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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Beardmore WB.III On HMS Cassandra --- Seeking Information

Old Man

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I have been thinking of doing a model of a Beardmore WB.III 'Folding Pup', and in looking about for information I came upon a small trove of pictures featuring the first production example of the type, N6100, on H.M.S. Cassandra. Here is the header picture, and a link to the rest:



Google has not been my friend in trying to find out more about this. All I have been able to find out about H.M.S. Cassandra is general class information ('Caledon-class'), that she was completed in June of 1917, that she ran aground in late August but was recovered with no difficulty, and that she was sunk off the Estonian coast by a mine shortly after the Armistice.

The aeroplane pictured, N6100, was delivered for acceptance trials early in June, 1917, so it seems at least possible it went directly to the new vessel. It is clear from this, and other photographs at the link, that this was in the early configuration with folding undercarriage and tripod mounted Lewis firing upwards through the upper wing. It was stored in a 'hanger' which looks very like a modern shipping container of the deck of the cruiser, into which it fit with wings folded with very little room to spare.

I have not seen any mention of operation of these machines from cruisers in the admittedly scanty references to the type in aviation materials; there is mention of operation on H.M.S. Furious and H.M.S. Pegasus and H.M.S. Nairana (the latter two receiving their first examples in August, 1917), and mention of an unsuccessful attempt to fly one of the forecastle deck of H.M.S. Renown, but that is all.

I would like to know more about this, in particular whether this was an experimental arrangement, or whether H.M.S. Cassandra carried this aeroplane as a regular item of equipment for some time.

Any information on this arrangement, or on service in general of the Beardmore WB.III, would be greatly appreciated.

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The late Dick Cronin's excellent Royal Navy Shipboard Aircraft Developments 1912-1931 (Air Britain 1990) is the ultimate work on this subject. On p.34, he had this to say about Cassandra and WB.IIIs. While still fitting out in 1917, HMS Cassandra had a permanent hangar built into the starboard side of the bridge and, initially, a 45 feet fixed forecastle ramp, positioned on the forecastle forward of the No.1 six-inch mounting. The hangar was only wide enough to house an aeroplane with folding wings, the Beardmore WB.III being selected. The fixed platform was substituted for the outdated forecastle ramp, but the combined weight of hangar and fixed platform was 15 tons, which had the handicap of considerably reducing the ship's stability. HMS Caledon was similarly equipped.

Although the Beardmore WB.III was a derivative of the Pup, fitted with the same power plant, its performance was well below that of the Pup, and was not a success. In consequence, hangars and platforms were removed from both Cassandra and Caledon, and revolving platforms were fitted aft in both ships, just forward of the after control

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Thank you for that, Sir.

Should I take the reference to 'revolving platforms fitted aft' once the hangers were removed as indicating the two cruisers continued to carry an aeroplane?

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Cassandra's WB.IIIs (N6100 & N6128) were replaced by Pup N6200 and then 2F1 Camels N6794 & N7122. Caledon also received a Pup (serial?) and then 2F1 Camel N6602.

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