Centennial Perspective
Beardmore Aircraft of WW1

C.Owers - Beardmore Aircraft of WW1 /Centennial Perspective/

Beardmore W.B.I

  In 1916 the Admiralty allowed Lt George Tilghman-Richards, RNVR, to resign his commission and join Beardmores as that firm’s chief designer. Tilghman-Richards had experience with aircraft construction, having helped with the Lee-Richards Annular Monoplane. He had been working at Beardmores as an Inspector of Naval Aircraft, and when the Admiralty decided to encourage those firms that were building aircraft for them to look at developing their own designs, a course that Beardmore was willing to follow, it was natural that Richards should work for Beardmore.
  In December 1914, the Admiralty issued a specification for a large bombing machine powered by two engines capable of carrying 6 x 112-lb bombs. This was to lead to the Handley-Page O/100. Due to the problems that had to be worked out in order to get the O/100 into production, the Admiralty issued a specification for a single-engined bomber that was intended to attack its targets silently by using a long glide approach with engine off. The machine had to carry 8 x 112-lb bombs. These requirements meant that all designs submitted featured extended wings and low wing-loading. The following companies were invited to submit designs and the winner was promised a substantial order. Avro submitted their 528 bomber design, Grahame-White their Type 18, Short Brothers their Bomber, J Samuel White the Wight Type 840, and Beardmore the W.B.I.
  The first original Beardmore design was the W.B.I, (W.B. for William Beardmore),‘The Experimental Bomb Dropper’ was built to meet the requirements of the Admiralty Competition of 1915-1916. Contract No. A.S.7123 was raised to cover one prototype and it received RNAS serial No. N525.2 Reports from the Admiralty’s D (Design) Section refer to the Beardmore Competition machine:

W/E 02 September 1916:

  Armstrong Triplane and Beardmore Competition Machine - Stresses started on but abandoned for want of particulars.
  Beardmore Competition. Preliminary stability investigation made.
  The W.B.I was a large single engine biplane with heavily staggered three-bay wings of high aspect ratio. The W.B.I was designed to have a gliding ratio of about 1 in 15.
  The engine was to be either the 230-hp Beardmore Adriatic or the 240-hp Sunbeam. It appears that the Adriatic may never have been fitted to the machine. The Sunbeam engine was carefully cowled to give a good streamline although it would not compensate for the complex and clumsy looking undercarriage and large radiators. No external radiator is visible in photographs of the first version of the W.B.I, leading to the conclusion that there may have been an internal radiator fed with air from the hollow-fronted airscrew spinner.
  The pilot and observer/gunner were located behind the wings. The observer was also the bomb-aimer. He had an opening in the floor through which he could aim his bombs. The pilot and observer were separated with the observer seated behind the pilot to starboard, and the pilot seated to port in the wide fuselage. They could communicate by a system similar to a ship’s telegraph. The observer had a Lewis gun on a ring-mounting at his cockpit.
  Six 110-lb bombs were carried inside the fuselage on Skeleton Channel carriers, three abreast. When released, the weight of the bombs opened the bomb bay doors that were closed by Sandow elastic cord. The cumbersome undercarriage was in two parts so that it did not interfere with the bomb dropping. It used four large wheels at the rear and four smaller wheels at the front, such that the machine was level when at rest. This was to cause trouble as will be related.
  As first rolled out the W.B.I had N-type interplane struts, however, it crashed at Inchinnan during its first trial on 20 September 1916. The pilot was Beardmore’s test pilot Duncan Jones. The aircraft was lacking in directional control and during a hurried landing the undercarriage collapsed. Rebuilt, it had conventional struts with cross bracing. Sent to Cranwell it was erected and delivered for gunnery training on 8 June 1917, and made its first flight since arriving the same day but the engined was not performing satisfactorily. Re-engined with a 240-hp Sunbeam it had a second crash. On landing at Cranwell on 5 July 1917, while being flown by Wing-Cdr R.E.C. Peirse, the aircraft kept rolling with its tail up and crashed into two B.E.2c that were parked on the tarmac. The aircraft had no brakes, the tail skid acted as the brake and with the aircraft held up on its landing gear, it just kept rolling. Repaired, it was crashed beyond repair on 18 September, and deleted as wrecked on 8 October 1917.
  A proposed development, the W.B.IA long-distance bomber, with a 500-hp B.H.P. Atlantic engine and larger wings of 70 feet span remained a project only. The pilot and observer are placed very much in the rear of the main plane, the pilot being midway between the main and tailplanes and the observer is immediately in advance of the fixed fin which emerges from the fairing round the observers cockpit. The Handley-Page O/100 became available and could carry could carry six times the bomb load of the W.B.I and there was no prospect of the W.B.I entering production.

W.B.I Specifications
Source Jane's 1919 J.M. Bruce Data
Span 61 ft 6 in 61 ft 6 in
Length 32 ft 10 in 32 ft 10 in
Height 14 ft 9 in 14 ft 9 in
Chord 7 ft 7 ft
Gap 7 ft 7 ft
Span tail 18 ft 18 ft
Airscrew dia 10 ft 6 in 10 ft 6 in
Areas in ft2
   Wings 796 -
   Ailerons 113.26 -
   Tailplane 106 -
   Elevators 40 -
   Fin 14.2 -
   Rudder 20 -
Weights in lbs
   Empty 3,410 3,410
   Disposable load 1,100 1,100
   Fuel & Oil 1,090 1,090
   Loaded 5,600 5,600
Speed in mph
   Ground level 91 91
   landing 48 -
   to 5,000 ft 26 min 26 min
   to 10,000 ft 44 mins 44 mins
Endurance in hrs 7.3 7.3
Capacities in gals 137 -
Petrol - 137
Engine 230-hp Beardmore Adriatic 230-hp Beardmore
Beardmore WB.I, June 1917
The W.B.I readying for take-off. Note the pilot's position. His view over the nose must have been minimal.
G.Tighman-Richards with G.T. Richards (in flying helmet) pose with the W.B.I. Richards would test fly virtually all the Beardmore company's aircraft. Note that the W.B.I. has N interplane struts.
The rebuilt W.B.I at Cranwell on 8 August 1917.
Another view of the W.B.I, this time showing the open-fronted spinner favored by G Tighman-Richards, Beardmore's chief designer.
G.T. Richards with the rebuilt W.B.I.
In the front view the RNAS tri-coloured elevators may be seen.
The rebuilt W.B.I without N type interplane struts taxying.
The Beardmore W.B.I after crashing at Inchinnan during its first trial on 20 September 1916.
Beardmore plans of the W.B.I
Beardmore W.B.I
Beardmore W.B.I
Beardmore W.B.I
Beardmore W.B.II Fighter/Reconnaissance Biplane

G. Tilghman-Richards was chief designer at Beardmore & Co Ltd when the firm set up its own design office. He sought to design a better aircraft than the B.E.2c that Beardmores were building for the Admiralty. Permission was granted for the company to go ahead with the proposal as a private venture (Works Contract No. 1133). The proposed machine would have a more powerful engine and cleaned-up fuselage.
  A report from 9 May 1917, under the section titled: - ‘Machines believed to be under or design or partial construction by various firms,’ listed under Beardmore a 2-seater Fgtr. for Hispano-Suiza engine. This machine was designed some while ago and a Beardmore engine was promised to the Firm if possible by last January. Owing to the shortage of engines it has not been possible to supply this and it is understood that a 200 HP Hispano-Suiza has now been allotted by N.A.D. in order to test out the machine to which we were partially committed.
  The design of the W.B.II was originally conceived to use the six-cylinder in-line 160-hp Beardmore engine. It retailed the B.E.2c fin and rudder and the wing structure of the B.E. mainplanes. The fuselage was faired out into a roughly circular cross-section. A large single exhaust port carried the exhaust to a silencer mounted centrally above the upper wing. The position of pilot and observer/gunner was changed from that of the B.E.2c in that the pilot had the front seat. He was given a synchronized Vickers gun and the rear gunner had a Lewis gun on a ring mount. As noted above, the shortage of engines meant that it was early May 1917, before the Air Department of the Admiralty were able to provide an engine, and this was a 200-hp Hispano-Suiza, in order that the machine could be tested. Contract No. AS2864/18 was raised to cover the machine.
  The design was changed to accommodate the new engine it being reported that Various points in the installation require attention. This machine will be ready for test in three weeks. A later report noted that all alterations asked for had been carried out and the machine should be ready to fly within the week.
  The W.B.II appeared with a large open-front spinner to the four-bladed airscrew. Twin exhaust stacks were fitted and two flat tube radiators were fixed longitudinally with v-struts of the cabane under top plane. Twin synchronized Vickers guns were now provided for the pilot. The observer’s gun ring was mounted on the top longerons. The rear Lewis gun was on a Beardmore swivel mount. This ‘Witch’s Broomstick’ was designed by G Tilghman-Richards and combined a seat mounted on a pillar to which extension the Lewis gun was attached. This mount is illustrated in H.F. King’s book on British aircraft armament.
  The pilot was positioned immediately behind the engine and fuel tanks under the top plane. The observer was immediately behind the pilot. Dual control was fitted for us of the observer if necessary. The landing gear was streamlined steel tube.
  The machine made its first flight under the hands of A. Dukinfield Jones on 30 August 1917. The dismantled machine was sent to Martlesham Heath in early October, arriving on the 3rd. Report No. A/70 noted that a flight was attempted but owing to unsatisfactory running of the engine it was only possible to stay in the air for a few minutes, however, this was enough for a two page report to be compiled listing the aircraft’s deficiencies as a fighter, from a gunner s point of view.
  The gunner’s cockpit was far from ideal. The greatest depth from the top of the ring mount is only 34 inches, the average being 33 inches: this is 4 critical inches short of what is considered to be the minimum for a fighting machine. The fuselage, generally, is very shallow, and the gunner is consequently very exposed to the propeller draught and the possibility of falling out in any violent manoeuvre which virtually reduces his weight, unless he is provided with some form of harness.
  The gun mount was designed by Beardmore and had many weak points and is generally considered much inferior to the standard Scarff Ring: the internal diameter of the ring is 28 inches, and therefore the same circumference as a Scarff mount.
  The observer’s view was good and the field of fire was about equal to any existing two-seater. The elevator and rudder controls being inside the fuselage is a very good feature, and might be well copied in all fighting machines.
  What was most interesting about the W.B.II’s armament was the Beardmore-Richards mounting in the gunner’s cockpit which was called The Witch’s Broomstick. This comprised a central member to which was attached the gunner’s seat. This could be locked at any desired height and the gunner could lock the device at any position on the guide ring. The upper end carried the Lewis gun. The gun could be locked in any position relative to the central member. When displaced laterally, the field of fire was extended 15° past the centre line of the fuselage.
  The pilot’s view was considered to be about the same as that of the De Havilland D.H.9, and can therefore be taken as fairly good, but considerably worse than such a machine as a Bristol Fighter whole top plane is almost level with the pilot’s head. The radiator impaired the pilot’s forward view. The pilot and observer are placed close together as they should be.
  In conclusion, without performance figures, it was considered that the machine was at a great disadvantage compared with other up-to-date fighting two-seater. The shallowness of the fuselage and its low setting in relation to the wings leaves the observer very exposed when fighting and without any opportunity of bringing his gun to fire on the same mark as the pilot’s fixed guns. For any proposed two-seater fighting machine these two points are considered of the first importance.
  During testing the airscrew came off, holding up trials, and a fuel tank burst. The machine was returned to Beardmores on 19 November 1917, for modifications.
  Returning to Martlesham Heath on 2 December, it was tested that month and Report No. M.147b was issued for Beardmore aircraft No. 1133.
  The Report made the following observations:
  The tailplane was adjustable in flight. The rear Lewis gun was on a Beardmore swivel mount.
  Armament was twin synchronized Vickers guns and one Lewis gun for observer on turret mounting.
  The two 21-gallon fuel tanks were situated between engine and the pilot, with a streamlined 4 1/2 gallon oil tank suspended below the engine. It was impossible to remove the tanks without first removing the guns and radiator.
  Starting was easy. Get away time was 5 minutes.
  Stability longitudinally and laterally was Stable. Controllability longitudinally was Good, laterally - Fair; directionally - Good but heavy. Manoeuvreability was only Average for a machine of this class.
  Taxi-ing was good. Landing at an ordinary aerodrome was easy. The machine had a flat gliding angle. Although it had a non-adjustable rudder bar, the machine was not tiring to fly.
  Other comments noted that there was no armoring for protection from ground fire, and that it was impossible to reach the engine air pipe taps when the seat belt was done up. The water pipe from the top of the engine to the radiator also needed supporting.
  The machine had been sent back to the manufacturers who have carried out several modifications. The engine has been moved forward and is now very accessible and can be easily installed or dismantled. The magnetos are also easily accessible through ports and the whole cowling can be removed, in a short time. The cowl on the propeller has been replaced by streamline cowling around the engine.
  Further the Gunner’s cockpit has been raised 5 1/2" which gives plenty of depth in the gunner’s cockpit and improved the field of fire. Aluminium petrol tanks have been replaced by steel tanks.
  These alterations have improved the machine a good deal, but it is not considered the performance of the machine is good enough to warrant its production as a new type instead of or in addition to the Bristol Fighter. A Bristol Fighter with 200 Hispano suiza (sic) engine has not been tested at this Station but it is fairly certain that its performance would not fall below that given above for the Beardmore Fighter.
  With a performance not better than existing types in production and using an engine that was in demand for the S.E.5a fighter, it is no wonder that the machine was not selected for production. When its trials were completed, it was taken over by the RNAS and sent to the Isle of Grain on 17 December 1917, and apparently flown there.
  Beardmore proposed the W.B.IIA with a 230-hp B.H.P. engine. Span was 34 feet 6 in and length was 27 feet 7 in. It remained a paper project.
  The Aeroplane reported that Beardmore were going to exhibit a W.B.II two-seat sporting and touring machine fitted with a 160-hp engine at the 1920 Olympia Show. It was thought to be eminently suited for its intended purpose or for light mail carrying. Another machine was expected but the engine was not specified. In an attempt to utilize the design, Beardmore produced two mail-carrying version of the design in 1920. These had a 230-hp B.H.P. engine and were designated W.B.IIB. Two such aircraft were given civil registrations G-EARX and G-EARY and took part in the Air Ministry’s civil aircraft competition held at Martlesham Heath in August 1920. A short-lived air-mail service was started by the Beardmore company flying with these machines between Renfrew and London. They were likewise unsuccessful in the post-war environment.

Beardmore W.B.2 Specifications
Source 1 2 3 4
Span 34 ft 10 in 34 ft 10 in 34 ft 10 in 34 ft 10 ini
Length 27 ft 3 in 26 ft 10 in 26 ft 10 in 27 ft 7 in .
Height 10 ft 11 in 10 ft 10 ft 10 ft 11 in
Chord 5 ft 6 in - 5 ft 6 in 5 ft 6 in
Dihedral - - 1 1/2° -
Incidence - - 1 1/2° -
Gap - - 5 ft 6 in 5 ft 6 in
Stagger - - 2 ft 0 in -
Track - - 5 ft 0 in -
Tyres - 750 x125 - -
Span tailplane 13 ft - - -
Airscrew - Lang D.R. C.L/3500 A Lang L/14104 -
  Pitch 1186 2975 mm 9 ft 9 in -
  Diameter 9 ft 2905 mm 9 ft 6.5 in -
Areas in ft2
  Wings 354 - 354 354
  Ailerons 64 - 64 -
  Tail - - 27.5 -
  Elevators 21 - 20.2 -
  Rudder 11.5 - 11.5 -
  Fin 6 - 6 -
Weights in lbs
  Empty 1,765 1,765 - 1,751
  Twin Vickers - 70 70 -
  Ammunition - 56 - -
  Lewis gun - 16 16 -
  Ammunition - 32 - -
  Dead weight - 11 99 -
  Crew - 360 360 -
  Total military load - 545 545 -
  Fuel (42 gal) Oil (4 1/2 gal) - 340 340 -
  Useful load - - - 180
  Total 2,650 2,650 2,650 2,516
Capacities in gals
  Fuel 41.5 42 - 50
  Oil - 4 1/2 - -
Water - 8 - -
Speed in mph at
  Ground level 120 - - 10.7
  10,000 ft 111 111 1/2 - -
  13,000 ft - 107 - -
  Landing 50 - - 55
Climb to
  1,000 ft - 1 min 15 - -
  2,000 ft - 2 min 35 - -
  3,000 ft - 4 min 00 - -
  4,000 ft - 5 min 25 - -
  5,000 ft 7 min 7 min 00 - -
  6,000 ft - 8 min 40 - -
  7,000 ft - 10 min 30 - -
  8,000 ft - 12 min 30 - -
  9,000 ft - 14 min 40 - -
  10,000 ft 15 min 17 min 05 - 25 min
  11,000 ft - 19 min 45 - -
  12,000 ft - 22 min 40 - -
  13,000 ft - 26 min 10 - -
  14,000 ft - 30 min 10 - -
Duration in hours 2.8 - - 4
Engine - Peugeot Hispano-Suiza No.115014 - 160-hp Beardmore
  1. In a tabulation in its 14 July 1920 issue, The Aeroplane gives a span of 35 ft 0 in and describes the W.B.2 as a three-seater.
  1. Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft, 1919. Arco Publishing USA 1990.
  2. Report M.147B.
  3. Aeroplane Data Book.
  4. Aeronautical Engineering supplement to The Aeroplane, 14 July 1920.
Beardmore WB.II, August 1917
Beardmore WB.II, October 1917
Beardmore WB.II, December 1917
On the same occasion at Dulmuir, the gunner shows the Tighman-Richard's gun mounting. The pillar to which the Lewis gun is attached could be locked in any position around the ring. The W.B.II utilized the fin and rudder of the B.E.2c biplane, a type that was being manufactured by Beardmore.
The W.B.II running its 200-hp Hispano-Suiza 8Bd engine up, September 1917.
Front view of the W.B.II showing the large open-fronted spinner to the now two-bladed airscrew.
In a new colour scheme, the W.B.II was photographed at Martlesham Heath.
Built as a private venture by William Beardmore & Co Ltd in 1917, the W.B.II two-seat fighter is shown at Martlesham Heath in December that year.
Note the elevators are painted RNAS style in red/white/blue stripes, the same as the rudder stripes.
Close-up of the W.B.II's cockpits.
The W.B.II in its final guise with raised gun ring and modified engine cowling, exhaust stubs replacing the original stacks, and the shape of the under-slung oil tank has been improved. Probably at the Isle of Grain.
The W.B.II in its final form. The built-up rear cockpit and the new nose contour without the spinner are noteworthy. The Beardmore-Richards gun mounting is clearly visible.
In this photograph the W.B.II appears to have a standard Scarff ring mounting in the rear cockpit. Martlesham Heath, December 1917.
In this photograph the W.B.II appears to have a standard Scarff ring mounting in the rear cockpit. Martlesham Heath, December 1917.
The civil conversion of the Beardmore W.B.II design, the W.B.IIB G-EARX in 1920.
Beardmore W.B.II
Beardmore W.B.II
Beardmore W.B.II
Beard more W.B.II I Folding Pup
  The Beardmore W.B.III provides an example of what not to do to improve a good design. The Sopwith Pups of the RNAS pioneered deck flying and were used on the turret platforms of capital ships as anti-Zeppelin weapons.
  Flt Lt G.M. Bryer served in the RNAS and RAF on the aircraft carriers Furious and Argus. His recollections for the RAF Staff College of his service experiences are detailed and provide a hint as to what operating aircraft with the Fleet was like.
  The carriage of fast climbing fighters in the Grand Fleet had the effect of making the Zeppelins keep higher, and to show themselves less often. This far had the aim of carrying fighters in ships had been attained, but to the pilots detailed to fly them, it seemed monotonous and unsatisfying to go to sea, perhaps five days a week, without sighting a target, or even flying the aeroplane, which took so much work to keep it in flying condition while perched on a tiny platform, exposed to wind, rain, salt spray, condensation, sometimes small-gun concussion and always the inborn hatred of the sailor for anything not of the sea.
  The problem with the Sopwith Pup was that it took up a lot of space and while the Short and Fairey seaplanes had been designed from the start to have folding wings for hangar stowage, the Pup did not. It was decided that the Pup should be modified to have folding wings and the Beardmore Company was selected to produce this variant of the Pup.
  Beardmore had been the first company to produce the Pup under licence and therefore was a logical choice for the task.
  In October 1916, the decision was made to place an order with the Beardmore firm to convert a Sopwith 80-hp Fighter to fly off the deck of a ship, also to supply the water tight cases required.
  Sopwith Pup No. 9950 was selected for the modification program. In order to fold the wings, the wing cellule had to be completely redesigned while retaining the basic Pup components. The centre section was reduced in width and small stub-wings were added against the fuselage for the lower wings. The ailerons were connected by struts. Stagger was eliminated and the wings were hinged at the main rear spar close up to the fuselage. Two sets of interplane struts were fitted to each set of mainplanes to preserve the truss when the wings were folded. The cabane struts of the Pup were replaced by four long struts, two on each side of the fuselage which were connected to the upper longeron by a short horizontal strut. While the fuselage looked the same as the Pup’s it was about a foot longer in order that the interplane struts were not interfered with by the tailplane when the wings were folded. A standard Pup tailplane was used.
  In order to reduce the size of the folded machine the prototype was fitted with a folding undercarriage. The front members of the Vee were hinged and the rear members fitted with a quick device that the pilot could operate from his cockpit. This allowed the wheels to fold up into the fuselage leaving half the wheels exposed. To achieve this track was reduced and because of perceived handling difficulties with this narrow track, folding skids were fitted under the lower wing tips.
  Armament was an upward firing Lewis gun on a tripod mounting in front of the cockpit. As rockets were still considered an anti-Zeppelin weapon, rocket-launching equipment was considered part of the type’s armament.
  The machine was known as the S.B.3 for Sopwith-Beardmore acknowledging the origin of the type. The Beardmore designation of W.B.III was not used by the Admiralty. G.Tilghman-Richards, the head of Beardmore’s design department, acknowledged that it was a re-design of the Sopwith Pup and not a true Beardmore creation.
  The prototype S.B.3F was delivered by rail to the Design Flight at Eastchurch on 2 February 1917, and was accepted on the 7th. It encountered a force landing on 10 March under the control of Flt Lt P. A. Johnston. Recorded under repair on the 12th, on 17 April it was being dismantled. It lost its engine to Sopwith Pup No. 9922 on 1 May, and was finally written off on 19 June 1917.
  One hundred production machines were ordered from Beardmore (N6100-N6129 and N6680-N6749).
  At the Admiralty Air Department’s Weekly Progress Committee of 26 June 1917, it was reported that HMS Furious required machines with dropping undercarriages whereas all the first 15 machines were at present to have the folding chassis. Capt A.V. Vyvyan said that Cdr Dunning had raised the question and it had been arranged for all Furious’s machines to have drooping undercarriages. In fact, Vyvyan stated that it appeared to him that no one wanted the folding undercarriage. In reply Cdr Longmore informed the Meeting that 15 of the first order and 20 of the second order were to have the folding chassis and they would still be of use in the cruisers such as Yarmouth, that had small stowage spaces and were unable to take machines with the standard type chassis. The name of the type was discussed and it was agreed that they be known as the Sopwith Beardmore or S.B. Type. They were designated with folding undercarriages, and S.B.3D with dropping undercarriages. It appears that most of the S.B.3F types were converted to the dropping undercarriage as official RNAS lists show only the S.B.3D in service.
  On the S.B.3D the interplane struts at the end of the wings were discarded. The ailerons were connected by cables. The Lewis gun was mounted above the centre section and the cut-out was done away with. Air bags were run along the underside of the leading edge of the lower mainplanes where the lay almost flush under the wing, and, in the case of a forced alighting on the sea, could be inflated from the cockpit. Lt W.G. Moore made a test of this equipment when he ditched his Pup (a folder) that had a hydrovane and air bags in Sheerness Harbour.
  At the Meeting of 3 July, Cdr Longmore reported how he had visited Cassandra, Furious and Beardmores at Glasgow and the Air Stations at East Fortune and South Shields. Cassandra's view was that because of the extra weight placed on their Sopwith Pups in the form of air bags, gas bottles, etc., it would be better for the whole of the order for the folding Pups to have the dropping chassis and to abandon the folding chassis altogether. This would mean that when the machine got off and dropped its chassis it would have a clear gain of about 50 lbs less weight and also less head resistance.
  As noted above, Beardmore had been visited, and had agreed to provide all their order with dropping undercarriages. The first machine with folding chassis had been delivered to Cassandra and if possible, the second machine would be got out in time, i.e. by Friday of this week when “Cassandra" sails, and substituted for the first machine which would be taken back by Beardmores and altered. No. N6100 had been delivered to Cassandra on 3 December 1917. The second machine was allotted to Yarmouth and the allocations would have to be amended accordingly.
  Despite the decision by the Air Department to call the machines the S.B. the next time it came up in the Minutes it was headed “Beardmore Folders” and were commonly known as Beardmore Folding Pups. The item reported that Cassandra’s machine, No. 6100, had not much performance. Preliminary trials with No. 6102 at Grain showed it was not the wing air bags that were causing the trouble. Further trials were to be carried out without the chassis and if this did not explain the trouble, the centre section would be looked to. Cdr Longmore stated that he thought the fault was with the centre-section and that Cdr Rutland agreed with him. He proposed that the centre section befilled in and a “Vindex” gun mounting fitted. A good gun mounting is required for these Folder Pups. To a suggestion that a new one should be developed, while it was agreed to, it would take some time to introduce and it was finally decided to press on with the trials of the 2 machines at Grain and await results as to performance. Nos. N6102 and N6103 were the two machines at Grain, both arriving in July 1917. Construction had been halted for a month as the ship carrying the Le Rhone engines had been sunk in the Channel. No. N6104 did not fly until 10 August 1917.
  At the next Meeting Longmore reported on Nos. N6102 and N6103 at Grain. N6103 was officially allocated to Grain
on 20 June 1917, but the acceptance test flight took place on 10 July at Dalmuir by A. Dukinfield Jones. The following trials were being carried out at Grain. On one machine a Climb Test for ceiling without chassis and a speed test at 10,000 feet finishing with a landing in the water. Machine then to befitted with a 100 Mono Gnome with special carburettor. After which trials to be repeated.
  On the other machine - accurate type trials with chassis on, wing air bags, etc., as supplied. The centre section filled in and gun fixed on after spar to obtain accurate figures.
  Late August saw Longmore reporting that the first few of the Beardmore Folders had been turned out but it was not considered that they were entirely satisfactory. Modifications were suggested by the Admiralty Technical Department and even though this would mean a delay of three weeks as long as the demand for Pups can be met, the modifications should be gone on with.
  At the next Meeting Longmore was able to give the results of testing of the Beardmore Folders at Grain.
  With chassis on: 10.000 ft in 20 min 45 sec as against similar test before modification showing - 9,000 ft in 28 min and a speed of 78 mph at 10,000 ft against 76 mph at 9,000 ft.
  Despite this improvement, Capt Vyvyan carried the news to the next Meeting that pilot's in seaplane carriers do not now want the Beardmore Folders. It was pointed out that this was due to the failure of the original machine. The modifications were now being incorporated and deliveries would start this week. Despite this, it was reported that the gun mounting had now been settled and was being fitted but that it would not be satisfactory owing to the very bad view.
  More problems arose with a report of stating that the Class 1 modifications asked for by T.1N Section (Technical Section) affecting the ailerons would cause greater delay than was at first anticipated. The strength of these machines was found to be below requirements and delivery would therefore be delayed about one month.
  Longmore submitted a minute in August 1917 wherein he noted that the present Sopwith Beardmore Folder has not a very good performance, and can only be regarded as makeshift until some better type appears. By January 1918, the USN noted that the S.B.3D Sopwith Beardmore with dropping chassis and carrying airbags, which is a modified Pup; not a satisfactory machine & is being superseded by the Sopwith 2F.1 Camel with detachable fuselage which has a much better performance.
  Difficulties in construction, changes and the Admiralty wanting Beardmore to concentrate on airship building in June 1917, led to delays in the production of the S.B.III biplanes. Delays in engine allocation saw many delivered straight into store without engines.
  Sir Austin Robertson recalled that at Killingholme there were also a large number of Beardmore WB.Ills, presumably in case the Fleet came into Immingham and wanted replacements in a hurry.
  The S.B.III was not popular with pilots. The modifications had changed the Pup from a superlative pilot’s aeroplane to a mediocre one. Some S.B.III Folders did serve in the Fleet. On 21 October 1918,18 were with the Grand Fleet and 55 were in storage.
  Flt Sub-Lt Stuart D. Culley joined the RNAS in Canada in 1917. After preliminary training and the seaplane course, it being necessary or all Fleet pilots to be qualified in these types of aircraft, he was sent in 1918 to undertake deck flying training in HMS Nairana. He was then ordered to join HMS Cassandra, a light cruiser of the then new “C” class, in the 6th Light Cruiser Squadron of the Grand Fleet.
  The aircraft on this cruiser consisted of one folding wing Sopwith "Pup” fitted with a 80 H.P. Le Rhone engine. The aircraft was housed in a small steel hangar, barely large enough to accommodate it with its wings folded. No flying platform was available, but two troughs were fitted on the forecastle with a quick release gear. This gear comprised a trestle to hold the tail in flying position. On top of the trestle there being a groove to guide the tail skid. The pilot opened the engine full out and pulled a toggle in the cockpit which operated an ordinary bomb release anchored to the deck at one end and engaged with a cable attached to the aircraft. On release, the aircraft accelerated quickly and left the deck with a shorter run than a normal take-off.
  The folding wing "Pup” was specially designed for anti-Zeppelin work and every consideration had been given to saving weight. The undercarriage struts and axle were made of duralumin while the fabric on the planes and fuselage was coated not more than two coats of clear dope.
  The armament consisted of one Lewis gun mounted on the top centre section and fitted with one 97 round drum of ammunition known as “ZPYT” being a mixture of Brock and Pomeroy explosive bullets together with a certain amount of tracer and ordinary ammunition.
  I was the only pilot and had with me two mechanics, one fitter and the other a rigger.
  During the period I was in H.M.S. Cassandra I found it difficult to maintain flying practice even though the Captain was quite sympathetic. Only once could I obtain the permission of the Admiral to fly my aircraft off the deck, and go to Donnibristle for practice flying involving a day’s absence which was not encouraged as the Fleet was normally at two hours notice. I therefore became less qualified as a pilot and more qualified as a Naval Officer, being required to keep my “day on” as Officer of the Watch, whilst the ship was in harbour, and the “morning” watch, when at sea, besides acting as an assistant to the Navigating Officer at other times.
  As noted in Chapter 2, Culley was to earn fame when he brought down the Zeppelin L53 while flying a Beardmore-built Sopwith 2F.1 Camel from a towed lighter.
  Geoffrey Moore served on HMS Furious and wrote that the Sopwith Pup was a very controllable and pleasant to fly fighter. Some we had in Furious were modified by Beardmore’s to fold for passing down a hatch and stowing between decks. This folding rather spoiled their performance and handiness; to make them fold conveniently they reduced some of the wing stagger, consequently they did not handle as nicely as the standard series. I used to give little exhibitions of aerobatics for the entertainment of the fleet but was never happy when doing this in a folder on a account of some lack of response in the controls, and I was always wondering whether, if subjected to exceptional strain, they would 'fold’ in the air.
  Flt Lt G.M. Bryer noted that Prudence had produced a small aeroplane, with air-bags in the fuselage and a detachable undercarriage, for use in ships. It was based on the Sopwith “Pup” design, with an 80 H.P. Le Rhone engine and built by Beardmores. It was slow in speed and climb. It carried only one gun, on the top plane, for explosive ammunition. This gave way to a more effective weapon the Sopwith 2F.1 Ships Camel. Its performance was little less than that of the standard “Camel”, but was far ahead of the Beardmore “Ship Scout” or the “Pup”.
  A few Beardmore W.B.III fighters were sent to Japan for their Navy’s interest in setting up an air service. The type soon disappeared after the Armistice.

Serial Allocation Beardmore WB.III
Serial Contract No. Notes
9950 C.P.117318/16 Last Sopwith Pup of this contact for 50 Pups by Sir William Beardmore & Co Ltd. Converted to prototype S.B.3F.
N6100-N6129 A.S.775/17 & A.S.14577 Majority converted to S.B.3D type.
N6680-N6749 A.S.77517 & A.S.12856 S.B.3D. 42 were cancelled on 5 February 1918, but reinstalled. Most straight to store.

Beardmore W.B.III Specifications
Source 1 2 3 4 (2) 4 (3) 5 (4)
Span 25 ft 25 ft 1 in 25 ft - - 25 ft 3 in
Span folded - - - - - 10 ft 6-in
Length 20 ft 2 1/4 in 19 ft 4 in 20 ft 2.5 in - - -
Height 8 ft 1 1/4 in 8 ft 8 in 8 ft 1.25 in - - 8 ft 6 in
Height S.B.3F - - - - - 6 ft
Gap - - 4 ft 9 in - - 4 ft 5 in
Chord - - 5 ft 1.5 in - - 5 ft 1 1/2 in
Incidence - - - - - 1° 30’
Span tailplane - - 10 ft 1 in - 10 ft 1 in
Airscrew Dia - - 8 ft 6 in - - -
Wing area, ft2 243 - 243 218.5 236 236
Aileron area, ft2 - - 23 - - 22
Tail (total), ft2 - - 34.5 - - 23
Elevator area, ft2 - - 11.5 - - 11.8
Rudder area, ft2 - - 4.5 - - 4.2
Fin area, ft2 - - 3.5 - - 3.3
Weights in lbs
  Empty - - 880 828 849 -
  Fuel & Oil - - - 181 165 -
  Military load - - - 49 36 -
  Crew - - - 180 180 -
  Disposable load (1) - - 300 - - -
  Total - - 1,290 1,238 1,230 -
Fuel in gall - - 18 - - -
  at GL 103 mph - 103 mph - - -
  at 2,000 ft - - - - 78.5 kts -
  at 6,500 ft 98 mph - - - 74 kts -
  at 10,000 ft 91 mph - 88 mph 78 kts 68.5 kts -
Landing - - 40 mph - - -
Service Ceiling 12,400 ft - - - - -
Endurance, hrs 2 3/4 - 2.75 3 2 3/4 -
Engines 80-hp Le Rhone or 80-hp Clerget - 80-hp Le Rhone or 80-hp Clerget 80-hp Le Rhone 80-hp Le Rhone -
  (1) Excluding fuel.
  (2) Beardmore Folder. Date Trial Report 08 Feb 1917.
  (3) Beardmore Folder (Air Bag). Date Trial Report 03 Sept 1917.
  (4) Probably relate to prototype No. 9950.
  1. J.M. Bruce Data.
  2. Types of British Seaplanes, Flying Boats and Ship’s Aeroplanes.TNA. AIR10/96.
  3. Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft 1919. Arco Publishing USA 1990.
  4. Tables of Performances of Seaplanes & Flying Boats. 31 October 1917. TNA AIR1/708/27/11/03.
  5. The Sopwith Pup, Bruce, J.M., Page, G & Sturtivant, R. Air Britain, UK. 2002.
Beardmore WB.III N6101
Beardmore WB.III N6748
The second production Beardmore W.B.III with jettisonable undercarriage, as adopted for the subsequent S.B.3D version for naval use.
No. N6101 shows the centre-section cut and mount for the Lewis gun and the double interplane struts at the sub-wing root next to the fuselage. The logo on the fin is the Beardmore designation 'W.B.III.' Points to note include the tricoloured elevators and the white outer ring to the wing cockades on a clear doped wing; the poor streamlining of the fuselage cross section to the engine cowling; and the large folding wingtip skids; the strut connecting the ailerons. In November 1917, the axle of the S.B.3 was being strengthened and it is proposed that strengthened axles be sent to Rosyth to replace those presently fitted to machines. The Lewis gun tray rack is also being modified to clear the pilot's knees.
Beardmore S.B.3 No. N6102 on the Isle of Grain, 10 October 1917. N6102 was delivered to Grain for erection on 24 July 1917. It underwent testing by Sqn Cdr Harry R Busteed. Note the single interplane struts next to the fuselage and the cable connecting the ailerons.
Beardmore S.B.3 No. N6102 on the Isle of Grain, 10 October 1917. N6102 was delivered to Grain for erection on 24 July 1917. It underwent testing by Sqn Cdr Harry R Busteed. Note the single interplane struts next to the fuselage and the cable connecting the ailerons.
Beardmore S.B.3D No. N6708 has the modified wing that allowed for an over-wing Lewis gun mount. Note the steel tube undercarriage struts, ailerons connected by a cable and the lack of the folding wing tip skids. The long pitot would be for testing purposes. These photographs of N6708 were used to illustrate the type in the recognition manual Types of British Seaplanes, Flying Boats and Ships Aeroplanes.
Beardmore N6708 with the wings folded. Delivered to Grain on 13 December 1917, this SB.IIID was with HMS Nairana by the W/E 13 April 1918. It appears to have served with Nairana when not ashore being finally deleted when at Rosyth in late 1918.
A standard late production Beardmore W.B.III (S.B.3D). Obvious differences between this and the Sopwith Pup include the absence of wing stagger, the extra interplane struts close to the fuselage adjacent to the wing-fold line, the lengthened fuselage aft of the cockpit and the lengthened tailskid to allow ground clearance with the wings folded.
Beardmore N6708 taking flight. The modifications lost the Sopwith Pup's flying characteristics and it was not popular with pilots.
S.B.3D on a dummy deck for landing trials.
This photograph is thought to be some sort of trial of arrestor gear. Note the ropes leading to the landing gear of this S.B.3D. The man knelling at the rear has a handling bar attached to the rear fuselage.
Beardmore S.B.3D fighters taking off from HMS Nairana.The machines apparently ran down the ramp and dropped onto the flight deck - note the splay of the wheels - and then, hopefully, attained flight speed before they left the deck.
S.B.3D leaving HMS Nairana with the dazzle-painted aircraft carrier Furious in the background.
S.B.3D fighter take-off from HMS Nairana in the Firth of Forth. It appears that one of these machines were engaged on operations.
A Beardmore W.B.III leaves the steep forward launching platform of HMS Pegasus (HMS Nairana ???) in 1918.
Transporting an RAF S.B.III. Note the jury strut inserted between the wings when folded. This replaced the double struts used on a few of the very early S.B.III scouts.
Delivered to Killingholme, probably into store, N6748 was at No. 6 AAP Renfrew where this photograph was most probably taken. This machine had an 80-hp Le Rhone but is shown without an airscrew.
N6748 in the Beardmore works. Note the fuselage of one of the two Beardmore W.B.V ship aeroplane to the right background. N6748 was the second last machine from the batch N6680 to N6749. It was delivered to Killingholme Reserve in the W/E 23 February 1918, and probably was never flown. There appears to be no engine mounted when photographed. There was a lack of engines for the S.B.3D and many were delivered to store engineless.
Прототип SB3 в положении для хранения в ангаре авианосца.
No. 9950 complete showing the undercarriage folded and the machine completely folded. This machine had an adjustable tailplane but the production machines did not. Note the narrow track of the folding undercarriage that required folding wingtip skids under the lower wing. A heightened tailskid was necessary to provide clearance for the wings in the folded position. Note the Lewis gun on its tripod mount firing through the upper wing centre section cut out.
The aeroplane which has suffered 'compressibility' is the first Beardmore W.B.III (modified Pup No. 9950) which is the subject of a note in the text and which led to a new Service type (S.B.3D).
Sopwith Pup No. 9950 undergoing its transformation into the Beardmore W.B.III prototype. Air bags are installed in the fuselage, the folding wings have been added with the modified centre-section that eliminated the cabane struts of the Pup, and a folding landing gear was installed for stowage aboard capital ships, not a retractable landing gear. The R.34 airship gondola may be seen in the background. (AHT AL0305-16 to AL0305-18)
These photographs, dated 28 April 1917, pose a mystery. It shows what appears to be a composite Sopwith Pup/Beardmore W.B.III. It has a Pup fuselage, wings without stagger but with upper and lower ailerons connected by strut-like members, centre-section supported on what looks like standard Pup centre-section struts, it was being used for flotation tests of air bags when photographed. The date of the photograph is about two months earlier than the appearance and first flight of the first production W.B.III. No. 9950 had a forced landing on 10 March 1917, and may not have been repaired before it was deleted on 19 June. If the W.B.III bits did not come from No. 9950, then where else could they come from?
N6117 in a precarious position that illustrates the position of the handling bar in the rear fuselage. The cockades are outlined in white on the clear doped wings. This machine was delivered to Grain Test Depot on 17 October 1917, but was wrecked at Grain owing to the engine failing to pick up during trials, which were therefor not completed. Deleted on 3 January 1918.
Beardmore W.B.III early
Beardmore W.B.III late
Beardmore W.B.III early
Beardmore W.B.III late
Beardmore W.B.III early
Beardmore W.B.III late
Beardmore W.B.IV & W.B.V

  In April 1917, the Admiralty Air Board set out the following specification for Type N.1A:
  Type: Single Seater Aeroplane with Folding Wings and with floating device sufficient to enable the machine to alight on and remain on the water in a stable condition for at least 6 hours.
  Load to be carried.
   Pilot 180 lbs
   Vickers Interrupter gun & 250 rounds 60 lbs
   Lewis gun & 3 trays of ammunition 56 lbs
   Fuel for 2 1/2 hours full power at sea level.
   Removable wireless set Type 52a.
   (15 lbs of this weight to be at C.G.) 40 lbs
  Performance loaded as above:
   Speed not less than - 95 knots at 10,000 ft.
   Climb - 10,000 ft in not more than 12 minutes.
   Ceiling at least - 20,000 ft
   A low landing speed is especially desirable and should not exceed 35 knots.
   Detachable slinging device should be fitted.
   The landing chassis should be so arranged that the pilot can slip it after rising from the deck.
   Flushing system for rapidly emptying petrol tank required.
   Provision to be made for the fitting of stick rockets on wing struts.
   Streamline wires - single.
   Folded dimensions to be not greater than 22 ft long by 11 ft wide.
   Strength factor not less than - 8 on front truss and 6 on rear truss.

  The Admiralty Air Department discussed their specification N.1A Type at its Weekly Progress Meeting on 30 October 1917. It was proposed that firms designing scouts for land work should wherever possible keep the centre of the fuselage clear of controls in order that air bags could be fitted when used for ship work. It was agreed that one of the existing type of land fighters should be used for ship work, preferably one with a light loading, and an air cooled engine.
  A minute of 24 August 1917, described the demand for a small folding type of aeroplane for ship use required immediate attention in view of the recent success, and the probable demands for the type in all Light Cruisers.
  This was realised to a certain extent some six months ago, and accordingly two firms, Messrs. Beardmore and Mann Egerton were given orders for experimental types, both of which embodied the 200 Hispano engine, and thus necessitated a rather large type machine which although suitable for the seaplane carrier, will probably not be so convenient for the light cruiser. The experimental types referred to were the Beardmore W.B.IV and the Mann Egerton H.1.
  Both these types were large aeroplanes and would not have been suitable for use on capital ships where the Sopwith Pup was proving useful, and soon to be followed by the Sopwith 2.F1 Camel. What was wanted was more performance in order to be able to attack Zeppelins. No documentation has been uncovered to date to indicate if the N.1A specification had been raised for aircraft to operate from a flat deck aircraft carrier. These fighters developed to the N.1A specification were to be a dead-end, and carrier conversions of landplanes were to be utilised by the RAF on RN aircraft carriers for many years.

The W.B.IV

  Only those designers who have actually attempted the design of this class of machine (that is the ship’s aeroplane) can properly appreciate the difficulties imposed by the requirements of small stowage space on shipboard, and the necessity for some form of emergency alighting and flotation gear for use when a descent on the sea is necessary. This was the introduction to an article in The Aeroplane on the Beardmore W.B.III and IV scouts.
  A completely new design from Beardmore by George Tilghman-Richards, the W.B.IV was a single-seater ship’s scout designed with flotation gear in the fuselage and a dropping under-carriage. In order to keep the size of the flotation gear, which is actually built into the fuselage to a minimum, the power unit is placed under the centre section and over the centre of gravity, the pilot being seated in front astride the propeller shaft. This most unconventional feature of the large single-seat two-bay biplane fighter was two decades before the Bell P-39 Airacobra of 1938 also adopted this arrangement to fit a 37 mm Oldsmobile cannon firing through the airscrew shaft. With the pilot seating in front of the wings he had an excellent view for landing onboard a ship and for fighting.
  The W.B.IV was designed to the Admiralty Air Board’s specification N.1A. The provisions of the specification called for flotation gear to keep the machine afloat for a period of at least six hours in the event of a water landing. To achieve this the W.B.IV had a large buoyancy chamber built into the forward fuselage. The whole fuselage was ply covered. The landing gear could be dropped and wingtip floats were provided under the lower wings as additional stabilizers when the machine is resting on the sea. The wings could be folded for shipboard storage.
  A fixed synchronised Vickers gun was carried on the port side of the fuselage, the breech casing being within the fuselage. A sturdy tripod was mounted forward of the cockpit for a separate Lewis gun. The radiator for the Hispano-Suiza 8B engine was carried between the rear cabane struts.
  Three prototypes were ordered under Contract No. A.S.11542 (BR.68) and they were allocated the serials N38 to N40.
Work on the first machine commenced around May
  A report on the W.B.IV noted that not much progress had been made on the metal work and this was holding up matters. These fittings are expected to be finished in a few days. Another report from around July 1917, noted that the folding air bags under the lower wing leading edge were being dispensed with in favour of wing tip floats. Ample buoyancy can be provided by the fuselage float, the wing tip floats and the air bags in the tail. The construction of the first machine is proceeding very satisfactorily and it is still hoped to finish the machine by the end of the month. The same report noted that the work on the W.B.IV was to be suspended to enable the WB.V to proceed. A later report noted that very little progress had been made on the W.B.IV due to a shortage of labour. Completed in November 1917, the aeroplane that emerged from the Dalmuir works managed to be a handsome aeroplane.
  The W.B.IV was a large two-bay biplane with typical Beardmore fin and balanced rudder. Ailerons were carried on the upper wing only. The machine flew for the first time on 12 December 1917, it was tested at Grain, before it was transported to Martlesham Heath for official testing, arriving there on 20 May 1918. A report around April 1918 noted that the Badin Vacuum pump was being taken out of the W.B.IV and a de Havilland Pump fitted, otherwise machine is ready for trials. These problems would appear to be why it took so long to proceed to Martlesham Heath as it apparently did little flying in the interim. After waiting for a new undercarriage that had delayed trials, these were completed by 3 August.
  While the machine had a credible performance for an aircraft of its size, this was inferior to that of the Sopwith 2F.1 Ships Camel, particularly its climbing performance. The Hispano-Suiza engine was placed such that maintenance would have been difficult. The Sopwith fighter was easier to produce and already tried and tested. Also, there was the change referred to above where a small, light aircraft with an air-cooled engine was preferred to meet the specification. There was to be no production of the W.B.IV, only the first prototype being completed.
  N38 was taken to Grain on 10 August and flown there for ditching trials. These ended when the buoyancy chamber was stove in when alighting on the water and the aircraft sank. This may have occurred on 28 September 1918, when the machine was undergoing ditching trials without the undercarriage. It was officially written off on 12 December
1918. Thus was lost one of the most interesting and advanced aircraft of the 1914-18 war.

Beardmore WB.IV Specifications
Source 1 2
Span upper 35 ft 10 in 38 ft 0 in
Span lower 35 ft -
Length 26 ft 6 in 27 ft 3 in
Height 9 ft 10.5 in 9 ft 8 in
Chord Upper 6 ft 3 in -
Chord lower 4 ft 9 in -
Gap 4 ft 9 in -
Span tail 11 ft 9 in -
Airscrew - AB7402
Diameter 9 ft -
Areas in ft2
  Wings 350 350
  Ailerons 37.61 -
  Tail 50.5 -
  Elevators 24 -
  Rudder 12 -
  Fin 8 ft -
Weights in lbs
  Empty 1,960 2,055
  Fuel & Oil - 269
  Military load - 91
  Crew - 180
  Disposable load (2) 340 -
  Loaded 2,600 2,595
Capacity in gall 37 -
Endurance 8.5 hours -
Speed in mph
  Ground level 110 -
  at 10,000 ft 102 -
Landing speed 45 -
Climb to
  5,000 ft 7 min -
  6,500 ft - 9.7 min
  10,000 ft 18 min 18.3 min
  Ceiling in ft - 14,000
  (1) Jane’s shows each aileron as 18.8 ft2 but the total area incorrectly as 37 ft 6 in.
  (2) Does not include fuel.
  1. Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft 1919.
  2. Performances of British Ship Aeroplanes July 1917 - December 1918. Report M.218 of 7/18. TNA AIR1/708/27/11/02.
Beardmore WB.IV N-38
Rearview shows the RNAS type elevator markings. Isle of Grain, 27 September 1918.
W.B.IV on the Isle of Grain, 27 September 1918. This set of photographs show the type in all its aspects. The radiator was suspended between the rear cabane struts. Note the hoisting gear on the upper centre section.
Additional views of N38. Note the vents in the upper fuselage decking for cooling the buried Hispano-Suiza engine.
Although not elegant, the W.B.IV did have good lines and was an attractive aircraft.
N38 after it was sent to the Isle of Grain, photographed there on 27 September 1918.
The pilot was seated well forward and was to be able to operate the Lewis gun by hand. No photographs are known that show such a gun mounted on No. N38. Note the shell ejection chutes in the fuselage side; the footstep on the buoyancy chamber.
The single synchronized Vickers gun was partially built into the fuselage of the W.B.IV. The mount for the Lewis gun on the nose is well shown in this view as is the buoyancy chamber. Isle of Grain, 27 September 1918.
Demonstrating how to pull the prop over on the W.B.IV.
The bouyancy chamber built into the fuselage was well streamlined as this view shows. Isle of Grain, 27 September 1918.
The wings had to be able to be folded in order to store the machine on board ships. Isle of Grain, 27 September 1918.
Ditching trials of the W.B.IV on 28 September. The undercarriage was dropped before the machine landed in the water. Unfortunately, it stove-in the buoyancy chamber, and the machine is shown under tow after alighting.
Lifting the damaged N38 out of the water after its failed ditching trail.
Beardmore W.B.IV
Beardmore W.B.IV
Beardmore W.B.IV
The W.B.V

  The W.B.V was a more conventional fighter design with the engine and pilot in the conventional positions. The aircraft was designed to take a French 37-mm Canon Puteaux as an anti-Zeppelin destroyer. The cannon fired its rounds through the hollow airscrew shaft. Three prototypes were ordered under Contract No. A.S.11542 (BR.68) with serials N41 to N43.
  Reports on the construction of the machine noted that around July a visit was made by the Technical Department to Beardmore with regard to the attachment to wings to fuselage of W.B.5 (B.A.G. Scout). The same report noted that with regard to the W.B.IV and W.B.V progress was very slow and it was decided to suspend work on the W.B.IV and to instruct the firm to concentrate on the W.B.V. The progress on the W.B.V was reported as still slow, but assurance has been given that great efforts will be made to get W.B. V out in six weeks. The erection of the machine was in hand and a 1170 rev. 200 Hispano engine is now being sent to this firm. Another report noted that This machine is practically complete but is held up for radiator. This is expected and the machine will probably be ready by November 19th. The aircraft was reported as complete but waiting for a modified carburettor before trials. The weight of this machine light is 1,868 lbs. Ample flotation is provided by the wing bags and fuselage bags and also by the petrol tank. The fuselage is practically watertight up to the propeller hub.
  The W.B.V was despatched to Grain on 28 November 1917. The first flights will be undertaken by the firms pilot. The following tests will be carried out: -
  (a) Type test with wing air bags in position with and without chassis.
  (b) Type test with wing air bags off.
  (c) Test of length to get off and speed to get off.
  The first recorded flight was made at the Isle of Grain on 3 December.
  The W.B.V looked like a conversion of the W.B.IV to a conventional machine, as Janes 1919 commented, it was of very much the same overall dimensions as the WB.IV. Like the W.B.IV the fuselage was covered with plywood. The pilot now sat under the centre section where he had a limited view overhead. Radiators were carried on each side of the fuselage in line with the front interplane struts. The wings could be folded. The wings were now of equal chord and no stagger was employed. Flotation gear now consisted of air bags on the underside of the lower wings. Again, the undercarriage was jettisonable.
  Pilots did not like the machine as the cannon’s breach was located such that the pilot was right at its rear end in order to load and fire the gun. The cockpit was cramped and in the event of a malfunction of the cannon, the pilot was in a very dangerous position. The aircraft’s designer, G. Tilghman-Richards, considered the It was a horrible design as the pilot had to be placed right up against the rear end of the breech to load and fire the gun, and in case anything went wrong with the gun breech. It was delivered to the R.N.A.S. and I was told pilots just refused to pull the trigger. The cannon was removed and a fixed synchronised Vickers gun installed instead. This was mounted on top of the fuselage. A pylon mount for a Lewis gun was ahead of the cockpit enabling the pilot to fire through the centre wing cut-out.
  N41 was flown at Grain and was damaged beyond repair on 4 January 1918, the pilot, Sub Lt Pinder, being injured. The second prototype N42 was completed and flew at the makers on 20 February 1918. With the removal of the cannon, interest in the W.B.V ceased and no development of this machine was undertaken, it apparently being abandoned around April 1918.

Beardmore WB.V Specifications
Source 1 2
Span 35 ft 10 in 35 ft 10 in
Length 26 ft 7 in 26 ft 7 in
Height 11 ft 10 in 11 ft 10 in
Chord Upper 6 ft 3 in -
Chord lower 6 ft 3 in -
Gap 4 ft 9 in -
Span tail 11 ft 9 in -
  Diameter 9 ft -
Areas in ft2
  Wings 394 394
  Ailerons 37.6 -
  Tail 50.5 -
  Elevators 24
  Rudder 12 -
  Fin 8 -
Weights in lbs
  Empty 1,860 1,860
  Disposable load (1) 340 -
  Loaded 2,500 2,500
Capacity in gall 37 -
Endurance 2.5 hours -
Speed in mph
  Ground level 112 112
  at 10,000 ft 103 103
Landing speed 45 45
Climb to
  5,000 ft 6 min. 6 min
  10,000 ft 17 min 17 min
  Endurance in hrs 2.55 2 1/2
Notes: (1) Does not include fuel.
  1. Jane’s 1919 and Aeronautical Engineering supplement to The Aeroplane. 11 June 1919. P. 2324. The Jane’s entries are almost exactly the same as those in The Aeroplane, not surprising as C.G. Grey was the Editor of Jane's.
  2. Performances of British Ship Aeroplanes July 1917 - December 1918. Report M.218 of 7/18.TNA AIR1/708/27/11/02.
Beardmore WB.IV N-41
Beardmore WB.IV N-42
The first W.B.V, N41, with the interplane struts fitted at the inboard ends of the mainplanes to allow the wings to fold.
The first W.B.V, N41 at the Isle of Grain.
The first Beardmore W.B.V, N.41, with wings folded.
N41 with its wings folded. Isle of Grain, 17 December 1917.
The second W.B.V, N42, had bracing struts from the stub wings to the upper longerons.
N6748 in the Beardmore works. Note the fuselage of one of the two Beardmore W.B.V ship aeroplane to the right background. N6748 was the second last machine from the batch N6680 to N6749. It was delivered to Killingholme Reserve in the W/E 23 February 1918, and probably was never flown. There appears to be no engine mounted when photographed. There was a lack of engines for the S.B.3D and many were delivered to store engineless.
Beardmore W.B.V
Beardmore W.B.V
Beardmore W.B.V
Beardmore Projects
The W.B.VI

  The W.B.VI was a proposed torpedo carrying biplane. It followed conventional thinking in being a single-engine single-seat biplane. The pilot sat well back in the fuselage. The undercarriage was arranged so that the torpedo was suspended under the centre of gravity. A 350-hp Rolls-Royce engine was the nominated power plant.

The W.B.VIa to W.B.VId series

  Although they bore the W.B.VI designation, these three civil aeroplanes with folding wings were all different. The W.B.VIa was a six passenger machine that was started but construction was never completed. The proposed engine was a 500-hp Galloway Atlantic. The W.B. VIb was a projected two seat civil aeroplane. The W.B.VIc was a small, single seat biplane. The W.B.VId was a project only. Six passengers were carried in two fuselages with two 230-hp B.H.R engines driving the airscrews through shafts.

Beardmore WB.VI Specifications
Span upper 53 ft 6.5 in
Span lower 47 ft 10.5 in
Length 34 ft
Height 12 ft 6 in
Chord upper 8 ft 10 in
Chord lower 7 ft 9 in
Areas in ft2
  Wings 796
  Ailerons 95.5
  Tailplane 80
  Elevators 32.4
  Rudder 12
  Fin 10
Weights in lbs
  Empty 3,027
  Disposable load 2,0601
  Total 5,637
Speed in mph
  Landing 47
  at ground level 102
  at 10,000 ft 91
Climb to
  10,000 ft 15 mins
  15.000 ft 41 mins
Capacity in galls 70
Endurance in hrs 3
Note: (1) Does not include fuel.
Source: Aeronautical Engineering supplement to The Aeroplane. 11 June 1919. P. 2324.
Beardmore Projects

  This proposed 24 passenger three-engine triplane was designed with two fuselages with a passenger cabin in the nose of each fuselage, the central nacelle carrying the crew and one engine. Three 500-hp Beardmore Atlantic engines were carried. The central nacelle had a pusher installation, while at each fuselage the engine was situated behind the passenger compartment with driving shafts running along the top longeron driving geared airscrews.
  The machine was to have a span of 120 feet, a length of 62 feet and a height of 23 feet. The triplane wing folded for storage.

The W.B.IX

  This civil amphibian twin engine biplane had a short hull with outriggers carrying the twin rudders and tailplane. With a span of 107 feet, a length of 62 feet and accommodation for ten, it was a large flying boat. Designed by Tilghman-Richards in 1920, apparently in response to an Air Ministry competition, the machine was scrapped before completion with the closure of the Beardmore Aviation Department.

The W.B.X

  The W.B.X was the last design of Richards at Dalmuir. The machine was constructed of duralumin. It only made one flight after its initial trial at Martlesham Heath, the duralumin having deteriorated such that it was considered too dangerous to fly. The machine had been built to compete in a 1920 Air Ministry competition for commertial aircraft.

  None of the projects for post-Armistice aircraft came to anything. Richards was released with a bonus payment of £150, and he went to Martinsyde Aircraft Ltd as General Manager. With the departure of Richards to Martinsyde, the World War I era of aeroplane building at Beardmore had, come to an end.
  The products of William Beardmore & Co, Dalmuir, Scotland, are given seven pages in Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft 1919, despite none of the company’s designs achieving success. Only the W.B.III had a limited production run, although other companies’ designs were built under license.
  Beardmore continued to dabble in aircraft construction, the most impressive were the Inverness flying boat and the Inflexible landplane, that were built to test the all-metal construction techniques developed by Adolf Karl Rohrbach. Beardmore had purchased the patent rights for the UK in 1923. The Air Ministry ordered a landplane that emerged as the Inflexible. The machine was designed in Berlin and the plans sent to Beardmore who constructed it in Glasgow. The Beardmore Aircraft Department finally closed for good in February 1929.
The Beardmore W.B.X, G-EAQJ, was built for the 1920 Air Ministry Commercial Aircraft Competition. Photographed at Martlesham Heath.
The Handley-Page V/1500

  Beardmore were given a contract for 20 of these large four-engined bombers. The Beardmore facilities at Dalmuir could build 15 of these bombers at a time. These were to be powered by the 500-hp Galloway Atlantic engine in lieu of the Rolls-Royce Eagles that were the standard engine. It is thought that the decision was made in case there were problems and delays in the Eagle production program. In the event, the Beardmore machines were to be equipped with Rolls-Royce engines.
  The end of fighting with the Armistice saw production of the giant bombers continuing as hostilities may have recommenced. The type saw limited service post-war.

Handley-Page V/1500 Manufactured by Sir William Beardmore & Co Ltd
Contract No. Serials Notes
35A/315/C.200 E8287-E8306 Engines were to be 500-hp Galloway Atlantics. E8287-E8795 known delivered, rest probably to stores.
Handley-Page V/1500 No. E8287, four engined 'Berlin' bomber with revised tail unit, outside the Beardmore Inchinnan airship works, October 1918. This was the first Beardmore built V/1500 in October 1918.
Clifford Prodger in the cockpit of the first Beardmore built Handley-Page V/1500, No. E8287. Inchinnan airship works, October 1918.
The RAF B.E.2c

  The first order for aeroplanes given to Beardmore was for twenty-four 70-hp Renault powered B.E.2c biplanes by the Admiralty in late 1914. (Nos. 1099 to 1122). The first was flown at the firm’s airfield by Dukinfield Jones on 19 February 1915, and delivered to Gosford on 5 March.
  On the night of 27/28 November 1916, a force if nine Zeppelins set out to attack the United Kingdom - L13, L14, L6, L21, L22, L24, L34, L35, L36, and L30 that was forced to return early. L21 had a narrow escape from two B.E.2e ‘fighters’ by skillful manoeuvring. A No. 51 Squadron F.E.2b No. 7680, pursued L21 but its engine dropped revolutions and its pilot, Lt W.R. Gayner, had to give up and just managed to glide to Tibbenham where he crash-landed.
  L21 reached the coast at Yarmouth where he was attacked by Flt Lt Egbert Cadbury in B.E.2c No. 8625, with Flt Sub-Lt G.W.R. Fane in B.E.2c No. 8420, both from Burgh Castle, and Flt Sub-Lt Edward Laston Pulling from Baston in Beardmore built No. 8626. Cadbury pumped four drums of explosive ammunition into the airship while Fane’s Lewis gun froze. Pulling closed in and fired from about 50 feet below the giant. His gun stopped after the second shot and while he tried to clear a jam, the airship started to burn from the stern and fell. Puling had to dive to avoid the falling airship that struck the water with the loss of everyone on board.
  The credit for the victory was given to Pulling who was awarded the DSO while Cadbury and Fane received the DSC. The German Navy also lost L34 this night. It was brought down off Hartepool by 2/Lt Ian V. Pyott in B.E.2c No. 2738 of A Flight, No. 36 Squadron.3

B.E.2c Manufactured by Sir William Beardmore & Co Ltd
Contract No. Engine
Not known 70-hp Renault
C.P.53937/15 90-hp RAF Ia
C.P.79587/15 90-hp RAF Ia
C.P.60949/15 & C.P.153401/15 90-hp RAF Ia
  Another 50 B.E.2c biplanes are known to have been manufactured at Dalmuir but serials for these have not been ascertained.
BE2c #1099, Whitley Bay NAS, Autumn 1915. This Beardmore-built BE2c Used the early RNAS red/white roundels until the red/white/blue roundels were standardized.
The first Beardmore built B.E.2c RNAS No.1099. February 1915. This occasion appears to be a hand-over to the RNAS. This machine had a 75-hp Wolseley-Renault motor. Tested by Dunkinfield Jones on 8 March 1915, it performed anti-submarine patrols. Due to a crash on landing on 7 June, it was active on an anti-Zeppelin patrol on the night of 15/16 June 1915, when Zeppelins L10 and L11 raided Tyneside. Flt Sub-Lt K.S. Savory left Whitley Bay at 23.50 hours. Savory saw nothing and had to return when his engine began to cease to run correctly. He landed 25 minutes after take-off. After being returned to the makers in September and was back at Whitley Bay in October. No.1099 spun in to the sea on 20 December, and was written off. Flt Sub-Lt G.H. Bettinson was slightly injured.
Beardmore built No.1108 bears the early national marking of the Union flag on the rudder. Note the man on the aerial mast in the background. Tested by Dunkinfield Jones on 11 July 1915, it appears to have served at Chingford and was wrecked by Probationary Flt Sub-Lt P.S.J. Owen on 28 December 1915.
View of the Beardmore works with B.E.2c No. 1115 nearing completion. Tested at Dalmuiron 15 August 1915, it was shipped in crates, to Whitley Bay where Dunkinfield Jones tested it again before it was accepted by the RNAS. Probationary Flt Sub-Lt Arthur Francis Harvey from Chingford. Harvey was killed when he slide-slipped in on a turn at Angmering while en route to Cranwell on 23 March 1917. The machine was repaired, and was again reported wrecked in August and September 1917, and surveyed the following November and stricken.
The first Beardmore constructed Wight 840, No.1400, under construction in the Beardmore works Dalmuir, with B.E.2c biplanes being assembled in the background.
BE2c #1099, Whitley Bay NAS, Autumn 1915. This Beardmore-built BE2c Used the early RNAS red/white roundels until the red/white/blue roundels were standardized.
The Sopwith Pup

  Sopwith was an Admiralty contractor as was Beardmore, and the emergence of the Sopwith Pup fighter in 1916 saw Beardmore given contracts for the small biplane fighter. The Admiralty’s Y Department recorded that a Sopwith 80-hp Tractor Aeroplane N503 (Pup) had been purchased for the information of Messrs Beardmore. The Company’s price for the Sopwith was considered too high in W/E 22 September 1916, and the firm was asked to requote, with the firm being given the go ahead for construction in the W/E 20 October leaving final decision as to price to the Admiralty.
  The first Beardmore Pup flew at Dalmuir under the hands of A.D. Jones on 26 September 1916. All the Admiralty’s Pups were built by Beardmore. They were fitted alternatively with Lewis gun/rocket armament.
  At the 15 May 1917, meeting of the Royal Navy Air Department Progress Committee, the question was raised that orders had been given that Sopwith “pups” for ship use were no longer to carry rockets, but only the Lewis gun. This was so, but there was no harm in the rocket gear still being provided. It was easily detachable, and need not be carried if not required. It was better however to continue to provide the gear so that if the need arose again in the future the rockets would always be there available.

Sopwith Pups Manufactured by Sir William Beardmore & Co Ltd
Contract No. Engine Serials Notes
C.P.117318/16 & A.S.11764/17 80-hp Clerget & 80-hp Le Rhone. 9901-9950 16 fitted with airbags.
A.S.19598/17 & A.S.775 80-hp Le Rhone. N6430-N6459 Ships Pups fitted with airbags. Some with skid undercarriages.
Sopwith Pup 9947, Walmer Defense Flight, Walmer NAS, May 1917, Beardmore-built
Sopwith Pup N6438, Capt A N Gallehawk, HMS Furious, April 1918, Beardmore-built
Sopwith Pup N6442, FSL. J A Shaw, Walmer Defense Flight, Walmer NAS, June 1917, Beardmore-built
Sopwith Pup N6453, Sqn/Cdr E H Dunning, HMS Furious, August 1917, Beardmore-built
Beardmore constructed Sopwith Pup No.9902. Second of an order for 50 Pups, No.9902 was at the Isle of Grain in late October 1916. It was reported as wrecked on 24 July 1917, and must have been repaired, as it was crashed and damaged on 6 February 1918, surveyed later that month and deleted the following month.
The Sopwith Scout (or Pup as it was more generally known) served with the RFC and RNAS as an effective fighter from late 1916 and was an important type during the air battles of 1917; '9902 is a Beardmore-built example.
An RFC Pup No.9902. Note the large transparent panel in the broad upper wing centre section - made possible by the splayed-out cabane struts.
Newly constructed Sopwith Pups on Beardmore's aerodrome. Note the rocket rails for le Prieur anti-Zeppelin rockets. The nearest machine is No. 9936. Delivered to Killingholme Naval Air Station for erection on 4 April 1917. It was reportedly wrecked in July 1917, and February 1918.
An 80-hp Clerget powered Beardmore built Pup at Eastchurch.
Running up a Sopwith Pup on the Dalmuir aerodrome. The transparent cellon centre section is noteworthy.
Ships Pup N6453 on its platform erected above the main gun turret of HMS Repulse, probably February 1918. N6453 appears to have spent more shipboard time with HMS Furious, being delivered to that ship on 11 July 1917. Sqn Cdr Edward Harris Dunning flew it and damaged its tail on 7 August. Another famous RNAS personality who flew it was Flt Cdr Henry Richard Busteed who undertook deck landing trials on the 27th of that month. It was deleted in the W/E 11 July 1918. By the end of the war in 1918, Great Britain was the leader in carrying aircraft with its ships to sea.
Furious Pup: A Beardmore-constructed Sopwith Ships Pup over HMS Furious. By the late James Field.
Sopwith 2.F1 Ship's Camel

  Following on from the Ship’s Pup, Beardmore was given orders for the ship-born version of the famous Sopwith Camel fighter. The 2.F1 version.
  The Ship Camel was proposed be built by Beardmore at the 23rd Air Department Weekly Progress Meeting in October 1917, however this depended on whether the machine gives a satisfactory performance on trial, and whether there is a demand for these machines from the Fleet. At the Admiralty Air Department Progress Meeting of 18 December 1917, it was stated that Beardmore would require a new contract very soon and a new contract for 50 ships Camels should be given to them.
  Beardmore went on to build the greater number of 2F.1 Ship Camels including the most famous one of all, N6812, that resides in the Imperial War Museum. This is the machine that Lt Stuart D. Culley used on 31 July 1918, taking off from a towed lighter to bring down the Zeppelin L53.

Sopwith 2F.1 Ships Camel Manufactured by Sir William Beardmore & Co Ltd
Contract No. Serials Notes
A.S.35920 N6750-N6799
A.S.2301/18 N6800-N6849 150-hp B.R.1 engine.
38a/663/C695 & A.S.224907/18 N7350-N7399 N7375-N7399 cancelled.
38a/662/C694 N7650-N7679 Cancelled.
Sopwith 2F.1 Camel N6812, Lt. S Culley, August 1918, Culley downed L.53 in this Camel
Sopwith 2F.1 Camel N7139, Late 1918
Sopwith 2F.1 Camel N7149, Renfrew NAS, 1919
The most famous Sopwith 2F.1 Ships Camel, Lt Stuart Douglas Culley's mount, restored and exhibited in the Imperial War Museum, London. Culley shot down the Zeppelin L.53 in this aircraft on 10 August 1918. He was launched from a lighter towed by HMS Redoubt. Culley had been born in August 1895, in the USA, to a Canadian mother and an English father. He enlisted in the RNAS in Ottawa, Canada, in April 1917.
N6779 on a launching platform on HMS Calliope. Note the gun under the platform.
On battleships - especially those with 15 in guns - the 2F.1 was sometimes blasted by the firing of the great guns themselves. Less so in a cruiser - illustrated here by N6779 aboard Calliope, with the Camel sitting proud on its platform above the forward 6 in gun. Note that the aeroplane has fully as much extra hamper - in the form of battens and strops, to keep things Sopwith-shape - as the cruiser has herself; and the man in the foreground suggests that the whole affair should be told to the Marines.
Beardmore built Ships Camel No. N6820 lashed down on to its platform on HMS Ramillies.
The Sopwith 2F.1 Ships Camel had a detachable fuselage to enable ship storage, as displayed here by N6779 on a transporter at Rosyth.
The full serial cannot be seen, however this appears to be a Beardmore machine in the N68XX order. This particular machine shows the hoisting gear on the top wing and the single synchronized Vickers machine gun of the standard 2F.1 Camel. This particular machine has hooks on the landing gear for deck landing trials.
Beardmore-built Camel N6814 was used for experiments with the rigid airship R.23. The Camel was taken aloft and released successfully. It was thought that the rigid could take its own fighter protection with it. This idea was resurrected and improved with the Curtiss and the USN airships Akron and Macon in the 1930s.
Lt R.E. Keys is released on 6 November 1918. The machine is thought to have been N6814 on this occasion as it had all the modifications for the attempt. Keys reported that he had his engine started on the ground and kept it running at 500 rpm. The airship rose to 3,000 feet, and on the signal, released the Camel that dropped about ten feet, then entered its glide and was immediately under control. Keys considered this method of transport and release entirely satisfactory.
Wight 840 Seaplane

  Beardmores had entered into an agreement with the Wight Company to manufacture their designs on 4 May 1915. They received an order for 12 Wight Admiralty 840 Type seaplanes, the first being flown from the on 8 September by Dukinfield Jones, and delivered to HMS Engadine on the 12th. A second batch of eight was delivered commencing in early 1916.
  MacKay records that another batch of four complete, not spare part, Wight 840 seaplanes was completed at Dalmuir in 1916. There are no serials recorded for these four machines; however, given that most of the second batch were delivered as spares, it seems unlikely that they were ever given serials.

Wight 840 Manufactured by Sir William Beardmore & Co Ltd
Contract No. Engine Serials
C.P.30564/15 225-hp Sunbeam 1400-1411
C.P.145459/15 225-hp Sunbeam 9021-9040
  Nos. 9029 to 9040 were delivered as spare parts after construction was stopped in May 1916.
Wight 840 No.1400 going through the locks to the Forth. The only visible national marking is the Union flag on the bottom of the rudder. Delivered to HMS Engadine on 12 September 1915, this seaplane was wrecked off Dundee on 5 April 1916. The crew of Flt Sub-Lt E.M. King and AM Ketley were unhurt. It was deleted on 6 April.
No.1401 at Roseneath Bay. It was badly damaged on 26 September, four days after being delivered to Dundee. April 1915, and returned to Beardmore. Back at Dundee on 11 February 1916, it was deleted on 23 March.
No.1402 launching at Dalmuir. This floatplane had a short service life being delivered to Dundee on 30 September 1915, and being deleted on 7 January 1916.
A high chassis Wight 840 hoisted out at Dalmuir. This machine has the full national markings and elevator stripes
The first Beardmore constructed Wight 840, No.1400, under construction in the Beardmore works Dalmuir, with B.E.2c biplanes being assembled in the background.
The Aeroplane weekly journal reported in August 1913, that W Beardmore & Co Ltd of Glasgow, the famous engineering firm, are manufacturing the Austro-Daimler aero engine in this country instead of experimenting with an original design of their own. The Austro-Daimler is, of course, recognized as being one of the finest aero engines in the world, and the firm have undoubtably chosen wisely in taking up a design of proved merit. Good engines are greatly wanted.
  The Scottish shipbuilding and engineering conglomerate originated in 1815 and as such was one of the oldest engineering firms in Scotland. Sir William Beardmore added ship-building to the company in 1903. He acquired the Arrol-Johnston motor car company in 1913, and planned to build airships at their Dalmuir works, aero engines at the Arrol-Johnston factory at Heathfield. For £10,000 he had acquired the license to manufacture Austro-Daimler aero engines. In addition to these aeronautical activities, Sir William decided to enter the field of aircraft construction. He must have been impressed by the machines turned out by the Deutsche Flugzeug Werke (German Aircraft Works) of Leipzig, or D.F.W.
  Erhard Cecil Kny, usually referred to as Cecil Kny, was the chief technical officer of D.F.W. Their monoplanes and biplanes were designed to have inherent stability. All were powered by water-cooled stationary engines as they were believed to be more reliable and eliminated the gyroscopic effect of a rotary engine. The pilot was situated very far back due to the idea that by placing the pilot very far aft he feels any fore and aft movement of the machine more quickly than if he were situated over the centre of gravity, and so has a better opportunity of correcting it. The D.F.W. biplanes were successful for their day and established several duration and altitude records.
  A D.F.W. biplane was at Brooklands in December 1913, Flight recording that it made its first test flight, under the hands of the well-known German airman Herr Roempler, on Saturday 6 December. The German Aircraft Works Ltd placed a two-page advertisement in The Aeroplane that month. This noted that a British factory and school was in contemplation. Two D.F.W. biplanes were actually brought to the UK and both were at Brooklands. Whether these were brought to the UK by Beardmore or were a separate activity by D.EW. to gain more orders from the UK, is unknown. D.F.W. was advertising in the British aeronautical press in August 1914, that the British works were in course of completion and activity was expected to commence shortly. An address was given for their temporary offices at Streatham-Hill, London, SW. How this relates to Beardmore’s activities that had been announced earlier, is unknown.
  British military’s interest in the D.F.W. saw it tested at Farnborough. It passed all the tests but rolling, as it bent an axle when it landed across a ditch.
  The D.F.W. all-steel biplane ordered by the Admiralty arrived at Brooklands on Tuesday 24 March 1914. This was the second to arrive in the UK. Flight reported the following month that Lt C.H. Collett, RN took the new D.F.W. biplane up for a flight by himself. Flight took to calling the D.F.W. biplanes No.1 and No.2, in their order of arrival, to distinguish them. The Aeroplane reported in April that the Admiralty had purchased the D.F.W biplane at Brooklands, this was No. 2. Contract C.P.36909/14 had been raised and the machine was allocated the serial No. 154. It was later flown out of Brooklands on 25 March 1914, by its regular pilot, Lt Collett, RMA. The machine had been bought by the Admiralty purely for experimental purposes.8 Doubtless, this statement was to contain the ire of British manufacturers.
In May 1914, the same journal recorded that Beardmore were embarking on aeroplane construction as well as aero engines. Mr Cecil Kny was technical manager and they had taken the old skating rink at Twickenham, close to Richmond Bridge, and will there make aeroplanes of a type similar to the D.F W. In late 1913, Beardmore had obtained the license to build the products of the German D.F.W. firm. The success of the D.F.W. machines in Europe and the sale to the Admiralty would have seemed to future successful sales for Beardmore built D.F.W. designs in the United Kingdom.
  No.154 had its 100-hp Mercedes engine replaced by a 120-hp Beardmore by August. Dismantled on 6 October 1914, the parts were sent to Killingholme, and then Wormwood Scrubs, in June 1915.
  The D.F.W brought from Germany by Beardmore was referred to as a model B2. This was the machine operated by A. Dukinfield Jones at Brooklands. This machine was impressed in August by the Admiralty upon the start of the war and allocated the serial No. 891. It was moved around during the early days of the war and was crashed on takeoff by Flt Sub-Lt W.H. Elliot sometime late in 1914. It damaged the undercarriage while landing on 3 January 1915, and was deleted on the 23rd of that month. The problems with ‘enemy’ aircraft flying over the UK was a reason for the grounding of all German types that were in the British aerial services.
  These were the only two D.F.W biplanes that Beardmore had brought to the UK. Their plans to build more were rendered impracticable and they transferred their aviation activities to Dalmuir.
D.F.W. No. 154 under guard to keep inquisitive youngsters away. Points to note are the D.F.W. logo just behind the guard and the serial application to the rudder. No. 154 was at Brooklands by 17 March 1914. These photographs are of the incident of 31 March, 1914 when Lt C.H. Collet, RMA, attempted to fly from Portsmouth to Wick, but force landed at Jenning's Farm, near Donna Nook, Lincs. The front cockpit appears to have the supplementary fuel tank that was fitted for the attempt.
D.F.W "Mars" biplane
D.F.W "Mars" biplane
The D.F.W. biplane, fitted with 100 h.p. Mercedes engine, on which Oelrich last week beat the world's height record by going up to 7,860 metres.
Like many B-types, the pilot sat in the rear cockpit in the DFW B.I. This unmarked aircraft may be the prototype.
D.F.W. B.II photographed on 22 July 1914. This machine is most probably the 100-hp Mercedes D.F.W that the Admiralty obtained from Brooklands on the outbreak of the war; impressed under Contract No. 49959/14, it received the serial No. 891.
Beardmore D.F.W.

  Cecil Kny, managing director of the British D.F.W. firm, went to Germany with Dukinfield Jones in June 1914, to test and select a number of D.F.W. machines to be dispatched to Brooklands. When he returned it was announced that he had ordered three D.F.W. machines. One is a military all-steel machine which is credited with a climbing capacity of 1,000ft. per min. with full military load. The second machine is a fast military-type biplane which is very stable, whilst the third is a scout of the Arrow type. The machines were to be fitted with Beardmore built 120-hp Austro-Daimler engines. None of these were delivered.

The ‘Round Britain’ Beardmore DFW tractor

  Entries for the Daily Mail £5,000 Circuit of Britain Race closed on 30 June 1914. The following aircraft had been nominated for the race:
  Wm Beardmore & Co Ltd, London and Glasgow.
   Biplane, 120-hp Beardmore Austro-Daimler. Pilot: Lt C.H. Collet, RMA. Race No. 2.
  Blackburn Aeroplane Co Ltd, Leeds.
   Blackburn Hydro-Biplane, 130-hp Dudbridge Salmson. Pilot: Mr Sydney Pickles. Race No 8.
  Eastbourne Aviation Co Ltd, Eastbourne.
   Tractor biplane. 120-hp Green. Pilot: Mr. F.B. Fowler. Race No. 5.
  Grahame-White Aviation Co Ltd, Hendon.
   Grahame-White biplane. 100-hp English Monosoupape Gnome. Pilot: Mr Claude Grahame-Wright. Race No. 4.
  A.V. Roe & Co Ltd, Manchester.
   Roe biplane. 150-hp Sunbeam. Pilot: FP. Raynham. Race No. 7.
  Sopwith Aviation Co Ltd, Kingston-on-Thames. Two entries.
   1. Sopwith Batboat. 150-hp Sunbeam. Pilot: Mr C Howard Pixton. Race No. 3.
   2. Sopwith biplane. 100-hp English Monosoupape Gnome. Pilot: Mr Victor Mahl. Race No. 1.
  White and Thompson Ltd, Bognor. Two entries.
   1. Curtiss biplane. Two 100-hp Curtiss. Pilot Mr A Loftus Bryan. Race No. 9.
   2. Curtiss biplane. 120-hp Beardmore Austro-Daimler. Pilot: Capt Ernest C Bass. Race No. 6.
  The race committee had decided to postpone the start until Monday 10 August and the competitors had agreed.
  The Beardmore entry was reported in July as rapidly approaching completion. 20 mechanics working on it night and day, in addition to the ordinary staff, and the trial flights are expected to take place at Southampton Water by the end of the month. The Eddies’ column in Flight continued with their interest in the Round Britain aircraft, reporting in the 7 August issue that the Beardmore D.F. W. hydro. Entered for the “Circuit" which is nearing completion at the D.FW works at Brooklands. With the exception of the wings everything in its construction is of steel. The fuselage for instance is built up of four longerons of steel tube connected with struts and cross members of the same material. The struts are joined to the longerons by a special method of welding which, according to Mr. Kyn, does not suffer from the same disadvantages as the ordinary type welding. The interplane struts, which are stream-lined steel tubes, are provided at their lower ends with short levers by means of which they can be detached from the wings without interfering with the adjustment of the bracing cables. It is thus possible to erect and dismantle the wings in a very short time, and in addition this arrangement does away with the necessity of “tuning up” the machine every time it is erected. For military purposes the time thus saved would be of enormous value.
  Flight for 14 August 1914, gave the following description of the Beardmore “D.F. W.” Tractor Biplane, that was the second entry for the race with race number ‘2’. The article was illustrated by two sketches and scale drawings showing the floatplane.
  The machine was described as being similar to the one that had established a new world’s altitude record of 26,568 feet. The machine was chiefly remarkable for its good streamline fuselage and back-swept wings. The rectangular cross-sectional fuselage was built up from four steel tube longerons meeting at a knife-edge at the vertical rudder post. Struts and cross-members of the fuselage were steel tubing joined, by acetylene welding. Diagonal cross-bracing completes the internal construction of the fuselage, which is of enormous strength, both as regards torsional and bending stresses. The engine was, naturally, a straight six cylinder water-cooled 120-hp British-built Beardmore Austro-Daimler, supported on a steel engine bed. The engine cylinders projected into the airstream. A hemispherical aluminium front cowling gave a neat entry and the fuselage sides were covered with aluminium sheet up to the rear interplane struts. The rear section was covered with fabric. An aluminium turtle deck manufactured out of a single sheet had cutouts for the pilot and passenger and gave the top of the fuselage a particularly good streamline.
  The two-bay main planes were swept back in plan with the leading edge curving back at the tips to meet the trailing edges, and were heavily staggered. The upper wing was slightly wider in span than the lower. It was constructed in two sections that met at the centre-line where a cabane of four struts of streamline steel tube carried at their apex a horizontal member to which the two sections of the upper planes were attached. The method of removing the interplane struts was again described in detail.
  The reverse camber ailerons of an elongated triangular shape due being hanged at right angles to the aircraft centreline, and were attached to the upper wings only. The triangular tailplane was adjustable but not in flight. The ruder was connected to a continuation of the stern post and a small vertical fin was fitted.
  The observer occupied the front aluminium bucket seat and was placed sufficiently forward to be able to look over the leading edge of the lower plane. The pilot’s seat was far back where he had good views in all directions.
  For the race a twin float chassis was to be fitted but a land undercarriage could be quickly substituted. The float chassis comprised two sets of streamline steel struts in the form of the letter ‘M’, as seen from the front. The upper apices of the struts joined the two lower fuselage longerons under the motor and under the rear spar of the lower wing. The lower extremities of the struts were connected to transverse tubes to which the twin, sprung, 14 feet long main floats were attached. A small float supported the tail plane when at rest.
  The radiator was located underneath the fuselage between the chassis struts. A Bosch ignition and self-starter enabled the machine to be started from the pilot’s cockpit. It was anticipated that the machine would have a speed of 45 to 85 miles per hour, and a climb of 3,500 feet in six minutes with a load of 125 lb in addition to the crew and fuel and water for a six hours flight duration.
  The outbreak of the war meant that the race was cancelled and the engineless airframe was sold for £138.13.7 on 28 August 1914. It is unknown whether it was ever completed. Despite the RNAS operating D.F.W. biplanes, there was apparently no interest in acquiring this machine. As far as is known, no photographs of the machine exist.
  The next article in Flight to feature the D.F.W. was that of 28 August 1914, Aircraft “Made in Germany” which may be employed against the Allies.’
  A note to a list of Admiralty impressed aircraft records that Beardmore have not yet taken over D.F. W. Money is short.
  I. Seaplane 120 AD nearing completion. The floats at Beardmore. Sopwiths suggested adding this machine by Admiralty contract subject to usual Admiralty test. Deliver Calshot.
  II. Land machine 90 AD not yet ready about one week.
  Despite some references stating that the 1914 Circuit seaplane was impressed as No. 891, no confirmation of this has yet been found. No. 891 was more certainly the D.F.W. B.II referred to above. The fate of the Circuit seaplane is unknown.

Beardmore DFW Circuit Floatplane Specifications
Source 1 2 3
Span upper 44 ft 44 ft 0 in 41 ft
Span lower 40 ft - 40 ft
Length 25 ft 0 in 25 ft 0 in -
Chord 5 ft 6 - -
Gap 6 ft 0 in - -
Floats - - 14 ft long
Weights in lbs 1,500 - 1,500
Empty 2,240 - 2,2401
Loaded 450 450 450
Area in ft2 45/85 - 45/80
Notes: 1. With pilot, passenger, and fuel and oil for 6 hours.
   1: Flight, 7 August 1914.
   2: Flight, 14 August 1914
   3: The Aeroplane, 5 August 1914.
These sketches redrawn from Flight show the British built 1914 Beardmore D.F.W. Circuit of Britain biplane. The drawings were apparently sketched from the machine while it was being constructed.
The Beardmore Nieuport 12

  The admiralty placed a contract with Beardmore for 50 Nieuport 12 two-seat sesquiplanes in 1915 (9201-9250). A sample Nieuport without engine, A8967, was sent to the factory as a pattern aircraft in lieu of complete plans. In 1916
the RFC ordered 20 Nieuports from Beardmore (A5183 - A5202). A. Dunkerfield Jones flew the first Nieuport on 10 May 1916, at the Dalmuir airfield. That year Gen Trenchard asked the RNAS for aircraft for the coming Battle of the Somme. Beardmore Nieuports were transferred direct to the RFC. (See Table of Serial numbers).
  Starting on 1 July 1916, the Admiralty agreed that, if possible, three Beardmore Nieuport 2 seater 110 Clerget machines per week, but not less than 2 per week up to a total of 20 machines be supplied to the RFC. These were included with a total of 20 Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutters and 20 Bristol Scouts. In response to a further request that spare parts for the Beardmore Nieuports be supplied with these machines, the Admiralty agreed, but indicated that there would be a delay in providing the spare landing chassis.
  The spares that accompanied the Beardmore Nieuports were:
   Spare Propellers and Packing Cases for same. 2 per machine.
   Sets of Main Planes. 1 per 5 machines.
   Landing Chassis complete with wheels. 1 per 2 machines.
   Tail units. 1 per 5 machines.
   Skid units. 1 per 5 machines.
  No.46 Squadron in France received its first Beardmore Nieuport (A3282) on 5 October 1916. This was carried out before a CFS report condemning the Beardmore Nieuport was finalized. In this report the Nieuport was said to be dangerous to fly when carrying a full reconnaissance load.
  Beardmore built Nieuport A3288 was subject of a report from the Central Flying School, Upavon in October 1916. This machine was fitted with 110-hp Clerget engine No. 344 A.G.
  Listed under instruments were the Rev counter Elliott Mk. II, pressure gauge, watch, compass, inclinometer, aneroid S&M, Airspeed Indicator, Fire extinguisher and the Nieuport “Spider” Gun Mounting.
  The machine was considered as having good features for reconnaissance but unsuitable for bomb dropping.
  The gunner’s facilities were very good upwards, only fair over the side and downwards and very good to the rear. The pilot had a fixed Vickers with Scarff timing gear.
  Lateral stability was good, but longitudinally and directionally it was unstable. It vibrated badly in the air. It was considered tiring to fly due to the cramped position of the pilot. The pilot’s view was not good on account of the high fairing round his cockpit.
  When carrying full reconnaissance load it is so heavily loaded as to be not only useless in the matter of performance, but dangerous to fly, whole in any case it is much too bad in climb and speed to be any use as a fighter.
  It was estimated that the aircraft took only 150 yards to unstick and pull up. Landing was considered very difficult in a confined space as there was not sufficient elevator control to get the tail properly down.
  Under ‘Remarks’ the pilot’s position as again criticized as being very cramped, the rudder bar being much too close. The switch was awkward to reach and would be better positioned on the instrument board. The fine adjustment was difficult to reach and operate. The throttle was placed too near the pilot. The tail plane was much too small. The machine tended to stall with the engine on and dive with the engine off.
  Owing to the very bad performance of this machine, it appears that no alterations practicable would render it fit for service overseas.
  Prior to this condemnation of the Beardmore machines, there was trouble experienced with those already delivered.
  A 25 June 1916, ‘Report on Beardmore Nieuport Machines’ from RNAS Dunkerque, lists complaints about the Beardmore Nieuport 12 fighters. These machines are, in general, very badly turned out and are not fit for service without a lot of work being put into them. In particular, the steelwork of the machine is very inferior to that of the French Nieuports. The woodwork and the fabric and method of attachment to the ribs was considered superior to the French machines.
  The fuselage and empennage were out of true. In many cases the turnbuckles were screwed home permitting no
further movement but the wires were slack. The bolts were left long and not burred, nor otherwise secured. In one case the bolt holding down the tailplane to the side of the fuselage had no nut on it. In most cases the plate fittings are not bent at the correct angle so that when any stress comes on the wire, the fitting would straighten out and the bracing becomes slacker.
  An upper plane, a top centre section and a lower plane were opened up for inspection. The bracing wires were slack. The bracket on both sides of the aileron tube had been insecurely welded and could not be relied onto take any severe stress. The extensions of the aileron cranks were of 17 gauge not 12 gauge as on the French Nieuports. On one machine the aileron jammed in the air owing to lateral weakness, gravely endangering the pilot’s life.
  It was considered that the workmanship of the steel fittings on these machines is very inferior and that the inspection is not carried out in a proper manner.
  The machines had been erected incorrectly. Machine No. 9204 was the example used. The wings were at the wrong angle of incidence, in some cases being 2° in error.
  With regard to the engine, it had been found that the Gibaut Magnetos have always proved unreliable and are most inconvenient to examine. It was suggested that they be eliminated from these aircraft. K.L.G. Plugs, type “P” are the only suitable plugs yet known for the 110 HP Clerget engine.
  The lugs on the engine cowlings had been drilled too far outboard, allowing the lower portion of the cowl to vibrate when the engine was running, causing the cowl to crack.
  It was considered that the centre section, in all cases, should be covered with transparent material. The gun mountings in the rear cockpit require some method of locking and do not work so freely and unfirmly as they should do.
  The wind screen was considered far too big as it detracts greatly from the performance of the machine.
  I Section of the Admiralty’s Air Department visited Beardmore’s works during the W/E 7 October 1916. The officer reported that the first 80 HP Sopwith machine, of which the firm has an order for 50, is now complete and going through its trials. Progress on the Nieuport Contract is extremely slow and the firms progress with regard to the construction of aircraft cannot be considered at all satisfactory. The matter was gone into with the firm, their finances looked into roughly, and it was pointed out that at their present rate of production they were losing between £2,000 and £4,000 a year on their Aviation Dept. Further, it was shown that the earning capacity per man per annum was only of the order of 50% of what is should be and is in certain other firms. The firm appeared convinced that their whole method of production wanted reorganizing and promised to go thoroughly into the matter before my next visit.
  The situation with Beardmore Nieuports led to the issuing of Technical Memorandum No. 100 - Defects in 2-seater Nieuport Aeroplanes (Beardmore & Co.)
  Tests in the air which have been made recently disclose a weakness in the method of securing the main spar of the lower plane to the base of the interplane strut in the 2-seater Nieuport machines (110 Clerget) built by Messrs. Beardmore & Co. Ltd.
  When dived fairly steeply, all the incidence at the left-hand bottom plane’s wing tip, which is 5° at this point normally, washed out and becomes a neutral incidence (0°).
  The cause of the defect is the shrinkage of the wood packing of the main spar, thus allowing the main spar to twist. This may be remedied by letting in a brass plate and fitting a cap.
  These faults were probably due to the lack of plans and trained personnel. Beardmore added a fin to their later Nieuport 12 trainers.

Delivery of Beardmore Nieuports Nos. 9201-9250 (110-hp Clerget)
Contract No, Engine
15.05.16. 1 delivered
17.07.16. 12 delivered
25.09.16. 32 delivered.
06.11.16. 41 delivered.
12.02.17. 44 delivered.
19.02.17. 45 delivered.
23.04.17. 49 delivered.
Source: Notes from TNA AIR1/152/15/119. RAF Museum J.M. Bruce Collection Box 24.

Nieuport 12 manufactured by Sir William Beardmore & Co Ltd
Contract No. Engine Serials Notes
C.P.150907/15 110-hp Clerget 9Z 9201-9250. 20 (9213-9232 were transferred to RFC(1))
87A1162 - A5183-A5202 RFC trainers.
  Notes: (1) RNAS 9214-9219 became RFC A3270-A33275; RNAS 92113 became RFC A3281 and RNAS 9220-9232 became RFC A3282-A3294.
Nieuport 12 #9209
Nieuport 12 #9241
Nieuport 12 #A5185
Beardmore factory photographs of Nieuport 12 No. 9209. Note the open cowl, transparent covered centre-section cut-out and land model Lewis gun on rotating gun ring. Sent to Dover for erection in June 1916, it served with No. 10 Flight of A Squadron, No. 4 Wing, Dunkirk from 20 August until October 1916. Back at Dover for erection 5 March 1917, survey in October 1917, and deleted on the 19th due to fair wear and tear.
The Nie 12bis was an improved Nie 12 which appeared in 1916 with an uprated Clerget engine.
No. 9238 on a snow-covered airfield. It retains its French type gun ring. Note the Beardmore designed fin. Served at the Observers School Flight at Eastchurch, No.9328 was deleted on 30 March 1918, as wrecked.
No. 9241 was apparently built as a single-seater. Note the full cowling and the absence of any armament. It served at Chingford from May 1917 till at least March 1918.
RFC Nieuport 12 No. A5185. This Beardmore Nieuport served at No. 46 Squadron and No. 31 Training Squadron at Wyton.
No. A5200 shows a different application of the serial number. These late Beardmore Nieuports have the full engine cowl. A5200 was at No. 84 Squadron, Lilbourne by August 1917.
Drawings of the Beardmore Nieuport from the RFC Rigging Manual.