A shortage of 'aircraft quality' timber during the First World War, sparked an interest in all-metal aircraft construction, of which the Bristol Aeroplane Company Bristol MR1 was a prime early example. All-metal construction was foreseen as being superior for use in the extremes of climate that had a detrimental effect on a wooden structures.
The design resembled that of a Bristol F2b fighter, recreated with an all-metal structure. Most notably, it featured a stressed-skin monocoque fuselage in Duralumin, a strong, hard yet lightweight alloy discovered in 1909.
The fuselage skin was double-sided with internal corrugated panels stiffening the smooth external skins.
The initial wing design was found to have inadequate stiffness so a revised design was contracted to The Steel Wing Co. at Gloucester. The resultant delays in the production of the metal wings meant that the first prototype (A5177) flew initially in October 1917, with wooden wings. These wings were fitted with ailerons solely on the lower wings.
The second aircraft (A5178) with metal wings, flew for the first time in late 1918. It was powered by a 180hp Wolseley Viper engine rather than the 140hp Hispano-Suiza engine used by the first prototype. Sadly, this aircraft was destroyed in an accident at Farnborough on 19th April 1919.
The first aircraft was the subject of extensive structural testing at RAE Farnborough where it was flown carrying the serial A58623.
|Powerplant||180 hp Wolseley Viper|
|Span||42 ft 2 in|
|Maximum Weight||2,810 lb|
|Capacity & Armament||Two seat, one forward firing 0.303 Vickers machine gun and one Scarff-mounted 0.303 Lewis gun|
|Maximum Speed||110 mph at sea level; 98 mph at 10,000ft|
Two examples only, serials A5177, A5178.