Bristol Type 90 Berkeley front
This view of the first Bristol Berkeley J7403 shows the size of this large single-engine biplane.


The Bristol Type 90 Berkeley was a very large yet single engine biplane built by Bristol Aeroplane Company during the inter-war years for a fast developing passenger transport requirement.


A major competitor to the Handley Page Handcross, the Westland Yeovil and and the Hawker Horsley, the Bristol Type 90 Berkeley was built against specification 26/23, which called for a two-seater general-purpose day or night bomber to be powered by a 650 hp Rolls-Royce Condor engine. The result was a large and rather angular three-bay biplane and the prototype (J7403) first flew on 5th March 1925.
The aircraft was the first Bristol design to be given a Bristol 'Type' number, rather than a simple model name. This also resulted in earlier aircraft from the Bristol Scout to the Bristol Jupiter Trainer who were retrospectively designated the Bristol Type 1 to Type 89, which meant that although it was the first,  the Berkeley became the Bristol Type 90.
Bristol Type 90 Berkeley J7403 stbd side
The prototype Berkeley showing the pilot's position in front of the wing leading edge.
Three Bristol Berkeley aircraft were built, the last being of all-metal construction whereas the first two had wooden wings. The second aircraft (J7404) flew on 24th November 1925, with the final example (J7405) flying on 11th February 1926.
Sadly, the type was not ordered for production due to a decision declaring that the Royal Air Force would no longer operate single-engine bombers at night. The Hawker Horsley was eventually selected for production, with 112 aircraft seeing service with the RAF.
The three Berkeley aircraft built were actually delivered to the RAF and were used by the service. Later, they were employed at The Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough for a range of experimental trials.
Despite their short service life, one aircraft was reportedly still in use at the end of 1930.
Bristol Type 90 Berkeley rear three quarter port
J7405, the final Bristol Berkeley, was of all-metal construction.



Powerplant One 650 hp Rolls-Royce Condor III twelve-cylinder engine
Span 57 ft 11 in
Maximum Weight 8,128 lb
Capacity & Armament Pilot and observer/gunner/bomb aimer: One fixed forward-firing Vickers machine gun, one Scarff-mounted Lewis machine gun and a further Lewis gun fired from a ventral hatch, plus single 550 lb bomb under fuselage, or two 230 lb bombs underwing.
Maximum Speed 120 mph at 2,000 ft; 110 mph at 6,500 ft
Endurance 12 hours (range 860 miles)


Variants & Number built

Three only, RAF serials J7403, J7404 and J7405, the last example being of all-metal construction.





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