Aviation Historian 21
N.Forder - The War of the Roses air race
French aviator Henri Salmet was on hand at Leeds with his two-seat Bleriot XI-2 to provide entertainment - and pleasure flights for the more brave-hearted. Salmet had played a major part in Claude Grahame-White’s “Wake Up England” aviation tour the previous year.
With all aboard in both aircraft, the Avro 504 prototype and Blackburn Type I prepare to join battle during the “War of the Roses” Air Race over Yorkshire on October 2, 1913. In charge of the Avro was F.P. Raynham while the Blackburn monoplane was piloted by Harold Blackburn - no relation to the company’s founder Robert Blackburn.
A contemporary postcard showing the two contenders on the day of the race round Yorkshire on October 2, 1913. According to Flight, some 60,000 spectators turned up at Moortown to see the competitors off, despite the weather being less than ideal, with frequent bouts of mist causing problems throughout the day.
The Avro 504 prototype in its original configuration (in which it raced in October 1913) with a square cowling bulged to accommodate the 80 h.p. Gnome rotary engine. By the time the aircraft was the subject of a technical assessment in Flight that December a more streamlined cowling had been fitted.
Despite having beaten the Avro 504 prototype in the War of the Roses air race in a Blackburn monoplane, Harold Blackburn purchased one of the first production 504s, which is seen here on The Stray in Harrogate, with a view to establishing a “flying circus”. The plan came to nothing, however, owing to the outbreak of the Great War.
The Blackburn monoplane and Avro 504 prototype side by side, probably at Moortown before the start of the race. In July the following year Harold Blackburn used the same two-seater to open the first scheduled service in Britain, when he flew the first of his half-hourly single-passenger-carrying flights between Leeds and Bradford.
THE 80 H.P. AVRO BIPLANE.- Plan, side and front elevation to scale.
Three examples of the Blackburn Type I were built: the "War of the Roses" two-seater owned by Dr M.G. Christie (the subject of the Flight report in December 1913); a single-seater with a single kingpost, and the Improved Type I, as seen here in 1914, fitted with a single kingpost and a smaller tailplane.
THE 80 H.P. BLACKBURN MONOPLANE - Plan, side and front elevations to scale.