Close this search box.

Blackburn B-2

The Blackburn B-2 was a biplane side-by-side trainer aircraft designed and produced by the British aviation manufacturer Blackburn Aircraft.

It was designed as a successor to the Bluebird IV and was derived from it, thus the two aircraft shared much of their design.

One major difference of the B-2 was its semi-monocoque all-metal fuselage, which was similar to that of the Blackburn Segrave touring aircraft.

On 10 December 1931, the prototype B-2 performed its maiden flight at Brough.

It had excellent manoeuvrability and responsive flying controls and was a relatively forgiving aircraft in flight.

During early 1932, the first production aircraft made its first flight, and was participating in competitive air races as early as June of that year.

While Blackburn had ambitions to sell the B-2 as a military trainer, the only military airwing to adopt it was the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a part of its expansion program.

It was also flown by numerous civilian flying schools during the 1930s; these aircraft continued to be used into the Second World War as trainers.

During February 1942, the remaining B-2s were transferred to the RAF for use by the Air Training Corps (ATC) as instructional aides. Only two aircraft survived through to the post-war era.

The B-2 was developed by Blackburn during the early 1930s as a successor for its earlier Bluebird IV trainer.

It retained the same basic configuration, such as the side-by-side seating arrangement, present on the earlier aircraft, but principally differed in that it was redesigned with a semi-monocoque all-metal fuselage in place of the metal and fabric-covered counterpart.

According to the aviation author Audrey Jackson, the new fuselage was designed using the same principles as those used for the Blackburn Segrave touring aircraft, and possessed remarkable strength for the era, allowing it to better endure rough landings and poor handling (which was commonplace while flown by inexperienced pilots). 

The structure comprised a series of hollow frames reinforced by light stringers and diagonal steel tubes.

The exterior surface was composed of Alclad, which was stiffened three longitudinal swaging’s; there was no use of welding or wire bracing at any point of the fuselage.

The single-bay biplane wings were of similar to those of the Bluebird IV, including its steel and duralumin structure, and could be folded for easy storage.

Leading edge slots were fitted to the upper wing to improve low-speed handling, while ailerons were only present on the lower wings.

The outer wing panels folded around the hinges of the rear spar.

The fuel system was gravity fed from a 22-gallon aerofoil tank positioned above the fuselage on six struts.

The tail unit was of a similar construction to the mainplanes, its span was increased in comparison to that of the Blackbird IV, and also featured a horn balanced rudder; furthermore, the elevator could be trimmed using an adjustable via spring-loading, controlled via a lever in the cockpit.

It featured a conventional undercarriage that was fixed in place.

The mainwheels were set wide apart and divided, being supported on telescopic legs that incorporated steel springs with oil dampers.

On the underside of the rear fuselage, almost directly below the tail unit, was a sprung tailskid. 

The engine, of which various models could be fitted, was fixed upon a tubular steel mounting attached directly to a fireproof bulkhead; a 2.5-gallon oil tank was mounted beneath these bearers.

Cooling air entered via the front of the fuselage, passed across the engine, and exited via fluting built into the fuselage after of the engine bay.

On 10 December 1931, the prototype B-2 (registered G-ABUW) performed its maiden flight at Brough. 

On 27 June 1932, it made its first public appearance at the Society of British Aerospace Companies’ air show at Hendon Aerodrome; ten days later, it participated in the King’s Cup air race around England, alongside the first production aircraft (registered G-ABWI), finishing in 18th and 19th place respectively.

There was relatively little difference between the two aircraft, save for the latter having been outfitted with a metal propeller sourced from Fairey-Reed.

In March 1933, having completed testing and participated in numerous demonstration flights, the prototype was put to use at the Brough Reserve School as a routine trainer aircraft alongside several other production aircraft.

The prototype was powered by a single de Havilland Gipsy III engine, capable of. The subsequent production aircraft were equipped with either the 130 hp (97 kW) de Havilland Gipsy Major and 120 hp Cirrus Hermes IV engines were also fitted to production aircraft.

The prototype proved to be relatively trouble-free during flight testing, it was also found to be very manoeuvrable.

It was also relatively forgiving on its pilots, even while taxiing with strong winds present, while the controls remained effective even just above stalling speeds; it was also easy to sideslip for positioning prior to landing.

During early 1932, the first production aircraft made its first flight.





24 ft 3 in (7.39 m)


30 ft 2 in (9.19 m)


9 ft 0 in (2.74 m)

Wing area

246 sq ft (22.9 m2)

Empty weight

1,175 lb (533 kg)

Gross weight

1,850 lb (839 kg)


1 × de Havilland Gipsy III four-cylinder air-cooled inverted in-line piston engine,

120 hp (89 kW)


2-bladed fixed-pitch propeller


Maximum speed

112 mph (180 km/h, 97 kn)

Cruise speed

95 mph (153 km/h, 83 kn)


320 mi (510 km, 280 nmi)

Rate of climb

700 ft/min (3.6 m/s)

Wing loading

7.52 lb/sq ft (36.7 kg/m2)


0.065 hp/lb (0.107 kW/kg)

Military User’s

Royal Air Force

Share on facebook