Earlier this year a replica Avro Type F went on display at the Avro Heritage Museum. The aircraft was built by the Roe Heritage Group and is on loan from the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester.
Designed and built in 1912, the original Avro Type F was the first aircraft in the world with a fully enclosed cockpit. Alliott Verdon Roe conceived the radical design with the assistance of Reginald Parrott and Roy Chadwick.
The Type F went against the accepted open cockpit biplane and triplane designs which were prevalent at the time. Instead, Avro designed a monoplane which was steered laterally by wing warping. The pilot entered the aircraft through a hatch in the roof and was afforded complete protection from the elements.
On 1st May 1912, Wilfred Parke piloted the Avro Type F on its maiden flight which was completed without incident. Critics had predicted that the enclosed cockpit was a flawed concept because it would restrict the pilot’s field of view. In particular, they believed that the engine would cover the windscreen in oil and completely obscure the pilot’s vision. As it happened, the aircraft’s 35 hp Viale radial engine performed very well and the predicted oil leaks didn’t materialise. However, the oil and gas tanks were situated in front of the pilot and would certainly have had a negative impact on the pilot’s vision!
The Type F went on to achieve a height of 1,000 ft over Chertsey on 17th May but its overall performance was disappointing. In particular, the tail skid had a habit of digging into the ground which caused the aircraft to tip over when it was taxiing. Its final flight took place on 13th September when the aircraft turned over on landing and suffered extensive damage. Thankfully the pilot, a Mr R. H. Barnwell, wasn’t hurt in the crash but the aircraft never flew again.
The Viale engine is the only part of the original Avro Type F which survives and this is on display at the Science Museum in London. The idea to build a replica Type F was conceived in 2001 with work commencing in 2004. None of the original drawings have survived and the team only had a handful of photographs to work with. The replica was completed in 2011 and went on display at the Museum of Science and Industry, nearly one hundred years after the original Type F was built.
The Verdon Roe website has a series of images of the build in Manchester – HERE. Note that many of the MOSI volunteers in the images are now members of the Avro Heritage Museum.
When it was about to be removed from display into storage the Avro Heritage Museum requested a loan. This was quickly agreed by the owners. It was moved to the Museum and hung on a bespoke frame from the Display Hall ceiling in June 2018.