Avro 549

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 Avro’s famous designer Roy Chadwick to meet Air Ministry Specification 2/20 for a heavy bomber. The 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 Aldershot I prototypes were ordered (J6852 and J6853), these being first flown at Hamble by Bert Hinkler in early 1922. J6852 was initially fitted with a long dorsal fin 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 solve the problem and the final solution required a six foot increase in fuselage length 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.
The above changes had been incorporated by June 1922, when J6852 was displayed at the annual RAF Pageant at Hendon. After this event, the first prototype returned to Hamble and used for trials with different engines. Its first iteration was as the Aldershot II, fitted with a sixteen cylinder 1,000 hp Napier Cub engine. The size and weight of this engine required significant modification of the design, including the fitting of a four wheeled undercarriage. The Aldershot II was first flown in this form on 15th December 1922, after which it was delivered to Farnborough and flown during 1923 by the RAE Engine Research Flight.
Fifteen production aircraft (J6942 to J6956) were ordered in January 1923 as the Aldershot III. These aircraft were powered by the Condor III and 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 and operated from April 1924 until 1926, when the RAF adopted a multi-engine policy for its bomber fleet, with the Aldershot being replaced by the Handley Page Hyderabad.
The final evolution of the design came with the return of the Cub-engined prototype to Hamble for modification as the test bed for the Beardmore Typhoon, an 850 hp six-cylinder engine 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 Aldershot IV returned to Farnborough to continue its engine trials, the prototype therefore remaining in use after the production fleet had been withdrawn from service.

Specification - Aldershot III

One 650 hp Rolls-Royce Condor III engine
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
625 miles


Variants & Numbers

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



No examples of the Avro 549 Aldershot survive.


Other information