Who's Who - Robert Blackburn

Robert Blackburn Robert Blackburn (1885-1955) was a British aircraft pioneer with his company, the Blackburn Aeroplane Company, acting as a major aircraft supplier to the British government during the First World War.

Born in Leeds on 26 March 1885, Blackburn followed an early education in his home city at Leeds Modern School with an engineering degree at Leeds University, graduating from the latter in 1906.

Developing an interest in aviation Blackburn travelled to France to immerse himself in and learn from the then world leading nation in aviation matters.  Blackburn constructed his first aircraft in April and May 1909 using such materials as wood, brass, steel, fabric and string.

With the assistance of Harry Goodyear Blackburn built in 1910 the Blackburn Monoplane; such was its heaviness that it was consequently nicknamed the 'Heavy Type Monoplane'.  Unfortunately while testing the aircraft on the coast of Yorkshire Blackburn lost control of the aircraft and crash-landed it into sand dunes on 24 May 1910.

Undeterred Blackburn promptly turned his attention to his next aircraft.  Within four years, in June 1914, Blackburn established the Blackburn Aeroplane Company (later the Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Car Company).  Given the advent of war later that year Blackburn's timing was fortuitous.  His company was to become a leading supplier to the British Government during wartime.

The principal aircraft produced by Blackburn's company during wartime was the Blackburn Kangaroo, a twin-engine bi-plane adopted by the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) for use in anti-submarine operations based in the North Sea.

Twice married with three children Robert Blackburn died in Devon in September 1955 at the age of 70.  His company was subsequently taken over by the Hawker Siddeley Group in 1964.

Duck-Boards comprised slatted wooden planking used for flooring trenches or muddy ground.

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