Blackburn Type L inside Olympia Works Leeds
The Blackburn Type L was the first aircraft to be built in the Olympia Works, Leeds.
The Blackburn Type L was a conventional, unequal-span two-bay biplane powered by a 130 hp Salmson (Canton Unné) liquid-cooled radial engine.
This was the first Blackburn biplane (built by Blackburn Aeroplanes of Leeds), the first of their designs to have a rectangular, cross-section fuselage. It was also their first aircraft to be built in their new factory at The Olympia Works, located at the former roller-skating rink at Roundhay Road, Leeds.
The move to a biplane configurations followed concerns about the safety of monoplanes, following a number of fatal accidents that occurred in 1912, all said to be due to structural failures. This resulted in the issuing of a total ban on the use of monoplanes by the Royal Flying Corps.
The Blackburn Type L was to be Blackburn’s entry in the 1914 Daily Mail Circuit of Britain Race for Seaplanes, although in the end the race had to be abandoned due to the outbreak of the First World War. With the cancellation of the competition, the aircraft was taken over by the Admiralty and it was moved to Scalby Mills near Scarborough, where it was test flown by the freelance pilot Sidney Pickles.
Blackburn Type L being beached
The Type L, with original ailerons, being beached at Scarborough.
It was initially flown with long-span ailerons on the top wing although following testing these were replaced by shorter inverse taper ailerons. Cooling issues also resulted in the removal of the upper engine cowling and repositioning of the coolant radiators.
The Blackburn Type L was sufficiently successful to be fitted with a machine gun and used for Coastal Reconnaissance flying.
However, this did not last very long as during early 1915, the aircraft was flown into a cliff top at Speeton, whilst being flown from Scarborough to RNAS Killingholme (near Immingham, Lincolnshire), in poor visibility. The pilot was Blackburn’s test pilot W. Rowland Ding who thankfully survived, although the aircraft was written-off as a result of this incident.
Blackburn Type L ashore on trolley
The Blackburn Type L ashore at Scarborough, showing the final form of ailerons used.


Variants & Number Built

Single prototype, no serial number, built in 1914. Destroyed in an accident early in 1915.



One 130 hp Salmson (Canton Unné) liquid-cooled radial engine
49 ft 6 in
Maximum Weight
2,475 lb
Capacity & Armament
Pilot and passenger, one Lewis gun for self defence
Maximum speed
85 mph
445 miles




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