Tag Archives: John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara

30 October 1909

“Mr. Moore-Brabazon flying at Shellbeach on the short biplane on which he won the “Daily Mail” £1,000 Prize on Saturday last.” (Flight, Vol. I, No. 45, 6 November 1909, at Page 703)

“The Daily Mail offers a prize of £1,000 to the aviator covering in a heavier-than-air machine the greatest total distance across country, either in England or in France, officially recorded by either the French or English Aero Club, in the twelve months dating from the morning of August 15th, 1909, to the evening of August 14th, 1910.”

30 October 1909: John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon, (later, 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara, G.B.E., M.C., P.C.) won a £1,000 prize sponsored by the Daily Mail when he flew his Short Biplane No. 2 on a circular flight of one mile (1.609 kilometers).

Flight, Vol. I, No. 33, 14 August 1909, Page 493.

At the Royal Aero Club flying field at Shellbeach, Isle of Sheppey (on the northern coast of Kent, in the Thames Estuary), Moore-Brabazon took off, turned around a post that had been set at a distance of one-half mile (0.804 kilometers), and returned to land next to the airplane’s launching rail. The duration of Brabazon’s flight was 2 minutes, 36½ seconds.

(Flight, Vol. I, No. 45, 6 November 1909, at Page 701)

Short Brothers Ltd., founded in 1897 as a balloon manufacturer, began building airplanes in 1908. It was the first company to build production airplanes. The Short Biplane No. 2 was designed by Horace Leonard Short. It was similar to the Wright Brothers Model A Flyer, which Short Brothers had been building under license in the United Kingdom. Rather than the Wright’s system of wing-warping, the Biplane No. 2 used ailerons. The first production batch consisted of six airplanes.

Front view of Moore-Brabazon’s Short No. 2. “Mr. J. T. C. Moore-Brabazon’s new biplane, designed and constructed by Messrs. Short Bros., with which he has been making flights at Shellbeach, being brought up to the starting rail after a flight.” Cropped image. (Flight)
ront quarter view of Moore-Brabazon’s Short No. 2. “Getting Mr. Moore-Brabazon’s Short biplane in place on to the starting rail.” Cropped image. (Flight)
“Side view, on the starting rail, of Mr. Moore Brabazon’s biplane, just constructed by Messrs. Short Bros.” (Flight)
“Three-quarter view, from the back, of the Short biplane, constructed for Mr. Moore-Brabazon.” Cropped image. (Flight)

The Biplane No. 2 was 32 feet, 0 inches in length (9.754 meters) with a wingspan of 48 feet, 8 inches (14.834 meters). Its gross weight was 1,485 pounds (674 kilograms).

The Short Biplane No. 2 was powered by a water-cooled, normally-aspirated 8.990 liter (548.602-cubic-inch) Green Engine Co., Ltd., D.4 single overhead camshaft inline 4-cylinder engine, which produced 61.6 horsepower at 1,150 r.p.m., and turned two wooden 2-bladed propellers in a pusher configuration, by means of chain drive. The Green engine produced 67.8 horsepower at 1,210 r.p.m. during a 7 minute maximum power test. The Green D.4 was 44 inches (1.118 meters) long, 33½ inches (0.851 meters) high and 17 inches (0.432 meters) wide. It weighed 287 pounds (130.2 kilograms) with the flywheel.

The Short Biplane No. 2 had a maximum speed of approximately 45 miles per hour (72 kilometers per hour).

Green D.4 gasoline engine, designed by Gustavus Green, 1909. (Wikipedia)
Green D.4 gasoline engine, designed by Gustavus Green, 1909. Copper waterjackets encase the individual cast steel cylinders which are bolted to the aluminum crankcase. (Wikipedia)

The Royal Aero Club began issuing pilot certificates in 1910. The first, Certificate No.1, went to J.T.C. Moore-Brabazon.

J.T.C. Moore-Brabazon's pilot license, RAeC Certifcate No. 1. (RAF Museum)
J.T.C. Moore-Brabazon’s pilot license, R.Ae.C. Aviator’s Certificate No. 1. (RAF Museum)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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4 September 1949

The prototype Bristol Type 167, G-AGPW, takes off from Filton Aerodrome, 11:30 a.m., 4 September 1949. Hundred of Bristol employees are lining the runway. (Alfred Thompson)
The prototype Bristol Type 167, G-AGPW, takes off from Filton Aerodrome, 11:30 a.m., 4 September 1949. Hundred of Bristol employees are lining the runway. (Alfred Thompson)

4 September 1949: At 11:30 a.m., Sunday morning, the prototype Bristol Brabazon Mk.I, G-AGPW, made its first flight at Filton Aerodrome. Chief Test Pilot Arthur J. “Bill” Pegg was in command with Walter Gibb as co-pilot. An 8-man flight test crew was also aboard. A crowd of spectators, estimated at 10,000 people, were present.

The flight test crew of the Bristol Brabazon. Bill Pegg is at center. (Unattributed)
The flight test crew of the Bristol Brabazon. Bill Pegg is at center. (Unattributed)

Designed as a transatlantic commercial airliner, development of the Type 167 began in 1943. The Mk.I prototype, G-AGPW, had been rolled out in December 1948. On 3 September 1949, the flight test crew performed a series of taxi tests.

The first flight lasted 26 minutes. The Brabazon had reached 3,000 feet (914 meters) and 160 miles per hour (257 kilometers per hour).

Bristol Brabazon Mk.I G-AGPW runs up its engines. (Unattributed)
Bristol Brabazon Mk.I G-AGPW runs up its engines. (Unattributed)

The Bristol Aeroplane Company Type 167 Brabazon Mk.I was a very large low-wing monoplane, designed to carry 100 passengers on transatlantic flights. it had been named to honor John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara, the first man to fly an airplane in England, and a very important figure in the development of the British aeronautical industry.

The Type 167 was slightly larger than the United States Air Force Convair B-36A intercontinental strategic bomber. It was 177 feet, 0 inches (53.950 meters) long with a wingspan of 230 feet, 0 inches (70.104 meters) and overall height of 50 feet, 0 inches (50.240 meters). The fuselage had a maximum diameter of 25 feet (7.62 meters).

The leading edge of the inboard section of the Brabazon’s wing was swept 4° 16′ and had no dihedral, while the outer section was swept 14° 56′ with 2° dihedral. The wings had an angle of incidence of +3° 30′. The chord narrowed from 31 feet, 0 inches (9.449 meters) at the root, to 10 feet, 0 inches (3.048 meters) at the tip. The wings’ maximum thickness was 6 feet, 6 inches (1.981 meters). The Mk.I’s wing area was 5,317 square feet (494 square meters).

The horizontal stabilizer had a span of 75 feet, 0 inches (22.860 meters). The angle of incidence was +2° and there was no dihedral. The stabilizer’s area was 692 square feet (64.3 square meters).

The airplane’s empty weight was 169,500 pounds (76,884 kilograms), and its maximum takeoff weight of 290,000 pounds (131,542 kilograms). For the first flight, its gross weight was 200,000 pounds (90,718 kilograms).

Bristol Brabazon Mk.I G-AGPW.

The prototype was powered by eight air-cooled, supercharged, 3,271.87-cubic-inch-displacement (53.62 liter) Bristol Centaurus 20 eighteen-cylinder radial engines. They had a cruise power rating of 1,640 horsepower at 22,000 feet (6,706 meters); maximum continuous power and maximum climb power rating of 2,190 horsepower at 5,000 feet (1,524 meters); and 2,500 horsepower for takeoff. Each pair of engines drove a set of coaxial counter-rotating three-bladed Rotol constant-speed wooden propellers with a diameter of 16 feet, 0 inches (4.877 meters).

“Each Bristol Centaurus engine was coupled to a propeller gearbox at a 32-degree angle.” (Airbus, Filton)

Power was transmitted from each engine by an angled drive shaft to separate beveled gears in a dual reduction gear unit. The reduction gear ratio was 0.400:1. For one-engine-out operation, the effected propeller would be feathered, while the other engine of the pair continued to power the other counter-rotating propeller. The propellers were reversible for braking on landing.

Turboprop engines were planned for the Brabazon Mk.II.

Bristol Brabazon Mk.I G-AGPW flying overhead reveals the double sweep of the wings. (BAE Systems)

Estimated performance of the Brabazon Mk.I (before flight testing was completed) was a cruise speed of 250 miles per hour (402 kilometers per hour), and maximum speed of 300 miles per hour (483 kilometers per hour), both at 25,000 feet (7,620 meters), the airplane’s service ceiling.

The maximum fuel capacity of the Mk.I was 13,650 gallons (51,671 liters), giving a maximum range at cruise speed of 5,460 miles (8,787 kilometers). This was sufficient for a flight from London to New York with the required fuel reserve.

Only one Brabazon Mk.I was built. The prototype Mk.II was never completed. The project was cancelled in 1952. The total cost of the Brabazon program was approximately £6,500,000 (estimated at £170,981,807, or $221,489,833 in 2017). G-AGPW was eventually scrapped.

Bristol Brabazon Mk. I G-AGPW landing at Farnborough, September 1950. (BAE Systems)

Thanks to regular “This Day in Aviation” reader, Mr. Lynn Brown, for suggesting this subject.

© 2018 Bryan R. Swopes

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