A.Jackson Blackburn Aircraft since 1909 (Putnam)
The First Blackburn Monoplane
As might have been expected, Robert Blackburn's first aeroplane, being the product of a trained engineering mind, was no stick and string freak. Highly original in concept, it was a wire-and-kingpost braced high-wing monoplane built for strength rather than for economy in weight and in consequence was referred to in later years as the Heavy Type Monoplane to distinguish it from its successor. The parallel-chord square-cut mainplane was bolted across a wooden, wire-braced rectangular box structure which ran on three pneumatic-tyred, rubber-sprung wire wheels, the front being mounted on cantilevers whose trailing ends formed (as an additional safety measure) two long flat skids. A wicker chair from father's garden was pressed into service as a pilot's seat and was mounted on the floor of the box on runners as a means of C.G. adjustment. A 35 hp Green water-cooled engine (one of Gustavus Green's four-cylinder masterpieces and owing nothing to the firm of Thomas Green) was mounted on the floor ahead of the pilot and cooled by two side radiators under the wing. It drove a slow running 8 ft 6 in diameter airscrew of Blackburn's own make through a strong 2 to 1 roller chain and sprocket reduction gear. The overhead airscrew shaft ran in bearings at the front end of a long Warren girder boom which carried a fixed tailplane and, at the extreme end, a cruciform, all-moving, non-lifting, Santos Dumont type empennage mounted on a universal joint.
Not content to copy other experimenters, Blackburn dispensed with the feet for controlling direction, and fitted his patent 'triple steering column' consisting of a single car-type steering wheel which turned to operate the all-moving tail as a rudder, moved up and down when it functioned as an elevator and from side to side when warping the wings. He intended originally to fit his patented stability device in which a pendulum admitted air from an engine-driven compressor to one end or the other of a cylinder, according to which way the machine was banking, and an internal piston then operated the control surfaces so as to maintain straight and level flight. Although brilliantly anticipating the automatic pilot of the future, the device was not proceeded with and in any case would not have worked when the aeroplane was accelerating or decelerating.
The designs having been completed in Paris in 1908, the aircraft was built quite rapidly in the small workshop at Benson Street, Leeds, with the assistance of Harry Goodyear, and in April 1909, and in the face of much scepticism, Blackburn began his trials along the wide stretch of sand between Marske-by-the-Sea and Saltburn on the northeast Yorkshire coast. Painstaking taxying trials continued at intervals and the occasional absence of tyre marks proved that short hops were being made, but the 35 hp Green gave insufficient power for sustained flight and Blackburn dismissed these attempts as 'sand scratching'.
He had suspended such weighty items as engine, tanks and pilot, well below the mainplane in order to obtain a low C.G. position, but the disadvantages of such a pendulous arrangement were not immediately obvious and it was not until 24 May 1910 that he attempted a turn and paid the price. The aircraft sideslipped, dug in the port wing, skidded into a hole and threw the pilot from his seat.
One wing was a write-off, the airscrew broken and the undercarriage twisted and there was no alternative but to take the aeroplane back to Benson Street. There work began on an entirely new design and when the works moved to larger premises in Balm Road, Leeds, the fuselage of the First Monoplane went too. Illustrations in the company's 1911 catalogue show it being dismantled in stages at the end of 1910 during the overhaul of two Bleriot monoplanes for the Northern Automobile Co Ltd and the construction of Robert Blackburn's second monoplane. For no obvious reason it also received a two page descriptive write-up as the firm's new Military Type, increased in span and length and 'specially built for speed, with seating accommodation under the mainplanes and possessing thereby the chief advantage of the biplane - that of an unobstructed view'. The historic but undoubtedly defunct aircraft was then declared eminently suitable for warlike purposes!
Known as the '1909 Replica Group', enthusiastic Blackburn employees at the Brough works of Hawker Siddeley Aviation Ltd were preparing in 1966 to build a full-size replica for exhibition purposes.
SPECIFICATION AND DATA
Construction: By Robert Blackburn and Harry Goodyear at Benson Street, Leeds, Yorks.
Power Plant: One 35 hp Green
Span 24 ft 0 in Length 23 ft 0 in
Wing chord 6 ft 5 in Wing area 170 sq ft
(Military project) Span 30 ft 0 in Length 26 ft 0 in
Weights: All-up weight 800 lb
Performance: Estimated maximum speed 60 mph
Production: One aircraft only, completed September 1909, damaged beyond repair at Saltburn Sands 24 May 1910, dismantled at Balm Road, Leeds, about December 1910.
M.Goodall, A.Tagg British Aircraft before the Great War (Schiffer)
Deleted by request of (c)Schiffer Publishing
P.Lewis British Aircraft 1809-1914 (Putnam)
Blackburn Heavy Type Monoplane
The sight of Wilbur Wright flying at Issy in 1908 encouraged Robert Blackburn to leave his work with a firm of civil engineering consultants in Rouen, and to devote his life to aeronautics. His first aircraft was designed in Paris and, when the lay-out was complete, the plans were brought to England for the machine to be constructed in a workshop in Leeds, two mechanics being employed to assist in the work at the Benson Street premises.
A high-wing monoplane was the type chosen, and the whole aircraft was built very substantially, thus earning its later distinguishing name of the Heavy Type Monoplane. The wings were of straightforward construction with parallel chord and square tips, but without any dihedral. They were mounted on top of a simple open fuselage of wire-braced rectangular section. The unusually deep front portion housed the 35 h.p. Green engine, behind which was seated the pilot in a wicker garden seat, the movement of which was adjustable on a fore-and-aft track for the correction of the centre of gravity. The engine transmitted its power to the overhead broad-bladed propeller by means of a chain drive, the petrol supply being contained in a cylindrical tank suspended above the head of the pilot. Cooling was effected by a radiator mounted above the engine in the upper fuselage structure on either side of the propeller shaft. The whole machine was supported on a three-wheeled undercarriage which incorporated rubber springing and drag skids. A fixed tailplane was mounted on the upper longerons, at the rear of which came the triangular rudder. The elevators were not hinged to the tailplane, but, instead, were fixed on either side of the centre of the rudder to share its movements on a universal joint. All three control surfaces, including the lateral wing-warping, were operated by a car type of steering-wheel behind the engine, and the original intention was to fit a patent stability device.
On completion, the Heavy Type Monoplane was taken for testing to the sands between Marske and Saltburn on the Yorkshire coast. With Robert Blackburn at the controls, the machine managed to rise from the beach on 24th May, 1910, but was wrecked when one of the landing wheels was caught in a hole in the sand during a slideslip from an attempted turn.
Description: Single-seat high-wing tractor monoplane. Wooden structure, fabric covered.
Manufacturers: Blackburn Aeroplane Co., Benson Street, Leeds, Yorkshire.
Power Plant: One 35 h.p. Green.
Dimensions: Span, 30 ft. Length, 26 ft. Wing area, 170 sq. ft.
Weights: Empty, about 800 lb.
Performance: Maximum speed, 60 m.p.h.
Flight, August 13, 1910
THE BLACKBURN HEAVY TYPE MONOPLANE.
THE accompanying photographs illustrate a monoplane that has been constructed by Messrs. Blackburn Aeroplanes at their Leeds works. It is what they call their "heavy type," as every effort has been made to secure substantial construction rather than light weight. It will be observed that the pilot's seat consists of a wicker chair placed on the platform of a car that is suspended at some considerable distance below the planes. The car is supported upon a three-wheeled chassis, of which the suspension forms one of the special features of the construction. The front wheels are mounted on cantilevers, the tail ends of which form skids. Elastic springs are used, and if the shock of landing is very severe the skids come into direct contact with the ground. In front of the pilot is an inclined steering wheel very much on the lines of that on a motor car. This wheel effects all controls, for the steering column is pivoted so that a movement to the right or left warps the planes for lateral stability, while a to and fro motion operates the elevator. The steering is effected by turning the wheel which moves the rudder.
The wires, C, in the sketch, are connected round the pulleys, G, through the hollow tube, F, to the pin, H, so that a movement to right or left of hand-wheel, A, and column, B, pulls the wire, C, which is connected to the rudder, for steering. The column, B, being pivoted at I, this movement slightly acts on the control wire, E, which warps the main planes, therefore simultaneously with turning, the planes are slightly warped. To warp the planes more or independently of other movements, the wheel, A, is turned, whereby the wire, E, is wound round the pulley, J.
Depressing or elevating the wheel, A, and column, B, turns the hollow tube, F, which is supported in bearings, K, and which also has a fixed two-armed lever, L, attached to it. From the two-armed lever, L, to the elevator are connected the elevator wires, D.
The control of the three movements can act simultaneously or independently.
The engine is placed on the car in front of the steering column, which still further carries out the motor car idea, and the propeller, which is mounted overhead, is driven by a long chain.
A cruciform tail of the Santos Dumont type is fitted at the rear end of the main girder, while just in front of this member there is another horizontal plane.
The following are the principal dimensions :- Span of main plane, 30 ft.; length overall, 26 ft.; supporting surface, 170 sq. ft.
Weight. - 800 lbs.
Motor. - 35-40-h.p., water-cooled.
Propeller. - Two-bladed wooden, 8 ft. 6 in. diameter; reduction of 2 to 1.
Speed. - 60 miles per hour.