The Blackburn B-5 Baffin (also known as the T.8) two seat torpedo-bomber aircraft was essentially an updated Blackburn T5 Ripon II fitted with a Bristol Pegasus air-cooled radial engine, rather than the liquid-cooled Napier Lion of the Ripon II. The airframe was essentially identical to that of the Ripon, being a large single-bay biplane with folding wings.
The Baffin had its origins in two private venture prototypes B-4, fitted with a 650hp Armstrong Siddeley Tiger I two-row radial, and B-5, fitted with a single-row 545hp Bristol Pegasus I.MS. These prototypes were built in September 1932 and designated the T.5J Ripon V. B-5, which was to become the preferred production configuration, was first flown on 30th September 1932.
The two prototypes were evaluated at Martlesham Heath in February 1933, resulting in the selection of the Pegasus-powered aircraft for production, the official name Baffin being adopted.
The production aircraft were fitted with the 565hp Bristol Pegasus I.M3 or 580hp Pegasus II.M3 engine (T.8A Baffin). Production comprised two pre-production aircraft to Specification 4/33 (K3589, K3590) and 4 Ripon IIC held in store and converted to Baffin; 14 aircraft ordered as Ripon IIC and converted to Baffin on the production line; 10 new-build T.8 Baffin (K4071 – K4080); and three aircraft built as T.8A Baffin to Specification 17/34.
In addition, 38 Ripon IIA and 26 Ripon IIC aircraft were withdrawn from service and returned to Brough for reconditioning and conversion to Baffin. Total production comprised the two T.5J Ripon V prototypes, two pre-production aircraft, 13 new-build aircraft and 82 Ripon IIA or IIC conversions, for a grand total of 99 aircraft.
The Baffin was armed with a single fixed forward-firing machine gun and a defensive Lewis gun fired from the rear cockpit. Weapons carried included an 1,800 lb Mk VIII or Mk X torpedo, or a typical bomb load of around 1,600 lb.
With the Blackburn Shark prototype B-6 (described separately) having flown in August 1933, the Baffin had a short service life, being operated from January 1934 until being declared obsolete at the start of September 1937. The type was operated by three squadrons, these being 810, 811 and 812 Squadrons.
After withdrawal from Fleet Air Arm Service, a total of 29 surplus aircraft were supplied to the RNZAF, receiving serials NZ150 – NZ178. During the Second World War, the RNZAF aircraft were used for general reconnaissance duties, remaining in service at least into 1941.
Variants & Numbers Built
|Prototypes (Ripon V)||2: B-4, 650hp Armstrong Siddeley Tiger I; B-5 545hp Bristol Pegasus I.MS|
|Baffin pre-production||2: K3589. K3580|
|T.8 production – stored Ripon IIC conversions||4 aircraft K2884-7, 565hp Pegasus I.M3|
|T.8 production – Ripon IIC completed as Baffin||14 aircraft K3456 – K3559|
|T.8 production – new build||10 aircraft K4071 – K4080|
|T.8A production – new build||3 aircraft K4776 – K4778, 580hp Pegasus II.M3|
|T.8 production – Ripon IIA conversions||38 aircraft returned to works for upgrade and conversion|
|T.8 production – Ripon IIC conversions||26 aircraft returned to works for upgrade and conversion|
|Total production||99 aircraft|
|Powerplant||One 565 hp Bristol Pegasus I.M3 radial engine|
|Span||44 ft 10 in|
|Maximum Weight||7,610 lb|
|Capacity & Armament||Two crew; one forward-firing Vickers gun, rear Vickers K gun in rear cockpit; one 1,800 lb Mk VIII or Mk X torpedo or 1,600 lb bomb load.|
|Maximum Speed||136 mph at 6,500 ft|
No Blackburn Baffin aircraft survive.