BLACKBURN

Civil engineer Robert Blackburn saw Wilbur Wright fly in France, threw up job as civil engineer in Rouen and designed monoplane built in Leeds and made brief hops on beach at Marske, near Filey, April/May 1909. Other monoplanes followed, and Blackburn Aeroplane & Motor Co. set up June 1914, with factory in disused Leeds roller-skating rink. Wartime production included BE.2cs, Sopwith Babies and, at Sherburn-in-Elmet 12 miles east, Sopwith Cuckoos. To build marine aircraft new site chosen at Brough, on Humber west of Hull, which in 1929-33 replaced Leeds as main factory. Products included succession of lumpy carrier-based torpedo bombers (Swift, Dart, Velos, Ripon, Baffin and Shark), a series of large military ftying-boats, and Bluebird 2-seat civil biplane and B-2 side-by-side trainer. Main products in Second World War were others’ designs: 1,699 Swordfish at Sherburn, 250 Sunderlands at Dumbarton and 635 Barracudas at Brough. Company’s own designs included Skua dive-bomber and Botha crew trainer; Firebrand torpedo bomber missed war. General Aircraft was taken over January 1949 forming Blackburn & General Aircraft, GAL.60 Universal being developed into Blackburn Beverley; licence production included Prentice and Balliol trainers. Most important of all was Buccaneer (30 April 1958). Robert Blackburn died 1955, company split into Aircraft, Engines and Electronics companies 1959, and Blackburn Aircraft taken over by Hawker Siddeley Group, briefly becoming part of Hawker Blackburn Division before losing identity 1 April 1965.

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