The English Electric P.5 Kingston was a twin-engine flying boat built in the early 1920’s and evolved from two prototypes built by Phoenix Dynamo Manufacturing Company.
The Aircraft Design Team at the newly formed English Electric Company was led by William Oke Manning who set about meeting Air Ministry Specification 23/23 which called for an anti-submarine and coastal patrol aircraft.
The evolved a design based on the Phoenix P5 Cork Mk III flying boat produced by Phoenix Dynamo (who were one of the companies that amalgamated with Dick, Kerr & Co of Preston and the Coventry Ordnance Works to form The English Electric Co Ltd).
Manning and his team began initial design work in 1922 and in January 1923 an order was received from the Air Ministry for one prototype (Serial N168) later to be called The Kingston.
Traditionally, flying boat hulls had been made by boat builders and delivered bare to the aircraft works. However, for this project and for the first time, English Electric would build the hull themselves at Preston, using specially recruited boat-building staff.
The flying boat would be assembled in Preston before being moved by road and flown from Lytham, on the Ribble estuary. The slipway and flight sheds at Lytham had not been used since the trials of the Fairey Atalanta in 1921 and had been returned to its original owner. On 1 November 1923, English Electric acquired a lease for the site and began restoring it after two years of dereliction.
The Kingston (N168) was taken to Lytham for final assembly in April 1924 and on 22nd May 1924 the Kingston was launched into the Ribble estuary. Piloted by Major HG Brackley (then Air Superintendent of Imperial Airways) he was joined by a crew comprising CJ Blackburn, (Observer) and WA Bannister (Engineer).
Whereas the Kingston Mk I met type requirements and air-handling qualities, it fell short of Service requirements for overall seaworthiness. In particular, it had a tendency to bounce on the water on both take-off and landing and to take in an excessive amount of water during taxy and take-off phase.
The metal-hulled Mk II had been built in a similar way to the wooden hull, albeit in metal form and was it was criticised for being overweight which had a highly-adverse impact on its performance.
The Mk III, which featured a new design and method of construction, returning to a wooden hull and it proved to be the most successful of all the P5 Kingston aircraft with good performance and seaworthiness.
However, further orders did not materialise and when the last Kingston (N9713) took off for Felixstowe on 16th March 1926, the company announced the closure of the Aircraft Department.
It was1944 before English Electric Company reformed its Aircraft Department when it was awarded some wartime sub-contract work.
Variants & Numbers built
|Prototype||One aircraft N168|
|P5 Kingston I||Four wooden hull aircraft K9709 – K9712|
|P5 Kingston II||New metal hull variant: one aircraft K9712 refitted with a new Duralumin hull structure|
|P5 Kingston III||New wooden hull design; one only K9713|
Specification (P5 Kingston Mk I)
|Powerplants||Two 450 hp Napier Lion IIb engines|
|Wingspan||(Upper) 85 ft 6 in (Lower) 63 ft 7 in|
|Overall Length||52 ft 9 in|
|Height||20 ft 11 in|
|Empty Weight||8,739 lb|
|All Up Weight||14,117 lb|
|Maximum Speed||104.8 mph at sea level|
|Capacity & Armament||Six crew (pilot, observer, three gunners, engineer). Three 0.303 Lewis guns and up to 1,040 lb of bombs carried underwing.|
|Endurance||8 to 9 hours|