The barriers of flight required much experimentation in the early years and it fell to forward-thinking individuals like Alliott Verdon Roe (1877-1958) of Britain to push the field along. The Avro "Type D" was a product of the pre-World War 1 period and involved seven aircraft built to an experimental standard, utilizing a biplane wing configuration and single engine mounting. A first-flight was recorded on April 1st, 1911 (with one C.H. Pixton at the controls) and the series went on to see airworthy service into 1913.
As built, the Type D seated a sole pilot and could carry a single passenger in open-air cockpits. Structurally, the aircraft has an overall length of 28 feet, a wingspan of 31 feet, and a height of 9.1 feet. Gross weight reached 500lb. Power was derived from a single Green C.4 4-cylinder inline piston engine outputting 35 horsepower and used to drive a two-bladed propeller at the nose. Maximum achievable speeds reached near 50 miles-per-hour.
The aircraft's configuration had the three-bayed biplane wing members seated well-forward of midships and, with the engine at the nose, concentrated the aircraft's weight forward. The crew seating was aft of the engine. The wing mainplanes were joined to one another by way of parallel struts and cabling was used for strengthening as well as to control surfaces in-flight. The tail encompassed a skeletal stem-like member emanating from the rear of the cockpit area and terminating in a single-finned unit with horizontal planes. The undercarriage was typical of the time - multi-wheeled (multi-spoked bicycle-style tires), fixed, and joined to landing skids.
The arrival of the Type D marked A.V. Roe's first venture into a biplane-winged flying machine - previous attempts centering on triplanes and other multi-winged developments.
The aircraft's first-flight in April of 1911 revealed a relatively controllable, responsive aircraft - proving the design sound. Following additional successful flights, the design was sold off to Commander Oliver Schwann who commanded the airship "Hermione".
At this point in the Type D's flying career, she was reworked as a floatplane to which Commander Schwann revised the design by adding a skin to the rear fuselage area and working in a slightly modified tail unit. Instead of the typical wheel/skid undercarriage, twin floats of various types were trialed and, on November 18th, 1911, the Type D took off in its new guise - marking the first time a floatplane went airborne from British waters. The following year, the aircraft fell under ownership of the Royal Aircraft Factory and, following modifications of their own, flew under the designation of H.R.E.3. In 1913, it was reconfigured, yet again, to become a land-based flyer. This marked the last known actions involving the Type D design as Europe moved on to become embroiled in The Great War (1914-1918) - which furthered the cause of aviation considerably heading into the 1920s.
Of the seven Type D's constructed, one model was modified as a racer with a 2-foot extension of the fuselage, reduced-span lower wing members, and reworked radiator system. Additionally, the original Green engine was succeeded by an ENF Type F model outputting a greater 60 horsepower while still turning a two-bladed wooden propeller unit at the nose. The changes made for a fast-yet-heavy aircraft which crashed during a trial run from an altitude of 150 feet or so - the pilot being uninjured in the action.