Thursday, September 8, 2011

Britain - 1911 AVRO Type D

Avro: In The Beginning

Before the Great War designers were busy building the forerunners of what would become military aircraft. In Britain one of the primary innovators was A.V. Roe and Company. produced the first plane to strafe troops on the ground, it was also the first British plane to be shot down by enemy ground fire. Better aircraft soon replaced the Avro 504 in combat, but it remained the standard British trainer for the duration of the war.In the next few posts I will cover the evolution of AVRO designs through the early war.

The Type D was a two-bay biplane of conventional configuration, with equal-span, unstaggered wings. The fuselage was triangular in cross-section, and lateral control was provided by wing warping. The first of seven aircraft flew at Brooklands on 1 April 1911.

The Type D aircraft were used in a variety of roles by the Avro, mostly concerned with exploring the limits of what an airplane could do. In its first few weeks of existence, the prototype was used to make a number of attempts on aerial endurance records, as well as demonstrations for the Parliamentary Aerial Defense Committee.

One Type D was purchased by the Royal Navy and fitted with floats for trials from HMS Hermione. This aircraft became the first British seaplane when it took off on 18 November 1911. Type D was also used for air racing, the prototype participating in one such event very early in its career. Another example was specially built and modified to compete in the Daily Mail Circuit of Britain Race, but crashed before the event. Other Type D aircraft remained in service until 1914.

The Type D is notable in two respects. First, the prototype was at one point fitted with floats to make the first British take-off from water on November 18, 1911. Secondly, it was a biplane rather than A.V. Roe's previous triplane wing designs. It is believed that six examples of the Type D, with its triangular shape fuselage, were manufactured. They were all different, including one example with a 60hp engine that was intended to compete in the Daily Mail Air Race, but suffered a prior accident. The Avro Type D was the company's first successful and semi-production standard design.


  1. Avro Type D. (2010, May 4). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 01:52, December 14, 2010, from
  2. Avro Type D 1911 Virtual Aircraft Museum Retrieved 01:50, December 14, 2010, from
  3. Sharpe, Michael. Biplanes, Triplanes, and Seaplanes, pg.56. London, England: Friedman/Fairfax Books , 2000. ISBN 1-58663-300-7.
  4. Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). Jane''s Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions.
  5. World Aircraft Information Files. London: Bright Star Publishing. pp. File 889 Sheet 92.


The Angry Lurker said...

Flimsy, very flimsy comes to mind.

Jon said...

I saw thinking brave men.

It is amazing how much aircraft changed in those seven years (1911 to 1918).

W. I. Boucher said...

@Fran, Yes the Type-D looks flimsy. One thing we need to remember is they did not expect much in the way of maneuvering. The lack of power and use of wing warping meant there were no extremely taxing strains on the structure. The structure was about as robust as the Blériot, Breguet, and Farman designs of the day. The Blériot XI was strong enough to cross the English Channel.

@Jon, Yes the evolution of designs was amazing which was what drew me to the period. War has the ability to spur on rapid development. By the time of the Armistice the stage was set for the next wave of aircraft. All the pieces were there, powerful engines, monoplane designs, all metal fuselage, streamlining. All it took was the next conflict to move us into the truly modern era of sleek heavily armed aircraft and the birth of the Jet Age.