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Blackburn Bluebird

The Blackburn L.1 Bluebird was a British single-engine biplane light trainer/tourer with side-by-side seating, built in small numbers in the 1920s.

The Bluebird L.1 was initially designed as a competitor in the Lympne light aircraft trials to be held in September 1924 for a low-powered two-seater, fitted with a 67 in³ (1,100 cc) Blackburne Thrush three-cylinder radial engine.

The Bluebird was a wooden single-bay biplane, with folding wings and was fitted with a single side-by-side cockpit.

Although first flying in 1924, problems with the engine, which failed to give the expected power, meant that it could not compete in the 1924 competition.

It was realised that the machines that resulted from the 1923 and 1924 light aircraft trials were too low powered for serious use.

The Daily Mail sponsored a similar competition in September 1926, this time allowing the use of heavier and more powerful engines.

The prototype Bluebird was then fitted with an Armstrong Siddeley Genet radial engine and dual controls for entry into the competition.

Interest in the Bluebird following the competition and its success in the 1926 Grosvenor Cup air race, which it won, resulted in Blackburn manufacturing a batch of 13 production aircraft, known as the L.1A Bluebird II, which were similar to the prototype, and a further seven modified L.1B Bluebird IIIs.

The Bluebird formed the basis for the all-metal Blackburn Bluebird IV.


L.1 Bluebird I

Prototype. Originally powered by 37 hp (28 kW) Blackburne Thrush engine, later refitted with 60 hp (45 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Genet I radial engine and dual controls.

L.1A Bluebird II


Powered by 80 hp (60 kW) Genet II engine, 13 built.

L.1.B Bluebird III

Modified internal structure.

One prototype and six production aircraft.

L.1C Bluebird IV

All-metal development.

58 built





22 ft 6 in (6.86 m)


28 ft 0 in (8.53 m)


8 ft 4 in (2.54 m)

Wing area

237.5 sq ft (22.06 m2)

Empty weight

793 lb (360 kg)

Gross weight

1,385 lb (628 kg)


1 × Armstrong Siddeley Genet II 5-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine,

80 hp (60 kW)


2-bladed fixed-pitch propeller


Maximum speed

88 mph (142 km/h, 76 kn)

Cruise speed

70 mph (110 km/h, 61 kn)

Wing loading

5.83 lb/sq ft (28.5 kg/m2)


0.058 hp/lb (0.095 kW/kg)

Military User’s

Royal Air Force

Royal Australian Air Force

Royal Canadian Air Force

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