The Bristol Type 23 Badger 2-seat fighter-reconnaissance aircraft (initially designated F.2C) was designed around the ABC Dragonfly engine to compete with the Westland Weasel and Austin Greyhound. Despite the 1918 Armistice and the end of World War 1, 3 aircraft were built and delivered to the newly established Air Board, responsible for the Royal Air Force. Their key purpose was to assist in the development of new, air-cooled engines, particularly the Bristol Dragonfly and Jupiter.
The aircraft resembled a two-seat variant of the Bristol Type 21 Scout F, being a single engine, single bay biplane, with ‘N’ interplane struts.
The ABC Dragonfly was an engine of great promise for which large orders had been placed for both the engine and aircraft designed around it. Unfortunately, it suffered from a crankshaft resonance at its normal operating rpm resulting in high vibration and very poor reliability (an average life before crankshaft failure of 17 hours being quoted).
Three Bristol Badger aircraft were ordered. The first aircraft (F3495) flew with a 320hp ABC Dragonfly engine on 4th February 1919. Unfortunately, an engine stoppage on take-off (due to an airlock in the fuel supply) resulted in a heavy landing following which the undercarriage and engine mounting were badly damaged. It was quickly repaired and fitted with a larger rudder and flew once again 11 days later.
The second aircraft (F3496) flew initially with a 400hp Cosmos Jupiter engine on 24th May 1919 whilst the third prototype (which would have been F3497) was cancelled despite its construction already underway.
An ABC Dragonfly engine was subsequently installed in the second aircraft (F3496), together with its military equipment and armament, prior to its delivery on 5th September 1919. This aircraft also had a fixed forward fin originally fitted to match the characteristics of the more powerful Jupiter engine.
An experimental civil design, the single seat Badger X, was flown on 13th May 1919 using the wings and tail of the third Badger (which had been cancelled) married to a new square-section fuselage (this is described separately).
This was followed by a new officially sanctioned design, the Bristol 23A Badger II J6492, which was used for development test flying of the Jupiter engine.
The Badger II initially used the same fin and rudder design as the second aircraft, this being subsequently modified to incorporate an aerodynamic balance for the rudder.
The aircraft was purchased by the Air Council and then permanently loaned to the company for use in Jupiter engine development. It was flown with various engine cowlings, its final configuration in July 1921, featuring a faceted cowling designed for eventual use on the Handley Page O/10.
|Powerplant||320 hp ABC Dragonfly Ia||400 hp Cosmos Jupiter I|
|Span||36 ft 9 in||36 ft 9 in|
|Maximum Weight||3,150 lb||3,150 lb|
|Capacity & Armament||Two seat, two forward firing 0.303 Vickers machine gun and one Scarff-mounted 0.303 Lewis gun|
|Maximum Speed||135 mph||142 mph|
Variants and number built
|Badger||320hp ABC Dragonfly; two aircraft F3495, F3496. F3496 initially flown with Cosmos Jupiter engine. Third aircraft (F3497) cancelled but wings used by the Badger X, or ‘Barnwell Weekender’ described separately.|
|Badger II||One aircraft, J6492, with 400hp Cosmos Jupiter I used for engine development.|
|Total built||Three aircraft|
No examples of the Bristol 23 Badger survive.