The Bristol Aerplance Company Bristol S.S.A. was an 80 hp Clerget-powered single seat armoured biplane, designed by Henri Coanda to a French government requirement, Built as a monocoque shell, built up from sheet steel at the Filton works, and which was often referred to as 'The Bath'.
The armoured shell enclosed the engine, fuel tank, oil tank and cockpit, with the pilot's seat being formed from the shaped rear bulkhead. Powered by an 80 hp (60 kW) Clerget 7Z engine which was fully cowled and drove a two-bladed propeller. It was fitted with a large sheet steel spinner, perforated to allow cooling air to the rotary engine with an internal sheet steel cone preventing any bullet entry through the cooling holes.
The staggered biplane main-planes were mounted as far forward as possible to ensure that the centre of pressure maintained the correct position relative to the centre of gravity. Lower main-planes were attached to a framework, leaving a gap between wing root and fuselage.
The undercarriage consisted of two wheels, mounted on struts with long skids which extended rearwards, thus removing the need for a tail-skid. A feature requested by the French customer was castering main-undercarriage wheels allowing cross-wind landings. Attached to the rear end of the armoured tub was a slender rear fuselage which ended with a large balanced rudder, tailplane and elevator.
The first Bristol S.S.A. (SSA standing for single seat, armoured aircraft) first flew on 8th May 1914, and was designated No.219. It flew with a temporary aluminium spinner due to vibration with the steel assembly. It also flew at Farnborough but was damaged in a heavy landing on 25th June 1914 at Filton with Harry Busteed at the controls.
Despite the damage, and without being repaired, the Bristol S.S.A. was delivered to the French customer at the La Brayelle, Douai works of Breguet for repair on 3rd July 1914.
When the Douai factory was forced by the German invasion of France, to be evacuated to Villacoublay at the start of the First World War, the Bristol S.S.A. was not taken along, and no further records of the S.S.A. exists.
Unfortunately, we have been unable to find any images of the Bristol S.A.A.
|Powerplant||80 hp Clerget|
|Span||27 ft 4 in|
|Maximum Weight||1,200 lb|
|Capacity & Armament||Single seat unarmed|
|Maximum Speed||106 mph|