built in the Balm Road works alongside a singleseater (also with steel-tube fuselage) ordered by Lt W. Lawrence for use in India where he had seen Army service the year before. Both monoplanes consequently earned a place in aviation history as the first aircraft of British design and construction to have metal fuselages. Powered by a 60 hp Green four-cylinder inline water-cooled engine and closely resembling the Blackburn Type B, Lawrence's single-seater was taken to Filey for test in April 1912 and took off in 30 yards with fuel for four hours at approximately the same all-up weight as a standard wooden Mercury. Painted grey overall and bearing the inscription Indian Aviation Co Ltd on the lower rudder, the name L'Oiseau Gris on the engine cowling and with No. 1 painted on the radiator grill, it went to Brooklands for further trials in the following month. Although entered by the owner in the round-London Aerial Derby of 8 June 1912, the aircraft was scratched as 'not ready in time'. As this occurred some two months after the first flights at Filey, teething troubles are suggested which may have been the result of using an engine which required a heavy water cooling system and the reason for the end of Lawrence's interest in it.
   Trouble of this sort was avoided in the military two-seater which appeared later in June 1912 fitted with a vee-8 air-cooled 70 hp Renault. It differed from the first in having a curved top decking, which extended as far aft as the forward tip of the dorsal fin, to accommodate the crew in tandem cockpits with the pilot and his triple control unit in the rear. Extra fuel, increasing the endurance to five hours, was carried in a cigar-shaped tank between the undercarriage struts and, following the precedent set by the Blackburn Type B trainer, the little triangular rudders bore the designation Type E.
   An early intention was for the Eastchurch pilots, Lt Spenser Grey, RN, and Capt R. Gordon, RMLI, to pilot these machines in the British Military Aeroplane Trials, but when the two-seater was taken to Knavesmire, York, for flight testing by Robert's brother Norman Blackburn and R. W. Kenworthy it proved too heavy to leave the ground and in fact never did so. It was taken back to the Balm Road works, and when the entry lists for the Trials were published in July 1912 Blackburn was not represented. The ultimate fate of the 'all-steel' monoplanes is uncertain but later on, in the winter of 1912, the two-seater appeared briefly on the playing fields of Cockburn High School off Dewsbury Road, Leeds, with Spenser Grey and Gordon in attendance.
   A further development of the type was evidently contemplated since the company records refer to an undesignated two-seat military aircraft of 1912-13 with a specification which docs not correspond to that of the Type E.

   Manufacturers: The Blackburn Aeroplane Co, Balm Road, Leeds, Yorks.
   Power Plants:
   (Single-seater) One 60 hp Green
   (Type E Two-seater; One 70 hp Renault
   (Type E)
   Span 38 ft 4 in Length 31 ft 2 in
   Wing area 290 sq ft
   Span 40 ft 0 in Length 32 ft 0 in
   Wing area 276 sq ft
   Weights: (Type E) All-up weight 950 lb
   Performance: (Type E) Maximum speed 80 mph (Project) 65 mph
   Endurance: (Single-seater) 4 hr (Type E) 5 hr (Project) 5 hr
   Production: Two dissimilar aircraft only:
   1. Single-seater No. 1 L'Oiseau Gris, 60 hp Green, first flown at Filey April 1912, to Brooklands May 1912.
   2. Two-seater military Type E, 70 hp Renault, completed June 1912, never flew.
Lt W. Lawrence's all-steel Blackburn Type E (60 hp Green) L'Oiseau Gris, No. 1 of the Indian Aviation Co Ltd, at Brooklands in May 1912.
Lawrence's all-steel monoplane (right) under construction in the Balm Road works in April 1912, next to his damaged Mercury II which was awaiting conversion to Type B.
The second or 'military' two-seat Blackburn all-steel Type E monoplane (70 hp Renault) on the playing fields of Cockburn High School, Leeds, at the end of 1912.
Blackburn Type E
Blackburn Type I

   M. G. Christie, DSc, who had done some flying at Filey and Hendon on earlier Blackburn types but had not qualified for an Aviator's Certificate, watched the performance of Cyril Foggin's new single-seat monoplane with interest, having known the owner as a fellow pupil at Hendon. It came as no surprise therefore when he ordered a two-seat version and engaged Harold Blackburn to give flying demonstrations and to act as his personal pilot. Similar in appearance to, and structurally identical with, the single-seater, the new Blackburn Type I two-seater had the span increased to 38 ft and was fitted with the more powerful 80 hp Gnome generously cowled in aluminium for about five-eighths of its circumference and driving a 9 ft Blackburn laminated walnut airscrew. The occupants sat in tandem in a large double cockpit, with the passenger in front over the C.G. so that the aircraft could be flown solo from the rear seat without ballast. Instrumentation included a large Hewlett and Blondeau inclinometer mounted externally on the starboard wing pylon strut, and the control column, conforming for the first time to contemporary practice, moved fore and aft for elevator control and had a large steering wheel for wing warping. A slightly redesigned undercarriage with forward instead of backward, sloping front struts imparted a rakish appearance to the whole machine.
   The Type I was delivered at the Yorkshire Aerodrome, Leeds, on 14 August 1913, and it is said that on its first test flight Harold Blackburn climbed it to 7,000 ft in 10 min. His flying programme, which commenced at Harrogate about a week later, usually took the form of a week or so's demonstration and joyriding at each town, followed by cross-country flights with M. G. Christie, the owner, at weekends. Typical of these trips was one made on 24 August 1913, from Bridlington to Leyburn (75 miles in 70 min) and then on via Ripon Racecourse to the Stray, Harrogate (40 miles in 23 min). Ripon was again visited on 10, 13 and 15 September - on the last occasion carrying Mrs Leigh, a local septuagenarian. Exhibition flying with steep turns took place at Doncaster and Wetherby on 20 and 21 September and a week or so later, on 2 October, Harold Blackburn secured the firm's first racing success by winning a challenge cup offered by the Yorkshire Evening News. In bad visibility and carrying Christie in the front seat, he groped his way to York, Doncaster, Sheffield, Barnsley, and back to Leeds in a 100-mile 'Wars of the Roses' air race against a Lancastrian entry in the shape of the Manchester-built Avro 504 prototype piloted by F. P. Raynham and carrying H. V. Roe as passenger.
   After the 'Roses Race' the Type I monoplane was modified in two stages. To improve engine cooling and air supply to the carburettor, two large holes were cut in the nose cowling, and a hinged inspection panel was also provided, probably to facilitate engine priming. At the same time the inclinometer was removed and refitted internally and the inscription 'The Blackburn Aeroplane Co, Leeds. Type I' appeared on the rudder in bold capitals. In December 1913 the aircraft reached its final configuration when the large single cockpit was covered in by a sheet-metal decking to form two separate open cockpits with padded edges.
   A second Type I monoplane which followed was a single-seater with a small freight compartment replacing the front cockpit, and a single vertical kingpost, encased in a wide-chord streamlined fairing, in place of the inverted V structure used for wing bracing on the previous machine. In this and two other respects it was a throw-back to the Blackburn Mercury since the cowling over the 80 hp Gnome was entirely open at the front, and it was controlled by means of the old 'triple steering column'.
   Harold Blackburn flew it continually throughout the winter, and no better testimony to its strength and airworthiness can be found than the readiness with which he braved first fog and then gales in flying from York to Moortown, Leeds, in two attempts on 8-9 January 1914. An ovation from 10,000 spectators in pouring rain is a measure of the enthusiasm he generated, and from 29 March to 4 April he took part with this machine in a "Sheffield Aviation Week' organized by the Sheffield Independent and delivered copies of the early morning edition to Chesterfield on the last day. Passengers were also carried in Christie's Type I throughout the meeting. The 'single kingpost' machine was then exhibited at the Yorkshire Show but was damaged beyond repair in an accident at York later in 1914.
   The success of these aircraft prompted the construction of a similar but somewhat improved two-seater which was the only monoplane of British design at the Aero Show which opened at Olympia on 16 March 1914. Then referred to as the Improved Type I, it differed significantly from its predecessors and can be distinguished from them quite easily in photographs. The 80 hp Gnome was more completely cowled and the engine bearers were modified to give a better nose shape in planform, while in side elevation the fuselage was noticeably deeper in the region of the undercarriage. The tailplane was cut back so that it did not extend forward of the fin, the tail skid consisted of two steel rods instead of one, and there were no wedge-shaped strengtheners where the front undercarriage struts were bolted to the skids. A small but useful identifying detail, not found on either of the other Type I machines, was a small brass engraved plate bolted to the nose cowling above the airscrew hub. Internally there were ash instead of Cottonwood flanges to the wing ribs. The aircraft type and the manufacturer's name were inscribed on the rudder, though less boldly than on Christie's machine.
   On 18 April 1914, Harold Blackburn took the Christie Type I to Saltburn, and during the first week in June was at South Shore, Blackpool. On 22 July he opened the first scheduled service in Great Britain by flying in it with the Lady Mayoress of Leeds on the first of the day's every-half-hour runs between Leeds and Bradford. He also tried out his old adversary the prototype Avro 504 biplane, and at the end of the month, when at Southport, took delivery of one of the first four production Avro 504s, but his plans for a flying circus ended at Harrogate in the following month when war was declared and both machines were commandeered by the Government. Guarded by Guy Wilton, one of Blackburn's pupils, they remained inert until a few days later saboteurs (local German waiters were suspected) soaked them in petrol and set fire to their canvas hangar. Somehow Wilton got both aircraft out safely but was badly burned for his trouble.
   The first flight of the Improved Type I went unrecorded, but it is known to have been flown at the Knavesmire aviation ground, York, on 9 July 1914 in the hands of the Australian pilot Sydney Pickles, who left next day for West Auckland with a passenger, two suitcases and a two gallon tin of castor oil for the engine. Fog forced him to land in a small field at Darlington and the flight was completed next day. After demonstration flights sponsored by the Yorkshire Post, the name of which was painted under the mainplane, he returned to York on 13 July where one of his passengers was R. W. Kenworthy, destined to be Blackburn's chief test pilot before the 1914-18 war was over. On 22 July he flew Col Brotherton, the Lord Mayor of Leeds, from Leeds to Bradford on the day that Harold Blackburn inaugurated his half-hourly service by conveying the Lady Mayoress.
   On Sunday, 26 July, Pickles flew the Improved Type I the 32 miles back to Knavesmire in 18 min at an average speed of 105 mph, and when war broke out this machine was also commandeered. It was taken to Scarborough in September and housed in the hangar built for the Blackburn Type L seaplane (q.v.). Obviously it was of little military value and in the following year was acquired by the Northern Aircraft Co, successors to the Lakes Flying Co of Windermere, for whom Blackburns rebuilt it as a floatplane trainer. They fitted an uncowled 100 hp Anzani radial, enlarged the cockpit openings, installed dual control, removed the wheels and axle and clamped the skids to the float spreader bars with U shackles. A small cylindrical float was fitted at the tail. Reconversion to landplane was only a matter of a few minutes so that in this form the aircraft was known as the Land Sea monoplane. In actual fact the wheels were never re-fitted.
   It was erected at Windermere by the Northern Aircraft Company and the first flight was made from the firm's slipway at Bowness by W. Rowland Ding on 26 October 1915. Despite the major engine change and the makeshift undercarriage, it needed no adjustments whatever although it was found expedient to remove the exhaust collector ring from the engine early in 1916. With Ding's name painted large on the underside of the mainplane, the aircraft was used for the initial training of a large number of RNAS pilots, and J. Lankester Parker, afterwards Short's famous test pilot, who also instructed on this aircraft, recorded an undated 2hr 39 min on it with pupils, as well as a climb, two up, to 4,050 ft in 31 min. On Saturday, 18 March 1916, he flew it from Windermere to Coniston Water and, although the trip took only a few minutes, climbed to 2,900 ft. The machine was tied up at Waterhcad Pier while the aviators lunched at a local hotel and on the return journey reached a height of 3,400 ft. It was the first seaplane to alight on Coniston where it attracted considerable attention, but a fortnight or so later on 1 April it capsized at Bowness and was written off.
   Designs prepared in 1914 for a pure seaplane based on the Improved Type I were not proceeded with, probably because float drag and the 100 lb weight penalty would have made it underpowered with an 80 h p Gnome, the estimated maximum speed being a mere 60 mph.

   Manufacturers: The Blackburn Aeroplane Co, Balm Road, Leeds, Yorks.
   Power Plants:
   (Type I) One 80 hp Gnome
   (Improved Type I) One 80 hp Gnome
   (Land Sea) One 100 hp Anzani
   Span 38 ft 0 in Length 28 ft 6 in
   Length (seaplane) 29 ft 6 in Wing area 252 sq ft
   (Type I) Tare weight 950 lb All-up weight 1,500 lb
   (Land Sea) Tare weight 1,124 lb All-up weight 1,733 lb
   Maximum speed (Type I) 70 mph (Land Sea) 82 mph
   Initial climb 700 ft min. Endurance 4 hr
   Production :
   (a) Type I
   Two aircraft only:
   1. Two-seater for M. G. Christie, first flown August 1913.
   2. Single-seater, with freight compartment, for Harold Blackburn first flown about December 1913, extensively damaged in accident at York about May 1914, stored.
   (b) Improved Type I
   One aircraft only:
   Two-seater shown at Olympia, March 1914, commandeered September 1914, converted to Land Sea Monoplane 1915.
   (c) Land Sea Monoplane
   One aircraft only:
   Conversion of the Improved Type I, first flown on floats at Bowness-on-Windermere 26 October 1915, capsized at Bowness and written off 1 April 1916.
The Type I after the fuselage was covered-in to provide two separate cockpits. Oil stains of distinctive shape on the port side were a useful recognition feature of this machine in all configurations.
An early private owner - M. G. Christie, DSc (front seat) and his pilot Harold Blackburn in the Type I monoplane before the decking was fitted.
The Type I and the prototype Avro 504 on tour in 1914.
The 'single kingpost' Type I, with virtually uncowled engine, being wheeled into the Yorkshire Show, Bradford, 22 July 1914.
Harold Blackburn unloading newspapers from the freight compartment of the single-seat 'single kingpost' Type I at Chesterfield on 4 April 1914.
The original Blackburn styling over the company's Improved Type I monoplane at Olympia, London, in March 1914.
The Improved Type I outside the seaplane hangar at Scarborough on 26 September 1914, in the care of Blackburn engineers Copley and Swann and a detachment of soldiers after it had been commandeered.
The 'Land Sea monoplane', with exhaust collector ring removed, on Coniston Water on 18 March 1916, with H. P. Reid and J. Lankester Parker (rear cockpit) ready to go ashore.
Blackburn Improved Type I
Blackburn Type L

   Both in the United Kingdom and on the Continent, 1912 had been a year marred by fatalities caused by the structural failure in the air of monoplanes and as a result the British Government banned them from service with the RFC. A departmental committee was set up to enquire closely into such accidents and although its report, issued early in 1914, 'saw no reason to recommend the prohibition of the use of monoplanes', the ill-advised ban, though temporary, created prejudice in favour of biplanes that was to last for close on two decades.
   Blackburn monoplanes, rugged and reliable, experienced none of these failures, but nevertheless Robert Blackburn considered it expedient to follow the popular trend and in 1913 designed a two-seat 'hydro biplane' on twin floats, to be powered by either an 80 hp Gnome or a 100 hp Anzani. It was to have had unequal span and cruise at 65 mph at an all-up weight of 1,250 lb, but when, in 1914, the Daily Mail announced a ?10,000 prize for a Circuit of Britain seaplane race, the project was dropped and a larger, more powerful version built. Designated Type L, it was the company's first biplane and the first Blackburn aircraft since the First Monoplane to have a square instead of triangular-section fuselage. Four ash longerons converged rearwards until they were all bolted to the rudder post and, as before, internal bracing was by precision-fitted diagonal wooden struts instead of the wire bracing favoured by other manufacturers.
   Although the component parts of the Type L were fabricated at Balm Road, the seaplane itself had the distinction of being the first of the many hundreds of aircraft assembled in the disused roller-skating rink known as Olympia in Roundhay Road, Leeds, which had been acquired as a new works in the spring of 1914, just prior to the firm's expansion into a limited company. The aircraft was powered by a 130 hp Canton-Unne nine-cylinder watercooled radial, an engine of Swiss origin, named after its co-designers, and built under licence in Britain by the Dudbridge Iron Works Ltd at Stroud, Glos. Money was distinctly scarce at this time and Robert Blackburn was only able to proceed with the Type L through the kindness of Dudbridge's Mr Kimmins who provided an engine on exceptionally favourable terms. It gave full power at 1,250 rpm and was cooled by two radiators mounted vertically on each side of the front seat. An aluminium cowling over its upper part extented rearwards to form a curved decking which concealed the 32-gallon main fuel tank mounted on the top longerons between the cockpits. There was also a partitioned tank behind the engine holding five gallons of oil and an additional 16 gallons of fuel. The pilot sat in the rear cockpit, where the end of the main fuel tank sloped slightly forward to form an instrument panel carrying revolution counter, altimeter, compass and clock. Controls were conventional and similar to those of the Improved Type I, with a rudder bar for directional control and a large aileron wheel mounted at the top of a tubular control column.
   Fabric-covered, wooden mainplanes constructed in the usual Blackburn manner were rigged unstaggered in two bays and the considerable top wing overhang was supported by sloping struts. Long-span ailerons were fitted only to the upper mainplanes, with the balancing cables running through pulleys mounted on its upper and lower surfaces. Tail surfaces were similar in outline to those of the earlier machine but rudder area was increased by a large horn balance under the rear end of the fuselage.
   The twin wooden floats were of unusual design with two steps, the first being only some two feet from the front end. Up to this point there was a pronounced vee bottom which gradually lessened until, aft of the second step, the bottom of the float became quite flat although concave in side elevation. Each float was clipped to tubular steel spreader bars and attached to the fuselage by six stout ash struts. Buoyancy at the tail was provided by a small float attached to four short steel tubes.
   The Circuit of Britain seaplane race attracted nine entries from the Sopwith, Beardmore, Grahame-White, Eastbourne, White and Thompson, Avro and Blackburn companies, the Type L, which was to have been flown by Sydney Pickles, receiving racing number 8. Considering the power loading of over 19 lb/hp, its prospects appeared good, the top speed being over 80 mph, and the range of 445 miles was exceptional for those days. Competitors were scheduled to start from Calshot at 6 am on Monday, 10 August 1914, and to Proceed via Ramsgate, Great Yarmouth, Scarborough, Aberdeen, Fort George, Oban and Kingstown (Dublin) to Falmouth but entries were actually on their way to the starting point when war was declared against Germany. The race never took place and all the competing aircraft were commandeered by the Admiralty.
   The Type L was taken to a section of beach north of Scarborough known as Scalby Mills where Blackburns had built a large wooden hangar. There it was used for offshore reconnaissance duties, thereby forging a link between the company and the Royal Navy that remains unbroken to the present day. The pilot was Sydney Pickles, who had flown the Improved Type I monoplane earlier in the year, and it seems that he experienced control and cooling problems, as it was found necessary to replace the long-span ailerons by shortspan, wide-chord, inversely-tapered units which extended well behind the trailing edge of the upper mainplane; to remove the engine cowlings and move the radiators back to the rear centre section struts; and to fit a curved, wide-bladed airscrew. The aircraft was then armed with a machine gun, probably a Lewis, and spent some six weeks at Scarborough in the care of Blackburn mechanics, but its Service career was brief. Early in 1915 the company's test pilot, W. Rowland Ding, struck the top of the cliffs at Specton in poor visibility while en route from Scarborough to RNAS Station, Killingholme. The undercarriage was wiped off and the rest of the airframe became a total loss in the ensuing crash.
   Proposals made late in 1914 for an even larger naval development of the Type L, having staggered mainplanes and powered by a 200 hp Gnome, were shelved.

   Manufacturers: The Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd, Olympia Works, Roundhay Road, Leeds, Yorks.
   Power Plants:
   (1913 project)
   One 80 hp Gnome
   One 100 hp Anzani
   (Type L) One 130 hp Canton-Unne
   (1914 project) One 200 hp Gnome

Dimensions, Weights and Performance:

   1913 project Type L 1914 project
Span upper 44 ft 0 in 49 ft 6 in 62 ft 0 in
   lower 36 ft 0 in 35 ft 0 in 47 ft 6 in
Length 33 ft 0 in 32 ft 6 in
Height 12 ft 6 in
Wing area 410 sq ft 481 sq ft
Tare weight 1,250 lb 1,717 lb 1,450 lb
All-up weight 2,475 lb 3,000 lb
Maximum speed 65 mph 81 mph
   to 5,000 ft 34 min
Ceiling 11,000 ft
Range 445 miles

   Production: One aircraft only, Type L, impressed by the Admiralty August 1914, crashed at Speeton, Yorks., in 1915.
The Type L seaplane in its original configuration outside the hangar on Scarborough beach, August 1914.
The Type L afloat off Scarborough in 1915, with short-span ailerons, repositioned radiators and uncowled engine.
Blackburn Type L
Blackburn T.B.

   In May 1914 the Blackburn company received an Admiralty order for a batch of the Farnborough-designed B.E.2c biplane trainers which, together with larger and later batches, were built in new and bigger premises, the Olympia Works. They also built the Sopwith Cuckoo torpedo-bomber in quantity but still found time to work on a number of their own original prototypes. The first of these, first Blackburn design to bear the now legendary 'BA' monogram of the new company, and its first true military aircraft, was built in 1915 to an Admiralty specification which called for a long-range Zeppelin interceptor capable of operating over the sea at night. Its warload of Ranken incendiary steel darts, carried in canisters of 24, was intended to penetrate the airship's envelope and ignite the gas inside.
   Known as the T.B. or Twin Blackburn, the machine was a large biplane of unusual design having two wire-braced, fabric-covered, box girder fuselages, each with its own rotary engine, joined by a 10 ft centre section forward and a common tailplane at the rear. The fuselages were supported on the water by separate and unconnected bungee-sprung, stepped pontoons, and small tail floats were attached at the rear by short steel struts.
   Fabric-covered wooden mainplanes, built up from I-section spruce spars and ribs of three-ply spruce braced internally with drift struts and tie rods, were rigged in three bays. The considerable overhang at each end of the upper mainplane was wire-braced to triangular steel pylons above the outboard interplane struts. Fins and rudders were B.E.2c components taken from the Blackburn company's own production and slightly modified in shape.
   Long-range capability was to have been achieved by fitting the T.B. seaplane with a new type of 150 hp engine said to have an exceptionally low fuel consumption and a dry weight of only 380 lb. This was the ten-cylinder Smith radial, designed by John W. Smith, an American who brought his designs to England in January 1915 and somehow gained immediate Admiralty interest. A prototype engine was bench-tested successfully and a production contract was awarded to Heenan and Froude Ltd of Worcester, but only a few were delivered. When flown experimentally later in 1915 in the A.D. Navyplane and Vickers F.B.5 pusher biplane, the Smith engine proved unsatisfactory, and so eight of the nine T.B. seaplanes ordered by the Admiralty were completed with 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape rotary engines and the ninth and last with 110 hp Clergets.
   The first Gnome-powered machine, 1509, was rolled out at the Olympia works in August 1915 and, together with 1510 and the final Blackburn T.B., 1517 with Clergets, underwent type trials at RNAS Isle of Grain in 1916. In his memoirs, the flight test observer E. W. Stedman recalls how the pilot J. W. Seddon sat in one fuselage with all the flying and engine controls, while he sat several feet away in the other with no controls except the starting handle for the engine on his side. Starting on the water needed discipline, courage and agility, for a pool of excess petrol, which formed on the float when the Gnome was primed, promptly ignited when the engine fired. The observer's job was to lie on the lower centre section and put out the fire on the pilot's side with an extinguisher, scramble into his own cockpit to start the second engine and then leap out again to extinguish the fire on his own float.
   Once in the air, mainplane deflection was such that the aileron control cables became slack and all lateral control was lost. This defect was soon put right by the manufacturers but there remained a disconcerting amount of relative movement between the fuselages caused by flexibility in the wire-braced centre section. Furthermore, on only two-thirds of the designed power, performance was mediocre, and to achieve a worthwhile four-hour endurance the military load had to be limited to 70 lb of steel darts. Hand signalling, the only means of communication between the crew members, was hardly an ideal arrangement when in action against an enemy airship, thus, despite the fact that the three trials aircraft and four others were sent to RNAS Killingholme, they were little used and were eventually broken up. This fate also overtook the two remaining aircraft, 1511 and 1512, which were held in store at the RNAS Depot, Crystal Palace, London, until struck off charge.

   Manufacturers: The Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd, Olympia Works, Roundhay Road, Leeds, Yorks.
   Power Plants:
   Two 150 hp Smith
   Two 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape
   Two 110 hp Clerget 9b
   Span (upper) 60 ft 6 in (lower) 45 ft 0 in
   Length 36 ft 6 in Height 13 ft 6 in
   Wing area 585 sq ft
   Weights: (Gnomes) Tare weight 2,310 lb All-up weight 3,500 ib
   Performance: (Gnomes)
   Maximum speed at sea level 86 mph
   Climb to 5,000 ft 12 min Endurance 4 hr
Production: Nine aircraft 1509-1517, all Gnome-powered except 1517 with Clergets. 1509, 1510 and 1517 Isle of Grain trials aircraft 1916, broken up at RNAS Killingholme August 1917; 1511 and 1512 stored at RNAS Crystal Palace, s.o.c. June 1917, broken up July 1917; 1513-1516 to RNAS Killingholme, broken up August 1917.
One of the Gnome-powered T.B. prototypes at the RNAS experimental establishment on the Isle of Grain in 1916.
The last production T.B. seaplane, 1517, with Clerget engines.
Blackburn T.B.
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.

   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.
Blackburn test pilot W. Rowland Ding in the cockpit of the White Falcon monoplane at Roundhay Park, Leeds.
Close-up of the White Falcon from the starboard side showing cockpit and simplified undercarriage.
The Olympia Works, Leeds, in mid-1915 with the A.D. Scout airframes at the far end, B.E.2cs on the right and the incomplete Land Sea monoplane (on wheels), facing left.
Blackburn White Falcon
Blackburn G.P.

   Lack of success with the twin-fuselage T.B. design prompted the Blackburn company to set about the construction of a more conventional twin-engined type. This was a three-seat, long-range, anti-submarine patrol bomber known as the G.P. or General Purpose seaplane. It had mainplanes of modified RAF 3 section, a long, slim fuselage of unusually small cross-section, inline water-cooled engines housed in nacelles on the lower mainplane and a large twin-ruddered biplane tail unit. Nevertheless, the G.P.'s long, wire-braced upper mainplane extensions and wide-track, divided float undercarriage proclaimed its T.B. ancestry, but this time the pontoons were bungee sprung and divided internally into twelve watertight compartments. For ease of storage the two-spar mainplanes folded backwards outboard of the engine nacelles, reducing the overall width to 27 ft 10 in.
   Blackburns built only two of the type and these differed considerably in detail. The first, which appeared in July 1916 with the naval serial 1415, was powered by two opposite-handed 150 hp Sunbeam Nubian engines driving four-bladed airscrews and cooled by vertical radiator blocks clamped to struts at the rear of each nacelle.
   Three crew members sat in open cockpits, with the bomb-aimer gunner in the nose, the pilot just ahead of the centre section and the rear gunner aft of the wings. A bomb sight was mounted externally on the starboard side of the front cockpit and, in addition to the two Scarff-mounted Lewis guns, armament consisted of four 230-lb bombs carried on racks under the wings. As there were no connecting struts between the main floats, alternative armament was a torpedo carried centrally under the fuselage. Although there is no evidence that the G.P. seaplane was ever airborne with a torpedo in position, it was one of the first British aircraft with this capability, and one of the first designed to carry W/T apparatus as standard equipment.
   On completion, the G.P. seaplane went to the Isle of Grain for trials which included mooring in a rough sea for several days, an ordeal realistically described at the time as a 'destructive test'.
   Meanwhile, the site for Blackburn's new aerodrome and seaplane base had been chosen on the River Humber at Brough, where the first experimental hangar and slipway were completed by the time the second G.P. seaplane was ready for erection later in 1916. Numbered 1416, this was a developed version of the original, and was sometimes known as the S.P. or Special Purpose seaplane. It was powered by two opposite-handed 190 hp Rolls-Royce engines (later named Falcons) cooled in the same manner as the Sunbeams and likewise driving four-bladed airscrews. However, unlike the Sunbeam engines of the first aircraft, the Rolls-Royces had exhaust manifolds on the outside walls of the cylinder blocks, making it convenient to run exhaust pipes along the sides instead of over the tops of the nacelles. Oil tanks were suspended between the inboard nacelle struts ahead of the radiator blocks.
   The new machine was structurally stronger than 1415 through the greater use of heavier-gauge metal fittings, and whereas the first had ailerons only on the upper mainplane, the second boasted four ailerons - two of increased length on the upper mainplane connected by link struts of faired tubular steel to short-span units on the lower wing. A wire trailing edge, first employed on the Triplane, was also used for all flying and control surfaces, so that unlike 1415 which had straight edges, those of 1416 were of the familiar scalloped pattern. It was, in fact, a retrograde step as wire trailing edges on seaplanes were a constant source of trouble because they rusted through and split the fabric.
   In a lecture given before the Brough branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society in November 1958, G. E. Petty recalled the nightmare of conducting manufacturer's trials on the G.P. seaplane in midwinter with drift ice on the Humber. Launching was simple and the first flight successful, but the strong tide made recovery difficult, and the wading team led by Robert Blackburn's brother-in-law, R. R. Rhodes, were literally frozen stiff and had to be carried in on planks and thawed out in front of fires lighted in the hangar. Afterwards the machine was flown to the Great Yarmouth Air Station for Service trials but did not secure a production contract. Nevertheless a landplane version was built in small numbers as the Blackburn Kangaroo.

   Manufacturers: The Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd, Olympia Works, Leeds, and Brough, East Yorks.
   Power Plants:
   Two 150 hp Sunbeam Nubian
   Two 190 hp Rolls-Royce
   Span (upper) 71 ft 10] in (lower) 52 ft 10.1 in
   Length 46 ft 0 in Height 16 ft 10 in
   Wing area 880 sq ft
   (Sunbeam) All-up weight 8,100 lb
   (Rolls-Royce) Tare weight 5,840 lb All-up weight 8,600 lb
   Performance: (Rolls-Royce)
   Maximum speed at sea level 97 mph
   Climb to 5,000 ft 10 min
   Ceiling 11,000 ft Endurance 8 hr
   Production: Two aircraft only.
   1415 with Sunbeam engines, first flown at RNAS Isle of Grain July 1916.
   1416 with Rolls-Royce engines, first flown at Brough late 1916 and delivered to the Great Yarmouth Air Station.
The second G.P. seaplane, 1416, at Brough in 1916 showing the raised nacelles and ailerons on all four wings.
Launching G.P. seaplane 1416 at the Isle of Grain in 1916.
Blackburn G.P. Seaplane
Blackburn Triplane

   While the batch of T.B. seaplanes was going through the Blackburn works, the firm was also engaged in the construction under contract of two examples of another anti-Zeppelin fighter, the A.D. Scout (later known as the Sparrow), designed by Harris Booth of the Air Department of the Admiralty. This aircraft was a heavily-staggered, single-bay biplane of extremely unorthodox appearance, built to meet an Admiralty requirement for a fighter built from commercially obtainable materials and which could be armed with the Davis two-pounder quick-fire recoilless gun. This lay in the bottom of a short, single-seat nacelle, the top longerons of which were bolted directly to the main spars of the upper wing. With the 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape rotary driving a 9-ft pusher airscrew behind his back, the pilot had a superlative view in nearly every direction.
   The aircraft's extraordinary appearance stemmed from the fact that the abnormally large mainplane gap was below instead of above the nacelle, and because the twin fins and rudders, no less than 11 ft apart, were mounted on two pairs of parallel outriggers and supported a vast tailplane of 21-ft span. A suitably bizarre undercarriage reversed the usual pattern, the three points of contact with terra firma being widely spaced skids under the fins and a pair of small wheels mounted close together centrally under the lower mainplane. In this respect it was similar to the Armstrong Whitworth F.K.12 triplane and the projected Bristol F.3A escort and anti-Zeppelin fighters, for it seems that Harris Booth believed in the 'pogo stick' type of landing gear as a means of simplifying cross-wind landings at night.
   Four prototype aircraft only were ordered, 1452 and 1453 from Hewlett and Blondeau Ltd of Leagrave, Beds., and two others, 1536 and 1537, from Blackburns. They were all delivered to RNAS Chingford, but being considerably above their estimated all-up weight and difficult to handle in the air, were scrapped.
   In 1916 Harris Booth left the Air Department of the Admiralty to join the Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd for whom he immediately designed what can only be regarded as a modified version of his A.D. Scout. To impart the high rate of roll needed by a slow machine taking evasive action round a target Zeppelin, the span was reduced from 33 ft 5 in to 24 ft but the lost wing area was regained by adopting a triplane configuration. It was then fitted with six inversely-tapered ailerons, those on the centre mainplane being cable-controlled from the cockpit and operating those above and below through link struts. The aircraft inherited the A.D. Scout's ugly nacelle and heavy stagger as well as the four parallel tail booms and outsize tailplane of no less than 18 ft 10 in span. The rudders were more enormous than ever so that altogether the Triplane was one of the most extraordinary looking aircraft ever built.
   The two-wheel arrangement of the A.D. Scout was replaced by a bungee-sprung, V-type, cross-axle undercarriage of moderate track, but the bottom wing was so close to the ground that substantial wing tip skids were also necessary. In other respects the Triplane was structurally similar to its predecessor and had a wire-braced, fabric-covered wooden airframe which used metal fittings of commercial mild steel. Wing, tailplane and rudder trailing edges were formed from stout wire which gave under the tautening effect of the dope to form a scalloped shape between the ribs.
   Only one prototype Triplane, N502, was built, and although contemporary photographs clearly show the gun port in the nose of the nacelle, it is doubtful if the Davis gun was ever fitted. The aircraft was erected in the Soldiers' Field at Roundhay Park, Leeds, where initial engine runs were made before despatch to Eastchurch at the end of 1916. The aircraft flew first with a 110 hp Clerget driving an 8ft-diameter four-bladed airscrew and later with a 100 hp Gnome and two-bladed airscrew. Admiralty acceptance took place at Eastchurch on 20 February 1917, but the Blackburn Triplane proved no more successful than the A.D. Scout and was struck off charge as unsatisfactory one month later on 19 March. Its end, like that of many another undeveloped pusher aircraft, was no doubt hastened by the invention of interruptor gear which enabled machine-guns to fire through the airscrew disc on tractor machines.

   Manufacturers: The Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd, Olympia Works, Roundhay Road, Leeds, Yorks.
   Power Plants:
   (A.D. Scout) One 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape
   One 110 hp Clerget
   One 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape
   (A.D. Scout)
   Span 33 ft 5 in Length 22 ft 9 in
   Height 10 ft 3 in
   Span 24 ft 0 in Length 21 ft 5 ft in
   Height 8 ft 6 in Wing area 221 sq ft
   Weights: (Triplane, Gnome) Tare weight 1,011 lb All-up weight 1,500 lb
   Performance: No confirmed details
   (A.D. Scout) Four aircraft only, 1452 and 1453 by Hewlett and Blondeau Ltd; 1536 and 1537 by Blackburn, to Contract 38552 15
   (Triplane) One aircraft only, N502, to Contract CP. 120730 16
The Blackburn Triplane with 100 hp Monosoupape and two-bladed airscrew.
Blackburn Triplane
Blackburn R.T. 1 Kangaroo

   The landplane version of the G.P. seaplane referred to in the previous section was designated R.T.1 or Reconnaissance-Torpedo type 1 and constructed in the Blackburn Olympia Works under the type name Kangaroo. The Air Board's decision to operate over the sea with land machines instead of marine aircraft was not merely a tribute to the reliability of the Kangaroo's Rolls-Royce engines and to its exceptional range and bomb load when relieved of the heavy float undercarriage, but to a realization that the ability of patrols to take-off must no longer be dependent on sea conditions.
   The fabric-covered, wooden airframe of the G.P. was retained, complete with the wing-folding mechanism, but all the main metal fittings were machined from forgings instead of being built up from sheet metal, and the top decking of the fuselage was almost entirely deleted, further emphasizing its already exceptionally slim lines. A number of other structural changes were made, including raising the engine nacelles into the mid-gap position by means of complicated strutting; replacing the side-mounted radiators by the frontal honeycomb type; increasing the rudder area by means of a rounded extension of the trailing edge; and fitting rectangular instead of triangular pylons to brace the massive 11-ft upper mainplane overhang. The four-wheeled land undercarriage was in two separate units, one under each engine nacelle, and consisted of two simple V struts with cross axle. These were quite rigid and devoid of shock absorbers, the only springing being the give in the 900 x 200 mm pneumatic tyres.
   The divided undercarriage made the Kangaroo ideal for torpedo-carrying but despite the original intention and designation it was not used in this role, offensive armament consisting of four 230-lb bombs, or a single 520-lb bomb, suspended tail-down in a special internal compartment between the main spars of the lower mainplane. Four smaller bombs were carried externally on racks bolted to the bottom longerons of the fuselage, all under the control of the front gunner whose cockpit was equipped with an RNAS Mk IIA low-altitude bomb sight. Defensive armament comprised two Lewis guns on Scarff rings, one in the nose and one aft of the wing, so that the normal crew was finalized at three - the front gunner observer bomb-aimer; the pilot, sitting 8 ft back from the nose; and the rear gunner wireless operator. Night-flying and W/T equipment were fitted as standard, and dual purpose ailerons, rigged with a droop of 3/4 in for normal use, could be lowered to act as landing flaps and were operated by a large wheel mounted on the control column. For reasons which defy deduction, the rear gunner's cockpit was provided with rudder and engine controls but had no control column or ignition switches. An early intention to raise the tail by means of a long, pylon-mounted tail skid giving adequate ground clearance for a prone gun position under the fuselage was not proceeded with, and all Kangaroos had short tail skids of welded steel.
   Two 250 hp twelve-cylinder vee-type water-cooled Rolls-Royce Falcon II engines driving four-bladed wooden airscrews gave the machine a maximum speed of 98 mph at ground level, and the total fuel capacity of 215.5 gallons (97.5 in the front tank and 118 in the rear) gave an operational endurance of eight hours. Each nacelle carried its own 8-gallon oil tank and an M.L. exciter which made engine starting so easy that a Kangaroo could be airborne in under 20 min.


   Clifford B. Prodger, an experienced American freelance test pilot, at that time under contract to Handley Page Ltd to test their big H.P. O 400 bombers, was engaged by the Blackburn company to flight test the prototype Kangaroo, B9970, and on 3 January 1918 it was delivered to the Aeroplane Experimental Station, Martlesham Heath, where it was put through official trials which lasted some three weeks. Martlesham's evaluation included comparative trials between the Kangaroo and the Avro 529 one-off, long-range bomber prototype 3694. These were staged on 19 January. It is difficult to see what conclusions could be drawn from such a comparison since the Avro 529, powered by two early 190 hp Rolls-Royce Falcon engines, was smaller and in a lower weight class. Later that day the undercarriage of the Kangaroo collapsed with the tests only partly completed, and as a result the device for lowering both ailerons to act as landing flaps was never tried. After the necessary repairs, all the remaining performance testing was completed by 26 January, and by 2 February the makers had been advised that the aircraft was ready for collection. A Blackburn working party began to dismantle and pack it on 9 March and it left for Brough by rail on 27 April.
   The resulting Martlesham Report M.169 stated that the machine was pleasantly light on the controls at cruising speed but became markedly nose heavy in an engine-off glide, with excessive loads on the control column. Lateral control was very light but undergeared, and the twin rudders were difficult to operate because foot trolleys had been fitted in place of a rudder bar and the control wires passed through the rear cockpit where they were liable to be trodden on. Lack of torsional rigidity caused the rear fuselage to twist when the aircraft came out of a steep turn; the front gun was so far in front of the C.G. that it was off balance; lack of fuselage depth made it impossible for the gunner to get down low enough to work it, and his seat was extremely uncomfortable; and the aft gunner was prevented from firing in a backward direction by the biplane tail unit.

In War Service

   A requirement for up to 50 Kangaroos had been foreseen, but in the light of the defects enumerated by Martlesham and in response to a departmental enquiry, Lt Col J. G. Weir, Chief of the Technical Department, stated in a memorandum dated 4 February 1918 that ...'The 20 Kangaroos which are already well in hand at Blackburns will be similar to the machine in the attached report. It is understood that no more are to be ordered and no steps have been taken to modify the machine...' Despite this statement the 19 subsequent aircraft, all of which were test flown by Blackburn's chief test pilot R. W. Kenworthy, must have had strengthened rear fuselages and other modifications because no further twisting or other difficulties were ever experienced. The scheme for using the ailerons as flaps was abandoned and the aircraft were fitted with sprung undercarriages, each front leg incorporating rubber shock absorbers in a streamlined wooden fairing. At the same time, the front fuselage was built up to improve the lot of the front gunner, and his mounting was raised 9 in to give freedom of fire in all forward directions. B9970 was also modified to this standard and retained its 250 hp Rolls-Royce Falcon lis. This mark of engine also powered the next four Kangaroos, but the remaining 15 aircraft had 270 hp Rolls-Royce Falcon IIIs.
   The 20 Kangaroos, intended originally as G.P. seaplanes for the Admiralty, were at first allotted serial numbers N1720-N1739 in a series reserved almost entirely for marine aircraft but, following the usual practice in those days, they were renumbered on transfer to the RFC and completed as landplanes for anti-submarine work as B9970-B9989, but Blackburn's production rate was slowed by a shortage of cypress timber and absorption into the RAF had taken place before any were delivered.
   Although the Kangaroo was to have been used in the alternative role of night bomber, none were so employed and ten were delivered to No. 246 Squadron, RAF, at Seaton Carew near the mouth of the River Tees, for oversea reconnaissance duties during 1918. Their working-up period was brief and between 1 May 1918 and the Armistice of 11 November, they flew 600 hr over the North Sea on convoy protection, sighted twelve U-boats, attacked eleven, sank one and damaged a further four. Two of these attacks were made by B9972 on 8 and 13 June 1918, respectively, but the only confirmed sinking resulted from prompt action by Lt E. F. Waring and his gunner Lt H. J. Smith while on patrol in B9983. At 15.25 hrs on 28 August 1918, they discovered the U.C.70 lying on the bottom in 14 fathoms close inshore near Runswick Bay where a near miss with the 520-lb bomb sufficiently damaged the submarine for it to be finished off with depth charges by HMS Ouse. B9983 did not survive the war, being destroyed in a serious crash at Seaton Carew.
   From an Admiralty report on the 1918 anti-submarine campaign it would appear that only seven or eight were airworthy at Seaton Carew at any one time, although ten were on charge in October 1918. At that time B9984 was at the Anti-Submarine Inshore Patrol Observers' School, Aldbrough, and three more at No. 2 (N) Marine Acceptance Depot, Brough, were probably never used operationally. In January 1919, when the Anti-Submarine School at Aldbrough became No. 1 Marine Observers' School, B9984 was joined by B9986 and B9987. Very surprisingly the report then goes on to say that '...notwithstanding the fact that all the twin-engined machines were fitted with Rolls-Royce engines, the number of their patrols curtailed by engine trouble compares unfavourably with that of other types...' This suggests that Kangaroo utilization was by no means as high as had been expected and contrasts sharply with the experiences of the company's pilot who flew them all and never had engine trouble of any kind on Kangaroos throughout 1918 and 1919.

Commercial Kangaroos

   After the Armistice, all available Kangaroos and spares were put up for sale by the Disposals Board and early in 1919 R. W. Kenworthy and Harry Goodyear were sent off to Seaton Carew to pick out the best. They were subsequently ferried to Brough, Blackburns having purchased them en bloc in a transaction completed on 10 May 1919. There was some competition for the Kangaroos at Seaton Carew as Lt Valdemar Rendle was there looking for a machine with which to compete for the Australian Government's ?10,000 prize. He eventually selected the prototype machine B9970 and flew it to Brough for modifications, while three others, B9981, B9982 and B9985, were acquired by the Grahame-White Aviation Co Ltd and flown to Hendon on 11 May 1919, to be used as joyriding aircraft. For this purpose they were stripped of gun mountings and other military equipment and fitted with plywood floors aft of the wings. Fabric on top of the rear fuselage was then opened up to form two large cockpits accommodating seven passengers, an eighth being carried in the extreme nose. They retained their drab green camouflage and military serial numbers, and it was not until 8 June 1919 that they were allotted civil registrations G-EADE, 'DF and 'DG respectively. By that time B9982 'DF had already been wrecked when a wing struck the ground after the port engine cut when the machine was taking off from Hendon with a load of joyride passengers on Saturday, 31 May, during the official reception to H. G. Hawker and Cdr Mackenzie Grieve, pilots of the unlucky Atlantic Sopwith, and Cdr Read of the successful American transatlantic flying-boat NC-4. No one was hurt in this Kangaroo accident nor in a later one when the first of the three was damaged beyond repair in July of that year. The third Kangaroo survived to be repainted with 'Grahame-White Air Service' in white outline letters along the length of the fuselage and took part in Hendon's week-end racing, dropped parachutists, gave foreign missions their baptisms of the air and carried hundreds of joyriders during the two year currency of its C. of A. By 28 September 1919, when it was pressed into service to carry passengers and mail from the London terminal aerodrome at Hounslow Heath to Roundhay Park, during the rail strike, it had been painted up in full civil marks as G-EADG. From 1 October, it was commandeered by the Government to fly the mail to Newcastle via Leeds, and left Hounslow at 7.50 am with about 50 letters weighing a total of 3 lb 8 oz! Needless to say the service was promptly suspended when 'DG returned south next day.
   On 23 April 1919, Blackburns formed an operating subsidiary known as the North Sea Aerial Navigation Co to run commercial services, and their first recorded movement took place on 10 May 1919, when Kenworthy flew a load of freight from Gosport to Leeds. The first leg to Hounslow took 40 min and the remainder of the journey to Roundhay Park 1 hr 45min. This machine, almost certainly B9978, later civil-registered G-EAIT, was quickly fitted with a large glazed cabin seating seven passengers. Glass sides were also fitted to the gun pit in the nose to accommodate an eighth. With this machine Kenworthy inaugurated a short-lived West Hartlepool-Brough service with three passengers on 26 May. Two other North Sea Kangaroos B9972 and B9973, later G-EAKQ and 'IU respectively, were similarly modified but differed in detail. G-EAIU had the glazed nose compartment and a large open cockpit in the rear for freight carrying or joyriding in the manner of the Grahame-White machines, and while still in military marks gave pleasure flights at Roundhay Park, during the victory celebrations in the same month. G-EAKQ had the same type of cabin roof as ' IT, but the nose was reshaped to form two standard pilot's cockpits in tandem and almost certainly had dual controls.
   The First Air Traffic Exhibition - ELTA - held at Amsterdam in August 1919, attracted exhibits from all the leading European aircraft manufacturers, and the stand of the Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd displayed large detailed models of the cabin-type commercial Kangaroo in both land and seaplane configurations. Some 20 years later, in March 1939, the model of the unbuilt seaplane project was presented by the company to the Hull Municipal Museum. On 8 August 1919, R. W. Kenworthy left Leeds for the Exhibition with five passengers in G-EAIT, cleared Customs at Hounslow and made Brussels as darkness fell. After inspection next morning by the King and Queen of the Belgians, the remaining distance to Amsterdam was covered in 1 hr 35 min. Tremendous Dutch enthusiasm kept the machine hard at joyriding for six weeks, except for a five-day delay caused by the destructive effect of the aerodrome's sandy surface on the airscrew coverings. G-EAIT also took second prize in a starting, climbing and short-landing competition. Joyriding profits were so satisfactory that the company thought it worthwhile to despatch a second Kangaroo, G-EAIU, which Capt S. J. Woolley flew out via Hounslow and Lympne on 28 August. Next day the exhibition organizers presented him with a gold watch when 'IU came last in the Circuit of Holland Race for commercial aircraft!
   With only a week to go before ELTA closed, Kenworthy and Woolley were joined by Maj Veale in G-EAKQ, and at the final count they had carried between them 1,400 fare-paying passengers and given many free rides without incident. All three Kangaroos then returned to Brough, and on the way home Kenworthy flew ' IT from Amsterdam to Lympne in 3 hr and from Hounslow to Brough in 2 hr, total fuel consumption working out at 25 gallons per hour.
   On 30 September 1919, and coincident with the activities of the Grahame-White Kangaroo during the rail strike, the North Sea Aerial Navigation Co Ltd commenced a regular service between Leeds and Hounslow. They used the cabin machines G-EAIT and 'KQ, despatching the southbound machine from Leeds at 10 am and the northbound from Hounslow at noon. The fare was 15 guineas single or ?30 return. Kenworthy flew the first southbound service with only one passenger (the company's secretary travelling free!) but on arrival at Hounslow he and the aircraft were commandeered by the Government to fly the strike-bound mail to Glasgow next morning at dawn. After some haggling with the GPO officer concerned, a price of ?945 was agreed for the round trip, worked out on the basis of 13 1/2 hr flying at ?70 per hour. The mail load was similar to that carried to Newcastle by the Grahame-White Kangaroo, so on reaching Glasgow Kenworthy promptly sold the seven vacant seats at ?20 per head for the return trip to Hounslow.
   The North Sea Aerial Navigation Co Ltd also acquired a pair of Avro 504Ks, G-EAGV and 'GW, which were converted to three-seaters to be used for joyriding and a short-lived Harrogate-Brough (Hull)-Scarborough service. The Kangaroos were maintained at Brough and went on service at the old Leeds aerodrome at Roundhay Park, a comparatively small field which was eventually abandoned as unsuitable. Brough then became the terminal, the service was extended to Amsterdam and the company re-formed as the North Sea Aerial and General Transport Co Ltd.
   The first 'service' was, in fact, a charter flight for Heatons (Leeds) Ltd to beat a dock strike in the Netherlands, flown by R. W. Kenworthy in G-EAKQ with Mr T. Bancroft as engineer. The Kangaroo left Brough at 12.30 pm on 5 March 1920 and landed at Lympne at 5 pm, arriving in Amsterdam at 10.30 am next day. The load, consisting of over 1,000 lb of ladies' raincoats and garments in West Riding cloth, was rushed through Dutch Customs and away by lorry, but strikers became hostile and Kenworthy had to take the machine over to Soesterberg Aerodrome for military protection before it could take off on the return flight on 13 March. The inbound load consisted of 1,200 lb of German aniline dyes for the Bradford Dyers' Association, each-way aircraft operating costs being approximately ?150. The service ran weekly for a time and carried 2 1/2 tons of freight a month initially, but the long detour to the Customs aerodromes in the south was a severe handicap and financially the scheme was a failure. Thus, after some 20,000 miles had been flown, 18,000 lb of goods and 1,200 passengers carried, this gallant pioneer attempt at air-freighting was abandoned.
   Kangaroos G-EAIT and TU were retained by the company for training purposes, as related later, but 'KQ, at that time the only one fitted with two pilots' cockpits in tandem, was sold in July 1921 to the Peruvian Centro Militar or Army Flying Service. Along with twelve Avro 504Ks, it was based at Las Palmas air station, 9 miles from Lima, and was still there in 1923.

Long Distance Flights

   One of the four aircraft competing for the prize of ?10,000, offered by the Australian Government for the first flight from England to Australia by a British-built aircraft manned by an Australian crew, was Kangaroo G-EAOVX', which at the beginning of the previous year had been the performance trials machine B9970. When the Blackburn company submitted its entry on 26 May 1919, the crew was to have been Lt Valdemar Rendle, Charles Kingsford Smith and Cyril Maddocks, but the FAI would not permit the last two to fly. Thus when the Kangaroo took off from Hounslow at 10.37 am on 21 November 1919 - nine days after the departure of Ross and Keith Smith in the victorious Vickers Vimy G-EAOU - it was flown by Rendle with Lt D. R. Williams as co-pilot, explorer Capt (later Sir) Hubert Wilkins, MC, as navigator and commanding officer, and Lt G. H. Potts as engineer. Its Falcon II engines were expertly tuned by Rolls-Royce, fitted with special carburettors and provided with enlarged radiators for tropical flying. A large auxiliary gravity tank was mounted on top of the upper centre section and a duplicated set of flying and engine controls was fitted in the front cockpit.
   G-EAOW reached Romilly, 60 miles from Paris, the first day, but progress was slow because of bad weather and head winds, the itinerary being as follows:
   21 November Hounslow-Romilly 30 November Pisa-Rome
   28 November Romilly-St Raphael 3 December Rome-Taranto
   29 November St Raphael-Pisa 5 December Taranto-Suda Bay
   By the time it reached Suda Bay, in Crete, the magnetos had twice been tampered with and a further instance of suspected sabotage ended the flight three days later. When 80 miles out from Crete on 8 December, the pipe from the scavenge pump to the oil tank on the port engine (Rolls-Royce Falcon II No. 59) fractured, apparently as a result of fatigue caused by bending it backwards and forwards. Lt Rendle managed to fly back to Crete on one engine and made a difficult downwind landing, but the aircraft ran over a small ditch, punctured a tyre, slewed round, ran up an embankment and tipped slowly on its nose. No-one was hurt and the machine was undamaged, but cables to England for a spare engine were so distorted in transit that no engine was ever sent and the machine still lay at Suda Bay in July 1921.
   When a second ?10,000 prize was put up, this time by the Daily Express for a flight to India and back, the Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd were quick to enter Kangaroo B9977, civil-registered G-EAMJ and crewed by R. W. Kenworthy as pilot and Capt Hubert Wilkins, MC, as navigator. Operating expenses for the flight were guaranteed by the Yorkshire Evening News, and the aircraft was fitted out as a three-seater with a cabin of the type first devised for G-EAIT. This housed the overload fuel tanks, a comprehensive selection of spares and the compulsory commercial load, in this case a ton of crated whisky donated by a Scottish distillery. Oversize tyres were fitted to improve handling on sandy aerodrome surfaces, and Rolls-Royce carefully tuned the Falcon III engines and fitted large tropical radiators of the type used on G-EAOW. Only one other entry materialized, the Handley Page O/400 G-EASO Old Carthusian II to be flown by Maj A. S. MacLaren, but the flight never took place. On 11 May 1920, the Air Ministry postponed the start indefinitely on receipt of a telegram from the AOC, RAF Middle East, prohibiting flights east of Cairo because of strained relations with the Arabs.
   A Kangaroo was to have accompanied the British Aerial Antarctic Expedition later that year, but this scheme too was abandoned.

Racing and Training

   Probably the most memorable day in the history of the Blackburn Kangaroo was 8 September 1922, when the cabin machine G-EAMJ intended for the India flight (modified to eight-seater) and the open-cockpit G-EAIU lined up at Croydon for the start of the first-ever King's Cup Race. Powered by Falcon IIIs specially tuned for the race by Rolls-Royce, they had both arrived at Croydon from Brough on the previous Tuesday, 5 September. G-EAMJ was entered by no less a person than the Rt Hon Winston S. Churchill, MP, and flown by Lt Col Spenser Grey, DSO, who had owned a Blackburn Mercury III back in 1911. G-EAIU, entered by Sir Walter de Frece, was flown by R. W. Kenworthy. Accompanied by Cdr Risk and some mechanics, Spenser Grey got away 10 min ahead of Kenworthy, but both aircraft made slow progress and eventually Spenser Grey's compass failed and he was compelled to land at Jarrow-on-Tyne to enquire the way. The two Kangaroos night-stopped at Town Moor, Newcastle, and pressed on over the mountains to Renfrew next morning, but without a compass Spenser Grey had no alternative but to follow Kenworthy and, after refuelling, they turned south for Manchester where both retired. The race was won by F. L. Barnard flying the famous D.H.4A G-EAMU and a few days later the four specially-tuned Falcons were removed from the Kangaroos and advertised for sale at ?485 each!
   After its attempt to operate commercial services failed in 1920, the North Sea Aerial and General Transport Co Ltd was kept in being with joyriding and exhibition flying until 1924, when an RAF Reserve School was established at Brough under its management. To provide refresher courses in twin-engined flying for serving RAF pilots and for Reservists, the surviving Kangaroos were fitted with dual control in tandem cockpits. In the training role they appeared in silver dope for the first time and, following the loss of the veteran G-EAIT in a crash at Brough on 5 May 1925 in which a pilot named Macdonald was killed, three more old Kangaroos were taken out of storage and modified to the standard of G-EAIT. They were fitted with Falcon II engines, for at that time all available stocks of Falcon IIIs were earmarked for Bristol Fighters. The names of the famous Daily Mirror cartoon characters Pip, Squeak and Wilfred, were painted across their flat noses and, with registrations G-EBOM, 'PK and 'MD respectively, they ended their days doing a useful, if unspectacular, training job and were a common sight in the Humber area until withdrawn from use in 1928. By March 1929 they had all been flown to Sherburn-in-Elmet and completely filled the hangars of the Yorkshire Aeroplane Club until taken out one at a time and broken up.
   All that now remains is an airscrew which has been cleaned and polished by the present Yorkshire Flying Club and fitted with a clock to serve as a mural decoration in their clubhouse at Leeds Bradford Airport, Yeadon. Until uncovered by a contractor's bulldozer in 1965, it had lain there under an immense pile of sand once used as ballast during test flights of Yeadon-built Avro Lancasters more than 20 years previously.

   Manufacturers: The Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd, Olympia Works, Roundhay Road, Leeds, and Brough Aerodrome, East Yorks.
   Power Plants:
   Two 250 hp Rolls-Royce Falcon II
   Two 270 hp Rolls-Royce Falcon III
   Span (upper) 74 ft 10 1/4 in (lower) 53 ft 1 in
   (folded) 46 ft 1 in Wing area 868 sq ft
   Length 44 ft 2 in Height 16 ft 10 in
   Three crew 540 lb Tare weight 5,284 lb
   Two Lewis guns 33 lb Military load 1,003 lb
   Ammunition 127 lb Fuel 2151 gallons 1,570 lb
   Equipment 303 lb Oil 16 gallons 160 lb
   Military load 1,003 lb All-up weight 8,017 lb
   Speed at 6,500 ft 98 mph Maximum height reached 10,600 ft
   Speed at 10,000 ft 86 mph Time to max. height 44 min 0 sec
   Initial climb 480 ft min Climb at max. height 90 ft min
   Climb at 5,000 ft 305 ft min Absolute ceiling 13,000 ft
   Climb at 10,000 ft 115 ft min Endurance 8 hr

Comparative trials with Avro 529 prototype 3694 held at Martlesham 19 January 1918:

   Kangaroo Avro 529
All-up weight 8,017 lb 6,309 lb
Maximum speed at 10,000 ft 86 mph 89 mph
Climb at 2,000 ft 430 ft min 640 ft min
Climb at 5,000 ft 305 ft min 500 ft min
Climb at 10,000 ft 115 ft min 260 ft min

   Prototype B9970 and nineteen production aircraft B9971-B9989 (originally N1720-N1739) to Contract A.S.7469, monthly deliveries as under:

   January 1918 B9970 July 1918 B9981-B9984
   April 1918 B9971-B9972 August 1918 B9985-B9988
   May 1918 B9973-B9976 September 1918 B9989
   June 1918 B9977-B9980

   B9973 and B9977 were delivered to the RAF on 8 May and 18 June 1918 respectively; B9983 crashed at Seaton Carew while in service with No. 246 Squadron; one new and unidentified Kangaroo (vandals cut out the identity panels), crashed at Hornsea, East Yorks., while on delivery to Seaton Carew.

Civil Conversions:

   Cabin model Dual trainer
Tare weight 5,300 lb 5.150 lb
All-up weight 8,100 lb 8,020 lb
Maximum speed 98 mph 98 mph
Climb to 1,000 ft 2 min 2 min
Range 410 miles 580 miles

(a) For the Grahame-White Aviation Co Ltd (delivered from Seaton Carew to Hendon 11 May 1919)
   G-EADE ex B9981. registered June 1919. C. of A. issued 21 June 1919. crashed at Hendon 29 June 1919.
   G-EADF ex B9982, registered 8 June 1919, no C. of A., crashed on take-off at Hendon 31 May 1919.
   G-EADG ex B9985, C. of A. issued 6 June 1919, registered 11 June 1919, C. of A. renewed 8 June 1920, withdrawn from use at C. of A. expiry 7 June 1921.

(b) For the North Sea Aerial Navigation Co Ltd (style changed to the North Sea Aerial and General Transport Co Ltd in 1920)
   G-EAIT ex B9978, cabin type registered 1 August 1919, C. of A. issued 11 August 1919, out of service from 11 August 1921 until C. of A. re-issued 2 March 1925 after conversion to dual trainer, crashed at Brough 5 May 1925.
   G-EAIU ex B9973, open type registered 1 August 1919, C. of A. issued 1 September 1919, out of service from 12 September 1923 until C. of A. re-issued 18 May 1924 after conversion to the prototype dual trainer Bongo, withdrawn from use at C. of A. expiry 19 April 1929 and broken up at Sherburn-in-Elmet.
   G-EAKQ ex B9972, cabin type registered 18 August 1919, C. of A. issued 9 September 1919, renewed 5 September 1920, sold to the Peruvian Army Flying Service July 1921.
   G-EAMJ ex B9977, cabin type for India Flight registered 8 September 1919, no C. of A., King's Cup Race 1922, converted to dual trainer Felix the Cat in 1924, C. of A. issued 20 June 1924, withdrawn from use at C. of A. expiry 2 February 1929 and broken up at Sherburn-in-Elmet.
   G-EAOW ex B9970, registered to the Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd for Australia Flight 24 October 1919, C. of A. issued 17 November 1919, abandoned in Crete 8 December 1919.
   G-EBMD origin unknown, registered 13 August 1925 for conversion to dual trainer Wilfred to Works Order 8837, C. of A. issued 21 January 1926, withdrawn from use at C. of A. expiry 7 February 1929 and broken up at Sherburn-in-Elmet.
   G-EBOM origin unknown, registered 18 June 1926 for conversion to dual trainer Pip to Works Order 8839, C. of A. issued 13 July 1926, crashed at Brough due to engine failure 29 May 1928. Pilot F/O E. B. Fielden.
   G-EBPK origin unknown, registered 29 October 1926 for conversion to dual trainer Squeak to Works Order 8840, C. of A. issued 3 February 1927, withdrawn from use at C. of A. expiry 2 July 1929 and broken up at Sherburn-in-Elmet.
The prototype Blackburn Kangaroo, B9970, with the unsprung undercarriage.
Delivered to the RAF in May 1918. Kangaroo B9974 displays alt the modifications found necessary to overcome the Services criticisms expressed during trials, including the modified nose gunner's cockpit and the oleo-sprung undercarriage.
Один из "Кенгуру" 246-го дивизиона на аэродроме Сэтон-Кэри, май 1918г.
B9976 of No. 246 Squadron bombed up and ready to leave Seaton Carew on anti-submarine patrol in 1918.
Kangaroo G-EADG of the Grahame-White Air Service being wheeled out at Hounslow, from where on 1 October 1919 it operated a mail flight to Newcastle
Kangaroo G-EAIU carrying the Rockwell Italic styling in 1922.
Kangaroo G-EAIU with wings folded at Croydon on the eve of the first King's Cup Air Race on 8 September 1922.
R. W. Kenworthy and T. Bancroft in Kangaroo G-EAKQ at Amsterdam on 6 March 1920 at the conclusion of the first commercial flight from England. Only the braking effect of the railway track prevented it terminating in the ditch.
The England-Australia Kangaroo, G-EAOW, after the forced landing at Suda Bay, Crete, on 8 December 1919.
The dual-control Kangaroo trainer G-EBOM at Brough in 1926.
The erecting shop at Brough in 1925, with work in progress on the second civil Dart trainer, G-EBKG, the first Kangaroo dual conversion, G-EIAU, and the second Cubaroo, N167
Reserve School and other aircraft in the North Sea hangar, Brough, during the Velos demonstrations of 28 October 1925. Left to right: Avro 548A G-EBIT, Kangaroo dual trainer G-EAIU, Avro 548A G-EBIV, Bluebird I prototype G-EBKD and the US Army Air Attache's DH-4B.
Blackburn R.T.1 Kangaroo
Blackburn Blackburd

   Although Robert Blackburn had made a valuable contribution to the war effort by building large numbers of B.E.2c biplanes and had been awarded sizeable contracts for Sopwith Baby seaplanes and Sopwith Cuckoo single-seat torpedo-bombers, it was well known that his real interest lay in the construction of naval aeroplanes of Blackburn design. Opportunity was not long delayed, for, despite the excellence of the Cuckoo as an aeroplane, its 1,086 lb Mk IX torpedo was not capable of sinking a large warship. Thus, in the autumn of 1917, the Admiralty formulated a requirement for a generally similar singleseater capable of carrying the large Mk VIII torpedo weighing 1,423 lb and mounting a warhead 50 per cent more powerful than that of the Mk IX. Details were set out in Specification N.1B (Torpedo-Carrying Ship Aeroplane), but when the RNAS lost its separate identity in April 1918 the N.1B aeroplanes were restyled Type XXII in the new RAF system of numbering by functional category.
   Contracts were placed in February 1918 for six Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII powered prototype aircraft, three from Short Bros Ltd which were given the name Short Shirl and numbered N110-N112, and three others N113-N115 from the Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd for which Robert Blackburn created the name Blackburd simply by changing the last letter of his surname. As stated in a previous chapter on the little Blackburn single-seat flyingboat, N.1B aircraft were all single-seat bombers, but as this category also included torpedo aircraft, the Shirl and the Blackburd came within it.
   Competitive trials were to decide which of the two types was to be built in quantity, but so determined were Blackburns to secure a production contract and to establish themselves as specialists in naval aircraft, that they supplied these prototypes at ?2,200 each, or approximately two-thirds of the actual cost.
   Designed by Harris Booth and intended eventually for shipboard service on Britain's first aircraft carrier Argus, commissioned in September 1918, the Blackburd was a large, three-bay, unstaggered biplane with folding wings, conceived on the simplest possible lines for cheap and rapid production. For this reason the mainplanes were of constant chord and uniform section throughout so that if the Blackburd were ordered in quantity they could, like those of the D.H.6, be 'made by the mile and cut off by the yard'. They retained the wire trailing edges of the S.P. and Kangaroo machines and were built up from rectangular-section box spars and ribs of spruce three-ply, braced with steel tie rods. The same principle was applied to the design of the square-section fuselage which was built around four rectangular spruce box longerons. It maintained a constant depth from nose to tail and was thus little more than a flying box under which the torpedo was carried in steel crutches. Although the strength weight ratio was unusually good, it is doubtful whether the fuselage could, in fact, have been produced quickly as the work of building up the struts and box longerons was considerable, particularly as the latter tapered towards the rear.
   Lateral control was by four interconnected long-span ailerons which could all be lowered to act as flaps for shortening the take-off run, but the pilot only had positive control over them in a downward direction, the upward movement being effected by the dashpot-controlled tension of bungee rubber cord anchored to the rear spar of the wing.
   A single 350 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII water-cooled engine on a tubular-steel mounting drove a two-bladed left-hand tractor wooden airscrew and was equipped with doper and hand starter which made it possible to despatch the Blackburd within 15 min of an alert. Fuel was pumped from a 74-gallon tank in the second bay of the fuselage, and a 9-gallon oil tank was fitted crosswise some 2 ft behind the engine.
   Tubular-steel interplane and undercarriage struts were streamlined with an exceptionally light, if complicated, fairing built up of fabric doped over three-ply formers linked by wires and secured to metal clips soldered to the main tube. Weight saving over the usual spruce fairings was estimated as 120 lb. The enormous undercarriage was built in the form of a pin-jointed parallelogram with stout diagonal main legs incorporating solid rubber shock absorbers, the shock legs projecting vertically below the inboard interplane struts and carrying short steel skids of Warren truss construction at their lower ends. The 900 x 200 mm pneumatic wheels and their transverse axle weighing 70 lb had to be jettisoned before the torpedo could be dropped, and on its return to the carrier the Blackburd was expected to make a deck landing on the skids. This was not so hazardous a procedure as it would appear, much preparatory work having been done with skid-equipped Sopwith Pups and 1 1/2 Strutters at the Marine Experimental Aircraft Depot, Isle of Grain.
   Ability to jettison the wheels was, of course, a distinct advantage if the pilot were faced with the necessity of making a forced landing at sea, the risk of nosing over being greatly reduced. Ditching characteristics on the third Blackburd prototype, N115, were further improved by increasing the chord of the front undercarriage struts so that they acted as mountings for multiple hydrofoils, an additional pair being fixed to the skids. Flotation gear in the form of inflatable air bags was carried in the fuselage.
   The pilot's cockpit was situated 9 ft behind the centre section and approximately half-way between the trailing edge of the mainplane and the leading edge of the tailplane, a remote position from which forward view must have been negligible, and the fuselage was so wide that he had difficulty in looking over the side. Control was by a wooden rudder-bar and a stick-mounted aileron wheel which projected out of the cockpit in true pre-1914 manner. The pilot sat in a large wicker seat protected from the slipstream by a fairing of doped fabric surmounted by a small Triplex wind screen. No guns were carried and the aircraft was armed solely with the torpedo.
   Delivery of the first Blackburd, N113, was scheduled for 6 May 1918 but, after the engine had been installed, the men were taken off it to rush out the first few Cuckoos but even so it was finished by the end of the month. R. W. Kenworthy, Blackburn's chief test pilot, then flew it on a series of trials in which the wheels and a dummy torpedo were dropped repeatedly into the River Humber to be picked up by motor boat. The aircraft then returned to Brough to make its fearsome skid landing. The skids were modified a number of times but according to Kenworthy the landings went off fairly satisfactorily, the 'feel' to the pilot being similar to landing a seaplane. He flew it south to the Aeroplane Experimental Station at Martlesham Heath on 4 June 1918 for official performance trials, beating the first Short Shirl, N110 (delivered by John Lankester Parker), by several days.
   In Report M.208 dated 21 June 1918, the Blackburd's combined aileron and flap system was criticized on the grounds that if the flaps were down for take-off the machine was without ailerons and therefore uncontrollable laterally. Their effectiveness was proven, however, when the fully-loaded Blackburd unstuck in less than one-third of the distance required without flaps.
   Flight testing showed that the Blackburd was only stable laterally, and the Report went on to say that it was excessively nose heavy in climbing, gliding and level flight, both with and without torpedo, and that it was '...only possible to fly for any length of time by relieving the pilot of the continuous elevator load by means of "sandow" (bungee rubber) on the control stick'. In gusts and bumps, rudder area was inadequate; and while landing, the rudder became ineffective as flying speed was lost, making it difficult to keep the aircraft into wind during slow landings, and impossible to taxy in winds of more than 8 mph. When the trials were almost complete, Blackburd N113 crashed, and some of the tests, including flapped take-off distance measurements with varying loads, were never completed. Comment was made, however, on the excellent way in which the tubular engine mounting, the fuel tank and all the joints in the wooden structure stood up to the impact.
   The second Blackburd, N114, was doped silver overall, and although first flown without them, was delivered with small wing tip floats bolted to the underside of the lower mainplane below the outboard interplane struts. It also had a large rectangular tropical radiator of the type fitted later to the special long-distance Blackburn Kangaroos. As a result of recommendations made after the Martlesham trials with N113 , the tail unit was redesigned, strengthened internally, fitted with improved rudder and elevator hinges and a larger rudder, having the trailing edge in the form of a smooth curve instead of in vertical scalloping. To prevent deflection of the tailplane under load (which by altering the incidence had probably affected fore and aft control on N113), twin bracing cables were anchored to both front and rear spars. Take-off flaps were retained but were controlled separately from the ailerons.
   On completion in mid-August 1918, N114 was flown straight to the RAF station at East Fortune, Scotland, for torpedo trials, but it later returned to Brough for servicing before being flown to Martlesham Heath on 16 October for full performance testing. Performance measurements with and without torpedo were completed by 9 November, but a week later manoeuvrability trials were temporarily suspended to permit a detailed examination of the fuselage structure. The third Blackburd, N115, completed in November 1918, was sent from Brough to the Development Squadron at Gosport. N114 was also posted to the strength of this squadron but was dismantled and sent to Devonport to be held as spares for N115. The latter was certainly serviceable at Gosport on 10 May 1919, and it later operated experimentally from Argus in the Mediterranean.
   R. W. Kenworthy recalled how a second cockpit was made over the C.G. of a Blackburd - it could only have been N115 - and how he flew with Lady Mary Savile as passenger from Gosport to Hounslow en route for Brough but forced landed on the golf course at Hurst Park. This aeroplane was also to have been used by Miss Florence Parbery, the singer, for airborne Marconi wireless tests at the Hague, but she eventually made them at Croydon Airport in a Westland Limousine piloted by A. F. Muir on 12 January 1922.
   As the Shirl's performance was marginally better than that of the Blackburd, an order was placed with Blackburns for 100 Shirls, but this was cancelled soon afterwards in favour of additional Sopwith Cuckoos which were better able to take evasive action after launching their torpedoes. Nevertheless, despite the brevity of their careers, the three Blackburd prototypes served to renew and strengthen the Blackburn company's link with the Royal Navy, first forged with the Type L four years previously.

   Manufacturers: The Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd, Olympia Works, Roundhay Road, Leeds, and Brough Aerodrome, East Yorks.
   Power Plant: One 350 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII
   Span (extended) 52 ft 5 in (folded) 17 ft 1 in
   Length 34 ft 10 in Height 12 ft 41 in
   Wing area 684 sq ft
   Pilot 180 lb Tare weight 3,228 lb
   Mk VIII torpedo 1,400 lb Military load 1,8511b
   Torpedo gear 50 lb Fuel 74 gallons 534 lb
   Equipment 221 lb Oil 9 gallons 87 lb
   Military load 1,851 lb All-up weight 5,700 lb
   Without torpedo With torpedo
Speed at 6,500 ft 95 mph 90.5 mph
Speed at 10,000 ft 94.5 mph 84.5 mph
Speed at 16,500 ft 87 mph -
Initial climb 845 ft min 505 ft min
Climb at 5,000 ft 685 ft min 345 ft min
Climb at 10,000 ft 480 ft min 140 ft min
Maximum height reached 17,000 ft 11,000 ft
Time to max. height 37 min 15 sec 41 min 45 sec
Climb at max. height 195 ft min 100 ft min
Absolute ceiling 21,500 ft 13,000 ft
Endurance 3 hr 3 hr

   Three prototype aircraft only as follows:
   N113 Completed May 1918, flown to Martlesham 4 June 1918, crashed at Martlesham on or about 2 July 1918.
   N114 Completed August 1918, to East Fortune, September 1918, flown to Martlesham 16 October 1918, dismantled and sent to Devonport as spares on or about 7 December 1918.
   N115 Completed November 1918, to the Development Squadron, Gosport; temporary two-seater later.
N113 with wheels fitted and showing the constant-depth fuselage, unbraced tail unit and small rudder.
Blackburd N113 under construction in the Olympia Works, May 1918, showing the steel landing skids and built-up fairings.
The second Blackburd, N114, with torpedo in position, wing tip floats, braced tail unit and modified rudder.
Front view of the second Blackburd, N114, to show the large rectangular radiator, short-span ailerons, separate from the flaps, are distinguishable on the starboard side.
The cockpit of Blackburd N113.
Blackburn Blackburd
Blackburn N.1B

   Designs to an Admiralty requirement for a single-seat fleet escort bomber to replace the Blackburn-built Sopwith Baby seaplane, made known in 1916 as category N.1B, were prepared by the Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd at Leeds, the Supermarine Aviation Works Ltd at Southampton, and the Westland Aircraft Works at Yeovil. Contracts were placed for eight prototypes, three by Blackburn, three by Supermarine and two by Westland. All were known as N.1B, but whereas the Westland machines N16 and N17 were twin-float seaplanes somewhat similar to the Sopwith Baby, the three Supermarines, N59, N60 and N61, were small pusher flying-boats.
   The Blackburn N.1B design resembled Supermarine's concept of the requirement in that it too was a pusher flying-boat employing a hull of Linton Hope design. This was built to a system created by Lt Linton Hope, RN, and consisted of circular wooden formers spaced by stringers and planked diagonally with narrow mahogany strips one-eighth of an inch in thickness, in two laminations so that the layers crossed each other at 90 degrees. There the resemblance ended, for the Supermarine boat was constructed on strictly utilitarian lines and had a monoplane tail while the Blackburn N.1B was a sesquiplane of inspired design using a hull of refined and delicate aerodynamic form. Armament was to have been a single Lewis gun mounted on the nose in front of the pilot.
   The hand of Harris Booth, who had joined Blackburns from the Air Department of the Admiralty in 1915, can be detected in the design of Blackburn's Machine, not only through general similarity of layout to the early A.D. Flying-Boats (of which the Supermarine N.1B was a descendant), but in minor design features such as the shape of the wing tip floats and the retention of a biplane tail using an inverted RAF14 aerofoil section on the upper tailplane to hold the tail down with engine on if nose heavy and automatically take up a correct gliding angle if the engine failed.
   The mainplanes were built round rectangular box spars with two-ply spruce webs and spruce flanges. They were designed to fold to a mean width of 11 ft 2 in, and it is probable that it was intended to have jettisonable wheels for taking-off from the decks of naval vessels.
   The two-step hull swept gracefully upwards at the rear, but even so the lower tailplane would have been awash when the aircraft was taxying. It is probable therefore, in the absence of precise details, that this was to have been a watertight plywood structure as on the A.D. Flying-Boats. The ends of all aerofoil surfaces were elliptical, directional control was by twin rudders, and ailerons were fitted to all four wings. Power was supplied by a 200 hp Hispano-Suiza engine, mounted high up under the top centre section, driving a two-bladed, fabric-covered, mahogany airscrew and cooled by a circular radiator mounted in front. Fuel was carried at the C.G. in a midships tank.
   Supermarines and Westlands built and flew their prototypes during 1917-18, but successful deck operations by the Sopwith Pup and a promise of an even better performance by its successor the Camel, led to a cancellation of the N.1B contracts in November 1918. Non-availability of the engine slowed down the work of construction at Leeds and, when work ceased, Blackburns had completed only the hull of their first machine N56, and the other two, N57 and N58, existed merely as a number of sub-assemblies.
   The completed hull of N56 was put into storage, but was taken out in 1923 and used in the construction of Blackburn's Schneider Trophy entry, the Pellet.

   Manufacturers: The Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd, Olympia Works, Roundhay Road, Leeds, and Brough Aerodrome, East Yorks.
   Power Plant: One 200 hp Hispano-Suiza
   Span (upper) 34 ft 10 in (lower) 29 ft 4 in
   Length 28 ft 3 1/2 in Wing area 314 sq It
   Weights: Tare weight 1,721 lb All-up weight 2,390 lb
   Performance: (Estimated)
   Maximum speed 114 mph Climb to 5,000 ft 7 min
   Ceiling 16,000 ft Range 340 miles
   Production: Hull of N56 only; N57 and N58 incomplete.
The hull of the Blackburn N.1B under construction in the Olympia Works, Leeds, in 1918.
Blackburn Sidecar

   Anticipating the birth of the light aeroplane movement by more than six years, Blackburns began work late in 1918 on designs for a small, wire-braced, mid-wing monoplane which would be regarded today as an ultra light. It was christened the Sidecar because the traditional tandem cockpit arrangement was abandoned in favour of side-by-side seating, a configuration which was to be a characteristic feature of Blackburn private and training aeroplanes for more than two decades. True to the tradition of the Blackburn Mercury monoplanes of old, the Sidecar had a triangular-section fuselage of fabric-covered wooden construction, each of the three sides being a lattice girder built up with diagonal spruce struts. Above the top longerons the main fuselage was surmounted by a light plywood superstructure which swept upwards from the tail to the shoulder height of the crew. At the top of this fairing the landing wires were attached to a specially strengthened cross-member which also served as an instrument panel, and above this were twin Triplex windscreens. Entry was by downward hinging doors of the type used on motorcycle sidecars, and provision was made for quick conversion to a cabin type if required.
   The mainplane was built in two halves using spruce box spars with spruce and plywood ribs, spruce drift struts, and leading and trailing edges of flattened steel tube. The whole structure was wire-braced internally and externally. A cable running below, and well clear of, the leading edge of the mainplane gave the pilot positive downward control of the short-span ailerons against the action of bungee cords which provided the upward deflection as on the Blackburd. The rectangular, balanced rudder and the halves of the all-moving tailplane were built up on tubular-steel spars with spruce and plywood ribs and steel-tube edging. They appear to have been interchangeable.
   The legs of the V-type undercarriage were attached at their upper ends to the wing root fittings, the forward leg on each side consisting of two steel tubes, spaced one behind the other and faired with wood veneer. Bungee-sprung half axles, hinging on the centreline of the deep front fuselage, were slung between the lower ends of these tubes. Wire wheels were streamlined with fabric discs and fitted with 450 x 60 Palmer cord tyres, the rear end of the fuselage being supported by a diminutive rubber-sprung tail skid.
   The engine was the tiny, two-cylinder, horizontally-opposed, air-cooled A.B.C. Gnat, the power of which has been described variously as 30, 40 and 45 hp; in actual fact it gave 40 hp at the stipulated maximum cruising revolutions and drove a two-bladed wooden airscrew. Fuel from a 14-gallon tank underneath the seats reached the carburettor through a wind-driven pump on the starboard side of the cockpit assisted by a hand pump which supplied the necessary air pressure. Consumption was estimated at 31 gallons per hour, giving 27 miles per gallon at cruising speed and an endurance of four hours. Exhaust gases from both cylinders were ejected through a common orifice on the starboard side. With full tanks, crew of two and 55 lb of luggage, the all-up weight was 850 lb.
   The Sidecar was built at the Olympia Works early in 1919 and made a brief public appearance at Harrods department store in London, at a small exhibition opened by Lady Drogheda on 7 April 1919. Priced at £450, it carried no markings other than ‘Sidecar’ in ornate sign writing in front of the windscreens and the circular ‘B.A.’ monogram on the sides of the fuselage. A Norman Thompson N.T.2B flying-boat and various interpretations of the ‘latest thing’ in natty flying clothing displayed by mannequins, completed the exhibition. Later the machine was shown in a similar manner by Heelas Ltd in their store in Broad Street, Reading.
   Blackburn’s Sidecar was thus in existence some two months before civil flying was officially permitted in the United Kingdom but did not come on the British civil register - as G-EALN - until 26 August 1919. The certificate of registration was in the name of K. M. Smith, c/o Elder, Smith and Co, 3 St Helen’s Place, London, EC3, with an alternative address at Stephen Terrace, Gilberton, South Australia. The Sidecar did not leave the country, however, and being sadly underpowered, never left the ground with the Gnat engine. Little is known of its subsequent history but, following an advertisement in the magazine Flight dated 23 June 1921, the Sidecar was acquired by Blackburn’s London manager B. Haydon-White and re-engined with a 100 hp Anzani ten-cylinder, ungeared, air-cooled radial. Contemporary airworthiness records showed that it was no longer complete at 4 October 1921.


Manufacturer: The Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd, Olympia Works, Roundhay Road, Leeds, and Brough Aerodrome, East Yorks.
Power Plants:
   One 40 hp A.B.C. Gnat
   One 100 hp Anzani
   Span 27 ft 3 in
   Height 6 ft 3 in
   Length 20 ft 6 in
   Wing area 123 sq ft
   Tare weight 392 lb
   All-up weight 850 lb
*Performance: Maximum speed 83 mph Landing speed 48 mph
Range about 300 miles
Production: One aircraft only, Works Order unrecorded, completed February 1919, registered to K. M. Smith 26 August 1919 as G-EALN, last reported 4 October 1921.
* Estimated performance with Gnat engine.
The Sidecar on exhibition at Harrods, Knightsbridge, in March 1919. The engine access door is open, and the aileron control cables can be seen running externally under the wing.
Blackburn Sidecar

   A two-seat trainer, bomber and anti-submarine aircraft of wood and fabric construction designed at the Royal Aircraft Factory, Farnborough, and first flown in 1914. Powered by the 70 hp Renault and later by the 90 hp RAF 1A, it was built in large quantities by a number of sub-contractors including the Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd who produced 111 for the Admiralty. The aircraft were constructed on the shop floor in the Olympia Works at Leeds, without jigs, and test flown from the nearby Soldiers' Field, Roundhay Park, by Rowland Ding. After his death, caused by the failure of an interplane strut while he was looping a new B.E.2c on its first flight, production testing was completed by R. W. Kenworthy. Surviving records show that Blackburns completed 40 by July 1915, 35 of the final batch of 50 by 29 December 1917, four more in January 1918 and five in February of that year.
   Blackburn-built B.E.2cs, recognisable by the ringed airscrew motif on the fin, were used for training in the UK and on active service in every theatre during the 1914-18 war. Two aircraft, serialled 968 and 969, were shipped to the South African Aviation Corps in April 1915; 3999 was a special aircraft for Admiralty W/T experiments; 1127 was sent to Belgium in exchange for a Maurice Farman biplane; and 9969 is preserved at the Musee de l'Air, Paris.

   Manufacturers: The Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd, Olympia Works, Roundhay Road, Leeds, Yorks.
   Designers: The Royal Aircraft Factory, Farnborough, Hants.
   Power Plants:
   One 70 hp Renault
   One 90 hp RAF 1A
   Span 37 ft 0 in Length 27 ft 3 in
   Height 11 ft 11 in Wing area 371 sq ft
   Weights: Tare weight 1,370 lb All-up weight 2,142 lb
   Maximum speed 72 mph Service ceiling 10,000 ft
   Climb to 3,500 ft 6 min Endurance 31 hr
   Blackburn production:
   (a) With 70 hp Renault
   Thirty-seven aircraft comprising 964-975 (quantity 12); 1123-1146 (24); 3999 (1).
   (b) With 90 hp RAF IA
   Seventy-four aircraft comprising 8606-8629 (24) under Contract C.P.60949 15; 9951-10000 (50) under Contract 132110 15.
   Total: 111.
9990, a Blackburn-built B.E.2c with the famous airscrew-type badge on the tail.
Sopwith Baby

A single-seat armed reconnaissance seaplane of wood and fabric construction designed by the Sopwith Aviation Co Ltd in 1915 as a more powerful development of the Sopwith Schneider. Production for the Royal Naval Air Service was sub-contracted to the Fairey Aviation Co Ltd, Hamble, and to the Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd, who were each supplied with a sample aircraft.
The Blackburn Baby seaplanes (as they were called) were built in the Olympia Works, Leeds, commencing with a prototype machine, N300, and 70 subsequent aircraft all with 110 hp Clerget air-cooled rotary engines. Ten of these, N1030-N1039, were fitted with experimental mainplanes of modified section. Later both sub-contractors were made responsible for modifying the design to take the 130 hp Clerget, after which Blackburns built 115 machines with this engine. These were in two batches, the first, N1410-N1449, being armed with Ranken anti-Zeppelin darts.
All were taken by road to be test flown from the River Humber at Brough by R. W. Kenworthy who subsequently delivered them by air to East Fortune. They operated in Palestine, as well as from seaplane carriers in the North Sea and Mediterranean, and flew fighter patrols from Dunkirk until replaced in July 1917. Nl 121 with 110 hp Clerget was presented to the French Government and N2121 from the final batch went to the USA in February 1918.

Manufacturers: The Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd, Olympia Works, Roundhay Road, Leeds, Yorks., and Brough Aerodrome, East Yorks.
Designers: The Sopwith Aviation Co Ltd, Canbury Park Road, Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey
Power Plants:
One 110 hp Clerget
One 130 hp Clerget
Span 25 ft 8 in Length 23 ft 0 in
Height 10 ft 0 in Wing area 240 sq ft
Weights: (130 hp Clerget) Tare weight 1,226 lb All-up weight 1,715 lb
Performance: (130 hp Clerget)
Maximum speed 100 mph
Climb to 10,000 ft 35 min
Endurance 2 1/4 hr
Blackburn production:
(a) With 110 hp Clerget
Seventy-one aircraft comprising N300 (quantity 1); N1010-N1039 (30); N1060-N1069 (10); N1100-N1129 (30).
(b) With 130 hp Clerget
One hundred and fifteen aircraft comprising N1410-N1449 (40); N2060-N2134 (75).
Total: 186.
In 1917 ten Blackburn Baby seaplanes were made available to the Norwegian Naval Air Service and delivered to the Naval Aircraft Factory at Horten for erection and test before issue to fighter flights at Horten, Kristiansand, Bergen, and Tromso. They were flown off the fiords in summer and off the ice in winter and bore even serials from F.100 to F.118, but previous British naval identities have not survived.
The date of first flight at Horten is given below, immediately after the serial:
F.100, 13 July 1917, flown with bombs and radio, scrapped 22 December 1931, flew 76 hr 30min; F. 102,22 October 1917, scrapped 22 December 1931, flew 111 hr 50 min; F.104, 1 November 1917, crashed 9 May 1919, flew 30 hr 30 min; F.106, 24 October 1917, scrapped 22 December 1931, flew 122 hr 50 min; F.108, 26 April 1918, scrapped 8 November 1920, flew 42 hr 10 min; F.110, 25 April 1918, crashed 1919, flew 36hr 30 min; F.112, 27 April 1918, crashed 27 August 1927, flew 188 hr 55 min; F.114, 3 August 1918, crashed 6 September 1918; F.116, 8 August 1918, flown with bombs and radio, crashed 28 August 1919, flew 53 hr 50 min; F.118, 6 August 1918, crashed 22 August 1919, flew 72 hr 30 min.
F.104, F.110, F.114, F.116 and F.118 were each reconstructed several times from new and salvaged Blackburn-built components held in store at Horten. F.104 was converted into a two-seat, side-by-side trainer.
Baby seaplane N2078 from the final Blackburn batch with 130 hp Clerget engine.
A Blackburn-built Baby seaplane in Norwegian Naval Air Service colours, on a frozen fiord, 1918.
Sopwith T.1 Cuckoo

   This was a single-seat, three-bay, folding-wing torpedo-carrying biplane of wood and fabric construction designed by the Sopwith Aviation Co Ltd in 1916 and powered by one 200 hp Hispano-Suiza water-cooled engine. In February 1918 the entire production was sub-contracted to three outside firms, including the Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd who were made responsible for developing suitable gear for carrying a standard 18-in Whitehead torpedo. As Hispano engines were all required for S.E.5As, the prototype Cuckoo, N74, was re-engined with a 200 hp Sunbeam Arab and delivered to Blackburns in March 1918 as a sample aircraft. It was then stripped and rebuilt with a divided undercarriage as a prelude to the commencement of large-scale production at Sherburn-in-Elmet, where 132 machines were built. Later versions had an enlarged rudder, first fitted to N8005 and flown from Brough to Martlesham for test on 23 June 1920.
   The prototype, N74, and the first machine of the second production batch, N6950, were flown to the Great Yarmouth Air Station in May 1918 en route to the Isle of Grain for performance trials, but production aircraft were test flown at Sherburn-in-Elmet by R. W. Kenworthy and ferried to East Fortune, 80 being completed by August 1918. They equipped the Torpedo Aeroplane School, East Fortune, and Nos. 186 and 210 Squadrons, Gosport, and the first British aircraft carrier Argus embarked a full squadron on 19 October 1918.
   At least eight Blackburn-built Cuckoos, N7151-N7155, N7192, N7193 and N7999, were fitted with the 200 hp Wolseley Viper engine. N7192 and N7193, used for tests at the Isle of Grain 1919-20, were joined on 11 September 1919 by N7990 which had been fitted with a 275 hp Rolls-Royce Falcon engine, this machine going to Gosport on 6 December. The Cuckoo was declared obsolete in April 1923, but six of the Viper-powered machines were taken to Japan in 1921 by the British Air Mission to the Imperial Japanese Navy.

   Manufacturers: The Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd, Olympia Works, Roundhay Road, Leeds, and Sherburn-in-Elmet, Yorks.
   Designers: The Sopwith Aviation Co Ltd, Canbury Park Road, Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey
   Power Plants:
   One 200 hp Sunbeam Arab
   One 200 hp Wolseley Viper
   One 275 hp Rolls-Royce Falcon
   Span 46 ft 9 in Length 28 ft 6 in
   Height 10 ft 8 in Wing area 566 sq ft
   Weights: Tare weight 2,199 lb All-up weight 3,883 lb
   Maximum speed 103 mph Climb to 2,000 ft 4 min
   Service ceiling 12,100 ft Endurance 4 hr
   Blackburn production:
   Two hundred and thirty aircraft ordered February 1918 under Contract A.S.3298 18 and comprising N6900-N6929 (quantity 30); N6950-N6999 (50*); N7150-N7199 (50); N7980-N8079 (100). Production is said to have terminated at N8011, reducing the total built to 132.
   * Production rate: April 1918 (2aircraft), May (8), June (12), July (15), August (13).
Wheeling out Robert Blackburn's ancient Antoinette monoplane to give scale effect to the Cubaroo during the Press visit to Brough on 21 August 1924.