The heavy bomber triplane was designed in 1917 for the newly formed 41st Wing Royal Flying Corps, it was made as a response to the Giant German Gotha bomber which carried out raids on London. This long-range plane was designed by Captain Frank Barnwell and W T Reid, and built by the British and Colonial Aeroplane Co. Ltd of Filton Bristol. Its purpose was to carry out heavy bombing attacks on Berlin.
The design was sound if somewhat ungainly due to its flat sides.
Originally the motors housed in the nacelles mounted on wings to either side of the fuselage, drove, by means of a series of gears, sets of four bladed propellers. However this design proved troublesome and flight was difficult so the configuration was changed to that of 4* Armstrong Siddeley Puma of 230hp. These were placed in tandem along the central plane, thus each pair of motors moved a puller propeller and an pusher impeller. To provide power the designers considered using gas and even steam turbines fed from a fuselage engine room fueled by coal. Enhanced power was latter added by the upgrading of the motors to 400hp Liberties.
With the first flight made in 1918 during the last stages of The Great War, its purpose as a bomber had became obsolete. As the redesign flew well there was brief reprieve when the aircraft was reconfigured as an earlier passenger aircraft that could carry 14. Unfortunately the poor visibility of the newly enclosed cockpit together with its high landing speed made the aircraft dangerous and all three models that were made had either crashed or being dismantled by the end of 1921.
From 1910 -1920 the British & Colonial Aeroplane Company (BCAC) was set up and produced such successful craft as the WWI Bristol fighter. During the latter stages of the BCAC, it produce the Breamar aircraft. A machine that the author's Great Uncle; Frank Yard helped to construct between the years of 1918 and 1920.
The postcard above was sent from Frank Yard to his Aunty Mini Kate in South Wales whilst he and his mates worked on the Braemar Mk II in the winter of 1918/19. The caption on the back reads: "Dear Aunty this is for your perusal to find me, from Frank".
By 1920 BCAC had become 'The Bristol Aeroplane Company' which produced such greats as the Belnheim Bomber. By 1959 the company was the British Aircraft Corporation which was the manufacture of the Concorde and a collaborator on the Airbus.
Engineering specifications (Applies to Mk I unless stated)
Name: Bristol Type 24 Braemar I / Type 25 Braemar II / Type 26 Pullman
Type: 4 Engined Heavy Bomber / Early passenger plane
Purpose: Capable of bombing raids to Berlin from the UK with flight times of over 12 hours and a theoretical round trip of over 1000 miles. With the end of WWI production became unnecessary and the aircraft was reconfigured as a passenger plane and renamed the Pullman class
Design: Captain Frank Barnwell submitted first layout, detailing by W T Reid 1917
Constructor: The British and Colonial Aeroplane Co. Ltd; Filton Bristol
Project team 33 including two Pilots
Dates of construction:
- Conception 1917
Mk I 1918 one manufactured
Mk II 1918-1919 upgraded engines, undercarriage wheels changed, one constructed
Pullman Mk III 1919-20 enclosed flight deck and passenger reconfiguration only one made.
Numbers manufactured: 3; one of each mark only.
- First flight: 13 of August of 1918
- Last know recorded flight 16 August 1921
- Flight services 3 years
Motor configuration:Its four engines were in nacelles (sheltered boxes) in tandem pairs on top of the middle wing, in propeller /impellors (pull/push) pairs.
- Mk I - 4 linear motors Armstrong Siddeley Puma of 230hp of power
- Mk II - 4 Motors Liberty 12, of 400hp of power
- Pullman Mk III - 4 Motors Liberty 12, of 400hp of power
Wing configuration:Three bay, unstaggered triplane. Outer wings swept slightly with no dihedral. Ailerons on upper and middle wings
Fuselage: Deep and rectangular flat sided fuselage mounted above lower wing and below middle wing.
Tail Unit: Biplane tail and elevator, with triple fins and rudder.
Landing Gear: Split under carriage, each unit having two wheels in tandem Wheels changed from Mk I to Mk II. Tailskid fitted.
Materials of construction: Wood and fabric
Mk I & II - Crew of four. Open cockpit forward of wing for two pilots. Gunner positions provided in nose and aft of wing
Mk III Closed "flight deck" with space for 14 passengers and 2 crew
Mk I & II Six 250 lb bombs carried in an internal bomb bay. Single movable guns at each of the two gunners stations.
Mk III The enclosed cockpit was fairly new and pilots were known to carry axe's with them in the event of a crash.
Dimensions, weights and performance:
- Length: 51 ft 6 in(15.70 m) MkI MkII ; 52ft (15.85m) Pullman
- Height: 20 ft (6.30 m)
- Wing Span:81 ft 8 in (24.89 m)
- Wing area: 1,905 sq ft (176.97 m2 )
- Empty Weight::10,650 LB (5084 kg)
- Max Weight: 16,500 LB (7490 kg)
- Max Speed:106 mph (170 kph) MkI; 125 mph (196 kph) MkII; 135 mph (217 kph) Pullman
- Landing Speed in excess of: 50 mph (80 kph) Pullman
- Absolute Ceiling: 14,000 ft (5180 m)
- Theoretical range (London-Berlin *2) ie this was never tested but only a design specification Approx 1200 miles (2000 km)
Mk I c/n3751 serial- C4296
First flight: 13 of August of 1918, developed as a long-range bomber capable of attacking Berlin
Unlike the latter passenger model, both the Mk I & II had an open cockpit with a small and cramped gun position forward of that (a further gunner was placed to the rear of the plane behind the wings). Back at the time of the first flight in 1918 there were no safety straps for crew nor provision for a parachute. The basic hand controls of the craft were for front engines and rear engines. The control column wheel was to control both pitch via the elevators and roll using the ailerons. Foot pedals moved the rudder.
Mk.ll - c/n 3752, serial C4297
The Braemar Mk II was a much modified Mk I but still suffered poor pilot visibility and from vibration. Power and speed were increased from the earlier design by the upgrading of the 230hp Puma engines to four 400hp Liberty's. The 'Pullman' passenger plane was developed from this machine.
The Mk II aircraft was sent to Martlesham Heath, in Suffolk, for testing at the Aircraft & Armament Establishment. Unfortunately, on 16 August 1921, it swung on take-off and hit a hangar wall with disastrous consequences. It was totally wrecked and the pilot, Flt Lt O M Sutton (inventor of the Sutton Harness) and his assistant were killed.
The Mark III Braemar, renamed Pullman was designed as a passenger plane and improved on the Mk II by having an internal "flight deck", its first flight was in May 1919. It flew at Olympia Aero show held in July of that year and as a fixed display the following year. Being the largest aircraft at the show and with its highly approved ornate interior, its appearance and the novelty of air travel in its infancy were a sensation.
However the wicker chairs of the interior were narrow and had no seat belts. Furthermore the harsh reality was that if it ever took passengers, their ride would have been slow, cold and bumpy.
The registration of C4298 was temporarily replaced with the civil code of G-EASP between 14 April and 13 of May of 1920. This change was made in readiness for the Air Ministry Civil Aircraft Competition in August 1920. Unfortunately with landing speeds in excess of 50 mph deemed too high, the plane was never entered.
Sadly these factors contributed to the aircraft never taking passengers and eventually the only example of this craft was dismantled.