Blackburn
Pellet & N1B

Blackburn’s unsuccessful contender for the 1923 Schneider Trophy race.
Blackburn Pellet Brough Sept 1923 The Blackburn Pellet at Brough prior to its initial launching in September 1923.
 
In 1923, Great Britain was the host nation for the Schneider Trophy Race, following the victory of the Supermarine Sea Lion at Naples in 1922 and as a consequence, Blackburn Aircraft Company decided to design and build a small, single-seat flying boat to compete in the 1923 event.
 
Named the  Blackburn Pellet, the aircraft made use of the hull from the unfinished N1B Flying Boat project which was intended as a replacement for the Sopwith Baby. The N1B had a 'refined hull', built according to the Linton Hope design featuring a smooth external skin made up of a double layer of narrow mahogany strips laid diagonally at 90 degrees to each other over underlying frames and stringers. The pilot was positioned in front of the propeller which was mounted on the upper wing
 
Blackburn N1B scale model A scale model of the Blackburn N1B single-seat flying boat.
 
On the N1B, power had been intended to be supplied by a 200 hp Hispano Suiza engine and although when the contract was cancelled in November 1918, only the completed fuselage was retained in storage at Brough.
 
Blackburn N1B Flying Boat hull construction 1918 The hull of the Blackburn N1B was built in 1918 and used by the 1923 Blackburn Pellet.
 
Although the intention had been to complete the aircraft by the end of August 1923, the Pellet (registered G-EBHF) was not actually launched until early September. Unfortunately, shortly after launching the aircraft, it was caught by the strong river current and slowly capsized.
 
Blackburn Pellet G-EBHF on Hamble River 26-09-1923 The Blackburn Pellet after launching on the Hamble River on 26th September 1923.
 
With the race only three weeks away, the aircraft was recovered, dried out and rapidly repaired, with larger tip floats fitted.
 
It was sent to Hamble, still unflown and launched from the Fairey Aviation slipway on 26th September and then taxied prior to an initial flight test. Unfortunately this soon revealed that the aircraft was extremely nose-heavy and that engine cooling was deficient, resulting in a forced landing south of Calshot.
 
Blackburn Pellet taxying Hamble 1923 Pellet undergoing taxying trials at Hamble on 26th September 1923.
 
A new radiator was fitted overnight, mounted between the centre-section struts and a two-blade metal propeller fitted. This  replaced the wooden one, which had suffered water-spray damage during the previous day’s trials.
 
27th September was the deadline for conducting navigability and water-tightness trials and the
Pellet was started and subsequently launched without any problems.
 
However, when opened up to full throttle for take-off from the River Medina, the aircraft began to 'porpoise' and was thrown into the air in a semi-stalled condition. The starboard wing then dropped and the aircraft cart-wheeled below the surface.
 
The pilot (RW Kenworthy) was rescued from the river by motor launch and the aircraft wreckage was eventually recovered later in the day.  With the aircraft beyond repair the Pellet was consigned to the scrap pile.
 
Blackburn Pellet before accident 1923 The Blackburn Pellet G-EBHF immediately before its accident on 27th September 1923.
 

Variants & Numbers Built

N1B: hull of first aircraft (N56) completed and stored. Re-used on Pellet.
Pellet: Single prototype. Destroyed in a take-off accident on 27th September 1923.

Specification

 
N1B
Pellet
Powerplant
One 200 hp Hispano Suiza engine
One 450 hp Napier Lion engine
Span
34 ft 10 in
34 ft 0 in
Maximum Weight
2,390 lb
2,800 lb
Capacity
Single pilot; one nose-mounted machine gun
Single pilot only
Max Speed
114 mph (estimated)
160 mph (estimated)

Survivors

No examples survive.