Pre World War Two Aircraft
Our constantly growing collection of Pre World War Two aircraft is complemented by our new Pioneers Of Flight exhibition in 2010. Below is the current list of pre war aircraft you will see when you visit us.
The Avro 504 first flew in 1913. In the opening phases of the First World War, it served with front-line squadrons in the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service for bombing and reconnaissance, but from 1915 onwards the aircraft entered the training role for which it is most celebrated.
The Blackburn Mercury Monoplane is regarded as the first truly successful aircraft made by Blackburn at their factory in Leeds. The Mercury I, powered by a 50 hp Isaacson radial engine, was displayed at the Olympia Aero Show in March 1911 and made its debut flying from the beach at Filey with the newly formed Blackburn Flying School.
Sir George Cayley (1773-1857) was first to design an aerofoil and one of his flying machines made the world’s first manned heavier-than-air flight at Brompton Dale, near Scarborough, in 1849. This was more than 54 years before the Wright brothers made the first powered flight from Kitty Hawk Sands in the USA on 17 December 1903.
The Gipsy Moth was used for many historic flights. Sir Alan Cobham flew from London to Zurich and back in one day in 1925. Pilots in Moths won the King’s Cup Air Race on several occasions. The most famous flight began on 5 May 1930 when Yorkshire girl, Amy Johnson, flew from England to Australia in her Gipsy Moth, ‘Jason’. The Museum’s replica has been modelled on this aircraft.
Designed by a Frenchman, Henri Mignet, in 1934, the Flying Flea could be built at home and cost £90 (about £5000 today). A total of 123 were completed in Britain, but scores more were never finished. Most were fitted with the tiny 25 hp Scott or Douglas engine. Maximum speed was a sedate 56mph.
The Eastchurch Kitten was a lightweight biplane fighter with a wingspan of 18 feet, powered by a 35 hp ABC Gnat engine and armed with a Lewis gun. Only one was built. The Yorkshire Air Museum’s replica is awaiting restoration and is not on display at present.
The Royal Aircraft Factory BE.2c was built in the early summer of 1914, intended mainly as a reconnaissance aircraft. A few arrived in France later that year, but its lack of speed and manoeuvrability meant that by 1915 it was outclassed by the new Fokker monoplanes, when it became known as ‘Fokker Fodder’.
Designed by H P Folland in 1916, and built at the Royal Aircraft Factory, Farnborough, the SE.5a was a single-seat biplane ‘fighting scout’ powered by a Hispano-Suiza derived water-cooled V8 engine, usually a 200 hp Wolseley Viper. It could climb to 10,000 feet in 11 minutes 20 seconds and it had a service ceiling of 20,000 feet. The Viper version had a maximum speed at sea level of 138 mph.
The 1903 Wright Flyer was the first powered heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled sustained flight with a pilot aboard. This historic event took place on 17 December 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, USA, when Orville Wright flew for 12 seconds, covering a distance of 120 feet. Later that day, his brother Wilbur flew for 59 seconds, covering 852 feet. The original aircraft is now in the National Air and Space Museum, Washington.
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