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Beardmore WB III / SB 3

Carried-based Fighter

Beardmore WB III / SB 3

Carried-based Fighter


William Beardmore and Co developed their W.B.III as a carrier version of the Sopwith Pup fighter.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United Kingdom
YEAR: 1917
MANUFACTURER(S): William Beardmore and Company LTD - UK
OPERATORS: Japan; United Kingdom

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Beardmore SB 3F model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 20.21 feet (6.16 meters)
WIDTH: 25.00 feet (7.62 meters)
HEIGHT: 8.10 feet (2.47 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 891 pounds (404 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 1,290 pounds (585 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Le Rhone 9C OR 1 x Clerget rotary piston engine developing 80 horsepower.
SPEED (MAX): 103 miles-per-hour (166 kilometers-per-hour; 90 knots)
RANGE: 171 miles (275 kilometers; 148 nautical miles)
CEILING: 12,402 feet (3,780 meters; 2.35 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 534 feet-per-minute (163 meters-per-minute)

1 x 7.7mm (0.303 caliber) Lewis machine gun in fixed, upward-firing.
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun

Series Model Variants
• WB III - William Beardmore and Company company designation; navalized version of the ship-borne Sopwith Pup; folding wings; removable undercarriage; straight parallel struts.
• SB 3 - Official Royal Naval Air Service series designation.
• SB 3F - Initial production models; 13 examples produced.
• SB 3D - Improved SB 3F; jettisonable undercarriage; emergency floation equipment in a lengthened fuselage.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Beardmore WB III / SB 3 Carried-based Fighter.  Entry last updated on 4/5/2016. Authored by Dan Alex. Content ©
The Beardmore WB III was nothing more than a highly-modified, navalized version of the successful land-based Sopwith Pup single-seat, single-engine biplane fighter of 1916. The William Beardmore and Company firm was already under contract to produce the land-based Sopwith Pup, this under legal license, and developed the WB III for shipboard use by the Royal Naval Air Service during World War 1. First flight was recorded in 1917 and some 100 examples were ultimately produced.

Design of the WB III was conventional for biplane fighter aircraft of the time, keeping up with features as found on the Sopwith Pup. The engine was held in a forward compartment at the front of the slab-sided fuselage. A cylindrical engine cowling was fitted over the front engine facing for a more streamlined approach. The engine, a single nine-cylinder Le Rhone 9C series engine or a seven-cylinder Clerget (each delivering up to 80 horsepower), turned a two-bladed wooden propeller. The biplane wing arrangement featured straight parallel struts unlike the Sopwith Pup's staggered formation, necessitated by the Navy requirement for manually folding wings (space on aircraft carriers was always at a premium). Additionally, the undercarriage - consisting of two fixed single-wheeled members - could be removed by the ground crew for improved stowage while the tail was supported by a simplistic tail skid. The fuselage tapered off to the empennage to which was affixed a rounded vertical tail fin and applicable horizontal planes.

Performance from the available powerplant allowed for a top speed of up to 103 miles per hour with a service ceiling of up to 12,400 feet and a rate-of-climb equal to 534 feet per minute. Endurance time (essentially the aircraft's operational range) was listed at 2 hours and 45 minutes. The WB.III maintained a wingspan of 25 feet with a running length of 20 feet, 3 inches. She sat with an 8 foot, 1 inch height. On empty, she weighed in at 890lbs and could take off with a weight of up to 1,290 lbs. Armament was a single fixed, upward-firing .303 Lewis machine gun, firing through a cut-out section of the upper wing assembly.

The prototype WB III was accepted by the British military on February 7th, 1917. A contract for 100 production examples soon followed. Furthermore, the official British designation for the WB III family became "SB 3". The initial production models fell under the designation of SB 3F and covered some thirteen examples until supplanted by the revised SB 3D. The SB 3D sported a jettisonable undercarriage as well as emergency flotation equipment in a slightly lengthened fuselage.

The WB III served on only three Royal aircraft carriers, these being the HMS Furious, HMS Nairana and the HMS Pegasus. Japan became the only other notable operator of the WB III/SB 3 series.


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
Hi: 120mph
Lo: 60mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (103mph).

Graph average of 90 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Beardmore SB 3F's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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 (100)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
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 pioneering aircraft
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 representing modern aircraft
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 War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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