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)
The Seabird hydro-biplane was built during 1912 by the Lakes Flying Company for use at their flying-school at Lake Windermere. The machine was a two-seat tractor powered by a 50 h.p. Gnome engine, and displayed a considerable likeness to the Avro biplanes. This was brought about mainly by the fact that the machine's fuselage and tail unit came from the single-seat Avro tractor biplane which was delivered to the Australian pilot J. R. Duigan in September, 1911, and which subsequently crashed.
Three-bay, parallel-chord, warping wings were fitted to the fuselage and were of fairly high aspect-ratio of 8.5. The upper half of the engine was covered by a neat cowling, and the pilot and passenger were seated in tandem in the fuselage. The single, broad, central float was equipped with two steps and was constructed with a wooden frame which had duralumin sides, an aluminium bottom and a top of Willesden canvas. It was divided into eight water-tight compartments and was mounted underneath a pair of skids fixed to the four streamlined undercarriage struts. Rubber shock cord was used to provide the necessary springing between the float and the skids. This simple and practical arrangement enabled the Seabird to be converted quickly to a land undercarriage if required. Inflated air-bags with springboards underneath them were fitted at the wing-tips and the tail, and a water rudder connected to the air rudder was installed behind the main float to facilitate taxying on the water.
H. Stanley-Adams piloted the Seabird on many flights and joy-trips over Lake Windermere, and the machine was modified later by fitting it with a pair of broad floats in place of the original single central one and by discarding at the same time those at the wing-tips.
Description: Two-seat tractor hydro-biplane. Wooden structure, fabric covered.
Manufacturers: Lakes Flying Company, Cockshott, Lake Windermere, West-morland.
Power Plant: 50 h.p. Gnome.
Dimensions: Span, 39 ft. 4 ins. Length, 29 ft. 4 ins. Wing area, 175 sq. ft.
Performance: Maximum speed, 62 m p.h.
Flight, July 19, 1913.
THE LAKES FLYING CO.'S TRACTOR WATERPLANE.
IN its general appearance the tractor waterplane owned by the Lakes Flying Co. is somewhat reminiscent of the Avro machines. This impression is no doubt created by the shape of the body and tail planes, which as a matter of fact are the remains of a machine built by Messrs. A. V. Roe and Co. for Mr. J. Duigan, the Australian aviator.
This similarity, however, is confined to the rear part of the machine, the front portion, including the main planes, being distinctly different. From the plan view of the machine it will be seen that the main planes have a comparatively high aspect ratio - 8.5 as a matter of fact. The wing section is the same as the old Maurice Farman, i.e., analogous to Eiffel No. 12. Eight pairs of streamlined struts connect the main planes, the whole structure being cross-braced with steel wire in the usual fashion. In order to impart to the machine a certain amount of natural lateral stability the main planes are given a dihedral angle. The chassis is quite simple, and consists of two skids connected to the body by four streamline struts.
A single central float of a special patented design supports the machine when on the water. It is divided into eight watertight compartments, which form a central framework of wood, with duralumin sides, aluminium bottom and Willesden canvas top. In order to minimize the shock when alighting on the water, the float is sprung from the chassis skids, by means of rubber shock-absorbers, in the manner shown in one of the accompanying sketches. It will be seen that this method of attaching the float to the chassis is so simple that the machine could in a very short time be converted into a land machine by substituting a pair of wheels for the float.
In a machine like this, having only a single central float, it has naturally been found necessary to protect in some way the wing-tips against contact with the water. This has been effected by fitting balancers or floats, consisting of an air-sack mounted on a springboard, to the wing-tip. A float of similar construction takes the weight of the tail when the machine is at rest on the water. For steering when "taxiing" at slow speeds, a small water-rudder, situated to the rear of the main float and working in conjunction with the air-rudder, is provided.
Just behind the trailing-edge of the main planes, and well down inside the fuselage, is the pilot's seat, from whence the machine is controlled by means of a central-pivoted hand-lever, which is moved backwards and forwards for elevation and depression, and from side to side for wing warping. A foot-bar operates the rudder. In front of the pilot, and approximately over the centre of gravity, is the passenger's seat, this disposition giving a very good view in all directions. The engine - a 50 h.p. Gnome - is overhung, i.e., has no bearing between it and the propeller. The latter is of the L.F.C.'s own design, and has brass-bound tips to prevent splitting, should it have to negotiate a spray of water thrown up by the float. The petrol and oil tanks are supported between the inner two pairs of plane struts, as shown in one of our sketches. The speed range of the machine is from 50 to 62 m.p.h., and it carries a passenger quite easily when the engine is pulling properly.