C.Barnes Short Aircraft since 1900 (Putnam)
Early Short Monoplanes (1912)
In the summer of 1911 E. V. Sassoon’s Universal Aviation Co Ltd of Brooklands produced their one and only monoplane, a close copy of the Bleriot Type XI, from which it differed in appearance only in its semicircular elevators and the overhung mounting of its 50 hp Gnome rotary engine. It was flown in the Daily Mail Circuit of Britain race by H. J. D. Astley, who started well but dropped out at Harrogate. Later in the year it was entered for the 1911 British Michelin Cup competition, for which purpose it was fitted with a 40 hp water-cooled A.B.C. engine; it made only a brief appearance at Brooklands during October, again flown by Astley, and soon afterwards the firm went bankrupt and its assets were sold; the monoplane, by then nicknamed the Birdling, was bought by Frank McClean and taken to Eastchurch, where it became No. 9 in his private list. He had it overhauled and partly rebuilt by Short Brothers, and with a new airscrew it was found to perform quite well. McClean lent it to the Naval Flying School, and Samson and Longmore began flying it regularly in November 1911. Samson was very keen on it, in spite of several shortcomings, but on 20 July, 1912, Spenser Grey taxied it across a rough patch and several longerons broke; its remains were deposited by Frank McClean on loan to the Science Museum, where a permanent aviation exhibition opened in January 1913.
Horace Short took note of Samson’s early enthusiasm for the Birdling, and in January 1912 built a completely new 50 hp Gnome-engined monoplane of similar but more robust design. The Short monoplane had warping wings of the Bleriot pattern and a rectangular cambered tailplane with a rear-hinged elevator. The engine was in line with the leading edge of the wing on an overhung mounting attached to a strong rigid chassis, with truncated skids carrying a pair of wheels on a rubber-sprung cross-axle; the rear fuselage carried a long sprung tail skid and the rudder was square with a small forward balance area. It was first flown by Samson on 24 February, 1912; he remained up for an hour and reported on landing that it needed no adjustments; his speed at 1,400 ft was 65 mph. At first it was flown with the rear fuselage uncovered, in the usual Bleriot style, and was allotted the temporary Naval serial M2, which was painted on the rudder. It was taken to Weymouth for the Naval Review in May 1912, and Samson flew it from the flying field at Lodmoor on 4 and 6 May, but damaged it on landing after the second flight; it had by then had its rear fuselage covered, and this may have altered its handling. It was repaired at Eastchurch and was flying there again on 9 July, with Lieut Gordon at the controls; it was again flown on 14 September, by Wilfred Parke; after then no more is heard of it and it was probably condemned, along with the Birdling, not because of the ‘monoplane ban’, which did not apply to Naval pilots, but rather because of a general mistrust of warping wings as speeds increased. It is believed to have been allotted serial 14 in the November 1912 numbering scheme.
The second monoplane built by Short Brothers was ordered by the Admiralty as serial 12, and was an extension of the earlier successful experiments with twin engines and with deck launching. Unfortunately no drawings or photographs of it have survived, and available descriptions are sketchy. It had rigidly braced wings with ailerons, and was described as being intended ‘for water work only’, although all its recorded flights were made from land. The two 70 hp Gnome engines drove a tractor airscrew and a propeller, mounted, as in the Tandem-Twin biplane, at each end of a short nacelle containing a central cockpit with two seats side-by-side; both occupants were exposed to a fierce castor-oil-laden slipstream, which soon earned the monoplane the nickname of Double-Dirty. The tail surfaces were mounted on open braced booms of normal pusher type, and the landing gear carried streamlined pneumatic flotation bags, which, however, would not have permitted take-off from the sea; thus the intention must have been to fly it off a runway on board ship, as had been so successfully demonstrated with S.38. Samson flew the Double-Dirty for the first time on 21 October, 1912, and made two more flights on the 23rd, with E. Featherstone Briggs as passenger on the last occasion. On 5 November Samson flew it to Isle of Grain, where he landed and flew back to Eastchurch the same day; he flew it twice more that week, but then it went back into the works for modification and seems not to have reappeared or been accepted for Naval service. No doubt the modifications to suit it for stowage aboard ship included the provision of folding wings (patent No. 16,973 of 1913), and it seems to have been Short Brothers’ counterpart of the Bristol-Burney hydrovane flying-boat, with the same operational requirements in view. Horace Short’s own interest in hydrovanes is shown by patents Nos. 22,407 and 22,408 of 1911, but his proposal to scoop up water into an aft ballast tank while alighting, to counteract the overturning moment of the front hydrovanes, seems to have been more ingenious than practical.
Span 29 ft 3 in (8 9 m); length 25 ft (7-6 m); area 165 ft (15 4 m2); weights not recorded; speed 55 mph (88-6 km/h); no data available for Twin Monoplane.
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)
Short Tractor Monoplane
During 1911, Short Brothers decided to explore the possibilities of the monoplane lay-out and, in November of the year, started to build a machine which resembled very closely indeed the standard Bleriot XI design. Their tractor monoplane was powered by the 50 h.p. Gnome and was a single-seater. The Bleriot-type wings were followed, but the tail unit was very square-cut in comparison. The main undercarriage was changed completely in design, with the main struts being mounted direct on to the upper longerons and without the characteristic springing arrangement of the Bleriot. The wings were warped in the usual manner for lateral control, and a fairly deep coaming was fitted to the front part of the upper fuselage before the cockpit.
The monoplane was completed early in 1912 and was tested at Eastchurch during February by Commander C. R. Samson, R.N. Two months later it took part in the Naval Manoeuvres held in May, and bore the designation M2 on its rudder.
Description: Single-seat tractor monoplane. Wooden structure, fabric covered.
Manufacturers: Short Brothers, Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey, Kent.
Power Plant: 50 h.p. Gnome.
Dimensions: Span, 29 ft. 3 ins. Length, 25 ft. Wing area, 165 sq. ft.
Performance: Maximum speed, 55 m.p.h. Endurance, 5 hrs.
Flight, March 2, 1912.
Messrs. Short Brothers, who have hitherto only been associated with machines of the biplane class, have constructed a monoplane which was tested for the first time on Saturday morning last, by Commander Samson. That it should fly satisfactorily at the first attempt and need no subsequent adjustments, is testimony enough of the remarkable excellence displayed by that firm in both design and construction. This new machine, which, superficially has much in common with the Bleriot, we hope to describe fully next week.
Flight, March 9, 1912.
THE SHORT MONOPLANE.
WHEN a firm have been so conspicuously and successfully associated with biplane construction as have Messrs. Short Brothers, it is a little difficult to suddenly attune the mind to the idea of a Short monoplane. Difficult or not, however, a monoplane has lately issued from those excellent workshops at Eastchurch, and although its design admittedly owes much to a prototype that has served as a basis for more than one successful flyer, it has just as much of the Short originality as have those other typical aircraft with which the firm's name is associated. Strength and solidity, undoubtedly, were the chief points in the minds of the designers in the preparation of this new machine, and these features, too, are precisely those that the whole aviation world expects to see exemplified in any Short product.
The main body is little different from that employed on the Bleriot, and the same system of bracing is used. At the front end, however, it is different, being arranged for the mounting of the engine without any support between the propeller and crank case, and for the application of the new type of undercarriage with which the machine is equipped. This latter is of the wheel and skid type. Two sturdy ash struts extend downwards and forwards from the points at which the main wing spars join the fuselage and are joined at their lower extremities by a horizontal planche. To this the two skids are applied, their rear ends being supported by subsidiary struts from the bottom of the main body. Diagonal struts further strengthen the structure.
In common with other forms of landing gear of the same type, especially amongst those exhibited at the last Aero Show in Paris, the skids show signs of suppression. In many of the French machines referred to, the skids had grown so small that, were the wheels to fail, they could scarcely be relied on to provide that easy run over the ground necessary for the safety of the machine. In the Short chassis, however, this extreme is avoided.
At the front end of the body is mounted the motor, direct coupled to a Chauviere type propeller, a hood being arranged above it so as to afford protection for the pilot against oil and exhaust products thrown off by it while in operation. The wings, much of the same size and shape as those of the Bleriot, are trussed to the landing chassis by eight strong stranded steel cables, four to each wing. So strong is the wing staying, that structural failure in this section of the machine would seem almost an impossibility. In their internal construction, too, pains have been taken to prevent the ribs having a tendency to split at the webs left by the drilling-out process. Warping is relied on to maintain lateral equilibrium, the rear spars being deflected by eight wires, four to each, proceeding from an inverted tower of steel tubing applied below the body. The weight of each wing, when the machine is stationary, is supported by four wires from a tubular cabane.
Arranged before the pilot, so as to form a type of scuttle dash, are the fuel-tanks. These terminate in an inclined dashboard, where are fitted the switch, the petrol-gauge, and the oil feed-gauges, all well within reach of the pilot. A rectangular cambered surface, to the back of which is hinged a flap cambered in the reserve sense and serving as elevator, comprise the tail unit. This is supported clear of the ground, by a long universally-jointed skid attached to the body at the forward end by elastic bands. Both the rudder and the elevator are actuated by wires from the controlling organs attached to pressed-steel cranks. The controls themselves are almost identical with the original Bleriot system, a pivoted foot-bar operating the rudder and a universally-jointed vertical pillar, surmounted by a small hand-wheel, governing the machine's attitude and the wing warping. Indeed, the only difference noticeable is that the typical aluminium dome of the Bleriot control is replaced by simple steel cranks. Its flying speed is approximately 60 miles an hour.