The Avro 534 Baby was a tiny, single bay biplane (25ft span, 20ft long) designed by Roy Chadwick to try to attract the private owner. The type is chiefly notable for several long-distance flights carried out by Bert Hinkler as well as a degree of success in air racing during the early 1920s.
As was the norm for Avro designs at the time, the Baby first flew at Hamble, on the south coast, on 30th April 1919. Unfortunately, it crashed only two minutes after take-off.
However, just a few weeks later its replacement (K-131/G-EACQ) flew, also at Hamble, on 10th May 1919.
The Baby was a conventional biplane of wooden construction, with the characteristic Avro comma-style all-moving rudder. Powered by the Green C 4 water-cooled engines, producing 25 hp, these were later replaced by the 60 hp ADC Cirrus 1 and the 80 hp le Rhone.
The second aircraft was raced successfully by Capt A.H. Hammersely, winning the Victory Aerial Derby Trophy Race at Hendon on 21st June 1919 at 77 mph. The following month, it was flown by Hammersley yet again, this time non-stop from Hounslow Heath to Brussels in just 2hr 50 min.
After an accident, the aircraft was rebuilt with detailed changes including tapered ailerons. modifications to the tailplane and rudder, more streamlined interplane struts with a fuel capacity increased to 25 gallons. In this form, it was used as the mount for Bert Hinkler for a series of long distance flights, including the 9½ hour 650 mile non-stop flight from Croydon to Turin on 31st May 1920.
Avro Babies were raced by a number of pilots during the 1920s and Hinkler later set a new distance record in Australia by flying non-stop between Sydney and his home town of Bundaberg, a distance of 800 miles in just 8 hours 40 minutes.
A series of derivatives of the Avro Baby which included the seaplane or floatplane Avro 534A (G-EAPS) with revised tail surfaces, which flew in October 1919 and the Avro 534B (G-EAUG) which flew in early 1920, with plywood covered fuselage and original rudder shape.
Next came the Avro 543 Baby (G-EAUM / G-EBFE) in July 1920, with two seats and a lengthened fuselage. This aircraft is credited with achieving 82 mph on its 35 hp Green engine and cruising at 70 mph at 2½ gallons per hour. It also achieved an altitude of 11,000ft with Hinkler and Chadwick on board. This aircraft was later re-engined with a 60hp AD Cirrus I engine.
Avro Babies were raced by a number of pilots during the 1920s including one non-stop flight by Bert Hinkler in May 1920 between Croydon and Turin in just 9 hours 30 minutes. Hinkler later set a new distance record in Australia by flying non-stop between Sydney and his home town of Bundaberg, a distance of 800 miles in just 8 hours 40 minutes.
The Avro 534C (G-EAXL) was a racing version for the 1921 Aerial Derby with reduced wingspan although it retired due to engine problems on the second lap of the course. Avro 534D (G-EAYM) which flew in September 1921, was built to the order of Col E Villiers, who flew it for several years at Calcutta in India.
The single seat Avro 534 (G-EBDA) was sold in Russia, its delivery flight in May 1922 being the first flight made between London and Moscow.
The final example was the Avro 554 Antarctic Baby floatplane, which featured rounded wing tips, N-type interplane struts and steel struts replacing the flying wires. Power was provided by an 80 hp Le Rhone rotary. The aircraft accompanied Sir Ernest Shackleton on his final expedition to Antarctica in 1921 although mechanical and parts issued meant that it never reached the Pole. It was later converted to landplane configuration and registered G-EBFE.
Eight Avro Baby were assembled at Hamble (in addition to the original, unregistered and ill-fated prototype).
Variants & Numbers
|Avro 534 Baby prototype||Single seat sports plane - unregistered crashed on first flight|
|Avro 534 Baby||K-131 / G-EACQ long distance flights by Hinkler|
|Avro 534 Baby||G-EBDA sold to Russia June 1922|
|Avro 534A Water Baby||G-EAPS floatplane with modified tail surfaces|
|Avro 534B Baby||GEAUG plywood covered fuselage|
|Avro 534C Baby||G-EAXL clipped wing racing variant|
|Avro 534D Baby||G-EAYM tropicalised version for use in India|
|Avro 543 Baby||G-EAUM two seater|
|Avro 554 Antarctic Baby||Seaplane for Antarctic use, later registered G-EBFE|
|Total built and flown||Nine aircraft as detailed above|
|Powerplant||One 35 hp Green C4|
|Span||25 ft 0 in|
|Maximum Weight||870 lb|
|Capacity||Single pilot only|
|Maximum Speed||80 mph|
|Cruising Speed||70 mph|
|Range (normal)||200 miles|
Avro 534 Baby
Hinkler Hall of Aviation, Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia