The location of the Beardsmore aircraft factory at Dalmuir, on the River Clyde, Glasgow.
William Beardmore & Co Ltd were essentially a giant of the Scottish shipbuilding and engineering industry; based on Glasgow's River Clyde the company grew from strength to strength in the early years of the 20th Century and flourished during the years of World War One. The company moved into aircraft construction and subsequently also design. The aircraft factory was based at Dalmuir, Clydebank (NS 483 707) where today the Golden Jubilee National Hospital stands.
Beardmore built several types of aircraft under license during WW1 including fighters such as the Sopwith pup and bombers like the Handley Page V1500. Also constructed at Dalmuir were several Nieuport 12, Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2C, Sopwith Camel and Wight Seaplanes.
The Sopwith Pup was a land based fighter and the company sought to capitalise on their knowledge of building this aircraft by creating their own design, based upon the Sopwith Pup but specifically for naval use. At this time (1917) the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) was separate from the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Air Force (RAF) didn't come into being until April 1st 1918.
They created the WBIII which was essentially a modified Sopwith Pup more able for use on aircraft carriers. It was in service on HMS Furious and HMS Argus (also built and modified by Beardmore) in addition to the ships Nairana and Pegasus. The WBIII featured a folding wing, designed to save space on a ships flight deck. It also featured a modified fuselage with flotation gear in case of ditching at sea. A later modification (WBIIID) had an undercarriage that could be jettisoned for safer landings on water. In total 100 were built and supplied to the RNAS. The WBIII preformed well but was not as agile as the Sopwith Pup upon which it was based.
In addition to the WBIII, a number of other aircraft were designed by George Tilghman Richards, the Beardmore chief designer during WW1. The majority were of limited success for a variety of reasons, few being developed beyond the prototype stage.
The WBI (1917) was a bomber but was rejected by the RNAS in favour of the Handley Page 1/100. Only one was ever made.
The WBII was a fighter plane first flown in August 1917. Only three were built as, although it preformed well the engine it used (a 200 hp (150 kW) Hispano-Suiza 8Bd) was urgently needed for SEA2 aircraft being built for the Royal Flying Corps. Only three were ever made.
The WBIV was a fighter plane (1917). A flotation chamber was built into the fuselage and the cockpit was watertight. The undercarriage could be released from the plane for landing on water and there were additional floats on the wing tips. The wings could be folded like the WBIII. Only one was ever made.
The WBV (1917) was designed by G Tilghman Richards as a ship-borne fighter armed to destroy airships. It was a single-seater aircraft. Development was abandoned shortly after the completion of a second prototype. Only two WBVs were ever built.
The WBIV was a single-seater torpedo bomber with folding wings powered by a Rolls Royce engine (1917/18).
Following the war Beardmore struggled with the downturn in orders in shipping, aircraft and armaments which were all produced at Dalmuir. By the mid 1930s the company had failed and the site at Dalmuir had closed and was dismantled.
William Beardmore and Co Ltd also built airships during the First World War - keep checking back as a page will follow soon!