Fairey Aircraft since 1915

H.Taylor - Fairey Aircraft since 1915 /Putnam/


  The first aircraft to be both designed and built by the Fairey Aviation Company was a twin-engined three-seat landplane ordered by the Admiralty. This has been generally described as a long-range fighter and general-purpose aircraft, but it could also have been developed as a bomber. It was not the first aircraft to be built by the company, which made a start with a sub-contract order for twelve Short Type 827 floatplanes. These, built in 1915-16 and tested at Hamble by Sydney Pickles, carried the serial numbers 8550-8561 and the Fairey constructor’s numbers F.4-15. Before the completion of the fighter a start had also been made on a contract for one hundred Sopwith 1 1/2-Strutters.
  A fair amount of information about the F.2, in the form in which it finally appeared and was flown, can be obtained from descriptions, photographs and drawings of the period, but not much is known with certainty about the earlier versions of the project, design work on which is believed to have been started in November 1915. Four serial numbers, 3702-3705, were allocated by the Admiralty for two versions. One, it has been recorded, was to have had a tractor and the other a pusher layout. Two were to have been powered by 200 hp engines produced by Brotherhood Ltd. Three schemes were worked on by Fairey: these were for 3702 (F.1), 3704 (F.2) and 3705 (F.3). The first and third had not got beyond the wing-detailing stage before a requirement for wing-folding was introduced and the designs were not proceeded with.
  The most interesting fact about these initial proposals is that at least one, F.2, was planned with tandem-mounted engines within the fuselage and driving outboard propellers through a chain-and-sprocket system. In the case of the F.2 the propellers were pushers and the wing-folding requirement meant that the layout had to be revised to provide a tractor arrangement. This may well have been less mechanically attractive and the buried-engines plan was later dropped in favour of a conventional design with two wing-mounted powerplants - 190 hp Rolls-Royce Falcon twelve-cylinder vee liquid-cooled engines driving tractor propellers. In this form the F.2 went ahead to the prototype stage.
  This one-and-only prototype, assembled in the wooden shed on the site where the company’s factory was to be completed 18 months later, may have been flown initially, probably in straight hops, from the adjoining field at Harlington. The first official flight was, however, made by Pickles from Northolt, where it had been reassembled, on 17 May, 1917. Admiralty interest in the project had by then waned and no further progress was made.
  The F.2 was a three-bay biplane with long upper-wing extensions braced from kingposts above the outer interplane struts, and with a substantial four-wheel ‘bedstead’ undercarriage to simplify landings at night and/or to lessen the chances of nosing-over on rough ground. The wings folded from a point outboard of the Falcon engines - which, cleverly enough, were arranged to drive ‘handed’, or opposite-rotating, propellers to eliminate torque reaction and thus reduce the tendency to swing. The single tailplane carried twin fins and rudders. Armament consisted of Lewis guns on Scarff rings for the forward and aft gunners; bombs could be carried on external racks.
  No record appears to remain of the requirements which the design of the F.2 was intended to meet. Large, relatively slow, multi-engined, multi-seat fighters had not proved, nor were to prove, suitable for a conventionally offensive role in air fighting, but the F.2 might well have had value for night attacks on Zeppelin raiders and, perhaps, for specialized deep-penetration operations. The Royal Naval Air Service was, from 3 September, 1914, until March 1916, wholly responsible for the air defence of Great Britain. The RNAS also played an important, but often forgotten, part in the war on the Western Front and pioneered what would now be known as strategic bombing.
  Span 77 ft (23-5 m); length 40 ft 6 in (12-3 m); height 13 ft 6 in (4.1 m); total wing area 814 sq ft (75-6 sq m). Loaded weight 4,880 lb (2,213 kg). Maximum speed at sea level 93 mph (150 km/h); landing speed 38 mph (61 km/h). Climb to 5,000 ft (1,524 m) 6 min. Endurance 3 hr 30 min.
This conventional side view of the F.2 shows the Scarff-ring fittings for the forward and rear gunners and the four-wheel ‘bedstead’ undercarriage.
io as to meet Admiralty requirements the 77-ft span wings of the F.2 folded from points mtboard of the ‘handed’ Rolls-Royce Falcon engines.
The first aircraft to be designed and built by the newly-formed Fairey company was the massive twin-engined F.2 fighter, seen here after assembly in the Harlington shop.
Hamble Baby

  In terms of new design thinking, the most important aircraft built by Fairey in the years before the legendary Fox was not one of their own, but a redesigned version of the Sopwith Baby single-seat seaplane. This variant, named the Hamble Baby, was the first production aircraft to be fitted with a practical system of adjustable trailing-edge flaps as a means of increasing lift for take-off and landing. The Fairey patent camber-changing gear, as the system was to be known for a decade or more afterwards, was fitted to most of the company’s biplanes up to and including the Seafox of the late 1930s and, in a simplified form involving only the ailerons, to the Swordfish.
  As Oliver Stewart put it in the narrative which accompanied Leonard Bridgman’s evocative drawings for The Clouds Remember, the Hamble Baby demonstrated the fact that ‘in aviation there is nothing new under the sun’. Writing in the early 1930s, he commented that future historians should remember that the Hamble Baby ‘showed the way to developments which were to enable much higher speeds to be reached in the future without additional risks and without flying difficulties’.
  This is, perhaps, an overstatement of the importance of the advance represented by the Fairey flap gear as such. This certainly worked to special advantage in the case of seaplanes, because the increased lift at lower speeds enabled them to get ‘on top of the water’ with greater ease; more power was needed to do this, in some conditions of wind and sea, than to become airborne. But many designers and others considered that the increased lift provided by these somewhat primitive flap systems was more than offset by the weight penalties and the complications and control loadings involved. Few other British manufacturers attempted to make use of high-lift devices during the two decades following the appearance of the Hamble Baby.
  The Sopwith Baby, a more powerful scouting and bombing derivative of the Schneider seaplane and the earlier Tabloid, was being flown operationally in 1916 at loads which caused the lift-off speed to be too high for safety in any but favourable wind/sea conditions. The float undercarriage was sometimes breaking up under wave impact before the aircraft could become airborne while carrying the anti-submarine and other loads which were possible with the power of the Clerget rotary engine. Two 65-lb bombs in racks under the fuselage had to be lifted - as well as a forward-firing synchronized Lewis gun and its ammunition, emergency rations, a sea anchor, and accommodation for the carrier pigeons which in those days stood-in for non-existent lightweight radio.
  The most immediately obvious way of dealing with the difficulty was to replace the existing conventional thin-section wings of the Baby with others of a more heavily cambered high-lift section. This approach was tried in different forms not only by Blackburn, who had by then taken over the production of the Baby from Sopwith, but also by Sqn-Cdr John Seddon of the Experimental Construction Department (ECD) of the Marine Experimental Aircraft Depot at Port Victoria, Isle of Grain. Seddon used aerofoils based on wind-tunnel work done at the National Physical Laboratory, together with a considerable modification of the wing arrangement of the Baby.
  To a degree, the resultant aircraft, the Port Victoria P.V.1 was a success; it was taken off at a weight some 450 lb higher than that of the standard Baby, but, expectedly, its maximum speed was reduced from 95-100 mph to 77 mph. The ECD was to continue development on these lines with the P.V.2, and a version of this appeared to be promising and was liked; however, it was overtaken, in effect, by the Hamble Baby which was by then (1917) going into quantity production.
  The Fairey approach to the problem was nothing if not radical for the era. The plan was to hinge the trailing edges of each wing so that these ‘margins’ could be lowered to increase the lift while continuing to be available for use, with differential action, as ailerons. By thus providing adjustable camber, some, at least, of both slow-speed and high-speed requirements could be met.
  This was not, of course, the first attempt to provide a variable-camber system. The Royal Aircraft Factory had done experiments before the war, and, as Harald Penrose points out in the second volume of his British aviation history, the Varioplane Company had been working for some years on a system for flexing a wing surface The Fairey approach, however, he writes, ‘was that of a practical engineer, using one abrupt change of camber and then applying an ingenious geometry of cable operation to give either simultaneous or differential application of the flap’.
  After discussions about the problem with Sq-Cdr Seddon, Fairey were given a contract for the construction and test of six sets of wings for the Baby. Each set was to be of different section. The variable-camber principle was introduced in the second set to be designed and made by Fairey. For the development work, a Sopwith-built Baby (8134) was delivered to the Fairey works at Clayton Road, Hayes. This, as F.129, was eventually fitted with redesigned wings with a span 2 ft longer than standard and increased chord, and with rounded wingtips in place of the blunt planform of the original Baby.
  Photographs of 8134 suggest that it was flown both as a landplane and a seaplane and that it retained in both forms, at least initially, the original rounded Sopwith fin and rudder. All production Hamble Babies from Fairey were fitted with a redesigned tail unit, with a near-square outline, following the pattern of that on the Campania. This empennage outline was to be a Fairey ‘trademark’ for a decade or more until the appearance of the IIIF. Fairey-designed main floats were used and a larger-capacity tail-float was also fitted.
  The first of several British and US patent specifications covering the principle and method of operation of the camber gear was applied for in provisional form on 19 May, 1916, and the complete specification (No.132,541) was dated 19 December, 1916. In this specification it was proposed that the control column should be telescopically adjustable in length by means of a handwheel-operated rack-and-pinion gear. The flaps were moved differentially for lateral control by a cable system operated by a control-wheel and drum on this column. As the column was lengthened, the cable system would be tightened against spring (or bungee) loading, pulling down the flaps symmetrically while retaining adequate differential action except at large flap angles.
  Whether this system, or one of the other patented methods of operation, was that used on the Hamble Baby can only be guessed - but the principle behind all such systems was similar. When officially tested from Hamble by Maurice Wright, the prototype Hamble Baby demonstrated its ability to lift two 65-lb bombs with much greater ease than the standard Baby, though the lateral control was inevitably a good deal heavier.
  Needless to say, there had been no shortage of problems in the design and development of the camber-changing device. The pressure distribution over the wing did not turn out as expected, so the movement of the centre of pressure had to be watched carefully; and there were very heavy stresses in the operating gear. The early systems had to be operated with very low gear ratios so that no rapid changes of flap angle would be possible.
  The Hamble Baby was produced at Hayes and Hamble by Fairey and, under a sub-contract arrangement, by Parnall & Sons at Bristol - the latter company making very much the greater number if their Hamble Baby Converts are included. These variants were fitted with land undercarriages and were used for training by the RNAS - notably at Cranwell. The Converts had their floats replaced by skids, to which the straight axle for the wheels was attached by rubber bungee cords; as the geometry of the undercarriage struts remained unchanged, the result was a very wide-track undercarriage which must have been appreciated for training work.
  The Parnall-built Babies, including the Converts, could be distinguished from Fairey-built aircraft by the fact that they retained the Sopwith fins and rudders and, in the case of the seaplanes, the Sopwith floats. All were powered by Clerget nine-cylinder air-cooled rotary engines, but there is some difference in the record of the proportions using the 110 hp and the 130 hp versions of the engine. Of the 180 Hamble Babies and Converts built, the first 50 - including 30 by Parnall and 20 by Fairey - probably had the lower-powered Clerget, but at least one record says that they were fitted only to the first ten of the 50 built by Fairey - N1320-1339 (F.130-149) and N1450-1479 (F.150-179). Parnall built 130 with the serials N1190-1219 and N1960-2059, including 74 Converts (N1986-2059). Each one cost the taxpayer about ?2,100 excluding armament and instruments.
  Apart from the landplane Convert the Hamble Baby was employed on work similar to that done by the standard Sopwith Baby. They were based for the most part at coastal stations in Britain and in Mediterranean areas on anti-submarine patrolling and attacking duties. They operated from the RNAS stations at Fishguard, Calshot and Cattewater in Britain; from Santa Maria di Leuca, near Taranto, in Italy; from Suda Bay (Crete), Syra, Talikna (Lemnos) and Skyros in the Aegean; and from Port Said and Alexandria in Egypt. They flew from at least one seaplane carrier - HMS Empress, a converted Channel steamer, from which, while in the eastern Mediterranean late in 1917, her two Hamble Babies and four Sopwith Babies made several bombing attacks on Turkish installations in Palestine.
  Span 27 ft 9 in (6.46 m); length 23 ft 4 in (711 m); height 9 ft 6 in (2-89 m); total wing area 302 sq ft (28-1 sq m). Empty weight 1,386 lb (629 kg); military load 185 lb (84 kg); pilot 180 lb (82 kg); fuel and oil, 195 lb (89 kg); loaded weight 1,946 lb (883 kg). Maximum speed at 2,000 ft (610 m) 90 mph (145 km/h). Climb to 2,000 ft (610 m) 5 min 30 sec; to 6,500 ft (1,981 m) 25 min; service ceiling 7,600 ft (2,316 m). Endurance 2 hr.
This completed production Hamble Baby - probably N1320 (F.130) - has the Fairey trademark’ square-cut fin and rudder and Fairey-designed floats.
Old soldiers never die and neither it seems do good aircraft designs, as evidenced by the 1916 Fairey Hamble Baby resurrection of the little Sopwith floatplanes sired by the 1914 Schneider Tabloid. In essence, the Hamble Baby was little more than the earlier Sopwith Baby except in one respect. The difference lay in the use of the Fairey Camber Changing gear, which in effect was a system of right and left side, half span trailing edge flaps that could be made to work in unison for increased lift, or differentially for lateral, or roll control. Incidentally, this system, which allowed the machine to fly with higher loads than previously possible, was to be employed on every subsequent Fairey biplane up to and including their Swordfish. The first of the Fairey machines completed prior to the end of 1916 was, in fact, a converted Sopwith Baby, this being followed six months later by the first production Hamble Babys, these going into service as single-seat anti-submarine patrollers during the summer of 1917. Powered by either a 110hp or 130hp Clerget, the Hamble Baby had a top speed of 90mph at 2.000 feet to which height it could climb in 5 minutes 30 seconds. Its defensive armament comprised a single, synchronised Lewis gun, while its offensive warload was two underslung 65lb bombs. As was often the case, Faireys themselves only produced 50 of the total 180 examples built, the 130 lion's share coming from sub-contractor Parnall & Sons, Bristol.
The partially-assembled prototype Hamble Baby, which was originally Sopwith Baby 8134.

  A long line of Fairey aircraft, starting with the Series IIIA and ending with the IIIF and its derivatives, stemmed from the second of two experimental seaplanes designed and built in 1917. Both enjoyed life-spans which were valuable and long. Neither was given a type name; they were known by their manufacturer’s construction numbers and/or by their Admiralty serials - though the second was later designated the Fairey III.
  The first of these two seaplanes, N9 (F.127), was a single-bay, folding biplane with a massive overhang, giving it the appearance of what would later have been described as a sesquiplane. More compact than contemporary seaplanes, it was designed to meet Admiralty specification N.2(a) for a two-seat aircraft for operation from seaplane carriers. It was never so used, but was strengthened for experimental work with a prototype catapult.
  Powered by a 200 hp Rolls-Royce Falcon I twelve-cylinder vee liquid-cooled engine - virtually a scaled-down Eagle - N9 had a maximum sea-level speed of 90 mph. Camber-changing gear was fitted, with flaps along the whole length of the lower wing and on the upper wing between the centre-section and the ailerons - which do not appear to have been used as a part of the flap system. Armament initially consisted of a Lewis gun on a Scarff ring for the observer/gunner in the rear cockpit. The first flight is recorded as having been made on 5 July, 1917.
  Because of renewed confidence in the value of aircraft in acting as ‘eyes’ for warships, and following the progress made by the US Navy - which, in 1916, had three cruisers fitted with catapults - this method of launching aircraft had been reconsidered by the Admiralty, which had examined but shelved the idea prior to the war. In 1916 tenders were invited for the construction of a catapult in which the specification required an ability to launch an aircraft weighing up to 2 1/2 tons at a speed of 60 mph within a distance of 60 ft without exceeding an acceleration of 2.5 g. Two types of catapult were later ordered. The tests for which N9 was used were those with the type designed and built by a Newcastle-based company in the group which had, 20 years before, become Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth.
  The method involved the use of highly compressed air in a cylinder, the piston of which pulled, by means of wire hawsers, a trolley which travelled along a 60-ft main rail and two steadying rails. These rails were installed on a steel structure which was mounted on a steam hopper (a powered mud-carrying vessel used in support of dredging operations) which had been specially commissioned for tests by the Marine Experimental Aircraft Depot. After preliminary trials on the Tyne, the catapult vessel, appropriately named HMS Slinger, went to the MEAD at Grain for real-life tests with N9. These were started in June 1918 under the direction of Lt-Col H. R. Busteed, who did most, if not all, of the flying.
  Although the system was, as required, capable of accelerating the trolley and its aircraft to a speed of 60 mph within the length of the rail, the launches were apparently made at a maximum of only about 40 mph. The use of this lower speed was practical for N9, which had a stalling speed of 38 mph when using a few degrees of flap, and reduced the acceleration loads on the pilot, who had no headrest. A modicum of wind would have widened the gap between ‘ground’ speed and the airspeed. Tests were successfully completed with HMS Slinger both at rest and under way, and were the first to be made in Britain with a seaplane, though earlier trials had been made with landplanes at Hendon aerodrome using the other catapult which had been ordered. However, it was to be seven years before a Service aircraft was actually launched from a warship. This was in October 1925 when a Fairey IIID seaplane was catapulted from the cruiser HMS Vindictive.
  As with N10 (F.128), N9 was bought back by Fairey from the Admiralty in 1919 and was re-engined with the more powerful 250 hp Sunbeam Maori II twelve-cylinder vee liquid-cooled engine and modified with equal-span wings. This was possibly the seaplane being considered as the company’s entry, announced in March 1919, in the competition to win the Daily Mail prize of ?10,000 for the first nonstop crossing of the Atlantic. The crew for the flight was to have consisted of Sydney Pickles as pilot and Capt A. G. D. West as navigator.
  In preparation for the official approval, on 1 May, 1919, of civil flying in the United Kingdom, N9 was one of the earliest aircraft to be civil-registered. The very first, K-100, was an Airco D.H.6; Fairey’s N9 was K-103, later to be G-EAAJ when the earlier form of registration was changed. In May 1920, it was sold to the Norwegian Navy. Seven years later it was bought by Bjorne Neilson of Eidsvold, near Oslo, civil-registered N-20 and scrapped in February 1929 following an accident on 12 June, 1928.
  N9 Span 50 ft (15-24 m); length 35 ft 6 in (10-82 m); height 13 ft (3-96 m); chord 5 ft 6 in (1-68 m); total wing area 456 sq ft (42-4 sq m). Empty weight 2,699 lb (1,224 kg); military load 216 lb (98 kg); crew 360 lb (163 kg); fuel (70 gal, 318 litres) and oil 537 lb (244 kg); loaded weight 3,812 lb (1,729 kg). Maximum speed at sea level 90 mph (145 km/h); at 10,000 ft (3,048 m) 86 mph (138 km/h). Climb to 2,000 ft (610 m) 4 min 10 sec; to 5,000 ft (1,524 m) 9 min 20 sec; to 6,500 ft (1,981 m) 18 min 30 sec; to 10,000 ft (3,048 m), 38 min; service ceiling 8,600 ft (2,621 m). Endurance 5 1/4 hr.
Two views of N9 at Hayes in 1917 before its dispatch to the Isle of Grain. The big overhang of the upper wing made it almost a sesquiplane. The powerplant was a Rolls-Royce Falcon I.
N9 (F.127) on the catapult rails of HMS Slinger, which was used for tests with N9 by the Marine Experimental Aircraft Depot at the Isle of Grain. (Courtesy J. D. Oughton)
Flaps were fitted full-span on the lower wing and between the ailerons on the upper wing of N9.

  The first exclusively Fairey type to be built in reasonable quantities was a two-seat patrol seaplane of historical importance because it was designed to meet an Admiralty specification for operations from carrier vessels - and from one in particular. This was HM Seaplane Carrier Campania, a converted passenger liner, and the seaplane was to become known by this name.
  In fact, the use of floatplanes for open-sea operations from carriers was, until adequate take-off platforms came into use, a fairly short and not too successful experiment. As C. F. Snowden Gamble wrote in The Story of a North Sea Air Station: ‘It was found ... that seaplanes were not well adapted for use with the fleet. The carriers had to reduce speed and stop when the machines had to be hoisted in and out - frequently a dangerous manoeuvre on account of the presence of enemy submarines - and, as a result of this, many combined fleet and aircraft operations were a dismal failure in 1916. In consequence of these failures the practice of flying single-seater and two-seater aeroplanes from the decks and turrets of battleships, cruisers and aircraft carriers was instituted.’
  Nevertheless, the earlier use of seaplane carriers, and the fitting of decks for take-off, led directly to the aircraft carrier as it was later developed. In the first month of the 1914-18 war only HMS Hermes was in commission as a carrier; another conversion, to be named HMS Ark Royal, was under construction and three cross-Channel steamers were being converted. A large carrier was needed urgently - preferably one with a speed which would permit station-keeping with the Grand Fleet. The answer was to buy and convert a large passenger liner and one of the few available and suitable ships was the old Cunard liner Campania, which had been built in 1893 for the North Atlantic service and had a top speed of 22 knots. She was bought by the Admiralty in October 1914.
  After reconstruction by Cammel Laird for the accommodation of ten seaplanes and the fitting of a 120-ft flying deck forward, she was commissioned in April 1915. Initially, because the aircraft-deck was short and no means had yet been devised for its use for take-offs by floatplanes, the aircraft were hoisted out for normal sea-borne take-offs and hoisted back again - at considerable cost in time, danger and loss of aircraft. Later the idea of a temporary wheeled undercarriage was tried. The first such trolley take-off, made with a Sopwith Schneider seaplane in August 1915, was marginal enough to show that no larger or heavier aircraft could be flown successfully from Campania's platform.
  During the winter of 1915-16 the carrier was modified to provide a 200-ft flying-off deck before rejoining the Grand Fleet in April 1916. The first take-off by a two-seat seaplane (probably a Short Type 184) was made on 3 June, 1916, and further successful take-offs followed, using a four-wheel single-axle trolley. Initially this was allowed to fall into the sea, but means were later found of stopping it at the end of the deck and retrieving it. This success led to the order, placed by the Admiralty later in 1916, for the seaplane which was to be named the Campania. By the time the first of these were ready to join the carrier in the autumn of 1917 the trolley take-off system had become almost routine.
  The Campania was an unequal-span two-bay biplane of conventional wood construction with fabric covering. For shipboard stowage the wings were designed to fold from a narrow centre-section. Ailerons were on the upper wings only. It had two pontoon-type main floats attached to the undercarriage cross-bars by four elastic-cord (bungee) shock-absorbers; wingtip floats, attached directly to the underside of the wings, as in the prototype, or on short struts; and a large tail-float with a water rudder. Serial numbers for 200 Campanias were allotted, 100 were ordered and 62 were actually built. A total of 42 was recorded as being still on charge with the RAF at the end of October 1918.
  There were two main variants - usually referred to by their serials or constructor’s numbers among the first batch of ten Campanias to be built, N1000-1009 (F. 16-25). These were N1001 (F.17) and N1006 (F.22), and the principal difference between them related to the type of engines fitted. There were, however, considerable differences between the prototype, N1000 (F.16), and the second aircraft which became the definitive Campania. The prototype, powered by a 250 hp Rolls-Royce Mk.IV (later named the Eagle IV) twelve-cylinder vee liquid-cooled engine, had slab radiators on each side of the nose and raked exhaust stacks passing through the centre-section ahead of the main spar. This aircraft made its first flight from Hamble, piloted by Sydney Pickles, on 16 February, 1917, and was tested officially at the Marine Experimental Aircraft Depot, at Port Victoria on the Isle of Grain, near Sheerness in Kent, in July.
  The second aircraft, virtually a second prototype, N1001 (F.17), was fitted with a 275 hp Eagle V, which was mounted further forward, with the exhaust stacks ahead of the wing, and probably had a nose radiator like later aircraft in the first batch of which photographs are available. Changes in the wings of these later aircraft, and probably, therefore, of N1001, included a reduced centre-section chord to simplify wing-folding and to improve the pilot’s view upwards; the fitting of slinging gear; the use of rectangular instead of triangular kingposts for bracing the wing extensions; slightly increased dihedral; and, possibly, increased wing incidence to improve the take-off. A description in an aviation journal during 1919 said that the first prototype, N1000, was designed with ‘a fairly high-lift wing section’, that the performance was consequently disappointing and that N1001 was therefore designed with a normal high-speed section. However, the journal also referred to the fitting of camber-changing gear - which was not used on the Campania - so the wing-section explanation may also be suspect. The tail surfaces were modified with a longer fin and the wingtip floats were mounted on short struts. N1001 was flown for the first time from Hamble, again by Sydney Pickles, on 3 June, 1917.
  Both these aircraft went later to the RNAS station at Scapa Flow. The prototype Campania, presumably N1000, is recorded as having flown nonstop from the Isle of Grain to Scapa Flow - a considerable achievement for the period. The pilot was Lt M. E. A. Wright - later, as Sqn Ldr Maurice Wright, AFC, to be a director of the Fairey company.
  The other principal variant, the effective prototype for which was N1006 (F.22), was generally similar to N1001, but was fitted with a 260 hp Sunbeam Maori II twelve-cylinder vee liquid-cooled engine in place of the Eagle. Because of the heavy demand on Eagle production for other aircraft, this Campania and N1005 (F.21) were redesigned as necessary to take the Maori. Both had frontal radiators and a single central exhaust manifold with funnel-like stack forward. Later Maori-powered Campanias were - at the Admiralty’s request in case of possible tropical operations - fitted with larger-area frontal radiators, with adjustable shutters for the section below the propeller-shaft. N1006 had a smaller upper fuel tank, reducing the total capacity to 88 gallons and this reduced tankage was standardized on later aircraft, though units were permitted to hold the bigger tank for fitting if needed for extended range.
  Maori engines were fitted to twenty-five Campanias, N2375-2399 (F.195-219), among those built later by Fairey. All others were powered by various marks of Eagle - mostly (after the first production batch with mixed Eagle IVs, Vs and VIIs) with 345 hp Eagle VIIIs, or, in a few cases, with the 325 hp Eagle VII. Armament for all variants consisted of a Scarff-ring-mounted Lewis gun for the rear cockpit; bombs (normal or anti-submarine) were carried in racks below the fuselage.
  Of the 62 Campanias built, fifty, N1000-1009 (F.16-25) and N2360-2399 (F.180-219), came from the parent company’s Hayes factory, with re-assembly and test-flying at Hamble. The other twelve, N1840-1851, were built by Barclay, Curie and Co of Clydeside, the remainder of whose order for fifty (to N1889) was cancelled. Constructor’s numbers (F.16-26) for eleven Campanias in the first Fairey batch were reserved, but one, presumably F.26, was not completed.
  By the nature of its primary duties, the war service of the Campania was arduous rather than heroic. In addition to operating with HMS Campania, the type served with the two light aircraft carriers Nairana (one-time Australian mail steamer of the same name) and Pegasus (previously the steamer Stockholm), both of which were commissioned fairly late in the war. It was with HMS Nairana, operating with five Campanias and two Sopwith Camels with the British North Russian Expeditionary Force in 1919, that the type was last used in hot blood. The Maori-powered Campanias were normally used from shore stations. These included Calshot (No.240 Sqn and No.210 Training Depot Station), Bembridge and Portland (No.241 Sqn). When not at sea with carriers, Campanias also operated from other shore stations, such as Dundee, Rosyth and Scapa Flow.
  The figures which follow are based on those of test reports quoted by J. M. Bruce in his British Aeroplanes 1914-1918 and elsewhere. They are typical only and relate to the loads and endurances specified.
  N1000 (F.16), 250 hp Rolls-Royce Mk.IV (Eagle IV) Span 61 ft 7 in (18-77 m); length 43 ft 4 in (13-21 m); height 15 ft 1 in (4-59 m); total wing area 686-6 sq ft (63-78 sq m). Empty weight 3,725 lb (1,690 kg); military load 165 lb (75 kg); crew 360 lb (163 kg); fuel and oil 1,002 lb (455 kg); loaded weight 5,252 lb (2,382 kg). Maximum speed at 2,000 ft (610 m) 80 mph (129 km/h); at 6,500 ft (1,981 m) 75-5 mph (121 km/h). Climb to 2,000 ft (610 m) 5 min 20 sec; to 6,500 ft (1,981 m) 27 min 5 sec; service ceiling 7,300 ft (2,225 m). Endurance 6 hr 30 min.
  N1001 (F.17), 275 hp Rolls-Royce Mk.I (Eagle V) Span 61 ft 7 in (18-77 m); length 43 ft 1 in (13-11 m); height 15 ft 1 in (4-59 m); total wing area 674-6 sq ft (62-68 sqm). Empty weight 3,713 lb (1,684 kg); military load 650 lb (295 kg); crew 360 lb (163 kg); fuel and oil 807 lb (366 kg); loaded weight 5,530 lb (2,508 kg). Maximum speed at sea level 89 mph (143 km/h); at 6,500 ft (1,981 m) 78 mph (126 km/h). Climb to 2,000 ft (610 m) 5 min 35 sec; to 6,500 ft (1,981 m) 34 min 15 sec; service ceiling 6,000 ft (1,829 m). Endurance 5 hr.
  N1006 (F.22), 260 hp Sunbeam Maori II Dimensions as for N1001. Empty weight 3,672 lb (1,666 kg); military load 666 lb (302 kg); crew 360 lb (163 kg); fuel and oil 631 lb (286 kg); loaded weight 5,329 (2,417 kg). Maximum speed at sea level 85 mph (137 km/h); at 6,500 ft (1,981 m) 78 mph (126 km/h). Climb to 2,000 ft (610 m) 7 min; to 6,000 ft (1,981 m) 38 min; service ceiling 6,000 ft (1,829 m). Endurance 4 hr 30 min.
  Later version, 345 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII Dimensions as for N1001. Empty weight 3,874 lb (1,757 kg); military load 641 lb (291 kg); crew 360 lb (163 kg); fuel and oil 782 lb (355 kg); loaded weight 5,657 lb (2,566 kg). Maximum speed at 2,000 ft (610 m) 80-5 mph (129 km/h); at 6,500 ft (1,981 m) 64 mph (103 km/h). Climb to 2,000 ft (610 m) 6 min 5 sec; to 6,500 ft (1,981 m) 41 min 30 sec; service ceiling 5,500 ft (1,676 m). Endurance 3 hr.
The prototype Campania, N1000 (F.16), seen at Hayes after assembly, differed in several respects from the later F.17 and F.22 versions. Visually, the most obvious differences were the smaller fin and rudder and the exhaust stacks passing through the leading edge of the centre-section.
The original F.16 Campania, N1000, at Hayes in February 1917 powered by 250hp Rolls-Royce Mk IV, showing the slab radiators on the sides of the nose and the exhaust manifolds passing through the upper wing.
The Fairey Campania, named after His Majesty's seaplane carrier for which it was built to operate, started life as the Fairey F 16 of 1916 and via the sole F 17 entered production in early 1917. A two-seat carrier-borne reconnaissance or coastal patroller, 37 of the 62 Campanias built used various marks of Roll-Royce Eagles with outputs of between 250hp and 345hp, while the other 25 machines were powered by the 260hp Sunbeam Maori II. As the world's first carrier-going design, the machine was mounted on a wheeled trolley for take-off from the vessel's 200-feet long flight deck, the trolley being dropped and retrieved for subsequent use. On returning to its floating mobile base, the aircraft would alight on the water beside the ship from where it would be hoisted back aboard. Top level speed was typically 89mph at sea level, dropping to 78mph at 6,500 feet. Armament comprised a single flexibly-mounted .303-inch Lewis gun, plus light bombs carried under the centre section. The image depicts the first Campania, serial no N 1000, unique in having a small fin and engine exhausts that went up through the upper wing leading edge.
The fourth of the F.17 versions of the Campania, N1004 (F.20), seen with wings folded at the Isle of Grain experimental station on 29 September, 1917. Note the larger fin and rudder, the forward mounting of the Rolls-Royce Eagle V engine and the nose radiator.
The most powerful of all Campania seaplanes were some of the later F.17s with 345hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VIIIs, as depicted by Fairey-built N2363 at the Isle of Grain on 10 December 1917 with a pair of 112 lb bombs on the centreline beam. The engine demanded increased louvres in the nose panels.
The first of the F.22 Campania variants, N1006 (F.22), seen at Calshot in 1917. The Sunbeam Maori engine had a small nose radiator without shutters.
A Campania takes off, using jettisoned wheeled trollies, from the extended fore-deck of еhe carrier HMS Campania, after which the type was name.
The pilot’s cockpit of Campania N2363. The bowl-type compass was inside the windscreen, providing an early type of ‘head-up’ display; behind the large aileron control wheel can be seen (centre) the altimeter and (right) the ASI, reading up to 120 mph.
F.17 Campania

  An alternative design by F. Duncanson to meet the Admiralty specification N.2(a) for a carrier-based seaplane was built in parallel with N9 (F.127). This, the most historically important of these two experimental seaplanes produced by Fairey in 1917, has similarly been known by its serial number, N10, and/or by its constructor’s number, F.128, but it also carried later the designation Fairey III. Although only one aircraft was completed to the original specification, this was modified to become the progenitor of the long succession of Series III variants and subvariants.
  N10, slightly larger and heavier than N9, was an equal-span two-bay biplane, also with folding wings, and was fitted with the more powerful 260 hp Sunbeam Maori II twelve-cylinder vee liquid-cooled engine. The fuselage was identical with that of N9, with similar tailplane and elevators, but the fin was of greater area. Full-span variable-camber gear was fitted to the lower wing, with ailerons only on the upper wing. In its original seaplane form the radiators were, like those of N9, mounted as ‘slabs’ on each side of the engine, but when N10 suffered the reverse of a sea-change to become a landplane, with the designation IIIA, as described in the next section, a radiator was installed in front of the engine. The first flight of N10 was made by Lt-Col (then Lt-Cdr) Vincent Nicholl, DSO, DSC, from the Isle of Grain on 14 September, 1917, after delivery on 31 August.
  This prototype was destined to be remodified and used for several different purposes after being bought back, like N9, from the Admiralty by Fairey, and was to continue flying for the company in competitions and as a communications aircraft until the end of 1922. Before initially entering civil life in May 1919, it had already completed test and evaluation programmes as a seaplane and as a landplane and had made several hundred take-offs and alightings as a seaplane while using its original floats.
  The first public appearance of N10 with its new civil registration, G-EALQ, was in September 1919 at Bournemouth, where the initial post-war contest was held for the Jacques Schneider International Trophy for seaplanes. This had been won at Monaco in April 1914 by Howard Pixton with a Sopwith Tabloid, so, following the rules, the contest was held in Britain and the chosen venue was Bournemouth - with the competition headquarters at Cowes in the Isle of Wight. Because of sea mist over the western end of the 20-nautical-mile triangular racing circuit - from Bournemouth to Swanage Bay, Hengistbury Head (Christchurch) and back to Bournemouth - the contest turned out to be something of a fiasco.
  As finally prepared for the race, the Fairey III was a very different aircraft from that which had been delivered to the Royal Naval Air Service more than two years before. Although back on its original floats after the period of operation as a landplane, it was now a single-seat single-bay biplane with the span reduced from 46 ft to 28 ft, and was fitted with a 450 hp Napier Lion twelve-cylinder three-bank liquid-cooled engine - a type which was to power nearly all the future variants in the III series. By no means the fastest aircraft in the race, G-EALQ was certainly the most robust of the floatplanes and would probably have won the contest if this had been held in anything but the calm conditions which prevailed on 10 September, 1919, the day of the race. It was, in fact, the only entry to return to moorings under its own power.
  Of the original entries, seven aircraft reached Cowes in time for scrutiny and the elimination trials. These were a Supermarine flying-boat developed from the Baby fighter prototype and fitted with a Lion engine to become the Sea Lion (flown by Sqn Cdr B. D. Hobbs); a Cosmos Jupiter engined development of the Sopwith Baby (Harry G. Hawker); the Avro 539, which might be considered as a BHP (Puma) engined version of the Avro Baby (Capt H. A. Hammersley); a Nieuport-Delage (Lt J. Casale); a Spad (Sadi Lecointe); an Isotta-Fraschini engined Savoia S.13 flying-boat (W/O Janello); and the Fairey III (Lt-Col Vincent Nicholl).
  Following a series of misfortunes, and the classification of the Avro as a reserve entry after the elimination trials, only four of these seven aircraft eventually competed. One of two Nieuports (the other had been forced down in the English Channel on its way over) reached Bournemouth on the morning of the race, but suffered a damaged float and had to be beached in a hurry. This aircraft had already been virtually rebuilt a few days earlier after it had struck a buoy and sunk when alighting at Cowes after its flight from Paris via Brighton. The Spad - which had had its span reduced at Cowes in an eleventh-hour effort to get some more speed - had also damaged its floats while being beached at Bournemouth.
  The succession of misfortunes was to continue during the contest itself. After the start had been postponed, because of the sea mist, from 2.30 until 4.30 p.m. on 10 September, the proceedings were begun without, apparently, adequate investigation of the visibility conditions in other parts of the circuit, which had to be covered ten times for a total distance of 200 nautical miles. The starting order was by ballot, and the first man off was Nicholl in the Fairey III, On reaching the area of the first turning point he found that Swanage Bay was full of fog, with only the tops of the cliffs to be seen, and the mark-boat was hidden. He returned to the starting point, alighted and withdrew from the race. Hobbs with the Supermarine was the next to take off. He failed to find the first mark-boat and put down on the sea in order to have a look round. On taking off again the Supermarine hit some floating object just before becoming airborne. The hull was holed and the flying-boat sank when it was put down at Bournemouth; Hobbs was duly rescued and the Supermarine was salvaged. Hawker, with the Sopwith, also failed to find the turning point, returned, found his aircraft to be sinking, beached it hurriedly and wrecked the floats.
  Meanwhile, the third man away, Janello in the Savoia, completed his two mandatory touchdowns and set off. He evidently saw what he thought was the Swanage mark-boat and continued to make circuits of the course until he had completed the required ten and one more for good measure. Someone with a stopwatch noticed, however, that his lap times were too short for the known speed of the S.13. Janello covered the ten laps in 1 hr 45 min 18 sec, giving a theoretical average speed of nearly 115 knots for the 200 nautical miles. On their return to Bournemouth the crew of the mark-boat announced that they had not seen the Savoia on its circuits and the race was consequently declared to be void.
  Because Janello had met the requirements so far as was possible, the Royal Aero Club undertook to propose, at the October meeting of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, that the trophy should go to Italy. The FAI, however, upheld the original decision of the RAeC, but agreed that, as a compliment to Janello’s effort, the next competition for the trophy should be held in Italy.
  Another important official appearance of G-EALQ was at Felixstowe and Martlesham Heath (respectively, since 1917, the principal seaplane and landplane experimental testing establishments) where a competition for commercial aircraft was organized by the Air Ministry in August and September 1920. This involved economy and reliability trials at full load, with marks awarded according to a complicated formula, as well as ‘self-control’ (i.e. stability) tests. The competition included a section for amphibians capable of carrying a minimum of two passengers.
  For this, the Fairey III appeared, as the only floatplane entrant, in its original equal-span two-bay biplane form with a side-by-side two-seat passenger cockpit behind the pilot and with a combined float and retractable wheel undercarriage. The 1922 edition of Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft described the undercarriage in these words: ‘The retractable wheels are mounted between the floats, and carried on a steel frame, rectangular in plan and triangular in side elevation, hinged at its forward cross-member to the floats and rotatable about this hinge by means of a wheel in the pilot’s cockpit. The top cross-member of this frame is extended and falls into wells in the floats, and is there locked by four undercut hooks which engage in shackles on the frame extension. These hooks are positively engaged by the movement of the operating wheel and form an absolutely secure lock. A laminated wooden tailskid, attached beneath the tail-float, completes the undercarriage arrangements.’
  The twin floats were of the single-step type and fitted with long extensions aft of the centre-of-gravity, so that they normally supported the whole aircraft while on the water. The tail-float was needed for flotation support only when the wings were folded, but provided reserve buoyancy if one of the main floats was punctured. These floats, however, had a large reserve of buoyancy and each was subdivided into nine watertight compartments.
  A total sum of ?16,000 was offered in prizes for the amphibian section, in which the other competitors were two flying-boats - a Supermarine Seagull and a Vickers Viking III. Lt-Col Vincent Nicholl flew the Fairey III from Hamble to Felixstowe on 5 September, and over to Martlesham the next day. Bad weather delayed the progress of the competition, but the Fairey III completed its reliability and economy test in very rough weather (carrying two air-sick observers) on 17 September and repeated this trial on 20 September.
  The results of the amphibian competition were announced on 11 October, 1920. The Fairey III was placed third, but the Air Ministry commented on the ‘considerable advance attained’ by all the entrants, and increased the second prize accordingly - so Vickers received ?10,000, Supermarine ?8,000 and Fairey ?2,000. In some quarters it was not considered that the disparity in performance was such as to justify a ?6,000 difference between the second and third prizes - though quite obviously the Supermarine was a more practical aircraft than the Fairey III, which, in any case, had had to be repaired after running into trouble during the 24-hour mooring tests on 26-27 September.
  Among other later uses, G-EALQ operated a communications service to and from Hamble before finally being retired from duty at the end of 1922. It has been recorded that during its lifetime N10’s airframe survived nine engines.
  N10 Seaplane (for landplane data see IIIA/B) Span 46 ft 2 in (14 07 m); length 36 ft (10-97 m); height 11 ft 10 in (3-61 m); overall wing area 542 sq ft (50-35 sq m). Empty weight 2,970 lb (1,347 kg); military load 224 lb (101 kg); crew 360 lb (163 kg); fuel (76 gal, 345 litres) and oil 605 lb (274 kg); loaded weight 4,159 lb (1,886 kg). Maximum speed at sea level 104 mph (167 km/h); at 6,500 ft (1,981 m) 97 mph (156 km/h); at 10,000 ft (3,048 m) 94-5 mph (152 km/h). Climb to 2,000 ft (610 m) 3 min 45 sec; to 5,000 ft (1,524 m) 9 min 10 sec; to 6,500 ft (1,981 m) 12 min 35 sec; to 10,000 ft (3,048 m) 23 min 30 sec; service ceiling 14,000 ft (4,267 m). Endurance 4 1/2 hr.
  N10 amphibian version Empty weight 3,771 lb (1,711 kg); useful load 543 lb (246 kg); loaded weight 5,250 lb (2,381 kg). Maximum speed at sea level 118 mph (190 km/h); cruising speed 82 mph (132 km/h); landing speed 54 mph (87 km/h).

IIIA and B

  Towards the end of 1917, N10 (F.128), which can justifiably be described as the prototype of the long-lived Series III, had been modified to operate as a landplane, with a straightforward V-strut undercarriage replacing the floats, and was given the designation IIIA. This version went into production as a shipborne two-seat bomber with an order for 50 for the Royal Naval Air Service, which was then about to be merged with the Royal Flying Corps to form the Royal Air Force.
  The IIIA retained the 260 hp Sunbeam Maori II twelve-cylinder vee liquid-cooled engine, but was naturally faster than its floatplane original. It was armed with a single Lewis gun on a Scarff ring for the observer and could carry bombs in external racks under the fuselage. The IIIA was intended as a replacement for the obsolescent Sopwith 1 1/2-Strutters operating with the RNAS. Production started in 1918 with N2850 (F.220) and ended with N2899(F.269), the constructor’s numbers following F.128 having been taken up by Hamble Baby and Campania production. The first IIIA was flown by Lt-Col G. L. P. Henderson at Northolt on 6 June, 1918.
  The Armistice overtook the IIIA and the type saw little if any active service; all appear to have been declared obsolete in 1919. The type was variously fitted with normal wheel and plain skid undercarriages for carrier operations. Wheels were fitted to N2850-2852 (F.220-222) and N2889-2899 (F.259-269) (14); skids were fitted to N2853-2862 (F.223-232) and N2864-2888 (F.234-258) (35); N2863 (F.233) was used for experiments with hydrofoils, or hydrovanes - as they were differently named at the time. These devices were fitted to the front of the undercarriages and designed to make landplane alightings on the sea more or less safe by preventing the aircraft from nosing-over on touchdown. Flotation gear was used to keep the aircraft buoyant until the pilot could be rescued and the aircraft (possibly) retrieved. The rigid skid undercarriage was one of the temporary methods used in the endeavour to find ways of keeping the aircraft straight during take-offs from the short decks, and in developing effective arrester systems. Many experiments with skid undercarriages had previously been made with Sopwith 1 1/2-Strutters and Pups. Hydrovanes and inflatable air bags, externally stowed, were to remain features of shipborne landplanes until the early 1920s.
  The IIIB was another variant which went into small-scale production in time for a few to reach at least one seaplane station, Westgate-on-Sea, Kent, before the end of the war. During a relatively short period in service it was used mainly for mine-spotting patrols. The IIIB was a two-seat seaplane designed specifically for bombing duties within the Admiralty N.2(b) requirements and had a fuselage and tail similar to those of the III and IIIA, but with increased wing, fin and rudder areas and with bigger main floats than the III. The two-bay folding wings had pronounced upper-wing overhangs which carried the ailerons. These extensions were braced from kingposts above the outer interplane struts. Camber-changing gear was fitted.
  The IIIB was powered by a Maori II which, like that of the IIIA, had a frontal, or nose-type radiator. Armament consisted of a Lewis gun on a Scarff ring for the observer, with provision for bombs, up to a total weight of 600 b, in tubular carriers well below the fuselage. The first flight of the IIIB was made by Vincent Nicholl, from Hamble on 8 August, 1918.
  A shock-absorbent mounting for the floats was introduced for the IIIB. In those days the floats of seaplanes were, with a few exceptions, little more than lightweight pontoons made of wood frames covered with plywood. There was no chined keel, but the flat bottoms had ash runners to protect them from beaching damage and there was, in later versions, a shallow step aft. With the IIIB the floats were attached to the undercarriage structure by rubber cord to help to isolate the fuselage from the worst shocks during take-off and alighting.
  Serial numbers for sixty IIIBs were allotted - N2225-2229 (F.270-274), at the end of a cancelled Campania contract, N2230-2259 (F.277-306) and N9230-9259 (F.307-336). However, N2233 and at least six others in the second batch (N2246 and N2255-2259) and all in the third batch of thirty were converted on the line to IIICs, so that fewer than thirty IIIBs, were built. Others in the series were later converted to the IIIC standard for civil operations; summary histories of these aircraft will be found in the section on the IIIC.
  The weights and performance figures here are based on test reports dated December 1917 (IIIA) and February 1918 (IIIB) as quoted by J. M. Bruce in British Aeroplanes 1914-1918 (Putnam & Co).
  IIIA Span 46 ft 2 in (14-06 m); length 31 ft (9-45 m); height 10 ft 8 in (3-25 m); overall wing area 542 sq ft (50-35 sq m). Empty weight 2,532 lb (1,149 kg); military load 224 lb (102 kg); crew 360 lb (163 kg); fuel (76 gal, 345 litres) and oil 578 lb (262 kg); loaded weight 3,694 lb (1,675 kg). Maximum speed at sea level 109 mph (175 km/h); at 6,500 ft (1,981 m). 107 mph (172 km/h); at 10,000 ft (3,048 m) 104 mph (167 km/h). Climb to 5,000 ft (1,524 m) 7 min 5 sec; to 6,500 ft (1,981 m) 10 min; to 10,000 ft (3,048 m) 17 min 40 sec; service ceiling 15,000 ft (4,572 m). Endurance 4V2 hr. (Developed production aircraft had a higher empty weight and a test-recorded maximum loaded weight of 3,945 lb (1,789 kg); the combined fuel and military load in this case was also higher, at about 895 lb (392 kg), but the overall performance was naturally inferior to that of the prototype.)
  IIIB Span 62 ft 9 in (1913 m); length 37 ft 1 in (11-28 m); height 14 ft (4.27 m); overall wing area 616 sq ft (57.22 sq m). Empty weight 3,258 lb (1,478 kg); military load 681 lb (309 kg); crew 360 lb (163 kg); fuel (76 gal, 345 litres) and oil 593 lb (269 kg); loaded weight 4,892 lb (2,219 kg). Maximum speed at 2,000 ft (610 m) 95 mph (153 km/h); at 6,500 ft (1,981 m) 90 mph (145 km/h); at 10,000 ft (3,048 m) 81 mph (130km/h).Climb to 2,000ft (610m)4 min 10 sec; to 6,500 ft (1,981 m) 17 min 50 sec; to 10,000 ft (3,048 m) 37 min 50 sec; service ceiling 10,300 ft (3,140 m). Endurance 4 1/2 hr.


  Generally considered to have been the best seaplane designed during the 1914-18 War, the IIIC was also the first general-purpose aircraft for the Royal Naval Air Service, combining the bombing capability of the IIIB with the reconnaissance role of the IIIA. It also combined the design features of these two predecessors, with the float undercarriage and tail unit of the IIIB and the equal-span wings of the III and IIIA. All the thirty-six which were built during and after the war were either converted on the production line or replaced IIIBs already ordered. The serials of the first six, N2246 (F.293), and N2255-2259 (F.302-306), were among a group of IIIBs, and the production batch of thirty, N9230-9259 (F.307-336), were originally ordered as IIIBs and built as IIICs from December 1918. The first of the converted aircraft to fly, N2255 (F.302), was tested by Vincent Nicholl at Hamble in July 1918.
  The IIIC arrived too late for operational use in the war. The first aircraft rent in September 1918 for tests at the Marine Experimental Aircraft Depot, Isle of Grain, but a definitive version did not appear until the month of the Armistice, November, when No.229 Squadron (RNAS Great Yarmouth Air Station), for instance, received their first. However, the type did see active service when seven or more took part in the operations in 1919 with the North Russian Expeditionary Force based at Archangel, to which they were taken by the seaplane carrier HMS Pegasus, in June of that year some of the IIICs made a bombing attack on four Russian naval vessels, though without much success, and later some were used to attack rail communications. For his services on that Russian expedition, Flt Lt L. Massey Hilton, later to be a director of the Fairey company, was awarded the DFC. Earlier, the use of the IIIC, in floatplane form, had been proposed for a formation flight to Cape Town - a flight which was not to be made until 1926, with IIIDs.
  One good reason for the qualities of the IIIC was the fact that it was powered by a 375 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII, which had an unusually high power/weight ratio for its day and was also very reliable. Because of the extra power available, larger fuel tanks could be fitted, with a total capacity of 120 gallons, giving the aircraft an endurance of nearly six hours. Armament consisted of one forward-firing synchronized Vickers gun for the pilot and one Lewis gun on a Scarff ring for the rear gunner/observer. Bombs were carried on racks under the fuselage. Its fully loaded weight was considerably in excess of that of the IIIA and B, though slightly less than that of the Campania, which had a much greater wing span. The IIICs remained in service with the Royal Air Force until late in 1921, when they were supplanted by IIIDs.
  So far as can be discovered, four IIICs (two of them conversions of A/Bs) were registered as civil aircraft. One, N9253 (F.330), registered G-EBDI, had a very short and, for its two occupants, extremely hazardous life. In 1922, Major W. T. Blake, sponsored by the Daily News, accompanied by Capt Norman Macmillan as pilot, and with a cinematographer, Geoffrey H. Malins (replacing Lt-Col L. E. Broome), attempted a round-the-world flight.
  The plan was to use four different aircraft, suitably positioned. These were a D.H.9 for the flight from England to Calcutta; a Fairey IIIC seaplane from Calcutta to Vancouver; another D.H.9 from Vancouver to Newfoundland; and a Felixstowe F.3 flying-boat for the final journey to England via Greenland, Iceland, the Faroes and Scotland. It was an extremely ambitious undertaking which was rapidly planned - though the records show that the project was given a reasonable amount of help by the RAF and the Foreign Office.
  There was a near-disaster at the start of the flight when, unable to fly over the Alps from Lyons to Turin, the D.H.9 was diverted to Marseilles. This stop was not on the itinerary and no detailed information had been obtained about facilities there. The crew did not apparently know that the nearest aerodrome was 30 miles away at Istres. After searching around, the D.H.9 was put down on a racecourse, damaging the undercarriage and propeller.
  However, the story of this part of the world-flight, and of the various ructions which followed, have no place in this narrative. Suffice it to say that the D.H.9 eventually reached Calcutta after the better part of three months and about 100 hours of flying time. There, the IIIC, which had been erected by the RAF after being shipped out from England, was ready and waiting. Major Blake was suffering from appendicitis and had to go to hospital. Capt Macmillan, accompanied by Malins, prepared to take the IIIC on the next stages of the flight. They decided to combine an acceptance test and a flight to Akyab, Burma; if all went well during a 15-minute trial flight, they would set off.
  This they did, at 8.30 a.m. local time on 19 August, 1922, and nothing was heard of them for three days. The monsoon conditions were extremely bad, with high winds and torrential rain, so the worst was feared. In fact the IIIC had been forced down by engine failure, probably caused by an air-lock in the fuel system, and had made a successful touch-down in an extremely rough sea. After putting out a sea anchor and examining the engine, they managed to get it started and taxied in high waves to the island of Lakhidia Char, where the floats ran on to a mudbank. There they stayed for two days and three nights waiting for the weather to improve. There was only an hour during which the tide was high enough to permit taxying and take-off. They had no provisions, but were fed with some milk by islanders - one of whom spoke English and took a message to the nearest telegraph station 25 miles away.
  At last, on 22 August, the weather improved and they took off at the midday high tide. The starboard float had been found to be waterlogged, but this had been pumped and bailed fairly dry on the previous day and had not since taken in much water. There was not enough fuel to reach Akyab, so they headed for Chittagong, but 15 minutes after take-off the engine started to misfire and finally stopped. After a smooth touchdown they started to work on the engine, but soon stopped when they looked at the starboard float and realized that, by the time they were ready to try to take off, the float might well have become too waterlogged. Once again they decided to taxi. Although the engine later picked up, the float was by then too deep in the water for a take-off attempt and fuel finally gave out when still out of sight of land.
  Malins climbed out on the port wing, to be followed later by Macmillan, and they jettisoned everything but essential records. It was by then dark and the last Very cartridge was fired as the IIIC heeled over backwards and sideways until the wings were nearly vertical; five minutes later it turned completely over, remaining afloat mainly by virtue of the empty fuel tanks.
  After yet another day and night, during which the tide moved the inverted IIIC towards and then away from land and they were not apparently spotted by two boats which sailed nearby, the inverted upper wings finally got caught up on a mud shoal, effectively mooring the wreckage as the tide turned once again. On 24 August they were spotted and picked up by a launch which had set out for Lakhidia Char after the telegraph message had been received. The launch crew tried to salvage what was left of the IIIC, but the towrope parted and the aircraft sank. The remainder of the plans for the world flight were cancelled.
  The three other civil IIICs enjoyed longer and more prosaic lives. One, originally IIIA N2876 (F.246), was registered G-EADZ in the name of the Navarro Aviation Co on 6 June, 1919, for joy-riding, but was not so used. It was bought by Lt-Col G. L. P. Henderson later in the year, converted to IIIC standard (with a four-bladed propeller) and re-registered G-EAMY. This and another IIIC, the first to be flown, N2255 (F.302), also bought by Col Henderson and registered G-EAPV on 1 December, 1919, were shipped to Sweden. During the summer of 1920 G-EAPV made three trans-Baltic flights between Stockholm and Helsinki, carrying passengers and newspapers. It afterwards operated on pleasure flights for the P.O. Flygkompani of Barkarby, Sweden, using skis in winter, and modified to carry one passenger behind the pilot and four others in the rear cockpit (if one can believe the record). It was taken out of service at the end of the year; meanwhile, G-EAMY had crashed in August 1920 following the breakage of a rudder cable.
  The fourth civil IIIC, N9256 (F.333), was bought by the manufacturers, registered G-EARS on 17 March, 1920, and used as a two-seat seaplane demonstrator. It was sold to the Aircraft Disposal Co and was shipped to Canada, where it was registered G-CYCF in October 1920. Among several special flights arranged to celebrate and demonstrate civil-flying freedom in 1919 was one on 3 May with a IIIC in Service markings — which may possibly have been N9256. With Sydney Pickles as pilot it was flown from Isleworth to Westminster, where copies of the Evening News were picked up for delivery to Westgate-on-Sea and Margate, Kent, and afterwards flown back to Blackfriars, where it was hoisted on to a barge for the night.
  Span 46 ft 1 in (14-0 m); length 36 ft (110 m); height 12 ft 2 in (3-7 m); total wing area 542 sq ft (50-2 sq m). Empty weight 3,392 lb (1,539 kg); military load 170 lb (77 kg); crew 360 lb (163 kg); fuel and oil 878 lb (398 kg); loaded weight 4,800 lb (2,177 kg). Maximum speed at 2,000 ft (610 m) 110-5 mph (178 km/h); at 6,500 ft (1,981 m) 107 mph (172 km/h); at 10,000 ft (3,048 m) 102-5 mph (165 km/h). Climb to 6,500 ft (1,981 m) 9 min 30 sec; service ceiling 15,000 ft (4,572 m). Endurance 5 1/2 hr.
  Overload weights and performance: Empty weight 3,549 lb (1,610 kg); military load 247 lb (112 kg); crew 360 lb (163 kg); fuel and oil 883 lb (400 kg); loaded weight 5,039 lb (2,286 kg). Maximum speed at 2,000 ft (610 m) 101 mph (163 km/h); at 6,500 ft (1,981 m) 95-5 mph (154 km/h). Climb to 6,500 ft (1,981 m) 16 min 30 sec; service ceiling 9,100 ft (2,774 m). Endurance 5 hr.
N10 at Hayes in its original two-bay-wing form and powered by a Sunbeam Maori.
Before the 1919 Schneider N10 was flown on test with a Lion engine, but with the original two-bay wings.
THE SCHNEIDER CUP RACE. - The Fairey Seaplane, 450 h.p. Napier Lion engine. This machine is similar to the type III, but has had its wing area reduced.
Lt-Col Vincent Nicholl taxies N10 (now G-EALQ) out for pre-race trials at Cowes. In racing form it was flown from the rear seat with the forward cockpit faired-over.
Prototype for the Series III, N10 (F.128) was, like N9, bought back from the Admiralty by Fairey in 1919. It is seen here - in its reduced-span Napier Lion engined, Schneider Trophy contest form - at Cowes prior to the race.
Another metamorphosis for N10, G-EALQ, was a conversion to amphibious form for an Air Ministry competition in September 1920. It is seen here taxying in at Waddon aerodrome, Croydon, in October, when civil aircraft were on display for delegates at an air conference in London.
A variant of the original Series III was the IIIB seaplane which was also powered with a Maori engine, but had a larger fin and rudder and wing area increased by a pronounced overhang. Most of the IIIBs were converted on the line to IIICs.
This IIIC, N2255 (F.302), was probably the second to be built on the IIIB production lines. The principal difference was the reversion to the equal-span wings of the IIIA. N2255 was later registered G-EAPV.
Among several special flights made to mark civil aviation freedom in 1919 was one or more by this IIIC carrying copies of the Evening News from Blackfriars to Westgate and Margate on 3 May.
A number of IIICs saw service in 1919 with the North Russian Expeditionary Force, based at Archangel. This, N2233 (F.280), photographed at about that period in Russia, was almost certainly one of them.
At least four IIICs were civil-registered. G-EAMY, a converted IIIA, was operated on skis in Sweden during the winter of 1919-20.
N10 civil amphibian conversion
IIIC civil conversion