Blackburn Blackburd under construction 1918
The first Blackburn Blackburd (N113) under construction at the Olympia Works in May 1918.
The Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Company  Blackburd was a single engine torpedo bomber designed by Harris Booth, who had joined the company after a period as a designer at the Admiralty. It was produced in response to Specification N.1B which called for an aircraft to carry the heavyweight (1,423 lb) Mk VIII torpedo and intended as a replacement for the Sopwith Cuckoo.
In the event, the end of the First World War intervened and only three prototypes were ever built.
Designed for rapid, low cost, production, the Blackburn Blackburd was a three-bay biplane, with a rectangular wing planform, together with a fuselage similarly rectangular in its side elevation.
As a result, it is by some margin one of the least attractive Blackburn aircraft in terms of its appearance. No doubt, as Charles E Grey (editor of The Aeroplane magazine) once remarked about another type, it could be described as 'undoubtedly built for use and not for ornament'.
Similarly, the main planes could have received the same description as he gave to those of the De Havilland DH6 trainer, where he remarked 'they are made by the mile and cut off by the yard'.
Blackburn Blackburd N113 rear stbd
This view of the first Blackburn Blackburd N113 clearly shows the constant depth fuselage.
Power was provided by 350 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle engine, driving a two-blade tractor propeller. To aid slow speed operation, all four wings carried ailerons that could also be lowered to act as flaps, in order to reduce take-off and landing speeds.
The undercarriage was provided with steel skids (or skis) inside the wheels, which were carried on a transverse axle. This arrangement meant that the undercarriage (axle and wheels) had to be jettisoned before the torpedo could be dropped. Thereafter, carrier deck landing were made on the steel skids.
Blackburn Blackburd N113 with torpedo
Blackburn Blackburd carrying a torpedo; dropping this required jettisoning the wheeled undercarriage.
The first prototype (N113) was completed in late May 1918, and was flown for the first time before the end of the month. Initial constructor’s trials included tests of the undercarriage and torpedo dropping mechanisms, which were held over the River Humber.
The prototype was flown to the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Martlesham Heath, where it underwent evaluation trials on 4th June 1918. Official testing soon found that the use of the ailerons as flaps unacceptably reduced their effectiveness on take-off. The aircraft was also found to be nose-heavy, whether or not the torpedo was being carried. The rather small rudder was also criticised for lack of effectiveness and an accident in early July, brought these initial trials to an end.
The second prototype (N114) had small floats fitted beneath the lower wingtips although, following the results of the prototype testing, this aircraft was also fitted with a larger rudder with a rounded trailing edge. The tailplane was also stiffened, mainly because the company considered that its deflection under load had contributed to the nose heavy flight, encountered with the prototype.
It carried out torpedo trials at East Fortune, Scotland in September 1918, before it too was delivered to the A&AEE at Martlesham Heath on 16th October 1918. Official trials continued into November 1918, including full performance measurements, with and without torpedo carriage.
A third prototype (N115) was produced and delivered to the Fleet Air Arm Development Squadron, based at Gosport in November 1918, where it continued in use at least until mid-1919.
This aircraft was later briefly converted to a two-seat configuration.
Blackburn Blackburd 3qtr port
The Blackburn Blackburd prototype N113 at Brough.

Variants & Number Built

Three aircraft flown in 1918, serial numbers N113 – N115



Without torpedo
With torpedo
One 350 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII
52 ft 5 in
Maximum Weight
4,300 lb
5,700 lb
Capacity & Armament
Pilot only
Pilot and one Mark VIII torpedo
Maximum Speed
95 mph at 6,500 ft
90.5 mph at 6,500 ft
3 hours




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