SHORT TORPEDO-CARRYING SEAPLANE, the S.184, which had a 225 horse-power Sunbeam engine. This aircraft type was designed in September 1914 and with various modifications was built in large numbers during the war. One of the S.184 seaplanes was the only aircraft used by the British forces during the naval battle off Jutland on May 31, 1916, when it carried out valuable scouting duties.
THE Royal Naval Air Service had in August 1914 thirty-one seaplanes of twelve different types; they were built by six different firms. Only five of the seaplanes were of foreign design. All thirty-one were powered by foreign engines of eleven different types made by five different factories. Their horse-power ranged from 80 to 200.
These early service seaplanes were all floatplanes, for the flying boat had not then come into use in the R.N.A.S. There were seventeen Short, four Wright, four Sopwith, three Maurice Farman, one R.A.F. and two Henri Farman seaplanes fitted with engines made by Gnome, Renault, Anzani, Salmson (Canton-Unne) and Austro-Daimler.
The Maurice Farman and Henri Farman were similar to their landplane counterparts, but two main floats were substituted for the wheeled undercarriage and one tail float for the tail skids. The floats of the Maurice Farman were stepped, those of the Henri Farman flat-bottomed. Apart from that, the description of these aeroplanes in the chapter “Aeroplanes of the Great War” is applicable.
The float seaplanes most widely used in the R.N.A.S. and the R.A.F. during the war were those developed by Short Brothers, Ltd. They were single-engined tractor biplanes with two main floats, a tail float and two wing-tip floats.
The Short S.41 (1912-15) was a 100 horse-power Gnome-engined tractor biplane. It was first fitted with a “land” chassis, which was later replaced by floats. The converted machine, flown with great success by Commander C. R. Samson, played a conspicuous part in the Naval Manoeuvres of 1912. It was the forerunner of the famous Short series of seaplanes.
Improved machines of this type were used during the early part of the war. Three of the seven Short seaplanes which carried out the raid on Cuxhaven on Christmas Day 1914 were of the improved S.41 type. Dimensions were: span (upper) 50 feet, span (lower) 34 ft. 9 in, gap 7 feet, chord 6 ft. 11 in, length 39 feet, height 11 ft. 9 in.
The Short 200 horse-power float seaplane was fitted with the Canton-Unne engine. This seaplane, designed about the end of 1913, was first produced early in 1914. It carried a torpedo slung between the main floats and was one of the earliest machines to be fitted with the Short patent folding wings.
The useful load was: pilot and observer, 4 hours’ fuel, torpedo and wireless outfit. Dimensions were: span (upper) 54 ft. 6 in, span (lower) 40 feet, gap 6 ft. 3 in, chord 6 feet, length 39 feet, height 12 ft. 6 in, width with wings folded 15 ft. 3 in. The weight, fully loaded, was 3,700 lb.
In September 1914 Short Brothers designed a seaplane to be fitted with a 150 horse-power Sunbeam engine; this seaplane appeared in 1915. In 1916 a 140 horse-power Canton-Unne was fitted to a machine of generally similar design. These seaplanes were built in considerable numbers and saw service in many theatres of war, notably in the East African campaign.
The useful load was: pilot and observer, 4½ hours’ fuel and wireless outfit. Dimensions were: span (upper) 53 ft. 11 in, span (lower) 40 feet, gap 5 ft. 6 in, chord, 5 feet, length 35 ft. 3 in, height 13 ft. 6 in, width with wings folded 16 ft. 5 in. The speed was 61 miles an hour and the weight, fully loaded, 3,400 lb.
The Short S.184, fitted with the 225 horse-power Sunbeam, was originally designed about September 1914 to carry a torpedo slung between the main floats. Early in the war one of these seaplanes was successful in torpedoing and sinking a Turkish transport at sea.
Some S.184 seaplanes were adapted to carry bombs instead of a torpedo, and various modifications of the type were effected.
The useful load was: pilot and observer, 5 hours’ fuel, torpedo (or four 100 lb. bombs) and wireless outfit. Dimensions were: span 63 ft. 6¼ in, chord (upper) 6 ft. 6 in, chord (lower) 5 feet, gap 5 ft. 6 in, length 40 ft. 7½ in, height 13 ft. 6 in, width with wings folded 16 ft. 4¾ in, weight, fully loaded, 5,100 lb. The Short S.184 Type D, with a 225 horse-power Sunbeam engine, was a modification of the S.184. This machine was a single-seater bomber, and carried nine 56 lb. bombs suspended vertically within the fuselage immediately in front of the pilot.
Later modifications of the S.184 had 240 horse-power Renault-Mercedes or 260 horse-power Sunbeam Maori engines. That fitted with the Sunbeam Maori engines appeared in 1917. The useful load carried included pilot, observer, wireless, four 112 lb. bombs and a Lewis gun.
For Anti-Submarine Patrol
With the 240 horse-power Renault-Mercedes engine the speed was 70 knots (80 miles an hour) at 2,000 feet, and 61 knots (70 miles an hour) at 6,500 feet. With the 260 horse-power Sunbeam engine the speed was 73 knots (84 miles an hour) at 2,000 feet, and 72 knots (83 miles an hour) at 6,500 feet.
Another modification of the S.184 was fitted with a 250 horse-power Rolls-Royce engine in place of the Sunbeam engine.
The Short seaplane, fitted with a 320 horse-power Sunbeam Cossack engine, was designed early in 1916 to carry a torpedo slung under the fuselage; the rear float-crossbar was made
removable to provide a clear passage for the dropping of the torpedo. Other machines of the type were provided with bombs and extra fuel instead of a torpedo and were used largely for long-distance reconnaissance and antisubmarine patrol.
Useful loads were: pilot and observer, 3 hours’ fuel, torpedo, or 6 hours’ fuel, two 230-lb. bombs, wireless, machine gun and ammunition. Dimensions were: span (upper) 75 feet, span (lower) 47 feet, gap 7 ft. 2 in, chord 7 feet, width with wings folded, 22 ft. 1 in, length 45 ft. 9 in, height 17 ft. 6 in. Weight, fully loaded, was 6,900 lb. and top speed was 80 miles an hour.
Type Short N/2B seaplane (1917) had a 275 horse-power Sunbeam Maori engine. The useful load was: pilot and observer, 4½ hours’ fuel, wireless, two 230-lb. bombs. Dimensions were: overall width (wings open) 55 ft. 2 in, width (folded) 18 ft. 1 in, length 40 ft. 2 in, height 13 ft. 1 in, chord (upper) 7 ft. 6 in, chord (lower) 6 ft. 6 in, gap 6 ft. 6 in, weight, fully loaded, 4,800 lb. The machine could climb to 10,000 feet in 33 minutes and the speed was 92 miles an hour.
DESIGNED EARLY IN 1916, the Short seaplane, fitted with a 320 horse-power Sunbeam Cossack engine, carried a torpedo. This was slung under the fuselage, the rear float-crossbar being made removable to provide a clear passage for the dropping of the torpedo. At the fully-loaded weight of 6,900 lb. the top speed was 80 miles an hour.
The seaplane designs of the Fairey Aviation Company, Ltd., from the founding of the company in 1915 to the end of the war, included the Campania, the Illb and IIIc.
The Fairey Campania had the same general float arrangement as the Short seaplanes; it had wing extensions on the upper planes. With the 275 horsepower Rolls-Royce engine its speed was 76 knots (87 miles an hour) at 2,000 feet and 72 knots (83 miles an hour) at 6,500 feet. Flight duration was 4½ hours and service ceiling 7,000 feet. With the 260 horse-power Sunbeam the speed was 73 knots (84 miles an hour) at 2,000 feet. Flight duration was 4½ hours and service ceiling 6,000 feet. Dimensions were: span 61 ft. 7½ in, chord 6 ft. 4 in, gap 6 ft. 6 in, length 43 feet, maximum height 15 ft. 1 in.
The Fairey IIIb, with a 260 horsepower Sunbeam Maori or a 320 horsepower Sunbeam Cossack engine, was an improvement on the Campania. When fitted with a 320 horse-power Sunbeam Cossack engine, its speed was 79 knots (91 miles an hour) at 2,000 feet and 75 knots (86 miles an hour) at 6,500 feet. The service ceiling was 9,000 feet.
It had double bay wings with extensions to the upper plane. The extensions were braced by pylons on the upper planes above the outer struts. It had two main floats, two wing tip floats and one tail float. It was a two-seater with the pilot’s cockpit under the centre section, and the gunner’s cockpit aft of the wings. Two radiators were mounted on the outside of the fuselage alongside the engine. A water rudder was fitted behind the tail float.
The dimensions were: span (upper) 62 ft. 8 15/16-in, span (lower) 44 ft. 8 7/16-in, chord 5 ft. 6 in, gap 5 ft. 7 in, stagger nil, dihedral 1½ degrees, incidence 4½ degrees, height 14 feet, length 37 ft. 1 in.
The Fairey IIIc was a development of the same type of seaplane and was fitted with the 360 horse-power Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engine.
The Fairey IIIc was designed to operate in four different load conditions from light load to overload. At light load its speed was 96 knots (110 miles an hour) at 2,000 feet, 93 knots (107 miles an hour) at 6,500 feet and 90 knots (103 miles an hour) at 10,000 feet.
Small Americas and Large Americas
Flight duration was 2 hours at 6,000 feet and service ceiling 17,000 feet. At full overload the speed was 87 knots (100 miles an hour) at 2,000 feet and 83 knots (95 miles an hour) at 6,500 feet, with a flight duration of 5 hours at 6,000 feet and a service ceiling of 8,500 feet.
Dimensions were: span 46 ft. 1| in., chord 5 ft. 6 in, gap 5 ft. 3 in, stagger nil, dihedral 1 degree 4 minutes, incidence 4 degrees 30 minutes at centre section, 4 degrees 22½ minutes at inner struts, 4 degrees 15 minutes at outer struts, height (low chassis) 11 ft. 9¾ in, height (high chassis) 12 ft. 1¾ in, length 36 feet, width (folded) 13 feet.
THE TWO-SEATER FAIREY IIIc had twin main floats, two wing-tip floats and a tail float. The tail float was fitted with a water rudder. A 360 horse-power Rolls-Royce Eagle VS ii engine was used, and two radiators were mounted on the sides of the fuselage outside the pilot’s cockpit. With a light load the speed of the seaplane was I 10 miles an hour at 2,000 feet.
In 1915 a small number of Curtiss flying boats of the “Small America” class were bought for use in the R.N.A.S. They were fitted with two 100 horsepower Clerget rotary engines. The “Small America” class was followed by the H.12 or “Large America” flying boat, which was the true forerunner of all later war-time British flying boats.
The H.12 (1917) was fitted with two 275 horse-power Rolls-Royce Eagle I engines. Its hull was covered partly in plywood and partly in fabric. It could not operate from rough water without risk of damage to the hull. Yet this flying boat carried out valuable North Sea patrols from Felixstowe (Suffolk) and Yarmouth (Norfolk) Air Stations in 1917.
This type was superseded by the F. (Felixstowe) series of flying boats, the F.1, the F.2 and the F.3. Wing Commander John C. Porte was primarily responsible for these developments and had played a part in the design of the original Curtiss H.12. All the F. flying boats were tractor biplanes with a considerable extension to the upper wings. The F.2a and the F.3 bore the brunt of the war effort after the H.12.
The F.2a (1917) was manned by a crew of four and fitted with two Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines. Its speed was 83 knots (95 miles an hour) at 2,000 feet and 77 knots (88 miles an hour) at 6,500 feet. Flight duration was 6 hours at 1,000 feet and service ceiling 9,500 feet. Dimensions were: span (upper) 95 ft. 7½ in, span (lower) 68 ft. 5 in, chord 7 ft. 1 in, gap 7 ft. 1 in, stagger nil, incidence 4¼ degrees, dihedral 1 degree, length 46 ft. 3 in, height 17 ft. 6 in.
The F.3 (1918) was fitted with two Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines, and had four load conditions in which flight duration varied from 2¼ hours to 6 hours. At light load the speed was 81 knots (93 miles an hour) at 2,000 feet, 79 knots (91 miles an hour) at 6,500 feet and 76 knots (87 miles an hour) at 10,000 feet. Flight duration was 2¼ hours at 2,000 feet and service ceiling was 12,000 feet. At overload weight the speed was 78 knots (90 miles an hour) at 2,000 feet and service ceiling 6,000 feet.
Dimensions were: span (upper) 102 feet, span (lower) 74 ft. 2 in, chord 8 feet, gap 8 ft. 6 in, stagger nil, incidence 4 degrees, dihedral 1½ degrees, length 49 ft. 2 in, height 18 ft. 8 in.
The F.5 (1918) was fitted with two 360 horse-power Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines and was manned by a crew of four. It had four load conditions. At light load the speed was 88 knots (101 miles an hour) at 2,000 feet; 87 knots (100 miles an hour) at 6,500 feet and 85 knots (98 miles an hour) at 10,000 feet. Flight duration was 2J- hours at 6,000 feet and service ceiling 17,500 feet. At overload weight the speed was 80 knots (92 miles an hour) at 6,500 feet; duration was then 7 hours at 6,000 feet and service ceiling 9,000 feet.
The H.16 (1918) was a late war-time American design with an improved hull design. Instead of a single step it had a double step and the construction was stronger. It carried a crew of four. It was fitted with the Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engine and its speed was 85 knots (98 miles an hour) at 2,000 feet, 83 knots (95 miles an hour) at 6,500 feet and 80 knots (92 miles an hour) at 10,000 feet. Flight duration was 6 hours at 2,000 feet and service ceiling 12,500 feet.
These twin-engine flying-boats were all used for naval reconnaissance and anti-Zeppelin and anti-submarine patrols over the North Sea area.
Numbers of small single-engined flying-boats were built (some of them experimentally) during the years 1914-1918. Among them were the A.D. (Admiralty Air Department) flying boat, which was fitted with the 200 horse-power Hispano-Suiza engine; the F.B.A. (Franco-British Aviation Co.), fitted with the 100 horse-power Monosoupape rotary engine, with the Clerget rotary engine and then with the Hispano-Suiza engine; the Norman Thompson, with the 140 horse-power Hispano-Suiza engine; and the White & Thompson, with the 120 horse-power Beardmore or 130 horse-power Clerget engine. These single-engined flying boats were small and unsuited to North Sea use. The Norman Thompson N.T.2b was used as a school machine for training in the art of handling flying boats.
The N.T. 2b (1918) flying boat was fitted with the eight-cylinder 200 horsepower Sunbeam Arab engine. It was a single-engined pusher type carrying instructor and pupil with dual controls. Speed was 74 knots (85 miles an hour) at 2,000 feet and 73 knots (84 miles an hour) at 6,500 feet. Service ceiling was 11,500 feet. Dimensions were: span (upper) 48 ft. 4¾ in, span (lower) 27 ft. 6¾ in, chord 5 ft. 6 in, stagger nil, incidence 5 degrees, dihedral 1 degree, length 27 ft. 4½ in, height 10 ft. 8 in.
The F.B.A. (1918) was fitted with the 100 horse-power Monosoupape rotary engine. It was a two-seater pusher flying boat, with double bay wings with extensions to the upper planes, and side-by-side seating. Its speed at sea level was 68 miles an hour. Dimensions were: span (upper) 45 feet, span (lower) 33 ft. 11 in, gap 5 ft. 2 in, length 28 ft. 3 in, height 9 ft. 9 in. The weight empty was 1,265 lb; the weight loaded, 1,958 lb.
One interesting feature peculiar in aviation to the big twin-engined flying boats of 1917-18 was the introduction of dazzle-painting.
Dazzle-painting was invented by the marine artist Norman Wilkinson for the camouflaging of merchant ships. The special dazzle-painting for each ship was designed so to distort her outlines as to make her appear to be moving on a course other than that which she was following.
The use of dazzle-painting on some of the British flying boats during the war of 1914-18 was the only application of this system of camouflage to aircraft.
F.B.A. FLYING BOAT was fitted with a 100 horse-power Monosoupape rotary engine driving a pusher airscrew. This two-seater air-craft was introduced in 1918 and had a speed at sea level of 68 miles an hour. The span of the top plane, which had extensions, was 45 feet ; the lower plane span was 33 ft. II in. In the background are moored two twin-engined F. type flying boats.