Snatching Order Out Of Chaos
Aviation development in the early war was punctuated with stops, starts, and wrong turns. In the beginning of the war British high command were slow to see a purpose for military aviation. One general said aircraft had no place in modern warfare. Early British development was hampered by a chaotic lack of direction. There was no central organization for aircraft procurement and many small companies tried to build their idea of a viable military aircraft. The result was a waste of time, material, and man hours better spent on practical designs. It was not till 1915 that Britain established a coherent organizational structure.
By 1916 the situation was finally in place so efficient development could begin. One problem remained, that was one of defining the purpose for designs. The idea of form follows function had not hit home yet. Many aircraft were classified as multi-role aircraft, instead of optimizing the design for a particular type of mission. The Avro 523 Pike is an example of this unfortunate practice.
An Avro White Elaphant
The Avro 523 Pike (the first Avro aircraft to receive a name) was a British multi-role combat aircraft of the First World War that did not progress past the prototype stage. It was intended to provide the Royal Naval Air Service with an anti-Zeppelin fighter that was also capable of long-range reconnaissance and light bombing.
The Avro Pike was a large, three-bay biplane of conventional layout driven by two pusher propellers. Three open cockpits were provided, the center one for the pilot, and gunners fore and aft of him. The Admiralty evaluated the type, but rejected it. Avro then built a second prototype, changing the original's Sunbeam engines for Green E.6 engines instead and designating it the 523A.
The Admiralty evaluated this in November 1916, but found that the type was now obsolete and did not place an order. The two prototypes flew as testbeds with Avro for the remainder of the war.
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