Blackburn Beverley

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Blackburn beverley in 1964 arp.jpg
Blackburn Beverley XB287[a] photographed in 1964.
Role Military transport aircraft
Manufacturer Blackburn Aircraft
Design group General Aircraft
First flight 20 June 1950
Introduction 1955
Retired 1967
Primary user Royal Air Force
Produced 1950–1958
Number built 49

The Blackburn B-101 Beverley was a 1950s British heavy transport aircraft built by Blackburn and General Aircraft and flown by squadrons of the Royal Air Force Transport Command from 1957 until 1967. It was notably the only land-based transport airplane built by Blackburn, a company that otherwise primarily built naval fighters.

Design and development[edit]

Designed and built by General Aircraft as the GAL.60 Universal Freighter, the first aircraft was dismantled at the Feltham, Middlesex factory and transported to Brough in Yorkshire to have its maiden flight on 20 June 1950. This was followed by a second, the GAL.65, which was modified from the original. Clamshell doors replaced a combination of a door and ramp, and the tailplane boom received seating for 36 passengers. The Bristol Hercules engines were replaced with Bristol Centaurus with reverse-pitch propellers, a feature that gave it a short landing distance and the ability to reverse under its own power. The takeoff and landing distances with maximum load were 790 yards and 310 yards.[1]

The RAF placed an order on 1 October 1952 for 20 aircraft as the Beverley C.1 (Beverley, Cargo Mark 1). Further orders were placed on 30 July 1954 for nine, 2 January 1956 for eight and another ten on 24 September 1956, a total order of 47 aircraft. All Beverleys would be built at Brough.

The aircraft was a high-wing cantilever monoplane with a fixed undercarriage. The large fuselage had a tailboom and tailplane with twin fins. The tailboom allowed access to the rear of the fuselage through removable clamshell doors. A 36 ft (11 m) main fuselage space was supplemented by passenger accommodation in the tailboom. The main cargo hold could accommodate 94 troops, with another 36 in the tailboom. In operation, it was regarded as "ungainly but highly effective" and was described by Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Freer as "like something out of the Ark, but it was a superb supply dropper."[2]

A device called an Elephant's Foot could be fitted under the centre of the fuselage just forward of the clamshell doors when loading heavy items to prevent the aircraft from tipping back.[3]

The aircraft was designed for carrying large bulkloads and landing on rough or imperfect runways, or dirt strips. It could trace its design back to the GAL49 Hamilcar glider of the Second World War. When it entered service it was the largest aircraft in the RAF. It had a large cargo hold of about 6,000 ft3 (170 m3). Paratroopers in the upper passenger area jumped through a hatch in the base of the boom just in front of the leading edge of the tailplane. Paratroopers in the cargo hold exited through side doors.

The Beverley was equipped with toilets, which were situated in the tail beyond the paratroop hatch located on the floor of the tailboom. One fatality was caused by a serviceman who fell twenty feet to the ground when exiting the toilet, unaware that the paratroop hatch had been opened. Modifications were made to prevent the toilet doors from being opened when the paratroop hatch was open.[3]

In total, 49 of the aircraft were produced, with the last one being manufactured in 1958, and final retirement from RAF service was in 1967.


  • G.A.L. 60 Universal Freighter Mk.1 : General Aircraft Ltd Designation for the first prototype aircraft.
  • G.A.L. 65 Universal Freighter Mk.2 : Designation for the second prototype aircraft. Blackburn company name B-100.
  • Beverley C Mk 1 : Medium-range tactical transport aircraft for the RAF. Blackburn company name B-101, 47-built
  • Blackburn B-107 : Projected Stage 2 development of the B-101 Beverley designed in 1956 that retained the Beverley wings and tail; and added a completely new rounded fuselage with a larger unobstructed freight hold. The intended powerplants were to be four Rolls-Royce Tyne turboprop engines. The design allowed for 75 paratroops or 108 troops to be carried. The design project never progressed beyond the planning stage.[4]
  • Blackburn B-107A : Projected Stage 3 development of the B-101 Beverley designed in 1959. The B-107A was similar to the B-107 but included main loading doors in the nose and rear doors for para-dropping only, as well as a relocated flight deck. Like the B-107, this project never progressed beyond the planning stage.[4]

Operational history[edit]

Beverley C.1 of 47 Squadron giving a display in 1957

The first production aircraft from an original order for 20 from the Royal Air Force flew on 29 January 1955. The first operational aircraft was delivered to 47 Squadron Royal Air Force at RAF Abingdon on 12 March 1956. 53 Squadron, also at RAF Abingdon, received Beverleys in early 1957 but was absorbed into 47 Squadron in June 1963. They were flown until October 1967 when the squadron disbanded. 30 Squadron received its Beverleys in April 1957 at RAF Dishforth subsequently deploying to RAF Eastleigh, Kenya and RAF Muharraq, Bahrain where it disbanded in September 1967.

The longest-serving Beverleys were in those operated by 47 Squadron in the UK, from 1956 to 1967; 34 Squadron received its aircraft at RAF Seletar in October 1960 and continued flying them until the end of 1967. During this time, 34 Squadron carried out flood relief work in South Vietnam. Prior to this, from June/July 1959, the first four Beverleys to go to the Far East formed the Beverley Flight, 48 Squadron based at RAF Changi. The sixth squadron to fly the Beverley was 84 Squadron at RAF Khormaksar, Aden which flew them from 1958 until August 1967 when they were exchanged for Hawker Siddeley Andovers.[5]

Initially, the aircraft were silver overall, but later, those operated by the squadrons based in the Middle East were given an overall sand camouflage finish.


 United Kingdom
RAF units operating the Blackburn Beverley[6]
Unit From To
No. 30 Squadron RAF April 1957 September 1967
No. 34 Squadron RAF October 1960 December 1967
No. 47 Squadron RAF March 1956 October 1967
No. 48 Squadron RAF June 1959 October 1960
No. 53 Squadron RAF January 1957 June 1963
No. 84 Squadron RAF May 1958 August 1967
No. 242 Operational Conversion Unit RAF 1957 March 1967

Accidents and incidents[edit]

Nine aircraft were lost in service with the RAF, including one in the Sutton Wick air crash. Two of them were written off after being damaged by explosive devices (one landmine, one bomb).

Surviving aircraft[edit]

Surviving Beverley at Fort Paull

Only one Beverley has survived: XB259 is on display at Fort Paull, just east of Hull, in England. Two other aircraft were on public display but have since been scrapped:

  • XH124 was on display at the RAF Museum London, Hendon. Kept outside, the aircraft deteriorated and was scrapped in 1989.
  • XB261 was on display at the Southend Historic Aviation Museum in 1971. When the museum closed it sat outside for years being weather-beaten and vandalised. It was scrapped in 1989; however, part of its cockpit has been preserved at the Newark Air Museum, Nottinghamshire.

XL149 was scrapped however the cockpit has been preserved at South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum, Doncaster.

Specifications (B-101)[edit]

Beverley C Mk 1

Data from Blackburn Aircraft since 1909[7]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 4 (2 pilots, radio operator and navigator)[8]
  • Capacity: [8]
  • Length: 99 ft 5 in (30.30 m)
  • Wingspan: 162 ft 0 in (49.38 m)
  • Height: 38 ft 9 in (11.81 m)
  • Wing area: 2,916 sq ft (270.9 m2)
  • Aspect ratio: 9:1[8]
  • Airfoil: RAF 34 (modified)[8]
  • Empty weight: 79,230 lb (35,938 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 135,000 lb (61,235 kg)
  • Fuel capacity: 6,880 imp gal (8,260 US gal; 31,300 L)[8]
  • Powerplant: 4 × Bristol Centaurus 173 18-cylinder air-cooled radial engines, 2,850 hp (2,130 kW) each
  • Propellers: 4-bladed de Havilland reversible-pitch propellers, 16 ft 6 in (5.03 m) diameter [8]


  • Maximum speed: 238 mph (383 km/h, 207 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 173 mph (278 km/h, 150 kn) (recommended cruise)
  • Range: 1,300 mi (2,100 km, 1,100 nmi) at 8,000 feet (2,400 m) with 29,000 lb (13,000 kg) payload; 160 mi (140 nmi; 260 km) with 50,000 lb (23,000 kg) payload
  • Ferry range: 3,960 mi (6,370 km, 3,440 nmi) at 8,000 lb (3,600 kg) (with 1,000 lb (450 kg) payload)
  • Service ceiling: 16,000 ft (4,900 m)
  • Rate of climb: 760 ft/min (3.9 m/s)
  • Take-off distance to 50 ft (15 m): 1,340 ft (408 m)
  • Landing distance from 50 ft (15 m): 910 ft (277 m)

See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists



  1. ^ in the markings of 47 Squadron
  1. ^ Flight Feb 1955 Beverley build up p148
  2. ^ "Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Freer". Daily Telegraph. 1 February 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
  3. ^ a b "The Blackburn Beverley Association - Tour Beverley XB259: The Exterior." The Blackburn Beverley Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 July 2010. <>.
  4. ^ a b Blackburn Beverly. Aeroflight. 2010-05-24. URL: Accessed: 2010-05-24. (Archived by WebCite at
  5. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 53.
  6. ^ Jefford 2001, pp. 38, 40, 44, 45 and 172.
  7. ^ Jackson 1968, p. 477
  8. ^ a b c d e f Bridgman 1958, pp. 61–62


  • "Beverley Build-up". Flight, 4 February 1955, pp. 145–148
  • Bridgman, Leonard (1958). Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1958–59. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Company.
  • Gladstone, Geoff. The Blackburn Beverley. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Scoval Publishing, 2010. ISBN 978-1-902236-12-4
  • Hobson, Chris. Blackburn Beverley C.Mk 1 (Warpaint Mini-Monograph). Alan W. Hall (Publications), 1988. OCLC 13665622
  • Jackson, A. J. (1968). Blackburn Aircraft Since 1909. London: Putnam. ISBN 0-370-00053-6.
  • Jackson, A.J. Blackburn Aircraft Since 1909. London: Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1989. ISBN 0-85177-830-5
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G. (2001) [1988]. RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912 (2nd ed.). Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife. ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Overton, Bill. Blackburn Beverley. Hinckley, Leicester, UK: Midland Counties, 1990. ISBN 0-904597-62-8

External links[edit]