Friday, June 3, 2011

Britain - 1917 Beardmore WB.III

Hello again. I hope you are ready for a great weekend. I love comments, especially when they make me think.. Lately I have been getting many which make me focus so I can answer the questions put to me. When answering a comment question on the Sopwith Pup post posed by KP I threw out this aircraft as an example of licensing aircraft for third party manufacture. Since I have been working on a British aircraft thread I figured it was time to post this.

Early British Carrier Based Aircraft

Beardmore W.B.III - 1917
Beardmore W.B.III - 1917

The Beardmore WB.III, nicknamed the folding Pup was a British carrier-based fighter biplane of World War I. It was a development of the Sopwith Pup that William Beardmore and Company was then building under license, but was specially adapted for shipboard use.

The Beardmore W.B. III was built to be used on aircraft carriers as naval scouts. It featured a redesigned wing cellule with no stagger, facilitating folding for stowage, a stretched fuselage that carried emergency floatation gear, and main undercarriage that could be folded for stowage (though not in flight). Later models had fixed landing gear that could be jettisoned off in case of an emergency landing at sea. A Lewis machine gun was mounted on the upper wing that fired over the propeller. By the end of 1918, one hundred of these aircraft were deployed by the Royal Naval Air Service on the carriers HMS Furious, Nairana and Pegasus.


  1. Beardmore W.B.III. (2009, May 17). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 08:46, September 4, 2010, from
  2. Sharpe, Michael. "Biplanes, Triplanes, and Seaplanes". Pg 75. London, England: Friedman/Fairfax Books , 2000. ISBN 1-58663-300-7.
  3. Mason, Francis K. "The British Fighter since 1912". Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1992. ISBN 1-55750-082-7.
  4. Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). "Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation". London: Studio Editions. pp. 122.


kingsleypark said...

How did the Beardmore's performance compare with a "standard" Pup? Or is that an unfair comparison given that the Beardmore was created for a specific role?

W. I. Boucher said...

@KP, Here is a comparison of their performance.

Beardmore W.B.III
Empty weight: 890 lb (400 kg)
Loaded weight: 1,290 lb (585 kg)
Maximum speed: 103 mph (166 km/h)
Service ceiling: 12,400 ft (3,780 m)
Rate of climb: 534 ft/min (2.7 m/s)
Endurance: 2 hours 45 min

Sopwith Pup
Empty Weight: 787 lb (358 kg)
Loaded Weight: 1,225 lb (557 kg)
Maximum Speed: 97 knots (111½ mph, 180 km/h) at sea level
Service Ceiling: 17,500 feet (5,600 m)
Climb to: 10,000 ft (3,050 m) 14 min
Climb to: 16,100 ft (4,910 m) 35 min
Endurance: 3 hours

The Pup is a lighter and it gave it slightly better performance. The comparison may be a bit unfair since the W.B.3 was designed to be a folding airplane which added some weight to the aircraft.

Jon said...

I wonder if the maneuverability of the aircraft suffered due to having folding wings.

W. I. Boucher said...

@Jon, I have not seen anything to indicate it effected maneuverability other than slower speed, climb and a lower service ceiling. Looking at the production numbers of 100 planes in a year, I would say it was effective it its role.