Blackburn Blackburn

The Blackburn R-1 Blackburn was a 1920s British single-engined fleet spotter/reconnaissance aircraft built by Blackburn Aircraft. 

Blackburn Blackburn
Class Aircraft
Type Reconnaissance
Manufacturer Blackburn Aircraft Limited
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1922
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1922 1923 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Blackburn Aircraft Limited 44 View


  • Blackburn : Prototype, three built.
  • Blackburn I : Production version with a 449 hp (335 kW) Napier Lion IIB engines, 33 built.
  • Blackburn II : Improved production version with a 464 hp (346 kW) Napier Lion V, and increased gap between wings. 29 built.
  • Blackburn Trainer : Trainer version of Blackburn I, fitted with side by side cockpit and dual controls. Known by the Fleet Air Arm as the Bull. Two out of Blackburn I batch.

The Blackburn was developed to meet a naval requirement (Specification 3/21) for a carrier-based reconnaissance aircraft and gun spotting aircraft. Blackburn designed a new fuselage and used the wing and tail surfaces from the Blackburn Dart. The pilot sat in an open cockpit above the engine, a navigator sat inside the fuselage and a gun position was located at the rear of the fuselage cabin. The aircraft's two-bay wings could fold for stowage aboard aircraft carriers, with the upper wing attached directly to the fuselage, which filled the interplane gap. Armament was a single forward firing Vickers machine gun mounted externally to the left of the pilot, with a Lewis gun on a Scarff ring for the gunner.

Three prototypes were flown during 1922, leading to an initial production contract for 12 aircraft. The production aircraft were designated Blackburn I and the first deliveries to the Fleet Air Arm at Gosport began in April 1923. 18 more Blackburn Is were built in 1923-4. Its first operational deployment was with No. 422 Fleet Spotter Flight, which deployed aboard HMS Eagle in the Mediterranean in 1923.

A further order for 29 Blackburns was placed with the more powerful Napier Lion V engine and designated the Blackburn II. The upper wing was raised 22½ in (0.57 m) to improve handling. A few Blackburns were used as dual-control trainers and all the Blackburn Is were converted to II standard before the type became obsolete in 1931, when they were replaced by the Fairey IIIF.

Role Carrier-based reconnaissance
Manufacturer Blackburn Aeroplane & Motor Company Limited
First flight 1922
Introduction 1923
Retired 1931
Primary user Fleet Air Arm
Number built 44
Developed from Blackburn T.2 Dart

General characteristics

  • Crew: 3
  • Length: 36 ft 2 in (11.02 m)
  • Wingspan: 45 ft 6 in (13.87 m)
  • Height: 12 ft 6 in (3.81 m)
  • Wing area: 650 ft (60.40 m)
  • Empty weight: 3,929 lb (1,786 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 5,962 lb (2,710 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 6,648 lb (3,022 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 x Napier Lion 12-cylinder W-block inline engine, 450 hp (346 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 122 mph (157 km/h) at 3,000 ft
  • Service ceiling 12,950 ft (3,950 m)
  • Rate of climb: 690 ft/min (210 m/min)
  • Endurance: 4.25 hours


  • Guns: 2 x .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis guns

End notes