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Porte Baby

Страна: Великобритания

Год: 1916

Porte - monoplane - 1910 - Великобритания<– –>Porte and Pirie - glider - 1909 - Великобритания

G.Duval British Flying-Boats and Amphibians 1909-1952 (Putnam)

Porte/Felixstowe Baby (1916)

   During the H.4 hull experiments, work had commenced on the construction of a very large three-engined flying-boat designed by Porte, now in command of the Felixstowe air station. This machine’s official designation was submerged by Naval humour, and ‘Baby’ it remained. The prototype, No. 9800, had a boat-built hull, plywood covered with a single step. Equipped with an enclosed cabin, the hull measured 56 feet 10 inches from bow to stern, having a maximum beam over the side fins of no less than 14 feet. The power units were three 250 h.p. Rolls-Royce engines, the prototype of the later Eagle, and were disposed as a centrally mounted pusher and two outboard tractors. After initial tests the bows were lengthened by 3 feet to improve seaworthiness, but the machine proved rather slow and underpowered. Twenty Babies were ordered, at least ten being completed by May, Harden and May, of Southampton Water. Some of these machines had a 260 h.p. Green engine as the central unit, and all had modified outboard engine mountings consisting of single interplane struts, which replaced the original diamond-shaped arrangement. Performance was later improved by fitting more powerful Rolls-Royce engines, including the Eagle VIII of 360 h.p., but the design of the Baby did not lend itself to the installation of effective armament, the structure providing a multitude of ‘blind spots’. No. 9800 was experimentally fitted with a large-calibre Davis gun in the bows,'but this was not used operationally. Some machines had a Scarff ring-mounted Lewis gun in the bow cockpit, but the majority were armed with Lewis guns fired through windows and ports from within the hull.
   The Porte Baby flying-boats were flown on oversea patrols from Felixstowe and Killingholme, taking part in the efficient ‘Spider Web’ patrol centred on the North Hinder Light Vessel. It was here, on 1 October, 1917, that the Baby captained by Flight Commander N. Sholto Douglas fought a gallant but unequal action with three German aircraft, during which two of the flyingboat’s engines were hit and stopped, forcing it to alight on the sea where a further attack caused more damage and wounded one of the crew. Undaunted, the others effected temporary repairs to the machine, and after taxying for nine long hours made landfall on the Suffolk coast, from where the Baby was towed back to Felixstowe. As a result of this action, the Babies were never again used in areas where they ran the risk of meeting enemy aircraft. Although one machine had been flown on torpedo trials, with two 14-inch missiles slung below the wings, the most interesting experiment in which a Baby participated was the remarkable composite flight made in May 1916, with the object of developing a method of attacking Zeppelins. A Bristol Scout ‘C’, No. 3028 of H.M.S. Vindex, was mounted upon the upper wing centre section of a Baby fitted with Rolls-Royce Eagle engines, the Scout’s wheels resting in shallow troughs and a pair of forward-facing crooks engaging the axle. The tail-skid was secured by a quick-release catch operated by the Scout pilot. On 17 May, 1916, the Baby, with the smaller aircraft attached, took-off from Felixstowe under the command of Porte, who had Flt. Lieut. Hope and two crew aboard. In the Bristol was Flt. Lieut. M. J. Day, of H.M.S. Vindex. At a height of 1,000 feet over Harwich, Day slipped the tailskid release, climbing away and landing safely at Martlesham Heath. A contemporary report has it that Day started his engine before release, but as the Bristol was fitted with a rotary power unit which was quite liable to catch fire if switched on after ‘windmilling’, it may well be that the Scout’s engine was running during the take-off and climb. Although a complete success, this experiment was never repeated. Two Babies remained on charge with the R.A.F. at the end of the war, while the stripped hull of a third ended its days in the grounds of a women’s hostel, a door cut in its side, electric light laid on, and four W.R.N.S. motor drivers in residence.


   Power Plant:
   Three 250 h.p. Rolls-Royce
   Three 345 h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle
   Two 250 h.p. Rolls-Royce and one 260 h.p. Green
   Three 360 h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII
   Span: 124 feet
   Length: 63 feet
   Weight Loaded: 18,600 pounds
   Total Area: 2,364 square feet
   Max. Speed: 87-5 m.p.h.
   Endurance: 7 hours
   Armament: Four Lewis guns, six-pounder Davis on prototype. Details of bomb load not known

J.Bruce British Aeroplanes 1914-1918 (Putnam)

Porte Baby

  WHILE the experiments with the Curtiss America hulls were proceeding, Squadron Commander Porte used the experience gained from them to design a large three-engined flying boat. Construction was begun before the F.1 was tested, so the design of the large machine was based only on the results obtained from the four predecessors of the F.1. The new aircraft, No. 9800, was at once ironically dubbed Baby or H.M.S. Baby, on account of its great size.
  The precise origin of the Porte Baby is rendered somewhat obscure by the aircraft’s obvious relationship to another large three-engined boat which was described as a Curtiss in the 1917 edition of Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft. The so-called Curtiss had three pusher engines, and illustrations in the 1917 Jane’s were reproduced from photographs which appeared to have been made at Felixstowe. The big three-pusher flying boat and the Baby had so many common features that it is impossible to overlook the possibility that the “Curtiss” may in fact have been the Baby in its original form.
  However that may be, the Baby has always been depicted with its two outboard engines driving tractor airscrews whilst the central power unit alone was a pusher. The engines were three of the big Rolls-Royce vee-twelves of the type which was to become known as the Eagle, and delivered 250 h.p. each. The Baby’s plywood-covered hull was 56 feet 10 inches long, and incorporated an enclosed cabin for the pilots; there was one step under the centre of gravity. The wings were of unequal span, and were similarly disposed to those of the Curtiss America, with long extensions on the upper wing. All bracing was by stranded cables.
  On trial, it was found that the Porte Baby wallowed rather badly in a following sea, but this defect was overcome by lengthening the bows by three feet; the water performance was thereafter much improved. The machine was underpowered for its size, but the maximum speed of 78 m.p.h. was by no means bad in the circumstances.
  By this time, however, the results obtained from the Porte I hull had become available and had been utilised to produce the Porte II or F.2 flying boat, which was clearly so much superior to the Porte Baby that development of the three-engined machine was not pursued. Twenty production Babies were ordered from the Aircraft Manufacturing Company, however, construction being undertaken by that firm’s subsidiary company, May, Harden & May of Southampton Water. Only ten, numbered 9801-9810, were completed, but it seems that some at least of the other ten hulls were built.
  These production machines differed slightly from the prototype. No. 9800 had originally had a diamond-shaped structure of four struts at the rear of the outboard engines, but was later modified to have an improved engine installation in which a normal straight interplane strut was fitted between the rear spars of the upper and lower mainplanes in line with the engines. All production Babies incorporated this modification. Although it has been customary to regard the standard power plant of the Porte Baby as consisting of three Rolls-Royce engines, some at least (e.g., 9801) had a 260 h.p. Green as the central engine. Like the Rolls-Royce, the big Green was a water-cooled vee-twelve.
  The performance of the later production Babies benefited from the installation of three Rolls-Royce Eagles of later marks: at least one had three Eagle VIIIs. By the time No. 9810 appeared neater radiators, similar to those of the later F-boats, were fitted; and on this Baby the outboard engines drove two-bladed left-hand airscrews, whereas the corresponding power units on other machines drove opposite-handed four-bladed airscrews. The nose of No. 9810 was lengthened, and a bow cockpit was provided.
  The Porte Baby flying boats were used operationally from Felixstowe and Killingholme, and two were still on charge with the R.A.F. at the end of October, 1918. These big boats were vulnerable because of their low speed and lack of manoeuvrability. One of them was attacked by two enemy seaplanes and a landplane near the North Hinder Light Vessel shortly after 4 p.m. on October 1st, 1917, and a running fight was carried on for some twenty minutes. Normally, the operational crew of a Baby was five men, but on this occasion there were six on board; the pilots were Flight Commander N. Sholto Douglas and Flight-Lieutenant B. D. Hobbs. When the Baby was attacked, Hobbs was at the controls, and he skilfully avoided many of the enemy attacks. Ultimately the boat was forced down with its centre and port engines shot about, and while on the water it was machine-gunned by the enemy seaplanes.
  When the enemy machines had gone, the crew of the Baby managed to repair the damaged engines sufficiently to enable the boat to be taxied slowly towards the English coast, and by 1.30 a.m. on October and it reached Sizewell Gap, north of Orfordness. It was towed back to Felixstowe that morning. This experience led to the decision that the Porte Baby flying boats should not be used in areas where they might be attacked unless an escort of Curtiss H.12 or F.2A flying boats could be provided.
  The prototype Baby, No. 9800, was experimentally armed with a six-pounder Davis non-recoil gun, presumably for anti-submarine work, but there is no record that it was ever in action. A Baby (again almost certainly No. 9800) was also used in torpedo-carrying experiments: in April, 1916, it flew with two 14-inch torpedoes, one under each lower wing.
  In the history of the Bristol Scout it has already been related how, on May 17th, 1916, an aeroplane of that type was mounted on the upper wing of a Porte Baby, taken into the air by the flying boat, and launched at a height of 1,000 feet over Harwich. At that early date the Baby could only have been the prototype.

  Manufacturers: Seaplane Experimental Station, Felixstowe.
  Contractors: The Aircraft Manufacturing Co., Ltd., Hendon, construction by May, Harden & May, Southampton Water.
  Power: Prototype: three 250 h.p. Rolls-Royce. Production: some had two 250 h.p. Rolls-Royce and one 260 h.p. Green; ultimately three 325 h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle VIIs or 360 h.p. Eagle VIIIs were fitted.
  Dimensions: Span: 124 ft. Length: 63 ft. Length of hull only: 56 ft 10 in. Height: 25 ft. Beam at step: 14 ft.
  Areas: Wings: 2,364 sq ft.
  Weights: Production machine: Empty: 14,700 lb. Military load: 298 lb. Crew: 1,120 lb. Fuel and oil: 2,482 lb. Weight loaded: 18,600 lb.
  Performance: Prototype: maximum speed: 78 m.p.h. Climb to 3,000 ft: 20 min. Production - Eagle VIII engines (from Trial Report No. N.M.129, dated March 12th, 1918): maximum speed at sea level: 92 m.p.h.; at 2,000 ft: 87-5 m.p.h.; at 6,500 ft: 72 m.p.h. Climb to 2,000 ft: 5 min 20 sec; to 6,500 ft: 25 min 05 sec. Service ceiling: 8,000 ft.
  Armament: Machine-guns were carried, presumably on mountings in the hatchway immediately behind the pilots’ cockpit, and probably behind the wings. The prototype had a six-pounder Davis gun mounted on the bows, and was also used in torpedo-carrying experiments.
  Service Use: R.N.A.S. Stations at Felixstowe and Killingholme.
  Production and Allocation: The prototype and ten production Babies were built; some additional hulls may also have been made. Two Babies were still on charge with the R.A.F. on October 31st, 1918.
  Serial Numbers: 9800-9820. Only 9800-9810 were delivered complete.
  Notes on Individual Machines: 9800: officially accepted at Felixstowe, November 2nd, 1916. 9801: officially accepted on March 27th, 1917; written off at Killingholme January 9th, 1918. 9802: officially accepted at Felixstowe on July 16th, 1917. 9805-9809 were officially accepted at Killingholme. 9806 was in store on September 12th, 1918; 9807 was at a Fleet Base on October 14th, 1918. 9808 and 9809 were in store in September, 1918.

O.Thetford British Naval Aircraft since 1912 (Putnam)


   This three-engined (two tractor and one pusher) flying-boat was built by May, Harden and May of Southampton to the designs of Sqn Cdr Porte. Eleven Porte Babies (Nos.9800 to 9810) were built and saw service on North Sea patrols from Felixstowe and Killingholme. The Baby first entered service in November 1916. Two 250 hp Rolls-Royce and one 200 hp Green engine in early versions; later Babies had three 325 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VII or 300 hp Eagle VIII engines. Crew of five. Loaded weight, 18.000 lb. Maximum speed, 92 mph at sea level. Service ceiling, 8.000 ft. Span, 124 ft. Length, 63 ft.

H.King Armament of British Aircraft (Putnam)


Porte Baby. The design of this three-engined flying-boat dated back to 1916, and during its existence the craft was used for some notable armament experiments. Thus, a 6-pdr Davis recoilless gun was fitted in the bows, and on another occasion two 14-in torpedoes were slung one beneath each lower wing. The effectiveness of machine-gun armament was restricted by hull-form and construction, but hatchway or window guns may well have been intended or installed behind the cockpit.
The carrying of a fighter aeroplane (Bristol Scout) on the top wing, and a successful launching in flight, is a further distinction to the credit of this early flying-boat, and one which may fairly be included under the heading of 'armament'.

C.Owers The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 (A Centennial Perspective on Great War Airplanes 22)

3. The Porte Felixstowe Baby
   The Porte Baby, a bigger machine than any built and flown in this country until 1918, and this boat was produced in 1915 and flown in 1916. Although it did little useful active service work, it set other designers to thinking, and was the father and mother of all big British aeroplanes and seaplanes. When fully loaded it weighed about eight and a half tons, but no scales big enough to weigh it were obtainable in the service.
   So Sqdn Ldr Theodore D. Hallam or Pix, described the Porte Baby. According to Commodore Murray F. Sueter, RNAS, the “building of this large experimental flying boat...was carried out during the same period as the three series of experimental modifications on the Curtiss machines, and the experience obtained thereby was both incorporated and confirmed by the “Porte” flying boat.” The experiments referred to were made by Porte at Felixstowe with various types of hulls fitted with Curtiss wings and tail units. While the experience of these hulls was incorporated in the Baby’s hull, “it was not possible to take advantage of the results from the Porte I.” This latter hull was to be developed into the successful Felixstowe series of flying boats. At the time Porte was carrying out his experiments he was also building the Baby and it was completed before the results of the F. 1 experiments were known.
   The origin of the Baby is not as clear cut as this would suggest as photographs appeared in the journal Flight for 21 September 1916, and Janes All the World’s Aircraft for 1917, depict what appears to be the Porte machine but it is identified as a Curtiss “Super-America” flying boat that was “capable of rising from and alighting on, very rough seas”. The boat was equipped with three “high-powered Curtiss motors” that were installed in pusher configuration. No mention of this boat as a Curtiss product is found in Bowers’ Curtiss Aircraft 1907-1947, however a drawing of a three engined pusher flying boat labelled the Curtiss three-engine Cruiser was published in a contemporary book. So many features of this “Curtiss” boat are common to the Baby that it is probably the Baby in its original form. Notwithstanding the origin of this flying boat, it was an important step in the development of the large flying boat as a weapon of war.
   According to Major WE Vernon “H.M.S. Baby” was designed in 1914 and launched in 1915, while the Felixstowe Daily Reports for 19 November 1915, records that the “triple-engined “America” was launched but no flight attempted owing to trouble with Sunbeam motors.” The flying boat that emerged was the largest built to that time in the UK, and perhaps the world, so it was automatically dubbed the Porte “Baby” although referred to as the Porte Flying Boat in the official publication “Types of British Seaplanes.” The serial number 9800 was allotted to the prototype. The first flight was on 20 November when it “got off the water easily,” although the Sunbeam engines were running badly. The following day the “Big Boat” “gave greatest satisfaction.” On 17 December another flight was made but again engine trouble prevented tests from being fully carried out.
   The hull was experimental as noted above, and was the result of experiments that Porte had carried out with full sized hulls in order to develop a flying boat that could operate over the North Sea. The hull was generally similar to that of the Small America boats and was 14 feet wide and 53 feet long. It was built out of cedar and mahogany planking with pitched elm timbers. Although rather heavy, the hull was a fine piece of boat building. The fins decreased in thickness and ended up almost horizontal at their trailing edge. They projected from the side of the hull 2 1/2 feet, and although supported by a strut, they were a source of weakness and liable to get broken when getting off or alighting in a moderate sea. The planning bottom was slightly concave increasing in flare forwards. At the step the angle was 7° to the horizontal but it got steeper towards the bows. The tail was flat underneath at the sternpost but became slightly V shaped at the step.
   The Baby was a two bay biplane with an enclosed cockpit. The unequal span wings had no stagger, and the upper wing had large extensions that were braced by kingposts above the outer pair of interplane struts. Large ailerons that increased in cord towards the wing tips were mounted on the upper wing only. The lower wing had rounded wing tips and floats were mounted under the outer interplane struts. The three engines were supported on a system of V struts, the inter-wing two were mounted as tractors, and that on the centre line, a pusher.
   A large triangular fin was mounted on the deck of the hull. The rudder had a rounded trailing edge, the bottom being in line with the bottom of the hull. A two piece elevator was mounted. The horizontal tailplane was supported by two struts on each side.
   On rough days a great deal of spray was thrown up when accelerating to get off. Consequently it was decided to lengthen the hull by 3 feet in front of the wings. This was a great improvement.
   When finally put into service this machine behaved well; her performance on the water being far ahead of anything which had yet been produced.
   On account of the large unbalanced control surfaces and the great size and weight of the machine it was very heavy on the controls. Sperry electric servo motors were fitted to supplement the pilots strength. They were very ingenious but needed much skilled work to keep them in order. It was possible to throw them out of the control loop and fly the boat by hand. This was not as serious drawback as it sounds as the pilots could easily relieve each other.
   A number of armament tests were tried including a Davis gun, Hotchkiss guns and torpedoes being fitted at various times. Porte reported on 28 March 1916, that “Two 14” torpedoes are now slung on the machine. This test will be made as soon as weather permits.” The most remarkable experiment was the loading of a submarine mine that was to be launched through a port in the side of the hull. This experiment was never completed.
   In the 28 March report referred to above, Porte noted that the bad weather had greatly hampered the testing of the Baby. Results achieved to date were listed as follows:
   Speed 60 knots. 50 knots with wing motors only.
   Climb Uncertain, about 200 ft/min. Only reached 2,200’ due motor trouble.
   Useful Load 4,500 lbs. When this test was made the engines were only developing about 650 HP instead 800 HP.
   Servo Motor This was underpowered and caused considerable trouble. “We are now fitting a larger type and a different system. Controls have been operated by hand in the meantime.”
   A duration test was carried out on 19 May 1916, with the “object of ascertaining definitely the range, etc., of this machine.” Porte recorded that the seaplane left the water at 11:19AM and alighted at 7:25PM, a total time of 8 hours 6 minutes in the air. The flying boat landed with 57 1/2 gallons of petrol remaining out of 438 1/2 gallons. It was estimated that this would have allowed, with the 20 gallons wasted before taking off, for 1% more hours flight. The “actual distance made good” was about 421 nautical miles. This was an average air speed of about 55 knots.
   The load comprised the crew: Cdr Porte; Flt Cdr Hope Vere, FSL Scott, CPO Tadman and L.M. Coates ... 830 lbs
   496 gals Fuel 3,621 lbs
   Lewis gun & Ammunition 342 lbs
   Tools & spares 54 lbs
   Food, kit, etc. 125 lbs
   Total Load carried 5,038 lbs
   There was 20 gallons of oil remaining and allowing 160 lbs for the extra “passenger”, and the unused fuel it was calculated that this was about 900 lbs which could be made up in bombs or a 6 pdr David Gun and ammunition. “This puts this machine down at 8 hours fuel and 6 pdr David Gun with 30 rounds or 900 lbs in bombs. If you allow 400 lb for each hour’s fuel the armament can be increased proportionally.”
   Porte continues:
   The behaviour of the machine in the air is excellent, being quite stable. It is possible to fly her for considerable periods without touching the controls.
   The Servo-motor broke down at five hours, necessitating using controls by hand; this proved all right, but would be very tiring on a rough day. The fault was only a small one due to bad design, but this has now been remedied.
   The motors ran beautifully, although after five hours the Port Motor popped considerably, this passed away at seven hours. The Starboard Motor ran perfectly throughout. The latter was fitted with KLG spark plugs, the other two were Lodge of two kinds. There was no comparison between the plugs when examined, proving conclusively that KLG are by far the best for long flights.
   The motors were opened out to full power at the conclusion of the flight and they all ran perfectly at full revolutions.
   For some reason unexplained as yet the Port Engine used 2 1/2 gals of oil or 1/2 gal per hour as compared with 5 1/2 gals by the other motors. Yet this motor has suffered no damage and ran well. This points to the fact of those other motors being overoiled as a general rule.
   The cooling was perfectly satisfactory, the overflow pipes from radiators are led to a cup in the hull, so that if the water boils or overheats it can be seen immediately. This would seem to be a good fitting to place on all machines.
   The petrol consumption is somewhat high on these motors, due to the fact of a comparatively low compression. If this could be increased satisfactorily the consumption should improve.
   In these big machines the weight of the engine is not so important as its efficiency and reliability. All our experience up to date goes to prove that these two qualities have not gone hand in hand. Low efficiency motors have been by far the most reliable.
   The Rolls-Royce combines greater reliability with moderate efficiency. If it was possible for this firm to increase the efficiency of the motor at the expense of slight increase of weight, then this motor would certainly be a wonderful motor. As far as my experience at present goes, I would say that for reliability it is a motor apart.
   The above remarks refer purely to a long duration motor: for short duration the weight of the motor is all important and its efficiency not so important.
   It was reported that two 14 inch torpedoes had been carried, one on each side under the wings. This was on No. 9800, the prototype. There is no record of them being launched. Maximum speed was 68 knots, and 50 knots with the wing motors only and a light load. Climb was 6,000 feet in one hour but this was expected to be improved with a different arrangement of carburettors. Useful load was 5,000 lbs.
   In his report and presentation to the Advisory Committee for Aeronautics on the experiments carried out at RNAS Felixstowe, Commodore Sueter included a copy of Wing Commander Porte’s report on the Baby. In this report Porte noted that it had flown for eight hours at an average speed of 55 knots with 1 hours fuel remaining in the tanks. Load had included “5 passengers and Lewis Gun etc., but no bombs.” A normal crew was two pilots and two others. It was usual to include under “passengers” any crew other than the pilots. However it may well be that he is referring to the same duration flight of 19 May as detailed above. Porte continues to detail the history of modifications to the boat:
   The machine was originally designed for 3 motors of 300 HP each - making 900 H.P., the estimated weight of each motor being 850 lbs. without water and radiator, or about 1,050 lbs. in all, making 3,150 lbs. for the three motors.
   As it eventually transpired three engines of 240 HR of about the same weight were fitted, making a total of 720 H.P. instead of 900 H.P.
   The hull was fitted with a single step in a vertical line with the centre of gravity of the machine. The bottom in front of the step had a slight “V” in cross section, this “V” being somewhat hollow towards the keel, otherwise straight. The bottom of the tail portion was also a “V” at the step, flattening out to nothing at about 8 feet from the stern post. The usual fins were fitted on the sides of the forepart of the Boat. The overall width of the bottom at the step was 14 feet, the width of the main portion of the hull itself being 7 feet.
   Trials were commenced with two Rolls Royce engines fitted as tractors on the wings and a 280-hp Green engine fitted over the hull as a pusher. The wing motors rotated inwards.
   When the Boat was first taken out it was found that she planed very easily but was difficult to make rise from the water, due to drag on the tail, the tail touching every time we tried to get off. This I circumvented by jumping her off which was made possible by the 20 mile an hour breeze which was blowing at the time. However, it was evident that there was a mistake somewhere.
   The machine was also considerably tail heavy, due to the fact that the centre of gravity proved to be much further aft than was anticipated.
   When the machine was brought ashore and hangared, Porte had the fore and aft angle measured very carefully and it was found to be 5 1/4° instead of the designed 7 1/2°. This was found to be due to mistakes on the drawings. “We then took a slice off the underpart of the tail, that is from the step to the sternpost, leaving the same depth of step, making the tail angle 7 1/2° with the front of the boat. This was accomplished without difficulty.”
   While these modifications were being carried out, the opportunity was taken to move the centre of gravity forward. The two tractor Rolls Royce engines were shifted forward so that their centres were over the front spar and this naturally placed the airscrews some way in front of the wings instead of in line with the leading edge of the wing as formerly. The diamond-shaped structure of four struts at the rear of the engines was replaced by a normal interplane strut between the upper and lower rear spars in line with the engine. Trials were then continued.
   It was found that the boat rose easily from the water without the tail catching as previously. On the other hand, she did not plane so quickly due to the fact that the angle of attack on the front of the boat had been increased. The two air pipes that had been fitted to break up the suction behind the step were found to be unnecessary and were removed. The machine was now in balance and although the tail carried a certain amount of weight, the machine was stable fore and aft.
   It became apparent that the boat tended to wallow in a following sea, and the bow was lengthened three feet. This modification improved the boat’s “performance on the water enormously.”
   A new type of wing tip float was tried. This floats bottom was double concave in section; the centreline of the keel was very low and pointed. “The result was that, even in a seaway, practically no shock was felt at all when the water struck the floats.” When lying on the water head to wing, the machine was stable and remained on an even keel with the wing tip floats clear of the water.
   The machine was fitted with conventional and servo-motor controls. The servo-motors gave trouble and thus hand control was used fairly frequently. “This meant considerable exertion on the part of the Pilot and prevented the machine being flown in bad weather for any length of time. After a time the servo-motors became fairly reliable and there was “no reason why this instrument should not become absolutely so.”
   The Green engine gave a good deal of trouble mostly due to the “very crude oiling system.” Eventually, the Green was replaced by a Rolls Royce engine and “from that day forward we had practically no engine trouble.”
   A very large vertical fin was required to compensate for the large amount of frontal side surface of the hull. One drawback of this was that the slipstream of the central engine acted obliquely on the fin and had a tendency to turn the machine. In order to eliminate this, two small rudders were fitted at first and while they were successful, Porte did not consider this a satisfactory arrangement and the fin was hinged and was controlled from the cockpit. “This proved successful.”
   The distance from the fuel tanks to the gravity tanks above the motors was about 15 feet and at first great difficulty was experienced in pumping fuel to these gravity tanks. “This was eventually overcome by putting the fan driven petrol pumps outside the hull at a level which brought these to within two feet of the bottom of the main tanks.”
   With the Green engine in the central position the speed was 60 knots, and on substitution of the Rolls Royce engine for the Green, and improving the streamlining generally of all mountings, radiators, etc., the speed was increased to 68 knots, without streamline bracing wires. Minimum speed was 47 knots with full load.
   No. 9800 the prototype Baby, was subject of an unusual experiment wherein a single-seat Bristol Scout C biplane, serial 3028 from HMS Vindex, was mounted on the top wing of the prototype Baby and air launched. This combination was undertaken to provide the fighter with a means of encountering the Zeppelins that were raiding England in 1916. The Porte flying boat with its long endurance would carry the scout on patrol until an airship was sighted whereupon the little fighter, that had an endurance of only two hours, would be launched to pursue and hopefully destroy the airship.
   The wheels of the Scout rested in two steel channels supported by the centre engine struts. The rear of the fuselage was held in place by a hinged steel frame supported by the back spar of the seaplane’s upper wing. “A “Rubery-Owen” slip was attached to the axle (of the Scout) and worked from the pilots seat.” A successful launch was made on 6 April 1916.
   Once the seaplane was in flight the engine of the Scout was run at full speed and the back frame pulled down and out of the way, the machine being supported only by the front wheels, and under control by the elevators. “When the pilot of the Scout (Flt Sub-Lt Day) was ready, he set his machine at five degrees inclination, and released the slip. The Scout immediately jumped up about 10 feet clear, and made off.” According to an eye-witness it took off “like a dove from a roof.”
   It had been recorded that only one air launch was carried out but another was recorded for 17 May 1916, with Sqn Commander Porte piloting the flying boat with Flt Lt Hope and two crew, and F/Lt M.J. Day in the Bristol Scout. This flight from Felixstowe was also successful, if indeed it was a second test, with the Scout being released at 1,000 feet over Harwich, from where it flew to a landing at Martlesham Heath. In the notes he penned to Maj Vernon’s Report Porte noted that a Sopwith Pup was launched. “This effort was most successful, the Scout releasing herself without any difficulty and flew back to land.” It is possible that Porte’s recollections are incorrect as no other reference to a Pup being launched has been found to date. Porte considered that it “would seem a great pity in the light of other experience that the scheme was never used in active service.”
   In a Report dated 27 July 1916, Porte gave the maximum speed as 68 knots and with a half load the machine could climb 6,000 feet in an hour. “These performances are not extremes and all the machines should be able to accomplish them.”
   A report on No. 9800 dated 25 November 1916, states that the seaplane had been reconstructed and fitted with 310-hp Sunbeam engines as left hand tractors and one 250-hp Rolls-Royce as a left hand pusher. This reconstruction is presumed to be that referred to above. On the first trial of the modified aircraft it was found that owing to the three engines revolving in the same direction “a blast was forced onto the tail fin and rudder which gave the machine a tendency to turn to the left. This tendency was so violent that it was practically impossible to overcome it by means of the rudder.” The central engine was replaced by a right hand pusher and with this change the machine was balanced directionally and was “now considered satisfactory.”
   Twenty Porte Babies were ordered on 16 February 1916, under contract C.P.104214/16 (serials 9801-9820) with the hulls being built by May, Harding and May of Southampton Water. The machines were assembled at Felixstowe and Killingholme. The engine mountings were the same as the modified prototype. At least ten of the flying boats and all of the hulls were completed. This number is confirmed by a note in a file describing the aircraft and seaplanes in use by the RNAS wherein it is noted that the Porte Baby had
   not proved as handy as the “Large America” type and no more are being ordered after the 10 on order are completed.
   While Rolls Royce engines were to be the standard installation, at least one of the production machines (9801) had a big water-cooled 260-hp Green V-12 as the central engine. With the Rolls Royce engines a total of up to 1,050 hp was available and the loading reduced to where a good performance was possible. One tested at the Isle of Grain gave a top speed of 76 knots.
   A letter in February 1917 discussed the policy of the RNAS and what types of operations could be carried out by the service noted that the RNAS required a Wing of long distance bombers to operate against blast furnaces supplying steel for submarine manufacture, while considering that operations with the BEF supporting the Army were “a purely military operation in no way connected with the Navy.” The commissioning of the Seaplane Carrier “Argus” was a high priority however notes indicate that it would not be ready by November 1917 as stated. Under the discussion of Large Seaplanes only two were mentioned, the Large America and the Porte Flying Boats. The Porte boats were described as
   large boats of 750 H.P.
   Radius of approximately 400 miles. Armament: Machine Gun with either a 6-pounder Davis Gun, or can befitted with 2-500 lb. bombs. Speed: 60 knots.
   Number in Commission: 2.
   Number erecting at Felixstowe and Killingholme 7 at approximate rate of one per week.
   Remaining on order: 11. Rate of delivery: one per week.
   These Large Boats require large sheds and heavy slipways and, at present, can only be accommodated at Killingholme and Felixstowe, and it is proposed to station ten at each place for extended patrol work. No more of these machines are being built, being superseded by large America Type.
   Although regular patrols were not attempted, they were flown operationally over the North Sea on the Spider Web patrols from Felixstowe and Killingholme from November 1916. E.M. Ackery was a Flt Sub-Lt in December 1916 when he was sent to Killingholme to learn to fly seaplanes. He remembered that the big Porte boats were used for patrolling the North Sea but he never saw one take off in his time at the station.
   On 1 October 1917, Baby No. 9810, piloted by Flt Cmdr N. Shoto Douglas with Flt Lt Basil D. Hobbs and four other crew members, was attacked by three German aircraft, two seaplanes and a landplane, near the North Hinder Light Vessel off the Dutch coast shortly after 4 pm.29 T.D. Hallam recorded the incident in his wonderful book, The Spider Web.
   Well on in 1917 sundry young pilots took the Porte Baby out for a joy-ride, and presently found themselves off the Belgian coast being attacked by a Hun land-machine and two fighter seaplanes. Two out of the three engines were shot about and the big boat had to come down on the water. The Huns circled around firing at it until their ammunition was exhausted, and then returned joyously to Zeebrugge to report the total destruction of a giant flying-boat.
   But while the tracer bullets were playing about, the crew were lying down in the bottom of the boat watching the splinters fly.
   When the Huns departed the crew repaired the engines, started them up, and all night long taxied on the water across the North Sea. The much-chastened pilots beached the boat, in the small hours of the morning, on the coast of England, near Orfordness. A sentry, believing, as he explained later, that at last an invasion of England by Zeppelin was being attempted, fired on them, but was eventually pacified. The crew arrived at the station very tired, very black, one of their number with a bullet hole in him, but cheerful.
   Hobbs had evaded the attacking enemy aircraft for about 20 minutes until the port and central engines suffered enemy fire and stopped, causing him to alight on the sea. Spikings had continued to keep up his fire despite being scalded when the engine near him had been set on fire. Once on the water the enemy machine gunned the boat wounding Davies, the W/T operator. Despite his injuries Spikings managed to work on the engines for several hours such that they were able to taxi towards the English coast. They managed to reach Sizewell Gap on the Suffolk coast from where they were towed back to Felixstowe. As a result of this attack the Babies were never again used where there was the risk of interception by enemy aircraft.
   This fight was the combat debut of the Brandenburg W.12. A sortie by three Friedrichshafen FF 33L, an Albatros W.4 and Brandenburg W.12 Marine Nummer 1183, left Zeebrugge at 1600 (German time). After one FF33L dropped out and alighted with engine trouble, another returned to summons help. The three remaining aircraft encountered the flying boat and attacked. The British crew probably misidentified the W.4 as a landplane due to its small size compared with the other two aircraft. The Germans claimed the British flying boat was shot down with bullets in its left engine and radiator. The W.12 was credited with the destruction of the flying boat, the pilot, Oberleutnant zur See Friedrich Christiansen, claiming his second victory. This was to be the start of the increasing activities of the Zeebrugge floatplanes and their Brandenburg biplanes and monoplanes against the British patrolling flying boats that lasted until the end of the war.
   Arnold D. Massey recorded that he had flown a Porte boat from Killingholme to Catfirth, about seven miles north of Lerwick. The hangar wasn’t ready and an 80 mph gale broke the upper wing extensions. “The plane never made a patrol up there as the replacement parts were never received.” This was 9807 that is recorded at Catfirth early in July 1917 and was deleted the following December.
   The servo motors were a constant source of trouble and even when they worked, the controls answered so slowly they were most tiring to fly in any but the calmest of weather. The fin corners broke on a number of occasions until they were strengthened.
   One of these Babys went to the Firth of Forth where she was out of action for several months due to engine trouble until the hull became waterlogged. Another got as far as the Orkneys where she broke free of her moorings and was blown ashore but without damage. She was refloated and continued to carry out patrols.
   “It was decided not to proceed further with the development of the type, as the water performance was much inferior to the Porte II, and the type of hull construction (was) weak.” The machine was slow and underpowered. It was hard to defend having a multitude of blind spots. While at least one had a Lewis gun on a gun ring in the forward cockpit, the majority were armed with Lewis guns firing through windows and ports. The prototype, No. 9800, had a Davis Gun fitted at one point but no record of its use has been discovered to date. The performance of the Baby would not have let it be an effective anti-Zeppelin weapon. Capt David Nicolson considered that although the Porte Baby “was constructed under the best conditions with respect to material and workmanship, they were inherently weak in the bottom, especially at the step, owing to the faulty design of the keel, which was of spruce, and very small in section at the tail.” Porte considered that the Baby had the most efficient planning hull built, but the shock of a seaway was too heavy to continue with this type of flying boat.
   When Ens Harold Mott Wilcox arrived in the United Kingdom in February 1918, he was assigned to Killingholme. There he discovered
   Porte Boats (3 motors, 175 foot wing span)m H-12s, F2as, 7BAs (sic), 260 and 310 Shorts, Sopwith Schneiders and Pups, Humber (sic) Babies, and six Morris Farnums (sic), about 300 in all.
   By this time the Baby would have been used only for instruction. Wilcox did not record any flights on the type.
   Two Babies were on charge of the RAF on 31 October 1918, while Hallan has recorded the hull of a third was used as the residence for WRNS motor drivers.
   When the Porte Baby was finally dismantled, her hull was placed in the grounds of a womans hostel, a door was cut in the side, electric light laid on, and four Wren motor-drivers found sufficient room inside to sling their hammocks, stow clothing, and room even for mirrors and powder puffs.

C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
Fully armed Baby 9810. This boat was in service with Eagle VIII engines by October 1917 when attacked by three German seaplanes near the North Hinder lightship. She survived and served for a full year before being deleted by the end of 1918.
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
The Porte Baby and Bristol Scout composite.
А.Шепс - Самолеты Первой мировой войны. Страны Антанты
Летающая лодка "Феликстоу" (Porte Baby) с установленным на верхнем крыле истребителем "Скаут"
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
The first Baby with three pusher engines and short bow. The outboard engines have a diamond shaped structure of struts at the rear for support. Note the three cut-outs in the rear of the upper and lower wings to allow for the propellers. One 300-hp Green and two 310-hp Sunbeam Cossacks. This was the appearance of the Curtiss "three motored America seaplanes which are doing such effective work in submarine hunting for Great Britain," in photographs published in magazines and journals of the time.
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
9800 with Davis gun mounted. Note how the rear cut-outs in the upper wing at the two outer engines have been filled in. The tonal values of the hull in this view are noteworthy. The cockades on the wings are well outboard and do not overlap the ailerons.
J.Bruce - British Aeroplanes 1914-1918 /Putnam/
Porte Baby with Davis gun mounted on bows.
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
Baby 9800 with short bow on the Felixstowe slipway. The cockade is marked well out on the upper wing (starboard only) and did not overlap onto the aileron. No cockade has been applied to the hull, nor have rudders stripes been added yet. The machine has had the engine layout changed to two tractors with a central pusher. The cut-outs in the upper wing have not been filled in at this time. Note the camouflaged hangars in the background. (Nicolas Cooper via SEAWINGS)
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
9800. The cut-out in the centre of the upper wing and small cockade are apparent in this view, (via H. Alderson)
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
9800 at a later stage with extended bow, dark hull, and large cockades that overlap the ailerons, rudder stripes and serial on fin. There is a cut-out in the upper wing centre section. The large aileron control horns stand out in this view.
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
Judging from the colour scheme and lack of national markings this Baby is 9800. The cut-outs in the wings have been filled in.
G.Duval - British Flying-Boats and Amphibians 1909-1952 /Putnam/
Baby prototype (No. 9800) on slipway.
J.Bruce - British Aeroplanes 1914-1918 /Putnam/
Porte Baby. The “composite” experiment, with the Bristol Scout C, No. 3028, on the upper wing of a Porte Baby flying boat. Porte thought that this method of attacking Zeppelins had great promise and it was "a great pity in the light of after experience that this scheme was not used in actual service."
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
Porte Baby prototype 9800 outside the camouflaged hangars at Felixstowe with another boat with an experimental hull in the background. Note the small cockade on the underside of the Baby's upper wing.
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
9802 under erection. (This photograph accompanied M. Sueter's report on the experimental work done by Porte at Felixstowe.) 9802 was delivered to Felixstowe for erection on 2 August 1916. By October 1917 it had two 320-hp Sunbeam tractors and a 250-hp Rolls Royce as the pusher engine. The machine was stored at Felixstowe around December and deleted in July 1918.
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
Baby 9805 has its cradle well marked. 9805 was sent to Killingholme for erection in December 1916. Forced to alight while on a flight to Dundee it was towed to Newton Bewith in May 1918 with a damaged starboard wing and float. It was deleted the following July.
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
Baby 9807 on its way to Scapa Flow, May 1918. Delivered to Killingholme for erection it was accepted for service in March 1917. Re-engined with Rolls Royce engines it served at Catfirth in July 1918 and was deleted in the week ending 19 September.
J.Bruce - British Aeroplanes 1914-1918 /Putnam/
The last Porte Baby, No. 9810, with improved engine installations and lengthened forebody.
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
9810 with gunner's cockpit in the bow. The upper surfaces of wings, tailplane and hull area dark colour. Note the neat light coloured (white) demarcation line along the edge of the fins to separate the top and bottom of the hull. It is assumed that the bottoms of the hulls would be painted with an anti-fouling paint. These photographs were taken at Dundee while en-route to Houton Bay. (via M. Tuckey)
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
Front view of 9810 at Felixstowe, 11 Jan 1918. Note large cockade only to starboard wing.
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
Baby 9810 in a hangar at Felixstowe. Note the wing of another Baby over the tailplane. The boats were moved into the hangar sideways in order to shelter as many as possible. 9810 was at Airco by February 1917. It is assumed that the flight organs were manufactured by Airco and the hulls by May, Harding and May. By October the machine had three Eagle VIII engines when it was forced to alight in the North Sea by hostile aircraft. Returned to service this boat survived until December 1918 when it was apparently stationed at the Isle of Grain..
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
A production Baby on the water with the king posts faired in as anti-skid fins and the engines covered. Only Felixstowe and Killingholme could provide hangars large enough to take the Baby.
O.Thetford - British Naval Aircraft since 1912 /Putnam/
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
Baby moored out to a buoy, (via P. London)
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
Unidentified Baby on slipway.
Журнал - Flight за 1916 г.
A Modern Battle-Cruiser of the Air. - The Curtiss "Super-America" flying boat, which is capable of rising from, and alighting on, very rough seas. It is equipped with three high-powered Curtiss motors.
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
The serial of this Baby cannot be determined. Note floatplanes in background, (via M.Tuckey)
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
This Killingholme Baby also has the nose gunner's position, however the serial cannot be read on the original photographs. Note the 520-lb bomb being installed under the port wing and the fuel pump propeller, (via M. Tuckey)
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
The original caption stated that this Baby was at Scarpa Flow in 1917. Unfortunately the serial cannot be made out on the original photograph.
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
The circumstances of this photograph are unknown but it is thought to have been taken post-war when the idea of a trans-Atlantic flight was once again on the agenda. Unfortunately the serial is obscured by the crude paintwork.
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
Hull of Baby 9800. Note the footsteps let into the hull just forward of the wing; the wing root attachment around the spars that pass through the hull. There is a cut out in the upper decking of the hull behind the cockpit. This is shown on drawing T.902 of 9800's hull, but does not appear on production Babys.
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
More views of the hull of Baby 9800 showing additional details. Above shows the Davis gun mount.
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
Uncovered Baby lower wing. The solid compression ribs are well shown. (This selection of photographs accompanied M. Sueter's report on the experimental work done by Porte at Felixstowe.)
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
Solid compression rib of Baby wing.
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
Cockpit of Porte Baby 9810 (Source: Secret Technical Information, 15 May 1918).
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
9807 after suffering major damage to the wing extensions in a gale at Catfirth in the Shetland Islands on 14 June 1918.
Журнал - Flight за 1918 г.
American aeroplane types of 1917-18: Curtiss 3-engine Cruiser.
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
Hull Comparison of RNAS Flying Boats
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)
C.Owers - The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI Vol.1 /Centennial Perspective/ (22)