The Blackburn Aircraft Company Blackburn B-5 (also known as the Blackburn T.8) was a two-seat torpedo-bomber aircraft. It was essentially an updated Blackburn T5 Ripon II fitted with a Bristol Pegasus air-cooled radial engine, rather than the liquid-cooled Napier Lion of the Ripon II. The airframe however, was essentially identical to that of the Blackburn Ripon, being a large single-bay biplane with folding wings.
The Blackburn B-5 had its origins in two private venture prototypes: the Blackburn B-4, fitted with a 650hp Armstrong Siddeley Tiger I two-row radial and the Blackburn B-5, fitted with a single-row 545hp Bristol Pegasus I.MS. Both prototypes were built in September 1932, designated the Blackburn T.5J Ripon V, which was to become the preferred production configuration, which was first flown on 30th September 1932.
The two prototypes were evaluated at Martlesham Heath in February 1933, resulting in the selection of the Pegasus-powered aircraft for production, the official name Blackburn Baffin being adopted.
Production aircraft were fitted with either the 565hp Bristol Pegasus I.M3 or 580hp Pegasus II.M3 engine (Blackburn T.8A Baffin).
Production at Brough initially comprised:
- 2 Pre-production aircraft built to Specification 4/33 (K3589 and K3590)
- 4 Blackburn Ripon IIC, held in store and converted to Blackburn Baffin
- 14 aircraft ordered as Blackburn Ripon IIC and converted to Blackburn Baffin on the production line;
- 10 new-build Blackburn T.8 Baffin (K4071 – K4080)
- 3 aircraft built as Blackburn T.8A Baffin to Specification 17/34.
In addition, 38 Blackburn Ripon IIA and 26 Blackburn Ripon IIC aircraft were withdrawn from service and returned to Brough for reconditioning and conversion to Blackburn Baffin.
Therefore, total production comprised:
- 2 Blackburn T.5J Ripon V prototypes,
- 2 Pre-production aircraft
- 13 new-build Blackburn Baffin aircraft
- 82 Blackburn Ripon IIA or IIC conversions,
99 aircraft in total
The Blackburn Baffin was armed with a single fixed, forward-firing machine gun and a defensive Lewis gun fired from the rear cockpit. Additional weapons carried included an 1,800 lb Mk VIII or Mk X torpedo, or a typical bomb load of around 1,600 lb.
With the Blackburn Shark prototype B-6 having flown in August 1933, the Blackburn Baffin had a short service life, being operated from January 1934, until being declared obsolete at the start of September 1937. The type was operated by only three squadrons, these being No 810, No 811 and No 812 Squadrons.
After withdrawal from Fleet Air Arm Service, a total of 29 surplus aircraft were supplied to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (NZAF), receiving serials NZ150 – NZ178. During the Second World War, the RNZAF aircraft were used for general reconnaissance duties, remaining in service at least into 1941.
Variants & Number Built
Prototypes (Ripon V)
2 Blackburn B-4 with 650hp Armstrong Siddeley Tiger I engine or
B-5 545hp Bristol Pegasus I.MS
|2 (K3589 and K3580)|
|T.8 production (stored Ripon IIC conversions)||4 aircraft (K2884 - K2887) with a 565hp Pegasus I.M3 engine|
|T.8 production Ripon IIC (completed as Baffin)||14 aircraft (K3456 - K3559)|
|10 aircraft (K4071 - K4080)|
|3 aircraft (K4776 - K4778) with a 580hp Pegasus II.M3 engine|
|T.8 production Ripon IIA (conversions)||38 aircraft returned to works for upgrade and conversion|
|T.8 production Ripon IIC (conversions)||26 aircraft returned to works for upgrade and conversion|
|Total production||99 aircraft|
|Powerplant||One 565 hp Bristol Pegasus I.M3 radial engine|
|Span||44 ft 10 in|
|Maximum Weight||7,610 lb|
|Capacity & Armament||Two crew; one forward-firing Vickers gun, rear Vickers K gun in rear cockpit; one 1,800 lb Mk VIII or Mk X torpedo or 1,600 lb bomb load.|
|Maximum Speed||136 mph at 6,500 ft|