Bristol Type T
The Bristol Biplane ‘Type T’, built by the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company, was also known as the Challenger–Dickson biplane.
It was a single seat, cross-country racing biplane (built to order for Maurice Tabiteau) as an entry in the 1911 Circuit de l’Europe. The competition was held over a 1,025 mile route, starting and finishing in Paris and included a double-crossing of the English Channel. Sponsored by Paris daily newspaper 'Le Journal', first prize was the equivalent of £8,000 and the first stage was said to have been watched by over 500,000 people.
This first built aircraft was Bristol build No. 45 and it was powered by a 70hp Gnome engine.
The design drew upon the company's Boxkite experience although it featured extended nose skids, like a Farman Longhorn. It also boasted a high set tailplane under which were mounted twin narrow rudders, set close together in the propeller slipstream.
In the event, Tabiteau successfully completed the circuit but his flight did not satisfy the judges, leaving him officially unplaced. Just 9 (of the initial 43 aircraft) finished the race, which proved the superior design and endurance of the Bleriot XI, flown by winner Jean Louis Conneau.
Four more Bristol Type T aircraft were built (No's 51 – 54) for the Circuit of Britain Race held in July 1911. These aircraft differed from No. 45 in having their rudders set further apart, in line with the tailbooms. Three aircraft competed in the race (No. 53 having been withdrawn due to engine trouble). Aircraft No. 54 differed from the rest in having a 60hp Renault engine.
Unfortunately, all of the remaining three were unsuccessful with No. 54 crashing during the race whilst being flown by Harold Pixton. No.51 was to be flown by Graham Gilmour, although he was forced to withdraw after his licence was found to be suspended. No.52 unfortunately suffered an unidentified mechanical failure.
Aircraft No. 51 was subsequently fitted with a 50hp Gnome engine and then sold to a private owner. Sadly, this aircraft was destroyed in a fatal accident at Brooklands on 1st August 1911. Thereafter, none of the Type T's were ever flown again.
One Type T was rebuilt in a substantially modified form as the Challenger-England Biplane. This aircraft was allocated a new Bristol build number 59.
The foreplane and its associated structure were done away with and a modified nacelle was fitted with a 60hp ENV engine mounted in the nose driving a tractor propeller. This aircraft was flown successfully at Larkhill from November 1911 until 19th May 1912. Tragically, the aircraft turned over whist taxying after landing, striking a group of spectators with one person being killed. After this unfortunate incident, the Challenger-England Biplane was totally dismantled.
One additional Type T (allocated build number 78) was not completed.
|Powerplant||70hp or 50hp Gnome or 60 hp Renault engine||60hp ENV Type F engine|
|Span||35 ft 0 in||35 ft 0 in|
|Maximum Weight||1,000 lb|
|Capacity||Pilot only||Pilot only|
|Maximum Speed||58 mph|
Variants and number built
Five Type T (build numbers 45, 51-54), one of which was subsequently substantially modified to become the Challenger-England Biplane (build number 59). One additional Type T (build number 78) not completed.