Blackburn Mercury
monoplanes

A series of single and two seat monoplanes, nine being built in three versions.
Blackburn Mercury I 50hp Isaacson flying Filey 1911 The Mercury I monoplane (50hp Isaacson) flying at Filey in 1911.
 
The Blackburn Mercury Monoplane was a two-seat pilot trainer development of the Blackburn Second Monoplane (described separately) and is regarded as the first truly successful aircraft made by Blackburn.
 
The Mercury I, powered by a 50 hp Isaacson radial engine, was displayed at the Olympia Aero Show in March 1911 and thereafter it began flying from the beach at Filey as part of the newly formed Blackburn Flying School.
 
The date of its first flight is not recorded but on 17th May 1911 it was flown from Filey to Scarborough and back in 19 minutes at an average speed of 50 mph, reaching an altitude of 1200 feet. Unfortunately, the following day the engine seized, resulting in the loss of the propeller.
 
After being repaired, this machine continued in use with the Blackburn Flying School, making other cross-country trips to and continuing in use at least until October 1911. The Mercury I can be identified by the presence of two cylindrical external fuel tanks mounted across the fuselage close to the wing leading edge.
 
Blackburn Mercury II Gnome Filey 1911 One of the Gnome-powered single-seat Mercury II aircraft flying at Filey.
 
The Mercury I was followed by two single-seat Mercury II aircraft, powered by 50 hp Gnome engines, built with a view to competing in the £10,000 Daily Mail Circuit of Britain race.
 
The first of these was flown at Filey in July 1911 although it was subsequently destroyed in a take off accident at Brooklands on 22nd July.  
 
Blackburn Mercury II July 11 1st s-seat FC Jenkins F Conway Jenkins in the first single-seat Mercury II at Filey in July 1911.
 
The second Mercury II was flown for the first time on 7th July 1911 and was converted to a two-seat configuration in August that year. As a two-seater, it conducted a popular tour of the West Country including making the first double-crossing of the Bristol Channel by air.
 
It flew in this form (also known as the Type B) until it was damaged at Eastbourne on 30th March 1912 and following this incident it was reverted to a single-seat configuration (with wing-span increased to 36ft 0in) and was flown at Hendon until June 1913.
 
Blackburn Mercury III Filey The fourth Blackburn Mercury III flying at Filey in May 1912.
 
There followed 6 two-seat Mercury III aircraft fitted with a number of different engines as seen below. The first Mercury III (sometimes known as the Mercury Passenger Type) flew for the first time on 9th November 1911, powered by a 60hp Renault engine.
 
Blackburn Mercury III 60hp Renault The first Mercury III with 60hp Renault engine and the initial rectangular wing.
 
Sadly, this aircraft crashed following a failure of the wing fabric and structure after a sudden pull-up at high speed on 6th December 1911. Pilot Hubert Oxley and passenger Robert Weiss were sadly killed in the accident. It is reported that at some point the wings had been modified from a rectangular to a tapered planform with the aircraft being fitted with these new wings at the time of this accident.
 
Five further Mercury III aircraft were built in 1911 /12 with either a 50hp Gnome, Isaacson or Anzani engines.
 
These aircraft differed in their details and continued in use, in some cases into mid-1913.
 
Blackburn Mercury III passenger taper wing The first Mercury III with tapered wing planform outside the hangar at Filey.
 

Variants & Numbers Built

Mercury I
One aircraft, 50 hp Isaacson radial, twin external fuel tanks above wing leading edge
Mercury II
Two aircraft, 50 hp Gnome, built as single seaters; second aircraft modified to two-seater, then reverted to single seat Type B and used at Hendon.
Mercury III
Six aircraft as follows: No1 - 60hp Renault initially with rectangular wing. Fitted with tapered wing and destroyed in fatal accident 6th December 1911.
 
No 2 - 50hp Isaacson radial. First flew May 1912 used at Hendon until June 1913. Fitted with raised upper rudder.
 
No3 - 50hp Gnome rotary. First flew Brooklands 25th December 1911. Used by Lt Spenser Grey and then at the Hendon School.
 
No4 – 50hp Gnome rotary. First flown in March 1912. Featured cut-away trailing edge wing roots.
 
No5 – 50hp Anzani radial
 
No6 – 50hp Gnome rotary. First flown at Filey in June 1912. Cutaway wing roots and modified undercarriage.
Total built
Nine: one Mercury I. two Mercury II, six Mercury III

Specifications

 
Mercury I
Mercury II
Mercury III
Powerplant
50 hp Isaacson
50 hp Gnome
Various engines (listed in Number & Variants Table)
Span
38 ft 4 in
32 ft 0 in
32 ft 0 in
Maximum Weight
1,000 lb
700 lb
800 lb
Capacity
Pilot only
One or two seats
Two-seat
Maximum Speed
60 mph
70 mph
75 mph with Renault engine

Survivors

None, but the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington displays a full-size replica of the Mercury I, built for Yorkshire Television for the Edwardian drama series ‘Flambards’