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Type I
Role sports
National origin United Kingdom
Manufacturer Blackburn Aeroplane Co
Designed by Robert Blackburn
First flight August 1913
Retired 1915
Number built 3
Developed from Blackburn Type D

The Blackburn Type I was a single-engine civil two-seat monoplane built in Britain just before the First World War. Three were produced and used for flying demonstrations and training including seaplane pilotage.

Contents

Development

The first Type I[1][2] was built to the order of M.G. Christie as a two-seat version of the Type D. It was of identical construction to its predecessor but naturally longer to accommodate the extra seat, of greater span and with a modified fin and undercarriage. Both the passenger and pilot sat in a common extended cockpit, the former in front and over the centre of gravity so the aircraft could be flown by the pilot alone. For the first time, a Blackburn aircraft had the standard modern control combination of rudder bar and a column that moved fore and aft for pitch control. This column carried a wheel to control wing warping. The wings, braced from the undercarriage and from an inverted-V kingpost had the slightly rounded form of the modified Type D. The fin was shorter and less swept, not reaching the forward edge of the tailplane. The forward struts of the undercarriage were now forward sloping.[1]

The extra weight required more power, so a 80 hp (60 kW) Gnome rotary was fitted, with an aluminium cowling surrounding all but the lower 135° of the engine.[1]

The Type I first flew on or shortly after 14 August 1913 from the Yorkshire Aerodrome, Leeds. After the “Roses Races” described below, the cowling was modified with holes for carburettor air, and in December 1913, the double cockpit was converted into two by sheet-metal decking.[1]

A second Type I was built as a single-seater with a freight compartment in place of the passenger’s seat. It was externally distinguished by a single streamlined king post and by the absence of cowling in front of the engine. Surprisingly, this aircraft reverted to the “triple steering wheel” control of the Blackburn Second Monoplane.[1]

Since these two Type I machines had flown rather well, Blackburn produced the Improved Type I first seen[3] at the Olympia Aero show in March 1914. Its forward fuselage was deeper, the engine almost fully cowled and the leading edge of the tailplane cut back to meet the fin. It flew sometime before 9 July 1914.[1]

This machine was modified in 1915 as a seaplane trainer, just 1 ft (31 cm) longer than the landplane. It now had a 100 hp (75 kW) uncowled Anzani radial engine and dual control. Twin main floats were supplemented with a small tail float. It was known as the Land/Sea monoplane, and could have exchanged its floats for wheels in a few minutes but was never called to do so. It first flew in this guise on 26 October 1915.[1]

Operational history

The Type I was initially used in a mixed programme of demonstration flights by Harold Blackburn[4]and cross-country training flights, visiting Yorkshire towns, with him and the owner together. Blackburn had their first racing success with the Yorkshire built Type I in a 100 mi (160 km) circuit via York, Doncaster, Sheffield, Barnsley and home to Leeds against the Lancastrian Avro 504 prototype for a “Wars of the Roses” Cup[5] sponsored by the Yorkshire Evening News on 2 October 1913. Both aircraft carried passengers. In June, the aircraft was flying at Blackpool and on 22 July 1914, Harold Blackburn inaugurated the first scheduled service in Britain with flights every ½ hour between Leeds and Bradford. This machine and an early Avro 504 bought to form a circus were commandeered by the Government on the outbreak of war and only narrowly escaped destruction by fire in Harrogate, supposedly at the hands of German saboteurs.

The second Type I was flown by Harold Blackburn through the winter of 1913-4. A trip from York to Leeds in fog, rain and gales brought out a crowd estimated at 10,000. 29 March to 4 April 1914 was Sheffield Aviation Week, sponsored by the Sheffield Independent from where the Type I delivered the early edition of that paper on the last day to Chesterfield, some 16 mi (26 km) south. This aircraft also featured at the Yorkshire Show that year, but was later written off in York.[1]

The Improved Type I was also commandeered by the Government at the start of the war, but having no military potential was sold to the Northern Aircraft Co. at Lake Windermere, successors to the Lakes Flying Co. as the Land/Sea monoplane. Large numbers of RNAS pilots experienced their initial seaplane training on this aircraft before it capsized on 1 April 1916.[1]

Variants

  • Type I: original two seat development of Type D. Two built, minor differences.
  • Improved Type I: revised cowling and tailplane, other minor differences. One built.
  • Land/sea monoplane: Improved Type I machine fitted with floats, dual control and 100 hp (75 kW) Anzani engine.

Specifications (Type I)

Data from Jackson 1968, p. 93

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1/2
  • Length: 28 ft 6 in (8.69 m)
  • Wingspan: 38 ft 0 in (11.58 m)
  • Wing area: 252 ft² (23.4 m²)
  • Empty weight: 950 lb (430 kg)
  • Gross weight: 1,500 lb (680 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Gnome et Rhône 7 cylinder rotary, 80 hp (60 kW)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 70 mph (113 km/h)
  • Endurance: 4 hours
  • Rate of climb: 700 ft/min (3.6 m/s)

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Jackson 1968, pp. 89–93
  2. ^ Flight 27 December 1913
  3. ^ Flight 28 March 1914
  4. ^ Harold Blackburn was no relation of the constructor, but had been manager at the Blackburn School of Flying after it moved from Filey to Hendon. He became M.G.Christie's personal pilot after the school closed in mid-1912
  5. ^ Flight 11 October 1913
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