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Avro Bison

United Kingdom (1922)
Picture of Avro Bison Carrier-Based Artillery Spotting / Reconnaissance Aircraft

The Avro Bison was one of the few naval aircraft produced by the Avro concern for British navy service.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Avro Bison Carrier-Based Artillery Spotting / Reconnaissance Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 2/21/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

When the aircraft carrier was proven a viable sea-going warship in World War 1 (1914-1918), military powers who could afford such ships moved on developing dedicated naval aircraft like fighters and reconnaissance types. Avro (A.V. Roe), an aviation company known primarily for its Royal Air Force (RAF) contributions, sold a rare naval aircraft product to the Royal Navy as the "Bison". This ugly aircraft held a short service life from 1922 to 1929 and saw initial use under the Royal Air Force (RAF) banner. The aircraft - along with the competing Blackburn R-1 (44 examples) - were used to fulfill Specification 3/21 calling for a "naval fleet spotter/reconnaissance aircraft". The Avro design took on the model name of "Type 555".

Both Avro and Blackburn were commissioned to provide three. The Avro design became an awkward-looking creature retaining the typical biplane wing configuration common to many 1920s aircraft. The wings included an upper and lower wing plane with dihedral (upward angle) seen on the upper wing span. The engine was mounted at front in typical fashion with a fixed, wheeled undercarriage set under the aircraft (a tail skid was used under the tail). The pilot's position was of note, seated immediately aft of the engine installation yet ahead of the upper wing section for a commanding view of the action ahead from his open-air placement (just a forward windscreen was featured). The fuselage was given a very deep look which allowed for the occupants within to stand. This cabin crew numbered three and included a navigator, radioman, and machine gunner. Each side of the fuselage featured a large rectangular-shaped window for observation and the machine gunner manned his post along the dorsal spine of the aircraft, just above the cabin area. His weapon - a single .303 Lewis machine gun - was mounted to a Scarff ring which allowed for trainable fire against any approaching enemy aircraft. The tail unit of the aircraft was largely conventional save for the vertical fin which was given a rather oblong, strange shape.

Power for the Bison was through a Napier "Lion II" series engine developing 480 horsepower while driving a two-blade propeller. Maximum speed was 108 miles per hour with cruising speeds near 90 miles per hour. Operational range was out to 360 miles with a service ceiling reaching 12,000 feet and a rate-of-climb of 450 feet per minute.

Beyond the sole .303 machine gun, the aircraft was given provision to carry bombs under the wings.
The Type 555 prototype first flew in 1921 and was quick to showcase handling issues related to its unconventional looks. The dihedral design feature of the upper wing element was removed and its center area raised by two full feet to compensate. Three Type 555 prototypes were completed while twelve production examples were ordered under the "Bison" name. Despite their intended use by the Royal Navy, first examples were actually operated by the RAF in 1922. The FAA would ultimately field the Bison across squadrons 421, 423, 447, and 448 and these served into 1929 before being succeeded themselves by the Fairey IIIF biplane.

A few variants dotted the short history of the Bison: The Bison I designation was used to signify the original batch of twelve aircraft and Bison IA followed as rebuilt Bison I aircraft with a gap introduced in the biplane arrangement and changes to the tail. Bison II (Type 555A) was an improved form with modified wings and twenty-three of this type were built. Bison I (Type 555B) became a "one-off" example modified as a prototype amphibious aircraft but not adopted for service.

A total of 55 Bison aircraft were realized. Due to their particular appearance during the 1920s, the type never recorded any combat action during its service tenure aloft. It was also never exported.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 120mph
Lo: 60mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (109mph).

    Graph average of 90 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Avro Bison II's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
55
55


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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Origin: United Kingdom
Year: 1922
Type: Carrier-Based Artillery Spotting / Reconnaissance Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Avro - UK
Production: 55
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
United Kingdom
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Avro Bison II model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
4


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
36.02 ft


Meters
10.98 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
46.00 ft


Meters
14.02 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
14.17 ft


Meters
4.32 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
4,123 lb


Kilograms
1,870 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
6,140 lb


Kilograms
2,785 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Napier Lion II engine developing 480 horsepower.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
109 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
175 kph


Knots
94 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
360 mi


Kilometers
580 km


Nautical Miles
313 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
12,008 ft


Meters
3,660 m


Miles
2.27 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
450 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
137 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (4):

STANDARD:
1 x .303 Vickers machine gun in fixed, forward-firing position.
1 x .303 Lewis machine gun on trainable ring mounting

OPTIONAL:
Conventional drop bombs carried under the wings.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• Avro Bison - Base Series Designation
• Avro 555 Bison - Prototypes; three examples
• Avro 555 Bison I - Fitted with Lion II engine; twelve examples; later revised to Bison IA standard.
• Avro 555 Bison IA - Dorsal fin added; biplane gap wings
• Avro 555A Bison II - Improved variant; 23 examples
• Avro 555B Bison I - Amphibian conversion model; single example not adopted for service.