F.Manson British Bomber Since 1914 (Putnam)
Among the numerous commercial manufacturers contracted to build the Royal Aircraft Factory's B.E.2C was the Scottish shipbuilder, William Beardmore &c Co Ltd of Dalmuir, its output of these aeroplanes being destined for the Admiralty whose Inspector of Naval Aircraft at the factory was Lieut George Tilghman Richards. This officer had, before the War, been engaged in aircraft design and, in 1916, was permitted to resign his Commission in order to take up the appointment of chief designer in Beardmore's aviation department, so as to enable the company to respond to the Admiralty's encouragement of commercial manufacturers to embark on the design of their own aircraft.
Richards' first aircraft, the W.B.I, was an imaginative, if not radical attempt to produce a naval bomber whose modus operandi was to attack in a long shallow glide in order to achieve tactical surprise. To this end, careful attention was paid to limiting drag, especially in the engine installation, and it is said that the gliding angle, with engine throttled back and at about half-fuel weight, was of the order of six degrees, made possible by large, high-aspect ratio three-bay wings and a wing loading of 5 lb/sq ft at this weight. Power was initially provided by a 230hp BHP engine built by the Galloway Engineering Company, the radiators being of the vertical type, attached to the sides of the fuselage and extended upwards to converge beneath the upper wing.
Despite all the care taken to provide clean contours for the engine cowling, the undercarriage was cumbersome, consisting of two pairs of mainwheels, each pair being provided with two small forewheels on struts extending forward, cross-braced and wire-braced to the lower wings.
It is thought that the heavily staggered wings were not made to fold owing to the interplane strut configuration and, because the mainwheels of the undercarriage were located well forward, the aircraft would have rested on its tailskid if the wings were folded. Ailerons were provided on upper and lower wings, interconnected by external cables.
The W.B.I was designed to carry six 112 lb bombs, probably suspended from two parallel beams attached beneath the fuselage between the two main wheel mounting structures. The bombs were to be aimed by the observer/gunner who, occupying the rear cockpit situated well aft, was provided with an aperture in the underside of the fuselage for sighting, and two large transparent panels in the sides.
The sole W.B.I, N525, was delivered to the RNAS at Cranwell on 6 June 1917 (though it was probably first flown rather earlier), but suffered damage in a landing accident while being flown by Wg-Cdr Richard Edmund Charles Peirse RN (later Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard, KCB, DSO, AFC, RAF, C-in-C, Bomber Command, during the Second World War). By the time of this accident the BHP engine had been replaced by a 240hp Sunbeam.
The aircraft, however, was not accepted by the Admiralty for production, principally because, by the time it was flown, the Handley Page O/100 heavy bomber was already being delivered to the Service; moreover, assuming the wings were not made to fold, the span of the W.B.I would not have conformed to the maximum naval hangar storage dimensions.
Type: Single-engine, two-seat, three-bay biplane long-range bomber.
Manufacturer: William Beardmore & Co Ltd, Dalmuir, Dunbartonshire.
Powerplant: One 230hp Beardmore; later one 240hp Sunbeam.
Dimensions: Span, 61ft 6in; length, 32ft 10in; height, 14ft 9in; wing area, 796 sq ft.
Weights (Beardmore): Tare, 3,410 lb; all-up (with 660 lb bomb load), 5,600 lb.
Performance (Beardmore): Max speed, 91 mph at sea level; climb to 5,000ft, 26 min; endurance, 7 1/4 hr.
Armament: One 0.303in Lewis machine gun with ring mounting on rear cockpit; bomb load of six 110 lb bombs.
Prototype: One, N525, probably first flown early in 1917. No production.
P.Lewis British Bomber since 1914 (Putnam)
Among the least prepossessing in appearance of the diverse prototypes of the period was N525, the solitary Beardmore W.B.I two-seat, long-range bomber intended for the R.N.A.S. An inordinately ungainly and cluttered tractor biplane using the 230 h.p. Beardmore Adriatic as power, the W.B.I was designed by G. Tilghman Richards in 1916. The 61 ft. 6 in. three-bay wings were equal in span and were heavily staggered. The cumbersome undercarriage consisted of two main units, each of which contained a pair of large rear wheels and a pair of smaller front wheels. The W.B.I was designed to carry six 110 lb. bombs and have an endurance of 7-3 hrs. Aiming and release of the bombs was the duty of the observer from his rear-set cockpit. As an alternative to the Beardmore engine, the 240 h.p. Sunbeam was tested in the W.B.I which was delivered to the R.N.A.S. Station, Cranwell, on 8th June, 1917, subsequently being involved in an accident there following a landing by Wg. Cdr. R. E. C. Peirse. Projected only was a revised version of the W.B.I, the W.B.IA, which would have used the 500 h.p. B.H.P. Atlantic engine to carry a crew of two.
J.Bruce British Aeroplanes 1914-1918 (Putnam)
THE well-known engineering and ship-building firm of William Beardmore & Co. entered the aircraft industry shortly before the outbreak of war in 1914, when they obtained a licence to build the German D.F.W. biplane, which was to be powered by the Beardmore-built Austro-Daimler engine. As war came closer, Beardmores were among the first firms to be awarded contracts for the manufacture of the B.E.2c, and throughout the war large numbers of aircraft of various types were built at Dalmuir.
In September, 1914, G. Tilghman Richards went to Beardmores as a Lieutenant, R.N.V.R., attached to the R.N.A.S. He, in common with several others who had had some experience of aircraft construction, was commissioned and classed as one of H.M. Inspectors of Naval Aircraft when the outbreak of war stopped the production of non-military aircraft. Up till then Mr Richards had played a leading part in the development of the Lee-Richards Annular Monoplane.
In early 1916 the Admiralty began to encourage contracting firms to undertake original design work and, in the case of Beardmores, allowed Mr Richards to resign his commission in order to become the firm’s chief designer and assistant manager of their Aviation Department.
The first Beardmore aeroplane was designated W.B.I, and construction began in 1916. It was a large two-seat single-engined biplane, designed as a long-range bomber. It was intended to deliver surprise attacks by long glide approaches on to its targets, and to this end Mr Richards paid particular attention to endowing the W.B.I with the best possible gliding angle. The nose was carefully streamlined, the three-bay wings were of fairly high aspect-ratio and were heavily staggered; and despite its large side radiators and complex undercarriage the W.B.I’s gliding angle was about i in 15.
The observer acted as bomb-aimer. His cockpit was situated well aft and had an aperture in the floor, through which the bombs were sighted. A visual type of intercommunication equipment linked the observer and pilot: it was a two-way system not very different from a ship’s engine-room telegraph.
The W.B.I was delivered to the R.N.A.S. and was flown with both the 230 h.p. Beardmore Adriatic and 240 h.p. Sunbeam engines. By the time of its appearance, however, the Handley Page O/100 was becoming available and held out the promise of carrying greater bomb loads at comparable speeds. The W.B.I was not adopted for Service use.
The machine’s “quadricycle” undercarriage and clean design contributed to a crash when it was being flown by Wing-Commander R. E. C. Peirse at Cranwell in 1917: a*- the time the W.B.I had the Sunbeam engine. After landing well out on the aerodrome, the machine rolled on, tail up, and crashed into two B.E.2c’s parked on the tarmac. The B.E.2 suffered most of the resulting damage, but the W.B.I was not flown again at Cranwell.
A development with the 500 h.p. B.H.P. Atlantic engine was projected under the designation W.B.IA. In it the wing span was increased to 70 ft and the area to 946 sq ft; there were to be four bays of interplane struts. The pilot and observer were accommodated well aft: in fact, the fin blended with the fairing round the observer’s gun-ring. The estimated maximum speed at 10,000 ft and at a loaded weight of 8,900 lb was 101 m.p.h.
Manufacturers: William Beardmore & Co., Ltd., Dalmuir, Dumbartonshire.
Power: 230 h.p. Beardmore (Galloway) Adriatic (the version of the 230 h.p. B.H.P. engine built by the Galloway Engineering Co.); or 240 h.p. Sunbeam.
Dimensions: Span: 61 ft 6 in. Length: 32 ft 10 in. Height: 14 ft 9 in. Chord: 7 ft. Gap: 7 ft. Span of tail: 18 ft. Airscrew diameter: 10 ft 6 in.
Areas: Wings: 796 sq ft. Ailerons: each 28-32 sq ft, total 113-28 sq ft. Tailplane: 66 sq ft. Elevators: 40 sq ft. Fin: 14-2 sq ft. Rudder: 20 sq ft.
Weights (Beardmore Engine): Weight empty: 3,410 lb. Disposable load: 1,100 lb. Fuel and oil: 1,090 lb. Weight loaded: 5,600 lb.
Performance (Beardmore Engine): Maximum speed at ground level: 91 m.p.h. Climb to 5,000 ft: 26 min; to 10,000 ft: 44 min. Endurance: 7-3 hours.
Tankage: Petrol: 137 gallons.
Armament: Six 110-lb bombs. Provision was made for the fitting of a ring-mounting on the rear cockpit for a free Lewis machine-gun.
Service Use: Flown experimentally at R.N.A.S. Station, Cranwell.
Serial Number: The official serial number N.525 was allotted to a Beardmore design which may have been the W.B.I.
H.King Armament of British Aircraft (Putnam)
Beardmore W.B. I. Glide-bombing was the mode of attack intended for this two-seat biplane bomber (1916/17) by the RNAS. The bomb load has been given as six 110-lb, but no such bomb appears to have been used by the RNAS and it is reasonable to suppose that the bombs were of the H.E.R.L. 100-lb pattern. These bombs were intended specifically for anti-submarine work and were horizontally stowed. The observer was stationed far aft and sighted the bombs through a hatch in the floor, passing his instructions to the pilot by means of a special visual system. Provision was made for a free Lewis gun at the observer's station.
Jane's All The World Aircraft 1919
This was a large two-seater bomber, from which the typo W.B.1a was developed later. The following gives the main particulars of this machine:
Type of machine Biplane.
Name or type No. of machine W.B.1.
Purpose for which intended Bomber.
Span 61 ft. 6 in.
Gap, maximum and minimum 7 ft.
Overall length 32 ft, 10 In.
Maximum height 14 ft. 9 in.
Chord 7 ft.
Total surface of wings,
including ailerons 796 sq. ft.
Span of tali 18 ft.
Total area of tail 106 sq. ft.
Area of elevators 40 sq. ft.
Area of rudder 20 sq. ft.
Area of fin 14.2 sq. ft.
Area of each aileron 28.32 sq. ft.
and total area 113.26 sq. ft.
Maximum cross section of body 15.2 sq. ft.
Horizontal area of body 88 sq. ft.
Vertical area of body 81.6 sq. ft.
Engine type and h.p. 240 h.p. Sunbeam or 230 h.p. Beardmore Adriatic.
Airscrew, diam., and revs 10 ft. 6 in. dia., 1,075 revs. (with Sunbeam).
Weight of machine empty 3,410 lbs. (with Beardmore).
Load per sq. ft, 7 lbs.
Weight per h.p. 23 lbs.
Tank capacity in hours 7.3 hours.
Tank capacity in gallons 187 gallons.
Speed low down 91 m.p.h.
Landing speed 48 m.p.h.
To 5,000 feet in minutes 26 minutes
To 10,000 feet in minutes 44 minutes.
Disposable load apart from fuel 1,100 lbs.
Total weight of machine loaded 5,600 lbs.
THE BEARDMORE BIPLANE W.B.1A.
The Beardmore two-seater biplane W.B.1a was designed as a long-distance bomber equipped with a 500 h.p. Beardmore Atlantic engine. The main planes are heavily staggered, are of large span, and have four pairs of interplane struts at either side of the fuselage. The pilot and observer are placed very much in rear of the main plane, the pilot being midway between the main and tail planes and the observer is immediately in advance of the fixed fin which emerges from the fairing round the observer's cockpit.
Type of machine Biplane.
Name or type No. of machine W.B.1a.
Purpose for which intended Bomber.
Span 70 ft
Gap, maximum and minimum 7 ft.
Overall length 32 ft. 10 In.
Maximum height 15 ft. 8 in.
Chord 7 ft.
Total surface of wings,
including ailerons 946 sq. ft.
Span of tail 19 ft.
Total area of tail 110 sq. ft.
Area of elevators 33.5 sq.ft.
Area of rudder 20 sq. ft.
Area of fin 14.2 sq. ft.
Area of each aileron 29.5 sq. ft.
total area 118 sq. ft.
Maximum cross section of body. 22.5 sq. ft.
Horizontal area of body 105 sq. ft.
Vertical area of body 131 sq. ft.
Engine type and h.p. Beardmore Atlantic 500 h.p
Airscrew, diam. and revs. 14 ft, 900.
Weight of machine empty 4,537 lbs.
Load per sq. ft. 9.4 lbs.
Weight per h.p. 17.3 lbs.
Tank capacity in hours 6.5 hours.
Tank capacity in gallons 214 gallons.
Speed low down 110 m.p.h.
Speed at 10,000 feet 101 m.p.h.
Landing speed 65 m.p.h.
To 5,000 feet in minutes 12 minutes.
To 10,000 feet in minutes 27 minutes.
Disposable load apart from fuel 2,700 lbs.
Total weight of machine loaded 8,900 lbs.
C.Owers Beardmore Aircraft of WW1 (A Centennial Perspective on Great War Airplanes 69)
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.
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