F.Manson British Bomber Since 1914 (Putnam)
The boat-building company of J Samuel Wight & Co Ltd, sited in the Isle of Wight at East Cowes, had entered the aircraft manufacturing industry in 1912 with its acquisition of the services of Howard T Wright as designer. By mid-1914 at least three of Wright's seaplane designs had been built and exhibited, and the company had established itself as one of the three prime contractors to the Admiralty.
All the above aircraft were single pusher-engine aircraft, classified as unarmed reconnaissance seaplanes, the last being a large two-seater powered by a 200hp Salmson fourteen-cylinder radial. Seven examples were ordered by the Admiralty, one of which was shipped to the Dardanelles aboard HMS Ark Royal in 1915.
Wright's next essay was, for its time, an exceptionally large aeroplane, originally built as a landplane and almost certainly intended from the outset to carry a torpedo or bombs. With five-bay wings spanning 117 feet, the aircraft featured twin fuselages each with a 200hp Salmson water-cooled radial engine at the front; the two-man crew was accommodated in a small central nacelle. Like the Short aircraft, previously described, the Wight Twin's wings were designed to fold rearwards.
This first Wight Twin suffered an accident early in 1915, resulting in substantial damage to the crew nacelle, engine installations and undercarriage. The company, however, persevered with the project, producing a twin-float prototype at the behest of the Admiralty - almost certainly employing most of the components of the crashed landplane. The wings evidently remained unchanged, as did the biplane tail unit and long parallel-chord fins with rectangular cutouts between the two horizontal surfaces. The crew nacelle was deleted and a cockpit provided in each fuselage well aft of the wings. The Salmson engine installations were revised to be enclosed within the contours of the front fuselage bays, the two-blade propellers being driven through extension shafts.
Very long three-step main floats were located beneath the fuselages, these being considered of sufficient length to avoid the need for tail floats; cylindrical outrigger floats were mounted directly below the outboard interplane struts, and double-acting ailerons were fitted on upper and lower wings.
This aircraft, given the naval serial number 187, was destined from the start to carry a torpedo, contemporary photographs showing it carrying the 1,100 lb Admiralty Mark IX weapon beneath the lower centre wing section. It seems likely from these pictures that difficulty would have been experienced in taking off with the torpedo in anything but the calmest water conditions without submersing the tail, and the two further Wight Twin seaplanes, Nos 1450 and 1451 (ordered in 1915) featured longer float struts so that the aircraft rode higher on the water. The vertical tail surfaces were completely revised with much smaller triangular fins and long, nearly parallel chord ventral fins.
No 1450 was delivered to RNAS Felixstowe and 1451 to Calshot where torpedo drops were achieved, although it was quickly realised that the aircraft were badly underpowered - being incapable of leaving the water when carrying a torpedo and a full fuel load.
Type: Twin-engine, two-seat, five-bay biplane, twin-float torpedo-carrying seaplane with twin fuselages.
Manufacturer: J Samuel White & Co, East Cowes, Isle of Wight.
Powerplant: Two 200hp Salmson (Canton-Unne) fourteen-cylinder two-row, water-cooled, radial engines driving two-blade tractor propellers through extension shafts.
Dimension: Span, 117ft. Further details of dimensions, weights and performance not traced.
Armament: Provision to carry one Whitehead Mk IX 18in torpedo of 1,100 lb nominal weight; no provision for guns.
Prototypes: Three, Nos 187, 1450 and 1451. No 187 was originally completed and flown as a landplane in 1914. Nos 1450 and 1451 underwent Service trials at RNAS Felixstowe and Calshot respectively. No production.
P.Lewis British Bomber since 1914 (Putnam)
During 1914 Howard T. Wright designed a large Wight biplane with a span of 117 ft. and powered by two 200 h.p. Salmson radial engines mounted as tractors in a pair of side-by-side fuselages attached to the lower wings. The machine’s crew were carried in a nacelle placed on the lower centresection between the engines. The wings, braced in five bays, incorporated folding; a pair of radiators for cooling the Salmson radials were installed on the flanks of each fuselage at the trailing edge of the wings. After modifications had been made to the somewhat complicated tail unit, the Wight biplane crashed.
The twin-fuselage concept, however, was retained in the seaplane version, also of 117 ft. span, which followed the earlier landplane design. The first prototype Wight Twin, 187, was equipped to launch a single 18 in. Mk. IX torpedo which it bore beneath the lower centre-section. The central nacelle for the crew was discarded, and they were accommodated in each of the pair of fuselages. Support on the water was provided by a pair of long main floats supplemented by a cylindrical one at each lower wingtip. The two 200 h.p. Salmson engines were cooled by vertical side radiators and transmitted their power through extension shafts to two-blade wooden propellers.
Two additional torpedo-carrying Wight Twin seaplanes, 1450 and 1451, were completed in September, 1915, differing from 187 in having modified fins and rudders and extended undercarriage struts. Using the same 200 h.p. Salmsons, both machines were found under test to lack sufficient power for their great size and to be incapable of leaving the water armed with a torpedo and with full tanks. Under such conditions the type was unable to accomplish its set task and development ceased.
H.King Armament of British Aircraft (Putnam)
Twin Seaplane. This type of very large torpedo-carrying seaplane appeared in 1915. Drops were actually made, and photographed. The torpedo was of the 18-in Mk.IX pattern.
M.Goodall, A.Tagg British Aircraft before the Great War (Schiffer)
Deleted by request of (c)Schiffer Publishing