The Bristol 101 was almost the last aircraft of wooden construction to be built at Filton (the final wooden design being the Bristol 138A high altitude monoplane of 1936). It was predominantly a plywood covered box girder fuselage constructed in spruce with fabic covered wings. Originally designed by Frank Barnwell as a private venture all-purpose two seat fighter, it was unfortunately rejected by the Air Ministry.
The sole prototype (G-EBOW) flew for the first time at Filton on 8th August 1927, piloted by Cyril Unwins.
The opportunity was later taken to demonstrate the aircraft in its fighter configuration at an International Aero Show at Copenhagen in August 1927.
Later, and following some initial engine test work, the Type 101 had its armament removed and received some cleaning-up modifications. These included a fairing over the rear cockpit and revised interplane struts being fitted prior to being entered in the 1928 King’s Cup Air Race. At the same time, the ailerons were installed on the upper wing and removed from the lower wing.
At the event it performed very well, coming in second less than five minutes behind the winner at an average speed of 159.9 mph.
After the race, the type continued to support the development of the Mercury engine. It was also used for demonstrations of the Bristol Mercury engine until it came to grief on 29th November 1929 following an in-flight failure of the wing centre-section during a high-speed test dive.
The pilot (C.R.L Shaw) escaped this accident by use of his parachute, becoming the fourth civilian pilot to become a member of the Caterpillar Club.
|Powerplant||One 450 hp Jupiter VI or VIA, or one 485 hp Mercury II|
|Span||33 ft 7 in|
|Maximum Weight||3,540 lb|
|Capacity||Pilot and gunner / passenger. In fighter configuration: two forward firing machine guns and one Scarff-mounted defensive gun fired from the rear cockpit.|
|Maximum Speed||160 mph equipped, 170 mph in racing trim|
Single example only, flown marked as G-EBOW, with Race Number 21 in 1928 King's Cup Air Race.
Nil; aircraft destroyed on 29th November 1929.