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Bristol M.1 Monoplane Scout

The Bristol M.1 Monoplane Scout was a British monoplane fighter of the First World War.

It holds the distinction of being the only British monoplane fighter to reach production during the conflict.

The Bristol M.1 was a single-seat tractor monoplane.

It was powered by a single Clerget rotary engine, capable of generating up to 110 horsepower (82 kW), which drove a relatively large twin-bladed propeller that was in turn furnished with a bulky hemispherical spinner for the purpose of reducing drag.

The M.1 possessed a carefully streamlined circular cross-section fuselage, which featured conventional wood and fabric construction techniques to minimize manufacturing difficulty.

The exterior of the aircraft, which was covered in fabric, was fully faired; this was a contributing factor to the type being referred by Bruce as “one of the simplest and cleanest aircraft of its day”.

The M.1 was furnished with a shoulder-mounted wing that was attached to the upper longerons of the airframe.

It was braced with flying wires which ran between the wing and the lower fuselage, as well as landing wires from the wings to a cabane comprising a pair of semi-circular steel tube hoops that were positioned over the pilot’s cockpit; this was shaped in order to better facilitate the pilot’s ingress and egress to their position in the cockpit.

The wing possessed a wide semi-elliptical rearwards sweep at the tip, which meant that the front spar was considerably shorter than the rear and there being no inter-spar bracing being the end of the forward spar.

To increase the downward vision available to the pilot, a sizable inter-spar cutout was present in the starboard wing root.

It is believed that a total of 33 M.1Cs were deployed to the Middle East and the Balkans during 1917–18, while the remainders were predominantly assigned to numerous training units based across the British mainland.

Reportedly, the type found a level of popularity as the personal mounts for various senior officers of the RFC.

A single M.1C was also dispatched to France during 1917, although this is believed to have been for evaluation purposes only.

According to the official historical account of No. 111 Squadron, the deployment of the M.1 to the Palestine theatre proved too frequently impinge upon the operations of enemy aerial reconnaissance operations, forcing them to typically operate from high altitudes.

However, it is also noted that they had lacked the endurance necessary to conduct escort missions to support friendly long-range reconnaissance aircraft.

The type was heavily used to perform ground attack missions against Turkish forces in the region.

According to Bruce, the central spinner would often be removed when operating in hot conditions in order to better dissipate excessively high engine temperatures.

Perhaps the most successful M.1C pilot amongst those that served on the Macedonian front was Captain Frederick Dudley Travers DFC of No.150 Squadron RAF, who became the only ace on this type.

Travers switched from the Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a, in which he had scored three of his four kills, and scored the last five of his victories between 2 and 16 September 1918, possibly all in the same M.1C, serial number C4976.

One of his victims was a Fokker D.VII, widely regarded as the best German fighter of its day.

During the second half of 1918, a batch of 12 M.1Cs were delivered to Chile to serve as part-payment for the battleships Almirante Latorre and Almirante Cochrane, which had been constructed for Chile in Britain but commandeered for use by the Royal Navy prior to their completion.

One of these fighters, flown by Lt. Dagoberto Godoy, was used to fly from Santiago to Mendoza, Argentina and back on 12 December 1918, which was recorded as being the first flight to by made across the Andes mountain chain.

Following the signing of the Armistice of 11 November 1918, which effectively ended hostilities, a number of former military M.1s were resold into civilian service.



Single prototype with 110 hp (82 kW) Clerget 9Z rotary engine.


Four evaluation models, variously powered by 110 hp (82 kW) Clerget 9Z, 130 hp (97 kW) Clerget 9B or 150 hp (110 kW) Admiralty Rotary A.R.1.


Series production model, 125 built, powered by 110 hp (82 kW) Le Rhône 9Ja engines.


Single M.1C rebuilt as a testbed for the 140 hp (100 kW) Bristol Lucifer engine.






20 ft 5 in (6.22 m)


30 ft 9 in (9.37 m)


7 ft 9 in (2.36 m)

Wing area

145 sq ft (13.5 m2

Empty weight

900 lb (408 kg) 

Gross weight

1,348 lb (611 kg)


1 × Le Rhône 9J,

9-cylinder air-cooled rotary piston engine,

110 hp (82 kW)


2-bladed fixed-pitch propeller


Maximum speed

130 mph (210 km/h, 110 kn) at sea level


226 mi (364 km, 196 nmi)


1 hour 45 minutes

Service ceiling

20,000 ft (6,100 m)


0.08 hp/lb (0.13 kW/kg)



1x fixed-forward .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun.

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