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Bristol Types
118 & 120

Two related multi-purpose military biplane designs that failed to enter production.
Bristol 118 R-3 side The Bristol 118 R-3 painted in company colours prior to receiving RAF serial K2873.
 
The Bristol Type 118 was a two-seat general purpose biplane designed in the early 1930s by Frank Barnwell.  Bristol Aeroplane Company developed the Type 118 and Type 120 as private venture high performance machines with a view to both domestic and export sales.
 
The wide range of roles envisaged included fighter, bomber, army cooperation and casualty transport. The pilot was accompanied by a second crew member who, dependent on the mission, acted as observer / gunner / bomb aimer, etc. A stretcher could be carried in the lower forward fuselage, with a second under hinged decking on the upper rear fuselage.
 
The wing structure featured outboard ‘N’ struts and a single diagonal lift strut, largely eliminating wing bracing wires and resulting in the aircraft having a very distinctive appearance.
 
The Type 118 was first flown on 22nd January 1931 and proved to be docile and easy to fly.
 
The prototype (initially marked R-3 but became K2873) was subsequently used for Air Ministry Mercury V (later designated Pegasus 1) endurance trials in Iraq during February 1932. Early test flying showed that the type had excellent handling characteristics.
 
The Type 118 was again used in 1935 as an engine test-bed, flying with the supercharged Pegasus PE-5SM, this engine (as the Pegasus XVIII) later being fitted to the Wellington and Hampden bombers.
 
Bristol 120 R-6 ground The Bristol Type 120 provided a protective cupola for the gunner.
 
The Bristol 120 was based on the Bristol Type 118 and was fitted with a early gun turret (or cupola) protecting the gunner from the slipstream. The Type 120 was first flown (marked as R-6) on 29th January 1932 and was unsuccessfully put forward against requirement G.4/31 for a Westland Wapiti replacement.
Its failure was predominantly the addition of a Torpedo bombing role to the list of tasks.
 
The prototype (then K3587) was purchased by the Air Ministry and used to gather data on the drag of gun turrets, flying with and without its cupola during these tests.

Specifications

  Type 118 Type 120
Powerplant One 590 hp Bristol Jupiter XFA One 650 hp Pegasus I.M3
Span 40 ft 8 in 40 ft 8 in
Maximum Weight 5,200 lb 5,200 lb
Capacity and armament Two crew and extensive military equipment. One Vickers and one Lewis gun and up to 500 lb bomb load. Similar to Type 118, but gunner provided with a protective cupola or gun turret.
Maximum Speed 165 mph 175 mph

Numbers built

One Type 118 (R-3, K2873); one Type 120 (R-6, K3587)

Survivors

No examples survive.

Other information