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Tarrant Tabor


One patriot who felt he could fill a gap and strike a blow at the Kaiser was a Surrey building contractor, W. G. Tarrant, whose company had been involved in wartime contract work manufacturing wooden aircraft components. Tarrant hired Walter Henry Barling to design the aircraft, which was to be a ‘bloody paralyzer’ of a triplane made entirely of home-grown timber and constructed using a largely female work force, according to the terms of the contract issued by the Ministry of Munitions. The massive Tabor triplane was the first and last aeroplane built by W. G. Tarrant Ltd of Byfleet, Surrey. Designed in an attempt to enable Berlin to be bombed from bases in England, and assembled at RAE Farnborough, the aircraft was not completed until 1919.

When it appeared, too late for its intended purpose, it spanned 40m (131 ft 3 in) from tip to tip of its middle wing, and had a 22.25m (131 ft 3 in) fuselage of monocoque construction formed from ply skinning over Warren-girder type circular formers. Serialled F1765, the one and only completed Tabor was powered by a total of six 450 h.p. Napier Lion engines: two pairs in push-pull tandem between lower and middle wings, and another two tractor engines between middle and top planes. The fuselage was of finely streamlined monocoque construction, while the tail consisted of a biplane unit with twin fins and rudders.

The Tabor stood as high as a four-storey house, and its height, and particularly the location of its upper engines, brought about its speedy demise. On 26 May 1919 the giant Tabor was winched out of the balloon shed at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough along a specially built railway track. Some 508 kg (1120 lb) of lead was loaded into the nose at the last moment when some final calculations showed that the aircraft might be tail heavy, and the long, wearisome process of hand-starting the six Napier Lions began. With all engines running the pilot, Captain F. G. Dunn, and his co-pilot, Captain P. T. Rawlings, began taxi trials. Also aboard were a technical observer from Tarrant’s, a fitter, an engineer officer, and two foremen from the RAE. When Dunn opened up the top engines, which had previously been throttled back, and the sudden extra thrust so far above the aircraft’s centreline caused it to nose-over and bury its forward fuselage in the earth just as it was about to leave the ground. The two pilots died shortly afterwards of their injuries and Tarrant, perhaps fortunately for other aviators, never again dabbled with aviation.

Construction of a second Tabor was abandoned.

Engines: 6 x Napier Lion, 450 hp
Wingspan: 40m (131 ft 3 in)
Fuselage length: 22.25m (131 ft 3 in)
Weight: 45,000 lb



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