Avro 549
Aldershot

A single engine heavy bomber operated by 99 Sqn RAF from 1924 to 1926.
 
Avro 549 Aldershot proto J6853 Hamble 1922 The prototype Avro Aldershot J6852 at Hamble in 1922.
 
The Avro 549 Aldershot was designed by AV Roe (Avro) famous Chief Designer Roy Chadwick to meet Air Ministry Specification 2/20 for a heavy bomber.
 
The Avro 549 Aldershot was a large single-engine three-bay biplane powered by a 650 hp Rolls-Royce Condor III engine. Two pilots were sat side-by-side in a cockpit just aft of the upper wing centre section, with an air gunner in a separate cockpit to their rear. An enclosed cabin was provided in the lower fuselage accommodating the bomb aimer and radio operator.
 
Two Avro 549 Aldershot I prototypes were ordered (J6852 and J6853), these being first flown at Hamble by Bert Hinkler in early 1922.
 
One aircraft (J6852) was initially fitted with a long dorsal fin, positioned ahead of its high set tailplane and unbalanced semi-circular rudder. Directional control was found to be inadequate, with the dorsal fin being removed and an enlarged aerodynamically balanced rudder fitted. These changes did not resolve the problem, the final solution being a six foot increase in fuselage length, in order to increase the tail moment arm.
 
Avro 549 Aldershot II J6852 Cub engine ground The Avro 549 Aldershot II J6852 powered by the Napier Cub engine.
 
These changes were incorporated by June 1922, when the aircraft (J6852) was displayed at the annual RAF Pageant at Hendon. After this event, it returned to Hamble and used for trials with different engines.
 
Its first iteration was as the Avro 549 Aldershot II, fitted with a sixteen cylinder 1,000 hp Napier Cub engine. The size and weight of this engine required a significant modification of the design, including the fitting of a four wheeled undercarriage. The Avro 549 Aldershot II was first flown in this form on 15th December 1922, after which it was delivered to the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough where it was flown during 1923, by the RAE Engine Research Flight.
 
Fifteen production aircraft (J6942 to J6956) were ordered as the Aldershot III in January 1923. These aircraft were powered by the Rolls-Royce Condor III engine, fitted with the lengthened fuselage and a revised undercarriage. The bomb load of 2,000 lb was carried internally. The production aircraft were delivered to RAF Bircham Newton, where they operated from April 1924 until 1926.
 
Thereafter, the RAF adopted a multi-engine policy for its bomber fleet, with the Avro 549 Aldershot being replaced by the Handley Page Hyderabad.
 
The final evolution of the design came with the return of the Napier Cub-engined prototype to Hamble, where it was modified as the test bed for the Beardmore Typhoon engine, an 850 hp six-cylinder of inverted inline configuration.
 
Avro 549C Aldershot IV J6852 Beardmore engine The prototype Aldershot modified as the Aldershot IV for testing the Beardmore Typhoon engine.
 
The redesigned machine was designated the Avro 549C Aldershot IV and was first flown on 10th January 1927. The narrower engine installation improved the lines of the fuselage and gave the pilots a better forward view. The Avro 549 Aldershot IV was returned to Farnborough to continue its engine trials, the prototype therefore, remaining in use after the production fleet had been withdrawn from service.


Specification - Avro 549 Aldershot III


Powerplant
One 650 hp Rolls-Royce Condor III engine
Span
68 ft 0 in
Maximum Weight
10,950 lb
Capacity & equipment
Five crew: two pilots, gunner, bomb aimer and navigator / radio operator. One defensive Lewis gun operated from the rear cockpit, internal bomb load of 2,000 lb
Maximum Speed
110 mph
Cruise Speed
92 mph
Range
625 miles
 

Variants & Number


Prototypes
(Avro Aldershot I)
Two aircraft J6852, J6853. J6852 used for engine trials.
Avro Aldershot II
J6852 modified with 1,000 hp Napier Cub engine
Avro Aldershot III
Fifteen production aircraft with 650 hp Rolls-Royce Condor III
Avro Aldershot IV
Avro 549C: J6852 with 850 hp Beardmore Typhoon engine
Total
17 aircraft,  2 prototypes and 15 production aircraft

 

Survivors


None

 

Other information