The Bristol Biplane ‘Type T’ was also known as the Challenger–Dickson biplane.
It was a single seat cross-country racing biplane (built to the order of Maurice Tabiteau) as an entry in the 1911 Circuit de l’Europe. The competition was held over a 1,025 mile route, starting and finishing in Paris and included a double-crossing of the English Channel. Sponsored bu Le Journal, first prize was the equivalent of £8,000 and the first stage was said to have been watched by over 500,000 people.
This first built aircraft was Bristol build number 45 and it was powered by a 70hp Gnome engine.
The design drew upon Boxkite experience, but featured extended nose skids, like a Farman Longhorn.
It boasted a high set tailplane under which were mounted twin narrow rudders, mounted close together in the propeller slipstream.
In the event, Tabiteau successfully completed the circuit but his flight did not satisfy the judges, leaving him officially unplaced. Just 9 of the initial 43 aircraft finished the race which proved the design and endurance of the Bleriot XI, flown by winner Jean Louis Conneau.
Four more Type T aircraft (build numbers 51 – 54) were built for the Circuit of Britain race of July 1911.
These aircraft differed from number 45 in having their rudders set further apart, in line with the tailbooms.
Three aircraft competed in the race (number 53 having been withdrawn due to engine trouble). Aircraft number 54 differed from the rest in having a 60hp Renault engine.
Unfortunately, all of the remaining three were unsuccessful with No.54 crashing during the race whilst being flown by Harold Pixton. No.51 was to be flown by Graham Gilmour although he was forced to withdraw after his licence was found to be suspended.
No.52 suffered an unidentified mechanical failure.
Aircraft number 51 was subsequently fitted with a 50hp Gnome engine and sold to a private owner. Sadly, this aircraft was destroyed in a fatal accident at Brooklands on 1st August 1911. Thereafter none of the Type T's were ever flown again.
However, one Type T was rebuilt in a substantially modified form as the Challenger-England Biplane.
This aircraft was allocated a new Bristol build number 59.
The foreplane and its associated structure were done away with and a modified nacelle was fitted with a 60hp ENV engine mounted in the nose driving a tractor propeller. This aircraft was flown successfully at Larkhill from November 1911 until 19th May 1912. Tragically the aircraft turned over whist taxying after landing, striking a group of spectators with one person being killed. After this unfortunate incident, the Challenger-England Biplane was totally dismantled.
One additional Type T (allocated build number 78) was not completed.
|Powerplant||70 hp or 50 hp Gnome or 60 hp Renault engine||60hp ENV Type F engine|
|Span||35 ft 0 in||35 ft 0 in|
|Maximum Weight||1,000 lb|
|Capacity||Pilot only||Pilot only|
|Maximum Speed||58 mph|
Variants and number built
Five Type T (build numbers 45, 51-54), one of which was subsequently substantially modified to become the Challenger-England Biplane (build number 59). One additional Type T (build number 78) not completed.
No examples survive.