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Blackburn B.44

United Kingdom (1942)
Picture of Blackburn B.44 Floatplane Fighter Prototype

The Blackburn B.44 was proposed as a single-seat, single-engine floatplane fighter during World War 2 - it was not furthered.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Blackburn B.44 Floatplane Fighter Prototype.  Entry last updated on 6/14/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

For a time in military aviation history there was a particular focus on the "floatplane fighter", an offensive-minded attack design that attempted to maintain the best qualities of a floatplane (sea-based landings and take-offs, operational range) and a fighter (stable gun platform, general performance, maneuverability). In November 1942, with World War 2 already raging, the British Air Ministry developed Specification N.2/42 for this very type of combat aircraft and Blackburn delivered what became the "B.44".

In its earlier B.20 and B.40 projects, both of which were flying boats, the company centered the designs on a retractable hull which could be lowered for landing and raised when flying, thus improving aerodynamic efficiency in the latter action. The concept was proven somewhat through the B.20 prototype (detailed elsewhere on this site) but this aircraft was lost in testing (killing three of its six crew). The B.40 was not developed beyond drawings as interest in the type soon waned on the part of the Royal Air Force (RAF).

The same concept was now driven through a single-seat, single-engine fighter design which could operate near the frontlines in areas where there were next-to-now support systems available - namely wide expanses of ocean where small islands (either natural or man-made) were all that could be had.

Two prototypes were ordered by the Air Ministry and these would be powered by the Napier "Sabre" engine outputting 2,240 horsepower and driving a pair of three-bladed, contra-rotating propellers at the nose. To expedite development, much of the existing work done on the Blackburn Firebrand land-based fighter (detailed elsewhere on this site) was used in constructing the B.44 floatplane fighter. The basic airframe was to have low-set monoplane wings seated ahead of midships. The engine would be positioned at front in the traditional way and the tail would be made up of a single vertical fin and low-mounted, forward-set horizontal stabilizers. As the boat-like hull was built into the fuselage's design (supported / retracted by a system of struts) no complex landing gear arrangement was needed. Two outboard (folding) pontoons were set near the ends of each wing for stability when running on the water's surface. The pilot sat under a framed canopy ahead of midships with the fuselage spine running directly behind his position, the extra internal volume adding fuel stores for longer operation ranges. Armament centered on 4 x 20mm automatic cannons (two fitted to each wing) and provision was to be made for carrying 2 x 500lb drop bombs under the wings.

As the war progressed, and economically-minded "Escort Carriers" proved viable warships for carrying warplanes to-and-fro, the need for the B.44 lessened. Additionally, proven in the actions of the Pacific Theater, the Allies were able to construct air bases at speed in areas where it was not thought possible - providing forward operating areas for future assaults or assault support in general. As such, the B.44 was abandoned after only a full-scale mockup had been completed.

Of particular note in the development of the B.44 floatplane fighter is the lack of faith had by RAF officials in the design with concerns ranging from on-water stability and water spray at the engine and propeller components to general control factors when in flight. The work on the B.44 was not even publicized until the post-war period in 1947.

Any available statistics for the Blackburn B.44 Floatplane Fighter Prototype are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).




General Assessment (BETA)
Firepower  
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Performance  
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Survivability  
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Versatility  
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Impact  
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Rating: 52 (of 100)
The rating is an internal assessment derived from forty factors pertaining to this entry.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (360mph).

    Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
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
0
0


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


Altitude Visualization
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National Flag Graphic
Origin: United Kingdom
Year: 1942
Type: Floatplane Fighter Prototype
Manufacturer(s): Blackburn Aircraft - UK
Production: 0
Status: Cancelled
Global Operators:
United Kingdom (cancelled)
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 Blackburn B.44 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
39.37 ft


Meters
12 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
50.03 ft


Meters
15.25 m


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
13,999 lb


Kilograms
6,350 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Napier Sabre IV liquid-cooled inline piston engine developing 2,240 horsepower driving 2 x three-bladed propeller units at the nose in contra-rotating fashion.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
360 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
580 kph


Knots
313 kts


Performance
CEILING


Feet
38,009 ft


Meters
11,585 m


Miles
7.20 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
2,000 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
610 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (2):

PROPOSED:
4 x 20mm cannons (two per wing mainplane).

A bombload of up to 2 x 500lb conventional drop bombs, one hardpoint per wing.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• B.44 - Base Project Designation; cancelled; full-scale prototype completed.