The background to this light four seat twin-engine touring aircraft reflects two commercial relationships.
The first was the association between Sir Henry Segrave (holder of the world’s land speed record) and Saunders Roe Aircraft Ltd (SARO). The second was that between SARO and the Blackburn Aeroplane Company. Sir Henry was the Technical Director of the Aircraft Investment Corporation (AIC), who originated the design as the Segrave Meteor.
Detailed development and prototype construction was entrusted to Saunders-Roe Ltd, within who AIC had financial interests. Based on the Isle of Wight, it was SARI who eventually built the prototype Saro-Segrave Meteor (G-AAXP) at Cowes, where it was first flown on 28th May 1930.
In the late 1920s however, Blackburn Aircraft Company had produced the Blackburn Bluebird as a direct competitor to the De Havilland DH60G Gipsy Moth. However, the pressure and demand of military work led to Blackburn sub-contracting SARO for the production of the Blackburn Bluebird IV, of which they built at least 55 aircraft.
Despite this, it was agreed that production of the Segrave Meteor (later Blackburn Segrave I) would be undertaken by Blackburn Aircraft Company. They undertook the construction which featured one major design change for the production machine, that being the introduction of a metal stressed-skin fuselage in place of the prototype’s wooden fuselage.
Blackburn began production of three aircraft (G-ABFP, G-ABFR and G-ABZJ) but the program received a serious blow with the tragic death of Sir Henry Segrave on Lake Windermere on 13th June 1930, as a result of an accident in his speedboat Miss England II.
The prototype Blackburn CA18 Segrave I (G-AAXP) still took part in the 1930 King’s Cup Race, although it was forced to retire with engine trouble. It raced again in 1932, but this time it was let down on the second day by a broken fuel pipe whilst competing at Filton. It was then flown to Rome for sales demonstrations which resulted in a contract for licensed production by Piaggio, who are reported to have completed two aircraft as the Piaggio P.12.
One of the production aircraft (G-ABFP) was delivered in March 1931, and after touring Spain it returned to Brough to have a new tailplane fitted. During flying tests it was authorised with a Class B registration (B-1).
During 1933, a new owner flew it as far as Nairobi, returning to the UK in October whereafter it was subsequently used by Blackburn Aircraft Company for further testing after being fitted with two 120 hp Cirrus Hermes IVA engines.
Another of the production aircraft (G-ABFR) was first flown on 26th April 1932 and transferred to North Sea Aerial & General Transport Ltd, before moving to Redhill Flying Club in May 1936. It remained with them until being withdrawn from use in February 1938.
The third production aircraft (G-ABZJ) remained incomplete until Blackburn decided to use it to test a new form of monospar wing construction with a tubular spar, known as the Duncanson wing. The new wing featured an increased taper when compared with the original. Part of the spar also served as a fuel tank.
The wing resulted in a significant reduction in empty weight.
As a result, this final aircraft (now known as the Blackburn CA20 Segrave II and re-registered G-ACMI) was fitted with two Gipsy major engines and a fifth seat, all achieved without any increase in gross weight. It was first flown on 2nd February 1934, but had a relatively short life before being broken up in October 1935.
The Duncanson wing was intended for use on the Blackburn B-9 or HST 10 as it is oftn known.
Variants & Number Built
|Prototype||G-AAXP Saro Seagrave Meteor|
|Seagrave I||Two production aircraft, G-ABFP, G-ABFR|
|Seagrave II||Started build as Seagrave I G-ABZJ; completed with Duncanson monspar wing as G-ACMI.|
|Piaggio P.12||Licence build of Saro Seagrave Meteor. Two aircraft reported to have flown.|
|Total||3 in UK, 2 in Italy|
|Saro Seagrave Meteor||Seagrave I||Seagrave II|
|Powerplant||Two 120 hp De Havilland Gipsy II||Two 130hp DH Gipsy Major|
|Span||39 ft 6 in||41 ft 6 in|
|Maximum Weight||2,948 lb||3,300 lb||3,300 lb|
|Capacity||Four seats||Five seats|
|Maximum Speed||132 mph||138 mph||142 mph|
|Cruise speed||110 mph||112 mph||120 mph|
|Range normal (max)||340 (450) miles||300 miles|