The Kangaroo was the product of the Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Company, Limited. The design began as a venture in 1916 to which two complete prototypes were produced. These prototype aircraft, known collectively as the Blackburn GP ("GP" for "General Purpose"), featured floatplanes and were designed for use as anti-submarine aircraft. From this design, a land-based version was further developed when interest in a navalized form waned. The land-based model became the Blackburn R.T.1 Kangaroo (with the full "R.T.1" designation of the aircraft being "Reconnaissance Torpedo Type 1", effectively the roles the aircraft was called on to fulfill). Despite the sub-par performance output of the Rolls-Royce Falcon II series engines (250 horsepower), the Royal Air Force accepted the 20 already on order and the Kangaroo legacy was sealed. Deliveries began sometime in January of 1918 with units made combat-ready the same year. After the sixth production aircraft was complete, an attempt to boost performance was made with the introduction of the Rolls-Royce Falcon III engines developing a more promising 270 horsepower each.
Externally, the Kangaroo featured a long box-type straight fuselage. A crew of three was positioned about the forward portion and consisted of the pilot in the center cockpit, a gunner in the forward cockpit and a rear gunner in the far aft cockpit. All three positions were separated from one another with the rear gunner at the greatest disadvantage in terms of communicating with the pilot. The fuselage was straddled by two engines which sported either a two- or four-blade propeller system. The undercarriage was fixed and featured individual two-wheel bogie front landing gear systems and a traditional tail skid. The main landing gears were positioned just under the engines to handle these greater weight areas. Wings were of a biplane arrangement and featured three bays with parallel struts and associated cabling. The wings were of an uneven span with the top assembly extending outwards over the lower assembly. To save on storage space, the wings - outboard of the engines - could be swiveled back via hinges and folded against the tail section. The long empennage was affixed with twin vertical tail fins and a long-running horizontal plane.
Performance from the twin Rolls-Royce Falcon III liquid-cooled, V-12 270 horsepower engines netted a maximum speed of 98 miles per hour with a range out to 487 miles. A rate-of-climb of 480 feet per minute was possible as was a service ceiling of 12,992 feet. As a bomber the Kangaroo could call upon up to 920lbs of ordnance. Self-defense was handled by two 7.7mm Lewis-type machine guns, one mounted in the forward cockpit and the other in the rear cockpit.
The end of World War 1 resulted in only six months of operational wartime use for the Kangaroo and its war record held nothing much of note save for the sinking of one enemy U-Boat vessel. After the war, Kangaroos were used in limited numbers as dual-control trainers up to 1929, to which the aircraft was officially retired from service. Several also made their way into the civilian passenger market for a time, ferrying up to 8 people in the burgeoning commercial air services springing up around the globe.
The Blackburn Kangaroo was operated exclusively with No. 246 Squadron of the British RAF as well as the Peruvian Army Flying Service. Only 20 of the type were ultimately produced.
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