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Blackburn Ripon

United Kingdom (1929)
Picture of Blackburn Ripon Torpedo Bomber Aircraft

The Blackburn Ripon proved her worth as a British Fleet Air Arm torpedo bomber during the inter-war years and saw combat service with the Finnish Air Force in World War 2.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Blackburn Ripon Torpedo Bomber Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 7/3/2016. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The Blackburn concern was founded in 1914 by aviation engineer Robert Blackburn as the "Blackburn Aeroplane & Motor Company" and, with World War 1 gripping Europe, the company turned to design, development and construction of its own aircraft for the military sphere. Prior to the war, Blackburn had already built his first aircraft in 1909 and followed this single-engine monoplane with various others in the years leading up to the war. In 1918, the final year of the war, Blackburn revealed perhaps their most famous wartime contribution - the large, twin-engined Blackburn "Kangaroo" three-seat, biplane reconnaissance/torpedo biplane bomber. From this design, a steady stream of torpedo-minded platforms then followed including the post-war Blackburn "Swift" of 1920 and the Blackburn "Dart" of 1921.

The Blackburn Dart was a conventional biplane aircraft with a torpedo-delivery role as primary. The aircraft was accepted into the ranks of the Fleet Air Arm and the Royal Air Force and saw 118 examples produced across a few notable variants. The Dart also managed export to Japan, Spain and the United States in limited numbers. She was crewed by a single operator in an open-air cockpit, featured a fixed wheeled undercarriage and equal-span biplane wings with parallel struts. The platform was powered by the Napier Lion IIB series water-cooled, 12-cylinder inline piston engine of 450 horsepower. Maximum speed was 107 miles per hour with a range of 400 miles and service ceiling of 12,700 feet. Armament included a fixed, forward-firing 7.7mm Vickers machine gun to engage targets of opportunity. As a torpedo bomber, the Dart could be outfitted with 1 x Mk VIII or IX series 457mm torpedo under the fuselage centerline or 2 x 520lb bombs along hardpoints under the wing. Production of Darts spanned from 1922 to 1928.

With several years of operational service from which to draw upon, Blackburn then took to refining the Dart design for the new British Air Ministry Specification 21/23 - this initiative producing the Blackburn "Ripon" biplane series which went airborne for the first time on April 17th, 1926 in prototype form. The specification called for a torpedo bomber with long endurance qualities and a secondary reconnaissance gathering role. One of the key changes in the Ripon design over the Dart was the inclusion of a second crewmember - a gunner/observer in a rear open-air cockpit. Two prototypes were originally considered - a conventional land-based form and a seaplane complete with floats for water operations. Despite failing in the initial formal evaluation phase even against lesser competitors, the Ripon was re-trialed with a new engine and revised wing surfaces and finally accepted into the inventory of the Fleet Air Arm. She was set to begin her operational service in 1929 with No. 462 Fleet Torpedo Bomber from the deck of the HMS Furious. Some 90 production-level aircraft were ordered.

Initial Ripon production models were designated as "Ripon II" as the two initial prototypes were recognized as "Ripon I". Ripon IIs were given modest defensive armament of 1 x 7.7mm Lewis machine gun on a trainable mount in the rear cockpit. The offensive bomb load was primarily 1 x 457mm torpedo along the fuselage centerline though this could be replaced by up to 3 x 530lb drop bombs under the fuselage and wings. For greater effect, 6 x 230lb bombs could be carried instead.

Some twenty Ripon II forms were produced before the arrival of the definitive "Ripon IIA" which introduced a fixed, forward-firing machine gun (7.7mm Vickers) for the pilot and incorporated metal ribbing into the wing structure for a more durable end-product. Forty Ripon IIA units were produced in all.

The "Ripon IIC" was then introduced and featured all-metal wings and some 30 aircraft of this mark were manufactured. Ripon IICs were powered by Napier Lion X, XI, or XIA series piston engines of 570 horsepower allowing for a top speed of 111 miles per hour with a range of 400 miles and service ceiling of 10,0000 feet. The Ripon IIC could reach an altitude of 6,500 feet in 15.5 minutes.

"Ripon III" designated a one-off prototype form that trialed an all-new tail unit coupled with an elongated forward fuselage. However, this mark was not to be selected for serial production and fell to the pages of aviation history. The "Ripon IIF" became a notable export model sold to Finland - the only other operator of the Ripon series biplanes. At least 26 examples appeared with the Finnish Air Force with the first being produced by Blackburn and the final twenty-five coming under local license production from Finnish Aircraft Factory. Finnish versions utilized a wide variety of powerplants during their years of service, a key differentiating feature of the foreign mark.

Blackburn Ripons in British service were kept as operational frontline torpedo bombers into early 1935 and, despite their over-water capabilities, were generally operated from land bases. By this time, the type was being superseded by the more modern Blackburn "Baffin" which proved essentially the Ripon itself though with a Bristol Pegasus I.MS radial piston engine of 545 horsepower instead of the original's broad-arrow piston fitting. Many existing Ripons (as many as sixty-eight examples) were even upgraded to the new Baffin standard. Baffins first flew in September of 1932 and were formally introduced into service in 1934, operating on into 1941 with 97 produced.

It was with the Finns that the Blackburn Ripon's legacy would truly endure, seeing extensive combat action in World War 2 (1939-1945) during the "Winter War" (1939-1940) and the "Continuation War" (1941-1944) against the Soviet Union. As all-metal, streamlined monoplane fighters with retractable undercarriages and enclosed cockpits were the next evolution of the military aircraft, mounts such as the Ripon eventually succumbed to the changing face of war. The final operational sorties of Finnish Ripons, therefore, took place in 1944, bringing an end to the storied existence of the Blackburn design.

The formal designation of the Ripon was "Blackburn T.5 Ripon".

Any available statistics for the Blackburn Ripon Torpedo Bomber Aircraft 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).






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 (126mph).

    Graph average of 112.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
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  BER
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  MOS
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  NYC
Graph showcases the Blackburn Ripon Mk .II's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Pie graph section
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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
92
92


  * 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: 1929
Type: Torpedo Bomber Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Blackburn Aircraft - UK
Production: 92
Global Operators:
Finland; United Kingdom
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 Ripon Mk .II model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
2


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
35.99 ft


Meters
10.97 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
44.82 ft


Meters
13.66 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
13.32 ft


Meters
4.06 m


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
7,405 lb


Kilograms
3,359 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Napier Lion 12-cylinder liquid-cooled V-type radial piston engine developing 570 horsepower.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
126 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
203 kph


Knots
110 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
814 mi


Kilometers
1,310 km


Nautical Miles
707 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
10,007 ft


Meters
3,050 m


Miles
1.90 mi

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft aerial torpedo
Armament - Hardpoints (6):

STANDARD:
1 x 7.62mm Vickers machine gun in fixed, forward-firing mount (Ripon IIA).
1 x 7.7mm Lewis machine gun in trainable rear cockpit position.

OPTIONAL:
1 x Mk VIII OR Mk X torpedo

Up to 1,653lbs of external ordnance in lieu of torpedo.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• Ripon I - Prototype Designation; 2 examples completed.
• Ripon II - Initial production models; 20 examples produced.
• Ripon IIA - Introduction of fixed, forward-firing 7.7mm machine gun for pilot; metal ribbing incorporated into wing construction; forty examples produced.
• Ripon IIC - Introduction of all-metal wings; 30 examples produced.
• Ripon III - One-off Prototype; all-new tail unit with elongated nose assembly.
• Ripon IIF - Finnish Air Force designation; 26 examples - initial example produced by Blackburn followed by 25 examples produced locally under license with varying powerplants.