WW1 Planes
An encyclopediae of 1914-18 aircraft types


Martinsyde: From aircraft to motorcycles

This strange name was the contraction of an association, since the first plane was the result of a 1908 partnership between H.P. Martin and George Handasyde. Thus it was known first as Martin & Handasyde, making soon their No.1 monoplane in 1908–1909, which took off the ground only to be wrecked in a gale. Not deterred, they embarked in other models until the success of the S.1 of 1914, and ultimately turned to mass production an became Britain's third manufacturer, as company Martinsyde Ltd in 1915. The factory was moved to Woking and flight and trials took place in nearby Brooklands. The company launched a very successful model fitted with a Rolls-Royce engine in 1918, the F.4 "Buzzard", last in a line of small production or prototypes starting with the RG of 1916. Great plans were made to scale up the production of the Buzzard, with 400 on orders and many more destined not only to the RFC but also the French Air Force (Aéronautique Militaire) and the American Expeditionary Force Air Service.

The RG/F.1/F.2 was a lineage which led to the F.3, pre-production prototype for the excellent F.4 Buzzard in 1918
The RG/F.1/F.2 was a lineage which led to the F.3, pre-production prototype for the excellent F.4 Buzzard in 1918

Postwar surplus Buzzard airframe were later fitted with a reworked fuselage around a new engine, the radial Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar. This test by the Aircraft Disposal Company (ADC) which already produced under licence BE.2c and S.E.5a aircraft, was marketed as the "Martinsyde ADC.1" in 1924. Two F.4s were also declined by the same as "ADC Nimbus" prototypes. But from 1919 Martinsyde converted into the motorcycle business, with great success. They borrowed engine designs by Howard Newman and made a serie of racing motorbikes first under the name Martinsyde-Newman. The 1922 Quick-six was capable of 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) but the same year the Woking factory was destroyed by fire and to liquidation followed a short revival until 1925 by Bat Motor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. Brooklands however would stay one of British most famous racing track...

The Martin-Handasyde 4B Dragonfly was the first serial model built by the company, which changed name in 1915 for Martinsyde.


As usual production models are in bold, production figures (estimated in some cases with a ?) are in brackets.
  • Martin-Handasyde No.3 sports plane 1910)
  • Martinsyde S.1 single-seat scout 1914 (60)
  • G100/102 "Elephant" scout plane 1915 (171+100)
  • Martinsyde RG 1917 (2)
  • Martinsyde F.1 1917 (1)
  • Martinsyde F.2 1917 (1)
  • Martinsyde F.3 RR Falcon engine 1918 (3)
  • Martinsyde F.4 Buzzard fighter 1918 (370+)
  • Martinsyde Semiquaver (racing plane)

Martynside S.1 (1914)

Martinsyde S.1
Martinsyde S.1

Prototypes: Martynside RG, F.1, F.2 (1917)

The was R.G. was apparently derived from the earler Martinsyde G.100 "Elephant", started as a single-bay variant, by A A Fletcher. It flown late in 1916 and initially the model had on the cockpit a fixed Vickers 0.303-in (7,7-mm) gun mounted on the port upper longeron, outside the cabane struts, and a Lewis gun on the starboard side and a 190 hp Rolls-Royce Falcon 112-cylinder water-cooled engine. Final official trials started in February 1917, but the designed was revised in many ways. The final version had two fixed Vickers guns on the hood, forward of the windscreen. They were synchronized, using the Constantinesco gear; They had rear firing levers and a mechanical gear, a combination apparently developed by as Martinsyde electrical synchronising gear in early 1916. The cockpit was also moved aft and its cut-out was enlarged, the lower wing span was reduced, and a 275 hp Falcon III engine was fitted. The R.G. started official tests at Farnborough in 1917 and was seen as a potential rival of the Sopwith Camel, being the first British fighter with twin Vickers guns. The report also stated "performance... far and away better than any other machine manufactured". But development was discontinued in favour of the superior F.3. while the F.1 and F.2 were largely unsuccessful. This was an episode which will led ultimately to the famous F.4 Buzzard.

Next a single prototype of the F.1, a two-seat fighter was tested in 1917. At the origin, its plans were laid up in late in 1915 as a two-seats tractor biplane where the gunner occupied the forward seat, standing to fire a wing-mounted 0.303-in (7,7- mm) Lewis gun. It was propelled by a 250 hp Rolls-Royce Mk III. But it suffered from a long and protracted development, with phases of mothballing, and in the end when it resurfaced in July 1917, official tests results were disappointing. In fact it was seen as obsolete back then. There are not a flurry of informations about the F.1, and this two-seat fighter of 1917 seemed to have been related to the Vickers F.B.24E, but only because of a relatively similar layout. H.King about "Armament of British Aircraft" (Putnam) tend to think that both planes were tailored for the Vickers twin MG mounting and resorted to the same solutions.
The next F.2 was a general design improvement over the F.1, with a revised armament comprising a fixed Vickers gun to port, and a rear gunner which was given a scarff-mounted Lewis gun. It was propelled by a 200 hp Hispano-Suiza 8Bd eight-cylinder water-cooled engine. Also a two-seater of wooden construction with fabric and plywood it was designed when the F.1 was already under construction. In fact the F.2 was completed earlier and made official tests two months before the F.2 in May 1917. No production followed but the F.2 prototype was used from then on to test the new Sunbeam Arab engine.

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