Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 140,069 pages of information and 227,378 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Roe I Triplane

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Note: This is a sub-section of Avro.

The Roe I Triplane (often later referred to as the Avro Triplane) was an early aircraft designed and built by A.V. Roe which was the first all-British aircraft to fly. (Roe's previous biplane had a French engine).

After being evicted from Brooklands, where he had worked on his first aircraft, in July 1908 Roe started work on the design of a triplane: a patent was filed for this design in January 1909, and work was started on the construction of an aircraft to this design in the stable adjoining the house of his brother, Dr Spencer Verdon Roe, in Putney in south-west London. It was then transported to the new flying ground that Roe had found on Walthamstow Marshes (then in Essex, but now within the London Borough of Waltham Forest), where he rented two railway arches under the LNER railway besides the river Lea.

The Roe I Triplane was a two-bay triplane: the tailplane, with a span of 10 ft (3.0 m) also had three surfaces and was a lifting rather than a stabilising surface, making up around 33% of the total lifting area. Pitch control was effected by altering the angle of incidence of the mainplaines, and lateral control was by wing-warping. The control cables acted to warp the middle wing, the warping being transmitted to the top and bottom planes by the rear interplane struts. Directional control was effected by a rectangular rudder mounted behind the tailplane, and as first built additional directional stability was provided by surfaces between the interplane struts of the tail assembly. The fuselage was a triangular section wire-braced wooden structure, with the middle wing and tailplane mounted on the upper longerons, and a gap between the lower planes and the lower longeron. The engine was mounted below the leading edge of the wing, with a belt drive to the propeller driveshaft which was mounted above the upper longerons. Both fuselage and wings were covered with brown paper backed by an open-weave fabric. Roe named the aircraft The Bullseye after the braces manufactured by his brother's firm, which had helped pay for it.

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