The Blackburn "Dart" was a post-World War I, British-designed and produced, torpedo bomber biplane of 1922 that eventually found its way into the inventory of the Hellenic (Greek) Navy as the Blackburn T.3 "Velos". Blackburn Aircraft was instrumental in bringing about the indigenous State Aircraft Factory (SAF) for Greece and the new concern's first serially-produced aircraft became the Velos itself. Despite being formally founded in 1925, the SAF actually held origins back in the fighting of the Great War in 1917 but did not gain traction until well after cessation of hostilities.
Unlike the single-seat Dart, the Velos was finalized for Greek service as a two-seat floatplane while retaining most of the form-and-function of the original. Its primary over-water role was in coastal defense of Greece's vast shorelines and strategic waterways. A first-flight in prototype form was recorded in 1925 and service entry followed soon after. Serial production led to just twenty-two examples being built with the last unit retired from service in 1936.
The aircraft utilized a conventional over-under biplane wing arrangement that relied on parallel struts and cabling - the members being slightly cranked upwards from centerline. The engine was installed at the nose in the usual way while the fuselage tapered towards the rear where a single, rounded vertical tailplane was fitted. Horizontal planes were low-mounted near the base of the rudder. The crew of two sat in tandem, open-air cockpits aft of the upper wing member and, unlike the earlier Dart, the Velos could be rigged to operate as either a waterborne seaplane or land-based aeroplane.
Dimensions of the landplane form included a length of 33.5 feet, a wingspan of 48.5 feet, and a height of 12.2 feet. Empty weight reached 3,765lb against an MTOW of 6,400lb. Power was from a single Napier Lion IIB (or Lion V) series inline piston engine developing 450 horsepower and driving a two-bladed propeller unit at the nose. Performance specs included a maximum speed of 110 miles-per-hour, a cruising speed near 70 mph, a service ceiling up to 13,400 feet, and a mission endurance window of about 4.5 hours. Rate-of-climb reached 620 feet-per-minute.
Armament centered around a single 18" (457mm) torpedo or up to 4 x 230lb conventional drop bombs depending on mission need. The rear crewman was given a single 0.303" (7.7mm) Lewis Machine Gun on a trainable mounting for self-defense of the aircraft. The rear-facing machine gun, as well as the conventional bomb capability, were both qualities not found on the original Dart design.
The first lot of Velos aircraft were produced by Blackburn at Brough Aerodrome before the SAF took on the remainder of the T.3 manufacturing commitment. Later aircraft incorporated improved cooling for the Napier engine and a slightly raised position for the rear machine gunner to improved both vision and firing arcs. The first Greek-produced Velos aircraft recorded its first flight 1926 and made history for the nation. Formal Hellenic Navy operations involving Velos torpedo bombers began that same year and the fleet was operated in a frontline manner until 1934 (Blackburn Darts were given up globally back in 1933).
The advanced "T.3A" offering of 1927 was proposed by Blackburn with all-new metal floats as well as other subtle improvements. However, there proved little interest on the foreign market and just two were built for demonstration purposes before being relegated to seaplane training.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Special-Mission: Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
Equipped to search, track, and engage enemy underwater elements by way of specialized onboard equipment and weapons.
Equipped to search, track, and engage enemy surface elements through visual acquisition, radar support, and onboard weaponry.
✓Maritime / Navy
Land-based or shipborne capability for operating over-water in various maritime-related roles while supported by allied naval surface elements.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
Developed ability to be used as a dedicated trainer for student pilots (typically under the supervision of an instructor).
35.5 ft (10.82 m)
48.5 ft (14.78 m)
12.3 ft (3.75 m)
3,781 lb (1,715 kg)
6,393 lb (2,900 kg)
+2,612 lb (+1,185 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Blackburn T.3 production variant)
1 x Napier Lion IIB inline piston engine developing 450 horsepower driving two-bladed propeller at the nose.
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