A.Jackson Avro Aircraft since 1908 (Putnam)
Avro 523 Pike
In 1916 A. V. Roe decided to move the Avro factory from Manchester to a waterside site convenient for the development of naval aircraft, and bought the stretch of Hampshire grassland which is now Hamble Aerodrome, together with a mile of foreshore on the adjacent Southampton Water. Manchester architect Harry Fairhurst designed the new Avro Hamble Works and a garden city of 350 houses for employees, but after the hangars and only 24 houses had been built, wartime shortage of building materials halted the scheme. Very reluctantly the company was compelled to keep its main works in Manchester and to use Hamble only for erection and as an experimental establishment.
It was to Hamble therefore that their first twin engined machine and the first to receive a type name, the Avro 523 Pike, was sent for erection and test in May 1916. Designed by Roy Chadwick to R.A.F. Types IV, VI and VII as a long distance photo-reconnaissance fighter or short range day or night bomber, it was powered by two opposite handed 160 h.p. Sunbeam engines driving pusher airscrews. A fine example of advanced thinking, the Pike was a large three-bay biplane equipped with horizontal-tier bomb-stowage (designed personally by A. V. Roe) and carrying the pilot just ahead of the mainplanes. Gunners' cockpits fore and aft were armed with Lewis guns on rotatable ring mountings. The divided undercarriage was sprung with larger editions of the famous Avro shock absorbers, and a large comma-type rudder was hinged to a fixed fin of low aspect ratio.
Although performance on a mere 320 h.p. was said to be very good, the Pike appeared too late. Production contracts had already been awarded to Short Bros, for a standard R.N.A.S. bomber, and the R.F.C. was interested solely in the much larger Handley Page heavy bombers then under construction.
The Pike prototype was sent to the R.N.A.S. experimental establishment on the Isle of Grain for test before Admiralty officials but during one test flight the Pike was flown with the C.G. position too far aft and was so tail heavy that F. P. Raynham dared not throttle back to attempt a landing. The situation was saved through the gallantry of R. H. Dobson (later Sir Roy Dobson), who climbed out of the rear cockpit and along the top of the fuselage to transfer his weight to the bow gunner's position. The danger of stalling was averted and a successful landing made.
A second machine, the Avro 523A, tested at Hamble in August 1916, differed from the earlier machine only in the engine installation. It was fitted with two 150 h.p. Green engines mounted on revised strutting and driving tractor airscrews. Whereas the original Pike employed nose radiators on each nacelle, the Green engines of the 523A were cooled by rear mounted radiators. At the completion of official tests both machines were returned to the manufacturers to enjoy extensive experimental careers and were still in commission at Hamble in 1918. Plans to produce Avro 523B and 523C variants with higher powered Sunbeam and Rolls-Royce engines were shelved, but the Admiralty ordered an improved version which appeared in 1917 as the Avro 529.
SPECIFICATION AND DATA
Manufacturers: A. V. Roe and Co. Ltd., Clifton Street, Miles Platting, Manchester; and Hamble Aerodrome, near Southampton, Hants.
(Avro 523) Two 160 h.p. Sunbeam
(Avro 523A) Two 150 h.p. Green
Span 60 ft. 0 in. Length 39 ft. 1 in.
Height 11 ft. 8 in. Wing area 815 sq. ft.
Weights: (Avro 523) Tare weight 4,000 lb. All-up weight 6,064 lb.
Performance: (Avro 523)
Maximum speed 97 m.p.h.
Climb to 5,000 ft. 9 min. 30 sec.
Endurance 7 hours
(Avro 523) One aircraft only, Works Order number believed 2230
(Avro 523A) One aircraft only, Works Order number believed 2231
In 1916 the Admiralty ordered two enlarged versions of the Pike for long range bombing duties. Unnamed and known only as the Avro 529 and 529A, they had three-bay folding wings rigged without dihedral, and although closely resembling the Pike were distinguishable from it by the rudder shape. That of the Pike was flat topped with a straight bottom edge to the balance portion, but those of the Avro 529s were curved with a semi-circular balance area.
Whereas the first aircraft was built wholly in Manchester and assembled at Hamble, the second was sent there in unfinished state to make way for increased Avro 504K production at Manchester. The Avro 529, first flown in April 1917, was powered by uncowled 190 h.p. Rolls-Royce Falcons mounted at mid-gap and driving opposite handed airscrews. The Avro 529A, flown at Hamble in the following October, had two 230 h.p. Galloway-built B.H.P. engines which were fully cowled and housed in nacelles on the lower mainplane. Radically different installations called for two distinct types of fuel systems and in the Avro 529 petrol was carried in a 140 gallon tank in the centre fuselage. On the Avro 529A each nacelle carried its own 60 gallon supply with small wind-driven pumps to raise the fuel to a 10 gallon gravity tank above the engine.
Lewis guns were mounted on Scarff rings over front and rear cockpits and the rear gunner was provided with emergency dual control. The front gunner also acted as bomb aimer and steered the pilot on to target with the aid of a Gosport speaking tube. On the 529A, which carried twenty 50 lb. bombs stowed nose upwards inside the fuselage between the spars of the lower wing, he was able to use a projecting prone position in the cockpit floor.
Apart from poor elevator control (a shortcoming of both types), the performance of the Avro 529A was very good on such low power, asymmetrical flying being particularly easy. Nevertheless no production contract materialised and only the prototypes were built.
SPECIFICATION AND DATA
Manufacturers: A. V. Roe and Co. Ltd., Clifton Street, Miles Platting, Manchester; and Hamble Aerodrome, near Southampton, Hants.
(Avro 529) Two 190 h.p. Rolls-Royce Falcon
(Avro 529A) Two 230 h.p. B.H.P. (Galloway-built)
Dimensions, Weights and Performances:
Avro 529 Avro 529A
Span 63 ft. 0 in. 64 ft. 1 in.
Length 39 ft. 8 in. 39 ft. 8 in.
Height 13 ft. 0 in. 13 ft. 0 in.
Wing area 922 1/2 sq. ft. 910 sq. ft.
Tare weight 4,736 lb. 4,361 lb.
All-up weight 6,309 lb. 7,135 lb.
Maximum speed 95 m.p.h. 116 m.p.h.
to 5,000 ft. - 7 min. 0 sec.
to 6,500 ft. 11 min. 25 sec. -
Ceiling 13,500 ft. 17,500 ft.
Endurance 5 hours 5 hours 15 min.
Production: Prototypes only under Contract CP. 122495/16 with R.F.C. serials 3694 (Avro 529) and 3695 (Avro 529A)
F.Manson British Bomber Since 1914 (Putnam)
Avro Type 523 Pike
Designed by Roy Chadwick to the Royal Aircraft factory's Specification Type VII of 1915, the Avro Type 523 Pike represented a realistic approach to the War Office's demand for a night bomber, although it must be said that the Army's attitude at that time towards the need for large bombing aircraft was less than enthusiastic, and was probably influenced more by a determination to keep abreast of the Admiralty's partisan assumption of the strategic bombing role.
The Pike was a fairly large three-bay biplane with equal-span wings, and with a crew of three, comprising pilot, and nose and midships gunners. The handed 160hp Sunbeam Nubian engines were located at mid-gap with frontal car-type radiators and driving pusher propellers through extension shafts so as to clear the wing trailing edges. Ailerons were fitted to upper and lower wings. The bomb load was to be carried internally in the fuselage with horizontal tier stowage.
The Type 523 was assembled at Avro's newly opened works at Hamble in Hampshire after manufacture at the Manchester factory earlv in 1916. Unfortunately, despite being designed to a Factory specification, neither the Admiralty nor War Office expressed tangible interest in the Pike, with superior bombers already ordered into production.
On the other hand the Avro company itself undertook further development, producing the Type 523A with 150hp Green engines driving tractor propellers, and later proposing the 523B with 200hp Sunbeams and the 523C with 190hp Rolls-Royce Falcon engines. Neither of the latter came to be built, but their design provided much experience in the evolution of the Type 529 and 533 Manchester bombers. Both the Type 523 and 523A continued to fly at Hamble until 1918.
The Type 523 Pike gained small notoriety when, on one occasion during an early test flight the pilot, Fred Raynham, discovered that the cg was too far aft to permit throttling back to land. The situation was saved when R H Dobson (later Sir Roy, CBE, and Chairman of the Hawker Siddeley Group), who was occupying the midships gunner's cockpit, climbed out and made his way along the top of the fuselage to transfer his weight to the front gunner's position. With the cg restored to manageable limits, Raynham was able to throttle back without the danger of stalling.
Type: Twin-engine, three-crew, three-bay biplane day/night bomber.
Manufacturer: A. V. Roe and Co. Ltd., Miles Platting, Manchester.
Powerplant: Type 523. Two 160hp Sunbeam Nubian water-cooled, in-line engines driving handed two-blade pusher propellers. Type 523A. Two 150hp Green water-cooled, in-line engines driving unhanded two-blade tractor propellers.
Dimensions: Span, 60ft 0in; length, 39ft 1in; height, 11ft 8in; wing area, 815 sq ft.
Weights (Type 523): Tare, 4,000 lb; all-up, 6,064 lb.
Performance (Type 523): Max speed, 97 mph; climb to 10,000ft, 27 min; endurance, 7 hr.
Armament: Provision for single Lewis machine guns on nose and midships gunners' cockpits with Scarff rings. Internal, horizontal-tier stowage of two 100 lb or 112 lb bombs.
Avro Type 529
A natural development of the Avro 523A Pike, the Type 529 retained the same basic configuration, being a slightly larger three-bay, twin-engine biplane with parallel-chord, unstaggered wings. Suitably impressed by the choice of more powerful engines and a potential ability to lift a worthwhile weight of bombs over a range of about 400 miles, the Admiralty ordered two prototypes in 1916, allocating the serials 3694 and 3695.
Powered by two 190hp Rolls-Royce Falcon engines, the first aircraft was flown at Hamble in April 1917, having been built entirely at Manchester. The engines, mounted at mid-gap, were uncowled and drove four-blade propellers, a single 140-gallon fuel tank being situated in the centre fuselage. The undercarriage was similar to that of the Pike, and ailerons were again fitted to both upper and lower wings.
The wings of the Type 529 were, on the insistance of the Admiralty, capable of being folded, a feature that dictated a considerable reduction in the tailplane and elevator areas, and this adversely affected the already poor longitudinal control and stability. Directional control, however, was markedly improved by adopting an enlarged rudder (somewhat of the same shape as the Avro 504's famous 'comma' silhouette).
It is likely that the first aircraft was never intended for more than handling evaluation, and in this respect it was generally regarded as satisfactory in most respects, being capable of being flown straight and level on one engine; the elevator control was however sharply criticised. With the large fuel tank in the fuselage, bombs were probably not capable of being carried.
The second aircraft, termed the Type 529A, was flown at Hamble in October 1917, and differed from the first in being powered by two 230hp Galloway-built BHP engines, completely cowled in nacelles located directly on the lower wings, driving two-blade handed propellers. Each nacelle accommodated a 60-gallon fuel tank for its engine, a small wind-driven pump supplying fuel to a 10-gallon gravity tank under the top wing above the engine.
Removal of the fuel to the nacelles allowed the centre fuselage between the wing spars to incorporate a bomb bay in which up to twenty 50 lb HE RL bombs could be stowed, suspended vertically from circumferential rings round their noses. However, owing to the arrangement of the stowage beams, it was not possible to carry fewer, heavier bombs.
The Type 529A carried a three-man crew comprising pilot, midships gunner and nose gunner, the last also being charged with bomb aiming; communications between him and the pilot was by means of a speaking tube. An unusual feature of the aircraft was the provision of dual controls in the midships gunner's cockpit.
There seems little doubt but that the Avro 529A was designed to perform a bombing role (that of a medium bomber over moderate ranges) whose requirement steadily disappeared with the approaching deliveries of the Handley Page O/400, an aircraft that promised to be so highly adaptable in terms of fuel and bomb load that the need for a relatively specialised bomber with the limited capabilities of the Avro 529 had become superfluous by the time the second example flew; accordingly it never progressed beyond the experimental stage.
Type: Twin-engine, three-crew, three-bay biplane medium bomber.
Manufacturer: A. V. Roe & Co. Ltd., Clifton Street, Miles Platting, Manchester, and Hamble Aerodrome, Southampton, Hampshire.
Powerplant: Type 529. Two 190hp Rolls-Royce Falcon I watercooled in-line engines driving handed four-blade tractor propellers. Type 529A. Two 230hp B.H.P. (Galloway-built) water-cooled inline engines driving two-blade tractor propellers.
Structure: All-wood, wire-braced box-girder fuselage and two-spar, three-bay folding wings; dual controls in midships gunner's cockpit.
Dimensions: Type 529. Span, 63ft 0in (Type 529A, 64ft 1in); length, 39ft 8in; height, 13ft 0in; wing area, 922.5 sq ft (Type 529A, 910 sq ft).
Weights: Type 529. Tare, 4,736 lb; all-up, 6,309 lb. Type 529A. Tare, 4,361 lb; all-up, 7,135 lb.
Performance: Type 529. Max speed, 95 mph at sea level; climb to 10,000ft, 21 min 40 sec; service ceiling, 13,500ft; endurance, 5 hr. Type 529A. Max speed, 116 mph at sea level; climb to 10,000ft, 17 min 20 sec; service ceiling, 17,500ft; endurance, 5 hr.
Armament: Single 0.303in Lewis machine guns with Scarff rings on nose and midships gunners' cockpits. Type 529A could carry up to twenty 50 lb bombs in mid-fuselage bay, suspended vertically (nose up).
Prototypes: One Type 529, No 3694, first flown at Hamble in April 1917. One Type 529A, No 3695, first flown in October 1917. No production. (Both prototypes stated to have crashed while on test at Martlesham Heath in 1918.)
H.King Armament of British Aircraft (Putnam)
Pike. Bearing the type number 523, the Pike was built in 1916 as a formidable fighter, stoutly armed, of long endurance, and capable of bringing heavy fire power to bear upon airships. Lights were also installed to this end. Only later does the type appear to have been developed for bombing. The nose was designed to take, and actually had installed on at least one occasion, a large-calibre quick-firing gun, apparently of Hotchkiss type. In a second Pike this gun was replaced by a Lewis gun on a ring-mounting, but in both examples the rear gunner had a Lewis gun, likewise ring-mounted. Bombs could certainly be carried on the Pike, and A.V. Roe himself is said to have designed the horizontal tier-stowage.
529 and 529A. These aeroplanes, of 1916/17, were specifically long-range bombers. Located between the lower wing spars, the bomb compartment was of three-ply and could take twenty 50-lb bombs, suspended by their noses. A bombsight and release gear were installed in the nose, and on the 529A at least the bomb-aimer appears to have assumed a prone position in a jutting structure. He communicated with the pilot by speaking tube. Scarff ring-mountings, with one Lewis gun each, were fitted at the nose and dorsal positions, but the gunner who manned the dorsal ring was also responsible for a third Lewis gun which fired through the floor. A contemporary document stated:
'A special seat is made in the floor through the rear cockpit and a long hole is arranged in the floor through which a good view downward and backward is obtained. When it is not required to use this opening it is covered by a sliding door.#
The same account listed the following weights: guns, 70 lb; ammunition, 100 lb; bombs, 1.080 lb.
Jane's All The World Aircraft 1919
Flown for the first time in May 1916, the Pike three-seat twin-engined biplane was designed primarily to meet an Admiralty requirement for a long-range escort and anti-airship fighter. The pilot was seated just ahead of the main-planes with gunners' cockpits, each with a free-mounted 0-303-in (7,7-mm) Lewis, fore and aft. Of wooden construction with fabric skinning, the first prototype Pike had two 150-hp Sunbeam eight-cylinder liquid-cooled engines mounted as pushers driving two-bladed airscrews via extension shafts. A second Pike, the Avro 523A, differed primarily in having two 150 hp Green six-cylinder liquid-cooled engines driving tractor airscrews, and a Scarff-type ring mounting for the forward Lewis gun. No production of the Pike was ordered following completion of official trials.
Max speed 97 mph (156 km/h) at sea level
88 mph (142 km/h) at 10,000 ft (3 050 m).
to 5,000 ft (1 524 m) 9.5 min,
to 10,000 ft (3 050 m) 27 min.
Endurance 7 hr.
Empty weight 4,000 lb (1 814 kg).
Loaded weight 6,064 lb (2 751 kg).
Span 60 ft 0 in (18,29 m).
Length 39 ft 1 in (11,91 m).
Height 11 ft 8 in (3,55 m).
Wing area 815 sq ft (75,71 m2).
W.Green, G.Swanborough The Complete Book of Fighters
AVRO 523 PIKE UK
Flown for the first time in May 1916, the Pike three-seat twin-engined biplane was designed primarily to meet an Admiralty requirement for a long-range escort and anti-airship fighter. The pilot was seated just ahead of the mainplanes with gunners’ cockpits, each with a free-mounted 0.303-in (7,7-mm) Lewis, fore and aft. Of wooden construction with fabric skinning, the first prototype Pike had two 150 hp Sunbeam eight-cylinder liquid-cooled engines mounted as pushers driving two-bladed propellers via extension shafts. A second Pike, the Avro 523A, differed primarily in having two 150 hp Green six-cylinder liquid-cooled engines driving tractor propellers and a Scarff-type ring mounting for the forward Lewis gun. No production of the Pike was ordered following completion of official trials. The following data relate to the Avro 523.
Max speed, 97 mph (156 km/h) at sea level, 88 mph (142 km/h) at 10,000 ft (3 050 m).
Time to 5,000 ft (1525 m), 9.5 min, to 10,000 ft (3 050 m), 27 min.
Empty weight, 4,000 lb (1814 kg).
Loaded weight, 6,0641b (2 751kg).
Span, 60 ft 0 in (18,29 m).
Length, 39 ft 1 in (11,91m).
Height, 11 ft 8 in (3,55m).
Wing area, 815 sqft (75,71m2).
Flight, March 20, 1919.
The Avro Machines
The Avro "Pike." May, 1916
This machine was the first Avro twin-engined machine to be built, and was intended for work as a three-seater fighter. The general arrangement will be clear from the accompanying diagrams. The pilot occupied the middle seat, while a gunner was placed in the nose of the fuselage, and one well aft, about half-way between the planes and the tail. From the tables it will be seen that the "Pike" had a very good performance, considering that she only had a total h.p. of 320, the power plant consisting of two Sunbeam engines each of 160 h.p. In plan the machine was very similar to the standard single-engined Avros, with rectangular planes and tail, with the corners rounded off. The machine had an adjustable tail, rotatable gun rings, and bomb racks. The pusher airscrews were carried on extension shafts from the engines, and rotated in opposite directions. Considering the time of testing the first machine, May, 1916, and the good performance for its power, it is not immediately obvious why the type was not at once put into production, but the fact remains that it was not, immediately or at any time. The solution does not emerge from the table of performances, which would certainly appear to justify its production in quantities.
Contemporary with the "Pike," another machine, which was really her sister 'plane, was going through the works. This machine was, however, fitted with two Green engines of 150 h.p. each. Also the airscrews were tractors instead of pushers. This machine was tested in August, 1916. A third machine on very similar lines, but totally different in detail design, was fitted with two Rolls-Royce engines of 190 h.p. each. This was known as the 529 type, and was first tested in April, 1917. One of the accompanying photographs shows these three machines lined up, the one on the left being the "Pike," that in the middle the Green engined machine, and the one nearest the camera the 529.
The Three-Seater Bomber, Type 529A. October, 1917.
The reason for the apparent break in the series, by which the two-seater fighter, type 530, comes before the 529A, is to be found in the fact that these two machines were going through the works at the same time, and the type 530 was finished a short time before the other machine. The type 529A is a sister plane to the Rolls-Royce engined machine. From the table of performances it will be seen that both speed and climb of this machine were very good indeed, while at the same time she had a good range of action (556 miles at 10,000 ft.). She would therefore have made a good long-distance bomber, and should have been coming through in quantities in the spring and early summer of 1918. From the plan view of the machine it will be seen that the wings were arranged so as to be capable of being folded back, thus economising storage room. The pilot sat just ahead of the leading edge of the planes, while a gunner was placed in the nose of the fuselage, and another gunner well aft, whence he had a good field for his machine gun. The engines fitted were Galloway B.H.Ps., of 220 h.p. each. As shown in the illustrations the engines were very neatly covered in, and drove tractor screws, running in the same direction.