The Austin-Ball A.F.B.1 was a British fighter plane of World War I built by car manufacturer Austin with input from Britain's leading fighter ace at the time, Albert Ball. Ball's father, Albert Ball Sr., was on the Board of Directors of Austin, and used his influence on behalf of his son to have the ace's sketches and specifications considered by the company. Young Albert Ball's design ideas were taken from the Nieuport that he was flying at the time. Actual design of the craft was by C. H. Brooks.
It was a biplane of largely conventional configuration with unstaggered, equal-span wings. The top wing was attached to the upper fuselage, granting the pilot excellent visibility on all sides and above. The armament was unusual: the fixed, forward-firing Lewis gun fired through the hollow propeller shaft; but its muzzle was located aft of the powerplant. A second Lewis gun with an upwards firing arc was mounted on the upper wing. This weapon, combined with the excellent topside visibility was well-suited to Ball's favoured method of attack, from below the enemy.
Only a single prototype was built. Although the fighter promised excellent performance, the SE.5a was already in production, and the A.F.B.1 would have competed with it for production facilities (Austin was a major SE.5a contractor) and engines (since both fighters used the Hispano-Suiza 8). Moreover, Ball had already been killed in action by the time the aircraft was ready for its first flight on 1 June 1917.
The Avro 529 was a twin-engined biplane long-range bomber of the First World War. Two prototypes were built but no production ensued.
The Avro 529 was Avro's second twin-engined aircraft and their second attempt at a heavy bomber. Their first in both categories was the Pike, developed in early 1916 to Royal Flying Corps (RFC) guidelines for a short-range bomber. The Pike arrived too late to secure orders from the RFC who would order the Handley-Page O/100 and for the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) who had ordered the Short Bomber. Nonetheless, after trials of the Pike, the Admiralty ordered two prototypes of an enlarged Pike for a long range bomber role. This was the Type 529.
Like the Pike, it was a large twin-engined biplane of the then-standard wood and canvas construction. It had three-bay wings without sweepback, dihedral or stagger, partly to facilitate wing folding. The vertical tail was different to that of the Pike: it had a small, roughly triangular fin and a rudder with a round balance surface above the fin, a reminder of Avro's "comma" rudder form.
The fuselage was rectangular in cross-section and seated three in separate cockpits. The pilot sat just forward of the wing leading edge, there was a gunner's position (with emergency dual control) mid-way between the trailing edge and the tail and the front gunner/bomb-aimer's position was in the nose. Both gunners' positions were provided with a 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis Gun mounted on a Scarff ring. The landing gear used two main wheels on split axles, plus a tail-skid.
The two prototypes differed from each other chiefly in their powerplants. The first, just known as the Avro 529 had a pair of uncowled Rolls-Royce Falcon water-cooled in-line engines mounted midway between the wings. Each produced 190 hp (140 kW) and drove four-bladed, opposite-handed wooden airscrews. It carried 140 gal (636 L) of fuel in a tank in the centre fuselage.
The second machine, designated Type 529A had a pair 230 hp (170 kW) BHP in-line water-cooled engines, cowled and mounted in nacelles on the lower wing. These drove wooden, two-bladed airscrews. In this aircraft fuel was held in a pair of 60 gal (273 L), one in each nacelle. Fuel was pumped from these to 10 gal (45 L) tanks above the engines by wind-driven pumps, and fed to the motors under gravity.
The type 529A had slightly different wings to the first prototype, 13 in (33 cm) greater in span, smaller in area and hence of higher aspect ratio. It was about 8% lighter.
Another difference between the two prototypes were the arrangements for the bomb-aimer. In the first machine, this was done from the seat of the front cockpit, but in the 529A there was provision for a prone bomb-aimer's position with a small window, noticeable in side view. From there, he communicated with the pilot by Gosport tube. The 529A could carry 20 50 lb (20 kg) bombs racked nose up inside the fuselage between the lower wing spars.
The Type 529 was, even with the B.H.P. engines rather low powered, but seems to have handled well apart from poor elevator control. There was no production order and the type was not developed further.
Of relatively clean aerodynamic design by contemporary standards and featuring a ducted propeller spinner, the Avro 530 two-seat fighter was designed in 1916 to compete with the Bristol F.2A, but the first prototype was not flown until July 1917. Powered by a 200hp Hispano- Suiza 8Bd eight-cylinder water-cooled engine, the Avro 530 was of wooden construction with fabric skinning, and mounted an armament of a single fixed and synchronised 7.7mm Vickers gun, a Lewis gun of similar calibre being mounted on a Scarff ring in the rear cockpit. Although performance of the Avro 530 proved to be good, it did not improve sufficiently on that of the Bristol F.2A to warrant production orders. Furthermore, priority in the supply of the Hispano- Suiza engine was being given to the S.E.5a. During 1918, one of the two Avro 530 prototypes was flown with a 200hp Sunbeam Arab engine, revised undercarriage, an extended tail fin and flapless wings of new section with long-span ailerons, but development was subsequently
The Beardmore W.B.IV was a British single-engine biplane ship-based fighter of World War I developed by William Beardmore and Company. Only one was built.
The W.B.IV was designed to meet Admiralty Specification N.1A for a naval land or ship based fighter aircraft. The design was dominated by the demands of safely ditching and remaining afloat, with a large permanent flotation chamber built into the fuselage under the nose. The pilot was in a watertight cockpit over the propeller shaft, with the Hispano-Suiza V-8 engine behind him over the center of gravity of the aircraft. The entire undercarriage could be released from the plane for water landings. The wing tips were fitted with additional floats, while the aircraft's two-bay wings could fold for storage on board ship.
The single prototype first flew at Beardmore's Dalmuir factory on 12 December 1917, being delivered for evaluation at Martlesham Heath in July 1918. The W.B.IV had poorer performance than the much simpler and smaller Sopwith 2F.1 Camel and was not developed further.The sole prototype was lost when it sank during ditching.
The Blackburn Triplane was a single-engine pusher single-seater, designed specifically to attack Zeppelins. It flew in 1917, but was not successful.
The Triplane was the third unsuccessful attempt at an anti-Zeppelin fighter that involved Blackburn. The first was Blackburn's own Twin Blackburn and the second the AD Scout, Blackburn building two of the four machines of this type to an Air Department of the Admiralty design. In 1916, the Scout's designer, Harris Booth moved to Blackburn where he created a heavily-revised aircraft, the Triplane.
The layout of both Scout and Triplane was determined largely by the Admiralty requirement to carry a quick-firing, recoilless Davis gun that used 2 lb (1 kg) shells. At the time, there was no way of synchronising such a weapon with the propeller, or of mounting it elsewhere than the fuselage, so a pusher configuration was necessary, the pilot sitting in a nacelle with the gun in its nose.
In order to make the aircraft more manoeuvrable and in particular to increase its roll rate, a triplane configuration was chosen. This provided about the same total wing area as that of the biplane Scout with a lower moment of inertia about the roll axis. The Triplane had single-bay wings with heavy stagger and carrying six ailerons. The lower wing was close to the ground so two underwing skids were added below the interplane struts. The mid-line of the nacelle, with the engine at its rear, was on the centre plane, giving the pilot a slightly less good view than from the Scout.
Four parallel tail booms ran aft, two from the mid-span of the upper wing and the others from the lower wing. These four members carried the tail. The tailplane, mounted on the upper booms and bearing a full-width elevator, had a span of 18 ft 10 in (5.74 m), no less than 78% of the wingspan. A pair of fin and rudders joined the upper and lower booms, a height of about 7 ft 6 in (2.3 m). The "reversed" undercarriage of the Scout was abandoned and the main wheels were mounted on a single axle supported by two pairs of struts to the nacelle. Though photographs show the gun port, the gun itself was probably never fitted.
The Triplane first flew with a 110 hp (80 kW) Clerget rotary engine driving a four-blade, 8 ft (2.46 m) diameter airscrew, then later with a 100 hp (75 kW) Gnome with a two-blade propeller.
Only one was built. It was accepted by the Admiralty on 20 February 1917, but was rapidly found wanting like the Scout before it. It was struck off charge just a month later, the only Blackburn triplane and the last of their attempts to build an anti-Zeppelin fighter.
The Mann Egerton Type H, also known as the Mann Egerton H.2, was an unsuccessful British ship-borne fighter aircraft designed in 1916.
The Type H was the first original design by Mann Egerton, and was designed by J W Carr according to Air Ministry specification N.1a in 1916. Its biplane wings could be folded manually (a feature first introduced in 1913 on the Short Folder), due to its intended use as a naval fighter. Other features of the design were the use of flotation chambers and a float attached to the underside of the fuselage for extra buoyancy. An innovation was that the undercarriage could be jettisoned if the aircraft needed to land on water. However, in autumn 1917, the aircraft failed flotation tests, and a new aircraft prototype, the Type H Mk II was developed.
This aircraft had inflatable flotation bags in place of the large float on the Mk I, a more conventional undercarriage and a horn-balanced rudder. This aircraft was tested in December 1917, however it was determined as unfit for production in the Fleet Air Arm and further development was discontinued.
Shortly after the Depot initiated work on the P.V.4, it was asked to develop a single-seat fighter seaplane also capable of performing light bombing tasks with two internally-stowed 30kg bombs. To meet this requirement, two different aircraft were designed and built, the P.V.5 and the P.V.5a. The former was developed from the P.V.2bis and employed a similar sesquiplane wing cellule devoid of flying wires and braced by struts to the float undercarriage. The wings employed a high-lift aerofoil section, the armament comprised a single synchronised 7.7mm machine gun plus the two 30kg bombs specified and power was provided by a 150hp Hispano- Suiza engine. Fitted with pontoon-type floats rather than the Linton Hope floats for which it had been designed, the P.V.5 was flight tested in mid-1917 with promising results, but the original requirement had been overtaken and development was discontinued.
The Port Victoria P.V.7 Grain Kitten was a prototype British Fighter aircraft of the First World War designed and built by the Port Victoria Marine Experimental Aircraft Depot on the Isle of Grain. A very small and light biplane intended to fly off platforms on Royal Navy Destroyers, it was unsuccessful, only a single prototype being built.
Following Royal Navy experience in operating land planes from platforms on ships, in late 1916, the British Admiralty came up with the idea of a lightweight fighter aircraft, capable of flying off short platforms on the forecastle of Destroyers in order to provide large numbers of aircraft at sea capable of intercepting and destroying German Airships. It therefore instructed the Marine Aircraft Experimental Department at Port Victoria on the Isle of Grain, and the RNAS Experimental Flight at Eastchurch to each produce a design to meet this requirement.
The Port Victoria aircraft, designed by W.H. Sayers, was designated P.V.7. It was a very small single bay tractor biplane, of sesquiplane configuration, with its lower wing much smaller than its upper wing. The wings featured the same high-lift section as used in previous Port Victoria aircraft, and were fitted with ailerons only on the upper wing. It was intended, as was the competing Eastchurch design, to use a 45 hp (34 kW) geared ABC Gnat two cylinder air-cooled engine. Armament was a single Lewis gun mounted above the upper wing.
While the Port Victoria design was design and built, the commander of the Experimental flight as Eastchurch, Harry Busteed took over command of the Port Victoria Marine Aircraft Experimental Department, taking the designer of the Eastchurch competior and the part built prototype with him to the Isle of Grain, with the Eastchurch design gaining the Port Victoria designation P.V.8. The P.V.7 acquired the name Grain Kitten to distinguish it from the P.V.8, which was named the Eastchurch Kitten.
The P.V.7 first flew on 22 June 1917, powered by a 35 hp (26 kW) ungeared Gnat engine, as the geared engine was unavailable. The P.V.7 proved to be tail heavy in the air and difficult to handle on the ground, with its sesquiplane layout and high lift wings being considered unsuitable for such a small aircraft. The Gnat engine proved to be extremely unreliable, with test flights being forced to remain within gliding distance of an airfield.
When the P.V.8 first flew in September, it proved superior, although similarly hamstrung by the 35 hp Gnat. The P.V.7 was rebuilt with new wings of conventional aerofoil section, a modified tail and a new undercarriage to eliminate some of the problems found in testing. The low power and unreliability of the Gnat, however, prevented either aircraft being suitable for the intended use, and the P.V.7 was not flown after it was rebuilt.
The Port Victoria P.V.8 Eastchurch Kitten was a prototype British fighter aircraft of the First World War designed and built by the Port Victoria Marine Experimental Aircraft Depot on the Isle of Grain. It was a small and light biplane with a conventional wheeled undercarriage intended to operate from platforms on small ships, but while it had good handling, an unreliable and underpowered engine meant that the aircraft did not enter production, only the one prototype being built.
In 1916, the British Admiralty produced a requirement for a small single seater fighter landplane intended to fly off short platforms on the forecastle of the Royal Navy's Destroyers and other small ships to provide a widely distributed airship interceptor. Orders were placed with the RNAS Experimental Flight at Eastchurch and the Marine Aircraft Experimental Department at Port Victoria on the Isle of Grain for single prototypes to meet this requirement.
G.H. Millar, the chief technical officer of the Eastchurch flight, designed a small, angular, single-bay biplane, named the Eastchurch Kitten, powered by the required 45 hp (34 kW) ABC Gnat engine. It was larger and heavier than the Isle of Grain design, with equi-span upper and lower wings, which had bracing wires that ran from the wings through the undercarriage axle to the opposite wing. Initially it had no fixed horizontal tailplane, being fitted with a balanced elevator. Armament was a single Lewis gun mounted to the top wing.
The Eastchurch Kitten was part built when Harry Busteed, the commander of the Eastchurch Experimental Flight, was posted to the Isle of Grain to take command of the Marine Aircraft Experimental Department, taking Millar and the part built Eastchurch Kitten with him to Port Victoria for completion.
The Eastchurch Kitten was given the designation P.V.8, with the competing Port Victoria designed P.V.7, named the Grain Kitten, flying first in June 1917. The Eastchurch Kitten did not fly until 7 September 1917, powered by a 35 hp (26 kW) ungeared Gnat engine, as the originally planned engine was unavailable. After this first flight, when it was found to be unstable, it was fitted with a small fixed tailplane with revised elevators. Thus modified, it had superior performance and handling to the Grain Kitten, but was similarly plagued by the terrible unreliability of the Gnat. Official testing praised the view for the pilot and the handling but considered the aircraft too fragile for regular use.
No orders followed, with adapted versions of the Sopwith Camel, operating both from aircraft carriers and from lighters towed behind destroyers being used instead. The Eastchurch Kitten was packed for dispatch to the United States of America in March 1918 for evaluation, but it is uncertain whether it was actually dispatched.
The Port Victoria P.V.9 was a British single-seat biplane floatplane fighter of the First World War. Although claimed to be the best aircraft of its type yet to be tested, only a single prototype was built.
In mid-1917, the RNAS Marine Experimental Aircraft Depot at Port Victoria on the Isle of Grain was instructed to build a new single-seat floatplane fighter as a possible replacement for the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS)'s Sopwith Babys. The new aircraft was to combine the good manoeuvrability and pilot view of Port Victoria's earlier P.V.2 floatplane with superior speed.
Like the P.V.2, the new design, the Port Victoria P.V.9 was a single-engined sesquiplane (i.e. a biplane with its lower wing much smaller than its upper wing) braced with faired steel tubes. The fuselage, wider than that of the P.V.2, was mounted between the upper and lower wings, almost filling the inter-wing gap, giving an excellent view for the pilot. Armament was a Vickers machine gun synchronised to fire through the propeller disc, with a Lewis gun mounted above the upper wing firing over the propeller. Power was provided by a Bentley BR1 rotary engine. While the designers had hoped to use the same high-lift aerofoil section as used in the P.V.2, this was rejected by the Admiralty, who demanded the use of the more conventional RAF 15 aerofoil, which resulted in a larger aircraft with a reduced climb rate and ceiling.
The P.V.9 made its maiden flight in December 1917, but trials were delayed by engine troubles and by a collision of the aircraft with a barge, which resulted in a propeller not matched properly to the aircraft being fitted, further reducing performance. Despite this, when the P.V.9 was officially tested in May 1918, the P.V.9 was said to be the best seaplane fighter tested up to that time. No production followed, however, as the availability of Sopwith Pup and Camel landplanes which could operate from platforms aboard ships, removed the requirement for a floatplane fighter.
The Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.9 was a prototype British two seat fighter-reconnaissance aircraft of the First World War. A single-engined pusher biplane of 1917, the F.E.9 had poor performance and handling, and only three were built.
In summer 1916, the Royal Aircraft Factory set out to design a replacement for its F.E.2b two-seat pusher fighter. The F.E.9 was of similar pusher configuration and therefore already obsolescent by the time it appeared in 1917. Although effective gun synchronising gear was now available, which would allow a tractor design with superior performance to be designed, the factory chose to continue the pusher layout of the F.E.2 in its new two seat fighter, the F.E.9. Emphasis was placed in the design upon providing the gunner with a good field of fire and the pilot a good all-round view. Its nacelle extended well forward of the wings and was located high up in the wing gap to give a good field of fire for the observer, who was seated in the nose, ahead of the pilot, with dual controls fitted. It had unequal span, single-bay wings, with ailerons on the upper wing only with large horn balances (the amount of control surface forward of the hinge). It was powered by a 200 hp (149 kW) Hispano-Suiza 8 V8 engine, with the Royal Aircraft Factory having priority for this important and widely used engine.
Three prototypes and 24 production aircraft were ordered, with the first of three prototypes flying in April 1917. It was found to have a poor climb performance and handling, with the ailerons being overbalanced, which tended to force the aircraft onto its back in steep turns. In order to try and solve its handling problems it was fitted with various designs of aileron and rudders.
After service trials of the first prototype in France, Major General Hugh Trenchard recommended that development be stopped, despite this the second prototype flew in October 1917, with two-bay wings, which was passed to No. 78 Squadron based at Biggin Hill in the Home Defence role. The third prototype appeared in November 1917, and was used for trials at Farnborough until early 1918.
Although the 24 production aircraft were not completed, the F.E.9 did form the basis for the later N.E.1 night fighter and A.E.3 Ram ground attack aircraft.
The Vickers F.B.24 was a British two-seat fighter aircraft of the First World War. Only a few prototypes were built, as although it had good performance, the Bristol F.2 Fighter was preferred.
In the early years of the First World War, Vickers Limited designed a number of aircraft to use the 150 hp (112 kW) Hart radial engine, the development of which was being funded by Vickers, including two single seat fighters, the F.B.12 pusher and the tractor F.B.16. A third design planned to use the Hart was the F.B.24, a two seat fighter reconnaissance aircraft.
The Hart engine proved to be unreliable, however, and was abandoned prior to the first prototype being completed in December 1916, and it became necessary to find a new powerplant for the F.B.24, with the Hispano-Suiza 8 being chosen. The first two prototypes, the F.B.24A and F.B.24B used a 150 hp Hispano-Suiza, with the first probably flying in March 1917. but were converted to use a 200 hp (149 kW) Hispano-Suiza, becoming the F.B.24D. The F.B.24D was a two-bay biplane with a rectangular section fuselage. The pilot and observer/gunner sat close together in separate open cockpits, with the pilot directly under the upper wings. Despite transparent panels built into the upper wings, the pilots view was very poor.
The F.B.24C was similar to the Hispano-Suiza powered aircraft, but was slightly larger and heavier, and was powered by a 275 hp (205 kW) Lorraine Deitrich 8Bd water cooled V-8, with the cylinder blocks being enclosed in bulky fairings that protruded from the upper corners of the cowling, further restricting the pilot's view. The type was tested by the French, and although Vickers claimed good performance, the French found the aircraft's climb performance was not as claimed by Vickers, and the type was not adopted. The F.B.24E was an attempt to improve the poor view for the pilot, with the fuselage being raised so that the top was level with the upper wing, and the pilot sitting with his head protuding through the gap between the two wing spars.
The final version was the F.B.24G. This was of similar layout to the F.B.24E, but was larger still, and was powered by a 375 hp (280 kW) Lorraine Dietrich V12 engine single example was built by Darracq in France, not flying until after the end of the war.
The Vickers F.B.26 Vampire was a British single-seat biplane pusher fighter built by Vickers during the First World War. Four were built by Vickers at Bexleyheath, one of these was subsequently modified to become the F.B.26A.
The design was a development of the earlier Vickers F.B.12 prototypes; it was a single-bay biplane with a nacelle for the pilot and armament of two .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis Guns. Behind this was a water-cooled 200 hp (150 kW) Hispano-Suiza engine driving the propeller. The tailplane was a boom-mounted single rudder.
From an initial two Lewis guns, the planned effectiveness of the armament was increased; firstly by adding flexibility in elevation, then by addition of an extra gun. With three guns capable of firing up at a 45° angle, the FB.26 was thought able to engage enemy bombers from below.
The FB.26 was passed to Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Martlesham Heath for evaluation and then to No. 141 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps in February 1918 with the service name "Vampire". From their evaluation, it was concluded that it was unsuitable as a fighter for Home Defence. Plans were made to try it as a ground attack aircraft, the Vampire II with a 230 hp (170 kW) Bentley rotary engine, but the war ended before work was completed.