William Beardmore and Company, Ltd.
Ships, Planes, Locomotives, and more... Glasgow-based giant conglomerate was Scottish premium industrial group in 1914, already known for its numerous locomotive and ships for the Royal Navy and merchant marine. There was not a long stretch from there to manufacturing planes and airships in a new branch.
Beardmore built at the same time licence models (starting with the Nieuport 12, then Sopwith Pup and BE2C, which gave the company enough skills to launch its own models W.B. and even its own engine, the Beardmore Adriatic. Licence-production comprised the 1918 heavy bomber Handley Page HP V/1500, Nieuport 12, R.A.F. BE.2C, Sopwith Camel and Sopwith Pup. The WB.1 was a 1917 light bomber prototype designed by G. Tilghman Richards, chief designer of the aviation department of William Beardmore, starting operations in 1916. The W.B.1. was to be a single engined bomber, single seat made for the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and optimized for low altitude, furtive attacks. Of three-bay biplane construction with with long span ratio wings highly staggered, it had a 230 hp (172 kW) BHP engine. The first flight intervened in early 1917 and it was sent to be tested at the RNAS Cranwell facility in June 1917,, but the latter preferred the larger Handley Page O/100. It was followed by the two-seater W.B.1a, a long-distance bomber biplane propelled by the domestic engine, Galloway Atlantic, 500 hp. It was fast (110 mph) despite its Gross weight of 8,900 lb and had a 6 h 30 min autonomy, but it was not enough for the RNAS and stayd as a prototype;
WB.III, the only production aircraft, a near-clone of the Sopwith Pup, designed for RNAS carriers.
The next WB.2 of wooden construction was another private venture developed from the Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c by G. Tilghman Richards, also in the fall of 1916. A two-seater Powered by a 200 hp (150 kW) Hispano-Suiza 8Bd engine and armed with two MGs it was tested early on 30 August 1917 with success, but the Air Ministry was not keen to adopt the 8Bd engine in short supply and allocated to the S.E.5a already. Production of two W.B.2B occurred after the war as civil planes and a third proposed was to have the Galloway Adriatic engine. The W.B.III however was a successful design, a single-seat fighter developed from the Sopwith Pup, built to around 100 planes for the RNAS. There were designed to operate on carriers, like the converted HMS Furious, HMS Argus and seaplane tenders like the Nairana and Pegasus. The newt WB.IV was a prototype fighter, tailored to answer the Royal Navy's Admiralty Specification N.1A, aimed at a naval land/ship-based fighter. The pilot was to be able to be safely ditching and remain afloat. So WB designed a large permanent flotation chamber into the fuselage, under the nose while the pilot had a watertight cockpit and the propeller shaft underneath the cockpit was coupled with the inline Hispano-Suiza located over the centre of gravity while the undercarriage could be jettisoned. Wing tips also had additional floats and could fold for storage. Althoough the concept was sound, as shown on 12 December 1917, and later evaluated at Martlesham Heath in July 1918 its performances were just too poor compared to regular naval planes and in addition the prototype sank during a ditching test.
Meanwhile, the company's designer also conceived another naval plane, to answer another official requirement for a ship-borne fighter aircraft armed with a 37 mm Le-Puteaux QF gun to chase German airships. This W.B.V single seater, two-bay tractor biplane was given the same 200 hp (149 kW) Hispano-Suiza engine and its wings were foldable for storage. The heavy gun was squizzed between the cylinder banks of the V-8 engine, firing through the propeller, but it had no buoyancy chamber, rather inflatable flotation bags. It flew in December 1917 but the Puteaux gun was judged too dangerous and was replaced by a standard Vickers machine gun while a Lewis gun was mounted on a tripod mounting. This second prototype was showcased but gained no order. The next W.B.VI was another private venture ailed at the RNAS, single-engine folding torpedo bomber biplane powered by Rolls-Royce Eagle, 350 hp, but it attracted no orders. The company will also produced several civilian and military aircrafts in the early 1920s, but most importantly, manufactured a range of airships: Two R23 class (one more built in Vickers and another at Armtrong Withworth), one R27 (R23X-class airship), and two of the R31 class in 1918. Postwar, the company will also built the R33-class (2, 1919) and R36 (1, 1921) used by the RNAS.
Airship R23 of the RNAS class R24. Two were built in 1917 by Beardmore. Notice the underbelly self-defence Sopwith Camel, also built by Beardmore.
- Beardmore W.B.1 (1917) light bomber
- Beardmore W.B.1a (1917) light bomber
- Beardmore W.B.2 (1917) fighter
- Beardmore W.B.III (1917) fighter: 100 built
- Beardmore W.B.IV
- Beardmore W.B.V
- Beardmore W.B.VI
- Airship R24
- Airship R27
- Airship R32
Beardmore on wikipedia