Starting life as the GAL.60 Universal, the last aircraft to be designed by General Aircraft, it was a heavy-lift military transport aircraft which ultimately became the Blackburn Beverley. In its civil guise, the Universal was designed (based on advertising material published in 1952) for ‘the carriage of six motor cars, plus five motor cycles and up to 42 passengers’.
On 1st January 1949, General Aircraft was absorbed into Blackburn and General Aircraft Ltd and work already in hand at Feltham was completed at Feltham, West London before being transported by road to Brough, East Yorkshire.
The GAL60 Universal was by no means a pretty aircraft and many craftsmen at the Brough factory doubted if it would ever leave the ground yet the prototype (WF320/G-AMUX) first flew at Brough on 20th June 1950. It was a ‘box-like’ fuselage with a large tail boom with a large rudder and fin on each side. Access to the load bay was via rear opening doors and a hand-powered hydraulic ramp.
It was the surprise of SBAC Farnborough Air Show in 1950 where its vast bulk left the ground with ease and then performed a slow flypast and very short landing. What stole the show however was when it reversed back down the runway to the amazement of the assembled industry observers and spectators.
Sadly however, further cargo trials were disappointing with cumbersome ground handling difficulties being the main drawback and what proved an excellent aircraft in the air had little merit whilst on the ground.
A change of government, which saw Winston Churchill re-elected as Prime Minister in 1951, provided Blackburn with the funding for a 2nd prototype and the Design Team set about a full reconfiguration of the aircraft. What emerged was the GAL.65 which featured a modified tail boom to become a passenger carrying area whilst clamshell doors replaced the previous door and ramp arrangement. The original Bristol Hercules engines were also uprated to 4 x Bristol Centaurus units with automatic reverse-pitch propellers.
So positive was the Air Ministry reaction to the new design changes that they actually ordered an intial batch of 20 aircraft in late 1952, despite the 2nd prototype GAL.65 (WZ889) not flying until 14th June 1953.
In keeping with the usual convention of naming large military aircraft after towns and cities, the name ‘Beverley’ was selected following a competition held within the workforce at Brough. This was not really surprising as it was also the name of the county town of the East Riding of Yorkshire.
The first production Beverley (XB259) flew on 29th January 1955 and in all 47 aircraft were constructed (inc. the two prototypes).
The Beverley entered RAF service on 29th January 1955 with the first operation aircraft arriving at RAF Abingdon in March 1956. The longest serving Beverley's were those posted to the Far East such as RAF Seletar in Singapore who continued using the aircraft as late as 1967.
Blackburn Beverley Image Gallery
Blackburn Universal (Beverley) G-AOEK November 1955 with open doors
Blackburn Beverley Air to air
Blackburn Beverley RAF XB259 08-02-1955
Brabazon at Farnborough
|GAL.60 Mk.1 Universal Freighter||General Aircraft designation for first prototype|
|GAL.65 Mk.2 Universal Freighter||Designation for 2nd prototype (B-100)|
Beverley C Mk.1
|Production aircraft for RAF (B-101)|
|Project: Enlarged capacity with more round fuselage and Rolls-Royce Tyne engines.|
|Project: Development of B-101 based on B-107 upgrades but with doors in the nose for cargo and with rear doors modified for dropping paratroopers.|
|Powerplant||4 x Bristol Centaurus 18 cylinder radial engines (2,850hp - 2,130 KW each)|
|Wingspan||162 ft (49.4 mts)|
|Weight||Empty: 79,234 lbs (35,950 kg) / Takeoff: 135,000 lbs (61,235 kg)|
Up to 6 crew (2 Pilots, 1 Engineer, 1 Navigator, 1 Signaller and 1 Air Quartermaster)
|Length||63 ft 5 in (19.33 m)|
|Max speed||238 mph (208 kn)|
|Range||1,300 miles (1,130 nm) with standard payload (29,000 lbs)|
Fort Paull, Battery Road, Paull nr Hull, Yorkshire, UK