William Beardmore & Co


William Beardmore and Co., Ltd, the Scottish engineering and shipbuilding conglomerate, decided to move into aviation in November 1913. The plan was that airships were to be built at the Dalmuir works and aero-engines at the Arrol-Johnston works at Heathfield. For aircraft, Beardmore acquired the UK rights for machines from D.F.W. (Deutsche Flugzeug-Werke, or German Aircraft Works) of Lindenthal. D.F.W. had set up business at Brooklands in November 1913, headed up by Technical Director E.C. Kny who brought over a D.F.W. B2 and an Arrow biplane from Germany. The Arrow was to have been the subject of a licence agreement between D.F.W. and Beardmore and Kny intended a purpose built factory for this in Richmond, Surrey.

The outbreak of war ended the Beardmore-D.F.W. alliance and any thoughts of a new factory, but not before one new, but German, design was begun at Brooklands. This was an aircraft intended for the Daily Mail ‘Seaplane Circuit of Britain’ Race of 1914, but the war also caused this to be cancelled. The factory at Richmond never materialized, but in 1914 an airfield was built at Dalmuir and the first order received from the Admiralty for 24 B.E.2c’s. The Admiralty representative overseeing production was Lieutenant G.T. Richards R.N.V.R, and he was allowed to resign his commission to head up Beardmore’s design office when it was created in January 1916. Several prototypes were produced but only the Sopwith Pup derived W.B.III went into production.

With the wholesale cancellation of military contracts at the end of the war, production at Dalmuir effectively ceased. Richards produced several designs between 1919 and 1920, but none went beyond the drawing board and in May 1920 the Aircraft Department was closed down.

In 1923 the Air Ministry gave a contract to Beardmore for the design and construction of an experimental aircraft to evaluate the all metal concepts of Adolf Karl Rohrbach. Consequently the Aircraft Department was reopened on 1 January 1924 under chief designer W.S. Shackleton. To set up the licence agreement between Beardmore and Rohrbach, a separate componay, the Light Metal Aircraft Company, of Dalmuir, was formed with, amongst others, Adolph Rohrbach and E.L. Chorlton, Beardmores' Aircraft Manager, as directors. It would be several years before this giant aircraft, the Inflexible, would first fly and in the meantime Shackleton produced an aircraft at the opposite end of the scale, the diminutive ‘Wee-Bee’, intended for the forthcoming light aeroplane trials at Lympne that September, ending the competition well ahead of its nearest rival, winning the Air Ministry first prize of £2,000.

Two more aircraft were to fly before the Inflexible, the first another Rohrbach based design, the Inverness. This was followed by the W.B.XXVI, the prototype of a fighter built especially for Latvia. Only one prototype was built. When it was delivered to Latvia it was found to handle very well, but to be very much underpowered. In Latvia it flew a total of three times before it was rejected and returned to the manufacturer. In early 1926, Beardmore appointed Squadron-Leader Rollo de Haga Haig as "outside" manager in connection with their aviation and aero engine departments and on Shackletons departure in the latter part of 1927, he took over as chief designer. However, by now the writing was on the wall for Beardmore, and the Aircraft Department finally closed in February 1929.

In September of that same year, Sir William Beardmore, Bt (he was created a Baronet, of Flichity in the County of Inverness, in 1914), was forced to resign from his own company. Born in Deptford, London, on 16 October 1856 and raised to the peerage as Baron Invernairn, of Strathnairn in the County of Inverness, in the 1921 New Year Honours, Beardmore died at his home in Strathnairn, Inverness-shire of heart failure on 9 April 1936.

Company References
  1. Beardmore Aviation, 1913-1930, Charles MacKay (A. MacKay, 2012)

Project Data top

Project No
Type No
Alternative Name(s)
     D.F.W. Tractor Biplane    1914    Pro(n)  1  2S, 1E biplane seaplane  1,21,22
   W.B.I      1916    Proto  1   2S, 1E long range bomber  1,2,26,29,34
   W.B.IA      1916    Proj  0  2S, 1E long range bomber - enlarged W.B.I  2
   W.B.II      1917    Proto  1   2S, 1E fighter  1,2,20
   W.B.IIA      1918    Proj  0  2S, 1E reconnaissance fighter  1,2
   W.B.IIB      1920    Proto  2   2S, 1E air-mail transport  1,2,3,27,30
   W.B.III    S.B.3F,  S.B.3D (Note 1)  1917    Prdn  100(1)  1S, 1E shipborne fighter  1,2,20,24,28,32
   W.B.IV      1917  N.1(a)  Proto  1   1S, 1E shipborne fighter  1,2,20,32
   W.B.V      1917  N.1(a)  Proto  2   1S, 1E shipborne fighter  1,2,20,32
   W.B.VI      1918    Proj  0  1S, 2E torpedo bomber  1,35,40
   W.B.VIA      1918    Pro(n)  1   1E, 6 passenge biplane transport  1,4
   W.B.VIB      1918    Proj  0  1E, 2 passenge biplane transport  1,4
   W.B.VIC      1919    Proj  0  1S,1E biplane ultralight  1,4
   W.B.VID      1919    Proj  0  2E, 6 passenge biplane transport  1,4
   W.B.VII      1919    Pro(n)  1  1S, 1E shipborne fighter  1
   W.B.VIII      1919    Proj  0  3E passenger and cargo triplane  1,4
   W.B.IX      1920    Pro(n)  1   4E, 10 passenger biplane amphibian   1,4,8,27,36,37,38
   W.B.X      1920    Proto  1   2S, 1E commercial biplane  1,3,7,23,27,30

The aircraft works were closed down in 1920. It re-opened in 1924. Presumably this is the reason why the Type Numbers began again at W.B.XXIV.

Project No
Type No
Alternative Name(s)
   W.B.XXIV  Wee Bee I    1924    Proto  1  1S, 1E ultra-light  1,3,9,15,25,30
   W.B.XXV  Unknown (See note 2)              
   W.B.XXVI      1925    Proto  1  2S, 1E biplane fighter  1,5,11,13,18,20
     Not Identified    1925    Proj  0  1S, 1E parasol monoplane fighter  (10)
     Not Identified    1925    Proj  0  2S, 1E monoplane reconnaissance seaplane  (10)
   BeRo.1  Inflexible  Invincible  1928  18/33  Proto  1  3E monoplane research aircraft  1,6,14,17,19,27,29,31
   BeRo.2  Inverness    1925    Proto  1  Licence built Rohrbach RoIV  1,6,12,16,33

Project References                    To show project references in a floating window

Project References      

1        Beardmore Aviation 1913-1930, Charles MacKay (A. MacKay, 2012)

2        British Aeroplanes 1914-18, J.M. Bruce (Putnam, 1957)

3        British Light Aeroplanes 1920-1940, Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume (GMS Enterprises, 2000)

4        British Commercial Aircraft 1920-1940, Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume (GMS Enterprises, 2003)

5        British Fighter Since 1912, Francis K. Mason (Putnam 1992)

6        British Research and Development Aircraft, Ray Sturtivant (Haynes Publishing, 1990)

7        Flight 5 Aug 1920

8        Flight 2 Sep 1920

9        Flight 25 Sep 1924

10      Flight 26 Feb 1925

11      Flight 20 Aug 1925

12      Flight 24 Sep 1925

13      Flight 31 Dec 1925

14      Flight 5 Ap 1928

15      Aeroplane Monthly May 1985

16      Aeroplane Monthly Feb 1990

17      Aeroplane Monthly Mar 1990

18      Aeroplane Monthly Dec 1996

19      Air Enthusiast Quarterly 49

20      Air International Feb 1973

21      Flight 7 Aug 1914.

22      Flight 14 Aug 1914.

23      Flight 12 Aug 1920

24      The Sopwith Pup, J.M. Bruce, Gordon Page and Ray Sturtivant (Air Britain (Historians), 2002)

25      Ultralights - The Early British Classics, Richard Riding (Patrick Stevens Ltd., 1987)

26      British Bomber Since 1914, Francis K. Mason (Putnam 1994)

27      British Civil Aircraft since 1919 Volume 1, A.J. Jackson (Putnam, 2nd Ed., 1973)

28      British Naval Aircraft since 1912, Owen Thetford (Putnam, 1978)

29      The British Bomber since 1914, Peter Lewis (Putnam, 1967)

30      British Light Aeroplanes 1920-1940, Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume (GMS Enterprises, 2000)

31      The Monospar, Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume (Stenlake Publishing, 2013)

32      Warplanes of the First World War: Fighters, Vol.1, J.M. Bruce (McDonald, 1965)

33      Back To The Drawing Board, Bill Gunston (Airlife 1996)

34      Cross & Cockade Vol 5 No 2

35       http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205315477

36       http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205315478

37       http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205315479

38       https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,4342.0.html

39       https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,24065.0.html

40       https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,26132.0.html

Project References
1. Beardmore Aviation 1913-1930, Charles MacKay (A. MacKay, 2012)
2. British Aeroplanes 1914-18, J.M. Bruce(Putnam, 1957)
3. British Light Aeroplanes 1920-1940, Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume (GMS Enterprises, 2000)
4. British Commercial Aircraft 1920-1940, Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume (GMS Enterprises, 2003)
5. British Fighter Since 1912, Francis K. Mason (Putnam 1992)
6. British Research and Development Aircraft, Ray Sturtivant (Haynes Publishing, 1990)
7. Flight 5 Aug 1920
8. Flight 2 Sep 1920
9. Flight 25 Sep 1924
10. Flight 26 Feb 1925
11. Flight 20 Aug 1925
12. Flight 24 Sep 1925
13. Flight 31 Dec 1925
14. Flight 5 Ap 1928
15. Aeroplane Monthly May 1985
16. Aeroplane Monthly Feb 1990
17. Aeroplane Monthly Mar 1990
18. Aeroplane Monthly Dec 1996
19. Air Enthusiast Quarterly 49
20. Air International Feb 1973
21. Flight 7 Aug 1914
22. Flight 14 Aug 1914
23. Flight 12 Aug 1920
24. The Sopwith Pup, J.M. Bruce, Gordon Page and Ray Sturtivant (Air Britain (Historians), 2002)
25. Ultralights - The Early British Classics, Richard Riding (Patrick Stevens Ltd., 1987)
26. British Bomber Since 1914, Francis K. Mason (Putnam 1994)
27. British Civil Aircraft since 1919 Volume 1, A.J. Jackson (Putnam, 2nd Ed., 1973)
28. British Naval Aircraft since 1912, Owen Thetford (Putnam, 1978)
29. The British Bomber since 1914, Peter Lewis (Putnam, 1967)
30. British Light Aeroplanes 1920-1940, Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume (GMS Enterprises, 2000)
31. The Monospar, Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume (Stenlake Publishing, 2013)
32. Warplanes of the First World War: Fighters, Vol.1, J.M. Bruce (McDonald, 1965)
33. Back To The Drawing Board, Bill Gunston (Airlife 1996)
34. Cross & Cockade Vol 5 No 2
35. http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205315477
36. http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205315478
37. http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205315479
38. https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,4342.0.html
39. https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,24065.0.html
40. https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,26132.0.html

  1. The W.B.III was a modified Sopwith Pup, the designation 'S.B.' signifying Sopwith-Beardmore.
    The suffix D denoted 'Dropping' undercarriage, while the subscript 'F' denoted folding. According to Bruce et.al [24], the F subscript was little used, if at all, and all aircraft so built were converted to 'D'.
  2. Phillip Jarrett [18] refers to a Beardmore design for a two seat fighter/advanced trainer that predates the XXVI and could possibly be the XXV.

Production Summary top
Select the Prdn_List button to go to the appropriate listings page.

Note: In the Production Summary, conversions are only listed where they result in a change from one Type to another. Changes to sub-type or Mark Number are not shown in the summary. For details of these, see the individual listings.

Type No


Qty (New)

Qty (Conv.)


 D.F.W. Tractor Biplane





































 Wee Bee I














Total Beardmore Production


Total Beardmore Cancelled

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