F.Manson British Bomber Since 1914 (Putnam)
Although superficially appearing to be in the same general category as the Avro Type 528, Howard Wright's Wight Bomber was obviously superior, due principally to the choice of a 275hp Rolls-Royce Eagle engine, the increased power available making possible the lifting of four 112 lb bombs. Like the Avro aircraft, the Wight design possessed three-bay folding wings of about 65-foot span, but carried its bombs on conventional racks under the lower wings.
Single-acting ailerons were fitted to the upper wings only, and the large upper wing overhang was wire-braced using kingposts. The usual box-girder fuselage was of small cross-sectional area, and the tall undercarriage was of simple V-strut configuration.
The single Wight prototype was almost certainly ordered at about the same time as, and for comparison with, the Short Bomber, and was therefore at an immediate disadvantage owing to the latter's use of existing Short 184 components (being a direct development of that aircraft). Thus by the time the Wight Bomber first flew, late in 1916, the Short had already been ordered into production by several manufacturers. Nevertheless, while the Avro 528 was not considered worthwhile to develop further, successful development of the Wight resulted in production orders being placed by the Admiralty for a seaplane derivative.
Type: Single-engine, two-seat, three-bay biplane naval bomber.
Manufacturer: J Samuel White & Co, East Cowes, Isle of Wight.
Powerplant: One 275hp Rolls-Royce Eagle II twelve-cylinder water-cooled in-line engine driving two-blade propeller.
Dimensions: Span, 65ft 6in; wing area, 715 sq ft.
Weights: Tare. 3.162 lb; all-up, 5,166 lb.
Performance: Max speed, 89 mph at sea level; climb to 10,000ft, 34 min.
Armament: One Lewis machine gun with Scarff ring on rear cockpit; bomb load, four 112 lb bombs.
Prototype: One, N501, first flown in 1916. No production.
Wight Converted Seaplane
The intensification of submarine warfare by Germany during 1917, to a degree that threatened Britain's ability to sustain her population and ultimately to continue the War against the Central Powers, concentrated the minds at the Admiralty to pursue all possible measures to protect Allied shipping round the coasts of the British Isles. Among these measures was the urgent strengthening of RNAS patrols by seaplanes. As the Short 184 came to provide the backbone of this effort, newer aircraft, such as the Fairey Campanias, were entering service in relatively small numbers. Another aircraft in this category was the Wight Converted Seaplane which, as its unimaginative title suggests, was a development of the unrewarded Wight Bomber.
As it happened, this transformation was remarkably successful, and 50 examples were ordered, of which 37 came to be built. The design conversion was relatively straightforward, the seaplane retaining the basic wing and fuselage structure of the Bomber. Rectangular kingpost structures replaced the inverted vees of the earlier aircraft, being found to provide better torsional stiffness for the wing extensions, and double-acting ailerons replaced the single-acting control surfaces of the Bomber.
The undercarriage consisted of a pair of boat-built, three-step floats which were of sufficient length to enable the aircraft to float tail-up, although a small buoyancy chamber was added under the rear fuselage. Small floats were also added to the lower wings directly below the outboard pair of interplane struts.
Most of the Wight Seaplanes were powered by the 275hp Rolls-Royce Mk II, and this was regarded as the standard powerplant; however the incipient shortage of Rolls-Royce engines encouraged Wight (as it had influenced Fairey with the F.22) to adopt the Sunbeam Maori as an alternative, and once again the employment of a frontal radiator resulted in a generally neater installation.
The normal bomb load carried by the Wight comprised four 100 lb anti-submarine bombs, although its maximum fuel capacity limited its patrol endurance to little more than half that of the Fairey seaplanes.
Wight Converted Seaplanes entered service in 1917, flying coastal patrols from Calshot, Cherbourg and Portland - a grouping of Flights that was to become No 241 Squadron of the RAF in 1918. And it was a Wight Seaplane flown by Flt Sub-Lieut C S Mossop and Air Mechanic A F. Ingledew which, bomb - the first submarine to succumb to direct air action by a British aircraft in the Channel.
Manufacture of the Wight Seaplane was abandoned when the company was persuaded to switch production to the Short 184. Only seven Converted Seaplanes were still on RAF charge at the time of the Armistice.
Type: Single-engine, two-seat, three-bay biplane, twin-float patrol bomber seaplane.
Manufacturer: J Samuel White & Co, East Cowes, Isle of Wight.
Powerplant: One 275 hp Rolls-Royce (322hp Eagle VI); one 265hp Sunbeam Maori.
Dimensions: Span, 65ft 6in; length, 44ft 8 1/2in; height, 16ft 0in; wing area, 715 sq ft.
Weights: Tare, 3,578 lb; all-up (with four 112 lb bombs), 5,556 lb.
Performance: Max speed, 84 mph at 2,000ft; climb to 6,500ft, 18 min 20 sec; service ceiling, 9,600ft; endurance, 3 1/2 hr.
Armament: One 0.303in Lewis machine gun with Scarff ring on rear cockpit; bomb load of up to four 112 lb bombs carried on underfuselage racks.
Production: Total of 50 Converted Seaplanes ordered, all built by White: Nos 9841-9860, N1280-N1289 and N2180-N2199. Some sources suggest that Nos 9841-9850 were completed as landplanes, but were converted to floatplanes before delivery, and that N2195-N2199 were delivered into storage without engines.
Summary of Service: 'Converted' Seaplanes are known to have served at RNAS Stations, Calshot, Portland and Cherbourg.
P.Lewis British Bomber since 1914 (Putnam)
Far less prepossessing in aspect than the Grahame-White Type 18 was the angular and ungainly Wight Bomber N501, which was completed in 1916 as a single prototype by J. Samuel White of East Cowes. In general layout the Wight product resembled the Short Bomber to a degree. Three-bay, unequal-span wings, 65 ft. 6 in. upper and 55 ft. lower in spread, were fitted to a simple flat-sided slim fuselage, surmounted by a curved decking, which housed two cockpits in tandem and a 275 h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle in the nose. N501’s wings could be folded, incorporated the double-camber section originated by the firm’s designer Howard T. Wright and carried the four 112 lb. bombs in racks beneath the innermost interplane struts. A Lewis machine-gun on a Scarff ring was provided for the observer in the rear cockpit.
Numerous patrol seaplanes performed valiantly for long periods over cold, unfriendly expanses of open water in the course of many months of bitter and relentless struggle for supremacy at sea during the 1914-18 War. Among the lesser-known types employed by the R.N.A.S. was the Wight Converted Seaplane, an adaptation on floats of the unsuccessful Wight Bomber N501 of 1916. 9841 served as the prototype seaplane conversion and appeared in 1917 mounted on a pair of lengthy floats, supplemented by the usual wingtip floats which were - on the Wight - fitted flush beneath the lower wings without connecting struts. Apart from the 275 h.p. Rolls-Royce Mk. II engine normally used, the Wight was - in a few cases - powered by the 265 h.p. Sunbeam Maori. Production totalled thirty-seven, a relatively short run. The bomb load of the Wight Converted Seaplane was carried on racks fitted beneath the fuselage, and defensive armament consisted of a Lewis gun on a Scarff ring for the observer in the rear cockpit, a position giving him a fairly broad field of fire.
O.Thetford British Naval Aircraft since 1912 (Putnam)
Wight 'Converted' Seaplane
The Wight 'Converted' Seaplane was descended from a single-engined landplane bomber (N501) of 1916 which did not enter production. It was the third type of Wight seaplane to be used in numbers by the RNAS, the others being the Pusher Seaplane of 1913 and the Admiralty Type 840 of 1915.
As its name indicated, the Seaplane was a straightforward adaptation of the Bomber, and apart from the undercarriage differed only in minor details such as the installation of double-acting ailerons and modified kingposts on the top wing. The same Rolls-Royce Eagle engine was retained in the first production 'Converted' Seaplanes, but the later batches had a Sunbeam Maori.
Although it was not used in such large numbers as some other types of RNAS seaplanes, the Wight 'Converted' put in a great deal of work on maritime patrols, and one of them is alleged to have destroyed a U-boat, the first to be sunk in the English Channel by direct air attack from a British aircraft. The date was 22 September 1917. The Wight hit its quarry with its first 100 lb bomb. It was operating from the RNAS Station at Cherbourg and was flown by F/Sub-Lt C S Mossop and Air Mechanic A E Ingledew.
A total of 50 Wight 'Converted' Seaplanes was ordered for the RNAS, but only 37 were built, as it was decided to standardise on the Short 184. The serial numbers allocated were 9841 to 9860, N 1280 to 1289 and N2180 to 2199.
Only a handful of 'Converted' Seaplanes remained at RNAS Stations by the Armistice. Official records listed seven on 31 October 1918. The type was withdrawn in June 1919.
No.241 Squadron (Portland) and No.243 Squadron (Cherbourg).
TECHNICAL DATA (WIGHT 'CONVERTED')
Description: Two-seat anti-submarine patrol seaplane. Wooden structure with fabric covering.
Manufacturers: J Samuel White & Co, East Cowes, Isle of Wight.
Power Plant: One 322 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VI or 265 hp Sunbeam Maori.
Dimensions: Span. 65ft 6 in. Length, 44 ft 8 1/2 in. Height, 16 ft. Wing area, 715 sq ft.
Weights: Empty, 3.758 lb with Eagle engine and 3.957 lb with Maori engine. Loaded, 5.556 lb with Eagle engine and 5.394 lb with Maori engine.
Performance (Eagle engine): Maximum speed. 84 1/2 mph at 2.000 ft; 82 1/2 mph at 6.500 ft. Climb, 4 min 20 sec to 2.000 ft; 42 1/2 min to 10.000 ft. Endurance, 3 1/2 hr. Service ceiling, 9.600 ft.
Armament: One Lewis machine-gun on Scarff mounting aft and provision for four 100 lb or 112 lb bombs below the wings.
H.King Armament of British Aircraft (Putnam)
Bomber. Four 112-lb bombs could be carried under the lower wings of this three-bay single-engined bomber of 1916. There was a Lewis gun on a Scarff ring-mounting over the rear cockpit.
'Converted' Seaplane. This type of twin-float seaplane was developed from the Wight Bomber in 1917. Anti-submarine operations were undertaken with 100-lb bombs (specialised anti-submarine weapons) and one machine, operating from Cherbourg on 18 August, 1917, sank UB-32 by dropping a bomb of this type just forward of the periscope. Up to four such bombs could probably be carried, and a load of two 100-lb and two 112-lb has been reported.