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Joined: Tue Oct 26, 1999 11:34 am

The Blackburn Beverly

Sun Nov 11, 2001 8:00 am

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Günter Grondstein

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Günter Grondstein

The following tale was written by Gerry Hatt, a Beverley Flt Eng.

"A famous aircraft designer saw a dutch barn blow past in a gale. The basic concept of the Beverley was born at that moment.

The original design of the machine was intended to fulfill single-seater specifications, but as full power was required to taxi the aircraft forward at a slow walking pace, another engine was added. The resulting increase in all up weight necessitated the addition of two further engines to enable it to move at all.

By this time, the general dimensions had increased somewhat, and the work was often delayed for several days at a time while the a/c was utilised by the airport manager as a spare hanger for visiting aircraft. This state of affairs continued for such a long time, that by the time the prototype was ready for flight, other types of aircraft were jet powered.

The rather embarrassed designer, fearing to appear behind the times, had the propellers placed much higher than he had originally intended, in the hopes that they would not be noticed. This entailed the raising of the mainplane and the fuselage sides (the production manager raised the roof) and accounts for the immense height of the machine.

As no adequate runway was available, the undercarriage was adapted to take locomotive wheels, and the first take-off was from the Brough – Hull railway. It was in fact airborne by the time it had reached the passenger station at Beverley: hence its name.

A conversion kit for this purpose is still in existence. While the aircraft is in use in this role, the Flight Deck should be at all times be referred to as the drivers cab, and the VHF should be re-crystallized to include the frequencies of Crewe signal box, and the head office of the National Union of Railwaymen.

Spinning the aircraft is not recommended, as the torque reaction involved causes the Earth to rotate in the opposite direction to the spin, to the accompaniment of terse notes from Greenwich Observatory.

The aircraft is extremely versatile, and may be employed in many roles, particularly those, which do not include flying or movement of any kind. It is also highly amenable to modification. For example, wind tunnel tests have shown that the wings could be placed at the bottom, and the wheels at the top, without any appreciable drop in performance.

Taken all in all, the Beverley is an ideal aircraft for a civilian enthusiast with a million pounds, a private oil well, and a total abhorrence of flying."

The Beverly's first flight was in June 1950 and Blackburns Chief Test Pilot is reported to have said to his co-pilot at the moment of lift off " Well my sides airborne, how about yours ?"
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Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2001 7:41 am

RE: The Blackburn Beverly

Sun Nov 11, 2001 10:34 pm

 Big thumbs up

"It can´t really fly; It´s just so ugly the earth repels it!" (adapted)
Posts: 260
Joined: Sat Aug 05, 2000 1:01 am

RE: The Blackburn Beverly

Mon Nov 12, 2001 1:46 am

They actually built more than one of these things?  Smile

RE: The Blackburn Beverly

Mon Nov 12, 2001 8:33 pm

Alright, alright, already !! Enough of the funnies.
Of course it wasn't the prettiest or the lowest drag factor or any of those irrelevant things. However, for those of us who crewed the 'Bev' it was a bit special. It could also be quite spectacular - a V2 climb at min. weight at airshows used to impress the spectators. The MOST spectacular, though, was a display which I was privileged to witness, at Brough (the aircraft factory) on the day that 'Timber' Woods, the Blackburn Chief Test pilot retired. He was allowed a final flying display and who better to demonstrate the old girl. Impressive beyond belief.
Amongst its other peculiarities was the rather high oil consumption. The four big Centauri were classed by us as oil burning, petrol cooled and to cope we carried an 84 gallon overload oil tank in the 'dog kennel' at the rear of the flight deck. At approximately 2 hour intervals, we had to go back and, selecting each engine in turn, hand pump the requisite top-up amount. A couple of hours cruise at 8 - 10000 meant the oil was VERY hard to pump and, aircraft unpressurised and being a heavy smoker did not help !
I still have my Tech notes for the beast which include the instructions for starting the APU which include the immortal " turn over by hand for twelve full revolutions ....!! Things are definitely different nowadays  Smile
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Joined: Fri Oct 27, 2000 9:48 pm

RE: The Blackburn Beverly

Mon Nov 12, 2001 11:32 pm

Blackburn Beverly!! And this design from the same country that produced the DH Sea Vixen, the most beautiful plane ever! Can you believe it!

William, you didn't happen to serve with the RAF "Far East" any time did you?

When I was just a scrawny airport kid at Port Hedland, in the north west of Western Australia during the 1960's these "things" would occasionally drop in (literally almost) on their way to & from Sinkers or Butterworth. I used to help the local refueller (get in his way more than likely I guess) and I remember well the oil "top up" required - the tank on the cart would last a week of DC-3s, but disappeared in one gulp when a Bev visited. The sight of it backing up to the edge of the apron with those Centurion radials in reversed pitch still sticks in my mind, as does the sound of the 4 stroke APU - had me a bit puzzled when I first heard it, being more used to the F27's turbine APU at the time.

By the late '60s though they were replaced by Argosies - saw a few of them come through too.

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RE: The Blackburn Beverly

Mon Nov 12, 2001 11:55 pm

49 Beverley's were built.

Here's proof that they flew:-

Entering the Dog Kennel :-

In the Dog kennel:-

A Wounded Beverly after taxi-ing over a land mine:-

And finally a dead Beverley


RE: The Blackburn Beverly

Tue Nov 13, 2001 11:03 pm

Many thanks, VC10 - those piccies stirred the nostalgic juices. Although the last photo looks a bit final, it actually only killed one crew member - the signaller, Bill Owen, and his death was a bizarre act of fate. The radio receiver came out of the rack and hit him in the face resulting in his dentures lacerating his throat. The land mine incident at Thumrait at least demonstrated the advantages of sitting on a very elevated flight deck!!  Smile
PGF - No, I didn't do any Bev time in the Far East. My time there was at Bangkok on the Air Attache's Devon but we used to go down to Seletar for our heavy servicing.
One further point about the Bev; it was designed as a SHORT range bulky freight and para-dropping aircraft for operation into and out of unprepared strips. As ever, it was used for almost anything but!! We did however do one exercise when we used it exactly as it was intended and (surprise, surprise) it worked perfectly. We flew for six weeks from El Adem (Libya) to an unprepared sand strip at Timeimi, bulked out on almost every trip - half an hour each way. We had to stay stationary on the "runway" after each landing to allow the mini sand storm to clear. The "runway" was moved to a new piece of sand after every couple of landings because of the ridging from our bogeys. Great fun  Smile Whoops, must stop - tend to get carried away a bit with the nostalgia trip  Smile
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RE: The Blackburn Beverly

Wed Nov 14, 2001 12:08 am

One article I read about the Bev. said it only needed a navigator on the way out, because on the way back the pilot just followed the oil slick!

One chap I knew who worked on Bev's said if the a/c was coming back empty to the UK it was permissable for RAF personnel to bring back their own stuff. There was a waiting list for this however. Apparently one officer thought he would jump the queue to get his VW Beetle back from North Africa. Unfortunatly over the Med one of the engines failed and the a/c started to loose altitude. Obviously they had to get rid of any unecessary weight........

On the ops side of flying the Bev apparently it was one of the few a/c where there was a vertical componant to the C of G calculations on the load sheet.

Back in the '50's the RAF didn't use 'V' speeds for T.O. but used an acceleration chk. i.e you check your airspeed against time.

One time out in the Middle East a Bev repeatedly made unsucessful attempts to get airborne, each time failing the accel time check. In the end the a/c taxied back to dispersal where the Capt demanded a recount of the weights of the various items of cargo. It was then discovered that a lorry that was manifested as empty was in actual fact carrying eight tonnes of ammo. The emerg all-up weight of the Bev was 65 tonnes but the a/c drew the line an all-up weight of 73 tonnes.

Beverley's frequently operated at emergency all-up-weights and this resulted in many hair raising take-offs being reported in the hot & humid conditions of the Persian Gulf. One a/c suffered an eng failure immediatly after T.O. from Khormaksar and despite using full T.O. power could only maintain a height of about 50 feet by using the ground effect. After an incredably low & slow circuit a sucessful 3 eng landing was made

RE: The Blackburn Beverly

Thu Nov 15, 2001 7:19 pm

Quite correct about the vertical CG component and the rest. The photo's are very evocative - the 'injured' Bev at Thumrait demonstrated the advantages of an elevated flight deck in land mine encounters!!  Smile The 'dead' Bev was at Beihan - an interesting strip to operate into. It was situated in the middle of a wadi (valley) with an isolated jebel on the downwind and a "runway" with a very undulating surface. Not much room for error! A double engine failure on one side on take-off led to an immediate return and the slightly odd selection of reverse thrust on the two good engines on touchdown led (not surprisingly) to the aircraft turning turtle. The only fatality was the Signaller - Bill Owen - rather bizarre, in that the radio receiver hit him in the face and his dentures caused his demise. The Skipper, Andy Douglas, and his co-pilot were, apparently, left dangling inverted in their seat harnesses deeply embedded in the sand for some time. Their situation was not helped by the sound and smell of 100 octane pouring into the surrounding sand and the ticking noises from the hot engines cooling down. Not nice !!
Just a final note, the correct spelling is Beverley - the name comes from the town near to the aircraft factory at Brough.
Topic Author
Posts: 3546
Joined: Tue Oct 26, 1999 11:34 am

RE: The Blackburn Beverly

Fri Nov 16, 2001 10:08 am

Old Virgin

Re the spelling - I am aware of the correct spelling, you will note in the post's I spelt it correctly. When spelt incorrectly it was a slip of the fingers !

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