British Matchless

British Matchless


Arthur Phillips, (b. 1872 in Ollerton, Shropshire – d. ??) started his career as a bespoke bicycle manufacturer, using the trademark Matchless, although this was no connection to either the Matchless bicycle produced by Nahum Salamon nor those produced by Collier & Sons, the latter evolving into the famous motor cycle brand of British Matchless.

Phillips initially in wood, but soon turned his hand to metal—working and readily adapting to the role of motor engineer and garage proprietor with advent of the motor car around the start of the 20th century. Like many engineers of his time he was attracted by the early attempts at powered flight and by 1908 had invented a convertiplane, referred to as the British Matchless convertiplane. The machine was covered by his patent, No. 28,119, ‘Improvements in or appertaining to Machines for Navigating the Air’ of 1908.

Phillips produced a scale model, to test the theory, the incomplete remains of which resides today in the Shuttleworth Collection. On each of the narrower sides of a rectangle of lightweight tubes was mounted a pair of biplane wings, each about 4ft 6ins in span, effectively a fabric covered extension of the framework with 7 simple aerofoil ribs apiece and joined at their outer ends by a pair of tubular interplane struts. Two diagonal tubes from the base of each side of the central frame to the outer end of the upper wings completed the bracing.

A motorcycle engine (stated by Goodall & Tagg [1] to be a Douglas, but there is no further evidence) was to be mounted in the tapered base of the central structure to drive the four contra-rotating propellers. These have feathering blades and can be swiveled through 90 degrees. The idea was to start with the propellers vertical and flat and, when they got up to speed, alter the pitch so that the machine rose vertically. When a suitable height was reached the propellers would be smoothly swiveled to the horizontal and off the machine would fly. It was intended to fit rudders to the full size machine.

Almost needless to say, despite reports of tests with remote cable controls in a field near Market Drayton, Phillips’s ingenious device was a non-starter.

Company References
  1. British Aircraft Before The Great War, Michael H. Goodall and Albert E. Tagg (Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2001)
  2. Ancestry.com
  3. The Shuttleworth Collection.

Project Data top

Project No
Type No
Alternative Name(s)
         1908    Proj  0  1S convertiplane  1

Project References
  1. British Aircraft Before The Great War, Michael H. Goodall and Albert E. Tagg (Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2001)

Production Data


   Total British Matchless Production     0   

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