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Bristol Boxkite




After first buying a Zodiac biplane from France, which Bristol proposed to manufacture, they settled on a copy of the Farman III ‑ which was a better design and unlike the Zodiac could be made to fly successfully.
George Challenger, the company’s chief engineer at Filton, sfter seeing detailed drawings of the Farman III in Flight magazine, was pretty sure he could build a copy of the plane. A few weeks later, the first copy was constructed, using materials from the partially built Zodiac aeroplanes. The Farman copy is a tractor biplane having its upper and lower planes equal, directly superposed, and connected by 6 struts. The front struts are rigidly braced by cables; the rear ones free for warping. The fuselage is of quadrangular section. The chassis has four wheels.
The Boxkite, as it was named, was first flown on 31 June 1910 by Maurice Edmond at the company’s flying school on Salisbury Plain with a 37kW Gregoire engine and in September 1910 made the first military flight when it was used in a reconnaissance role during Army manoeuvres on Salisbury Plain, which led to the delivery of the first military aircraft as an army co-operation machine in May 1911.



Farman, not surprisingly, sued the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company for patent infringement. However, White was able to show Farman that they had made significant alterations to Farman’s design to improve it… so Farman dropped the suit. The Bristol Boxkite was the first plane to be built in mass quantity, with four purchased by the British War Office in 1911, and others sold to Russia and Australia.


This plane was simply called the No. 7. Best guess is that the initial Zodiac was No. 1, with the five partially-constructed Zodiac‘s taking the numbering up to No. 6.
The first Boxkite, No. 7, used fitted with a Grégoire 50 horsepower motor, but even before its first test flight, they swapped it out for a same output Gnome motor.
For later trials, they put the Grégoire back in.
Boxkite No. 8 used an E.N.V. 50 horsepower motor.
Still, for almost all other aeroplanes, the company supplied the aeroplanes with the 50 horsepower Gnome rotary engine. Each motor was set just above the lower wing upon sturdy wooden beams, which, also held up the pilot and passenger seats up front.
Although early Boxkite examples built had equal upper and lower wingspans, later ones had a longer upper wing (known as the Military version).
The No. 9, flown by pilot Robert Loraine in late September of 1910, was the first aeroplane to send a radio signal down to the ground, in Great Britain. Loraine, has his diary noted by the Oxford English Dictionary, as the first written example of the word “joystick” to describe aircraft stick controls.



Within a matter of months of the first flight the company was planning for expansion and mounting its first overseas sales drive. Mis-sions were dispatched to Australia, India and other countries with good results. In November 1910 the first export order was placed by Russia for eight Boxkites and subsequently aircraft were also sold to Sweden, Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria.


The Boxkite has a history in the evolution of military aviation in Australia and was the first official military aircraft built in Australia that was used to train Australia’s military aviators.
A Bristol Boxkite was flown in Australia for the first time on 1 March 1914, when Lieutenant Eric Harrison took one into the air at Point Cook. The airfield was then the home of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC).
M. Jullerot in November 1911


On March 14, 1911, the British War Office ordered four Bristol Boxkites for its planned Air Battalion Royal Engineers—becoming the first production contract for military aircraft for Britain’s armed forces. A second order of four was made later that year, with them all pretty much being used as trainers for would-be pilots.
When WWI broke out, four more were ordered by the British War Office, the last of which was written off in February of 1915, as obsolete. These aeroplanes were used as trainers at the Bristol flying schools at Brooklands and Larkhill, both of which were responsible for giving nearly 50 percent of British pilots their license before WWI.
By the time production of the Boxkite ceased in 1914, the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company had constructed 78 Bristol Boxkite aeroplanes in total, of which 60 were the so-called Military version, one (no. 44) was a Racer version, and one, No. 69, was a an unsuccessful Voisin variant.
Bristol Boxkite‘s No. 73-78 were built at Brislington by the Tramway Company, with all those before it manufactured at the Filton facility.
Three replica aircraft built for the movie Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines. One is at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, another at the Shuttleworth Collection at Bedfordshire, and the third is at the Museum of Australian Army Flying in Australia.


Wills’s Aviation Card #51 – “Bristol” Military Biplane.
Card #51 of 75, W.D.& H.O Wills, Aviation series 1911, Vice Regal Mixture issue
This card shows the Bristol Biplane (official name), though the Wills’s card calls it the Bristol Military Biplane, and the world seems to refer to it as the Bristol Boxkite.


RAAF Museum Bristol Boxkite
Miles Bristol Boxkite


Bristol Boxkite
Length: 38.386 ft / 11.7 m
Height: 10.827 ft / 3.3 m
Wingspan: 46.49 ft / 14.17 m
Max take off weight: 1151.0 lb / 522.0 kg
Empty weight: 363 kg / 800 lb
Max. speed: 35 kts / 65 km/h
Engine: Gnôme, 50 hp
Crew: 2
Bristol Boxkite
Engine: Gnôme, 80 hp
Wingspan: 11.3 m
Wing area: 40 sq. m
Max. speed: 80 km/h

Boxkite Standard
Engine: Gnôme, 50 hp
Wingspan: 10.52 m / 34 ft 6 in
Length: 11.73 m / 38 ft 6 in
Height: 11 ft 10 in / 3.61 m
Empty weight: 363 kg / 800 lb
Wing area: 42.46 sq.m / 457.04 sq ft
Max. speed: 64 km/h / 40 mph
Bristol Boxkite Military version
Engine: 1 × Gnome Omega, 50 horsepower (37 kW)
Wingspan: 14.17 meters (46 feet 6 inches)
Wing area: 48.03 square meters (517.0 square feet)
Length: 11.73 meters (38 feet 6 inches)
Height: 3.61 meters (11 feet 0 inches)
Empty weight: 408 kilograms (900 pounds)
Maximum takeoff weight: 522 kilograms (1150 pounds)
Maximum speed: 64 kilometers per hour (40 miles per hour)
Wing loading: 10.9 kilograms per square meters (2.22 pounds per square foot)
Power/mass: 70.9 watts per kilogram (0.043 horsepower per pound)
Crew: 2









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