Bristol M1 Monoplane

The only British designed monoplane fighter to see service in the First World War

Bristol M1C Monoplane C4910 side view Side view of Bristol M1C Monoplane C4910
 
The Bristol M.1A Scout Monoplane was produced by Bristol Aeroplane Company as a private venture, flying for the first time at Filton on 14th July 1916.
 
Designed by Frank Barnwell, the type featured shoulder-mounted wire braced monoplane wings and a large domed prop spinner closely faired to the circular cowling of its 110 hp Clerget rotary engine. This was mounted at the front of a faired circular-section fuselage.
 
Barnwell had identified during the opening years of World War 1, that existing biplanes lacked performance. He specifically configured a circular cross-section fuselage, made of wooden and fabric construction, all designed for maximum speed.  Driven by a Clerget rotary engine with a twin-blade propeller, the Bristol M.1A could achieve a maximum speed of 132 mph, boasting a climb-rate at 10,00 ft in just 8 minutes 30 seconds.  The only real criticism made by the War Office Evaluation pilots was that it had poor forward and downward vision.
 
Four modified Bristol Type M.1B's were ordered with a pyramidical cabane structure and Vickers machine gun mounted in the port wing root although the design was rejected for use on the Western Front due to its landing speed which at 49mph was too fast for the majority of the French airfields.  Despite it being up to 50mph faster than any enemy aircraft in the sky at the time, many also considered it inherently unsafe in combat.
 
The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) imposed a ban on monoplanes after the crash of a Bristol Coanda monoplane,   and despite the 1913 Monoplane Committee clearing the type, the deep-rooted suspicion of single wing aeroplanes continued.
 
Three quarter front view of Bristol M1C Monoplane C4910 Three quarter front view of Bristol M1C Monoplane C4910 on the ground.
 
The production aircraft, of which 125 were ordered on 3rd August 1917, were the Bristol M.1C with a 110 hp Le Rhône engine, and the single forward-firing Vickers gun mounted on the centre-line. As a result of the lack of acceptance on the Western Front, the type was operationally based mainly overseas, flying operationally in the Balkans and Middle East and in use in countries such as Chile.
 
After the War, a number of Bristol M.1C were operated by private owners and one aircraft (VH-UQI / G-AUCH) continued flying until 1938, having been re-engined with a De Havilland Gipsy II engine.
 
The sole surviving Bristol M.1D Monoplane was a later, one-off conversion of a Bristol M.1C Monoplane, used for high speed testing of the Bristol Lucifer three cylinder radial engine.
 
Bristol M1C Monoplane C4918 flying at Old Warden Bristol M1C Monoplane replica C4918 flying at Old Warden.
 

Specification


  Bristol M.1C
Powerplant 110 hp Le Rhône
Span 30 ft 9 in
Maximum Weight 1,350 lb
Capacity & Armament Single seat, one forward firing 0.303 Vickers machine gun 
Maximum Speed 130 mph
Endurance 1.75 hours

 

Variants and number built


Bristol M.1A Prototype one only A5138
Bristol M.1B 4 aircraft
Bristol M.1C Production model, 125 built

 

Survivors


Bristol M.1C
(VH-UQI)
Preserved at Minlaton, South Australia                                                 
Bristol M.1C Replica
(G-BWJM / C4918)
The Shuttleworth Collection, Old Warden (See below)

http://www.shuttleworth.org/

Bristol M.1C Replica
(G-BLWM / C4494)
On static display at RAF Museum, Hendon

www.rafmuseum.org.uk/london

Bristol M.1C Replica
On static display at the Aeronautical Museum of the Chilean Air Force, Santiago, Chile
Special note: Don Cashmore built a replica M.1C to the original drawings, this flying in 1987 with a Warner Scarab engine; this aircraft is now exhibited at the RAF Museum. A second replica (G-BJWM), built by the Northern Aeroplane Workshops, flies at The Shuttleworth Trust, Old Warden painted as C4918.

 

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