Military Factory logo

Bristol M.1

United Kingdom (1917)
Picture of Bristol M.1 Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Aircraft

A persistent prejudice against monoplanes during World War 1 ensured that the Bristol M.1 series saw limited production figures.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Bristol M.1 Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 11/18/2016. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The Bristol M.1 military fighter aircraft appeared at a time in aviation history where there still stood a bias against monoplane-winged designs. Despite its excellent showing of straightline speed, the fighter was not widely accepted by the British Air Service during World War 1 (1914-1918) and, instead, relegated to service over the Middle East, the Balkans and at the Homefront (the latter utilized as trainers). One hundred thirty of the type were delivered by Bristol Aeroplane Company before the end.

Design work on the aircraft began in 1916 as a private venture headed by chief engineer Frank Barnwell of Bristol Aeroplane. Instead of following the traditional route of a biplane wing arrangement, a monoplane wing arrangement was coupled with a "puller" engine layout - the entire design wrapped around a well-contoured, rounded fuselage which tapered elegantly to the empennage. The unit consisted of a small-area vertical fin and low-set horizontal planes. The wing mainplanes were shoulder-mounted along the fuselage sides and strengthened by a pair of semi-circular steel hoops acting as the cabane (cage) structure, this seated over the cockpit. The cockpit was of the open-air variety consistent with the period and the wheeled undercarriage (tail dragger style) was fixed. The engine, fitted to the nose, drove a two-blade wooden propeller and a large aerodynamic spinner was added to it to complete the aircraft's look. Overall construction was primary of wood with fabric skinning. Power was had from a Clerget rotary engine of 110 horsepower output.

A prototype completed a first-flight on July 14th, 1916 and proved the design sound. The British War Office saw enough value in it to purchase the aircraft for extended evaluation and formal testing produced speeds reaching nearly 130 miles per hour. One of the design's noted deficiencies was its wing mainplane placement which reduced forward and downward vision for pilots - critical viewing angles in air-to-air combat and landing actions.
Several physical changes greeted the subsequent M.1B models of which four were ordered. These had a cut-out section along the right wing mainplane to offer better ground vision for the pilot. Additionally, the semi-circular steel hoops over the cockpit were done away with and replaced by a pyramidal cabane. At the left wing mainplane was installed a .303 Vickers machine gun. Various engine fits were trialed during this time.

Even with the changes in place, the M.1 was a hard sell to the British Air Ministry who continually favored the biplane due to past issues with fielding viable monoplane types. Monoplanes were still largely viewed as unstable, dangerous creatures with lethal landing speeds when compared to contemporary biplanes and their added drag / control. This did not stop an order for 125 production-quality models to be had in August of 1917 - these under the M.1C designation. Chief changes included the .303 Vickers machine gun now set over the nose and a Le Rhone rotary engine for power.

The M.1C exhibited a length of 20.4 feet, a wingspan of 30.8 feet and a height of 7.8 feet. Empty weight was 900lb against a MTOW of 1,350lb. Maximum sped reached 130 miles per hour - one of the faster fighters of the war - with a service ceiling 20,000 feet and a mission endurance window of 1 hour, 45 minutes.

In service, the M.1 series was sent to the Middle East Theater before the end of 1917 and some fought over the Balkans Front while the rest of the stock was retained at home for training of British airmen. In practical combat, the fighters acquitted themselves quite well and were a match for even the best the enemy had to offer but - again - prejudices against monoplanes persisted and this limited the series to the grand total of 130 aircraft.

At least a dozen were shipped to Chile before the end of 1918 as payment for two warships under construction in British shipyards prior to the war and intended for the Chilean Navy. The vessels were confiscated by the Royal Navy to shore up its fleet shortages as it headed to war with Germany.

M.1 fighters served with RAF squadron Nos. 14, 47, 72, 111 and 150. A one-off design, the M.1D, was fitted with an in-house Bristol "Lucifer" radial piston engine and used as a high-speed testbed. Following the war, in its bright red color scheme, the aircraft raced into the early 1920s but as ultimately involved in a fatal crash during 1923.






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.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 150mph
Lo: 75mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (130mph).

    Graph average of 112.5 miles-per-hour.
Relative Operational Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Bristol M.1C's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era Impact
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
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
130
130


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
  Compare this entry against other aircraft using our Comparison Tool  
Supported Mission Types:
Air-to-Air
Interception
Unmanned
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Training
Anti-Submarine
Anti-Ship
Airborne Early Warning
MEDEVAC
Electronic Warfare
Maritime/Navy
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Search/Rescue
Recon/Scouting
Special Forces
X-Plane/Development
National Flag Graphic
National Origin: United Kingdom
Service Year: 1917
Classification Type: Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Bristol Aeroplane Company - United Kingdom
Production Units: 130
Global Operators:
Chile; United Kingdom
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Bristol M.1C model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
20.51 ft


Meters
6.25 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
30.68 ft


Meters
9.35 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
7.71 ft


Meters
2.35 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
904 lb


Kilograms
410 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
1,345 lb


Kilograms
610 kg

Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Le Rhone 9J rotary engine developing 110 horsepower and driving two-bladed propeller at the nose.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
130 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
210 kph


Knots
113 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
230 mi


Kilometers
370 km


Nautical Miles
200 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
20,013 ft


Meters
6,100 m


Miles
3.79 mi

Armament - Hardpoints (0):

1 x 0.303" Vickers machine gun over the nose.
Visual Armory:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Variants: Series Model Variants
• M.1 - Base Series Designation
• M.1A - Protoype model with Clerget 9Z rotary engine of 110 horsepower; single example completed.
• M.1B - Fitted with Clerget 9Z of 110 horsepower OR Clerget 9B of 130 horsepower OR Admiralty Rotary A.R.1 of 150 horsepower; four examples completed; portside machine gun mounting.
• M.1C - Definitive production model; fitted with Le Rhone 9Ja engine of 110 horsepower; 125 examples completed.
• M.1D - One-off high-speed testbed and racer from M.1C production stock; fitted with Bristol Lucifer powerplant of 140 horsepower.