During the Cold War period, the British Royal Air Force (RAF) Transportation Command section required a modern heavy strategic transport. The call was answered by General Aircraft through the GAL.60 "Universal Freighter" Mk 1, an odd-looking, yet highly useful, high-winged, four-engined aircraft. The cargo hold was served by a combination door-and-ramp arrangement and Bristol "Hercules" engines drove conventional propeller units. The cockpit sat over the nose of the deep fuselage and a raised tailboom completed the aircraft. Of particular note was the fixed, wheeled undercarriage which did away with a complex retracting function and lowered maintenance commitments. A first flight was held on June 20th, 1950. Blackburn Aircraft was responsible for manufacture of the series.
From this work came a second prototype which was given a removable "clamshell" cargo door feature under the tailboom. The original Hercules engines were replaced by the Bristol "Centaurus" 173 radial and added a reversing function for shorter stops. Internally, the tailboom was completed to seat thirty-six additional passengers. The revised prototype was given the designation of GAL.65 Mk 2 (company model B-100) and it was this form that was adopted for service by the RAF as "Beverly C.1 Mk 1" (company model B-101). The line operated under the Blackburn brand label for its time in service with manufacture held out of the Brough facility in northeast England.
The Beverly was intended from the outset as a rough-field operator hauling heavy loads over considerable distances in variable environments. Its reverse propeller function aided in short runway landings while the reinforced, fixed undercarriage proved suitable for off-runway operations. The high-wing arrangement assisted in short runway take-offs and the deep internal cargo hold could haul anything from basic supply palettes and combat infantry to artillery loads and paratroops - up to 70 of the latter could be taken airborne, exiting either through a hatch in the boom and through side fuselage doors. The stated payload maximum was 44,000 pounds. Power from the quad-engine arrangement totaled 2,850 horsepower each which helped to produce a maximum speed of 240 miles per hour, a cruising speed of 175 miles per hour, a range out to 1,300 miles, a service ceiling of 16,000 feet and a rate-of-climb of 760 feet per minute.
While not a particularly pleasing aircraft to look at, the Beverly had much-needed (and respected) qualities in-the-field. Its performance was as intended and delivery of the line began in March of 1956 to 47 Squadron (Abingdon) before the line was stationed in far-off places like Bahrain, Kenya and the Far East to support British actions and interests. The last Beverlies were retired in 1967 as the service shifted to an aircraft of new, more conventional appearance - the Hawker Siddeley "Andover".
Of the 49 Beverlies completed, nine were lost to accident or otherwise. Two of three retired survivors fell to the scrapman's torch in time - leaving just one complete example.
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None. Mission loadout typically cargo in nature - supply loads, infantry, paratroops, etc...
Beverly - Base Series Name
GAL.60 Universal Freighter Mk I - Initial Prototype; door-and-ramp loading feature; Bristol Hercules engines
GAL.65 Universal Freighter Mk II (B-100) - Subsequent prototype; clamshell-style cargo door; passenger seating in tailboom section; Bristol Centaurus engines.
Beverly C.Mk 1 (B-101) - Definitive production mark
Blackburn B-107 - Proposed modified variant; rounded fuselage with greater internal capacity' Rolls-Royce Tyne turboprop engines; not furthered.
Blackburn B-107A - Proposed variant based on B-107 with loading door at nose among other slight changes.
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