C.Barnes Short Aircraft since 1900 (Putnam)
Short Tractor Seaplanes (1912-14)
Gordon Bell’s accident came at a time when important new designs were taking shape at Eastchurch, and his place was filled temporarily by Sydney Pickles, also a well-known freelance test pilot. Three new types of tractor seaplane were on the stocks, two for the Admiralty and one as Frank McClean’s private entry in the 1913 Circuit of Britain seaplane race. First to be completed was a large patrol seaplane, with a two-row 14-cylinder Gnome engine of 160 hp. Two of these had been ordered, plus seven with 100 hp Gnomes. They were developed from Horace Short’s original 42, modified in accordance with naval requirements resulting from the previous year’s service trials. Wing area was increased, stronger and larger rubber-sprung floats gave a reserve of buoyancy and the balanced rudders had triangular fixed fins in front. The roomy front cockpit provided ample stowage for wireless and other gear, and the pilot occupied the rear cockpit. The high aspect ratio wings were of the latest type with steel-tube struts, originally in two bays, with strut-braced upper extensions and uncompensated wide-span ailerons. The first seaplane with 160 hp Gnome (S.63, serial 81) was accepted after test flights by Samson (in Bell’s absence) on 17 July, 1913, and taken aboard H.M.S. Hermes, the Navy’s new depot ship, at Sheerness. Samson continued to fly 81 throughout the Naval manoeuvres, which lasted from 24 July till 1 August, with Fitzmaurice as his observer; Hermes was based on Great Yarmouth, and 81 was lowered overside whenever the rather heavy swell permitted, and flew successfully on 26, 27 and 31 July, reporting back the positions of ships by means of a Rouzet transmitter. On 1 August, 81 flew about 50 miles out, but on the return trip part of the cowling came adrift and cut several of the sparking-plug leads, stopping the engine; Hermes came to the rescue and found the drifting seaplane near its last reported position. It appears that 81 had been fitted with folding wings before taking part in this exercise, but they could only have been simply hinged, needing man-handling and locking from outside. It was decided soon afterwards that Hermes should be permanently equipped as a seaplane carrier, and for this purpose wing-folding became a necessity for all but the smallest scouts carried aboard her. The second 160 hp seaplane (S.64, serial 82) was completed in March 1914, and was followed by two more (S.65-6, 89 and 90), after a mechanical folding gear, operated from the cockpit, had been devised and tested. The development of this gear, covered by patents Nos. 1,792, 15,727 and 28,610 of 1913, was worked out on the original S.41, which was extensively rebuilt and reappeared, bearing its old serial 10, in November 1913, being among the 22 aeroplanes inspected at Eastchurch by Winston Churchill on 29 November. It had its original two-wheeled landing gear with skids, and the original fuselage had been reconditioned, with reinforced engine bearers, but the wings and tail surfaces were completely new and resembled those of 81, with two bays and steel struts; the wings were folded back for inspection by the First Lord, and it was flown by Gordon Bell later in the day.
Gordon Bell had made a good recovery and returned to duty at Eastchurch during September, just in time to take the place of his erstwhile deputy Sydney Pickles, who, by an unhappy coincidence, had been the victim of an accident similar to Bell’s. This time it was not due to reckless flying, for the rudder-bar became jammed on the Champel biplane he was flying at Hendon on 20 September, causing him to spin in out of control; this time, too, his passenger (Mrs de Beauvoir Stocks) did not die, although her injuries prevented her from resuming her career as one of the few British women pilots of that time. Pickles himself returned to Eastchurch in April 1914, intending then to fly only his own Bleriot for pleasure, but five months later he volunteered for war service, and thereafter became a much sought-after seaplane test pilot, doing valuable work at Rochester and elsewhere. Rochester works were built between October 1913 and January 1914 on a site beside the Medway upstream from the bridge, this location being chosen partly because of the difficulty of testing seaplanes built at Eastchurch (they had to be taken along narrow roads to either Sheerness or Leysdown and there rigged before launching) but more because of the plentiful labour available in the Chatham district.
The production batch of 100 hp Gnome seaplanes for the Navy reached completion at the end of 1913. Somewhat lighter and of less wing area than 81, they had three-bay non-folding wings, being intended for coastal patrol from shore stations. The first of them, S.69, was test-flown by Gordon Bell on 4 and 7 January, 1914, C. R. Fairey being observer on the first occasion and Maurice Wright on the second, which included the delivery flight to Grain, where it received the serial 74. Bell tested S.70, the second of the batch, on 16 January, taking up both Fairey and Wright together on one flight. Four more (S.71-74) were tested during the last week of January, and the last (S.75) was flown straight to Grain without landing on 1 February. It is not clear from the records whether these seven aircraft were test flown from Leysdown or Sheerness, but the latter seems probable because there was a crane there for launching after rigging the floats and wings on the pierhead; the ‘folders’ could, of course, be taken from Eastchurch to the pier by road without dismantling. These seven non-folding seaplanes (74-80) were shared between the air stations at Grain (with detachments at Clacton and Westgate) and Dundee, and the latter provided a flight of four for the Spithead Royal Naval Review on 18-22 July, 1914. On the same occasion were flown four of the latest 160 hp ‘folders’ (S.82-85, serials 119-122'), which had gone into service at Grain in May and June. Their double-row engines still gave trouble and old No. 10 had been fitted with a similar 140 hp Gnome in May for Samson to experiment with; overheating had been reduced by fitting large vertical exhaust stacks in the tops of the cowlings, discharging over the upper wings clear of the crews; in true nautical style, these funnels were decorated with one, two, three and four white rings to identify the four ‘folders’ which took part in the Review. These four and a fifth (S.86, 186) differed from the first four in having longer fuselages and larger fins to match their three-bay wings of increased span, but 89 and 90 had three-bay wings of the same span as the two-bay 81 and 82 and retained the original fuselage length and fin area. Four more non-folding seaplanes similar to 74 were assembled at Eastchurch in July 1914, apparently from spares, and became 180-183; of these, 181 had an 80 hp Gnome and the others 100 hp Gnome-Monosoupapes.
On 15 June, 1914, the Calshot seaplane station, commanded by Longmore, had been inspected by the Board of Admiralty, including Prince Louis of Battenberg (First Sea Lord) and Winston Churchill (First Lord). The latter asked Longmore whether torpedo-dropping experiments already started by Flt Lieut Hyde-Thomson at Calshot could be speeded up; Longmore said they could if he were permitted to retain a certain 160 hp Short seaplane (which was 121), when he would undertake at an early date to carry and release a 14-in torpedo weighing 810 lb, which he had not so far been able to do with the Sopwith seaplane specially built for this task. This was agreed and (in Oswald Short’s own words):
‘Horace at once put in hand two new main float cross-bars, bent upward in the middle to allow the torpedo to be swung between the main floats clear of the water, and fitted a quick release catch [designed by Hyde-Thomson] to release the torpedo. With the late Gordon Bell, who was our test pilot, and Mr Bibby, one of our foremen, I went to Calshot Seaplane Base and erected the machine in a few hours. As I was talking to [Longmore] at his office door he received a telegram. He opened it and, having read it, remarked “We were nearer to war in 1911 than we are now”, but I did not know to what he was referring. ... By the time the machine was ready to take off it was already dusk. There was much activity too with the Sopwith torpedoplane which had been specially constructed for the purpose. It was at the water’s edge and mechanics were working on the engine. At Bell’s first attempt to take off, the Short seaplane did not gain enough speed even to straighten out the ailerons. I heard one of the rival mechanics say, “Safe as a house!” Gordon Bell returned to shore and reported one cylinder missing; this was soon put right and at the next attempt the seaplane took off, the torpedo was dropped and a magnesium flare attached to it enabled it to be found and picked up. It was now dark. This was the first torpedo taken up and launched from a seaplane in Great Britain, only a few days before war broke out.’
In fact, the date was 27 July, 1914, and from this account it is clear that, even though Longmore flew 121 with a torpedo next day, it is to Gordon Bell that the credit of having made the first drop should go. With such a load the aircraft was flown solo and could only carry fuel for about 30 minutes; even so, it was loaded well beyond the stress limits permissible even in 1914 for regular service, so it was far from being an operational weapon; in spite of this, the other four 160 hp ‘folders’ were later equipped with torpedo gear and carried on Engadine, one of three converted cross-Channel steamers, but no torpedo was ever launched by them in action. In March 1915, 120-122 were shipped to Durban on the armed liner Laconia and thence taken on 23 April to Niororo Island; there they were intended to assist the Navy in flushing the German light cruiser Konigsberg from deep cover in the Rufiji delta, but their performance in that hot, humid climate was totally inadequate.
The unreliability of the double-row Gnome led to alternatives being sought; in the case of the 100 hp seaplanes the remedy was found by replacing the original ten-cylinder two-row Gnomes by nine-cylinder single-row Gnome-Monosoupapes, and this may have been done at Grain before entry into service. An alternative to the 160 hp Gnome was more difficult to find, but the new range of water-cooled radial Canton-Unne engines produced in France by Salmson seemed promising. They were to be built under licence in England by the Dudbridge Ironworks of Stroud, Glos., and were already in use in the larger Farman, Sopwith and Wight seaplanes.
RNAS 74-80 - Span 57 ft (17-35 m); length 39 ft (11-9 tn); area 580 sq ft (54 m2); empty weight 2,100 lb (952 kg); loaded weight 2,700 lb (1,225 kg); max speed 65 mph (104-6 km/h); duration 5 hr.
RNAS 81-82 - Span 56 ft (17-05 m); length 40 ft (12 2 m); area 550 sq ft (51-1 m2); empty weight 2,400 lb (1,089 kg); loaded weight 3,100 lb (1,407 kg); max speed 78 mph (125-5 km/h); duration 5 hr.
RNAS 89-90 - Span 61 ft (18-58 m); length 40 ft 6 in (12-3 tn); area 610 sq ft (56-7 m2); empty weight 2,500 lb (1,133 kg); loaded weight 3,400 lb (1,542 kg); max speed 78 mph (125 5 km/h); duration 5 hr.
RNAS 119-122, 186 - Span 67 ft (20-4 m); length 42 ft (12 8 m); area 690 sq ft (64-2 m2); empty weight 3,050 lb (1,385 kg); loaded weight 3,500 lb (1,589 kg); max speed 78 mph (125-5 km/h); duration 5 hr.
F.Manson British Bomber Since 1914 (Putnam)
Short Folder Seaplanes
Following the visit by the American pioneer pilot, Wilbur Wright, to Europe in August 1908, the Leysdown-based manufacturer Short Bros acquired the British licence rights to construct a small number of Wright Flyers and, during the next four years, embarked on the production o f original tractor and pusher aeroplanes to the orders of various British private owners. By 1912 the Board of Admiralty had become sufficiently interested in the potential of the float-equipped seaplanes, which were being advocated by Horace Short, to order a number of Short aeroplanes for the newly-established Naval Wing of the Royal Flying Corps.
Early in 1913 Horace Short drew up and patented a system whereby the wings of his seaplanes could be folded aft, thereby enabling them to be accommodated aboard naval vessels. Thereafter Shorts' Eastchurch works on the Isle of Sheppey became almost exclusively engaged in building a range of twin-float biplanes equipped with two-bay folding wings, the first being allocated the naval serial numbers 81 and 82 (Short S.63 and S.64 respectively), powered by 160hp Gnome engines. Four others, Nos 119-122, entered service at the RNAS Station, Isle of Grain, in May and June 1914.
Following successful participation by No 81 in naval manoeuvres during July 1913, when it operated from HM Seaplane Carrier Hermes, Shorts produced three examples of a new version with three-bay wings, Nos 89, 90 and 186, and the last o f these was with the Calshot Flight, commanded by Sqn-Cdr A M Longmore, RN (later Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur, GCB, DSO, RAF), during the Royal Naval Review at Spithead on 18-22 July 1914. Immediately after the Review, the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, discussed with Longmore the possibility of adapting a Short Folder, No 121, to deliver an aerial torpedo. (The Sopwith Special Seaplane and Type C had been fitted with a 14in naval torpedo some months earlier, but the weapon had not yet been flow n by these aircraft.)
Within a week Horace Short had completed the necessary drawings and new cross-beams had been fitted between No 121 's floats to enable a torpedo to be carried on crutches, clear of the water, and on 28 July the first torpedo drop by a British aircraft was made by Longmore at Calshot. (Although Longmore reported that he made the first drop on this day, an account, written long afterwards by Oswald Short, claimed that Gordon Bell, the company's staff pilot, had made a drop on the previous evening, albeit only after two attempts to coax the Gnome-Short into the air.
None of the Short Folders was ever used to deliver a torpedo against the Germans after the outbreak of the First World War, although at least two other aircraft were modified to carry the weapon. The Admiralty decided instead to depend on aerial bombs; in any case the Gnome-powered Folder was unable to take off with its second crew member while carrying the torpedo.
Two Folders, Nos 119 and 120 (flown by Flt-Cdr Robert Peel Ross RN [later Air Cdre, DSO, AFC, RAF], and Flt-Lt Arnold John Miley RN [later Gp Capt, OBE, RAF], respectively) accompanied HMS Engadine for the bombing attack against Cuxhaven on Christmas Day 1914. Three other Folders, Nos 811,814 and 815, powered by 100hp Gnome monosoupape engines, also took part in this raid (Short Admiralty Type 74, see below).
Nos 120-122 were shipped to Durban in 1915 aboard the armed liner Laconia for operations against the German light cruiser Konigsberg, trapped in the Rufiji delta, but, in the hot humid climate prevailing, proved incapable of taking off with bombs.
Type: Single-engine, two-seat, two- or three-bay biplane torpedo-carrying seaplane.
Manufacturer: Short Brothers, Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey, Kent.
Powerplant: One 160hp Gnome 14-cylinder rotary engine driving two-blade propeller.
Dimensions: Span, 56ft 0in; length, 39ft 0in; wing area, 550 sq ft.
Weights: Tare, 2,400 lb; all-up (with 14in torpedo), 3,830 lb
Performance (without torpedo): Max speed, 78 mph at sea level; climb to 3,000ft, 5 min 30 sec; endurance, 5 hr (about 30 min with torpedo).
Armament: No gun armament. Four 112 lb bombs or one 810 lb Admiralty torpedo.
Prototype and Production: Admiralty No 81, first flown by Cdr C R Samson in July 1913. Total of nine 'Folders' built, Nos 81, 82, 89, 90, 119-122 and 186. No 121 first flown with torpedo by Sqn-Cdr A M Longmore on 28 July 1914.
Summary of Service: Short Folders served at RNAS Stations at Isle of Grain, Westgate and Calshot, and aboard HM Seaplane Carriers Engadine, Empress and Riviera. Three aircraft served with the RNAS detachment to Niororo Island, East Africa, in operations against German light cruiser Konigsberg in 1915.
Short Admiralty Type 74
As was a fairly common practice at the time, the Short Admiralty Type 74 Seaplane took its designation from the serial number of a representative production example, in this instance the first such aircraft completed.
Bearing a marked resemblance to an earlier Short design, the Biplane No 42, though initially with three-bay nonfolding wings, the Type 74, No 74, was first flown by Gordon Bell on 4 January 1914, being followed by Nos 75-80 during the next four weeks. Powered by 100hp Gnome ten-cylinder rotary engines, the Type 74 followed the customary Short construction of box-girder fuselage with aluminium nose panels, ply-covered cockpit panels and fabric-covered rear fuselage. However, despite the successful use of double-acting ailerons in earlier aircraft. Shorts reverted to the single-acting type in the Type 74.
These first seven Type 74 seaplanes served with the RNAS at Grain and Dundee during 1914, four of them taking part in the Royal Naval Review at Spithead in July. They were followed by eleven further 100hp Gnome-powered examples, Nos 180, 182, 183 and 811-818 - the latter batch being equipped with folding wings. Unlike the earlier 'Folders', none was converted to lift a torpedo, owing to the lack of engine power; instead they were adapted to carry a pair of bombs, usually of 100 lb or 112 lb.
Three of the 100hp Gnome Folders, Nos 811 (Flt-Lt C H K Edmonds), 814 (Flt Sub-Lt V Gaskell-Blackburn) and 815 (Flt-Cdr D A Oliver) took part in the raid against the Zeppelin sheds at Cuxhaven on Christmas Day 1914; however, the pilots failed to find their intended targets, and attacked other installations along the Kiel canal with only limited success.
Type: Single-engine, two-seat, three-bay biplane coastal patrol twin-float seaplane.
Manufacturer: Short Brothers, Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey, Kent.
Powerplant: One 100hp Gnome ten-cylinder rotary engine driving two-blade propeller.
Dimensions: Span, 57ft 0in; length, 39ft 0in; wing area, 580 sq ft.
Weights: Tare, 2,100 lb; all-up, 2,700 lb (without bombs).
Performance: Max speed, 65 mph at sea level; endurance, 5 hr (45 min with light load).
Armament: No gun armament. Bomb load of up to two 112 lb bombs carried externally.
Prototype and Production: Admiralty No 74 first flown in January 1914 by Gordon Bell, followed by seventeen similar examples, Nos 75-80,180, 182, 183 and 811-818 (the last eight with folding wings). Nos 811, 814 and 815 accompanied HM Seaplane Carriers Arethusa, Engadine and Riviera for bombing raid against Cuxhaven on Christmas Day, 1914.
P.Lewis British Bomber since 1914 (Putnam)
This advance Christmas present for the Germans heralded a spectacular, daring and carefully-planned R.N.A.S. raid which took place on 25th December, 1914, and was launched against the Zeppelin hangars at Nordholz, south of Cuxhaven, and had the double purpose of reconnoitring the enemy shipping and installations at the mouth of the River Elbe, in the Schillig roads and at Wilhelmshaven. Nine seaplanes were transported in three carriers, the Empress, Engadine and Riviera, escorted by the light cruisers H.M.S. Arethusa and H.M.S. Undaunted and a protective force of eight destroyers of the Third Flotilla and submarines which departed from Harwich at 5 a.m. on 24th December. By 6 a.m. on Christmas Day the expedition was some twelve miles north of Heligoland. Just after 7 a.m., in very cold weather, seven out of the nine aircraft took-off from the calm water and headed for Cuxhaven. The remaining two aircraft failed to rise and were again taken aboard the carriers. The supporting ships cruised about awaiting the return of the seven seaplanes so that they and their crews could be picked up, but it was not until 10 a.m. that three of the machines returned. Able to linger no longer, the main force headed homewards, but three more of the awaited pilots were later rescued by E.11 one of the British submarines. The fourth machine had alighted on the water, and the pilot was held for a while in Holland after rescue by a Dutch trawler. It transpired that heavy fog and mist had combined to prevent the Zeppelin sheds being located, but the machines had instead dropped their bombs on ships and gun emplacements at Wilhelmshaven and had brought back valuable details of the concentration of German shipping in the area.
Among the floatplanes employed in the raid were three Shorts, Admiralty Type 74 - 811 flown by Flt. Lt. C. H. K. Edmonds, 814 Flt. Sub-Lt. V. Gaskell-Blackburn and 815 Flt. Cdr. D. A. Oliver. Short Brothers gave the type the designation Improved S.41, but its Admiralty Type 74 came from the initial serial of the first production batch.
Although the designation implied a direct connection with the S.41 of 1912, there was little to support any such contention of relationship, the 100 h.p. Gnome constituting the main common factor. The 1913 Short Admiralty No. 42 showed a far more direct resemblance to the Type 74, a number of which had joined the Navy by the summer of 1914 before the start of the War. This latest Short floatplane’s appearance suggested that it was much sturdier than its predecessors from the same firm. The unequal-span, three-bay wings were unstaggered and had the fuselage mounted direct on to the lower pair. The overhang of the upper planes was strut-braced, split pairs of wide-span ailerons without balance cables being incorporated also only in the top surfaces. The crew were accommodated in tandem in cockpits without the benefit of a deck coaming. The Type 74’s main undercarriage consisted of a pair of unstepped pontoon floats, supplemented by a tail float and a cylindrical air-bag under each lower wingtip.
Included also among the seven aircraft which took-off to attack Cuxhaven on 25th December were two Short Folder Seaplanes - Nos. 119, flown by Flt. Cdr. R. P. Ross, and 120, pilot Flt. Lt. A. J. Miley. Generally reminiscent of the Type 74, the first Folders built had two-bay wings of 56 ft. upper span, but later examples appeared with an upper span of 67 ft. and three bays. These last versions embodied facilities for folding the wings from the cockpit. A 160 h.p. Gnome was installed as the standard power plant, and the float arrangement followed that of the Type 74. Some of the Folders were equipped with crutches accommodating a 14 in. Whitehead torpedo, and external racks carried the bombs.
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 Folder Seaplane
During 1913 Horace Short devised a method of folding the wings of the firm's seaplanes by hinges on the rear spar and bayonet joints on the front spar for locking when open. The first example was No. 81, which went into service in the summer of 1913, to be followed soon after by No. 82. Both were two-bay biplanes, but they were similar in appearance to the Type 74, which they preceded in use. No. 81 was attached to the seaplane carrier H.M.S. Hermes for the 1913 Fleet Manoeuvres. It was equipped with Rouzet wireless and made two successful reconnaissance flights on 21st June, 1913. Nearly six weeks later, on 1st August, Cdr. C. R. Samson, R.N., was forced to land No. 81 in the North Sea, and the floats were wrecked.
Later production Folders were given three-bay wings which could be folded from the cockpit. Exhaust gases were collected by a funnel-type stack and deflected over the upper wings. A Folder flown by Sqn. Cdr. A. M. Longmore made the first drop of a torpedo from the air in Great Britain on 28th July, 1914, with one of 14 ins. diameter and 810 lb. in weight. A 160 h.p. fourteen-cylinder Gnome engine powered the Folder. Span (two-bay), 56 ft.: (three-bay), 67 ft. Length, 39 ft. Weight empty (two-bay). 2.000 lb.; (three-bay), 3,040 lb. Maximum speed (three-bay), 78 m.p.h. Endurance, 5 hrs.
Short Admiralty Type 74
The Admiralty Type 74 took its designation from the serial number of the first of the type's production batch. Although known by Short Brothers as the Improved S.41, there was little connection between the two machines except for the fact that both used the 100 h.p. Gnome engine. The Type 74 was far closer in appearance to the Admiralty No. 42, but had three-bay wings.
After its debut in 1913 the Type 74 went into use the following year with the R.N.A.S. and took part in the Spithead Naval Review held in July, 1914. It was flown later on coastal patrols from Calshot, Dundee, Isle of Grain and Leven. Illustrated is No. 76 afloat at Gravesend piloted by Cdr. C. R. Samson, with Winston Churchill as his passenger.
J.Bruce British Aeroplanes 1914-1918 (Putnam)
Short Seaplane, Admiralty Type 74
TO its makers, this seaplane was known as the Short Improved S.41. That designation is somewhat misleading, for the type bore little external resemblance to the original S.41 or to succeeding Short seaplanes derived from the S.41. The official designation, Type 74, was derived from the serial number of a typical production aircraft.
In appearance the Short 74 seemed to owe more to the Short No. 42 than to any development of the S.41. The fuselage was similar in general outline to that of No. 42, and the lower wings were attached directly to it. The engine, however, was the 100 h.p. ten-cylinder Gnome rotary; and a new, balanced rudder of less angular appearance was fitted. The tail-unit embodied a triangular fin. The mainplanes had three bays of bracing, and the extensions of the upper wings were strut-braced. The long ailerons were of the single-acting type, and ran for about two-thirds of the length of the trailing edge on each side.
Several Short 74s were built and were in service in 1914, some of them at Dundee seaplane station. A flight of these Short seaplanes was sent to Spithead in July, 1914, to take part in the Naval Review.
After the outbreak of war the Short 74s remained in service for some months and were chiefly employed on coastal patrol duties. The most important action in which Short seaplanes of this type participated was the daring attack launched against the airship sheds at Cuxhaven on Christmas Day, 1914. Of the seven British seaplanes which had been taken to the Heligoland Bight in the vessels Arethusa, Engadine and Riviera, three were Short 74s. The raid did not succeed in its planned object, but much useful information about German naval ports was obtained and the seaplanes’ bombs did a good deal of damage.
Manufacturers: Short Brothers, Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey.
Power: 100 h.p. Gnome.
Armament: Bombs could be carried on external racks.
Service Use: R.N.A.S. Stations, Calshot, Isle of Grain and Dundee.
Serial Numbers: 74-80, 180, 182, 183, 811-818. No. 811 (Flight-Lieutenant C. H. K. Edmonds), No. 814 (Flight Sub-Lieutenant V. Gaskell-Blackburn) and No. 815 (Flight-Commander D. A. Oliver) attacked Cuxhaven on December 25th, 1914.
Short Folder Seaplane
EARLY in 1913 Short Brothers took out patents for methods of folding the wings of aeroplanes. The first drawings had been made by Horace Short in 1912, and he had then set about the construction of aircraft embodying the device.
The first British aircraft to have folding wings was the Short seaplane which bore the official serial number 81; it appeared in 1913, and was closely followed by a second machine, No. 82. These seaplanes bore a strong resemblance to the Improved S.41 type (Admiralty Type 74), particularly in the design of fuselage and tail-unit: they were in fact frequently referred to as S.41s. The wings were of similar configuration, with long strut-braced extensions on the upper mainplanes; but Nos. 81 and 82 had only two bays of interplane struts, whereas the Short 74 had three. The engine was the big 160 h.p. Gnome, a two-row fourteen-cylinder rotary, and the cowling was surmounted by a substantial funnel-like exhaust stack. The pilot occupied the rear cockpit, and had a short decking and headrest behind his seat.
The Short No.81 took part in the Naval manoeuvres of July, 1913; it was one of the two aircraft carried by the seaplane carrier Hermes, which was attached to the “Red” fleet. The seaplane was fitted with a Rouzet wireless telegraphy transmitter, which was used in the course of the exercises. Thanks to its wireless installation, No. 81 was successfully retrieved after being forced down some 50 miles from the Hermes on August 1st: the machine’s probable position was determined from the last messages transmitted to the Hermes. The crew of No. 81 on this occasion were Commander C. R. Samson and Lieutenant R. Fitzmaurice.
The use of this Short seaplane from a carrier vessel proved to be satisfactory, thanks in some measure to its folding wings, and it was realised that this type of aircraft had a considerable future.
Further folding-wing seaplanes were built and delivered to the Naval Wing of the R.F.C. (which did not acquire its fully separate identity as the Royal Naval Air Service until June 23rd, 1914). These later Shorts had three-bay wings of increased area; the extensions on the upper wings were lengthened, and the bracing was slightly modified. It was possible on the later machines to fold the wings from the cockpit. The arrangement of the float-struts was simplified. Four of the 160 h.p. Gnome-Shorts were at the Royal Naval Review which was held on July 18th-22nd, 1914, at Spithead.
One of these four machines was part of the Calshot Flight, which was under Squadron Commander A. M. Longmore (later Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Longmore, G.C.B., D.S.O.). After the review, the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, visited Calshot and discussed the experiments with torpedo-carrying aircraft which were then being conducted. The first successful flight with a 14-inch torpedo had been made by a Sopwith Type C seaplane late in 1913, but it seems doubtful whether a successful drop had been made, even by July, 1914. Mr Churchill requested that the work be accelerated. Squadron Commander Longmore told him that it could be done with a 160 h.p. Short seaplane, and undertook to make a torpedo drop within a short time.
Special drawings were prepared at short notice by Horace Short as soon as he received the official requirements: new cross-bars for the floats were made at once; and Squadron Commander Longmore has recorded that he made the first successful drop from the Short on July 28th. The torpedo was a 14-inch missile which weighed 810 lb. (Historically, however, this achievement was some three years behind the first torpedo drop ever made: in 1911 Captain Guidoni, an Italian, took off with and dropped a 352-lb torpedo, using a Farman biplane.)
War was declared a week later, and the torpedo experiments continued during August, 1914. On the outbreak of war the Admiralty allocated three 160 h.p. Shorts, equipped to carry torpedoes, to the aircraft carrier Engadine. These machines were never used for torpedo attacks, however, although one torpedo sortie against a German cruiser nearly took place.
At least eight seaplanes of the 160 h.p. Gnome type were on the strength of the R.N.A.S. at the outbreak of hostilities, and were doubtless used for coastal patrol work during the early months of the war. Two of the Engadine's Short Folders were among the seven Short seaplanes which bombed Cuxhaven on Christmas Day, 1914.
Three Short Folders were sent to Africa in March, 1915, to provide air reinforcements for the naval forces which were bent on the destruction of the German light cruiser Konigsberg. The enemy vessel had been lying well up the delta of the Rufiji river since October, 1914. The delta consisted of such a maze of channels that only air reconnaissance could establish her exact position. In November, 1914, the Kinfauns Castle brought a Curtiss flying boat, the property of Gerard Hudson, a mining engineer, from Durban. This machine made several successful reconnaissances before being wrecked on December 10th, 1914.
On February 21st, 1915, two Sopwith 807 seaplanes arrived at the tiny island of Niororo; it was hoped to bomb the Konigsberg with them, but they proved quite unsuitable for the work.
In March, 1915, the armed liner Laconia brought three 160 h.p. Gnome Short seaplanes to Durban; the aircraft reached Niororo on April 23rd. These Shorts were in poor condition, but were good enough for reconnaissance work. The first flight was made on April 25th; photographs were taken despite the Short’s refusal to climb higher than 600 feet. This machine was brought down by rifle-fire from the ground, but was successfully towed back to Niororo.
The rather elderly Shorts carried out several reconnaissances at the cost of one of their number (fortunately without the loss of its crew), but it was obvious that they were not truly capable of doing the work required of them. They were supplanted in June, 1915, by two Henri Farman F.27s and two Caudron G.IIIs. The Konigsberg was finally destroyed on July 11th, under the observation of one of the Farmans and one of the Caudrons.
Manufacturers: Short Brothers, Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey.
Power: 160 h.p. Gnome
Dimensions: Span: original machines, upper wings 56 ft, lower 40 ft. Later (three-bay) version, upper wings 67 ft.
Length: 39 ft. Chord: 6 ft. Gap: 6 ft. Stagger: nil. Dihedral: nil. Airscrew diameter: 9 ft 6 in.
Areas (original machines): Wings: 550 sq ft.
Weights: Empty: 2,000 lb. Military load: 80 lb. Crew: 360 lb. Fuel and oil: 600 lb. Loaded: 3,040 lb.
Performance: Maximum speed: 78 m.p.h. Initial rate of climb: 600 ft per min. Endurance: 5 hours.
Tankage: Petrol: 65 gallons. Oil: 15 gallons.
Armament: Bombs could be carried on external racks. A few machines were fitted with early torpedo crutches and could carry one 14-in. torpedo.
Service Use: R.N.A.S. Stations, Isle of Grain, Westgate and Calshot. Aircraft carriers Engadine and Riviera. German East Africa: R.N.A.S. detachment, Niororo Island.
Serial Numbers: 81,82, 89, 90, 119-122, 186. Nos. 119 (Flight-Commander R. P. Ross) and 120 (Flight-Lieutenant A. J. Miley) attacked Cuxhaven on December 25th, 1914.
O.Thetford British Naval Aircraft since 1912 (Putnam)
SHORT S.64 FOLDER SEAPLANE
This was one of the earliest aeroplanes to incorporate folding wings. The first two Folders (Nos.81 and 82) had two-bay wings and were closely related to the S.41. Later Folders (including NO.119 shown in the photograph) had three-bay wings. The original Folder. No.81. took part in the Naval manoeuvres of July 1913 and carried an early type of wireless transmitter. On 28 July 1914 a Short three-bay Folder (No. 121) from Calshot flown by Sqn Ldr A M Longmore made the first successful air-torpedo drop in Great Britain. The weapon used on this historic occasion was a 14 in torpedo which weighed 810 lb. Two Short Folders (Nos.119 and 120) were among the seven RNAS seaplanes which raided Cuxhaven on Christmas Day, 1914. One 160 hp Gnome engine. Maximum speed, 78 mph. Span (three-bay version), 67 ft. Length, 39 ft.
SHORT ADMIRALTY TYPE 74 SEAPLANE
Also known as the Improved S.41, this seaplane entered service with the RNAS in 1914 and took part in the Naval Review of July. Serial numbers allotted were Nos.74 to 80, 183 and 811 to 818. Three Type 74 seaplanes (Nos.811, 814 and 815) joined four other seaplanes in the historic raid on Cuxhaven from the carriers Empress, Engadine and Riviera on Christmas Day, 1914. The Type 74 had a 100 hp Gnome engine but two later examples (Nos.78 and 79) were powered by 160 hp twin-row Gnome engines.
H.King Armament of British Aircraft (Putnam)
Short Tractor Seaplanes. 'A certain 160 hp Short seaplane', identified by C. H. Barnes in Shorts Aircraft since 1900 (Putnam, 1967) as No.121, was a third type of Short aircraft to play a pioneering part in the development of aircraft armament, for it was this machine that was earmarked by Sir Arthur Longmore for the earliest British torpedo-dropping trials. These were made at Calshot in July 1914 with a 14-in torpedo. Although crutches are said to have been attached to each of two specially arched cross-bars, hastily designed by Horace Short, early drawings, which it is intended to reproduce in Volume 2, show a seaplane of Short type having cross-bracing of X form, the torpedo being carried at the apex of the lower inverted V. The release mechanism was designed by Lieut D. Hyde-Thomson, who also adapted the torpedo.
Four other Short seaplanes of the type used in the Calshot experiments are said to have been arranged for torpedo-dropping at a later date, and aircraft having the Service numbers 178 and 186 have been associated with torpedo installations, the latter being listed as 'Type B'. This designation is of particular interest having regard to the Sopwith torpedo seaplane known as the 'Type C'.
On the Short tractor seaplanes, bombs were carried loose or on carriers. One identified load was one 100-lb bomb and four of 20 lb.