The Bristol Type 109 was a large single engine, two-bay biplane conceived by Bristol Aeroplane Company Chief Designer Frank Barnwell, with a view to long-distance record breaking. The single prototype (G-EBZK) flew for the first time on 7th September 1928.
The design itself was created as a result of the Air Ministry issuing a tender for a 'special long-range aeroplane'. In the event, Fairey Aviation Company had produced their Long Range Monoplane and it was this design which was the preferred choice.
Despite this, Bristol Aeroplane Company pressed ahead with the construction of the Bristol Type 109 prototype on a private venture basis. The primary motivation was to gain publicity for the performance and reliability of the Bristol Jupiter engine, during the conduct of some long-range flights.
When assembled however, it was found that the integral aluminium fuel tanks in the lower wing were not strong enough to withstand the fuel pressure, when the upper wing tanks were also full.
By the time of the type’s first flight, the distance record had been extended to 4,500 miles, which with due allowance for adverse winds, was beyond its safe capability. The first flight was therefore made using the original fuel tanks, but only using those in the upper wings.
The fuel system was redesigned to accommodate steel tanks of reduced capacity, which reduced the maximum range potential to 3,300 miles. It was felt that the aircraft could still be used for long Point-to-Point flights, or even for a round-the-World flight.
In the end however, no long-distance flying took place and the Bristol Type 109, like a number of other unsuccessful prototypes, was used solely for engine testing and specifically for an Air Ministry-funded 350 hour endurance tests of the Bristol Jupiter XIF engine.
For these trials, conducted between September 1930 and March 1931, the aircraft carried the markings R-2 and was fitted with the replacement steel fuel tanks and wheel brakes.
The Bristol Type 109 was scrapped in late 1931 have never flown beyond the UK shores.
|Powerplant||480 hp Jupiter VIII, later 490 hp Jupiter XIF|
|Span||51 ft 2 in|
|Maximum Weight||9,800 lb (originally 11,910 lb)|
|Capacity||Two pilots with dual controls sat in tandem in an enclosed cockpit|
|Cruise Speed||90 mph|
|Design range||3,300 miles (originally 5,400 miles estimated)|
One only built (G-EBZG) which was scrapped in late 1931.