FOUR ENGINES WERE USED on the Handley Page V/1500 bomber which was ready at the time of the Armistice to carry out long-distance raids. Two of the propellers were of tractor type and two pusher. The span of the aircraft was 126 feet and its height 23 feet. It was fitted with four Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines and its speed was 99 miles an hour at 6,503 feet.
THE only bomb available for British aircraft in August 1914 was the 20-lb Hale. Soon after the war began Lieutenant C. R. Finch-Noyes, R.N., invented an incendiary bomb made of large tins filled with petrol.
Bombs were not at first used by the R.F.C., whose pilots looked upon aeroplanes as flying scouts for the ground forces. Soon, however, the offensive properties of aeroplanes became apparent. R.F.C. pilots began to take up rifle grenades with the stick removed; the grenades were launched by hand and their descent was steadied by the attachment of strips of fabric. The grenades were carried in the pockets. No bomb-dropping gear was in use at that time. It was not until the war of movement ceased and trench warfare set in that the R.F.C. began to devise bombing gear.
From the beginning of the war, however, the R.N.A.S. looked upon the aeroplane as an offensive weapon. During the defence of Antwerp, R.N.A.S. pilots made their first bomb raid, on September 22, 1914, on Dusseldorf. A second raid, on Dusseldorf and Cologne, was made on October 8, 1914. Flight Lieutenant Marix destroyed a Zeppelin shed at Dusseldorf; Squadron Commander Spenser Grey dropped his bombs on the main station of Cologne.
Then followed the R.N.A.S. raid on the Zeppelin sheds at Friedrichshafen, which was described in the first chapter of this series (page 505). The bombs used were 20-pounders.
Halfway through the war bombing had been greatly developed. Heavy bombs were in use. Bomb sights and bomb carriers had been considerably improved in design.
At that time an electric launching tube was used to discharge small incendiary bombs (for attacking airships), parachute flares and signal bombs. The tube was mounted inside the aeroplane with its lower end projecting through the floor. It was, loaded by hand. Electric contacts ignited a delay-action charge, which fired the bomb after it had fallen clear of the machine. Among bomb carriers the 20-lb C.F.S. carrier accommodated the 20-lb Hale high-explosive, the 16-lb Herl light case, the 16-lb R.L. (Royal Laboratory) carcass incendiary and the 6-lb small petrol bomb (¾ gallon).
The 100-lb C.F.S. bomb carrier accommodated the 100-lb Hale high-explosive light case, the 112-lb Herl Marks 1, 2 or 3, the 100-lb Herl light case, and the 16-lb large petrol bomb (2¼ gallon).
A CREW OF FOUR were normally carried in the Handley Page twin-engined bombers. These aircraft were sometimes used to convey flying officers to the war zone. There were two types of this aircraft, the earlier 0/100 and the later 0/400. The 0/400 was fitted with two 275 horse-power Rolls-Royce Falcon engines. The wings could be folded back parallel to the fuselage to economize in storage space. The speed of the 0/400 was 79 miles an hour at 6,500 feet when carrying sixteen 112-lb bombs. The flight duration of the aircraft was eight hours and the service ceiling 7,000 feet.
OF FRENCH DESIGN, the Caudron Twin (centre) was a biplane with two 80 horse-power Le Rhone rotary engines or two 100 horse-power Anzani radial air-cooled engines. The speed was 82 miles an hour at 6,500 feet. The Caudron did not form the sole equipment of any British squadron.
THE DE HAVILLAND DH.10 (above) was a three-seater twin-engined day-bomber fitted with two 400 horse-power Liberty engines. The speed was 117 miles an hour at 6,500 feet, 115 at 10,000 feet, and 110 at 15,000 feet. The DH.10 had a flight duration of six hours and a service ceiling of 17,500 feet.
The Caudron Twin (1915-16) was a two-seater two-engined tractor biplane day-bomber of French design. The crew was accommodated in a central nacelle. Two 80 horse-power Le Rhone rotary engines or two 100 horse-power Anzani radial air-cooled engines were fitted. The speed was 82 miles an hour at 6,500 feet and 80 miles an hour at 10,000 feet; flight duration was 3½ to 4 hours and service ceiling 14,000 feet. The Caudron Twin did not form the sole equipment of any British squadron.
The Voisin bomber (1915-16) was a two-seater fitted with the 140 horsepower Salmson (Canton-Unne) engine. This pusher biplane had a speed of 62 miles an hour at 6,500 feet. Flight duration was 4 hours and service ceiling 10,000 feet. It was used by Nos. 5 and 16 Squadrons of the R.F.C.
The F.E.2b (1915-17) is described in pages 723 and 724 in the fourth chapter of this series, which deals with reconnaissance aircraft.
The R.E.7 (1915-17) two-seater tractor biplane was a day bomber designed at the Royal Aircraft Factory. It was fitted with three different types of engines. With the 150 horse-power R.A.F.4a engine its speed was 82 miles an hour at 6,500 feet; flight duration was 6 hours and service ceiling 6,500 feet. With the 160 horse-power Beardmore engine its speed was 91 miles an hour at sea level.
With the 250 horse-power Rolls-Royce engine its speed was 88 miles an hour at 10,000 feet. The R.E.7 had double-bay wings with extensions to the upper planes. Its dimensions were: span (upper) 57 feet, (lower) 42 feet, chord 6 feet, stagger (with R.A.F.4a and Beard-more engines) 2⅞-in, (with 250 horsepower Rolls-Royce engine) 11-in, incidence 4 degrees except for washout to 3½ degrees at the right wing outer struts, dihedral 2½ degrees, length 31 ft 10½-in, height 12 ft 7-in, tailplane span 16 ft 8½-in, tailplane chord 3 ft 2-in.
The Short bomber (1916-17) was a two-seater tractor biplane fitted with the 250 horse-power Rolls-Royce engine. It was preceded by a bomber produced in 1915 and fitted with the 225 horse-power Sunbeam engine. This earlier model was not designed primarily as a bombing aeroplane, but was an S.184 seaplane fitted with a land-type undercarriage; the wings were altered from the seaplane’s equal span triple-bay type to double-bay and then triple-bay types, both with extensions to the upper wings.
The 250 horse-power Rolls-Royce engined Short bomber was an improved design. Like the earlier model it had a four-wheeled undercarriage with two wheels in front and two behind. It had folding wings. One machine-gun was mounted in the rear cockpit and four 230-lb or eight 112-lb bombs were carried. Its speed was 77 miles an hour at 6,500 feet, duration 6 hours, service ceiling 9,500 feet, span (upper) 85 feet, chord 6 feet, stagger nil, gap 6 feet 3 in, length 45 feet and height 15 feet.
The Handley Page 0/400 night bomber (1917-18) was a four-seater twin-engined tractor biplane, and a development of the type 0/100. The 0/100 was fitted with two 320 horse-power Sunbeam Cossack engines; the 0/400 with two 275 horse-power Rolls-Royce Falcon engines. The triple-bay wings, with extensions on the upper plane, could be folded back parallel with the fuselage to save space for stowage. The engines were mounted in the centre section at the inner strut positions. The four- wheel type undercarriage with all wheels in line was attached to the centre section.
The following particulars apply to the type 0/400. The speed was 79 miles an hour at 6,500 feet, when carrying sixteen 112-lb bombs. The duration was 8 hours and the service ceiling 7,000 feet. The total loaded weight was 12,230 lb. These aircraft were used by R.F.C. and R.A.F. Squadrons Nos. 58, 97, 100, 115, 215 and 216. Dimensions (0/100 and 0/400): span (upper) 100 feet, (lower) 70 feet, chord 10 feet, gap 11 feet, incidence 3 degrees, dihedral 4 degrees, length 62 ft 10¼-in, height (in flying position) 22 feet, (wings folded) 17 ft 6-in.
The Blackburn Kangaroo (1918) twin-engined bomber was a three-seater tractor biplane fitted with two 250 horse-power Rolls-Royce Falcon engines. It had quadruple-bay wings with extensions to the upper planes. Each engine was housed in the second bay outward from the fuselage and projected well in front of the wings. The rectangular fuselage was of small cross-sectional dimensions. Its nose was exceptionally long; forward gunner and pilot sat one behind the other in front of the airscrews. The biplane tail had twin elevators, fins and rudders. The four wheels of the undercarriage were in line. The speed was 98 miles an hour at 6,500 feet, and 86 miles an hour at 10,000 feet; the service ceiling was 10,500 feet. Bomb load was four 230-lb bombs. Dimensions were: span (upper) 74 ft 10¼-in, (lower) 53 ft 1-in, chord 7 ft 3-in, stagger nil, incidence 5 degrees, dihedral 5 degrees, length 44 ft 2-in, (wings folded) 46 ft 1-in, height 16 ft 10-in, gross weight 8,017 lb.
Day Bomber's 111 Miles an Hour
The De Havilland No. 9 (1918) was known as the D.H.9. It was a two-seater tractor biplane fitted with the 240 horse-power B.H.P. 6-cylinder-in-line vertical water-cooled engine. Unlike the D.H.4, the two cockpits were close together, with the main fuel tanks between the engine and the pilot’s cockpit. It was used as a day bomber. Its speed was 111 miles an hour at 10,000 feet, 97 at 15,000 feet, and 91 at 16,500 feet, when carrying bombs. Flight duration was 4½ hours and service ceiling 17,500 feet. It was used by Squadrons Nos. 27, 49, 98, 99, 103, 104, 107 and 108 of the R.F.C. Dimensions were: span 42 ft 4½-in, chord 5 ft 6-in, gap 5 ft 6-in, stagger 12-in, incidence 3 degrees, dihedral 3 degrees, length 30 ft 6-in, height 10 feet.
The De Havilland 9a (1918) day-bomber was known as the D.H.9a. It was a two-seater tractor biplane similar to the D.H.9 in general design, but fitted with either the 360 horse-power Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engine or the 400 horse-power Liberty engine, both water-cooled V 12-cylinder stationary engines. With the Rolls-Royce engine the speed with bombs was 107 miles an hour at 10,000 feet, duration 6 hours and service ceiling 13,500 feet. With the Liberty engine the speed was 114 miles an hour at 10,000 feet, 106 at 15,000 feet and 102 at 16,500 feet; duration was 5¾ hours and service ceiling 16,500 feet. The D.H.9a was used by No. 5 Squadron R.N.A.S., and by Nos. 18, 99 and 110, R.F.C. Dimensions were: span 45 ft 11½-in, chord 5 ft 9-in, gap 5 ft 6-in, stagger 12-in, incidence 3 degrees, dihedral 3 degrees, length 30 feet, height 11 ft 3½-in.
The De Havilland 10 (1918), known as the D.H.10, was a three-seater twin-engined day-bomber fitted with two 400 horse-power Liberty engines. It had triple-bay equal span wings with single centre-section struts to the centre of the fuselage, a two-wheeled undercarriage and monoplane tailplane, elevator, fin and rudder. Its speed was 117 miles an hour at 6,500 feet, 115 at
10,000 feet and 110 at 15,000 feet. Flight duration was six hours and service ceiling 17,500 feet. Dimensions were: span 65 ft 6-in, chord 7 feet, gap 7 feet, stagger nil, incidence 7 degrees, dihedral 4½ degrees, length 39 ft 7-in, height 14 ft 10½-in, gross weight 8,750 lb.
The Handley Page V/1500 (1918) was a four-engined, six-seater pusher-tractor-biplane night-bomber. At the time of the Armistice it was standing by to bomb Berlin. It was fitted with four Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines; its speed was 99 miles an hour at 6,500 feet and 95 miles an hour at 10,000 feet. Flight duration was about 14 hours. Dimensions were: span 126 feet, chord
The Sopwith Torpedo Aeroplane (1917-18), better known as the Sopwith Cuckoo, was a single-seater fitted with the 200 horse - power Sunbeam Arab 8-cylinder V water-cooled engine and designed to carry a torpedo. It had triple-bay wings. Speed was 90 knots (104 miles an hour) at 2,000 feet, 89 knots (102 miles an hour) at 6,500 feet and 85 knots (98 miles an hour) at 10,000 feet. Flight duration was 4 hours and service ceiling 12,000 feet. This aeroplane was developed for the R.N.A.S. for naval duty. Dimensions were: span 45 ft 9-in, chord 6 ft 3-in, gap 6 feet, stagger nil, incidence 3 degrees, dihedral 2½ degrees, length 28 ft 6-in, height 11 feet, gross weight 3,883 lb.
The Short Torpedo Aeroplane, Type N.1B (1918) called the Shirl, was fitted with the 375 horse-power Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engine. It was a single-engined single-seater tractor biplane with equal span double-bay wings. It carried an 18-in torpedo mounted between the undercarriage struts. It was designed as a landplane with a two-wheeled undercarriage and as a ship-plane with a four-wheels-in-line undercarriage and airbags for emergency alighting on the water. Its speed was 93 miles an hour, and it could climb to 10,000 feet in 39 minutes with full load, when its total weight was 6,000 lb. Flight duration was 6½ hours. Dimensions were: span 52 feet, (wings folded) 17 ft 6-in, chord (upper) 8 ft 6-in, (lower) 7 ft 6-in, gap 6 ft 6-in, length 35 feet, height 13 ft 3-in.
Government Factory Types
The aeroplanes described in this series of chapters as the De Havilland range, from the D.H.1a to the D.H.10, were the products of the Aircraft Manufacturing Co., Ltd, and were built to the designs of Captain Geoffrey de Havilland (see pages 341-345). Some-times they were referred to as the Airco D.H. series. Their production preceded the formation of the now world-famous De Havilland Aircraft Co., Ltd.
Another point of interest concerns the initials used to distinguish the range of aeroplane designs produced in the Royal Aircraft Factory. In a Government factory it was not possible to adopt the commercial aircraft manufacturers’ usual practice of labelling the aeroplane with the initials or name of the designer or head of the company So the well-known series of designs developed there were designated by the initials B.E., F.E., R.E. and S.E. The initials B.E. stood for Bleriot type Experimental, because the series was of tractor design similar to that of the early Bleriot aeroplanes. The initials F.E. stood for Farman type Experimental because the series was of pusher design like that of the early Farman aeroplanes. The initials R.E. stood for Reconnaissance Experimental, and S.E. for Santos-Dumont Experimental, in honour of that other pioneer who was a contemporary of Bleriot and of the Farmans.
At one time it was widely believed that B.E., F.E. and S.E. stood for Biplane Experimental, Fighter Experimental and Scout Experimental. Although this explanation was, perhaps, equally appropriate, the initials were not so derived.
There were several now world-famous designers serving in the Royal Aircraft Factory during the period covered by the production of these designs. Among them were Captain G. de Havilland, J. Kenworthy, H. P. Folland and J. S. Irving, designer of recent record-breaking motor cars.
In this chapter the consideration of the development of the bomber has been restricted to landplane types. Floatplanes and flying boats, however, were also developed for torpedo-carrying and bombing duties. They operated from shore and ship bases and were mainly used against targets of a naval category. The development of seaplanes during the war of 1914-18 will be treated in the next chapter of this series.
The details of the British land bombers which were developed and used during 1914-18 disclose most effectively that the employ-ment of the aeroplane bomber as a real weapon was just beginning when the war entered upon its final phase.
Few bombers of the war period could exceed 100 miles an hour at their operating height. Most of them could not reach targets farther from their base than 150-200 miles.
At the end of the intensive war period of development British bombers were all biplanes. Their bombs were carried outboard, on exposed racks usually attached to the underside of the wings. This arrangement cut down the speed of the laden aircraft considerably.
THE SHORT BOMBER was a two-seater tractor biplane fitted with a 250 horse-power Rolls-Royce engine. The four-wheeled undercarriage and huge tail fins were features of its design. The wings were arranged to fold. At 6,500 feet the speed was 77 miles an hour. The biplane carried four 230-lb or eight 112-lb bombs, and had one machine-gun mounted in the rear cockpit.