In August 1911, Eric Gordon England joined the British & Colonial Aeroplane Co Ltd initially as a pilot, but he soon became responsible for the design of a series of biplanes. England led the design of three types of two seat biplane, which were first flown between May 1912 and the end of 1912.
The Bristol GE.1 was a side-by-side two-seat biplane with a square-section fuselage (build number 64). It was powered by a water-cooled, 50 hp Clerget engine with chain drive reduction gearing to the large two blade propeller. It was test flown in May 1912 and was found to be extremely easy to fly.
The aircraft was flown with small, sharply swept triangular fin and rudder surfaces. These were later changed to a large, horn-balanced all-moving rudder, extending above and below the fuselage. Although otherwise satisfactory, the aircraft was sold to Deutche Bristol Werke (British-German joint venture) although it was found that the 50 hp was not sufficient for a two-seat aircraft and it was subsequently scrapped in September 2012.
An improved version, the Bristol GE.2 was designed, with two examples being built to take part in the War Office’s 1912 Military Aeroplane Competition. One aircraft was piloted by Gordon England himself, with the other being flown by Howard Pixton. These aircraft featured a similar fuselage to the Bristol GE.1, albeit suspended part-way between the two wings – a style later to be seen on the famous Bristol F.2b Fighter.
The first Bristol GE.2 (build number 103 – competition number 12) had a 100 hp two row Gnome rotary engine whilst the second (build number 104 – competition number 13) had a 70 hp water-cooled Daimler-Mercedes engine, driving a chain driven four blade propeller through reduction gears.
The latter aircraft proved underpowered and was withdrawn and whilst the first flew successfully, it was damaged in a heavy landing and also withdrawn.
Finally, Gordon England designed a tandem two seat aircraft with an 80 hp Gnome engine, built to a Turkish specification, the Bristol GE.3. This aircraft had a circular section fabric covered fuselage which was also mounted between the wings. Two of this type were built (build numbers 112 and 113) but test flying in late 1912, showed serious structural weakness in the wing spars.
Additionally, with increasing difficulties caused by the Italian blockade of Turkey, the Bristol GE.3 was abandoned without further development. These were then scrapped having
|GE.1||GE.2 (no. 103)||GE.2 (no. 104)||GE.3|
|Powerplant||50 hp Clerget||100 hp Gnome||70 hp Daimler||80 hp Gnome|
|Span||33 ft 8 in||40 ft 0 in||40 ft 0 in||39 ft 0 in|
|Maximum Weight||1,800 lb||1,980 lb||2,000 lb||1,996 lb|
|Capacity||Two seat||Two seat||Two seat||Two seat|
|Maximum Speed||65 mph||68 mph||62 mph||65 mph|
|Endurance||3 hr (design aim)|
Variants and number built
GE.1 (1), Two GE.2 (2), GE.3 (2).