WW1 Planes
An encyclopediae of 1914-18 aircraft types


The British and Colonial Aeroplane Company, Ltd (1910)

The company was founded in February 1910 by Sir George White, son and brother, as chairman of the Bristol Tramway and Carriage Company, to extend his activities to aviation. This inspiration came from an encounter with Wilbur Wright in France in 1909. The latter convinced indeed aviation as holding considerable business potential. British and Colonial could bring its financial backing to the enterprise and the sum of business experience that led it to a good path since the beginning. The entity however was conceived as separate from the Bristol Tramway Company to not frighten the main company shareholders. In fact Sir White paid the capital of £25,000 from his own pocket and family associates. But still, connection existed between both companies and in fact a pair of former tram sheds at Filton were leased by the Tramway entity while key personnel were recruited from the Tramway Company too. George Challenger in particular became Bristol's chief engineer and working manager.

Britol Boxkite, the first commercial success of the company

At Brooklands, Surrey, and Larkhill on Salisbury Plain the company established hangars and a school, in the latter case leased from the War Office. In 1914 they had delivered 308 Royal Aero Club certificates for a total of 664 in UK by 1914.

Bristol Boxkite

The commany created a first model greatly influenced by Wright's pushers. In 1910 the Boxkite was a capable and sturdy training machine, but two years later it was found not capable of any more development. The company therefore already took over the design of a small tractor biplane and a tractor monoplane, both exhibited at the 1911 Aero Show, Olympia. Tests however showed poor performances, and no orders followed. At the same time the future looked bleak for the new company, George Challenger and another key engineer left Bristol to join Vickers aviation, just established as a division of the giant military manufacturer. Frenchman Pierre Prier took their place, as former chief instructor of the Blériot Hendon flying school, later joined by Gordon England. The last addition was in January 1912 genius Romanian engineer Henri Coandă as chief designer. With this international and gifted team, the company started the development of new models. In 1912 was established at Bristol a secret separate design office called "X-Department". Dennistoun Burney naval aircraft was its first product, designed by Frank Barnwell, which replaced in October 1914 Coandă. Barnwell became a very prolific and well inspired, famous aeronautical engineer until 1938. With the success in 1916 of the Bristol FE2B, the expanded to the Brislington tramway works and had 200 personal already in 1914, much more and the end of the First World War.

Britol FE2B

Bristol during the war

In August 1914, the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) only counted seven squadrons with a mish-mash of types, none armed. First policy was to ordered Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) designs only, but Bristol's B.E.2 two-seater reconnaissance aircraft was already recognized and well-produced, therefore the RFC and RNAS pilots themselves lobbied to order planes to Bristol, especially a new model then in development, the Scout. Barnwell returned from France in 1915. He has been there a gifted fighter pilot, but his intuition and effort over improving the design of aircrafts made him desirable as a designer. He soon recruited Leslie Frise, newly graduated from Bristol University's engineering department and by 1916 the team received orders from Stanley White, the son's CEO Sir Georges White, which has just passed out. Barnwell and his team worked on the Bristol T.T.A., a two-seat fighter for home defence against Zeppelins, not successful but leading to the Bristol F.2A, later declined into the very successful F.2B Fighter, one of the most falous British plane of the time, mass-produced and used by the RAF up to the mid-1920s and even 1931 in some units and much later by many other air forces round the globe. The other success was the Bristol Monoplane Scout, extremely popular with pilots but capped by the War Office which was opposed to any others than biplanes and in addition a relatively high landing speed dangerous to operate with the field conditions of the Western Front, the 130 planes built being relocated Near East instead.

Bristol models

As usual production models are in bold, with production figures and date in brackets.
  • Bristol Boxkite (78)(1910)
  • Bristol Glider (1910)
  • Bristol Racing Biplane (1911)
  • Bristol Biplane Type 'T' (5)(1911)
  • Bristol Monoplane (2)(1911)
  • Bristol Prier monoplane (34)(1911)
  • Bristol-Burney seaplanes (1912)
  • Bristol-Coanda Monoplanes (37)(1912)
  • Bristol Gordon England biplane (5)(1912)
  • Bristol B.R.7 (8)(1913)
  • Bristol Hydro no.120 (1913)
  • Bristol G.B.75
  • Bristol TB.8 (54)(1913)
  • Bristol P.B.8 (1914)
  • Bristol S.S.A. (1914)
  • Bristol Scout (374)(1914)
  • Bristol Type 6 T.T.A. (1916)
  • Bristol M.1 Monoplane Scout (130)(1916)
  • Bristol F.2 Fighter (5329)(1916)
  • Bristol Type F.3A (cancelled)
  • Bristol Type 13 M.R.1 (2)(1917)
  • Bristol Scout F.1 (4)(1918)

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Bristol Aeroplane Co on Wikipedia