British Bomber Since 1914

F.Manson - British Bomber Since 1914 /Putnam/

The Type 523 Pike with Nubian engines driving pusher propellers.
The Avro Type 529, No 3694. The presence of the control rocker arm low on the side of the rear fuselage discloses the provision of dual controls for the rear gunner, a provision that beggars a logical explanation.
The Avro Type 529A. Just visible in this photograph is the chin fairing on the aircraft's nose enclosing a transparent hatch through which the front gunner, lying prone, aimed the bombs. Note the gravity fuel tanks under the upper wing.
The Avro Type 528, probably at Hamble.
A Martinsyde G.102, A6263, of No 27 Squadron. Being without synchronized front gun, the aircraft carried a Lewis gun on the top wing and another behind the pilot's left shoulder; these were usually retained when engaged in bombing operations.
A Daimler-built B.E.12 bomber in German hands. Flown by Lieut Briggs of No 19 Squadron, RFC, from Fienvillers, No 6562 was forced down on 26 August 1916, the pilot being made prisoner. Note the pillar-mounted, rearward-firing Lewis gun aft of the cockpit. The front Vickers gun and underwing bomb racks for four 65lb bombs are not visible in this photo, taken at the German Adlershof aerodrome during evaluation.
Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.12
Standard production F.E.2B with plain V-strut undercarriage; the nose Lewis gun has not yet been fitted on this factory-fresh example.
A presentation F.E.2B, A5478, Gold Coast No 10, of No 22 Squadron, probably at Chipilly during 1917; it is shown carrying a single 230 lb bomb under the nacelle and six 25 lb fragmentation bombs under the wings - the maximum bomb load of the F.E.2B with a two-man crew. The tube extending down from the nose of the nacelle is a flare chute.
Pilot and observer watch an armourer load a 112 lb bomb on their F.E.2B; either six or eight 20 lb Cooper bombs are also being carried under the wings.
Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2B
Sopwith 1 1/2-Strutter single-seat bombers of the 3rd Wing, RNAS, probably at Luxeuil-les-Bams. The aircraft's bomb load was stowed in a compartment immediately aft of the pilot's cockpit, slightly aft of the centre of gravity, hence the assumed need for a variable-incidence tailplane.
The second three-seat R.E.7, No 2299, shown here experimentally powered by a 250hp Rolls-Royce III (later the Eagle III), a view of the aircraft that emphasises the increased span of the R.E.7 s upper wing.
R.E.7, No 2348, in standard form powered by a 150hp R.A.F. 4A engine, and featuring twin cockpits. What appears to be a 20lb bomb may be seen under the starboard wing. This aeroplane was later modified with a third cockpit and provision to carry the 336 lb bomb.
The two seat Royal Aircraft Factory RE 7, first flown in early 1915, was employed in a variety of roles, ranging from its original task of light bomber, to reconnaissance, and escort fighter. Deliveries of the RE 7 started towards the close of 1915, the type making its operational debut with No 21 Squadron, RFC, on 23 January 1916. Not a great operational success due largely to the gunner being seated forward, where wings and struts restricted both his vision and field of fire, the type was withdrawn from front-line use by the end of 1916. Using a 150hp RAF 4a, the RE 7's top level speed was 82mph at 7,000 feet, while its maximum bomb load was 336lb. In all, 244 RE 7s were delivered to the RFC.
R.E.7 No 2348 after modification as a three-seater and carrying the 336 lb bomb. The aircraft also appears to have reverted to the 160hp Beardmore engine.
The O/100, No 3124, arriving back at Mudros after one of its bombing sorties over the Eastern Mediterranean in the summer of 1917, flown by Sqn-Cdr Kenneth Savory DSC.
A standard Handley Page O/400 at Ternhill during 1918.
A 1,650 lb SN bomb carried on Gledhill slips beneath a Handley Page O/400, probably in 1918.
Short-built Bomber, 9315, was the tenth Sunbeam-powered production aircraft, shown here with its load of eight 65 lb bombs for acceptance tests before delivery. This was one of the 15 aircraft destined to be handed over to the RFC at the time of the Somme battles of July 1916.
Second of the Sunbeam production batch of bombers, 9357, powered by the 225hp Sunbeam engine. With lengthened fuselage, this aircraft features a fin with straight leading edge. After acceptance, 9357 served with No 5 Wing, RNAS, at Dunkerque.
No 9476 was the first 250hp Rolls-Royce-powered Short bomber to be completed by Mann, Egerton (5 Co of Norwich, before the drastic steps had been taken at Shorts to lengthen the type's fuselage; indeed this aeroplane was probably never flown with the short fuselage shown here, and after modification it became one of the aircraft transferred to the RFC in mid-1916.
Shown at Belfort, the three Avro 504 single-seat bombers which attacked the Zeppelin works at Friedrichshafen on 21 November 1914, from left to right, Nos 873, 875 and 874. A fourth, No 179 (flown by Fit Sub-Lt R P Cannon) broke its tail skid and was unable to take part in the raid. Just visible under the fuselage of No 873 are its four 20lb bombs, carried for the attack.
No 3315 was an Avro 504C single-seat bomber, built by The Brush Electrical Engineering Co Ltd, Loughborough, and is shown carrying a 65lb bomb under the fuselage. Note the low aspect ratio fin and unbalanced rudder, favoured by the Admiralty on its later 504s.
Rare photograph of an AW-built F.K.3, No 6221, serving with No 47 Squadron at Salonika.
A late-production Hewlett & Blondeau-built F.K.3, B9554, probably in service with a home-based training unit. Note the oleo strut for the undercarriage incorporated into the side of the fuselage.
A late production F.K.8, built by Angus Sanderson, F7546. with compact radiators, long exhaust pipe, rounded nose contours and AW-designed plain-V undercarriage.
Art early Airco-built D.H.4, A2152, with 250hp Rolls-Royce Eagle III engine, during assessment trials at the Royal Aircraft Factory, Farnborough. Note the considerable distance between the cockpits, one of the few features which drew criticism from the RFC.
A D.H.4 with 230hp BHP, the engine intended for the first production aircraft but which did not materialise until mid-1917; note the engine's characteristic oval-shaped radiator and the lengthened undercarriage, introduced since the early production aircraft.
A Fiat-powered D.H.4 with bomb rack under the fuselage possibly intended for a single 230 lb bomb. Although the engine cowling contours appeared better than other D.H.4 installations, the overall effect was considerably greater drag owing to the exposed cylinders and the mounting of the radiator under the nose.
Full production-standard naval Eagle-powered D.H.4, N6000, with flat rear fuselage decking and flush-mounted rear Scarff gun ring. The aircraft is armed with twin front Vickers guns and is shown carrying a fuselage-mounted 112 lb RL bomb and eight wing-mounted light bombs. The repetition of the rudder flash on the elevators was unusual.
A 230hp Siddeley Puma-powered D.H.4, probably with No 27 Squadron at its base at Ruisseauville in France during 1918, seen here carrying a pair of 112 lb RL bombs under the wings.
C6051 was the first production D. H. 9, and this view clearly shows the improved arrangement of the cockpits. The aircraft was powered by a Stddeley-built BHP engine with a short exhaust manifold; the engine radiator is shown in the retracted position.
A Westland-built early-standard Liberty-powered D.H.9A, during performance trials at the Experimental Aircraft Station, Martlesham Heath, in 1918. Because Westland undertook all the early design work to install the American engine in the aircraft, it became regarded as the parent company.
Originally flown by No 39 Squadron in the United Kingdom in 1923, this Whitehead-built D.H.9A was shipped to the Middle East in 1924 where it was fitted with an auxiliary radiator at the Hinaidi Aircraft Depot. It is seen here with No 84 Squadron flying from Shaibah in 1926, equipped for night flying and carrying a spare main wheel on the side of the front fuselage.
E8673 was a D.H.9A ordered from Airco during the War and completed tn 1920; in 1923 it was shipped to India and was converted to a dual-control trainer before joining No 27 Squadron at Risatpur, in whose markings it is shown here.
'Hyderabad No 7', F1000, one of the presentation D.H.9As of No 110 Squadron, the first squadron to fly the 'Nine-Ack' in action.
First of the Westland-built Lion II-powered D.H.9As, J6957, at Martlesham Heath in 1923; note the elaborate oleo undercarriage fitted on this variant.
One of the last Westland-built D.H.9As, produced to Specification 13/26, J8118 first flew in 1927 and was shipped to the Middle East where it served with Nos 8 and 45 Squadrons, being lost in an accident on 30 January 1928 in Egypt.
No 1738, a Bristol-built B.E.2C with a 90hp Curtiss OX-5 engine, a conversion probably made by Frederick Sage & Co Ltd.
A B.E.2C single-seat bomber of No 2 Wing, RNAS, at Imbros. This aeroplane, shown carrying 20 lb Hales bombs on racks under the engine and fuselage amidships, was the first to bomb Constantinople, flying from Imbros. The identity of the two naval pilots is not known.
BE.2D, No 2559, at Farnborough in 1916, experimentally fitted with a 150hp Hispano-Suiza engine.
One of the two R.E.8 prototypes, either No 7996 or 7997. The aircraft was armed with a Lewis gun of the observer's cockpit, a feature that was criticised by the RFC when the type was first flown in France.
A mid-production standard Daimler-built R.E.8, C2670, with extended ventral fin and modified engine cowling; later the upper fin was considerably enlarged.
Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8.
The A.D.I Navy plane. No 9095, at the Supermarine works in 1916 with Cdr John Seddon and Hubert Scott-Payne.The wings were rigged without stagger, but did not fold.
Two views of the Beardmore W.B.I, N525, as originally powered by the 230hp BHP engine.
The first Blackburd, N113. The pilot may just be seen to the left of the aft interplane strut, showing the great length of fuselage forward of the cockpit.
The first Blackburn GP seaplane, No 1415 powered by Sunbeam engines, at RNAS Isle of Grain in 1916. Note the use of a tailfloat, made necessary by the relatively short mam floats. It is not thought likely that a GP ever carried a torpedo into the air.
Only two examples of the three-seat Blackburn GP long range patrol and torpedo bomber were built, the first being completed in July 1916. These two contemporaries and rivals to the Short Type 310 differed in both structural detail and the type of engine employed. The first example, serial no 1415 seen here, used twin 150hp Sunbeam Nubians, while serial no 1416, which did not emerge until near the close of 1916, was powered by twin 190hp Rolls-Royce Falcons. The top level speed of the latter floatplane was 97mph at sea level, its ceiling 11.000 feet and climb to 5,000 feet took 10 minutes. Armament comprised two flexibly-mounted .303-inch Lewis guns, plus a 14-inch torpedo, or four 230lb bombs. The Admiralty elected not to proceed with further development, but a landplane version, powered by twin 270hp Rolls-Royce Falcon IIIs and known as the Blackburn Kangaroo was subsequently produced for the RFC, who took 20 examples.
The ninth and last T.B. built. No 1517 with Clerget engines, at the Isle of Grain (just visible in the right background is a Port Victoria seaplane. Note the T.B. s unmistakable B.E.2C fins and rudders.
From all reports, the cumbersome Blackburn TB was a real pilot frightener from the moment it first appeared in August 1915. Designed around the unsuccessful 150hp Smith radial, the two man TB was meant to serve as a long range, over-water Zeppelin destroyer. As if the failure of the Smith engine was not enough, leaving the TB underpowered as it did, the airframe itself, left much to be desired in terms of structural bracing. During the 1916 flight trials, this weakness manifested itself not just in excessive drag, but, even more alarmingly, in a tendency for the outer wings to warp in opposition to aileron input from the pilot, making for ineffective roll control. Of the nine TBs built, eight ended up using twin 100hp Gnomes, while the final example, serial no 1517 seen here, had twin 110hp Clergets. Top level speed was a desultory 86mph at sea level and of the seven machines delivered and flown by the RNAS, none were put into operational service prior to the TB's early withdrawal from inventory.
The third and final Bourges, F2905, in its Mark IIIA configuration with Napier Lion engines. The aircraft at the RAE, Farnborough, during radiator development trials. The Bourges was unusual in having the upper wing extensively cut away to improve the midships gunner's field of fire.
A view of the Braemar Mk I, C4296, powered by 230hp Siddeley Puma engines, which emphasises its great height and tiny undercarriage.
The Braemar Mk II, C4297, in flight near Bristol. Criticism levelled at the pilots' poor field of view was occasioned more by the side-by-side seating and the width of fuselage than by obstruction caused by the wings and engines.
One of the relatively small number of genuine TB8 bombers was No 153 which had, prior to its purchase by the Admiralty, displayed a rotating bomb rack and prismatic bomb sight at Paris before the end of 1913.
Originally ordered as a bomber for the RFC, this T.B.8 was one of those transferred to the RNAS as a trainer.
No 7744, the Airco D.H.3A, showing the cut back mainplane trailing edge, with 160hp Beardmore engines, whose increased weight more than cancelled the benefit of extra power and bestowed a slightly reduced performance compared with that of the D.H.3.
The three seat Airco DH 3 was to be the victim of an Air Board policy shift away from twin- to single-engined bombers. As a result, only one of the two prototypes ordered, serial no 7744, was completed and flown. Initially using two 120hp Beardmores, the machine proved somewhat underpowered and was re-engined to take the 160hp Beardmore as the DH 3a, the form in which it is seen here. First flown in April 1916, a contract for 50 production aircraft was cancelled in favour of the single-engined DH 4. Performance of the DH 3a included a top level speed of 95mph, a full military load of 680lb that included ammunition for the two .303-inch Lewis guns, along with a full load range of 700 miles. As it was, the experience gained with this machine was not totally wasted, the project being resurrected later in the form of the DH 10.
Originally commenced as the first D.H. 10 prototype, C4283 was completed after the three true prototypes had flown, and became representative of the initial production version with Liberty 12 engines, and without the twin nosewheels.
The first D.H.10A Amiens Mk IIIa, F1869, with Liberty engines mounted on the lower wings, and with larger mainwheels. It was delivered for trials at Martlesham Heath on 17 August 1918, and subsequently 32 examples were built by Mann, Egerton at Norwich.
Delivered to the RAF on 1 March 1919, F9421 was the first Mann, Egerton-built Amiens IIIa; most of these aircraft were issued to No 60 Squadron on the North-West Frontier.
A standard Amiens Mk III, E6042, built by the Birmingham Carriage Company, was modified to have twin fins and rudders, and was delivered to the RAE at Farnborough in October 1919, continuing to fly until 1926 in what was probably a basic research programme into directional control and stability of twin-engine biplanes.
Late production Maori-powered F.22 Campania with the enlarged frontal radiator.
The Fairey F.128, N10, at Hayes as originally built with two-bay folding wings and Sunbeam Maori II engine with side-located radiators.
6 июня 1918г.: первый из удачного семейства морских легких бомбардировщиков Fairey III - Fairey IIIA - поднялся в воздух в Нортхолте.
The first Fairey IIIC, N2246, was a factory conversion of a IIIB.
The second Alliance-built V/1500, F7135, of No 274 Squadron at Bircham Newton late in 1919. It is said that the combined buoyancy provided by the four landing wheels was about two tons in the event that the aircraft was ditched in the sea.
Stated in some works to be a Cricklewood-built V/1500, this aircraft is of the finite production standard, with symmetric hexagonal frontal radiators and tailplanes with increased gap; note the two-blade tractor propellers and the four-blade pushers of reduced diameter.
The second Alliance-built V/1500, F7135, of No 274 Squadron at Bircham Newton late in 1919. The lower wings possessed dihedral so as to provide adequate ground clearance when folded, although even then the tail needed to be supported on a trolley.
The 3,360 lb SN Major bomb being displayed at the Crystal Palace shortly after the Armistice; it is not thought likely ever to have been flown on the V/1500.
The Kennedy Giant, No 2337, at Hendon in 1917. Mr J M Bruce is quoted as stating that it required two lorries and seventy men to move it, but even this effort broke the aircraft's back. It was repaired, but with the fuselage shortened by 10 feet, presumably in the form shown here. The Giant bears more than a superficial resemblance to the Sikorskii Ilya Mouram'etz, the worlds first four-engine aeroplane.
B.E.8, No 625, at the Royal Aircraft Factory shortly after the outbreak of war; many RFC aircraft were at this time given a makeshift camouflage paint scheme, as can be seen on this aircraft.
The launching of the original Short Admiralty Type 184, No 184, at Rochester in March 1915, with a 14in torpedo in position between the floats.
Sage-built Improved Type 184, N1616, powered by a 260hp Sunbeam engine, probably at Newlyn, seen with a pair of 100/ 112 lb bombs - often carried during coastal patrol sorties.
No 8073 was a 'Dover' Type 184, originally built by Shorts and modified as a single-seat bomber. Up to nine 65 lb bombs could be carried, suspended vertically in the space normally occupied by the front cockpit.
The first N.2B, N66, with wings folded and carrying two 230 lb bombs, probably at the Isle of Grain in February 1918.
The second Short Shirt, N111, at the Isle of Grain in July 1918; note the twin-wheel and skid undercarriage.
Another Blackburn-built Cuckoo, this time fitted with the large, fixed torpedo pistol-stop structure under the engine; on some later aircraft this could be folded to lie flat under the nose after dropping the weapon.
The first Vickers F.B.27 prototype, B9952, as originally powered by the 200hp Hispano-Suiza engines driving two-blade propellers. The small vertical tail surfaces were later enlarged to almost fill the gap between upper and lower tailplanes.
The second Vickers Vimy prototype, B9953, powered by two 260hp Sunbeam Maori engines, and fitted with inversety-tapered, plain ailerons. This aircraft was to be a destroyed in a crash within a month of arriving at Martlesham Heath for evaluation.
The first Vimy 'Mark III', H651, built by the Royal Aircraft Establishment with Fiat A.12bis engines. Although these engines returned a good performance, their unreliable delivery caused production of this version of the Vimy to be abandoned before completion.
A standard Vimy IV, probably of fairly early vintage, with Eagle VIIIs.
Morgan-built Vimy IV, FR3182, of No 216 Squadron flying from Heliopolis in late 1925 or early 1926; 'R' in the serial number denotes that the aircraft had been rebuilt (in this case by the Aircraft Depot at Aboukir).
A Vimy IV of No 4 Flying Training School, probably flying from Heliopolis in 1926; most aircraft flying with this School were converted to provide dual controls, but also carried full bombing equipment for training purposes.
Vickers F.B.27A Vimy IV (Jupiter engines)
The landplane bomber version of the Wight Admiralty Type 840, of which only one example is believed to have been completed.
A standard B.E.2E with 90hp R.A.F. IA engine driving a four-blade propeller. The distinguishing feature of this version was the much extended upper wing with kingposts above the interplane struts. Ailerons were provided on upper and lower wings.
The first Dyott Bomber, No 3687, in the aircraft's initial configuration with uncowled Beardmore engines, probably photographed at RNAS Hendon in August 1916.
In efforts to improve the Dyott, the first aircraft was later fitted with uncowled BHP engines (with their characteristic oval radiators), enlarged rudders and an improved front gun mounting.
A view of the sole Sunbeam Bomber, N515, which well illustrates the aircraft's long nose decking forward of the cockpit.
An early two-bay Short Folder seaplane employing Short's patented wing-folding system; note the single-acting ailerons which conveniently permitted the necessary clearance of the tail unit when folded.
Three-bay Short Folder No 120 at the RNAS Station, Westgate, in about September 1914. It had previously been at Calshot where it had been flown on 21 July with a dummy torpedo, weighing little more than 500 lb; as far as is known it never flew with the real 810 lb weapon, but this was said to have been due to a recalcitrant engine. No 120, carrying bombs and flown by Flt-Lt Arnold John Miley RN, accompanied the raid against Cuxhaven on Christmas Day, 1914.
No 166 being hoisted outboard from the seaplane carrier Ark Royal at Mitylene, Greece, in 1916.
A Type 830, No 1344, at an RNAS Station in Britain.
Type 860 No 931 at the RNAS Station, Great Yarmouth in August 1915; this example featured two-bay wings of unequal span, braced by kingposts, curved wing tips, and a rectangular rudder. A suggestion that this machine flew North Sea patrols has not been confirmed.
This view of the Wight Twin landplane provides a good impression of its great size as well as illustrating the central crew nacelle then included.
The third Wight Twin, No 1451, showing the two cockpits, set well aft of the wings; note also the wings of unequal span, with kingpost bracing to support the large upper wing overhang.
The Wight Twin seaplane. No 1451, at East Cowes with an 18m torpedo mounted beneath the lower wing centresection.
The Tarrant Tabor, F1765, probably on the day of its first intended flight. The arrangement of the six engines is clearly shown, the rear lower engines driving four-blade pusher propellers. Only the long-span central wing carried ailerons.
A photo taken during the engine starting process for the labor, immediately before its ill-fated first flight attempt at Farnborough on 26 May 1919. Close examination of the original print discloses that the enormous gantry incorporated an engine-starting linkage to a clutch attachment at ground level, the vehicle presumably having been driven away after starting all the engines; it must therefore have been the largest Hucks starter ever built. The photo well illustrates the very considerable thrust moment of the upper engines about the undercarriage.
The first Admiralty single-seat Type 519, No 8440, in Avro's new erecting shops at Hamble in May 1916.
The Avro Type 533 Manchester I, F3493, with the ill-fated Dragonfly I engines, the second prototype to fly.
The A.D. Type 1000, No 1358, moored at East Cowes in 1915. Unlike the Wight Twin seaplane, which abandoned the central crew nacelle, the Type 1000 retained this extraordinary structure until the aircraft was broken up.
The sole Grahame-White Type 18 prototype, before covering.
The first prototype Short Type 310A, No 8317, carrying a torpedo at Rochester in July 1916. The figure on the extreme right ts Oswald Short.
Short-built production Type 310-A4, N1397, showing the position of the observer's gun ring in the trailing edge of the upper wing. Note also the additional I-struts between the rear of the main floats and the wing beneath the inboard interplane struts. The beautifully executed inscription on the fuselage below the pilot's cockpit reads: 'Very Important: The Removable Rear Crossbar Must always be in Position Before the Wings are Folded'.
View of a Type 310-A4 which well illustrates the wings' considerable overhang. Production aircraft reverted to two-blade propellers.
The Wight Bomber, N501; despite its greater power, the Eagle installation was little tidier than that of the Avro 528's Sunbeam. In other respects the Wight was an altogether superior aeroplane.
A Sunbeam Maori-powered Seaplane, No 9853. The installation of this engine was altogether neater than that of the Rolls-Royce.
A standard Converted Seaplane, with Rolls-Royce Mk II engine, alighting off Bembridge in the Isle of Wight. Note the tall radiator block above the engine.
The first Mann, Egerton Type B, No 9085, at Norwich in 1916. Note the very long, inversely-tapered ailerons fitted on the upper wings only.
The A.B.C. Dragonfly IA-engined Cobham Mk.I (H672), although it was the second of the two Cobhams to fly. Note the curious 'kinked' stagger on the upper and lower wings and the extended rudder.
In-flight view of the D.H.11 Oxford, H5891, showing the excellent field of fire provided for the midships gunner.
Another view of the D.H.11, illustrating the illusion given by the upper wing's dihedral that it was swept forward. Such was the width and depth of the fuselage that there was space for a catwalk between the pilot's cockpit and the midships gunner's position.
The first D.H.14 Okapi, J1938, c/n E.44, with 525 h.p. Rolls-Royce Condor I engine; this differed from previous Rolls-Royce engine in having four valves per cylinder.
The sole Galloway Atlantic-powered Airco D.H.15 Gazelle, J1937.